EWT said that while they were saddened by the attack, they still wanted to see an end to tourist interactions with captive carnivores.
“Captive breeding does not address any of the key threats carnivores face in the wild, and there is no conservation requirement or recommendation for any captive breeding or keeping of carnivores in South Africa.
“In 2018, the EWT and the Centre for Environmental Rights published a report funded by the Lewis Foundation, which addressed in detail the flaws in the regulatory system around wildlife wellbeing and welfare.
“Cruelty cases continue to be opened against captive facilities across South Africa and the EWT will continue to call for the welfare of species in captivity to be properly addressed,” the environmental organisation said.
It said that in addition to the serious flaws in the regulation of captive facilities, the facilities failed to take into account the natural social structures of carnivores, for example, that lions occur naturally in prides, while cheetahs are naturally solitary.
The facilities also failed to provide proper enrichment and living conditions for the captive carnivores. “Further, the continuous handling of captive carnivores by multiple people resulted in stress for the cubs, who should naturally be spending large portions of their days sleeping or playing with their siblings.”
The organisation said at least 40 people had been injured or killed at captive carnivore facilities since 1996.
“These incidents have continued unabated over the past year, with the latest case not being an isolated event. Indeed, despite the facility describing it as a ‘freak accident’ in media reports, it is the second incident at the same facility in the space of just one week. Two sisters were also injured at this lion park in 2010.”
Of the incidents that the EWT is aware of, 11 of the victims were children and two of these children died as a result of their injuries.