A sickening story has emerged from Russia of cruelty towards a young lion club who had his legs broken so that he would pose for selfies with tourists. It is believed that a photographer took the cub from his mother when he was only a few weeks old and had been using him to make money by charging people to take photographs with him. His legs were apparently broken to make him sit still while his photograph was taken.
When the lion became more unwell, he was dumped in a barn in the southern Russian province of Dagestan, alone and close to death. He was luckily found by animal protection services. The unnamed photographer, who was detained, claims that he did not inflict the injuries and that they were caused by the cub’s new ‘owners’ who the photographer had passed him on to.
Yulia Ageeva, one of the welfare officers who led the rescue mission said:
“He was practically not fed, and for some reason, frost water was constantly poured over him. This was a real hell.”
When found he was suffering from broken bones, a damaged spine, pressure sores, muscular atrophy and intestinal obstruction. While the cub, now named Simba, has made a great recovery he has been left with permanent disabilities. He is able to walk again but will never obtain the full strength or dexterity of a normally functioning lion.
Specialist vet Karen Dallakyan, who has been overlooking Simba’s recovery, says that it is nothing short of a miracle that he not only survived but has made as much progress as he has. He is now even playing and has been able to develop a lust for life despite his horrific upbringing.
President Putin, a well known supporter of animal causes, was apparently so shocked by the story that he forced a criminal investigation to be opened into the incident. He also questioned why proper criminal proceedings had not taken place up until now.
Sadly, the use of animals to make money is a very common occurrence across the world – and is often linked to the tourist trade where there are potentially vast sums to be made. The use of bears, lion cubs, tigers, elephants and monkeys as props in photographs is one of the most common features of such deplorable schemes. These animals are often beaten, kept in terrible conditions and given huge amounts of drugs to keep them sedated – thereby stopping them from trying to escape or from attacking tourists or their ‘owners’.
One way that you can stop this evil trade is by refusing to be photographed with anyone offering a picture with a wild animal. The money gained from these photographs only encourages others to start similar schemes and for more beautiful animals to be dragged into a life of misery.