“Wildlife animals belong in the wild!"
A Pakistani couple are facing huge public backlash after using a sedated lion cub as a prop in their wedding photos.
The photoshoot took place in Lahore, and it has sparked major concern among animal rights activists.
Studio Afzl, the photography studio used at the wedding, shared videos and images from the shoot online.
The posts were captioned using the hashtag #SherdiRani (Lioness Queen) and shared to the studio’s Instagram account that has almost 120,000 followers.
The posts prompted a major public outcry, and have since been deleted after being shared by multiple wildlife groups.
Now, both the studio and the Pakistani couple are being slammed for the incident.
In the wake of the photoshoot, Pakistani non-profit organisation Save the Wild has taken to Twitter to express their anger.
The NGO, that works to protect Pakistan’s wildlife from “threats of hunting and loss of habitat”, has branded the couple’s photoshoot as a case of animal cruelty.
On Sunday, March 7, 2021, Save the Wild uploaded a video of the couple’s shoot.
@PunjabWildlife does your permit allow for a lion cub to be rented out for ceremonies?Look at this poor cub sedated and being used as a prop.This studio is in Lahore where this cub is being kept.Rescue him please pic.twitter.com/fMcqZnoRMd
— save the wild (@wildpakistan) March 7, 2021
The tweet reads:
“@PunjabWildlife does your permit allow for a lion cub to be rented out for ceremonies?
“Look at this poor cub sedated and being used as a prop. This studio is in Lahore where this cub is being kept. Rescue him please.”
Social media users have been expressing their disgust at the video since its release.
Twitter user Faisal Amin Khan replied to Save the Wild’s tweet saying:
“What’s wrong with people, a sedated Lion Cub as “prop” with the couple starting a new life & the studio who did that should be ashamed, it’s about time @GovtofPunjabPK must rethink their “captive breeding” policy, from political rallies to wedding shoots, animals as Props, it’s sick.”
The video has also been shared by JFK Animal Rescue and Shelter. According to local news reports, the shelter is considering legal action against Studio Afzl.
Speaking of the shoot, JFK’s founder Zulfishan Anushay said:
“The studio’s management told us that the lion cub was brought [to the studio] by a friend of theirs that owned it, and according to them it was a plain coincidence that the couple was also present, so they decided to take a few pictures with the lion cub.”
According to Anushay, the use of such animals is a signifier of wealth in Pakistani society.
Therefore, a licence to own a lion or tiger as a pet can be bought for 100,000 Pakistani rupees (£460).
JFK has also posted an image from the photoshoot to their Instagram account.
The caption reads:
“(Update on the cub shared in recent posts).
“Sedated Lion Cub used as a prop on stage for wedding photography of this couple. Here’s a post from Pakistan on World Wild Life day 2021.
“First peacocks, exotic birds caged in loud music kept as props on weddings and now these cubs. Separated from mother, stolen and sold, used as a prop.
“Is this a new way of showing off wealth? Shame is a small word.”
JFK is also calling on Pakistan’s government to stop issuing licences to purchase exotic animals.
The caption continued:
“Ps how can one take legal actions when these people have licences to own these cubs? Once you get a licence in Pakistan you can treat these poor cubs as you want.
“This is not something new, heart-wrenching videos of “Pet” tigers and lions are available all over YouTube from Pakistan where people are mistreating them, depriving them of their natural habitat.
“The problem starts with the wildlife trade and these government licences to own them.”
“Wildlife animals belong in the wild!
“These photoshoots have become a new trend, unfortunately. You talk about education and awareness? This is the educated, elite class of our country.
“The animal cruelty is divided by class system too. There is abuse on every level. From lions, to dogs to donkeys.”
According to WWF Pakistan, the prospect of wildlife groups rescuing the lion cub is unlikely, because it is not protected under the relevant wildlife acts.
WWF Pakistan’s director-general Hammad Naqi Khan said that the charity has “called for a ban on wildlife in individual ownership”, as wildlife breeding farms are currently allowed in Pakistan.
There are also no protections under their licences for individual animals once they are sold.