French police have taken away an emaciated lion from a circus in Vironvay, western France, following complaints from the animal rights organization One Voice. His ribs showed through his skin and he had deep cuts on his tail.
“This lion’s claws have been pulled and his teeth have been cut and filed down to the gums. This animal has suffered enormously. It is worse than the lions from zoos in war zones,” Muriel Arnal of One Voice said. She hopes the lion, who they named Jon, will make it.
The Tonga Terre d’Accueil animal refuge, where Jon has been taken, said on its website that he weighed only 116 kilos, about half the weight of a healthy 10-15-year-old lion.
Arnal said the group has followed the circus for years but that repeated complaints to authorities about the treatment of the animals had not led to action. “France is one of the few countries in Europe that have not banned the use of wild animals in circuses,” she said. Elephants, lions and even hippos are forced to live in small spaces in circuses in France.
She said that Jon was not used in circus shows but served for reproduction to feed an illegal trade in lion cubs, and lived permanently, for years, in a small metal cage.
Arnal is very worried about the health of the four lionesses that are still at the circus. The circus could not be reached for comment.