Friday, August 29, 2008

Eyewitness Account of Tiger Attack & Killing of Tiger

By Ryan Dean

KSDK -- The man responsible for rescuing his friend from the jaws of a tiger over the weekend said he was terrified thinking of his friend in the situation.

"?There ain't nothing more terrifying than that," said Roy Elder, who pulled his friend, 26-year-old Jacob Barr, away from an 800-pound tiger.

"When you throw an 80 pound piece of meat in a cage and it catches it like a tennis ball, it never touches the ground, the tiger catches it in the air and shakes to rip it apart, that's what you deal with, so imagine what it's like on flesh and bones," he said.

Elder, a volunteer at Wesa-A-Geh-Ya in Warren County for the past six months, brought Barr with him to help water and feed the big cats for the first time. Elder said his friend was standing outside the cage when a male tiger named "Hercules" jumped a 10 foot fence and latched on to Barr's leg.

"(Barr was yelling) 'Help, Roy, get him off, get him off, Roy get him to let go'. He never, you know, he never lost it," Elder said.

Elder punched the animal several times trying to free his friend's leg. When that didn't work, he said he ran to get one of the managers and a gun.

"We couldn't shoot him having Jacob still, so I ran 30 feet and grabbed a pick ax. I hit him in the head, he let go and he was shot," Elder said.

Barr has undergone two surgeries, one to remove his right leg up to his knee.

As for Elder, he said he's blaming himself for the accident.

"Cause I brought him out there. I've always looked out for Jacob, he is like my little brother," he said.

Friends said Barr does not have health insurance. Donation buckets are being distributed to area stores in Warren County. Friends have planned a benefit breakfast, with details expected to be released later on KSDK.com.



--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above. You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Month of the BIG CAT

Month of the BIG CAT
By Beth Preiss

08/26/2008

Although 2008 is the Chinese Year of the Rat, August may be
remembered as the Month of the Big Cat. In less than three weeks, one
lion, two leopards and five tigers escaped or attacked people in the
United States. Communities from coast to coast were reminded of the
dangers and difficulties of keeping these wild, majestic animals in
captivity.

On Aug. 3, a tiger jumped out of an enclosure and mauled a volunteer
at a Warrenton, Mo., exotic animal menagerie that previously had lost
its U.S. Department of Agriculture license to operate as an
exhibitor. The man's leg had to be amputated below the knee.

On Aug. 4, a 16-year-old reportedly entered a cage to take a
photograph at a Branson West animal attraction and was severely
injured by three tigers; he remains in critical but stable condition.

On Aug. 5, a man working at an Illinois circus training facility was
bitten and scratched by a tiger.

Animal services personnel responding to a call about a large dog on
the roof of a Nevada home on Aug. 19 instead found two pet leopards
that had gotten loose. On Aug. 20, Florida authorities were able to
recapture a lion and tiger that escaped from an exotic animal
facility, possibly due to a tropical storm. In these two incidents,
fortunately, no one was hurt by these powerful predators.

Due to a lack of regulation, no precise figure is available for how
many big cats are in private hands in the United States, but
estimates range between 10,000 and 15,000. That includes an estimated
5,000 tigers - more than the number of tigers remaining in the wild.
Accredited zoos and responsible sanctuaries may house approximately
10 percent of these animals.

The rest often live in deplorable conditions in roadside exhibits,
traveling shows, pseudo-sanctuaries, basements, barns and backyards.
People purchase cute cubs, and when they grow too large and
aggressive to manage, the animals may be confined to cramped cages,
becoming ticking time bombs in our neighborhoods.

Eleven people have been killed by captive big cats in the United
States since 2001 - more than one per year. These kinds of tragedies
could be prevented by common-sense laws that would keep big cats out
of untrained hands.

Most states prohibit keeping big cats as pets, but Missouri lawmakers
have rejected such proposals. As a result, the state's laws regarding
exotic animals are among the weakest in the nation. Individuals who
keep big cats outside of zoos, refuges, research and circuses only
are required to register the animals with law enforcement agencies at
the county level.

There are no standards for safety and care, and enforcement is
difficult. Some jurisdictions such as Kansas City and Springfield
have stronger rules, but statewide action is needed.

Neighboring states Iowa, Kansas and Kentucky have banned certain wild
animals as pets in recent years. Missouri should follow their lead
and prohibit the keeping as pets of big cats and other dangerous wild
animals before another person is injured or killed. To protect public
safety and the animals' welfare, wild animals belong in the wild.

---

Beth Preiss is director of the exotic pets campaign for The Humane
Society of the United States, a Washington-based animal protection
organization established in 1954.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/editorialcommentary/
story/

9E8F918696166DAD862574B0007D0399?OpenDocument



--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above. You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fisherman attacked by tiger

Fisherman attacked by tiger

29 Aug 2008, 0353 hrs IST,TNN

SAJNEKHALI (Sunderbans): A fisherman, Lakshmikanta Sardar (52), was attacked by a tiger at Kalas island in the Sunderbans on Wednesday. Other fishermen accompanying Lakshmikanta attacked the tiger with iron rods and saved him from the jaws of the big cat.

