As if our faith in humanity wasn't already at an all time low, disgusting images have emerged of severely neglected lions on a farm that breeds them to sell to tourist attractions.
The photos, which were taken on a farm in South Africa, show the beautiful animals covered in mange, with some almost completely bald. Their enclosures are tiny and they're living in cramped conditions.
The lions were found in filthy conditions. Credit: HSI.org
Mange is a skin disease caused by parasitic mites and causes severe itching, hair loss, and the formation of scabs and lesions.
According to a report by HSI, up to 12,000 animals a year are bred on around 200 farms, in an industry that has been referred to as the 'snuggle scam'.
Reportedly, the animals are bred at the farms, then sent to petting centres where tourists can get close to the animals - you know those pictures that end up on everyone's Instagram after they've 'found' themselves on holiday.
From there, they are can be sent to safaris or 'walking with lions' tours, with holiday makers blissfully unaware of the suffering the creatures have endured.
Pienika Farm was investigated by officers at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the organisation was shocked to discover 108 neglected lions.
Two lion cubs appeared to be suffering from a neurological condition and were found unable to walk.
There were also a number of caracal, tigers, and leopards living in these disgusting conditions.
In the wild, baby lions stay with their mums for 18 months at least, with the females taking at least 15-24 months in between litters.
In comparison, on breeding farms the cubs are taken from their mothers after a few days, or sometimes even hours after being born. They're often taken to be used as photo props.
The mother is then in a cycle while imprisoned in enclosures, where they become exhausted by the constant breeding.
Audrey Delsink, Wildlife Director at Humane Society International/Africa, said: "South Africa's captive lion breeding industry is a vicious cycle of exploitation, from cradle to grave.
"Lion cubs are ripped from their mothers at just a few days old, to be hand-reared by paying volunteers from countries around the world such as the United Kingdom, who are misled into believing the cubs are orphans.
"The cubs are exploited their whole lives, first as props by paying tourists looking for selfie shots whilst petting or bottle-feeding the animals, then later as part of 'walking with lion' safaris."
Featured Image Credit: HSI.org