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More than 100 big cats have been found in a squalid breeding centre with lack of water and other necessities.
The conditions at Pienika farm in South Africa's North West Province were labelled "horrendous" by South Africa's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA), the Independent reports.
- Pride of lions poisoned in Uganda
- Lions rescued from war zones, rehoused in Africa
- Suspected poacher found dead, eaten by lions
Other issues included poor shelter and enclosures that were not big enough, NSPCA senior Inspector Douglas Wolhuter told the Independent.
He said 27 of the lions were so sick they were not able to wash themselves properly.
Two cubs were taken away for veterinary care after it appeared they couldn't walk, he said.
The lion cubs are "exploited" their whole lives, wildlife director of Humane Society/Africa Audrey Delsink said.
"First as props by paying tourists, then later as part of 'walking with lion' safaris. Once too big and dangerous for this, they are killed for their bones which are exported to Asia for traditional medicines or sold to be killed by trophy hunters largely from the United States in 'canned' hunts in which hand-reared lions are shot in a fenced area."
A legal process will decide what will happen to the lions, Delsink told the Independent.
Jan Steinman, who is said to be a member of the South African Predator Association (Sapa), reportedly owns the farm.
"Corrective measures will be enforced once the Sapa council processed all the facts at hand," Sapa said in a statement to the Independent.