An abused lion cub found in a suburb in Paris is finally able to return home. King (the lion's name) has gone through an emotional journey that highlights the issues in the exotic pet trade industry. With his return to a cage-free environment, King has taught people valuable lessons about proper animal care.
Not all exotic animals are illegal to own, but the ones that tend to be more difficult to care for than the usual pets we see typically are. Those seeking to own a more unique creature need to do the proper research and have the adequate resources to care for the animal long term. While it’s “cool” to own an exotic animal, it is also cruel to have them mainly for the bragging rights. Improper care and neglect can lead to aggression, health issues, and eventually the animal’s death. King was lucky to be rescued, but some are not as fortunate as he was.
In late 2017, social media users found images of a man who owned a lion cub and he seemed to be abusing the little creature. In an apartment in the French suburb of Noisy-le-sec, local police were shocked to find a lion cub, not much older than a year old, in a tiny cage. The size clearly inadequate for the lion cub. The investigators found many cuts and bruises on the cub along with clear signs of severe emaciation. King was then transferred to a rehabilitation center in Natuurhulpcentrum, Belgium where he grew strong and was deemed fitting for his name. After some fundraising, organizations involved in his rescue were finally able to obtain the resources to transfer King to his new permanent home. King currently lives in a game reserve in South Africa called Shamwari.
King’s case ended happily. However, the reality is most cases of abused exotic animals rarely get the spotlight. King’s former owner initially bought him to show off on social media, and he shortly stopped caring for the feline. It is crucial for people to know that exotic animals are way more difficult to keep alive in a captive environment than the usual pets we know of. Without the proper resources and knowledge, the animals’ health and sanity can easily slip. If King was still in the hands of his previous owner, he could’ve died from malnutrition and injuries. If he survived, he could’ve become very aggressive towards his abusive owner and things could’ve gotten dangerous. Hopefully, he serves as a reminder of what responsible pet ownership should be.
While King highlights the issues of exotic pets, it is important to realize that animal abuse problems are not exclusive to this side of the trade. There are still plenty of neglectful or abusive pet ownership in the usual animal trade. Abuse also happens to the world’s dogs, cats, hamsters, etc. With reminders like King, we should all think twice before purchasing a pet. Animals, just like us, are also looking for a loving and caring home.