French police are warning against what they say is a dangerous new trend known as a "bling-bling" selfie, that is, buying or renting lion cubs to take pictures with them inside a luxury car, and then discarding them.
In one recent instance, an almost 2-month-old male cub was rescued by police, who discovered the cub inside a Lamborghini during a traffic stop on the Champs-Elysees.
Animal advocates say that people buy the babies for less than what it costs to buy a dog, then get rid of them as they grow up. The animals are bred legally by circuses, who then sell them for a pittance.
"It's really a disaster," Reha Hutin, president of 30 Million Friends, a French nongovernmental organization dedicated to protecting animals, told The Associated Press. "They get these babies and they take selfies with them on social media."
Hutin said when the man was caught with the illegal cub in his car, he jokingly told policemen it was his cat.
It's believed the idea originated in the Gulf countries, Hutin said, but has since spread to France and beyond. “We've literally saved four babies in the last six months because they are copying those guys," Hutin said.
"There are hundreds of babies going around like this illegally," she added. “… It's going to become a real problem if the authorities don't forbid breeding those wild animals in France."