The barbaric trade of canned hunting needs to be made illegal immediately, campaigners have urged.
The industry of raising lions to be shot dead by trophy hunters is actively flourishing and unwitting tourists are fuelling it.
Born Free have now released a powerful video that shows how the vast majority of lions in South Africa are bred for the bullet.
Cubs are ripped from their mothers at birth and then raised in captivity so tourists can pose with them for once-in-a-lifetime pictures.
However, once they are deemed too big they are released into enclosures and killed by hunters who are after their body parts for macabre trophies.
They are stripped of their skins, their heads are mounted on walls and their bones are sent to the Far East to be turned into medicine.
Born Free said that some 70% of lions in South Africa are now captive their entire lives and they have called on the government to ban the abhorrent practice.
They have released the video, entitled The Bitter Bond, which shows the reality of life for a lion.
The animal rights charity have also urged people to sign a petition calling for an end to the widely condemned and cruel industry.
Born Free founder, Virginia McKenna, said: Its no life for a cub.
Torn away from its mother a few days after birth; raised in a so-called sanctuary and made to pose for selfies with tourists seduced into parting with their hard-earned cash for that “once in a lifetime experience.”
Then it is shot for fun as a discount trophy to mark some “brave” hunters moment of delusional triumph with its remains being shipped for lion bone wine.
Is this really a life for a lion of any age? Shame on us, this has to stop.
We hope this powerful film, which exposes the full horror of what is happening will inspire people everywhere to join our mission, urging the South African government to end the great betrayal.
There are between 8,000 and 12,000 lions in around 300 captive breeding centres across South Africa who are being bred purely to be killed.
There are now three times as many lions in captivity as in the wild and their lives are described as short and traumatic.
The success of the Lion King movie has meant big cat fans eager for a close-up encounter are now heading to South Africa.
Born Free said that centres will lie and tell tourists they are raising orphaned cubs and they will be released into the wild.
Visitors are offered the chance to cuddle a young lion or walk with the adolescents.
The reality is that they will end up being killed by a tourist marksman with either a gun or, in some cases, a bow and arrow.
The death is rarely a precisely-executed slaughter and the lions can take hours to die in agony.
Head of policy at international animal charity Born Free Foundation, Dr Mark Jones, told Metro.co.uk that Africas lions were facing an unprecedented crisis.
He added: The males will be reared until they have grown a big mane, which usually happens when they are about two years old.
These lions are then sold off to hunting facilities. People can buy a package. You can even choose a lion that you want to hunt from a brochure.
A tame lion will not try to hide from people so, in a canned hunt, you are pretty Read More – Source