Nature reserve in Cradle of Humankind ends cub petting

As the collective voice against cub petting and its links to the canned hunting industry grows louder, one facility in the Cradle of Humankind has also drawn the line.

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The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in the Cradle of Humankind announced that they will be stopping their cub petting activity for the public with immediate effect. This forms part of the reserve's rebranding as a 'nurture reserve' since it fell under new stewardship, dedicated to putting animal welfare first.

“As new owners, we have acknowledged that what was acceptable in 1990 when the reserve first opened to the public, may no longer be acceptable in 2019,” says Jessica Khupe, the reserve's brand manager.

“Human beings have always wanted to get up close and personal with wild animals. Understandable as this is, studies have shown that it is not good for animal welfare."

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Its new COO, Mike Flynn, reiterated this sentiment, adding that besides the welfare aspect, "it's also not a sustainable business model".

This forms part of the reserve's three-year plan to upgrade all of its public facilities, habitats and wildlife enclosures for the benefit of the animals, as well as striving for healthy genetic diversity among their animals, helping ensure the long-term survival of vulnerable species and pledge to never sell or exchange their animals, including their lions, unless it's to a reputable and licensed wildlife institution.

They also commit to only breeding animals if it serves a conservation purpose. 

“To those of our visitors who are disappointed that they can no longer cuddle a lion cub at our reserve - this is the right thing to do,” says Khupe. “As animal lovers, we understand how charismatic African wildlife is. But the truth is that our love for our animals may inadvertently harm them, even though we don’t mean to.”

It's been widely reported that lions used in the cub petting industry end up being sold for either canned lion hunting and the lion bone trade when they get too old for petting. 

READ: Mango adds protective voice against the lion cub petting industry 

Compiled by Gabi Zietsman

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