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Four-month-old Mangus the lion cub was kept on a liquid-only diet by owners of a circus two months longer than he should have been so that he would stay small for visitor’s selfies, according to The Mirror.

The circus owners were charging about $22 per selfie with Magnus and deliberately starved this young cub to ensure that he would not get too big for customers to pick him up. Not only is this incredibly cruel treatment for a small lion cub, but it has lead Magnus to develop serious health problems that will last for the duration of his life.

As a result of the liquid-only diet, Mangus’ esophagus had shrunk and he was unable to eat solids. Thankfully, he has been taken into care by Let’s Adopt, a global animal rescue that paid for a surgery to have his esophagus widened.

Lion Cub Starved to Keep Him Small for Selfies, Finally Gets the Treatment He Needs
CEN/The Mirror

Little Mangus has recovered from the surgery and can now eat crushed chicken! His weight has doubled since the operation, from 24 pounds to 48 pounds.

“The circus regarded the baby lion as an attraction to bring in visitors and they were keen to keep it small for as long as possible,” Ivan Jimenez, a spokesman for Let’s Adopt, told The Mirror. “We decided to pay for the surgery although we usually only treat cats and dogs.”

Lion Cub Starved to Keep Him Small for Selfies, Finally Gets the Treatment He Needs
CEN/The Mirror

Veterinarian Nelo Civera told The Mirror that it’s unlikely Mangus will ever be able to eat huge chunks of meat, and his meals will always have to be cut up for him to make sure he doesn’t try to swallow things that are too large.

“He certainly would never survive in the wild,” Civera says. Luckily, thanks to the kind people at Let’s Adopt, Magnus will be well looked after and will never have to endure this sort of abuse again.

While Magnus’ story is heartbreaking, unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident for small lions and tigers. Big cats used for photo opportunities are often drugged or severely abused, even though the industry tells visitors that the cats are just trained to be more docile. Cubs like Mangus typically have their claws and canine teeth removed to keep them from harming visitors. And it only gets worse: A recent undercover investigation revealed that big cats at two major facilities that allow selfies were infected with giardia and ringworm, which can both be passed to humans. Both of these organizations also masqueraded the selfies as part of their “conservation” message.

But that isn’t conservation at all — wild animals don’t want to snuggle with you. Cubs are taken from their mothers at eight weeks of age or earlier so that they’re easier to handle. This means that they don’t learn tiger social skills and become so over-socialized with and dependent on humans that they can never be released back into the wild.

Further, Big Cats Rescue says that entertainment acts with big cats or photos with them gives the public a totally distorted message:

“These acts either show man dominating one of nature’s most magnificent creatures, which would never happen on an even playing field, or, worse, are promoted as illustrations of the ‘special bond’ the trainer has with his captive.”

The latter view fuels the illegal trade for big cats and ruins our education concerning what these animals are really like in the wild. By boycotting circuses and parks that allow selfies with big cats, we can help save them. Lion and tiger cubs should never have to suffer solely because we want a selfie!

Lead image source: CEN/The Mirror

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20 comments on “Lion Cub Starved by Circus to Keep Him ‘Small’ for Selfies Finally Gets the Care He Needs”

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1 Years Ago

thank goodness he is finally getting the help and love he needs

3 Years Ago

Why are you not naming/shaming the people who did this?? What circus was it?

3 Years Ago

How disgusting! I have not been to a circus is years and have to intention of ever going again. Poor baby. :(

3 Years Ago

another reason to hate circuses, zoos, and amusement parks that use animals for their profit. even though I\'d like to have a pic of myself with a lion cub, I\'d want the cub to grow at his natural rate, and not be abused for my pleasure and ability to handle. Greed strikes again.

05 Jun 2015

Don\'t forget pseudo sanctuaries, especially those out of the US who use wild cats as means on entertainment fodder, allowing the "famous folk" to cub pet and handle in a pretense that they are rescuing....these wild animals should only be under care of specialists, not domesticated or being called children

Joy Couch
3 Years Ago

I\'m still so disappointed in this site for publishing the piece on PETA euthanizing dogs and cats. I was furious for two days. Please One Green Planet, go to your local shelter on Monday, adopt all the animals there, shelter them, feed them, vet them, then go back the next Monday, adopt all the animals there, shelter them, feed them, vet them, then go the next Monday and so on.

26 Feb 2015

If you\'re that upset, you should be informing your negligent pet owners in your surrounding areas of free spay neuter programs. I do.

Donna Olsen
03 Mar 2015

Give me PETA\'s budget and I\'ll do just that.

3 Years Ago

If you click on the link for The Mirror, it leads to the original story which reports that this happened in Spain. It never mentions the circus, but it does state that \'the operation was carried out at the Veterinary Hospital Sur Valencia, in the town of Silla, in the eastern Spanish region of Valencia.\' It also has a link to a Facebook page for the lion.

3 Years Ago

I\'d beat these clowns with an ugly stick! Shame on you! Who the F attends circus\'s with live animal these days, get a life. No animals need to be harmed or worse, starved. Pisses me off. Boycott any live animal circus. Remember Tyke the Elephant in Honolulu Hawaii? This has opened my eyes and heart forever. We no longer have such-a-circus anymore, good! Protect our animal families, Mahalo!

3 Years Ago

Really.... are people still attending circus\' these days?? Time to take another evolutionary step forward.

25 Feb 2015

"Circus" is kind of a misnomer. It\'s more like, petting zoos, zoos that call themselves sanctuaries that really aren\'t, safaris with photo ops, and of course the circuses that exist outside the USA.

3 Years Ago

Yes, this is horrible and yes we should boycott all circuses, but the public deserves to know the name of the circus and they should be reported to the USDA.

25 Feb 2015

Totally, how come the name of this abusive circus is not exposed? The public would also like to know if this type of cruelty would ever been brought to justice in the eyes of law, and would the penalty be adequate enough to prevent such cruelty from happening again. But the major culprit is the law still allows circuses to exist legally.

25 Feb 2015

According to the source/report on the original article, which was linked in this one, the circus was in Spain, so reporting it to the USDA would do nothing.

25 Feb 2015

"All circuses" is a bit extreme of since many circuses don\'t have animals anymore. I worked for a real circus for a couple years when I was younger. We had acrobats, clowns, and a magician but we would never include an animal in our shows. Most circuses since the early 90\'s have used that model. The "circus" in this case sounds more like a petting zoo. I think they are probably using the term a bit loosely.

3 Years Ago

Why haven\'t the people who starved this lion been charged with animal cruelty? At the very least they should have been made to pay for his surgery.

28 Feb 2015

i agree with you; perpetrators should be penalized, chaged criminally and exposed in the media to warn/educate the public against this outrageous trade; these people are so greedy for easy money!

02 Mar 2015

Why haven\'t the circus people that did this are not starved and then left to fend for their own is beyond me.

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