Updated: March 15, 2021 10:17:22 am
The length that people can go to make their wedding photoshoots stand out can sometimes backfire. As it happened with a Pakistani couple who recently posed with a lion cub during their wedding. It was only a matter of time that photos and videos went viral leading to a huge outcry on social media.
The photos were first shared on Instagram story of Studio Afzl, a Lahore-based photography studio that does bridal photoshoots and covers weddings. Claims were made that the young animal was sedated and used as a prop just for fame.
As netizens spotted the hashtag #SherdiRani being used in the stories, it infuriated them further, as they believed it was clearly added to highlight the cub’s presence.
However, owing to the backlash, the studio clarified they don’t own the animal and that it was not tranquilised either. It also said that the animal’s owner was also present during the shoot.
The studio further claimed that the animal was not sedated or harmed in any way but was “enjoying and living freely”. They also shared two short boomerang videos of the cub to support their claim.
Read the exchange here in these slides.
The animal shelter, JFK Animal Rescue and Shelter, which took up the matter on social media, later visited the studio to know more. It later informed that the studio regrets its decision to incorporate the animal in the shoot. “The cub in the photo is with the person that owns him and carries a licence. According to the studio the cub was never drugged, the cub does not live in the studio but the owner takes him everywhere,” the studio told the shelter.
“There are several photos of lion cubs in different wedding shoots, the root cause is the LICENCE that lets you own one and the wildlife trade,” the group said arguing there is a strong need to stop this abuse.
The Instagram story videos shared by the studio also went viral across social media platforms and one user tagged the local authorities urging them to rescue the young animal.
@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
Ary News reported that the Wildlife Department Punjab has taken notice of viral photoshoot and are looking for the newlyweds to initiate some action against them. “According to the officials, the wild animals and birds can be kept during the wedding but they cannot be used for commercial purposes,” the report added.
“There are numerous, unaccounted lions in private ownership and unfortunately, it is legal to buy and sell exotic species bred within the country and lion is one of them. Therefore it is not difficult to get a cub for a shoot,” WWF Pakistan’s director general, told The Independent on the issue.
According BBC News, with certain conditions, the local government has allowed ‘breeding farms’ for wildlife animals. “Breeding and farming of wildlife which have no habitat in Pakistan and are not native to Pakistan is allowed,” the report said.
Tanveer Janjua, DFO, Wildlife Lahore believes that the cub seen in the video and photos is from one such breeding farm where the exotic animals are “trained” so they can be kept at homes as pets. Janjua explained to BBC that the African lion cub that can be around two or three months old has become familiar with humans. “He has become acquainted with his master and follows his instructions. Wedding photos and videos also show that he is following his master’s instruction,” he added.
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