Kenyan officials defended their decision to perform a vasectomy on a captive lion earlier this week after some citizens demanded the release of the endangered animal so it could breed in the wild.
The three-year-old lion, which is part of a rehabilitation program in Nairobi aimed at rescuing orphaned or injured animals, underwent the procedure "in an effort to control breeding at the captive facility," the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said.
But the move prompted outrage in some quarters, with Kenyans asking KWS to instead release the big cat into the wild in a bid to increase the lion population.
"When wild animals are hand-reared, they lose their natural instincts and if released back to the wild, they are vulnerable. The cat family ends up being problem animals as they look for easier prey," the KWS said in a press release on Saturday, Jan. 28.
Since breeding was "not permissible in captive facilities," officials ordered a vasectomy, it added.
Nairobi National Park is home to many species of endangered wildlife including lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalos, who can be seen grazing against a backdrop of distant skyscrapers.
The big cats are under growing pressure however as one of Africa's fastest-growing cities expands into ancient migration and hunting grounds. (AFP)