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UPDATE: Police unit opens case against CapeNature over lion cub euthanasia

Local conservation body CapeNature has confirmed that it euthanised the lion cub which was rescued from a home in Athlone earlier this year.

'Simba' the lion cub made headlines back in August when he was found in the suburb on the Cape Flats following a police operation.

RELATED: Lion cub worth R50k rescued from house in Cape Town

At the time, it was reported that the cub had been taken to safety.

It has now emerged that the animal was euthanised the same day that it was handed over to CapeNature in August.

CapeNature spokesperson, Loren Pavitt, says the organisation was faced with the "hardest decision to make in conservation".

Pavitt claims it was not possible to release the lion cub back into the wild or subject it to life in captivity.

According to her, euthanasia is in line with international best practice guidelines on animal's confiscated during law enforcement operations.

The wild lion cub was euthanised by a professional veterinarian with CapeNature's support and sanction.

Loren Pavitt, Spokesperson - CapeNature

It was euthanised the same day that it was handed over to CapeNature in August.

Loren Pavitt, Spokesperson - CapeNature

Meanwhile, several animal lovers and interest groups have blasted the organisation for the hasty decision to euthanise the cub.

It's alleged that at least two lion sanctuaries had offered to give the lion cub a home.

The Paarl-based Drakenstein Lion Park, a sanctuary for rescued captive-born cats, says euthanasia should have been the last option in the decision-making process.

The lion park's founder, Paul Hart, has criticised CapeNature for not taking the time to consider alternative options, for an animal which he says was born into captivity.

This was a captive-bred, hand-reared lion. It was not a wild lion. It was already in captivity and sold as a pet.

Paul Hart, Managing director - Drakenstein Lion Park

Being captive in a lifelong home where you are cared for properly is far better than being dead.

Paul Hart, Managing director - Drakenstein Lion Park

The three men accused of being in possession of the protected animal were granted bail in August and will make their next court appearance in February next year.

Listen to CapeNature explain their decision on Today with Kieno Kammies:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : CapeNature slammed for putting down 'Simba', the lion cub found at Athlone home

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