“Cuddle Me, Kill Me” by Richard Peirce is a tragic account of South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry – a rampant, toxic, greedy bonanza that finds willing hosts amongst exploitative humans:
- “An in-depth investigation of the large-scale captive lion breeding industry, from bottle to bullet” – ‘Cuddle Me, Kill Me’ :
- From cubs being ripped from their mothers, the ‘orphaned’ (sic) cubs are used as entertainment in ‘theme parks’ for paying tourists to play with, paying volunteers are duped into raising the ‘orphaned’ cubs. When the cubs get too big too interact with gullible tourists, the growing cubs get shipped out and replaced by more ‘orphaned’ cubs – the fate of those moved on is to be ‘sold’ to other breeding farms, to be bred, subjugated to accompany ‘lion walks,’ hunted and/or executed for the macabre lion bone trade…….a sickening cycle of unethical exploitation.
- This is an industry that indifferent South African governments have allowed to grow in scale into an seemingly uncontrolled, poorly regulated, secretive, insular, barbaric, deceitful industry seemingly beyond redemption – animal welfare is a low priority (unless the breeder is trying to develop a trophy animal to attract a paying ‘hunter’s’ bullet).
- Over the past decades, the industry has turned once iconic species into mere captive commodity. Some try to justify the breeding of big cats for profit as just another form of farming (same as pigs, sheep etc.) – so called ‘sustainable utilisation.’ However, the obvious difference with big cats, is that the breeding/farming exploitation in turn exposes their threatened wild brethren to the risk of similar exploitation by poachers and the wild species’ inevitable decline as others seek to cash-in on the industry’s profiteering ethos.
- Loop-holes in ‘regulations’ are actively sought and exploited by the industry – such as the export of live lions to Vietnam, seemingly unscrutinised in any ‘quota’ by seemingly complicit ‘authorities’ that warp themselves in meaningless jargon to try and obscure their facilitation. CITES’ trade database (which has a 12 – 18 month reporting delay) will no doubt reveal in time the on-going level of the ‘live export’ loop-hole’s exploitation.
- A seemingly ignorant public more consumed with personal gratification – be that the chance to cuddle exploited lion cubs for a ‘selfie’ and lion walks, those that pay to kill tame captive/canned/’ranch’ lions, or those that seek to display their ‘status’ with the ownership/consumption of derivative products of the lion bone trade such as ‘Tiger Bone Wine’ (which has no proven medicinal efficacy).
Then there are the good guys (of which there are far too few), trying to campaign for change and/or give safe sanctuary (of which there will never be enough) to some victims.
In a world of opportunity, it’s tragic that some seek to justify the supply to meet ‘demand’ for iconic species (dead, or alive) as ‘just business’ – any negative consequences are either ignored, obfuscated by ‘officialdom,’ or simply consigned as someone else’s problem (and the negative consequences seemingly blanked from the exploiters’ mind as they hide behind their self-delusion).
“Lion bones and predator farming – picking on the carcass of SA tourism,” Ian Michler, Daily Maverick, 17 August 2018
“Captive Lion Breeding, Canned Lion Hunting & the Lion Bone Trade: Damaging Brand South Africa?” CACH and SPOTS (Netherlands), August 2018
“Five reasons why you should avoid visiting South African lions in captivity,” The South African, 14 August 2018
“The Myth of Sustainable Consumptive Utilization and Lions with Chris Mercer,” Our Wild World, hosted by Eli Weiss, 13 August 2018
“‘Captive’ Lions – DEA Fails to Answer Questions Fully,” IWB and CACH, 21 August 2017
“Dying to be free,” Gareth Patterson, 1998
“Volunteering with lions: discovering the truth behind the sham!” Lucy Stewart, 26 May 2016