Questions to Ask Before Volunteering

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If you’re planning on volunteering or have ever thought about volunteering or touring in Africa to raise or pet lion cubs, please reconsider.  Do your research on canned hunting and cub petting, and be aware of what you’re supporting.

The following are some of the questions you should always ask a facility before deciding on whether to volunteer/visit there or not:

  • Do they have cubs regularly?

  • Do they allow interaction between the animals and the public/volunteers? Why?

  • Where is the cub’s mother? For what reason or purpose are cubs being removed from their mothers in the first place?

  • How often are lionesses giving birth to new litters? (Note: lions normally only breed about every two years — any more is unnatural and draining for the female!)

  • If you’re breeding lions, what’s your breeding plan? Why breed purely for a life of confinement? If you rescue animals, why perpetuate the problem by breeding more of them?

  • What happens to the animals when they’re older? Are they sold? If so, to where? (Note: ask for the names of the specific reserves or zoos!) What sort of assurances do you take to make sure you’re not participating in canned hunting?

  • Do they release animals back into the wild? How many successful reintegration into the wild cases have you had? Do you have any specific and detailed documentation or proof of these instances? (Note: no captive bred lion has ever been successfully released back into the wild — don’t believe any place that tells you otherwise!)

  • How can you aim to reintroduce animals to the wild and yet allow volunteers and tourists to handle them and expose them to so much human contact?

  • How is the project contributing towards education and conservation?

  • Are they a not-for-profit organization? If so, ask for their NPO number.

(compiled from Volunteers in Africa Beware)

When these places try to lure you in with the promise of cuddling cute cubs, be proactive.  Don’t be lazy — do your own research.  Ask questions.  Dig deeper.  Know what you’re supporting.

For more information on cub petting and how it directly feeds the canned hunting industry, check out these extra resources.