The world has reacted in outrage to the story of Cecil the lion, who was hunted down for sport in Zimbabwe by a wealthy US dentist.

Now, the Ramat Gan Safari has weighed into the controversy surrounding the killing of the popular big cat.

“The story of Cecil is horrifying, shocking and extremely sad,” Sagit Horowitz told ISRAEL21c in a recent interview. “It hurts that these things happen.”

The Ramat Gan Safari spokesperson added that senseless killings like Cecil’s stress the need for conservation and protection efforts worldwide.

“We know the situation in nature is very difficult and that’s why when people say, ‘how can we keep animals in a zoo when their lives are so much better out in nature,’” Horowitz continued.

She further explained, as cases like Cecil’s demonstrate, that is not always the case.

“It’s not always easier for animals to be out in the wild,” she noted, pointing out it is often humans putting the animals at risk. “Here, all their needs are cared for and they’re treated with respect. No one will poach them here.”

In fact, all the animals including the lions receive top-notch care for the duration of their lives while at the Safari.

“Every lion is extremely important for us here at the Safari and we will do everything we can to care for them and give them a quality life,” Horowitz said.

Recently, that meant removing a tumor from Samuni the lion that was growing near his stomach so he could go back to leading a healthier and more pain-free life.

“There was no doubt that we’d take care of Samuni even though it is extremely difficult to anesthetize a lion. We knew that we would do everything to save his life.”