The South African Predator Association learnt with alarm about the attack by a male lion on an 11-year-old boy in the Lephalale-district over the weekend. According to media reports the lion is a three-year-old male being kept with two other lions as pets.
The boy, Kristian Prinsloo, is currently still in a critical condition in a hospital in Pretoria. SAPA extends its sympathy and support to Kristian and his family and joins them in fervently hoping for his rapid recovery from injury. Though we love animals, it is our position that any human life, especially that of a child, is worth infinitely more than that of an animal.
SAPA in the past has expressed concern over lions being kept in similar conditions. SAPA members are lion experts and it is clear to them that the old adage that a lion is a wild animal which will never be completely tame, is as valid as ever. We are especially concerned over situations where lions are in direct contact with members of the public. Any lion has a barely suppressed hunting instinct which can instantaneously be aroused when it encounters prey behaviour among the public. According to reports Kristian ran in a direction in sight of the lion and thereby unwittingly in all probability activated the predator’s hunting instinct. SAPA is of the opinion that the lion should not be held guilty for unnatural conduct, but that he has merely acted in a way that is natural to him.
The South African Predator Association’s Norms and Standards prescribe under which circumstances predators may be kept in situations where they will be in contact with people. We do not think it is advisable that lions become domesticated or are welcomed as pets in homes. Where lions are used as close-proximity tourist attractions, they have to be clearly marked and will not be made available to the hunting industry. Many SAPA members breed lions for the hunting industry and these animals are purposefully kept as wild as possible.
The owners of the lion, Mr and Mrs Cor and Alet Vos, are not members of the South African Predator Association.