Simba the four month old lion cub that was confiscated in Athlone earlier this year was euthanised the same day it arrived at CapeNature.
The conservation body said they were “faced with one of the hardest decisions to make in conservation as a result of the illegal behaviour of three local men”, when they supported and sanctioned the euthanisation by a professional veterinarian in August.
CapeNature spokesperson Loren Pavitt said the cub was euthanised “later that day after protocol was followed”.
Simba the cub had an estimated street value of R50 000.
The cub was found in Athlone on August 21 after police had followed up leads when photos of the cub went viral on social media.
Pavitt said they had euthanised the cub “in line with international best practice guidelines” and stood by their decision.
Options to rehabilitate the animal for release back into the wild or place it into an acceptable institution where it would receive the appropriate level of care were all carefully considered, but CapeNature found them to not be viable or in line with sound conservation principles.
Pavitt said in this case the cub was treated as a pet and habituated to humans and would be impossible to rehabilitate to a healthy natural behavioural state.
She added that although there are facilities for keeping lions in captivity, there are no rehabilitation facilities in South Africa.
CapeNature said there were no successful cases of lions rehabilitated and successfully released into the wild.
Pavit said that it must be stressed that CapeNature did not take this decision lightly and shares the public’s sadness that this move was even necessary.
Pavitt said they had received offers from various organisations to place the cub in captivity. However the existing facilities where lions can be kept operate as commercial ventures where animals are displayed to the public for an admission fee.
The 3 suspects are currently out on R5 000 bail each and face 14 charges relating to the protection of wild animals.
More: Cape Times