Vitamin A for Lions?

Annually, an estimated 40% of lions held in captivity die of a condition caused by a lack of vitamin A - a situation that could be changed by a collective effort between various industries. South African-born skincare brand Environ has partnered with Love Lions Alive Sanctuary to provide vitamin A supplementation to help solve the challenge. 

Lions kept in a sanctuary require daily vitamin A supplements, or they risk developing a potentially deadly deficiency called hypovitaminosis A. The first symptom of vitamin deficiency, hypovitaminosis A is a form of night blindness. It can develop into the dying of the cornea, and ultimately blindness. Another symptom is a thickening of the cranial bones, which causes convulsions and hind limb paresis. The deficiency also leads to weakened immune systems. 

Environ has partnered with Love Lions Alive Sanctuary to support them with the annual cost of vitamin A supplementation for the 25 lions at the sanctuary. Environ understands the health benefits of vitamin A, as it forms the scientific basis of their products. 

“Vitamin A is at the heart of our business, and because we understand its wellness benefits, we’ve decided to show our support for this iconic South African animal. We know that these majestic animals have experienced untold cruelty, and we hope that this act of kindness will go some way in giving them a happy and healthy life at their new home. We look forward to building a lasting relationship with this sanctuary,” says Val Carstens, Chairman and CEO of Environ Skin Care.

Love Lions Alive is a sanctuary that gives lifelong care to lions in need of a place to live out the rest of their days in safety. Founded by Andi Rive, it offers a place of dignity and reprieve to all lions in need. At Love Lions Alive, lions who were born into captivity are given the best chance at a quality life. It is completely opposed to the breeding of lions in captivity, and does not support the sale of lions or human interaction with them.

The sanctuary is run by just two women who have devoted their lives to caring for the big cats homed there. Rescuing lions from circuses, zoos and hunting facilities is only one step in improving the quality of life of these big cats – they also require the correct feed and supplements, control of their bodies and superior habitats.

“That is the challenge we and our collaborators are rising to meet. We cannot do this alone. Ideally, we would get the whole of South Africa on board with animal welfare issues,” says Rive. 

The lions are homed in habitats that offer high ground and views over large vistas, natural shade and shelter, and low-lying spots for privacy. The sanctuary also builds rock pools to create natural drinking holes, and rainwater is collected in dams for the lions to play in.

“At Love Lions Alive, we work tirelessly to ensure that the lions are not living in pain or spend their lives looking at fences. This is a huge and expensive endeavour, and we need the help of others to ensure that they live as beautifully and naturally as possible,” she continues.

Love Lions Alive approached Environ due to their expert knowledge in vitamin A for use in skincare, which they’ve gathered over the past 29 years.

“Environ has chosen to show that we care because we understand the effects of neglecting this supplement in humans, and therefore pledged to help the lions, who cannot help themselves,” says CEO and Chairman Val Carstens.

While hypovitaminosis A is a well-researched and documented condition in lions, it’s not known exactly why those in captivity are prone to developing it. Even on a robust diet, lions are susceptible to developing the condition if the supplement isn’t included, explains Rive. This is why all the lions at Love Lions Alive are given daily vitamins and annual boosters.

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