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Lujan Zoo lets visitors lie down with its lions

Lion cub at Lujan Zoo.
Lion cub at Lujan Zoo.

Argentina’s Lujan Zoo is taking the meaning of “petting zoo” to a whole new level. Instead of bunnies, sheep and deer, etc, visitors to the Buenos Aires facility have the opportunity to get up close and snuggly with live lions, tigers, elephants and even bears that seem to be rather too docile.

According to the zoo official Santiago Semino, the reason the animals are so calm (to the point of lethargy) is not because they are sedated. “They do not receive drugs. Instead, we keep our wildlife well fed so they do not know what hunger is, and raise them from birth among dogs, so they learn to mimic canine behavior.” He also noted that lions and tigers tend to sleep between 10-12 hours a day.

Still, many wildlife advocates, including Born Free USA (which monitors incidents with exotic-animal in the US), feel there may be something amiss there, and warn that ‘getting close is comparable to playing Russian roulette.”