Tale Two Lion Cubs Spain

A tale of two lion cubs in Spain

Story of how two lion cubs were being used for tourist photos in Benidorm – and how they are being rescued. Amazing story from the Campaign Against Canned Hunting.

Read more about photo-prop animals and our No Photos, Please! Campaign. And please remember, while this rescue is amazing, for most people, the best thing to do if you see an animal being used for tourist photos is ‘say no’. If we stop paying, they’ll have to stop selling.

One of the cubs being used for photos

This is the photo that began the rescue – four smiling young men petting a lion cub somewhere in Spain. The photo was published on the well-known Facebook page Volunteers in Africa Beware. From there it was picked up by Linda Park, the CACH representative in Johannesburg. She in turn referred the picture to CJ and Luis Munoz, the CACH representatives in Spain, with a brief comment … OVER TO YOU.

What happened next? Here is the story from CJ and Luis:

¨We are now in the possession of two male lion cubs approximately 3 ½ months old. We picked up on a lead from a CACH group member that found a posting of cub petting in some place in Spain. After some investigation, we found that the place was Terra Mitica Park in Benidorm. 
Apparently, a woman was using lion cubs for picture taking all hours of the day, day after day, charging 10 euros per picture. She was keeping the cubs on a diet of only milk in order to keep them small.
We contacted Guardia Civil Seprona, (the Spanish Special Police Service for the protection of Nature), and they quickly responded. The woman had some papers indicating that she had purchased the cubs from a circus in France, but as she had no birth certificates for the cubs proving they were born in captivity, Seprona impounded the cubs. Seprona filed complaints against the woman with the Spanish Customs Authorities and other institutions on a number of charges.
She was told the cubs would be returned to her if she could produce the rest of the papers required within 15 days of being called for a hearing. However, she gave up her rights of ownership before her case came up and Seprona placed the cubs in the care of an animal sanctuary.
After several weeks of phone calls to CITES, Customs, and Seprona offering to provide a permanent good home for the cubs, we finally found them by a stroke of good luck. 
We have been awarded custody and are now on our way to Madrid where the cubs will be very well taken care of until we can send them home to South Africa to live out their lives in the best sanctuary in the world¨

CACH initially tried to find a suitable and forever home for the cubs in Europe and approached various organisations such as Four Paws who had experience of animal rescue in Europe. This is the answer we received to our enquiry.

It is true that there are generally speaking more lions and tigers waiting to be rescued than places to take them.

In South-Africa our big cat sanctuary LIONSROCK is currently filled at maximum capacity and we plan to build new enclosures to be able to help more animals.

The big cat rescue centre FELIDA that we recently took over in The Netherlands is waiting to be rebuilt before we can take in new animals.

Finally, Stichting AAP has indeed a rescue centre for apes and monkeys in Spain, and they are currently building enclosures there for big cats as well.

However, I don’t think these enclosures will be ready this year.

So to South Africa. CACH approached Kevin Richardson, the respected ‘Lion Whisperer’, who runs a unique lion sanctuary in Dinokeng. Kevin kindly agreed to give the cubs a forever home on his 1300 hectare sanctuary.

Now the really hard work begins. CJ and Luis have transferred the cubs from Alicante to Madrid where they will remain pending the completion of the export process to South Africa.

The re-location of the cubs from Madrid to SA is a bureaucratic minefield. Adding to the expense and time are the formalities. There are vaccinations to be given, clearances to be obtained from various authorities in both countries, CITES permits needed both for export and import, import and transport permits for SA, veterinary certificates, and the list goes on. Meanwhile the cubs must be weaned off their inadequate milk diet to make them strong and healthy.

CACH is employing a specialist wildlife freight brokerage company to handle the process to ensure that the relocation of the cubs takes place as smoothly and as stress – free as possible.

You may ask why we are spending so much time, money and effort on two cubs in Spain when there are thousands of captive bred lions in SA.

We can think of three reasons.

1. Because if CACH had not intervened those cubs would have been used as human playthings for as long as possible on a poor arthritic diet that would affect them for the rest of their lives, before suffering a miserable existence in a cage in a travelling zoo.

2. We may not be able to save all the lions in the world but CACH will make a world of difference to the lives of these two lion cubs. Kevin Richardson’s sanctuary must be just about the best place in the world for a lion that cannot live its life out in the wild.

3. Finally, should we not rescue them just because we can? And would you not like to be part of this, dear reader? With your help we can make a difference to the lives of these two little cubs.

We ask you all to help us in funding the re-location of the cubs from Madrid to South Africa to live a happy and natural life with other lions at Kevin’s sanctuary. No amount is too small so please help us to give these two cubs the life they deserve.

We end as we began with the plea……

OVER TO YOU, please donate to help bring the cubs home.

We will be updating this page with pictures and the on-going rescue as it happens. Thank you for helping us make a difference.

Click here to go to the CACH website