Animal Love Trilogy: An unhappy start

Part 1:

Animals are clearly one of the highlights of South Africa. Game reserves play a big part in the traveller culture. This animal lovers Mecca is almost all perfect...

One rainy morning in East London on South Africa's South Coast, we gazed out into an ocean of choppy swells and clouds and decided that surfing could be postponed for another day. South Africa's backpacker bible 'Coast to Coast' tells of a place where lion cubs who have been rescued are being cared for. 

Lion Park is one of those places who advertise a strong relationship with their animals. The entrance led through to the office where cats and ducks ambled around past the filthy fish tank, home to some undoubtedly unhappy fish. The unfriendly representative behind the desk informed us that there were no cubs at the moment, but all the animals were in cages outside. She was right, the undersized primate cage shrieked in discomfort, the alpacas rammed themselves through the bars in the gate to see if you have food and across from the giant tortoises and turkeys who live together, you see a 2m x 2m pool with three juvenile crocodiles floating in 6 inches of water.

What really touches us about this place is the tiger's enclosure. A beautiful white tiger and its Bengal best friend walk around their hideously undersized cage. Their whimpering is filled with sorrow, it is impossible not to feel their pain.

With nothing left inside us but sympathy and anger, we had no heart to go to the lions enclosure. 

Aside from advising all of you to avoid this horrific place at all costs, we must also share that this is not as abnormal as you may assume.

If you claim to love animals, you cannot support organisations such as this. 

Animal cruelty is an issue which has its horrific affects across the globe. Zoos and aquariums are almost all unethical. Animals are not meant to live in cages. The restricted space in these establishments prevents them from living a life with the abundance that the wild would provide. In the wild, elephants have been seen to migrate over 60 miles, lions roam free, hunting from a diverse selection of food. This is impossible in such restricted places.

Blackfish is a documentary which talks more about the marine side of animal cruelty and why you should avoid places such as Seaworld.

Traveling is a possibility for almost everyone, so if you won't put in the effort to see these beautiful animals, you should be happy without. Seeing them in captivity is doing a lot more harm than good. Paying to do this and supporting these organisations is even worse.

After an awful start to the day at Lion Park, sorrow filled our hearts, but inspired us to spread the news and try to make a change. We planned to write the blog, give the park a few 'honest reviews' and turn our day around and connect with some animals! 


Read part 2: Ethical interactions with elephants and cheetahs, and a kiss from a giraffe!

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