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  • Writer's pictureBeth Jennings

Amy’s Story

Since being home we’ve been in contact with many people who have been to Ukutula or heard a lot about it. The story below has been spreading around social media already gaining over 400 shares in just one day. Amy has recently worked on a bridal photoshoot at Ukutula which involved the lion cubs and after reading her response we really wanted to share it, so have a read!

“The other day I worked on a shoot at a game lodge called Ukutula. When I arrived, I didn’t know we would be shooting with baby lions. Ukutula is well known for its cub petting services. The photographer assured me that this lodge was doing good work for lions by breeding them to be stronger and more resilient against contracting feline Aids. Their mission is to release these lions back into the wild since our wild lion population is dwindling rapidly.

In theory this sounds good doesn’t it? Protecting a species and saving the future lion population?

Something just didn’t feel right to me. I started looking around for information on this practice.

Here’s what I found:

The harsh reality is that petting cubs are a product of FACTORY FARMING.

The cubs are taken from their mothers shortly after birth. This causes extreme stress to both the mother and the cubs. The mother is then forced to breed again and again, to produce about 2 or 3 litters in a year. This is extremely unnatural. In the wild lionesses will only reproduce cubs every second or third year.

Lions deprived of growing up in a natural social group and hand reared CANNOT be released into the wild. They have NO conservation value. They are bred for only one reason


Lion cubs are naturally boisterous so they are often maltreated by staff members if they do not behave themselves. (It made me wonder if the cub our model was holding had been drugged before hand to become docile and easy to handle.)

Here’s the truth about what happens to the cubs once they grow up:

1. They get killed in canning grounds.

2. They’re forced to breed just like their mothers and fathers.

3. They’re sold to the black market or to exotic owners. (Whilst at Ukutula I found out they had recently shipped 20 lions to the DRC. This was more than likely a hunting exchange.)

4. They’re taken to other petting zoos where you can still pet the older animals, but they’re DRUGGED for you to do it.

Not all cub petting facilities look bad on the outside but the reality is, if you support these places you are directly supporting the canned lion business.

The most important thing you can do to help is to let your friends know that cub petting is NOT COOL. I’ve seen the small enclosures these lions are forced to live in and it’s even worse than you may think. Hundreds of lions/tigers/pumas are forced to live in small confined spaces. I’ve seen this first hand at a place called BUISFONTEIN LODGE.

If you have international friends that want their picture taken with a baby cub, please tell them the truth about what is going on to these beautiful creatures.”

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