Toronto Animal Services are investigating after photos surfaced of a lion cub at a trendy rooftop restaurant and lounge in downtown Toronto.
Several Instagram posts with Lavelle lounge in the location tag show patrons holding and petting a small lion cub.
Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice advocacy group, says she was alerted to the photos Friday morning by a supporter whose friend had seen the photos online.
“I have unconfirmed reports that the lion cub is from the Bowmanville Zoo, which of course is slated to close after its director Michael Hackenberger whipped a tiger,” she told CityNews.
Labchuk added she contacted Toronto Animal Services, which responded by email saying they would send an officer to Lavelle to investigate.
She says it is not rare to see wild animals brought to parties in the city.
“It’s seriously detrimental to the welfare of these animals to be owned by private people and taken around to events like this,” she says.
“It’s very dangerous to have these wild animals,” she says. “They are not tame they are not domesticated they’re not like house cats.”
Keeping lions in the city is prohibited by Toronto bylaws and is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.
A club spokesperson confirmed a patron brought the cub into the club. Charisse Davey says managers were busy at the time and by the time they realized what was going on, a number of people were taking photos with the cub.
“This wasn’t arranged,” she told CityNews. “We don’t know why the patron brought it in – in no way did anyone from the venue authorize this.”
Davey says the patron was asked to leave and the club is cooperating with Toronto Animal Services as it investigates.
“It was a mishap that was dealt with immediately. It was reported and we’re happy to comply in any way possible.”
“We appreciate everyone’s passion and the venue is taking action to prevent any future occurrences.”