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Video of shockingly skinny lion at Chinese zoo sparks welfare concerns

The zoo claims the lion was old and is on a special diet but animal welfare lobbyists are sceptical.

When families go to the zoo they expect to see well-fed healthy animals, so video showing a shockingly gaunt lion in China resulted in speculation it wasn't being adequately cared for.

Published in March to Chinese social media sites including Douyin and Weibo, the animal’s ribs can be seen clearly protruding and it appears unnaturally thin. Each step appears considered as it slowly walks down a series of rock stairs.

Many were quick to condemn those responsible for housing the lion, suggesting the captive lion looked starving, however Jinniu Lake Safari Park in Nanjing told local media the lion, named Ala, was just old and was on a special diet.

A red circle highlights the lions ribs.
Video of a skinny lion, with protruding ribs, caused concern in China. Source: Weibo

After assessing the footage of the lion, Ben Pearson from advocacy group World Animal Protection told Yahoo News Australia he had concerns about the lion’s general welfare.

“Despite assurances from zoo officials that the lion’s malnourished appearance is as a result of old age, the video we have seen is disturbing and raises questions about the care this poor animal is receiving,” he said. “The sight of this elderly lion pacing around a restricted barren enclosure reinforces once again that a life in captivity is no life at all for a wild animal.”

Orca dies after 12 years alone in tank

It's not the first animal to raise the ire of animal welfare advocates this week. Over the weekend it was reported that Kiska, an orca who had been kept isolated for 12 years had died.

Kiska the orca died after 12 years alone in a tank. Source: Dr Ingrid N. Visser
Kiska the orca died after 12 years alone in a tank. Source: Dr Ingrid N. Visser

Her death prompted outrage across Canada where she died but also made global headlines, with advocates saying the world had failed her.

There are now growing calls for MarineLand, the amusement park that housed her, to publicly release her full necropsy report.

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