Monday, March 9, 2015

If Petting Lion Cubs is Wrong, I Don't Want to be Right

And I know it's wrong. It's wrong in the way that zoos and SeaWorld and circuses are all not in the best interest of animals. So I'll try to explain myself although admittedly the explanation is pretty weak.

Mr. Deep headed off to Geneva on Sunday afternoon. He is gone until Thursday morning. I am alone in a country and on a continent. But that's a story for another day. Before he left, we needed a good activity for Sunday, something that would be fun yet close to home. I had heard that the Lion Park had cubs that you could hold. So we decided to check it out. 

The Lion Park is the opposite of Pilanesberg. The animals at the Lion Park, while not caged, are in fenced areas which you can drive through. You are guaranteed to see the animals at the Lion Park, whereas in Pilanesberg they are free and roaming across hundreds of acres, hunting their own food and living their lives to the fullest.

Here is a smattering of what we saw at the park. I know there is an annoying spot in the cub video. Something is wrong with my phone. But the cubs eating are so cute and so I had to post it. It's just a short video.

It costs a little bit of extra money to go to lion cub interaction where you can spend two minutes touching lion cubs.  You can't hold the cubs but you can pet them. The lion cubs were sleeping when we were there. We were told it was because they are nocturnal. I'm not going to lie, it was pretty awesome to touch them. They feel just like you would imagine. Not as soft as a cat, more like a course dog similar to the way a pug feels. 

We also went to cheetah interaction. This was different from the cubs as there was only one cheetah to touch, the cheetah was awake, and Mr. Deep and I were in there alone with him/her. Well, the trainer was with us but no other "touchers" were in there. 

The cheetah is softer than the lion and fluffy like a cat. Oh and it was purring! 

Oh, and while I usually try (I said try) not to judge other people's decisions I am pretty sure that this is a bad idea. Then again, I touched a cheetah so what do I know? 


  1. Shame, in my opinion these places are worse than zoos or Sea World as they are raising lion cubs destined for the canned hunting industry. Do you really support that? For more information, please see and

    1. I do not support canned hunting. However, it's not entirely clear to me where the truth lies in this matter. We can agree that lions that interact in this way with humans can not be released into the wild. From there, it's not clear to me that they automatically end up in canned hunts. The literature from the lion park states that they have "gone to great lengths to ensure that our lions never end up in canned hunting scenarios or unsuitable environments." and one of the websites above says, " Obviously, in relation to our experience at Ukutula, we have no direct evidence that their animals will end up in a canned hunt. All we’re going to say is that a lot of the information we were given involved crossed wires and when questioned where the animals do end up, the responses were often vague and dismissive." I will continue to review the information on these websites and others in greater detail to ensure I am as informed as possible. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. I think this fantastic! I love watching your adventures and look forward to more.

  3. I went here in 2002, their talk is not backed up with evidence, and I believe these lions end up 'hunted' ie shot.

    I held a lion cub there, which was an extraordinary experience. I've also been able to interact with cheetahs in Kenya up close, which was an amazing privilege - especially the purring. However, knowing what I now know, I would not recommend or take others there.

    This is lion farming, but of wild territorial animals, and for photos and egotistical white hunters. It contribute nothing to conservation or local communities who are alienated from their land. Its also dishonest, in the way they make money by misinformation to genuine animal lovers.

    1. Hi Anand, If I knew more about the park and the canned hunting industry back when I visited the Lion Park I also would have reconsidered my decision to visit. I agree with you that having a chance to touch a lion cub is an extraordinary experience. Have you heard that the park has stated they will be ending the lion cub interaction feature? Here is the article. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Ending the interaction might make releasing into the wild more successful. I wouldn't be surprised if the park is lying about the canned hunts but one can't be sure without first hand knowledge. I would not participate in a canned hunt or any hunt for something that you can't eat but I refuse to judge those that do. Life in the wild is relatively short even under the best conditions so I think the most important thing is how the animals are treated in the parks and zoos. Call me old fashioned but all this hand wringing moralizing is beyond me; "egotistical white hunters," "alienated from their land," etc? Good grief.


About Me

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.