The Real Lion King

Lions at TCWR

July 18, 2019

As Disney releases The Lion King on Friday, July 19th, we are shining a spotlight our lions that call Turpentine Creek a forever home. Throughout the week our 5 lions will be celebrated and have a day dedicated to them, consisting of educational programs about the species along with enrichment toy making for all of the lions in their forever home.

Across the United States and around the world lions are being kept as pets, used in roadside zoos, entertainment such as movies and circuses, and carelessly bred at cub petting facilities. Lions are the only social cat species, living in groups called prides. They have strict social structures and hierarchies consisting of a dominant male who watches over his females. Males protect their territory, while females provide all of the cub care and do most of the hunting.

By being forcefully kept in captivity, they are not able to live a natural lifestyle they deserve. Victims of the pet trade are forced to live alone, confined to small spaces, and suffer abuse and neglect due to lack of laws and regulations protecting them. The lions rescued at TCWR require extensive psychological and physical rehabilitation. They can never be released back into the wild, because they are born and bred in the United States for profit, have never been taught how to hunt, and would not survive without humans caring for them.

TCWR’s lion pair Daniel and Chloe were rescued in September 2016 from a shutdown pseudo-sanctuary in Colorado. Daniel had a severe injury to his eye and had to be amputated upon arrival, as well as a tumor on his tail removed. They were kept in small enclosures, walking on ground-up pallet boards with nails in them, had filthy living areas, and were extremely frightened of people. Now in their forever home at TCWR, they have come into their own and can be seen lounging comfortably on their bench and caroling throughout the night with our other lions Tsavo, Willy, and Savanna.

To help lions in captivity, only visit accredited zoos and sanctuaries that provide the quality of life captive animals deserve. Avoid any place that uses big cats for entertainment as well as places that let you hold baby cubs. By passing stricter laws such as the Big Cat Public Safety Act HR 1380 and the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act HR 2863, we can prevent exotic animals from suffering in the United States, and shift focus to protecting their wild counterparts.

Since the release of the original Lion King in 1994 half of the lions in the wild have disappeared. With their numbers down to 20,000, they are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. They have lost 90% of their historic range due to habitat loss and human population growth. Their main threats consist of human-lion conflict, bushmeat poaching, human encroachment, trophy hunting, and illegal poaching. With your help, we can speak out for lions in the wild and also in captivity. We hope to see you this week to celebrate our lions!