The victim was taken to Diamond Harbour Subdivisional Hospital on Thursday morning. He is stated to be out of danger.
Lakshmikanta and his son Pratap had left for Kalas for catching crabs early on Wednesday from their Narayanpur home in Namkhana.

After reaching Kalas, they rowed along a creek along the island. As they travelled deep into the forest, suddenly the tiger jumped on Lakshmikanta on the boat itself.

As those accompanying Lakshmikanta attacked the tiger, it gave up and ran away. The fishermen immediately rushed for Namkhana where they reached at night.

On Wednesday evening, a tiger tried to attack a forest guard. The guard was on the other side of the iron fence and escaped unhurt, but is still in a state of shock.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Kolkata_/Fisherman_attacked_by_tiger/articleshow/3419291.cms
http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tiger kills man in Melghat

Tiger kills man in Melghat
25 Aug 2008, 0534 hrs IST, Vijay Pinjarkar,TNN

NAGPUR: It is not just the Brahmapuri Forest Division in Chandrapur district, where the endangered tiger is in conflict with humans. The phenomenon seems to be spreading to Melghat that has the oldest and biggest tiger reserve of the state. A teenage grazier was killed by a tiger in the dense forests in multiple use area (MUA), three kms from Chopan village in Chaurakund Forest Range of Melghat region in Amravati district.

The incident is reported to have occurred in the evening of August 21. However, the forest staff came to know of the incident on Saturday evening. The victim, Rajesh Dhikar, 17, had gone to graze his cattle in the forests near Chopan. Rajesh left his cattle and returned home for lunch. He again went to the forest to take back the cattle. However, by evening, although the cattle returned to the village on their own, Rajesh did not.

Worried family members thought that Rajesh might have gone to the adjoining Khopwar or Malur village as it had turned dark. However, as he did not return even by Sunday morning, they with other villagers launched a search for Rajesh. They found his badly mauled body in compartment number 601 in Chopan beat.

The villagers informed Chaurakund Forest Range about the incident following which Sipna divisional forest officer (DFO) Badge, RFO U N Dandale, forest guard S S Kharabe and staff from Dharni police station, which is around 40 kms from Chopan, reached the place and drew up the panchnama. Dandale’s family was paid a compensation of Rs 10,000. The remaining Rs 1.90 lakh of the Rs 2 lakh compensation will be paid after receipt of postmortem report and other formalities.
Forest officials claimed this was the second incident of a tiger killing a human being in Melghat. Six years ago, an old tiger had mauled one Hausilal Kasture of Chikhli in Harisal Forest Range. Experts say old tigers generally strayed near villages as they were mostly dependent on cattle. However, the Chopan killing does not appear to be by an old tiger.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Nagpur/Tiger_kills_man_in_Melghat/articleshow/3401104.cms

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Saturday, August 23, 2008

2 leopards escape NV

August 20 Reno, NV: Washoe County Regional Animal Services originally responded to a call about a large black dog on the roof of a home in the valley east of Washoe Lake.  When they got there, they found not a dog, but two black leopards on the roof.   State Wildlife Department spokesman Edwin Lyngar says the cats are exotic pets that escaped from the home of their owner Andy Kay who could not be reached for comment at telephone numbers associated with the West Coyote Drive address or the Ann Road address.  Washoe County Assessor's Office records indicate the Washoe Valley property is owned by Coyote Irrevocable Trust and that Kay is a trustee.  In March two black leopards were fired on by the police after allegedly mauling a puppy 200 yards from their home.  Those cats were never found and are suspected to be the same as these found on a rooftop.  Regional Animal Services Center Director Cindy Sabatoni said two Siberian tigers were found in Washoe County two years ago and a bobcat was found last year in Stead.  The problem in NV is so prevalent that the tigers never even made the news.

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above. You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Thursday, August 21, 2008

2 escape leopards caught south of Reno

2 escape leopards caught south of Reno

Associated Press - August 20, 2008 10:04 AM ET

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Washoe Valley residents are resting a little easier today
after animal control officers captured a pair of black leopards on the loose
south of Reno.

Washoe County Regional Animal Services originally responded to a call about a
large black dog on the roof of a home in the valley east of Washoe Lake.
When they got there, they found not a dog, but a leopard on the roof. As they
were preparing a tranquilizer gun, they found a second cat there. Both were
put to sleep and transported to animal services.

State Wildlife Department spokesman Edwin Lyngar says the cats are exotic
pets that apparently escaped from the home of their owner. The owner's name has
not been released, but has come forward to claim the animals.

They're being held until the owner builds an improved enclosure and secures
all the necessary permits.

http://www.lasvegasnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=8870940&nav=menu102_2_6



--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above. You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Sunday, August 17, 2008

20 lions and tigers go from Wesa to G.W. Exotics

Exotic animal facility ships big cats to new home
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Aug. 17 2008
WARREN COUNTY — As she watched animals she had raised being loaded onto a truck
headed to Oklahoma, Sandra Smith didn't know whether to cry or smile.

