How lions play

Mahla gets to grips with brother Scarc during the usual Cusco family games at the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary, South Africa. Rescued as cubs from a circus in Peru, we wonder how many times as they grew up, mother Kiara must have shouted “Stop biting your sister’s leg” or “Stop pulling your brother’s hair!”

Lions are powerful animals, they play rough and need space to express themselves – that’s what we try to provide at the ADIWS. It’s also a reason why people who pose playing with and cuddling lions or tigers are fooling themselves (and others) about what is going on. We humans are much too fragile to really play with big cats. That’s why to facilitate human encounters, these animals are mutilated by having claws removed, teeth broken or being drugged; why it’s most common for it to be with baby animals; and why such encounters can end in disaster.

Lions and tigers want to play with each other and not you.

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