August 2020: A South African skincare brand has committed to supporting a local big cat sanctuary in celebration of World Lion Day. Annually, an estimated 40% of lions held in captivity die of a condition caused by a lack of Vitamin A supplements; a situation that could be changed by a collective effort between various industries. This year, Environ will support the cost of Vitamin A supplements for the lions at Love Lions Alive Sanctuary.
Lions kept in a sanctuary require daily Vitamin A supplements, or they risk developing a potentially deadly Vitamin A deficiency, called Hypovitaminosis A. The first symptom of vitamin deficiency, Hypovitaminosis A, is a form of night blindness. This can develop into the dying of the cornea and ultimately blindness. Another symptom is thickening of the cranial bones, which causes convulsions and hind limb paresis. The deficiency also leads to weakened immune systems.
South African born skincare brand, 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 for the brand’s products. It is for this reason that this family run business is assisting with the supplementation at Love Lions Alive Sanctuary to mark World Lion Day, which takes place annually on 10 August.
“Vitamin A is at the heart of our business, and because we understand the wellness benefits of this vitamin, we’ve decided to show our support for this iconic South African animal of Love Lions Alive Sanctuary. We know these majestic animals have experienced untold cruelty, but we hope this act of kindness will go some way to 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 who come to live out their lives in safety. The sanctuary, founded by Andi Rive, offers a place of safety, dignity and reprieve to all lions in need. At Love Lions Alive Sanctuary, lions who were born into captivity are given the best chance at a quality life. The sanctuary 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 only two women who devote their lives to caring for the 25 big cats homed at Love Lions Alive. However, rescuing cats 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.
They 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 allow natural drinking holes, and rainwater is collected in dams for lions to play in.
“At Love Lions Alive, we work tirelessly to ensure that the lions are not living in pain, do not spend their lives looking at fences, our cats do not exhibit stereotypical behaviours and are not depressed. This is a huge and expensive endeavour, and this is why we need the help of others to ensure lions live as beautifully and naturally as possible,” says Rive.
Love Lions Alive Sanctuary approached Environ due to their expert knowledge in Vitamin A for use in skincare, gathered over the past 29 years.
“Environ has chosen to show we care because we know the importance of Vitamin A with our clients. Vitamin A helps to speed up healing, prevent breakouts, support the skin’s immune system and it promotes natural moisturising – which means it helps to hydrate the skin effectively, giving it a radiant glow. It assists in promoting and maintaining a healthy dermis and epidermis; the top two layers of your skin. We understand the effects of neglecting this supplement as humans, and therefore we as a company pledged to help these majestic animals who cannot help themselves,” says Val Carstens, Environ CEO and Chairman.
While Hypovitaminosis A is a well-researched and documented condition in lions, it’s not known exactly why lions in captivity commonly develop it. Even on a robust diet if the supplement is not included lions are susceptible to developing the condition, explains Rive. This is why all lions at the sanctuary are given daily vitamins and annual boosters.