Smith, along with her husband, Ken, is the co-founder of Wesa-A-Geh-Ya, an
exotic animal facility near Warrenton. Amidst ongoing allegations of neglect
and after a tiger attack Aug. 3, the Smiths decided to close their facility and
relocate their animals.

On Saturday, about 20 lions and tigers, two wolves, a mountain lion, a bear and
a leopard departed for the G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Okla.

Smith found it difficult to watch 20 years of her life be packed into an
18-wheeler.

"We're losing our life out here," Smith said. "I don't know how to explain how
I feel."

The Smiths still have about 20 tigers and a handful of dogs to relocate, and
they hope to do that in the next month.

Joe Schreibvogel, the owner of the G.W. park said he is looking to help Wesa
place the rest of its animals. Four of the big cats are headed to Carnivore
Preservation Trust in North Carolina. The future of the others is up in their
air, and Schreibvogel said he might have to make another trip here in case no
one else can take in the tigers.

Schreibvogel said his park has more than 170 big cats and 1,400 animals on 16
acres. He said Wesa had nice cages and their animals were healthy for the most
part.

The animals' new home, though, will be an upgrade. Schreibvogel said his park
is licensed by the U.S. Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture and Oklahoma.

Wesa is no longer licensed on the federal level — the facility surrendered its
USDA license in 2003.

"There is no comparison," Schreibvogel said. "And that's just being honest. I
don't want to down anybody for their efforts."

Smith didn't deny her animals were going to a better home. She said Wesa wanted
to create a better living environment for its animals, but the Smiths were
unable to because of financial issues and pressure from animal rights groups
and local citizens.

"Where they're going to now is heaven," Smith said. "It's what I bought this 17
acres for. I couldn't do it."

Wesa was open to the public until 2003 when it forfeited its USDA license. Both
Ken and Sandra Smith were on probation for various violations, such as the
failure to register some animals and the failure to keep cages properly
locked.

On Aug. 3, a 26-year-old man helping clean out cages was attacked by a tiger.
Jacob Barr is recovering at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and is in fair condition
after having his right leg amputated.

Lisa Wathne, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,
doesn't think the animals will be any better off at the G.W. park. She said the
fact that G.W. breeds and shows its animals is reason for concern, although
Schreibvogel said it won't affect how the animals are treated.

"A USDA license is doing nothing to protect the animals at that park," Wathne
said. "With all the animals at Wesa have been through, the sad fact of the
matter is there's no better place for them to go."

jwilson@post-dispatch.com | 636-255-7211

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/774E3DFC42BF2B7F862574A8000CEC67?OpenDocument

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above. You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why Big Cats Are Born in "Sanctuaries"

Dear Kevin,

Wesa-A-Geh-Ya is no sanctuary and had no good intentions toward the animals prior to this tragedy. Like PeTA, we had offered to spay and neuter animals there and at many other pseudo sanctuaries, who claim they just can't help having baby tigers all the time.  It is a lie.  The babies bring in donations and volunteers who want to pet them.  The US Fish & Wildlife service specifically states that accredited sanctuaries do NOT breed.  As someone who has been involved with saving big cats for the past twenty years, I can assure you that there are no legitimate breeding and release programs for big cats and never will be because there isn't habitat for them to survive and raising and releasing captive born cats isn't possible without tremendous danger to the public.

Wasn't this facility part of Operation Snow Plow?  Tim Santel, resident agent in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's law enforcement office in Springfield, Ill., was named Officer of the Year in 2004 for his lengthy undercover investigation of the illegal killing of endangered species, specifically tigers, leopards, snow leopards and the commercialization of their meat, hides and other body parts. The investigation, dubbed "Operation Snow Plow," lasted more than six years, covered more than six states and resulted in the conviction of all 17 defendants (16 individuals and one business) charged with violating several federal wildlife protection laws. Combined, the defendants' sentences have resulted in 80 months in federal prison, 52 months home detention, 2,200 hours of community service, $75,000 in fines and $226,000 in restitution to the Fish and Wildlife Federation's Save the Tiger Fund.  One of the convictions was that of a well-known "sanctuary" in MO that was selling their "rescued" lions to be served in restaurants.


The questions I would really like to see exposed are the following:

Why is is that "sanctuaries" and those who profess to "love" the big cats are so violently opposed to legislation that would end the private trade in them as pets and collectibles?  My goal is that places like Big Cat Rescue no longer need to exist and my path to that goal is by asking for legislation that bans the breeding, sale, trade and collecting of these great cats.  As a result, I may be the most hated person in the big cat "industry" and yet most of the people who spend so much time trying to discredit me with their lies and insinuations claim to be in the rescue and sanctuary business.  Why isn't ending the abuse the most important goal of those who claim to be saving big cats from abuse?

Why are big cats being born in sanctuaries when there isn't enough sanctuary space for all of the unwanted big cats?

