Emaciated Captive Bred Lions found again at Slippers Facilities

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) are in the process of laying animal cruelty charges in terms of the Animal Protection Act, 71 of 1962 (APA), against Mr Walter Slippers, owner of two captive predator breeding facilities in Alldays, Limpopo.

During inspections in April and May 2020, the NSPCA found deplorable conditions with underweight lions, lack of adequate shelter, lack of veterinary treatment, as well as unhygienic and small enclosures. Slippers has 72 lions on his farm that is in liquidation and he allegedly feeds them one giraffe every two to three weeks.

On 12 May 2020, the NSPCA was informed that seven of the lions housed at one of Slippers’ facilities had escaped, which only supports their findings that he is not only negligent in the way these lions are kept from a welfare point of view, but also in terms of public safety.

“We believe that permits should never have been granted to keep lions, or any other predators like the tigers, as not only was the fencing wholly inadequate, but there are specific dramatic shortfalls on the welfare of these animals – and their welfare has consistently been compromised”, said Senior Inspector Douglas Wolhuter (Manager NSPCA Wildlife Protection Unit).

The NSPCA has issued further warnings in terms of contraventions of the APA to all role players concerned. A deadline has also been issued for an action plan regarding the animals and the NSPCA is taking further legal action, which will see criminal charges brought about.

Sadly, this is not the first time that evidence of shocking animal neglect and cruelty has emerged from Slippers farms, with images of malnourished lions surfacing in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2020.

Malnourished lions at Walter Slippers farm in February 2015
Malnourished lions at Walter Slippers farm in July 2016
Malnourished lions at Walter Slippers farm in April 2018

In 2016, Slippers accepted responsibility and promised the NSPCA to address the frequency and quantity of his lion feeding regime, as well as providing them with ongoing vet records. With subsequent evidence of abuse in 2018 and now again in 2020, this shows that a consistent pattern of neglect is emerging from his farm, putting Slippers clearly in breach of his permit conditions and in further non-compliance with the APA.

“In the absence of national norms and standards for the captive keeping and breeding of big cats for commercial purposes, sadly animal cruelty and issues of neglect are rife in this industry”, says Dr Louise de Waal (Blood Lions Campaign Manager). “Considering there are at least 8,000 lions in captivity in South Africa, but probably many more, the scale of such welfare issues is of huge concern.”

In October 2018, the Lion Coalition wrote a letter to Mr. Sam Makhubele (LEDET’s Director for Wildlife Trade and Regulation) asking for Slippers predator breeding permit to be revoked and to ensure he would never be allowed to breed big cats again. Notwithstanding, Limpopo’s provincial nature conservation authority has renewed his permit every single time.

Slippers has a history of controversy going back as far as 2010, when he attempted to purchase two white rhino bulls for pseudo-hunts involving Vietnamese citizens. It is also reported that he used to transport cubs from his breeding facility to his restaurant, Toeka Plaas Kombuis, for visitors to interact with.

The NSPCA is the statutory body tasked with responding to wild animal welfare complaints, conducting its own welfare investigations and attempting to regulate good welfare practices without state funding or resources. They need your help to carry out their duty of looking after the welfare of our wild animals. Please help by donating HERE.

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