Zoos can often be a pretty bleak place to visit, with animals held in captivity who should be in the wild, but this government-run zoo in the Philippines offered up a new level of sadness. The zoo has been accused of animal cruelty after visitors witnessed a lion kept in a tiny rusted 3-foot wide enclosure, with the zoo calling Lyka the lion a “breeding mistake.”
Five-year-old Lyka went blind a result of a congenital eye problem, so the Maasin Zoo in Iloilo, Philippines, believing her to be useless, kept her in a tiny enclosure. A visitor to the zoo saw Lyka’s dirty and tiny living conditions and urged animal welfare groups to help.
She explained: “It was heartbreaking. I wanted to cry. Seeing such beautiful animals locked up and clearly suffering was so disheartening. The lioness cub’s name is Lyka. Her eyesight has gone and now she’s completely blind. I felt so sorry for her. She’s just five.”
The woman continued: “I asked the staff about this and they just said that she was a breeding mistake. She looks so neglected and depressed. Lyka’s locked up in such a small cage, there’s no room for her to do the things she should be doing.”
It was definitely a tragic situation for the animal, as the visitor further explained just how bad it is for the animal: “It was obvious me to me that the cage was not clean enough. We called out to her and she moved her paw a little bit but apart from that, she was still. She looked weak.”
Another fully-grown lion in the cage next to Lyka also didn’t appear to be in good health. The concerned zoo visitor asked: “I am sure that anybody who visits that zoo doesn’t come away with a happy feeling. How could they? If they do, then they’re lying to themselves. I found it to be such a horrible place.”
She discussed the conditions with the staff, reporting: “The staff told me that they don’t have the funds to improve the zoo, but that’s just no excuse. If the animals are suffering then they should move them to another place where they’re properly cared for.”
A spokesman for Maasin Zoo seems to tell a different story from this visitor, however, noting that Lyka is “healthy” and has adequate food and water supply. They noted: “If there are any problems with the animals they are treated by a vet. They are safe and healthy and receive adequate nutrition. Most visitors enjoy their time here.”
Many people weighing in with comments on the Daily Mail’s coverage of the story were horrified by Lyka’s living conditions, with notes such as: “Please have mercy on this dear Lion!! There are other sanctuaries that will love and care for her!!,” “Heartbreaking. Disgusting conditions,” and “It’s inhumane treating an animal this way. Feed her, better surroundings and interact with her… she deserves a quality of life.”
Others believed there should be an end to zoos all around, with comments including: “Ban all zoos now. This is so very sad, it reduced me to tears. Humans are the most disgusting animals on our planet. #BornFree.”
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