I could hardly bear the guilt I felt while doing this, but I was in no position to change the rules or even question the park owners' decision.
That was just the beginning, and I began to document everything that happened during my stay. One 12-day-old cub was taken from his mother to be "hand-reared;" in reality he was locked in a cage in reception overnight, and received little to no care during this time. Young cubs were also passed around to groups of 20-plus tourists, crying for their mothers the whole time. I also took photos of the cages where the lions were locked up, which were shabby with broken wires sticking out.
Fortunately, I was in regular contact with a previous volunteer and members of the Campaign Against Canned Hunting. Through them, I learned that absolutely no facility that lets you touch, cuddle or walk with their lions is a true conservation effort - and I was being taken for a ride.
Despite what I was told, there is absolutely no benefit to hand-rearing lions from a conservation point of view, as doing so renders them useless for releasing into the wild - releasing a hand-reared lion has never been done, and (most likely) never will. So why breed lions for tourists to raise if not for conservation purposes?
The answer is simple: money.