There’s something uniquely beautiful about the lion. The king of the jungle is a powerful beast, casting an intimidating presence with its broad chest, gold mane, and massive paws. But despite their daunting appearance, those who love cats may be tempted to level up from their indoor kitty collection and have a lion to call their own.
But can you actually buy a lion? And if you can, how much does a lion cost? Find out here, and who knows, you might have your very own Simba roaring in your property soon.
Can You Buy a Lion?
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Believe it or not, you really can buy a lion from private breeders or at exotic animal auctions. There are also zoos like the Lahore Safari Zoo in Pakistan that held an auction in 2022, which included lions. The auction helped to free up space for their pride and minimized the costs of food, so private collectors were invited and a dozen lions were up for grabs.
Additionally, there are countries, such as Dubai, where the kind of pet you have represents your status. Wealthy sheiks in the UAE were known to have lions, tigers, and even falcons as pets; fortunately, this was outlawed in 2016 to help address animal abuse and trafficking.
During the height of the pandemic in Iraq, Iraqis also found a new interest in keeping exotic animals as pets, including lions.
Surprisingly, the marketplace for exotic animals like lions has also invaded the online market, allowing buyers to purchase them based on gender, age, and even specific preferences.
In the US, some states still allow lions to be privately owned. These include Alabama, Montana, Nevada, North and South California, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. Other countries like Thailand and some other countries in Southeast Asia also allow lions to be kept as pets.
So, buying wild and/or exotic and endangered animals like lions to keep as pets is not uncommon.
However, it is important to remember that lions are dangerous animals intended for wildlife. And you need to be fully aware and compliant with your country or state’s regulations about lions and what it entails for ownership.
Not only do you need to process and complete permits, but you also need to ensure you are ready to undertake the countless preparations needed to keep a lion healthy on your property — from your actual property being approved to a cage, adequate food supply, and a veterinarian who can properly treat your feline.
Besides, a lion can kill you with one swipe of its paws. So, make sure you are knowledgeable on how to handle such a dangerous animal that’s not intended to share a home with human beings.
How Much Does a Lion Cost?
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There are some breeds of cats that are incredibly expensive. But a Maine Coon or a British shorthair is no match to the cost of a lion.
If you are keen on getting a lion for a pet, make sure that your bank account has more than sufficient funds for the actual purchase and all the associated costs of buying a lion.
An adult lion costs anywhere from $5,000 up to $15,000. However, many different factors will contribute to the cost, like the breed of the lion. For example, the white lion, which is considered the rarest breed of lion in the world comes at a starting price of a whopping $140,000.
Lion cubs are cheaper as you can get them for a starting price of $1,600, but the cost can shoot up to $15,000. Many people prefer cubs if they want to tame it and make it as domesticated as they possibly can. White lion cubs reportedly can cost up to $50,000 in the black markets of Dubai.
It is worth remembering that the figures above are just the initial cost for the lion itself. There are many other expenditures to consider.
For example, you need to have insurance, which is mandatory for states as a safety precaution for their residents. Insurance is paid yearly, and it usually starts at $200. There are also taxes involved to domesticate a lion. Moreover, you need to pay for the maintenance and sustenance of the animal.
As a responsible lion owner, you also have to ensure that you provide for your pet’s daily needs. The ballpark expenses for food for an African lion can rack up to $14,000 yearly.
You will also have to factor in the veterinary costs. You can’t bring your lion to the same vet who checks your dogs and cats; you need a zoo veterinarian or a vet specialized in wildlife care. Expect the professional fees to be steeper than usual.
Now, let’s talk about a lion sitter or caretaker. Unless you are committed to being the full-time caregiver of your pet, you need to onboard someone who is not scared of handling an animal as massive and as dangerous as a lion. They should also be equipped with the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to care for a wild animal.
Remember that lions are intended to be free in the wild, and keeping them as pets poses significant challenges. These include a lack of understanding of their intricate and challenging behavior, their demanding dietary needs, and their need to exercise to keep them healthy and happy in their new habitat.
Keeping lions as pets is not recommended and is, in fact, actively advised against. These wild animals are not supposed to be tamed and kept as pets; they belong in the jungle. It’s best to settle for owning several cats and make regular trips to a wildlife sanctuary to see the majestic lions in their natural habitat.