Sir David Attenborough I am crestfallen!

Millions of people, including myself, I have grown up with wildlife documentaries narrated by Sir David Attenborough. He managed to bring amazing wildlife images and incredible landscapes into people’s living rooms, who weren’t as fortunate to be able to experience these first hand.

He always speaks with such devotion and love for animals that inevitably rubs off on people. He instilled an understanding for wildlife and conservation in not just one, but several generations. I would like to put my neck out and state that David Attenborough has been an important driving force behind the growth of and passion for wildlife tourism.

Let’s face it David Attenborough is an icon. Personally, I have always had a huge respect for the man’s commitment to the welfare of our planet in its widest sense of the word.

Sir David Attenborough quote

It therefore comes as a huge blow to see pictures of the man himself with a lion cub on the front cover of the Radio Times in honour of his 90th birthday. The current picture emulates the front cover of the Radio Times 60 years ago, where he was shown bottle feeding a rescued bear cub, found abandoned in an Indonesian forest.

Sir David Attenborough on the front of the Radio Time in 1956 and 2016.

On closer inspection, the lion cub used for the recent photo shoot, brought to his home in Richmond in south-west London, was supplied by Amazing Animals, a company training wild animals for the media industry.

What leaves me completely and utterly baffled is why David Attenborough went along with the suggested Radio Times photo shoot. A man, who has given his life to nature conservation, should know better, especially since the Blood Lions documentary has recently blown the lid of the canned lion hunting industry. For those of you not so familiar with the canned lion industry in South Africa, please read more HERE and HERE.

Sir David Attenborough holding a lion cub

He is an icon, a role model, somebody people look up to and respect. By celebrating his 90th birthday with a special photo shoot involving petting and bottle feeding a lion cub gives out ALL the wrong messages to the general public. It gives the Sir David Attenborough stamp of approval on unethical wildlife interactions and the South African canned lion hunting industry. It can wipe out the good head way made by so many organisations fighting for the survival of the species.

As Will Travers from the Born Free Foundation says in an interview with Ben Webster of The Times, “We are concerned that someone, who is such an inspiration for so many has been photographed with a captive lion cub for the front cover of the Radio Times. Presenting lions as cute photo props does nothing to enhance their chances of survival as a species and may damage the reputation of our most beloved and respected naturalist.

Sir David Attenborough on the front of the Radio Times in celebration of his 60th birthday

What should have been a celebration of a life dedicated to wildlife and conservation, has become a huge let down. I look forward to hearing a public response from the Radio Times (see also the Change.org petition) and Sir David Attenborough himself. What a sad day.

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