MSNBC Documentary Pulls Lid Off Sordid Practice of Canned Lion Hunting

By on October 6, 2015 with 18 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

There was worldwide outrage when the public learned that Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer flew halfway across the world to southern Africa to lure a mighty beast out of a national park in Zimbabwe, and shoot him with an arrow – just to mount the lion’s head in his living room and get a leg up on his competitors in the macabre universe of globe-trotting international trophy hunting.

It turns out that Palmer’s shameless act is not unique in the world of competitive trophy hunting, and that other wealthy elites travel just as far to shoot the king of beasts – but in hundreds of cases a year, it involves shooting lions in a corral or a pen, in a no-kill-no-pay arrangement.

Tomorrow night, MSNBC airs a must-see documentary, Blood Lions, that pulls the curtain back on the shockingly large, unregulated, and appalling South African captive lion hunting industry. Though much of the media following Cecil’s death focused on illegal hunts, Blood Lions makes clear that South Africa’s legal lion hunts are perhaps the most cruel and depraved of any. Blood Lions offers a rare glimpse into the captive, or canned, hunting industry, in which animals are bred in wretched conditions solely to be shot at in hunts with “guaranteed kills” in fenced areas where the animals have no opportunity to escape.

If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services lists African lions as endangered, the disgraceful import of these lion trophies by American hunters should stop, denying the industry a vital class of fee-paying patrons.

The documentary follows a South African safari operator and an American hunter as they expose this sordid industry. The so-called “hunters” who frequent these operations quickly dissolve the myth that this is a sport – they are there solely to gun down the animals and collect their trophies in a transaction where the kill is certain. One trophy hunter interviewed in the documentary says he prefers to kill captive lions because their dead bodies are not as scarred as those of wild lions.

At The Humane Society of the United States, we’ve been fighting the captive hunting industry for decades. We always hear the same excuse from the defenders of this mercenary trade – that captive hunting somehow aids conservation in the wild or supports local communities. Blood Lions ably shatters these self-serving myths, demonstrating that the industry hurts wild lion populations and does nothing for local communities – enriching the operators of these facilities and enabling American trophy hunters who have a mania for head-hunting, regardless of the circumstances of their alleged “hunts.”

We recently released a new report, “Trophy Madness,” which provides a broad view into the bloodlust and vanity that fuels wealthy individuals to hopscotch around the world to kill endangered and penned-up animals. We found that one Michigan trophy hunter, the owner of a large mechanical contracting firm, has killed animals of more than 250 species in 26 countries. He once even sued his African hunting guide for not getting him enough trophies to add to his “significant” collection and for not getting adequate video footage of him killing animals.

We also found that a trophy-hunting couple from New York, who made their fortune in real estate, have killed nearly 600 majestic wild animals. They sued the U.S. government after it tried to stop them from importing the body of a rare sheep they had killed in Pakistan.

Behind so much of this trophy madness is one group: Safari Club International, the world’s largest club for wealthy trophy hunters. The Safari Club is notorious for encouraging hunters to kill the rarest animals in the world by offering prizes and awards. The “Grand Slam Cats of the World” requires a hunter to kill four species of wild cat, for example, and the World Hunting Award requires a hunter to kill hundreds of animals. The African Big Five Grand Slam requires a hunter to kill a lion, an elephant, a rhino, a leopard, and a Cape buffalo.

The Safari Club is now gearing up for its annual awards gala, to be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas next February, with a thousand exhibitors offering guided trophy hunting excursions to kill a dizzying array of the most beautiful and often imperiled animals in the world.

It’s going to require a sustained public outcry to shake this club of wealthy trophy hunting fatcats out of their moral blindness. Blood Lions is a critical step toward creating that outcry. I hope you’ll join me in watching it on MSNBC, at 10 p.m. ET tomorrow night.

Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Karen Lonkey says:

    You can bet I will be watching the show Blood Lions and we must stop these tropy hunters, especially the Safari Club International. Put all of them in jail!! I donate monthly and I am trying to get others to do the same. I proudly wear my supporter shirt. Thanks for all you do!

