Doesn't this just seem the perfect way to spend your summer?
"Working as a volunteer you will have the rare opportunity of hand rearing lion cubs of different ages. Hand rearing means being responsible for the cubs’ well being. Giving the cubs comfort, feeding them with milk formula from a bottle. Replacing their mother in all ways. Doing the mothers’ job of assisting them to urinate and defecate. (For at least the first three weeks as they cannot do this for themselves). Cuddling and just sitting with them you will enjoy your days in the company of the most sociable of all cats. They love to fall asleep on your lap! Your days on Cub’s duty will include making the various feed mixtures and preparing meat for the various age groups and having interaction with the paying public coming to see the cubs."
There are so many places out there where you can pay to cuddle a baby lion and take them out for a walk; hundreds of volunteering opportunities in which you raise a cute cuddly cub of your own! Bottle feeding, sleeping with them... SO CUTE! And amazingly all in the name of conservation! Not only do you get to cuddle a cute little baby animal that normally would be out of bounds, but you are SAVING a species at the same time.
But stop for a moment, and think. Do you really believe that a lion that has been hand-reared and allowed to interact constantly with humans is really going to make it in the wild? The fact is that a released lion that has been raised by humans is an immense danger to the very species that thinks it is doing good for it. And what happens to a lion that attacks humans?
Lets start from the beginning: Where do the cubs come from? In the majority of these projects cubs are taken from their mothers (who are also bred in captivity) from birth causing a huge amount of distress to both the mother and cub. In some situations they are brought from suppliers who are likely to have shot the mother in the wild and taken the cubs.
As cubs are raised they lack the teaching that a real lion could give them; they therefore are unable to interact properly in lion society, unable to properly hunt and lack fear of their biggest threat. Us.
Released lions who cannot hunt seek out the only place they have known to get food - they come into contact with people, and this is the biggest danger they could ever face.
Sadly the majority of people who take part in these projects, or pay money to cuddle and walk with lions, actually believe they are doing something to benefit the species. Money is being poured in and someone is laughing behind their stacks of cash. This money could be put into conserving those in the wild, creating safe habitats for them and ensuring they are safe from poachers.
There are so many projects out there that do actually benefit wild lion populations but these that pose as conservation programs undermine everything that they do. They take money that could do huge amounts to really save this threatened species.
At the end of the day, wouldn't you rather see a lion as it is really supposed to be? Wild.
If you are interested in volunteering on a program, or donating money to a project check out the "Born Free" guide that tells you what to look out for to ensure that you are investing in a real project that does real good: http://www.bornfree.org.uk/get-involved/voluntary-work/overseas/guide/
And please, just remember in the future that no matter how cute or cuddly they look, lions should not be raised like this. All you are doing by cuddling that little cub is decreasing its chances of survival and real life.
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