Disturbing photos raise new questions about escaped Changi lions

A sedated black-maned lion is confined by cargo netting in Singapore.
A sedated black-maned lion is confined by cargo netting in Singapore.

One of two sedated lions that escaped at Changi Airport appeared to be pinned to crates by cargo netting in disturbing photos today.

The black-maned cat, seemingly immobilized and possibly drugged at what looked to be a cargo facility, had already raised concerns about wildlife trafficking since it broke free from a container Sunday on the way to a destination that no one seems to want to talk about.

The other lion was not seen in the new photos shared on the Singapore Wildlife Sightings group by a Shan Cheng.

“Why can’t they put him into a proper cage instead of strapping him like a piece of baggage? It’s a life, not a good. Show our animal friends [some] kindness please,” Trixie Thye wrote.

UPDATE: Trafficked lions? Focus on illicit trade ignores what’s happening legally: SWAG

The photos could not be independently verified, nor was it known when or where they were taken. Shan Cheng said she was not the original source of the images.

Mandai Wildlife Group, which owns Singapore’s zoos and animal parks, said Monday that neither of the lions belonged to it. Singapore Airlines, which was transporting them, has refused to say where they were destined.

Both the zoo operator and airline declined to answer questions when contacted today.

UPDATE: Escaped Changi lions were on ‘legal, commercial shipment:’ SIA

The two lions were taken to a quarantine facility at Mandai for “safety and animal welfare reasons” after being shot with a tranquilizer gun, said the group. They recovered from the anesthesia and are being closely monitored by vets, it added.

Mandai manages the Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari, the Jurong Bird Park and the River Wonders in Singapore.

SIA said the lions “did not escape” as they were bound by the safety netting that was surrounding the container. 

The airline declined to comment further due to “commercial sensitivity and confidentiality reasons” but said it was reviewing what happened.

Illegal wildlife trafficking, particularly involving species stolen from Africa, is rife in the region.

In 2013, a Singaporean businessman was busted in a raid on a massive lion smuggling operation in Bangkok.

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