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Exhausted Lion Gives Birth Over And Over ... So Hunters Can Kill Her Cubs

<p> "Blood Lions" </p>

Right now in South Africa, lionesses are being made to give birth to litter after litter of cubs for a barbaric industry you might not have heard about.

When Ian Michler, the lead reporter in the new MSNBC documentary "Blood Lions," was investigating a "wildlife sanctuary," he wanted to know where all the lions he saw came from - but he had a hard time getting a straight answer.

Finally, a bystander told Michler to take a road labeled "Strictly Forbidden." At the end of the road, the filmmaker found several exhausted mother lionesses who had been forced to give birth again and again.

"Blood Lions"

In the United States, it's become popular consensus that puppy mills cruelly exploit mother dogs for cash, but the American pet industry isn't the only one using a mother's womb to make money. A puppy mill is a commercial operation that breeds puppies over and over again for profit, sometimes before they're weaned from their mothers.

"Blood Lions"

While there are only 20,000 to 35,000 lions left in the wild, the canned hunting industry has found it profitable to breed lions in captivity so that hunters can shoot them. Lion "breeding camps" are able to profit by taking cubs away from their mothers after just three to 10 days, so the mom can quickly get pregnant again ... and her cubs can grow up to be shot. (In the wild, cubs stay with their mothers for 18 to 24 months, according to "Blood Lions.")

"Blood Lions"
"Blood Lions"

Wealthy hunters (who hail largely from the U.S.) became increasingly drawn to the idea that an African trophy hunt could be quick and easy: Hunters can now select the animal they want to shoot online beforehand, then travel to a facility where their animal of choice is already corralled in an enclosure waiting for them. A gun is then placed in their hands, ready to shoot.

"Blood Lions"

The victims of canned hunting go beyond the animal shot at close range, however. Canned hunting has become as ubiquitous as it is partly because it's so profitable. By taking advantage of vacationing volunteers and people who want a chance to "pay to play" with lions, the canned hunting industry rakes in profits by first raising lion cubs on "lion farms" and then selling them off to be killed for "sport."

"Blood Lions"

It's estimated that 8,000 predators are currently being raised in captivity just to be shot by wealthy hunters. And if something doesn't stop it, the number will surely continue to grow.

"Blood Lions"

Learn what you can do to stop canned hunting here.

Watch "Blood Lions," airing Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

The views expressed here are The Dodo's and do not necessarily reflect those of MSNBC.