Why is contact with big cats allowed when a bill in Congress has died last year and stalled this year that would prevent it? (HR 1947 Haley's Act)

Where do all of the babies from last year go?  When you look around at all of the places who advertise baby lions and tigers, where do they all go for the next 20 years?

More here:

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2008ManEatingLions.htm


http://www.bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2008DyingToBeHeld.htm

It costs Big Cat Rescue between $5,000 and $7,500 per year to provide proper care for a big cat.  Multiply that by the number of big cats in these pseudo sanctuaries and roadside zoos and then compare it to their annual budgets.

Lack of accountability.  Most of these places hide behind their USDA licenses as if it were a badge of honor, but if you visit the abusers page on www.911AnimalAbuse.com you will see a repeating pattern of facilities having USDA violations reported year after year, for six years in some cases, before the USDA takes action.  Meanwhile the USDA keeps renewing their licenses.  Why does USDA renew licenses each year of facilities that have failed to meet even the more minimal of standards?  To give you an idea of how low the standards are, the size of cage for a tiger only has to be big enough for the cat to stand up and turn around.

What does it cost the tax payer?   When less than 1/10th of one percent of the public owns exotic animals, why do tax dollars fund entire governmental departments to regulate an industry that is unneeded and inhumane?  What are the actual costs to tax payers for all of the reporting, licensing, enforcement and the clean up costs after these places allow escapes or they go belly up?

62% of the people polled say that seeing big cats in cages has done nothing to cause them to donate to conservation in the wild.  Almost all of the places that use big cats for income will cite that noble cause as their excuse, and yet how much of the money they raise is actually put to work in saving the habitats?

The tiger is the best example of how this doesn't ring true.  No big cat is more commonly kept in zoos and back yard menageries and yet with less than 4,000 left in the wild and one being poached per day, it is obvious that this great cat will disappear in the next few years.  All of the cats who were born in cages for the last hundred years did nothing to stop the onslaught.  I believe that the practice of keeping cats in cages has actually led to their demise in the wild.  If you can have the convenience of driving a few miles to see a tiger in a cage, then why protect them half a world away where you may never see them?

Thanks again for continuing this discussion in the press even it if did come off as being sympathetic to people who clearly deserve no sympathy.  Only a ban would have prevented this and only a ban will prevent this kind of tragedy again.

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

Controversial farm giving up exotic animals after mauling

By KEVIN MURPHY
The Kansas City Star

Finding a good home for kittens and puppies is one thing, but how about 33 tigers, eight lions, four wolves, a bear, a cougar and a leopard?

Two Missourians reluctantly are trying to do just that and figure they have a good start: Someone is picking up 19 of the animals Saturday.

"I miss them already," Sandra Smith said Wednesday. And they, apparently, will miss her. "My animals have not talked, they have not roared, they know something is up."

Sandra and Ken Smith of rural Warrenton, Mo., are voluntarily giving up their animals in the wake of a tiger's mauling of a volunteer Aug. 3 that required a partial leg amputation.

The Smiths keep the animals caged on their farm, but have heard complaints from a neighbor, the county and animal-rights groups. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also has investigated the farm for various violations.

"For nine years, I have fought them," Sandra Smith said. "I bought 17 acres 22 years ago, and my dream was to turn 17 acres into a park for my animals so the tigers could have their little ponds and lilies and the lions could have their trees, etc."

The Smiths formerly exhibited the animals publicly, but gave up their federal license in 2003 after authorities got complaints about how the animals were fenced and kept. But the Smiths hung on to the animals and have spent all their money and time to keep them healthy and safe, Sandra Smith said

On Saturday, a truck will pick up the eight lions, the four wolves, four tigers, the bear, the cougar and the leopard. They will go to a sanctuary in Oklahoma, Smith said. She hopes to have the remaining tigers placed by the end of the month.

The Smiths will have a news conference Saturday morning before the animals are picked up. Sandra Smith said she was upset with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal-rights group critical of the Smiths' keeping of the animals.

"I want them to step up with donations and help me find homes for the rest of the animals they said needed homes," Smith said.

Lisa Wathne, spokeswoman for Virginia-based PETA, said that there are not enough places for the animals and that donations wouldn't help.

"Euthanasia is probably the kindest option for the animals, rather than to pay for them to go from one bad situation to another," Wathne said.

Any animals that are moved should be sterilized so they cannot breed, Wathne said, and PETA would pay for that.

Smith said the mauling victim, Jacob Barr, 26, remains in the hospital. Barr is a friend of a regular volunteer at the Smiths' Wesa-A-Geh-Ya animal farm.

"I am so sorry," Smith said. "I wish it was me up at the hospital instead of him. That isn't just talk, I swear."

http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/story/747575.html


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Missouri tigers

Tuesday's editorial: Missouri tigers

tiger_opt.jpgWhen 44 tigers and 11 lions live in a neighborhood, you might expect neighbors to be concerned. When there are no government safety inspections of such menageries, you might expect a community to be worried. And when tigers attack people — as happened twice this month in Missouri — it's time for the government to step in.
Missouri needs a state law requiring humane conditions and regular inspections of private reserves housing wild predators. Without it, citizens won't be safe, and animals won't be ensured of humane treatment.
Oddly enough, one reason the state doesn't do a good job of regulating large animals may be that some people who raise small, cuddly ones — puppies and kittens — are opposed to animal regulation of any sort. The distance between a puppy mill and a tiger preserve isn't all that great.

