Why Should You Not Own a Lion?

Why should you not own a lion?

Frankly, I do not know where to start this article. I do not know the audience. Will some rich guy in Dubai find this article through a Google search after being offered a lion for 50,000 USD? Or do people just have the same interest as me: making sure that rare, exotic animals are not kept in captivity?

I don’t know.

But let us start with a couple of things I actually do know. First of all what inspired me to write this article. Have you heard about Christian the Lion? If not, you have missed the most touching Youtube video ever uploaded.

PS! Later in the article you will find 7 reasons why owning a lion as a pet might not be a very good idea.

Why Should You Not Own a Lion?

Table of Contents

Quick summary of the story:

Ace and John were two friends that lived together in a small apartment in London in the 1960`s . This was long before the infamous Endangered Species Act was implemented in 1976. In other words: everyone were free to own just the animal they wanted. In 1969 they bought a lion and called it Christian. After a couple of years, they released the lion into the African wilderness and hoped it would survive. Which it did. So when Ace and John traveled down to Africa to meet Christian again, five years later, they were a bit scared that:

1) The lion would not recognize them and
2) he potentially would kill and eat them.

How it all went? Well, you can see that in the video below.

Youtube video:

After seeing this video for the 51st time, I decided to do a bit research on the topic. Does keeping a lion as a pet really harm the lion? Isn’t it just a “high risk situation” for the owner?

How many people do own a lion?

Around 90 % of all lions in captivity are kept in South Africa. They are, unfortunately, mainly being raised for getting shot by tourists traveling to Africa to shoot big, exotic animals. On the other hand, a lot of zoos are keeping lions around the world.

Currently, there are no official statistics showing how many lions that are living in private homes. However, various sources online claim that between 2700 and 4000 lions are currently being held “captive” by human beings. That includes zoos, private homes and businesses offering hunting experiences for tourists.

How can keeping a lion as a pet harm the lion?

I get it. Holding a lion as a pet is probably one of the “coolest” things you can have. If you want to impress someone of the opposite (or same…) gender, having a lion is something that a lot of people see as a great asset.

First of all: it is important to differ between a lion walking around a big house/garden and a lion that is being kept in a 4 x 6 meter cage its whole life. They are not equally “evil” or harmful. However, all lions taken away from their natural inhabitant will suffer. For tens of thousands of years, their evolution has been shaped by living out in the jungle. Hunting is a natural part of what they do. If they are given food every day, they might turn towards human beings when they want to find a prey.

However, there are loads of other arguments to why you should not have a lion as a pet.

PS! I do have a tortoise as a pet. If you want to know more about how that happened, you can click here.

Why having a lion as a pet is a bad decision for you as an owner

If you still want to replicate what Ace and John did (you shouldn’t), let me give you something to think about.

1. Owning a lion is illegal in most countries. 95 % of the people visiting this website come from Europe, North American or Australia/New Zealand. Chances are that you are right now sitting in these regions. That will also mean that it is totally illegal to own a lion in a private household.

2. Lion is one of the most complicated animals to keep in captivity. If you just look at the facilities that the average zoo is providing for lions and tigers, you will immediately understand that this is quite a big job.

3. Not only is a lion an instant threat to any human being. They do also tend to destroy “everything” around them with their sharp teeth. Say goodbye to your pretty sofa pillows.

4. If your pet gets sick, it is common procedure to take it to a veterinarian. Needless to say, most veterinarians do not have a lot of knowledge about how to treat lions. Not only is it mental to bring a lion out in the public (even a sick one…), but it will probably also be refused.

5. Think about the cost. First of all, most tigers & lions are only sold at the black market. But you would still have to pay about 10,000 USD or more to get one. That is only the beginning. Feeding it massive amounts of raw meat every day is another problem you would have to deal with. And that enormous garden it needs for physical activity? That might cost a couple of millions to build as well.

6. Bit cat animals have a tendency to spread their urine out to as many places as possible. You will struggle to teach your lion otherwise.

Stories: how bad can it go?

Well, it can go quite bad. Let me give you a couple of examples.

British guy killed by lion he raised

A very interesting things about human beings is that they believe animals often think in the same way as we do. “If I am nice to this wild animals, their instincts will never kick in…”. Well, guess what? They do. This is something that a gentleman called Mike Hodge experienced in South Africa in 2018. He lived with an adult lion that he raised since it was a cub. As he was opening the gate one day, the lion ran towards him and attacked him. After dragging Mr. Hodge into some bushes, he brutally killed Hodge with his bare teeth.

Something even sadder? The lion was shot and killed later as well. Good job, humans.

You can read the whole story on independent.co.uk.

Zoo employee found dead in Lions Den

In 1995, the mutilated remains of a zoo employee was found in the lions cage in National Zoo in Washington DC. The employee had arrived the “Lion House” to feed the animals, but was instead brutally killed by two African lions. There were no witnesses to the incident, but also no indications that the woman was injured before going into the lion cage.

Read the full story on Washington Post.


How many people own a lion as a pet?

Not a lot. And there are no official statistics to determine how many exotic animals that are kept in private captivity.

There’s one guy, on this website ( https://pethelpful.com/exotic-pets/big-cat-attacks-USA ), that tried to calculate the number of private-owned lions by looking at lion attack incidents. However, it does not give any accurate number as most lions will never attack their owner. Nor does it exist any official statistics on how likely a lion is to attack a human.

Did Joe Exotic own a lion?

Yes, he did. In fact, he owned several lions. This is just one of the clips of him being surrounded by them:

PS! I would strongly advice to not put your dog and your lion in the same cage. Something tells me this can go wrong. 🙂


I believe you already understand that owning a lion as a pet isn’t a very good idea. Not only can you find loads of other animals that fit better. The costs, availability, legal terms and dangers are just enough to throw away the idea of getting one.

Maybe it would be a good idea to buy a cat?

Want a tortoise as a pet? Read the following guides:

2 thoughts on “Why should you not own a lion?”

  1. Avatar

    Not that I ever had the chance to own a lion (they’re expensive…), but I have seen the guys on Instagram. Middle east people/influencers that are too happy with themselves…and end up buying a lion. It looks horrible.

    1. Avatar

      “Exotic animals Influencers” are the worst thing ever. Not only do they torture their animals…they are also quite socially awkward creatures.

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