I WAS saddened to read in last Monday’s Herald of the injuries suffered by a pregnant woman during her visit to the Seaview Predator Park (“Pregnant woman mauled by tiger”). It must have been a frightening and painful experience for her and her family, and I wish her a speedy and full recovery.
But I am curious to know what happens to the tigers and lions used for “petting” when they grow too old and are no longer cute cubs. They clearly cannot easily be returned to the wild (if indeed they ever were there) because they have become habituated to human contact, so what happens to them?
There are growing numbers of reports suggesting that “petting zoos” around the country sell their grown cubs to other organisations – safari parks, for instance – to be hunted as trophy animals. Is this what befalls the cubs at Seaview Predator Park?
The so-called “canned hunting” trade, where virtually tame lions and other predators are shot by individuals paying high prices for the right to slaughter confined animals that actually have no chance whatsoever of escaping, is one of South Africa’s deepest shames. I do hope Seaview Predator Park can assure us unambiguously that it never promotes or supports such practices, and that it will instead let us know via your pages exactly what happens to their cubs when they grow up.
Meanwhile, I would exhort all your readers to think twice – and more than twice – before visiting places that encourage such close contact with wild animals.
Harry Owen, Grahamstown