On Aug. 3, an 800-pound tiger jumped a fence and attacked a 26-year-old volunteer at the Wesa-A-Geh-Ya refuge near Warrenton. The tiger was shot dead; the victim's leg later was amputated below the knee.
A day later, three tigers critically injured a 16-year old boy at Predator World near Branson. The teenage employee had entered the tiger enclosure to take a picture.
That wasn't the first problem at Predator World. A 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture report noted that a grizzly bear previously had escaped its enclosure and killed a tiger.
The Wesa-A-Geh-Ya operation is even more worrisome. It is home to 44 tigers, 11 lions, seven Arctic wolves and other exotic animals, most of them kept in chain-link cages. In 2003, the operation surrendered its USDA license to exhibit the animals after a USDA investigation into the lack of medical treatment for a sick lion and a bear. The operation's owners also have been cited for failing to lock cages properly.
Warren County Sheriff Kevin Harrison is concerned. "We're dealing with a volunteer organization holding large numbers of wild animals in cages that, for all practical purposes, were designed to hold dogs," he told Post-Dispatch columnist Susan Weich. "What happens if they get out, and they're roaming our community?"
Since surrendering its license, Wesa-A-Geh-Ya has survived in a regulatory loophole. The USDA no longer inspects the facility because it's not open to the public. Missouri law only requires owners of dangerous predators to tell law enforcement authorities they have one. That's about it.
And even the notification law is ignored widely. A survey last year by law students at St. Louis University found that only one sheriff's office in the state keeps such records.
The bottom line: An owner can fill his property with the world's most dangerous predators, and the government will look the other way.

The situation is absurd, but Missouri long has been known for lax regulation of animal operations. For instance, state law says that dog breeding operations must be inspected once a year. But in 2006, the state Agriculture Department managed to inspect only 60 percent of the registered operations, according to a July report by the state auditor. And no one knows how many breeders are unregistered.
Ineffective as the puppy mill law is, at least it's on the books. State law says nothing at all about much fiercer creatures. State Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, and Rep. Mike Sutherland, R-Warrenton, this year proposed a mild tightening of the registration requirement for exotic animal operators. The bill went nowhere, suggesting a possible slogan for the state Tourism Department:
"If you think Missouri's puppy mills are bad, wait'll you see our tiger mills."

(Photo of a caged tiger by Tambako the Jaguar)

08.11.2008 9:02 pm

http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/the-platform/published-editorials/2008/08/tuesdays-editorial-missouri-tigers/#comment-3749

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above. You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Sunday, August 10, 2008

Official outcry over tigers comes too late for young victim

Official outcry over tigers comes too late for young victim

Susan Weich
Post-Dispatch St. Charles columnist Susan Weich
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

Editor's note: Susan Weich's column, which formerly appeared only in St. Charles editions, is now running regionwide in the Metro section on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Susan tackles suburban stories and issues, and she welcomes your suggestions at sweich@post-dispatch.com.



As long as dangerous wild animals are caged at largely unregulated facilities, tragic accidents like the tiger attack in Warrenton are going to keep happening.

Last Sunday, Jacob Barr was mauled by one of 44 tigers at Wesa-A-Geh-Ya, an animal farm operated by Ken and Sandra Smith since the mid-1980s.

The Smiths seem to have started the compound with the best intentions. They wanted to provide a haven for abused or abandoned animals.

That plan deteriorated when they began breeding animals there. Many of the tiger cubs that were sold to others ended up back in Warren County when the new owners couldn't handle them.

The Smiths voluntarily gave up their exhibitor's license in 2003 after the USDA started investigating potential violations that could have resulted in sanctions or confiscation of the animals. That got the USDA off their backs.

It also stopped the Smiths from being able to collect donations from visitors who came to see their animals, and funding for the facility slipped to about $1,200 a year from $40,000 annually.

Taking care of the animals has become difficult because of the lack of funding. Donations of meat and volunteers to help tend to the animals have dropped off as criticism by animal-rights groups and public scrutiny of the operation increased.

The Smiths have been placed on probation for violations that included failing to keep cages properly locked and failing to register some animals.

Unfortunately, Barr, 26, of Warrenton, knew nothing about the facility's troubled history. He is friends with one of the volunteers at Wesa. The two men had been camping together, and when Barr's friend said he was going to clean the cages, Barr agreed to help.

Barr's dad, Jim Barr, told me that his son had no idea he was in any danger because his son's buddy fed the tigers all the time.

"But the very first thing that happens is that a tiger jumps the fence and gets Jacob down," Barr said. "It was holding him down by his leg and tearing his calf off, eating it right in front of him."

The younger Barr had to have part of his leg amputated. The tiger was killed.

