It is quite common for people living in America to own an exotic animal like a lion, which is why quite a few people have had the opportunity of keeping a lion cub as a pet at one point or another. You are very likely to need a license to own a lion, depending on the state in which you live, which means you won’t be able to just get one from your local rescue center and make it your pet. But then another question arises: How much does a lion cost?
How Much Does a Lion Cub Cost?
A lion cub is likely going to cost somewhere between $1,500 to as much as $15,000. However, depending on how rare the lion cub is, its price can easily reach $140,000, especially for really rare breeds like the white lion. So the rarer its breed is, the higher the costs will get.
There are a lot of exotic animal marketplaces online and browsing through most of them got us ads for lion cubs that were usually priced between $600 and $3,000, depending on the breed of the lion.
Of course, as you might expect, you will have to ensure that your state laws enable you to own a unique animal like a lion as a pet before you start looking for one. And even if you are allowed to keep one as your pet, you will still have to get licensing from the right agency or institution, typically the Department of Wildlife and Rescue or something similar.
You will be required to offer significant proof to the state agency in charge of deciding who gets exotic animal permits, that you will be able to barricade this dangerous pet so that it doesn’t harm you, your family, or the surrounding community, as well as take the best possible care of the animal.
This will be the hardest part of getting the license and the one you should work the hardest to overcome. In most cases, the best approach is to hire a professional zookeeper to look after your pet lion cub even before you apply for the license.
According to The Big Cat Rescue, which is located in Tampa, Florida, the average price of a lion cub is $2,500. Keep in mind that you will spend at least $22,000 in your first year alone to raise a lion cub of small to medium size, aside from the initial cost of the pet.
How Much Does a Bigger Lion Cost?
The price range of an adult lion that’s in its adolescence age will be somewhere between $5,000 and $25,000, although, just like in the case of cubs, a white lion can set you back $140,000. The more unique the specimen and the rarer the bred, the more it is going to cost.
If you don’t have the necessary funds to buy a lion, you can also consider renting one. The cost to rent a lion will be somewhere between $100 and $1,00 per hour.
Lions are usually rented out by some specific companies for movies or other entertainment gigs, and renting one will require you to sign a lot of papers, get a lot of approvals, and spend a lot of money, of course.
The process of renting wild animals is only approved in ten US states. Among them, states like Oklahoma and Delaware don’t ban this practice and have laws to regulate it, while Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Alabama don’t have any laws regarding the owning and keeping of dangerous animals like lions.
What are the additional costs to consider?
You will have to get federal and state permits before you can get a big cat like a lion or a tiger. Expect to spend roughly $250 on these types of licenses yearly.
You will also be required by the state and federal agencies to get liability insurance. This insurance type isn’t as cheap as you might think, with policies costing anywhere between $1,000 and $15,000 per year, depending on your individual situation and other insurance factors.
This type of policy was designed as a way of protecting you from legal issues and even lawsuits if the lion injures or attacks someone. It might also be pretty hard to find a reputable insurance company willing to offer you protection for such exotic animals.
You will also have to consider getting a large cage and food for your pet. Lions need a high-quality protein diet. As the pet grows, you will also need to consider managing its health, which increases in costs as the animal grows,
Expect to spend around $1,000+ per year on high-quality food and vitamins for your pet lion, with prices increasing as it gets older. As for the cage, you should look for something at least 15 feet deep, 2- feet wide, and 10 feet high.
Routine and unexpected medical treatments, as well as the needed annual vaccinations, should be considered in the budget as well. These aren’t costs you can ignore, as they can easily turn into the thousands if your cub were to need any medical intervention. While a household pet will only require a general vet an exotic pet like a lion will need a specialty vet that will have to visit your location, as it is very unsafe to just drive around with a lion from your home to the local vet’s office.
You will also spend between $50 and $90 monthly on deworming your cub, while flea prevention treatment will cost around $100 to $300 per year, depending on the size of the pet.
You will also likely spend between $300 and $2,800 on a stainless steel travel squeeze cage which will be capable of holding a lion cub when it reaches its maximum weight, depending on its size.
Need to transport your lion to a different place for whatever reason? Then consider getting a forklift and a strong van to move the pet safely from one point to another.
Also check out your state’s rules, as each state has its own requirements and standards when it comes to cage features and sizes for big pets. There are states that won’t approve the owning of a big pet if you don’t meet a certain acreage, like five acres, for example. If you don’t have the needed land, you will have to budget for it as well.
Important things to consider
Most baby lions will have a lifespan between 10 and 23 years and most cubs will grow, on average, to a weight of 675 pounds and a height of 130 inches. It will take a lion roughly two years to mature.
You will also be required by federal and state laws to have a perimeter fence that will have to be eight feet tall or taller, on a minimum of five acres of land.
As said above, not all vets know how to care for a lion. It will take quite a while and will be pretty hard to find someone in your area that will agree to take a lion as a patient. This should be researched before you go ahead and purchase a lion cub.
The US House of Representatives passed The Captive Wildlife Safety Act in 2004 as a way of dealing with issues related to the availability of wild cats as pets. According to this Act, you are prohibited from foreign or interstate trade of exotic cats. This includes cougars, jaguars, cheetahs, leopards, tigers, and lions for the pet trade.
Licensed facilities are exempt from this Act. Among these are wildlife rehabilitators, zoos, and circuses. This legislation was considered a must for making these big cats less available for the pet trade business. Although it comes with restrictions, it still isn’t a full-on ban on ownership.
According to experts, there are roughly 10,000 to $18,000 tigers currently kept as pets in the US, in private facilities. To get a general idea of what this number means, currently, there are just around 5,000 of these big cats left in the wild.
Most lion cubs are purchased through private breeders or exotic animal auctions.