Update: UNA Says It’ll Keep Solitary Lion; No Sanctuary for Leo III

For Immediate Release:
July 8, 2020

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Florence, Ala. – The University of North Alabama (UNA) has rejected PETA’s recent offer to help place Leo III, a lion used as a live mascot by the school, in an accredited sanctuary following the death of his sister in June. In response, PETA sent the university a follow-up letter today pointing out that keeping a highly social lion in solitary confinement is cruel and renewing the call for UNA to end its archaic live-animal mascot program and retire Leo.

“Leo III deserves to spend the rest of his days in a vast habitat with others of his kind rather than as a living toy,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA believes it’s high time that UNA joined the scores of universities that have swapped their live-animal mascots for crowd-pleasing costumed humans and gave this lone lion a chance at a real life.”

PETA also urged UNA not to acquire a new lion, as such a move would likely support the captive lion–breeding industry, in which backyard breeders and roadside zoos—like that of “Joe Exotic” in the Netflix docuseries Tiger King—churn out litters of big-cat cubs to exploit in photo ops and cub-petting operations.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind