Pet a Cub, Kill a Lion

Written by Blood Lions

Published on 29 Jan, 2019

The Blood Lions ‘YouthForLions’ team have officially launched a brand new animated clip showing the life cycle of a captive bred lion in South Africa, to create awareness across the globe.

The ‘YouthForLions’ campaign was launched on the heels of the international award winning Blood Lions® feature film documentary in 2015. It is a youth-based campaign, focused on educating the youth about wildlife interactive activities and how these activities negatively impact the lives of the animals. It aims to spread awareness across the globe about the captive lion breeding industry and the exploitative activities that go hand-in-hand with it, such as cub petting, lion walking, the lion bone trade and canned hunting.

The cycle:

The campaign’s new release is a simplified and animated look at how lion cubs, born in captivity in South Africa, are often taken away from their mothers when they are younger than 10 days old. The removal of the cubs forces the mothers straight back into an intense breeding cycle. In captivity, lionesses often breed up to four or five times faster than they would in the wild.

The tiny lion cubs are then hand raised, bottle fed and used for cub petting attractions where members of the public pay to pet and hold them. When they grow older, the sub-adult lions are trained to climb trees and pose on rocks for “selfies” during lion walking attractions. Once fully grown, the now tame lions are often sold to captive hunting establishments where they can be shot and killed in “canned” or captive lion hunts. This is just one of the ways in which hand reared and bottle fed lion cubs end up. Others are kept in small enclosures and killed for their bones to be exported to South East Asia to supplement the tiger bone trade.

“If you knew the facts, would you still pet a cub or walk with a lion? We don’t think so. The clip was created to have a simple message using video as a popular tool to spread awareness about the life cycle of a captive bred lion. Understanding the different stages of exploitation that these cubs go through, and the fact that they are merely money making machines for their owners is the key to putting an end to this practice” – Tamryn Stephenson, YouthForLions Digital Marketing Manager.

When travelling in South Africa, THINK before you VISIT, CUDDLE, WALK or VOLUNTEER with predators including lions, tigers, leopard and cheetah.

Don’t be part of the problem; help be part of the change.

Share the clip and sign the pledge:

Share the clip across your platforms, view the #YouthForLions pledge here and commit to not supporting breeders or operators that contribute to the cycle of unethical exploitation of predators. By signing the pledge, you are adding your voice to the global call to stop the captive breeding and associated commercialisation of Africa’s predators. You will also pledge your support to the conservation community in their efforts to secure the survival of Africa’s predators in the wild while promoting the responsible interaction with, and respect for, Africa’s wilderness.

View the new clip here:


For more information visit our YouthForLions webpage:; or contact


Clip by Dave Cohen, Illustrations by Patrick George

The NSPCA has huge animal welfare concerns for the animals exploited in the captive predator and canned hunting industry in South Africa. This industry is unregulated, uncontrolled and is responsible for untold cruelty. It is a tragedy that our wild animals are reduced to profit making machines. Coupled with this members of public are unwittingly encouraging and supporting this cruelty, so it is vital that the public are aware of the truth behind the industry so they can make informed decisions and hopefully choose not to support such an unethical industry.

Sr.Ainsley Hay, Manager, NSPCA Wildlife Protection Unit

Breeding magnificent wild creatures like lions in camps so that they can be slaughtered for ego and money is unconscionable and should be outlawed.  Lions have the right to live in the wild and to continue playing their unique role within the ecological communities of Africa.  The continued existence of the canned hunting industry is a moral outrage that diminishes us all.  This important film shines a light into the dark corners of this ugly business.

Cormac Cullinan, Cullinan & Associates Incorporated

Cruel, barbaric, macabre – all words used by Australian MPs about lion farming and the canned lion hunting industry in SA.  Our campaign was glad to be able to assist and participate in a full length documentary that aims to expose a brutal industry whose whole business model is routine, egregious cruelty to helpless animals – for fun.

Chris Mercer, Founder, CACH (Campaign Against Canned Hunting)

Captive lions have long been a blemish on South Africa’s wildlife and tourism landscape and their tragic story needed to be exposed before these practices negatively impacted on Brand South Africa. Congratulations to all involved in taking the time and making this happen.

Colin Bell, Tourism consultant and author of “Africa’s Finest”

“As a travel and conservation based organization, we find the “Blood Lions” documentary deeply disturbing. Despite being hard to watch, we urge people to get out there and see it. It is important to shed light on the dark and corrupt business of rearing lions for the purposes of hunting, in hopes of making a positive change. As we polled our membership, we found that individually each of our companies have chosen to stop booking all activities that contribute to this industry.”

The Safari Professionals – 30 Tour Operators based in the US and Canada

South Africa’s failure to address the canned hunting industry has emboldened those who make a living out of the death of lions bred, raised and slaughtered on a ‘no kill, no fee’ basis. The canned hunting industry is unnatural, unethical and unacceptable. It delivers compromised animal welfare and zero education. It undermines conservation and creates a moral vacuum now inhabited by the greed and grotesque self-importance of those who derive pleasure in the taking of life.

Blood Lions lays bare the truth behind the canned hunting industry that, far from contributing to the future survival of the species, may, in fact, accelerate extinction in the wild, leaving behind a trail  littered with rotting corpses of its helpless and hopeless victims.

Will Travers OBE, President Born Free Foundation

The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust, in providing support for the making of this Documentary, does so in the firm belief that it is important that the true facts behind captive lion breeding and canned lion hunting in South Africa, is brought to the attention of a global audience in order to create awareness which in turn will lead to much needed change.

Les Ward MBE, Chairman, The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust

This is a timely, courageous as well as a deeply disturbing documentary. It is at the same time, a voice for the wild and the voiceless … of saying “NO MORE!” to that terrible triad of financial opportunism, deceit and indifference to the non-human animal by those claiming to be conservationists.

Ian McCallum – Author, poet, psychiatrist and naturalist

With the constant pressure on wildlife, every effort must be made to keep our last vestiges of natural fauna and flora protected.    Canned hunting of any kind, along with the related consequences, must be condemned by humanity as not only a travesty of nature but also an utterly inhumane practise.   Taming lion cubs only to later hunt them is an utterly inhumane practice.   It is pseudo-hunting, a complete sham and does not even qualify as hunting on a sustainable use basis.   Wildlife conservation has to evolve into practices that are ethical, humanitarian and sustainable. This will not be achieved if there is not real and fair community involvement which has not been part of the hunting fraternity’s evolution.

Yvette Taylor, Executive Director, The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation

“Canned lion ‘hunting’ is nothing less than a bargain basement opportunity for foreign hunters to engage in one of South Africa’s most sordid practices. Hunting of captive bred lions entirely dependent on human fingerprints from cub to trophy is immoral, unethical and against all animal welfare concerns. The fact that it still continues as profitable commerce is a damning statement against all of us who have not properly engaged to snuff it out. Blood Lions is a good start to bring change.”

Dr Pieter Kat – Director: LionAid

Canned Lion