King made international headlines in October 2017 when he was found half-starved and cowering in a dirty cage in an abandoned apartment in Paris. Just a few months old and kept illegally as an exotic pet, he had been beaten and kicked by his owner who then posted videos of the abuse on social media. King was rescued by French animal rescue charities Fondation 30 Million d’Amis and Refuge de l’Arche and given a temporary home at Natuurhulpcentrum rescue centre, in Belgium.
Born Free Co-Founder and Trustee, Virginia McKenna OBE, said: “Have we learned nothing over the years? How can we not understand that keeping wild animals in cages is not just cruel, but shameful? Lions are known as kings of the jungle. This little king, sadly, will never wear his crown, but at least we can give him love and respect and a natural environment to roam and rest in. That is the least he deserves, and I hope people will help us write a happy ending to this story.”
Born Free have now transported King from Belgium to South Africa where he has been given a permanent home at their long-established big cat sanctuary at Shamwari. The sanctuary is already home to 16 lions and leopards rescued from appalling captive conditions. King will be given lifetime care in a spacious, safe and natural environment, surrounded by the beautiful sights and sounds of Africa.
(See his release in to his new home here.)
King’s new life at Born Free’s big cat sanctuary will be a world away from the Paris apartment in which he was discovered. Shockingly, an increasing number of wild animals are kept as pets worldwide. Born Free opposes the keeping of wild animals as pets because they have complex social, physical and behavioural needs and are, therefore, particularly susceptible to welfare problems when kept as pets.
Keeping wild animals as pets is not just an international problem. Latest research by Born Free has revealed more than 292 dangerous wild cats – including at least nine lions – are being kept privately, and legally, in Great Britain under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.