Lions are strong and daunting creatures, no matter how cute they look in cartoons and certain films (Lion King, we’re looking at you) they shouldn’t be domesticated.
They naturally belong in the wild, and having evolved over hundreds of years, we cannot give them what they want to survive happily, and nor should they have to live alongside us like a ‘house pet’.
Whilst it isn’t unknown for big wild cats to perform tricks and appear somewhat tame, it can leave you wondering whether lions can be fully tamed.
Especially after seeing controversial programs such as Tiger King, which showed big cats living in captivity.
In this article we shall take a look in detail at whether lions can be tamed as a domesticated pet, and the problems that may arise.
What Does It Mean To Be A Domesticated Lion?
Before you can truly know what it means to be either domesticated or tamed, you will need to know what it means to be either.
A domestic animal is one who can live alongside humans due to how their species has evolved over the years.
A good example relating to the subject is a cat. Whilst they relate to the lion family, they have become domesticated.
There are different types of being domesticated. One is the type associated with house pets such as dogs and cats where we seek companionship.
Other forms are that of farm animals like cows, and working animals such as camels and horses.
We are well aware that these have become so domesticated that they are safe enough to live alongside.
A lion on the other hand has not reached that point. They are still seen as a threat towards human life.
What Does It Mean To Be A Tame Lion?
Whilst a lion may appear tame, they are still, in fact, a wild animal. This means that they may be conditioned to find humans familiar (perhaps they were raised from being a cub), they do still have wild instincts.
It also means that if they have cubs of their own, they will need taming too, as the genetics of what they have learnt will not be passed down.
Also, being tame does not mean that they will never, ever turn on a human. There is no way of knowing if something will trigger aggressive behavior, making a tame animal rather unpredictable.
Also, a domesticated animal is rarely, if at all, going to attack and kill you if you pull on their tail or poke them gently.
A tame animal might, because they are seen as even more dangerous than a wild animal due to their unpredictability.
What Is A Lion Tamer?
Whilst lions shouldn’t be kept as pets, historically they have been tamed. One example is a lion tamer who uses animals for entertainment purposes.
In fact, it goes all the way back to around the 19th century when well-known lion tamers would tour places like Europe and America. If a woman was to become a lion tamer, they would be known as lion queens.
Lions would be made to sit on chairs, jump through different heights of hoops, or even open their jaws around the lion tamer’s head.
Whilst it can be looked on fondly, accidents did happen. This meant that sometimes people died despite their tame being ‘tame’.
Also, training was sometimes violent towards the lions by their owners. Fortunately, lion taming as entertainment isn’t done today.
What Are The Worries Of A ‘Tame’ Lion?
Whilst there are those who have ‘tamed’ a lion, or who at least have them in captivity at home treating them like family pets, lions are big animals that can strike an owner at any time.
It isn’t unknown for an animal like a lion to kill their owner suddenly. They are strong, meaning that the owner has no chance of surviving if the lion decides to attack them out of the blue.
Usually a tiger is ’tamed’ while they are cubs, usually from birth. Whilst they may seem fully tame, as we mentioned above, they can turn on their owner at any time.
This is because they are not a domesticated animal and they can trigger with aggression suddenly.
Why Might A Tame Lion Attack?
Most people today believe that no lion can actually be tamed, even those who call themselves ‘animal trainers’. This means that it isn’t surprising that a ‘tame’ animal may attack a human out of the blue.
There have been many well-known cases of lions in zoos, and pet lions, attacking humans. Whilst people speculate that they were not looked after properly by professionals, this actually isn’t the case.
No lion can be fully tame. They will attack on instinct, even if you have looked after them since being a cub.
Unless it is in their genetics like a cat or dog through the process of evolving, there is always the chance that the lion may attack.
They don’t necessarily attack because they are scary either, they can do it due to lashing out in familiar places and feeling scared themselves.
Final Thoughts – Should Lions Not Be Kept As Pets?
In America, 21 states say you can not legally own a lion as a pet. Even so, there are people out there who try to keep lions as pets, despite the efforts of campaigners who are against such practices.
No matter how ‘tame’ a lion may be, they are extremely dangerous due to their unpredictability. This can make them more dangerous than a wild lion.
Also, lions cannot be domesticated. To be such a thing, they would need to have evolved over time genetically like a cat or dog, who can live alongside humans without attacking them.
A lion may become familiar with a human, such as when they are tamed, but this does not mean that they will not attack when they feel threatened.