THIS is the horrifying moment inspectors found two fatally ill lion cubs locked inside a metal crate on a farm – seconds before discovering the bodies of 20 others stuffed inside a freezer.
Officers dropped in on Pienika Farm in South Africa as part of a surprise inspection arranged after they found other animals in dire conditions just four months ago.
The cubs, who ranged in different ages, were found suffering from neurological conditions and had to be euthanised at the scene.
Their bodies were later taken away from the farm, which was slammed in April after inspectors found animals in filthy and parasitic conditions, for post mortem examinations.
The discoveries sparked a further search, leading to inspectors finding approximately 20 carcasses of lions and tigers in a chest freezer.
According to Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, the animals were being bred in captivity to be petted by tourists, bottle fed and then eventually shot for trophies.
The NSPCA removed five carcasses for post mortem examinations to determine the cause of death.
They stated that they will be laying further charges in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962, on the owners of the farm, who were initially charged in April.
Speaking to The Sun, Mr Goncalves, said: “Inspectors from the NSPCA previously found 27 tigers, lions, leopards and caracals in terrible condition at the same farm during an unannounced visit in April this year.
‘PET, BOTTLE FED, THEN SHOOT FOR TROPHY’
“They were kept in overcrowded conditions, had no water, were filthy and suffering from parasites. Two lion cubs were suffering from neurological conditions, likely to be the result of in-breeding.
“The farm is in Lichtenburg in South Africa’s North West Province. There are around 60 such facilities in South Africa breeding big cats for people to pet, bottle feed, and then shoot for a trophy.
“The bones are often sold off to dodgy dealers in Asia who make fake medicines out of them. This is the reality of big cat factory farming in South Africa.
“It’s simply obscene. The animals are kept in appalling conditions and their owners make a fortune out of their misery.”
Senior Inspector Douglas Wolhuter, manager of the NSPCA’s Wildlife Protection Unit, said: “With the release of The Lion King and the tribute to lions during World Lion Day, the rest of the world is celebrating these majestic creatures.
“Here in South Africa, where lions are indigenous and a massive part of our heritage, we are condemning thousands of lions to a life of captivity, where their basic needs are not being catered for, and we are subjecting what is globally known as the king of the animal kingdom to a pathetic life in a cage, waiting for death.”
In April, NSPCA investigators attended to a complaint at the same farm in Lichtenburg, where they found lions being kept in small, overcrowded enclosures and inadequate shelters with no provision of water.
The farm contained suffering lions, caracals, tigers, and leopards. In total, 27 of the lions had mange and the caracal were obese and unable to properly groom themselves.
An NSPCA spokesperson said: “The Inspectors were horrified to find two lion cubs that were unable to walk and appeared to be showing signs that they were suffering from a neurological condition.
“The NSPCA removed the two cubs for assessment and veterinary treatment by a veterinarian with a special interest in carnivores.”
The two cubs have since improved ‘with leaps and bounds’ and are now able to stand unaided.
The spokesperson added: “Two cubs that were unable to stand, and were paddling on the ground to try and move away from their own faecal matter, are [now] able to stand and even take steps.