Aside from the horror, the attack raises serious public safety concerns about these animals pacing back and forth next-door to a community with a growing population.

"We're dealing with a volunteer organization holding large numbers of wild animals in cages that, for all practical purposes, were designed to hold dogs," said Warren County Sheriff Kevin Harrison. "What happens if they get out, and they're roaming our community?"

The Smiths say that none of the animals has ever escaped from the compound. The only person who has been attacked in the past is Sandra Smith. But their reaction to Barr's mauling showed poor judgment and is troubling in several ways.

First, Harrison said, the Smiths put Barr, a new volunteer, in harm's way by letting him go near the tigers. Second, the Smiths misled authorities by telling them a stray pit bull attacked Barr.

Harrison said it will be difficult to work with the Smiths, who have proved they can't be trusted.

Local and state officials say they are ready to look at regulations for Wesa and other privately owned animal exhibits.

Officials in Warren County said they would consider an ordinance addressing ownership of nondomestic animals in the next month.

On the state level, Rep. Mike Sutherland, R-Warrenton, who has been trying to set standards for places like Wesa for five years, is hopeful that publicity about the mauling will help a law get passed this session.

These are good starts, and a way to help authorities keep an eye on places like Wesa. But the state needs to ban these types of operations too before more animal exhibits move here.

Fortunately, the Smiths say they now will shut down and are working to place their animals in other exhibits. As long as conditions are acceptable at the new homes for the big cats, that would seem to fix Warren County's problem.

It's too bad that all of this is coming too late for Barr. Critics have complained for years that Wesa posed a threat.

Barr now faces a long recovery. The county and state might have prevented the attack if only they'd acted sooner.

Carole's letter to the reporter:

Dear Susan,

Great job on the article about the need for better laws in MO to end these reckless practices. 

As you deduced, Wesa-A-Geh-Ya is no sanctuary. The US Fish & Wildlife service specifically states that accredited sanctuaries do NOT breed.  As someone who has been involved with saving big cats for the past twenty years, I can assure you that there are no legitimate breeding and release programs for big cats and never will be because there isn't habitat for them to survive and raising and releasing captive born cats isn't possible without tremendous danger to the public.

Wasn't this facility part of Operation Snow Plow?  Tim Santel, resident agent in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's law enforcement office in Springfield, Ill., was named Officer of the Year in 2004 for his lengthy undercover investigation of the illegal killing of endangered species, specifically tigers, leopards, snow leopards and the commercialization of their meat, hides and other body parts. The investigation, dubbed "Operation Snow Plow," lasted more than six years, covered more than six states and resulted in the conviction of all 17 defendants (16 individuals and one business) charged with violating several federal wildlife protection laws. Combined, the defendants' sentences have resulted in 80 months in federal prison, 52 months home detention, 2,200 hours of community service, $75,000 in fines and $226,000 in restitution to the Fish and Wildlife Federation's Save the Tiger Fund.  One of the convictions was that of a well-known "sanctuary" in MO that was selling their "rescued" lions to be served in restaurants.


The questions I would really like to see exposed are the following:

Why is is that "sanctuaries" and those who profess to "love" the big cats are so violently opposed to legislation that would end the private trade in them as pets and collectibles?  My goal is that places like Big Cat Rescue no longer need to exist and my path to that goal is by asking for legislation that bans the breeding, sale, trade and collecting of these great cats.  As a result, I may be the most hated person in the big cat "industry" and yet most of the people who spend so much time trying to discredit me with their lies and insinuations claim to be in the rescue and sanctuary business.  Why isn't ending the abuse the most important goal of those who claim to be saving big cats from abuse?

Why are big cats being born in sanctuaries when there isn't enough sanctuary space for all of the unwanted big cats?

Why is contact with big cats allowed when a bill in Congress has died last year and stalled this year that would prevent it? (HR 1947 Haley's Act)

Where do all of the babies from last year go?  When you look around at all of the places who advertise baby lions and tigers, where do they all go for the next 20 years?

More here:

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2008ManEatingLions.htm


http://www.bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2008DyingToBeHeld.htm

It costs Big Cat Rescue between $5,000 and $7,500 per year to provide proper care for a big cat.  Multiply that by the number of big cats in these pseudo sanctuaries and roadside zoos and then compare it to their annual budgets.

Lack of accountability.  Most of these places hide behind their USDA licenses as if it were a badge of honor, but if you visit the abusers page on www.911AnimalAbuse.com you will see a repeating pattern of facilities having USDA violations reported year after year, for six years in some cases, before the USDA takes action.  Meanwhile the USDA keeps renewing their licenses.  Why does USDA renew licenses each year of facilities that have failed to meet even the more minimal of standards?  To give you an idea of how low the standards are, the size of cage for a tiger only has to be big enough for the cat to stand up and turn around.

What does it cost the tax payer?   When less than 1/10th of one percent of the public owns exotic animals, why do tax dollars fund entire governmental departments to regulate an industry that is unneeded and inhumane?  What are the actual costs to tax payers for all of the reporting, licensing, enforcement and the clean up costs after these places allow escapes or they go belly up?

