Thursday, 31 July 2008

Christian The Lion


Take a look at this video…

An amazing story, don’t you think? One that should never have happened because Harrods should never have sold exotic, wild animals in the first place, but they did and the video shows that an extraordinary bond can be created between man and one of the most dangerous wild animals on the planet. Even George Adamson, of 'born free' fame and the man who re-introduced Christian to Africa had never seen anything like it.

Lions, of course, do not belong in our living rooms, back gardens or driving around in Bentleys, as Christian did while he was living in ‘the lap of luxury’ with his owners. Thankfully, its now illegal to sell and keep wild animals as pets but until the ban in 1976, keeping lions, pumas, leopards and other big cats was quite popular.

Unfortunately, after the ban was introduced, few actually tried to have their pets re-introduced to the areas where they belonged, releasing them instead in the UK countryside. Even today there are regular sightings of big cats in various areas and as late as in 2000 a young boy was attacked by a “leopard like” animal in Monmouthshire. Apparently, sightings in the highlands of Scotland have become common occurrences. It's believed that these sightings could have a direct connection with the 70's mania for keeping such animals.

In Africa, the number of lions has fallen by around 70% during the last decade alone leaving no more than around 16,500 of these magnificant creatures. Every year, over 600 are illegally hunted and killed as ‘trophies’ and illicit trading in lions still goes on. Habitat loss and the depletion of their natural prey has also taken its toll of them. Many are still kept under dreadful conditions in poorly managed zoos, circuses etc.

Man has a choice as to whether or not our species will have a chance of long-term survival; the animals we share the planet with do not. What we ruin for ourselves we also ruin for them and as I’ve always said: “mess up your own life if you want do, but don’t mess up others’ lives for them.”

Surely we owe it to those creatures who can’t make their own choices to do what we can to help keep the world a beautiful place where we can all happily survive?

Sharon J

For more information about Christian the Lion, see:
Wikepedia Entry
Daily Mail Story
The Born Free Foundation


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Catz said...

Wow! I have tears in my eyes after watching that! Incredible but you are right he should never had been brought over here to be sold as a pet in the first place.

Jade of the Jungle said...

I saw that video a few days ago, isn't it brilliant? Shame it had to happen in the first place though.

I'd like to think people are more aware of the downsides to keeping exotic pets in inappropriate surroundings, but I think it still happens a lot, which is a great shame.

J x

Sharon J said...

Me too, Catz, but then I am a proper softie. I can cry while watching Corrie!

Jade. It does still happen yes, and here in the UK too. I watched a documentary once about the number of wild animals that are discovered being illegally brought into the country and it was shocking. Baby crocodiles, monkeys, kangaroos, wild cats and all sorts. While there are still selfish people who think nothing of satisfying their 'wants' regardless of the consequences, there will always be somebody willing to supply them.

Jack said...

Couln't agree more with you guys. Places like Florida in the states have ongoing issues with people who buy alligators and other wild animals as pets and just get rid of them when they become difficult to take care of. Just horrible.


Gavin said...

Here, here. I too had tears in my eyes (call me an old green softy), but this sort of thing is still happening over here in OZ (the smuggling part), as we have laws against keeping most native mammals. Birds seem OK, but I don't know why?

Our customs teams are always finding our native animals trying to be smuggled in suitcases in such a way that only about 10% of the animals will survive the trip, let alone survive in captivity. From birds to reptiles and even baby kangaroos as previously mentioned. How do you think all those budgies got to the UK, which we see flying around our town in flocks all the time, along with galahs, cockatoos and parakeets.

It is a crime against these defenceless creatures that have no choice in the matter. I am glad that our customs service are very vigilant in stopping these activities and fine the culprits very heavily (if they can catch them of course).

Sharon J said...

I've heard about some of the things that go on in Florida, Jack. Scary stuff! Both for humans and the wild animals themselves.

Gavin. I think it's a problem in all 'rich' countries. People want something and will stop at nothing to get it.

I believe budgies were first introduced to the UK in the mid 1800s but looked quite different to the ones that are bred today? Not having ever seen a wild budgie, I can't say whether that's true. Up until the relatively recent ban on importing wild animals (not sure where the law stands on birds here actually), it was a free for all to bring in whatever they fancied. When you think about it, any 'pet' that we have today that isn't native to the country has to have been taken from the wild and imported at some point.

I remember being in Marrakech (Morocco) and seeing thousands of baby tortoises for sale in the market. The vendors were urging tourists to buy them and being as some were no bigger than a thumb nail it would have been pretty easy to smuggle a few in, something that I'm sure happens a lot being as tortoises cost around £150-£200 here.