No More Petting Lion Cubs At South African Wildlife Park

Image courtesy of Matt Biddulph

If you were hoping for a South African vacation that includes petting some adorable baby wild cats, you’ll have to change those plans: tourists will be barred from touching the animals at a suburban wildlife park in Johannesburg, after “going out of fashion” due to negative publicity.

A spokesman for the Lion Park in suburban Johannesburg told The Associated Press that interactions with lions will no longer include petting cubs or walking around with the big cats starting next month.

The Lion Park will be moving at that time to a bigger area west of Pretoria, the spokesman said, adding that the focus will be on a “more authentic safari experience” including guided wildlife tours by vehicle.

Many conservationists believe parks that allow lion petting can be detrimental to the young animals, because they don’t learn how to survive in the wild and lose their fear of humans. A lion that isn’t afraid of people is a lion that could attack.

There’s no conservational reason to breed lions in captivity, Ian Michler, maker of a documentary film called Blood Lions, told the AP, though he welcomed the end of the petting activities at Lion Park.

“It’s merely entertainment for profit,” Michler said.

South African park to bar petting of lion cubs [The Associated Press]

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