62% of the people polled say that seeing big cats in cages has done nothing to cause them to donate to conservation in the wild.  Almost all of the places that use big cats for income will cite that noble cause as their excuse, and yet how much of the money they raise is actually put to work in saving the habitats?

The tiger is the best example of how this doesn't ring true.  No big cat is more commonly kept in zoos and back yard menageries and yet with less than 4,000 left in the wild and one being poached per day, it is obvious that this great cat will disappear in the next few years.  All of the cats who were born in cages for the last hundred years did nothing to stop the onslaught.  I believe that the practice of keeping cats in cages has actually led to their demise in the wild.  If you can have the convenience of driving a few miles to see a tiger in a cage, then why protect them half a world away where you may never see them?

Thanks again for getting to the real heart of the matter.  Only a ban would have prevented this and only a ban will prevent this kind of tragedy again.


--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above. You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

Comments by others:

I testifed for all bills introduced to the state and the first year furnished over 200 photos of this facility & the dangers involved. The cubs were being raised in Ladue, and all over the city and county. One photo showed a 5 month old tiger in a Ladue home. When the board members walked out in 2002 and the owner admitted to selling dead & live animals into the Endangered Animal Trade we thought it would be the end. Instead the Attorney General did nothing and allowed them to continue to operate as a nonprofit corporation. When the USDA permanently revoked their license the only action taken by the AG was to make them change their name from Wesa Zoo to plain Wesa and they were still allowed to "acquire & care for animals for education" but could not "legally" exhibit. The cubs being raised in 2002 were not returned to the owner. One tiger cub ended up near Six Flags where the people kept him, unknown, until he was three years old in their backyard. This is an excellent article except for the fact these people started out as breeders and boasted in a news article in 1998 that "they were better at breeding than the St. Louis Zoo", it was never about rescue. I testifed at the hearings each year and did not find out until 2006 that Warren County had the necessary rules that would have prevented these people and a friend who also had tigers in his backyard from breeding, selling & expanding. The County refused to acknowledge this even to our State Representative. Channel 4 did a story in 2003 about the tiger owner/breeder in a subdivision and how the neighbors were afraid to let their children play in the yard and still the County refused to ask the owners to get the proper permits. I submitted a complaint in 2007 and the commissioners would not act on it but finally agreed in 2008 that the owners should be required to obtain permits for all changes started in 1995 (see their comments on this date). Too little, too late for this man.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

LaWanna Jones on Predator World issues

Dear Jeremy,

Thank you for running the story on Predator World and the need for better laws in MO to end these reckless practices.  LaWanna has been a Godsend to the cats and it means a lot to me that you took the time to hear her out, check out the facts and report on the need for better legislation to protect the public from those who profit from the exploitation of big cats. 

In the past we have often found the media to only care about what was cute and would "sell" to the public, like petting tigers and other acts of ignorance and ego.  Protecting animals from abuse had been portrayed as being anti-human rights, in some inexplicable twist of thinking.  If you saw the movie called Amazing Grace, you may remember that in 1824 William Wilberforce started the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  That was right on the heels of his long and successful battle to end slavery in England. It was the beginning of a change in consciousness toward animals.  Up until 1920 women weren't allowed to vote because they were thought to be irrational creatures and not as intelligent as men. The movement for female equality began in the 1500's, but it wasn't until 400 years later that it became law.  We are seeing the same changes in attitudes toward the animals.

There are three stages to truth:
1. Ridicule
2. Violent opposition
3. Acceptance

While your story wasn't focused so much on the animal welfare issue as it was on the human protection issue, the underlying current was there.  The image of the note the owner posted on the gate saying "Do to family emergency" rather than "Due to family emergency" spoke volumes about the basic ignorance of those in charge of Predator World.  Seeing the flimsy cages and lack of respect for the power of the animals, which is what ultimately resulted in the tragedy this week, just further illustrated the need for better laws. 

What I most want to thank you for is being brave enough to listen to a woman who, knowing the past bias of the press, still had the conviction to expose herself to ridicule by talking about the issue.  LaWanna Jones is a perfect example of an every day person who is doing their own thing;  raising kids, building her own business, and one day something happens.  One day a person sees a situation that is intolerable and decides right then and there that they can be the cure.  At first they think that the odds and public attitudes are too overwhelming and they deal with self doubt and defeat after defeat, but they just won't quit.  Isn't that kind of person what inspires all of us?

When we see a person like LaWanna keep on promoting a more compassionate and responsible attitude, day in and day out, with so little reward it makes all of us want to help her.  As she becomes successful and begins to turn the tides, we want to be like her.  You have been a crucial part in turning that tide.  These are important issues that can only be cured with better laws and you spoke a lot about how that can happen.  People need to know.  One day soon, as people look back on road side menageries like Predator World and wonder how on earth that ever could have been legal, they will remember you and say, "Jeremy got it."


