Even before travelling to Africa, you saw photos online of lion cuddling tourists. Now you are on this fantastic continent and you discover that there is such a place near you, where you can meet all kinds of wildlife up close and even cuddle with lions. You are a huge animal lover, so of course you want to do that. Right?

Yes, you’re going to cuddle lions!

You get a group of friends together who also would enjoy this. You’re super excited and armed with your cameras and phones, you arrive at the lion sanctuary. One of your friends read somewhere that they also have leopards, cheetahs and even tigers here, so this is going to be a great day!

Quick side step… If you’d like to learn more about lions in the wild and their success story in Malawi, read my other blog here.

After buying an entrance ticket, you meet your guide for today. Daphne turns out to be a volunteer, who has landed a dream job here during her holidays. Wow, you would like that too! Enthusiastically, Daphne explains about all the good work this lion sanctuary is doing.

Unfortunately, many lion cubs are abandoned by their mothers, right after birth. They would all die if the people here didn’t take them in. Once the lions are big enough, they are released back into the wild. What a great job they’re doing here! In the mornings, Daphne helps to bottle-feed all these baby lions and then she is asked to show visitors around. At the end of the day, before the lions go to bed, Daphne and the other volunteers give them a nice bath.

lion cuddling and bathing

Finally petting baby lions

You arrive at a kind of playground for the baby lions. And finally it’s time, you can cuddle and play with them! They are so cute, this is way much more fun than you had hoped. If you sit on the floor, they crawl all over your legs. And Daphne even lets you pick them up and hold them next to your face, so you can take a cool selfie. Lion cuddling is a dream come true!

Petting a baby lion

The next visitors are waiting outside the gate, so unfortunately you have to finish. But Daphne has a surprise. As if petting baby lions wasn’t enough, you can now meet the other cats in this sanctuary. Including a beautiful cheetah that you can touch!

The most exciting thing is when you can all enter the leopard enclosure. This beautiful animal is relaxing on a kind of fake tree branch attached to the wall. Daphne says you can stand under it and she will make a photo of you with the leopard. As soon as he starts growling, you quickly run to the gate!

What a special day

In the evening you enthusiastically post all your photos on Instagram and even make a video for TikTok. Soon, the first hearts start pouring in and you glow with pride. You’re smiling, because you get so many nice comments on your lion cuddling adventure. And secretly, you enjoy that all your friends are jealous of you.

Petting a cheetah

Suddenly, you also get a negative comment, from someone who says that you shouldn’t be proud of this at all. And another one. Before you know it, a whole discussion takes place under your post. Some people even scold you and your friends for visiting this so-called lion sanctuary.

You really don’t understand and feel very unhappy. How could this suddenly happen? It was a very cool experience, wasn’t it? And you even made a donation so this sanctuary can save even more lions. How can all those people react so negatively to your posts about lion cuddling?

Do you want to know why?

If you want to know why petting baby lions is a very irresponsible activity, join our online course now:

”More impact and joy while volunteering in Africa”

Not only will we tell you the truth behind those cute lions, but we’ll also help you make the most of your time in Africa by traveling well-prepared and with the right mindset.

Most travellers never want to cause any damage. What about you? Here you discover how you can have a positive impact on people, nature and yourself!