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Sadly the lion cubs destined for freedom in South Africa have now been condemned to spend the rest of their lives in captivity. The 6 young cubs that carried with them a ticket to freedom for their mother Zena along with two other lions, have unfortunately now it seems, become political pawns in a peoples world. The lions that could have been the ideal ambassadors to take a message of goodwill on behalf of all the other animals in the Baghdad zoo to the international world to raise the necessary funding for the long-term upkeep and improvement of the zoo have been grounded. As is the case many times, once again one has to ask oneself for how long must the animals always be the last to pay? Have they no right to rejoice the aftermaths of war by gaining their own freedom? Where is the joy in remaining captive after the terrible ordeal suffered as a result of the war?

The Wildlife Action Group regrets the decision by the new Iraqi Government, Provisional Authority and the Office of Coalition to not allow Zena and her cubs to return to freedom. No zoo no matter how well managed or constructed can be a substitute for freedom and we strongly condemn this decision and pose the question, what does the Baghdad zoo intend doing with all their lions and who is going to pay for their upkeep and long-term welfare? Are they relying on peoples love for wild animals and their suffering to raise the funds to improve the conditions at their zoo to ensure that Zena and her cubs are kept behind bars forever? Surely the opportunity to return at least some of the animals to the wild would have been the wise decision to make - Especially seeing that the zoo already has to care for 20 lions.

The news from the International Fund for Animal Welfare that another lioness in the zoo may soon produce even more cubs is tragic under the current circumstances. In light of this, the overall attitude by the various parties involved towards returning the animals to the wild presents serious concerns. We hope that members of the international community will voice their objections in this regard.

There are some questions that need to be asked about the long-term welfare of these lions, especially when one considers the current international trend towards the dumping of surplus zoo animals - especially lions, into most unsuitable conditions when these animals are seen to have become redundant.

It is common knowledge that a very lucrative canned hunting industry has developed over recent years as a direct result of the surplus animals becoming available from zoos worldwide. Many adult male lions have been imported into countries like South Africa to be hunted.

Many other animals such as elephants are simply dumped even from what may be considered the best of zoos when they become redundant or too old. A good example of this is the dumping of African elephants from the San Diego Zoo to be replaced by some of the 11 Swaziland elephants captured from the wild, the permits for the importation of the elephants were approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the 11th of July 2003, even after strong opposition was voiced by numerous animal welfare organisations and elephant experts. Redundant wild animals from zoos end up in the most appalling conditions worldwide with little or no consideration from the appropriate zoo associations it seems.

Zoos constantly portray themselves as institutes that support the conservation of species, if this is indeed the case then they should be working towards the preservation of species in their natural habitat, as well as the expansion of habitat, and not just the unending breeding of animals in captivity.

We would like to appeal to the Iraqi authorities to reconsider their decision and grant Zena and her cubs their freedom. These animals will carry with them an incredible message from the Iraqi people a message of freedom, a message of what is right and wrong and along with this will come support for a great nation that needs the help of a global community!


Wildlife Action Group South Africa

Vegan since 1991
3,667 Posts
The hunter has a weapon that incorporates over 2,000 years of metallurgy, manufacturing, and explosives technology. Not much of a contest.

I'd like to see hunters apply their focused determination on better things, like helping their families, their nations, and the rest of the world.
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