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The custody of a lion cub is at the center of a legal battle

The custody of a lion cub is at the center of a legal battle

The animal, Oscar, was seized while staying at the private residence of zoo employee Christel Bessner.

The lion cub was born in September 2023 at Animalia Zoo as part of a litter of five cubs. Two days later, four of them died. Then a veterinarian decides to remove the last baby from its mother for her safety because she does not have the maternal instinct to care for it, according to what we can read in a ruling from a Quebec court.

The animal was then handed over to Mrs. Besner, who would care for it at her home.

“In this type of situation, an exception to the law is allowed, allowing an exotic animal to be kept in a private residence,” explained Sophie Gaillard, legal affairs director at the SPCA of Montreal.

Following Animalia Zoo's bankruptcy a few weeks later, the Department of Wildlife confiscated Oscar the lion cub from Christel. The latter then took the matter to court to try to regain possession of it in the company of Emilie Gaudry.

According to what she told Noovo Info, she did not want to return him to his residence, but rather found a regulatory place for him.

In a ruling issued on February 14, the Quebec court quickly rejected their request. Even if we rule that Ms. Besner took care of the animal “to the best of her abilities,” the court finds that there is no legal recourse that would allow Christel to regain possession of the animal.

Christel Bessner intends to appeal the ruling. Since the case is still pending, the ministry declined to comment.

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Oscar the cub is still in the Ministry's possession in a secret location to ensure his safety.