A gun licence for a lion

Director´s view

Miroslav Bobek  |  18. 06. 2018

You have to have a gun licence for a firearm, a driving licence to drive a car. If you want to buy a lion in the Czech Republic, you don’t need anything at all. A journalist, Zuzana Zelenková, confirmed this and then wrote an article on how she ordered a lion cub on the basis of an advert. “Just one phone call to Vysočina was all it took, during which the breeder assured us that he didn’t want any documents or certification, so we arranged the deal.” One lion for 25,000 Czech crowns ...

Photo: Archiv Photo: Archiv

You pay - and then you can do as you please with the lion cub (as well as with the full-grown lion). Keep it in the bedroom or a pig sty, no compulsion to let it out into the light of day, or, in contrast, take it for a walk around town. Only this week there was a newspaper report of how an unsuspecting cyclist crashed into a lion in the Vsetín district. It seems unbelievable, but there is no law in this country that is able to take such an exploited or openly abused animal away from its owner, regardless of the threat it poses to its surroundings. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is extremely simple: there is nowhere to put the confiscated lion or tiger.

The situation in the Czech Republic is truly alarming. In previous articles I’ve written about even worse things than today’s theme; one of them was the suspicion that tigers are being slaughtered and processed to be sold to Asian healers. The unacceptability of this situation is being pointed out to us more and more often. There are now voices arguing that big cat breeding should be completely banned for those that do not have a licence as a zoological garden.

In any case, it is high time changes were made to the law, ones that will bring us closer to the 21st century. In my opinion, the minimum extent of these can be summarized in the following four points:

  1. The basic qualification standards for breeding wild animals, especially big cats, should be identified and enforced.
  2. It is necessary to clearly define the conditions for breeding selected animal species, again primarily the big cats, not just with regards to space but also to their welfare.
  3. It is no longer possible to be without facilities where confiscated animals can be placed and well cared for (I would point out that zoos cannot be of help here due to limitations on their capacity and for other reasons, thus it will not be possible without specialized facilities).
  4. It is absolutely essential to make thorough records of all the big cats and link them to a DNA database.

I am convinced that these changes would fundamentally improve the situation and that an amendment to the Act on the Protection of Animals against Cruelty would be a great opportunity for getting started.

Photo: Jakub Poláček, BleskPhoto: Jakub Poláček, Blesk