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Emotive animated appeal exposes the brutal reality of South Africa's ‘Instagram Lions’

The plight of lions bred in South Africa to meet demand from tourists seeking to burnish their Instagram feeds has been raised in an emotive animation exposing the bitter truth behind their short and brutal lives.

Spearheaded by the Born Free Foundation, The Bitter Bond seeks to capitalise on increased awareness brought about by Disney’s recent remake of The Lion King by exposing the harsh reality of captive lions which are never given the opportunity to roam free and who face being sold to trophy hunters when they grow too big for cuddles.

Crafted by Engine in partnership with Zombie Studios and Blinkink, the hand-drawn campaign seeks to bring global attention to such inhumane practices, with estimates that 70% of all South Africa's lions live their lives in this way.

Employing misdirection, the work plays for maximum impact by first setting up the keeper as a force for good in the lion's life, only to expose their complicity in abuse during the closing moments.

Virginia McKenna, co-founder of The Born Free Foundation, said: “We hope this powerful film, which exposes the full horror of what is happening, will inspire people everywhere to join our mission, urging the South African government to end the great betrayal.”

Paulo Garcia, co-founder and chief creative at Zombie Studio added: “For Born Free we chose to mix techniques. We went with 3D animation for its fluidity and the room it allowed for expressive characteristics and combined it with the beauty and richness of detail from camera-captured, and motion-controlled scenarios. We couldn't be prouder of the final result.”

Born Free has previously highlighted the plight of African elephants targeted by poachers.

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