We hear too many stories of exotic animals kept as pets, and this is one example. King is a one-year-old lion cub who was rescued from Paris last summer, where he was kept in an apartment in appalling conditions. Images at the time circulated on social media, and horrified concerned citizens were furious that a tiny lion cub was being caged, kicked, and beaten.
French animal rescue charities Fondation 30 Million d’Amis and Refuge de l’Arche got involved, and after making inquiries, they located King in an apartment in the Parisien suburb of Noisy-le-Sec. He was cowering in the cage, half-starved, and terrified of being hurt again. King was given a temporary home in Natuurhulpcentrum Rescue Centre in Belgium where he was treated and given time to recover.
But now for some good news! King has since made a full recovery, and once he was strong enough to move, was found a home in Born Free’s Big Cat Rescue Centre at Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa. He had quite the adventure to get there, traveling under the expert care of Born Free, courtesy of Kenya Airways. King is now in his new home in the reserve at the Jean Byrd Centre.
Virginia McKenna OBE, Born Free’s Co-Founder and Trustee, said: “So many people responded to our appeal to bring young King to Shamwari, and now he has arrived! Thanks to everyone whose hearts were touched by his story, he now takes his first steps on African soil, and can begin his happy new life.”
Shamwari’s Group General Manager, Joe Cloete, added: “To be able to welcome King to his new home is incredibly heart-warming for us, especially so during our refurbishment process, of not only some of the lodges, but the Born Free Centre itself.”
Whether it is a monkey, an ostrich, or in this case, an actual King, exotic pets have no places in our homes. They are traded by those who extort these animals for personal gain with no consideration for the health and welfare of the animals once cash has changed hands. Exotic animals released into the wild by irresponsible owners face a life they are not accustomed to, and their presence can also disrupt the delicate balance of ecosystems already in the area. King’s case highlights why exotic animals should be free and in the wild, not kept for our own entertainment.
So what can you do to help? Firstly, educate yourself. Read all that you can on the epidemic that is the exotic pet trade, and pass on that information to others so that they are not tempted to get an exotic pet over a more traditional one! There are millions of cats and dogs stuck in shelters across America waiting for a loving forever home; please consider them instead of something more suited to jungles, plains, and wide open spaces.
Image Source: Born Free