Luckily for the three men arrested for smuggling a lion into Athlone last week, the cub was only three months old.
The Daily Voice can also reveal that the male cub found at a house in Lawrence Road, Athlone on 22 August, was apparently brought in from Limpopo for a party of a two-year-old girl.
A source says the girl had recently seen The Lion King movie and fell in love with little Simba and Nala, the two main characters.
“The theme of the party was going to be The Lion King and her father wanted two cubs as a party trick, seker to impress people and to make his daughter happy,” says the source.
On Tuesday, cops arrested Shurud Jacobs, Moegamat Rayaan Simons and Sulaiman Effendi, the son of convicted killer Najwa Petersen, after the lion cub was found at Sulaiman’s house.
Jacobs, Accused 1, was pictured with the cub while a little girl sitting on his lap. Both Sulaiman and Rayaan posted photos on social media holding up the cub.
Officials from the Stock and Endangered Species Unit also revealed at the Wynberg Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, when the men appeared, that they were looking for a second cub.
Police say the cubs are valued at R50 000 each.
The suspects face 14 charges relating to the protection of wild animals and were granted R5000 bail each.
The matter was postponed to 27 November for outstanding witnesses statements and for cops to locate the origin of the cubs.
Meanwhile experts say it’s a miracle no-one had been injured by the cub.
Paul Hart, Drakenstein Lion Park managing director, reportedly said cubs at three months old were boisterous and destructive with a natural instinct to bite, and at six months old were capable of killing a human being.
Allan Perrins, of the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa in Philippi, who has twenty years’ experience working with animals, warned that lions are wild animals and cannot be kept as pets.
“It is ludicrous. Lions can and will kill instinctively. They are alpha predators.
“They will bite the hand that feeds them from a few months old and present a real danger from the onset,” he says.
He says a mature lion can weigh up to 180kg, sprint 80km/h and jump 10m far.
He says it’s not the first time he’s seen people trying to keep wild animals as pets.
“I was once involved with the confiscation of a huge Nile crocodile from an affluent Constantia residence.
“The owner allegedly bought the crocodile from a Johannesburg exotic pet dealer who sold it to him as a Caiman.
“He bought the crocodile to impress the girls. We rescued the crocodile from his swimming pool.
“The residents went on holiday and asked the house-sitter to feed their pets - she called us when the crocodile appeared, looking for its meal.”