A powerful new animated film from the Born Free Foundation aims to uncover the truth about the hunting industry in South Africa, where lions are raised in captivity purely for the purposes of "canned" trophy hunting.
The film piggybacks on the remake of the "Lion King" this summer. Created by Engine together with animators Zombie Studio and production house Blinkink, it's set to the famous track "Born Free" by Matt Monro. It tells the tale of a lion cub being raised in captivity by a female keeper.
Although captive, the cub is raised in what seems like a loving environment, with tourists posing for selfies by its side, before it grows up and is apparently released into the wild. After spending time on its own, the ending looks as if it's gearing up to to be an emotive reunion with the keeper—but there's a shocking twist to the tale, and the heartwarming animation style makes it all the more hard-hitting in contrast.
The online ad concludes by informing us that most lions in South Africa are born in captivity and sold to hunters, and encourages the viewer to sign a petition to "end the betrayal."
The film deliberately references stories that viewers might be familiar with, like the famous YouTube video "Christian the Lion" as well as the tale of Cecil the Lion. It aims to make tourists think twice before handing over money for Instagram selfies with lion cubs, as well as encourage people to sign Born Free Foundation’s petition. According to the foundation, 70 percent of South Africa's lions are born in captivity and raised for tourists to cuddle and take selfies with, before being sold for "canned" hunting—despite the practice being illegal.