Blood Lions wins another appeal, this time against wild cat 'rehab facility'


The Pietermaritzburg High Court has dismissed an appeal filed by a wild cat 'rehabilitation centre', after Blood Lions showed the facility in its 2015 documentary. 

Images of Zanchieta's lions, and an interview with one of its representatives, was shown in the Blood Lions documentary. Zanchieta Wild Cat Farm alleged that the images and footage were defamatory, and accused Blood Lions of being the reason why volunteer agencies no longer refer volunteers to the facility. 

Blood Lions is an organisation concerned with stopping the captive-bred lion industry, canned hunting and the export of bones and body parts.

The facility wants Blood Lions to halt screenings of the film, and requested that an amended version of the documentary, excluding Zanchieta, be redistributed. 

The application for urgent injunctive relief against the producer and executive producer of the film was launched on 19 November 2015. 

ALSO READ: Lodge loses defamation case against Blood Lions

Zanchieta's appeal was dismissed by the full bench of the High Court, with costs, on 4 September. 

Zanchieta still poses as a wildlife rehabilitation and sanctuary, but failed to disclose in its papers and volunteer brochures that the facility acts as a nursery for cubs brought in by neighbouring breeders to be hand-raised, before being allegedly relocated into reserves. 

The facility is still listed on a number of websites, including Booking.com, SA Leisure Guide, SafariNow and Trip Advisor. 

Throughout legal proceedings, Blood Lions' lawyers, Andrea Gabriel SC, Peter Whelan and Alan Wright from Bowman Gilfillan, argued that any reference to Zanchieta was not defamatory, and that it had failed to make out a case for urgent injunctive relief. 

After Justice Mokgohloa did not grant Zanchieta's urgent application for relief in November 2015, she dismissed the application with costs on 2 December 2015. 

Zanchieta then filed an application for leave to appeal to the full bench of the High Court in September 2016, which was granted on 11 April 2017. 

The matter was meant to be heard on 30 July 2018, but Zanchieta erred in its preparation of the record, postponing the appeal hearing. 

Failing to amend the record, the appeal was heard on 4 September, and dismissed. Zanchieta must also pay Blood Lions' legal costs, and the costs incurred by the employment of Senior Counsel. 

In August, another facility, Ukutula Lodge, was also unsuccessful in its application for indicative relief against Blood Lions and its crew. 

Ukutula Lodge felt it had been defamed by the documentary, as its cub petting offerings were showed in the film. 

(Compiled by Nica Richards)

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