Sunday 22 August 2021

Cool way to get up close and personal with wild lions

NEWS AND COMMENT - HARRISMITH, SOUTH AFRICA: The Glen Garriff (GG) lion sanctuary is a non-profit organisation in South Africa which currently takes care of 77 lions which opened for business in 2002. The lions live their lives in safety and security at the sanctuary. The non-profit has social media accounts through which they raise most of their money. Their stated mission is to "love, protect and preserve the magnificent lions in our care."

Lion experience cube at GG lion sanctuary
Lion experience cube at GG lion sanctuary. Photo: Suzanne Scott (presumed) via Caters News.

The director (and a photographer) of this non-profit company, Suzanne Scott, 53, has a cage which she uses to get up close and personal with lions when she photographs them. She is using this cage to allow paying customers to her sanctuary to do exactly the same thing. And she's photographed the lions and humans interacting. 

They are interesting photographs and my immediate reaction is that this is a good idea. How else do you get so close, in safety, to a genuine wild lion? And the bars are wide enough to allow a camera to be used to photograph these fabulous cats at very close range. It would be a great opportunity for an amateur photographer to get some interesting photographs. I am sure that there are strict rules though. There is still a potential for harm.

It seems social media has spread this idea to the world rather late in the day because Suzanne Scott said: "We have been offering this experience almost 2 years now and the safety of both our guests and big cats is the top priority. "

The cage originally came from a German photographer who visited regularly. They adapted the cage for customer use by making it into a "lion experience cube". A German TV company had used a plexiglass cube to film the lions and I guess they got the idea from them.

The cube is regularly checked to make sure that it is safe and that it can carry the weight of a lion or lions who jump on top of it which they appear to enjoy doing as it provides a nice vantage point.

The GG lion sanctuary is in the process of rescuing lions from a closed down zoo in the Middle East and are expected to bring another 17 lions into the sanctuary soon.

The cube is another nice source of income for them. It looks like it is an excellent idea because it benefits both the customer and the lions who are stimulated by its presence. It adds a bit of colour into their lives. It's called environmental enrichment in the domestic cat world.

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