Tell Hollywood: Lions aren’t villains

Lions Are Under Threat. A New Movie Demonizes and Maligns Them Anyway.

Beast is a new movie by Universal Studios that’s packed with adventure and humans’ fight for survival. It also pits people against a supposedly sinister lion, hellbent on harming a heroic protagonist and his family. The teaser-trailer even features a clip of the main actor punching the (computer-generated) lion! Already, lions are currently under siege from all sides: climate change and habitat loss, human construction, poaching, and more. Over the past 30 years, the population of African lions has diminished by upwards of 40%, and they’re officially listed as “vulnerable.” Lions have all but vanished in multiple African nations where they once roamed freely. It’s clear that what these animals need is more protection, conservation, and help — not being maligned and personified as vicious human-killers.

While ultimately it seems that no animals were harmed on set, this type of premise could lead to people actually hurting real animals out in the wild, driven by increased fear and a belief that violence against wildlife is necessary. Thankfully, the movie does highlight the cruelties of poaching. It explains the blood-thirsty lion is a traumatized survivor of poaching attempts, in which humans have tried unsuccessfully to murder it for its body parts. Afterwards, it naturally adapts to see all humans as dangerous threats. If Universal Studios wants to really make it clear that poaching is the REAL enemy, it should put its money where its proverbial mouth is. Just last year, Universal Studio raked in approximately $714 million in revenue in the U.S. and Canada. That’s a lot of money — and even just a fraction could bring incredible benefits for wildlife. Sign the petition to demand that Universal Studios donate a portion of this film’s profits to wildlife conservation! It owes lions that much.

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