All too often, we walk into a shopping mall, vacation spot, or other public arena and encounter something we absolutely should not - a lion or tiger cub. The majority of us are unaware that the opportunity to pet or take a picture with one of these adorable animals is, in its entirety, tragically carried out at the expense of the cubs.
As cubs, these felines require huge amounts of sleep, and given their age, they naturally have extremely weak immune systems. This fact, coupled with forced fatigue brought on by being constantly woken up and handled all day, leave them unable to fend off the inevitable germs, bacteria, and infections that will come from being touched and held by countless adults and children. As a result, many of the exploited cubs are sick, but illness does not excuse them from being forced to be awake all day and handled over and over.
Additionally, cubs at these "attractions" are always kept hungry to make picture taking easy. When a paying customer approaches for their snapshot, a cub is picked up, has a bottle put in it's mouth so it will sit calm and still on the stranger's lap, the picture is taken, and the bottle is immediately taken away, regardless of the poor cub's hunger or nutritional needs.
Many times, the money one spends to have their picture taken with one of these cubs or to feed them one of the many bottles they will be given that day, is claimed to be destined for paying for care for the cubs or even for donation to wildlife groups or conservation efforts. Sadly, this is most often not the case. This money may go directly into the pockets of those exploiting the cub or may be used to purchase more cubs from (potentially illegal) breeders to exploit in the future.
|Simba III when he first |
arrived at IEAS.
These endangered species, who should be protected, are being used for unnecessary entertainment. Now, with new laws inching their way into the regulations in place for these animals, people who exploit them are moving on to different species. In fact, finding the opportunity to pet or feed baby bears is becoming more and more common across the United States. Greta, an American black bear now living at IEAS, was used as a cub specifically for that purpose. She was was exploited daily to make money via photo ops, and when she was too big to make a profit, she was essentially discarded.
|Greta, an American black bear, now living at IEAS after having been originally bred and|
used to make money from photo opportunities. When she was too old to be useful,
she was essentially discarded.
It is a tragedy that these noble creatures who deserve our respect and admiration as we help them survive in their WILD and NATURAL environments are passed around with little regard for their health and happiness for our pleasure. Please remember how sad and dangerous a situation this all too common scenario can be for these young animals. While you may feel like you are missing a "once in a lifetime opportunity," your refusal to take part is one step toward a better future for these cubs worldwide.
|Simba III, now grown and living both happily|
and healthily at IEAS.