Animal welfare advocates are outraged about a plan by the Brisbane Lions AFL club to feature a live lion at home matches in 2015.
The Brisbane Lions AFL club insists featuring a live lion at home games is only an idea, after it triggered a backlash from animal welfare advocates.
Chief executive Greg Swann on Thursday confirmed a member of the Lions marketing team was investigating the possibility, which could be used to add an extra element to home games in the 2015 season.
Animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) said it had been contacted by a number of concerned members of the public.
It predicted the AFL club would face a massive uproar if the plan came to fruition.
“A loud football stadium with thousands of cheering fans is bound to be an extremely stressful environment for any animal,” PETA said in a written statement.
“The recent attacks at Australia Zoo have proved that allowing big cats and people to interact poses very real safety threats.”
The group said it had written to Mr Swann urging him to reconsider the plan.
Hundreds of social media users took to the club’s Facebook page to express outrage.
“Perhaps concentrate on your football, rather than that ridiculous lion idea,” wrote one fan.
“Cruel and ridiculous,” said another.
There were about 400 posts on the page by Thursday afternoon, with the majority of the reaction negative.
A Lions spokeswoman said the plan had triggered “a fair amount of hysteria” and it was “an idea and only that”.
“Animal welfare would always be the overwhelming priority in any such idea,” the club said in a statement.
“But let me stress we are only at a conceptual stage at the moment.”
The statement did not rule out the live lion plan but said the public reaction had showed there were “strong views” about the topic.
“We will take that into consideration as we continue to plan for next season.”