Colossalcon, an anime convention held at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio, is a great con and everything, but I need to bring something up.
There is a very popular attraction at the Kalahari for cosplayers and visitors alike where you can pay to hold, pet, feed, and get your photo taken with either a baby lion, tiger, or bear cub. Sounds exciting and adorable right? I thought so too. This attraction is especially enticing for cosplayers because not everyone has the opportunity to get a photo with an exotic animal and it can really take your photoshoot to the next level (especially if it goes with the character). You can see in a lot of videos from Colossalcon over the years that this exhibit has been a huge hit with cosplayers and I believe is one of the biggest reasons why Colossalcon has gotten so huge in only a few years. I’ve heard it used as a selling point when people talk to others about getting their friends to go, hell, even I’ve used it before I learned about this.
But PLEASE DO NOT DO IT I know it sounds like a great photo op, but when you pay to do this you are encouraging the Kalahari to continue this and to continue supporting this abusive industry! The cute adorable cubs you see at the con or in the photos or videos online are not the same babies anymore and are already long gone from the Kalahari and who knows where. They could be sold for meat, as pets and are being kept in confined cages, they could be sold to circuses to preform tricks and be abused, who knows! I don’t know if the resort claims they use the money for conservation, but even if they do it’s an outright lie! Many petting attractions claim they use the money to support conservation, but it always just goes right back into their pockets.
Lets not forget that the Kalahari is a CHAIN of resorts. Meaning that this isn’t the only hotel that does this. These aren’t the only cubs that are being exploited. In fact, just back in May of this year, one of the Kalahari resorts in Wisconsin was found to be ABUSING their cubs so they will pose or behave properly during photoshoots. And lets not forget that the cosplayers at Colossalcon are not the only people getting their photos taken with these adorable animals. Visitors year round pay to do this as well as celelebrities which you can usually see on plaques in the lobby. Here’s a review from Tripadvisor on the Sandusky resort about the petting zoo in particular.
”But the worst thing in the resort is their petting zoo and animals that you can take picture with. They are scare, sad and you can see how uncomfortable they are being stuck in small cages all day. They had little bear -you can see he wasn’t even old enough taking away from his mom -laying in the cage and literally crying because he was hungry and scare. He is being pushed and punched by staff member who was trying to make him stand up and stay still for the picture. When I asked the staff member why if it necessary to that rude to the poor animal and where they live, he rudely told me that I should mind my own business, it’s their bear and they can do whatever they can to him. Next day it was little tiger and again I asked the same question and another staff member told me that they live somewhere, but he don’t know where and don’t know what will happen to those animals when they will grow up.
I will never return to Kalahari resort, I will never let my kids go back there. They are making so much money already -so they don’t need to torture the animals for even more money. I contacted their management and got no response.”
So if you’re going to Colossalcon (or just visiting the Kalahari resort) PLEASE DO NOT PAY TO PET THE CUBS! If you are a cosplayer and want a great photo op there are many other places to shoot and animals to shoot with. There are parrots and flocks of birds, giraffes, camels, kangaroos, ponies, there are pools and a waterpark, a huge arcade, safari themed decor and landscapes, a volleyball court, a zip line, an obstacle course, AND SO MUCH MORE! And don’t forget, IT’S FREE!!!!