This story contains graphic images that may be disturbing to some readers; reader discretion is advised.
Thirty lions have been euthanized after they were found starving and left for dead at a captive-bred lion farm. A wildfire ravaged the farm and severely burned the lions, in what the Bloemfontein SPCA says is one of the worst animal cruelty cases to ever happen in their careers.
After the wildfires swept through parts of South Africa, the Bloemfontein SPCA hit the ground running, helping farmers who had animals that were injured. The SPCA helped relieve these animals of their suffering, many who were unable to escape the fires and were burned so badly they wouldn’t survive.
That’s when they came across the captive-bred lion farm, but were refused entry by the owner. They knew something was wrong, and eventually got a warrant to enter the property.
When they walked into the farm, they couldn’t believe their eyes. For five days, the owners didn’t get medical treatment for the lions, despite knowing how badly injured they were from the fire.
“We arrived at the lion enclosures and our hearts broken and our souls wept,” Bloemfontein SPCA wrote on Facebook. “We saw that the lions couldn’t escape the blazing fires and the inhalation of smothering fumes were evident.”
The lions laid in one spot with their paws turned upwards, unable to move. They were badly burnt and their faces had the scars to prove the horrific events they endured.
The owner didn’t properly feed the lions, and they were left starving, weak, and underweight with their ribs and pelvics showing.
In addition to the lions’ injuries, the camps were also in horrendous condition. The electric fence had burnt down, leaving the lions an easy way to escape. But sadly, none of the lions even ran out, since they were all too hurt to move. The enclosures were also filled with feces and old carcasses. No one clean the camp, and the lions were forced to live in their own filth.
“I have never been this angry in my 30 years at the Bloemfontein SPCA,” said Senior Inspector Reinet Meyer. “The lion is part of our big 5 in South Africa. The lion has huge status and as a country, we are supposed to be proud of our indigenous animals, but we have failed them. We cultivated an industry, legal or illegal, that misuses our animals for entertainment like hunting, bone trade, poaching, circus tricks, cub petting or keeping them in zoos or as pets. This must stop. We should leave these animals to be free in the wild without any human contact, but we have failed that as a country. These lions were captive, and they burned, these lions were never free.”
Once a veterinarian helped SPCA staff attend to the lions, they realized just how horrible the extent of their injuries were. Their paw pads were burned off with large blisters. They had blood oozing from wounds, burnt faces, and blisters in their mouths. They had severe smoke inhalation damage that was so severe to their lungs, they began drowning in their own blood.
With the vet’s help, they sedated all of the lions to assess their injuries, and sadly had to humanely euthanize 30 lions. They treated each lion with the respect they deserve and cremated all of them.
The SPCA opened a case of animal cruelty against the owners, who weren’t even present that day. They issued multiple warnings, yet the owner refused to care for these lions. He even laughed when he was issued a warning, and the SPCA hasn’t seen him since.
“We spent days helping these animals,” the SPCA wrote. “We are still at the farm to ensure that those lions left on the farm, that did not suffer injuries from the fires, get fed and receive water. It is an ongoing battle.”
They have already spent an enormous amount of money to sedate, treat, euthanize, and cremate these lions, and they are now asking the public for support. If you’d like to donate to help the lions, please click here and reference “lions” with your donation.
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