Thursday, December 4, 2014

No Joke: Canned Lions

Remember when you were about eleven years old and thought making those prank calls was hilarious:

"Hello, IGA Grocery."
"Do you have Prince Edward in a can? Well LET HIM OUT!"
*wild laughter and phone slamming down*

When I was eleven or thereabouts, the Apollo astronauts were getting laughs by referring to themselves as "Spam in a can".

Oh, and the sitcoms in those glory days of highly elevating TV (anybody remember Lost in Space? Mr. Ed?) used a faked audience response called "canned laughter".

Well, I just learned about canned lions from the news show 60 Minutes.  And it's not funny at all.

Photo Credit: The Animal Rescue Site

What's a canned lion? It's a lion that is purchased by a South African hunting company, released into a small fenced area, and shot by trophy hunters so they can show the folks at home what big strong men they are. Sometimes they don't even bother removing the lion from its enclosure.

 Gosh, they paid lots of money and should have a nice easy time killing their trophies,  so guess where the hunting companies buy their lions? The Big Cat Rescue site says:

Tamed animals from zoos, backyard breeders and those who mistakenly got them as pets are their favorite targets because they are accustomed to being around people and won’t run when the client walks up to them to take a shot.

In South Africa they can also source their lions from "game farms". These are tourist attractions where lions are bred to produce a steady stream of adorable lion cubs. Paying visitors can amble about petting and cooing. Worse yet, some farms promote "volunteering",  where animal loving tourists think they are helping save abandoned cubs (they aren't) by bottle feeding them and so on. But cubs grow into lions, and lions eat meat. Meat is very expensive. The business owners found a lucrative way to chuck the grown cats. They sell them to the hunting companies.

Kevin Richardson worked at one of these game farms while in his twenties. Describing the situation today he says,

"However now in 2013 there are several parks like this, many

 of which offer cubs for the public to pet, because if they

 don’t, they lose their competitive advantage and patrons will

 simply go somewhere else where it is offered.

Now at face value this doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. 

Mostly, the cubs seem to be cared for, get access to

 veterinary care and tourists enjoy a cuddle and a cool 

picture that they can later post on all the social media sites

 known to mankind. Seems like a win, win situation.

However, if one starts to just scratch a bit deeper, things

emerge about this sinister industry that will make any animal

lovers hair stand on end."

 When he realized what would happen to the cubs he helped raise, he founded the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary to take care of them when they matured. His unique relationship with the lions has earned him the nickname "Lion Whisperer". He acknowledges that he breaks all of the animal behavior rules in his interactions with the animals. Essentially, they consider him a member of their pride and treat him as such.  Kevin's Wildlife Sanctuary is working to bring canned hunting to an end, and to educate the public about the plight of large carnivores in Africa. 
Photo credit: Kevin Richardson Web Page

If there is any bright spot in this dismal story it is that despite sick trophy hunters and those who cater to them,  there are people like Kevin Richardson, Big Cat Rescue, 60 Minutes, and Dateline making sure they don't get to do it in the shadows. There are people like you and me, who care enough to learn about the situation, express our disgust, sign petitions, and never be duped into thinking petting cubs at a tourist attraction is okay. 

This will be stopped. The question is, how long will it take?

If you'd like to learn more about canned hunting, click here to visit the Big Cat Rescue page on the topic. 


  1. That is truly awful. We have never heard of this but so hope it is banned soon.
    Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. I saw that on 60 minutes too. Maddening beyond words. Not to long ago there was a similar issue with bears I think. It was in the news because one of the members of Montgomery and Gentry Country singers was on trial for shooting the bear illegally. Not sure how the trial turned out but I hope he had to pay mega bucks.
    hugs madi and mom

  3. I have read about canned hunting in the past and it is so disgusting! Cowards with money is all the "hunters" are.

  4. That is truly awful. Thank goodness that there is a hint of good in the story.

    Believe it or not, a similar "canned hunt" of mountain lions was illegally offered near the Colorado-Utah border for years. The outfitters would either tree a lion, or shoot it in the leg to disable it, and then they'd call the "hunters" to come shoot their trophy. A Division of Wildlife undercover officer signed up and ended up nailing them. Thank goodness.

  5. i saw that on 60 minutes too and i couldn't believe what i was seeing. i had no idea such a thing even existed! thanks for linking to the petition. hope it can do some good.
    wags, bailey unleashed


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