A Spanish couple is causing an uproar on social media after revealing that they have a 550-pound pet lion called Simba. The couple rescued the almost two-year-old Simba from a circus … only to keep him as a pet in their home. They turned their garden into an enclosure for Simba and also shared that the lion sleeps with them sometimes in bed.

While on the surface, it may seem like this couple is doing a good thing having rescued Simba from the circus, in reality, the couple isn’t doing this captive lion any favors. The desire to own exotic animals is often short-lived, yet it is the animals who suffer in the long run. It’s estimated that over 5,000 Tigers reside in U.S. homes; that’s more tigers in captivity than there are left in the wild.

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While the couple maintains they didn’t want to miss the opportunity to have an exotic animal in their home, this fad is dangerous and needs to stop. Wild animals, even the adorable ones, make terrible pets. Simba’s needs would be better suited at an accredited wild animal sanctuary. 

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Simba has caused many online to question whether keeping an exotic animal as a pet is right, with one user commenting, “‘They have it as the king of the house, and very spoiled, but one day the lion will act on his natural instincts.” And sadly, we have seen that happen time and time again. Born Free USA has documented over 2,000 attacks, incidents and escapes involving exotic pets since 1990.

Exotic animals require stringent and specialized diets that are essential to their well-being. When their needs are not met, the animals wind up malnourished and develop illnesses and disease. Further, many exotic pet owners are not prepared to provide full grown tigers, lions, bears with tens of pounds of raw meat and primates with the appropriate diet.

Protecting the wild populations of any species does not entail keeping them held captive as pets. Instead, we must continue to dissuade the public from buying exotic animals in an effort to reduce the demand that is currently fueling the illegal wildlife trade.

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If you are looking for a pet, consider adopting one of the millions of domestic animals waiting for homes in shelters. It is our responsibility to keep wild animals wild.

Lead image source: designerpoint/Pixabay

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