London, April 16, 2021 – One of the world's most dangerous predators has seemingly disappeared without a trace. Lion Mojo, who has been missing for more than a month, has seemingly fallen through the gaps at both the German and Dutch authorities. After a court ruling prohibited the owner from keeping the big cat, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, together with international partner organisations, offered to place the lion in one of its species appropriate sanctuaries. But this missing big cat highlights the urgent need for regulation of the trade in wild animals and their private husbandry nationwide.
“It's a scandal. The former keeper and owner of Mojo assured the authorities that the lion is in the Netherlands. But the Dutch authorities, have informed their German counterparts that there is no record of him arriving. As a result, a penalty payment was imposed on the owner of Mojo and he was given a deadline to reveal the whereabouts," Sven Wirth, campaign manager for wildlife at FOUR PAWS, said after his latest enquiry to the Börde district, Germany, on Thursday.
"Mojo’s case demonstrates how ailing the legal situation regarding the trade and private husbandry of wild animals is” adds Wirth. As early as 2015, Mojo’s keeper was issued a court order to relinquish two lion cubs. Nevertheless, he bought another lion; Mojo. Research has demonstrated that you can easily acquire a lion via online ads for as little as £1,700 and it’s expected that Mojo was acquired by similar means. Mojo’s purchase and now disappearance, is worrying, but so too is the expectation that if he is found, he’ll be replaced. Wirth concludes “Although the Higher Administrative Court of Saxony-Anhalt has prohibited the keeping of Mojo, it is likely and more worrying, legal, to buy another big cat. Only the keeping of lions was forbidden to him by court order. FOUR PAWS is once again calling for greater uniform legislation and strict husbandry criteria to regulate the private keeping of exotic animals nationwide.”
Wildlife keeping in Germany
To date, there is no uniform nationwide regulation on the private husbandry of wild animals in Germany. In Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, for example, lions, crocodiles or even monkeys may be kept legally and unrestrictedly. Only in nine federal states do regulations regulate the private keeping of potentially dangerous or toxic animals. "Wild animals such as tigers or lions have so far been traded perfectly legally in Europe. Many don't care where the animals end up. But wild animals have special conservation requirements and require species-specific knowledge. The government's toleration of the trade and keeping of dangerous exotics is not only dramatic from an animal welfare point of view, but also grossly negligent," Wirth said.
The Mojo case
White lion Mojo had been kept by a part-time farmer from Saxony-Anhalt on his farm near Magdeburg until 2020, but due to in appropriate keeping conditions, Mojo was ordered to be relinquished. For just a few weeks, Mojo was kept at Bergzoo in Halle, Germany, before being returned to the former keeper. After a failed appeal it was finally ruled in February 2021 that Mojo had to be placed in a species-appropriate facilities, but that part of his story is still pending. "FOUR PAWS will continue to fight for Mojo and do everything possible to ensure he receives adequate protection and care” explains Sven Wirth.