Can You Own a Pet Lion? 5 Reasons Why Better Think Twice!
We all know that owning pets is good for us. Dogs help us socialize, fish keep our aquariums full of colorful creatures, and birds are great fun to watch in the backyard. But what about big cats like lions? Should we be allowed to own them? Or is it better to leave them alone?
I’m not going to answer those questions here because this article isn’t about whether or not you should have a pet lion. Instead, I’d love to hear from anyone who has actually owned one or even thought about doing so and tell me if they agree with my list below. If you’ve had personal experience with lions, please share your thoughts in the comments section at the end of the article.
1. They Cost A Small Fortune
It might surprise you to learn that owning lions cost quite a bit of money. For starters, you’ll need to pay around $10,000 per month for their upkeep. This includes food, vet bills, and other expenses such as training. It also doesn’t include any additional fees and taxes that may come along with purchasing a live animal.
If you want to get a male lion, they typically cost more than females. Male lions tend to weigh between 400-500 pounds (181-226 kilograms) while females generally weigh less than 300 pounds (136 kilograms). And since males grow faster than females, they require bigger enclosures.
Lions eat up to 40 percent of their body weight each day. So if you feed a 500-pound lion, he will consume roughly 2,000 calories every 24 hours. If you were to use a smaller enclosure, you could reduce his caloric intake without compromising his health.
Of course, these numbers don’t consider how much time you would spend taking care of him. Allowing yourself to fall into the habit of spending an hour each day grooming, cleaning litter boxes, and otherwise tending to his needs can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars per month. In addition, you’ll probably have to purchase new bedding on occasion due to the fact that lions are known to urinate and defecate throughout the night.
This means that you’ll need to invest in high-quality beds, sheets, blankets, and towels to ensure that you don’t have to replace them too often. Finally, many owners find themselves having to deal with aggressive behavior, injuries, parasites, and diseases.
These issues aren’t exclusive to lions. Owners of tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars, ocelots, serval cats, lynxes, cheetahs, bobcats, and others must contend with similar problems. However, unlike most other animals, the exotic pet industry is largely unregulated. As a result, there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive proper veterinary treatment when needed.
Some owners choose to avoid this issue by opting instead for cheaper alternatives such as caged lions. While this can save you thousands over the years, it still leaves open the question of where these animals will eventually end up once you can no longer afford to take care of them. Many zoos will accept older, retired lions from private owners, but you won’t always be able to rely on this option either.
2. They’re Not That Easy to Take Care Of
The majority of lions currently living wild in Africa and Asia are relatively tame. However, they are extremely dangerous predators who can kill human beings within seconds. Because of this, owners are usually required to undergo extensive training prior to being allowed to handle them.
In North America, tigers are the only species of cats that are kept as pets. Unlike lions, however, tigers are very difficult to train. Even experts say that it takes a decade or two of dedicated efforts to achieve success. Tigers are also prone to aggression and territorial disputes, making them unsuitable for households with small children.
Many owners claim that their pets never exhibit violent tendencies and thus shouldn’t pose any threat to humans. Yet research indicates that this isn’t necessarily true. A study published in 2011 found that tiger attacks occur far more frequently than previously believed. Another paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Mammologists concluded that “Tigers are among the most lethal carnivores in terms of fatalities.”
While it’s possible to safely own a lion in captivity, it requires a lot of work and dedication. And again, you can’t simply walk down to a local zoo and pick one up off the shelves. Most owners choose to acquire their lions through breeders rather than directly from the wild. Unfortunately, breeding lions is expensive and can prove risky.
Breeders will typically perform artificial insemination on female lions to increase the chances of producing fertile offspring. This procedure involves placing semen samples inside the lions’ vaginas using a long metal instrument. Despite its effectiveness, the technique carries risks including infection, damage to internal organs, and death.
To make matters worse, breeders commonly sell young lions to other buyers after artificially inseminating them. These cubs then face the possibility of abuse and neglect when placed in unfamiliar surroundings. Some enthusiasts argue that these practices provide lions with the best chance of survival and well-being. Others disagree, saying that forcing animals to become dependent upon humans is inherently harmful.
Regardless of your opinion, the bottom line is that you cannot assume that your lion will be treated humanely unless he/she ends up at a reputable facility.
3. Handling Lions Is Dangerous Business
Owning a lion requires keeping them in cages. During the daytime, lions sleep away large portions of the day. When awake, they hunt, play, mate, and roam freely. At nightfall, they return to their sleeping quarters. Since lions have poor vision, they primarily communicate through scent and vocalizations.
Cats are naturally curious, active, and intelligent. Enclosing them in tiny spaces, therefore, causes them stress. After all, they are designed to run free and explore their surrounding environment. Being confined indoors can lead to anxiety, fear, and depression.
Not surprisingly, captive lions suffer from higher rates of heart disease, obesity, and behavioral disorders compared to their counterparts living in the wild. Although this might seem unfair, it makes sense considering how unnatural their lives really are.
For example, most lions spend little time interacting with members of their families. Their diet consists mostly of meat, and they engage in infrequent mating sessions. As a result, they lack the ability to forge close bonds with their families. On top of this, they don’t see sunlight for days at a time. Research suggests that exposure to natural light helps regulate their circadian rhythms, allowing them to sleep and wake normally.
Finally, lions are unable to defend themselves against threats. Since they are physically stronger than dogs, they sometimes resort to violence when confronted with perceived threats. Such instances can cause serious harm or death.
When faced with aggressive situations, experts recommend avoiding direct confrontations. Instead, try to distract the lion with treats or toys. Wait until he stops attacking before attempting to subdue him.
4. The Law Doesn’t Support It
Although owning lions as pets are legal in certain states, the practice remains controversial. In general, laws vary depending on where you live. Laws regarding big cats tend to center on wildlife conservation and rehabilitation.
In most places, owners must obtain permits to own lions. These permits outline specific requirements related to housing, feeding, etc. In addition to obtaining licenses, owners must also comply with regulations pertaining to public safety and sanitation. Failure to follow these rules can result in fines or confiscation of pets.
Most states allow individuals to keep lions provided that they meet certain criteria. For instance, owners are supposed to properly house and care for them. This includes providing appropriate shelter, clean water, and nutritious food. Owners are also expected to prevent lions from harming people, other animals, or destroying property.
However, despite these guidelines, many owners report experiencing difficulty maintaining control over their lions. Some blame their pets for biting, scratching, and maiming visitors. Others believe that their lions injured someone else’s dog or caused significant amounts of property damage.
Other factors also contribute to lion accidents. For example, many owners fail to secure fences properly or incorrectly prepare food. Other dangers include loose wire fencing, electrical cords, vehicles, and swimming pools.
5. The Animal Rights Issue
One reason why some people oppose owning big cats is that they feel that the animals deserve better treatment. According to proponents of animal welfare, lions belong to the same class of sentient beings as to apes, dolphins, elephants, and whales. Therefore, they should be afforded the same amount of respect and protection.
As noted earlier, lions are very dangerous predators. Experts estimate that 90 percent of people killed by big cats die during attacks. Since humans are the largest source of prey, lions regularly encounter groups of people. As a result, most victims are ill-prepared to fend off the attack.
A common misconception is that lions are essentially harmless creatures. This couldn’t be further from the truth. They are highly intelligent and capable of inflicting considerable pain and suffering. For example, they can easily disorientate and overpower adult humans by knocking them out cold.