Cara Delevingne, model and self-proclaimed wild animal lover, has gained a lot of negative press from animals advocates who are outraged by her recent photo shoot featuring captive lion cubs. The photo shoot is part of a new ad campaign from the high-end watch maker, Tag Heuer, to announce Delevingne as the new face of their brand. In keeping with her persona, the shoot is meant to capture a sense of wildness, but in using captive lions to convey this message, the shoot is a massive fail.
African lions are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, endangered by poaching and habitat loss. These animals are also frequently exploited in captivity, used in zoos, circuses, and roadside attractions to draw in crowds. Getting the chance to take a selfie with a lion cub is a coveted experience by unassuming tourists because many do not understand the immense cruelty involved in this industry.
While we do not know where this lion cub was raised, or the exact conditions of his treatment, many cubs who are used as photo props, sadly, are abused. Regardless of how this individual lion cub was raised, this photo shoot perpetuates the idea that cubs can be domesticated by humans and that they make great photo props.
To get cubs to cooperate and sit still for photos, they are ripped from their mothers after birth and hand-reared by humans. They are taught to be submissive through physical abuse and starvation. Although cubs need meat to properly develop, they are only allowed bottles of milk that are withheld until they are called to sit for a photo.
While the fashion industry does not have the best rap when it comes to animal welfare concerns, we can’t help but note the irony of Delevingne’s participation in a shoot involving such cruelty to lions. The model has described a lion cub as being her “dream date.” And her love for these animals has even inspired her to tattoo a lion’s head on her right index finger. Yet, it appears she is wholly unaware of the abuse wrought against these animals who are exploited for photo opportunities and tourist attractions.
“Lion cubs are not photo props. Their health and well-being should not be compromised,” said World Animal Protection wildlife expert Dr. Neil D’Cruze to MailOnline.”They belong in the wild, not draped over a celebrity just to sell a designer watch.”
“When you look behind the scenes, advertisements like these support an industry that relies on animal cruelty, said D’Cruz. “Our concern is that such high profile adverts will legitimise these cruel encounters with wild animals.”
In November, Delevingne joined an initiative, #Art4Animals, to raise awareness that an animal is for life, and not just a Christmas present. This initiative was also aimed to raise money for New Hope Animal Rescue. Unfortunately, this recent move with Tag Heuer calls into question the authenticity of her animal-loving ways.
“I am sure that both advertisers and consumers alike would think twice about the commercial use of wild animals if they were aware of the suffering involved behind the scenes,” says D’Cruz.
We hope that the uproar caused by this recent photo shoot is enough to make both Delevingne and Tag Heuer rethink their use of animal exploitation as a marketing ploy in the future. As Delevingne’s fame continues to skyrocket, the example she sets becomes even more important. We can all stand to learn a lesson from this gaffe. Lion cubs might be cute, but there is no reason they should be subject to a life in captivity because of this.
Image source: DailyMail