The Lion Park Attacks
Recently the Lion Park has been in the news a lot due to the attacks on self drive tourist. It got me thinking about several things that we have seen since we have been in Swaziland.
I am not sure what the Lion Park would be considered (zoo, sanctuary or just a tourist location) but supposedly they breed the animals and sell them to Zoo’s around the world. But they also put these animals on display and they stay in captivity for their entire lives. The attacks recently made me think about their facility even more. Who is to blame for these attacks and who should be punished? They are not opening the one section to the public right now while they have an animal behavioralist watch the Lions, but they could end up sepearating the lioness from her pride. Why should that happen, she is just being what she is – A WILD ANIMAL – right, or is it something more than that?
So here are my thoughts:
You have several options to this park. The first one is that you can take the private tour (we took this one because we wanted the one on one time with the guide and we wanted to see the animals interact with each other up close). You can also take the big guided tour (a big safari truck/bus) or you can do the self driven tour. Personally I love the guided tours of any park because the guides will tell you so much information about the animals and area. But I have also found some of the bigger tours are a little over crowded and you cannot get that personal time with the guide (sometimes you can’t even hear them), so we usually choose a private tour if it is possible. Regardless of which option you choose, the park has signs everywhere and you sign a consent, so you know the rules and you should follow them to stay safe.
The photography/quiet drive around the park gives you an upclose experience. With this drive you get your driver, who tells you a lot of amazing facts about these creatures and you also get another park person that feeds the lions and keeps them in check. When we did our tour, we had cars following us around and trying to get as close to the lions as we were. So I started thinking that maybe these private tours are confusing both the animals and the other visitors.
The self driven tour guest may be making a horrible decision to roll down their windows to snap a quick photo because of seeing the private tours.Maybe the people who are doing the self drives are seeing the people out of the cars and feeding the animals with the private drive and maybe they think these animals are “tame” compared to a wild lion. They are not considering the fact that these animals have been with these park guides since they were born, they are trained and taught to listen to them and respect them (within reason, these are wild animals). I am also wondering if these self drives are also confusing the animals because they do feed them chunks of meat to lore them closer to the vehicle, which could make them think that all vehicles might be handing out goodies (our guy put a chunk of meat on the cage of the car and it fell in on my foot, but they put it on the cage to get the animal to stand up and grab the meat).
Another theory is that maybe it could be that these animals are getting tired of being harassed all day by the noise and commotion of the cars. You have to think that the natural insticts of these animals kick in and they get agitated just like we do. They aren’t able to run long distance, they don’t catch their own prey, they don’t get to excerise all of the things they should and maybe that causes them to lash out. I know after the drive I felt horrible about the park, I admit I loved it because I have never been so close to a lion, I have never seen them interact with their cubs like I got to experience, so yes it was an amazing experience… but then later as I was thinking about the park and was going through my pictures I started thinking about the fact that they are caged FOREVER.
We alos have to remember that cats are curious by nature (big or small), they hear and smell very well and when a person rolls a window down you have to wonder what they could experience – are they curious then the person screams and we all should know that these animals love the chase and play; do they smell your cheeseburger you were eating, do they just want to be an animal and attack?
So is it the facilities fault for allowing self drives, or for maybe pushing these animals too far with all the tours? Is it the humans fault for rolling down the window after watching a guide pet the lion? Is it the lions fault for attacking? I obvious answer here is DON’T ROLL DOWN THE DANG WINDOW and ultimately at the end of the day the person being careless and not following the rules is the one to blame, but can the park do a little more than just putting up signs?
My conclusion: I do think the park needs to review their purpose, mission and goals. In my opinion the park probably needs to just shut down the self drive tours to save everyone from future attacks and to hopefully keep the animals safe as well.
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