Video of lion at Lagoon Amusement Park draws fire; rescue group weighs-in

FARMINGTON, Utah — Video of a lion at Lagoon Amusement Park that was recently posted online by the Utah Animal Rights Coalition is generating concern on social media.

The lion, which is part of the “Wild Kingdom Train” ride, can be seen lying on its side inside a cage, wheezing and appearing to be in distress to casual observers. Social media comments expressed concern about the lion’s health and well-being.

A spokesperson for Lagoon told FOX 13 News on Thursday that the lion’s behavior was not extraordinary or cause for concern.

FOX 13 News contacted “Big Cat Rescue,” a non-profit animal sanctuary in Florida, for a second opinion.

Spokesperson Susan Bass said it appears the lion is simply roaring on its side, or potentially trying to cough up a hairball. She said the lion otherwise appears to be healthy, but also criticized Lagoon for its treatment of lions and other big cats.

“Big Cat Rescue does not and did not condone the treatment of big cats at Lagoon,” the organization said in a statement Friday. “Lagoon is a roadside zoo and lions should not be forced to live in barren, cement-floored cages.”

The “Wild Kingdom Train” ride opened in 1967 and features zebras, camels, birds and other animals, in addition to several big cats. It has been the target of protests and petitions organized by animal rights groups for many years.