Thoughts on canned hunting


The subject of canned hunting arouses many emotions at Born Free. We asked some of our colleagues for their thoughts about this cruel industry.

“Canned hunting. The name itself is enough to turn your stomach. Killing, for fun, a beautiful wild animal must surely be one of the most despicable human behaviours.

“The lion seems to be the preferred trophy. In an enclosure, from which it can never escape, it is – literally – a sitting target.

“No more king of the jungle, but a tragic, helpless victim of human vanity, indifference and ignorance. Shame on us.”

Virginia McKenna OBE, Co-Founder & Trustee


“Trophy Hunting is morally reprehensible but the human species plumbs new depths of both depravity and moral bankruptcy when it comes to canned hunting. There is no saving grace. There are no mitigating circumstances. There is no conservation dividend. Only the lucky few make the great escape. There is only a bloody wasteland where mothers have their cubs stolen from them; kids are duped of their savings; volunteers have their sense of compassion exploited for profit; and lions’ lives go under the hammer at a discount, sold to those who mistakenly think the taking of life is a symbol of power. They are wrong: only by protecting and nurturing life do we show our strength and our true humanity.” 

Will Travers OBE, President & Co-Founder


“For me, it has always seemed odd, unfathomable, that the brains of some people work in such a way that they enjoy killing. Whichever mix of pleasure, entertainment, fulfilment, validation or pride that works for them, the cost – to our humanity, to individual animals, to common dignity is lost in a mire of lies, corruption and falsehoods. It is bad enough to hide the grim perversity of canned hunting behind a veil of farming or breeding – but farming for what?  Breeding for what? Bones for quack medicine, the sweaty self-pleasuring of killing lions like fish in a barrel, unthinking or innocent volunteers helping tourists cuddle a lion. It’s a sick and degrading pantomime that kills us all a little, and the laughing has to stop.”

Howard Jones, CEO


“At a time when there may be as few as 20,000 lions remaining across Africa, South Africa’s lion breeding industry houses upwards of 8,000 captive-reared lions, their only purpose being to line the pockets of those who breed and exploit them. Many of these poor animals end up in canned hunts. Yet more are slaughtered to supply bones into an international trade. These heinous activities not only cause immense suffering to the animals concerned, but also put beleaguered wild lions at increased risk by stimulating demand for lion products. The industry must be closed down, with due regard for the welfare of the affected animals.”

Dr Mark Jones, Head of Policy


“The breeding of complex wild animals in captivity, only for them to face the hunter’s gun in a canned hunt, is both an ethical travesty and serious animal welfare issue. It places the desires of the perverse individuals who take pleasure in killing far above the needs of animals. There is exploitation and abuse of animals at every step in the process, only for them to be killed in their prime – at best relatively quickly, at worst a lingering and agonising death. It is a merciless and abhorrent industry and its demise is long overdue.”

Dr Chris Draper, Head of Animal Welfare & Captivity


Born Free is absolutely opposed to the cruel practice of canned hunting, and campaigns to end the captive breeding of lions and other predators for canned hunting and other forms of commercial exploitation.