    • Nancy Mesa says:

      Thank you for donating and caring as much as you do Karen. Let me know where you donate monthly to, I’d love to pitch in to the cause you are “championing”. We need more people like you in this world.

      Light, Love and Kindness to all lives!

      Nancy M.

  2. Jennifer sosnowski says:

    Stop the killing.

  3. Michelle Kaufman says:

    Its always about $$ and ego. I think the more public this is made, the more heat it will draw. Start a petition to ban trophy hunting. Start an investigation of SCI as a “club” and also investigate each member. Guaranteed some or all of them are unscrupulous. When they are outed, we can choose not to do business with them or associate with them. Sign petitions to the networks to ban shows that promote trophy hunting.
    What’s going on anyway with the loser dentist now that he’s returned to his practice? Has his practice suffered? Has he been formerly charged with killing Cecil illegally?

  4. Maggie Carrigan says:

    My the karma be returned to them,it really takes the lowest scum possible ,with no family jewels at all,to murder a cornered animal

  5. gayle says:

    Donald Trump’s sons participate in this horrific “sport”. Bet he is very proud of them.

  6. Jan Norström says:

    We’ve come this far living in the 2000 century!? I’m ashamed that human race have not reached further on this planet…

  7. Sue Wilson says:

    Why don’t these cold blooded heartless arseholes hunt each other? That would be fair.

  8. Louise Green says:

    Please name and expose these imposters that live among us because these individuals are not part of this wonderful planet we share as we pass through on our life journey. They only take are selfish and cruel.

    • Cyndi Myatt says:

      I agree, I’d like to see the names and addresses posted online of all the members of Safari Club International for the world to see. Like what happened to Ashley Madison. Bring these selfish individuals dirty deeds to the light!

  9. margie anne says:

    It is morally and ethically incumbent upon Dan Ashe, as public servant, paid by the tax paying public, to heed the wishes of the American public, and immediately declare the lion an endangered species, thus, largely ending the morally repugnant practice of canned lion hunting by sick millionaires in Africa.

    Are you working for those that pay you, Dan Ashe, or pmdeting to the pathological desires of the 1%??

  10. Dorina Morawetz says:

    There are no words that can possibly describe the lowliest of low human beings who engage in these practices. Is there any way to reach the conscience of politicians in south Africa, and if nothing else shame them to the rest of the world?. Their history is hardly stellar and it seems it is in their DNA to perpetuate horrific acts. For shame!

  11. margie anne says:

    Unless Dan Ashe is prepared to earn his salary, by doing what the tax payer wants, he should, frankly, be removed from his position. At this time there is a petition gathering signatures, asking that Dan Ashe be removed as head of USFWS.

    There are also pages on FB condemning USFWS for pandering to trophy hunters, instead of protecting wildlife, as most Americans ask them to do.

  12. Judith Golden says:

    It is difficult enough for lions to survive in what is left of the wild. Most lion cubs do not live to be even one year old. How inhumane and revolting is this farming of lions just for the benefit of “macho” hunters. These lions cannot be released into the wild because they have been handled by humans. Therefore, it is outrageous for these greedy “sob’s” to state they are trying to save the species from extinction by “farming.” I wonder how they would feel if one of their children were to be raised so that one day some rich fool could choose him or her to be tracked and shot down. I am appalled and saddened by this practice.

  13. John Doe says:

    Wow, you completely changed topics halfway through that article. I was right there with you on the demand to stop any and all canned, caged, or “no-kill-no-pay” hunts. But when you lumped that into all hunting, including wild animals, and fair chase hunting, you lost me.

    I am also not sure how much ones wealth should be factored into the ethics of the action which is what this article implies. Either something is ethically right or wrong, but whether or not they are wealthy should bear no weight to the action in question.

    I also, encourage you to take a look at the Boone and Crockett clubs definition of trophy hunting and what it means to them. It’s not what most people think. It should be noted they are as opposed to these hunts as you are.

    Just as forms of farming and ranching can be both good and bad, with extremes at either end, so too can hunting.

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