04 January 2011

Man camps out with lions for a month to raise funds and awareness

A Florida man is taking a rather drastic step in order to raise money for the struggling wildlife center he owns and operates - camping out with the King of the Jungle. James Jablon of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility, near Orlando, will spend the month of January living in an enclosure with two lions named Lea and Ed.

Jablon is streaming his stay live over the internet in the hopes of raising awareness and much needed funds to keep the non-profit center open. The facility was started ten years ago to provide a place for native wildlife to receive medical treatment and rehabilitation, but soon evolved into a refuge for exotic pets. The center is home to about 100 animals – including monkeys, alligators, coyotes, eagles and owls.

Jablon raised the two lions he will be living with since they were cubs. The lioness, Lea is two years old and weighs 250 pounds, while the lion, Ed is a year old and weighs 225 pounds. Jablon has built a fenced off area in the enclosure in case he needs to get away from the lions, while they are eating or rough housing with each other.

The facility costs between $50,000 and $75,000 a year to run, not including any emergency medical expenses that come up. Jablon is hoping to raise $200,000 for the center, which he runs with the help from a few volunteers and his 13-year-old daughter.

"I'm doing this to raise funds for the facility because we're broke," Jablon says. "Times have been tough and the bills are real high...the food bills, medical bills and I had to come up with a way to raise funds."

Jablon says the biggest challenge is boredom, as lions sleep up to 20 hours a day.

Robin Lawless | @robmlaw | email
Robin lives in New York City where she loves to check out all the vegan eateries. When she's not writing for TDIV, Robin enjoys taking dance lessons, reading, practicing yoga, hanging out with her cat Maggie, baking vegan treats, and volunteering at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Feel free to add Robin as a friend on Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/matthewjhale