|Riley Tripp has spent his summer working at Ontario's Bowmanville Zoo, where he has been looking after a lion cub. (CBC)|
For Riley Tripp, it has been a part of his summer job.
Working at the Bowmanville Zoo, about an hour east of Toronto, Tripp has been taking care of Congo, a lion cub.
Part of that work has involved feeding the animal.
On some occasions, he has taken the now three-month-old lion home, where Tripp has a foam mattress beside his bed for Congo to sleep on.
"He likes to crawl up on my bed, but sometimes I'll wake up to him biting me or trying to play,"
Tripp said the animals at the zoo are hand-raised, in part so they are "better around humans."
However, Julie Woodyer of Zoocheck Canada said the bottom line is that these animals are not pets.
"These are not domesticated animals. They are wild animals and it is simply dangerous to have them in close proximity to the public," she said.
Michael Hackenberger, the director of the Bowmanville Zoo, said that the animals born at the zoo are not wild, as they were born in captivity.
While the zoo believes hand-raising makes lion cubs like Congo more accustomed to humans, Hackenberger said you can’t lose sight of their core nature.
"They're always predators," he said. "Predators hunt, kill and eat for a living. The day you forget that is the day one of these guys is going to hurt you."