You would think that it goes without saying that removing a wild animal from its natural environment in the name of human gain is a bad idea. Again, you would think it is a bad idea and yet, it happens far too often. There are so many roadside attractions where unsuspecting visitors are sold the concept of taking photos with baby tigers as an entertaining experience that we sometimes feel a little embarrassed to be human. Not to mention, there are more tigers living in U.S. backyards than in the wild. Yes, really. There are wild animals living in people’s backyards instead of being free and, you know, wild.
In spite of all the logical reasons to not own an exotic pet, such as the compelling argument that a wild tiger cannot and never will be like the cuddly kittens who you can find in your local pet shelter, exotic pet ownership is something we see far too often. One man in particular, Salim Zhambeev, a professional wrestler based in Russia, took this concept and brought it to a whole new level of perplexing, head-scratching, what-is-wrong-with-you-ness when he adopted a lion cub to help him practice his moves.
Zhambeev bought this little lion cub to help him practice certain moves. Given that professional wrestling is a skill based on knowing and understanding body mechanics and trusting your opponent, we just can’t piece together how this makes any sense. Maybe he’s not very good at his job.
…But Zhambeev’s not a total chump! For his own safety, he had the young lion declawed! … Wait, what??
Declawing a cat is more than just a nail trim — it is actually a painful procedure that involves removing the first digit of a cat’s toe and it can leave them with multiple chronic issues.
Zhambeev says that the lion is friendly, but you know what they say. You can take an animal out of the wild, but you cannot take the wild out of an animal. She is only one-year-old at the moment, but she will get bigger and stronger.
As much as Zhambeev claims that this big cat is as friendly as a housecat, she will never really be “domestic.” Domestication is a process that takes literally hundreds of years of selective breeding — it won’t happen just because you treated the lion cub you raised extra-nice. Sorry, not sorry. Because this cub was made to live as a pet while she was still a baby, she never truly got the opportunity to learn how to be a lion. So when she’s too big for Zhambeev to handle, releasing her back into the wild will likely never be an option. Tragically, this means she will likely lead a miserable life in captivity unless she is surrendered to a veritable big cat sanctuary. Not to mention, by posting photos of this lion and talking about how “friendly” she is, Zhambeev is sending the message that owning a lion is okay. It’s not and it never will be.
To learn more about why a wild animal can never really be domestic, read the following articles:
- The Myth of Domestication: Why Exotic Animals Can Never Really be ‘Pets’
- Here’s Why Exotic Animals Belong in the Wild, Not as ‘Pets’ in Our Backyards
- Why Wild Animals (yes, Even the Adorable Ones) Make Terrible Pets
- Investigation Reveals How Easy it is to Buy Exotic Animals Online – Why This NEEDS to Stop
All image source: CEN