--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

Animal Activist Calls for Tougher Tiger Laws
Play Media

Friday, Aug 8, 2008 @09:16pm CST

Just days after a teenager is hospitalized from a possible tiger attack in Stone County, a local animal activist is now calling for tougher laws on where large exotic animals can be kept.

"Facilities like that need to have regulations," says Lawanna Jones, "and they need to know that those regulations are going to be checked on and enforced."

Lawanna Jones is a private contractor with "Big Cat Rescue" and says the incident, where a 16-year old employee was supposedly attacked by three tigers at the Branson Interactive Zoo and Aquarium-- should never have happened.

She says this facility known as "Predator World" promotes itself as a zoo, but needs more regulations for standard procedures and safety protocol.

For example, Jones shot video at predator to observe the animals. She says the walls would shake and rattle when the tigers jumped at them and the animals were not even full grown at the time.

"If that had gave way the Plexiglas and the tiger would have been right out in the sidewalk on people, not just with people but on people," says Jones.  "And what they had told me was prior to putting those cubs in there, the female tiger was in there."

Predator World didn't return our phone call to comment on this footage or the current condition of its facility.

We did reach state representative Bob Dixon who says he's concerned with employee and visitor safety in places like this.

A representative from Warren County is working to pass legislation that would add additional oversight and regulations to owning exotic animals.

Dixon says the legislation died the last two years but he's looking to strengthen the bill and pass it through the General Assembly.

http://ozarksfirst.com/content/fulltext/?cid=45651





Friday, August 08, 2008

Owner: Wesa-A-Geh-Ya Will Close

Owner: Wesa-A-Geh-Ya Will Close

The owner of the Wesa-A-Geh-Ya animal sanctuary in Warren County told county commissioners Tuesday morning he has decided to close his facility near Truxton following Sunday's tiger attack which left a volunteer maimed.

Kenneth A. Smith, 51, said he will attempt to place every animal in another shelter within the next 30 days.

"Enough's enough," an emotional Smith said. "My animals deserve better than what I can give them."

Authorities said Jacob Barr, a 26-year-old Warrenton man, was mauled by an 800-pound tiger while he was attempting to move the animal from a large cage into a smaller one.

Barr had to have his right leg amputated just below the knee Monday at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He was reported in satisfactory condition following the surgery, although additional surgery on the leg was performed Wednesday.

"That was the straw that broke the camel's back," Smith said of the attack on Barr. "If I had to kill every animal to save that man's leg, then I would do it and have no problem doing it."

Smith said he had contacted owners of animal sanctuaries in both Kentucky and Tennessee in an effort to place his animals in locations "where the laws aren't so hard to deal with.

"Everything goes," Smith explained Tuesday. "The animals, the cages, everything."

Smith, who was to meet with the commissioners and the Warren County Planning and Zoning Board next Monday, asked the commissioners for time to complete the transfer of his animals.

Asked how much time he would need, Smith estimated 30 days might be enough to complete the relocations.

"If it takes more than a month, I'll call the fish and game people, dig a hole in my back yard and put all the animals down," Smith observed.

In a statement released later Tuesday, the commissioners said they had advised Smith in 1995 that additions to his property would require the filing of a Conditional Use Permit with the county.

"We have no record of any such request ever having been filed," said Presiding Commissioner Arden Engelage.

Smith said Barr was a new volunteer at Wesa-A-Gey-Ya. "He had just started," Smith said.

The Wesa-A-Geh-Ya sanctuary is located in northern Warren County off Highway A near the town of Truxton.

The tiger, which was named Tony, scaled a 10-to-12-foot-high fence before it attacked Barr, authorities said. The animal was shot and wounded by Smith's wife, Sandra, during the attack and was later killed by Smith himself.

"I had to put him down," Smith said. "It was a hard thing to do but I had no other choice."

"I don't know what made the cat jump that fence," related Sandra Smith. "Maybe it was the heat or something."

According to authorities, Barr's leg had much of the skin stripped off down to bare bone. He was flown by air ambulance to the hospital.

What frustrated sheriff's department deputies about the incident was the fact Smith, his wife and other workers at the facility initially tried to cover up the attack.

"When deputies first got there, they were told the worker had been attacked by a pit bull," explained Warren County Sheriff Kevin Harrison. "But there was no way these wounds were consistent with a pit bull attack."

Upon further questioning, Harrison said the Smiths and other workers finally admitted the attack on Barr had been done by a tiger. "They lied to us to cover this incident up," said Harrison. "This was no dog attack. It was an attack by a cat, a very big cat."

Harrison said his deputies finally found the body of the tiger at the rear of the Smith's property. Deputies seized the carcass and are keeping it as evidence.

"This is a huge incident," said Harrison, "and it will bring to the front all the negative publicity surrounding this sanctuary."

While the incident Sunday might be described as an accident, Harrison said it cast a dark shadow over the operation of the sanctuary.

The sheriff also said there will likely be extreme civil repercussions from the attack.

The Smiths have operated the Wesa-A-Geh-Ya sanctuary for years. It was originally licensed as a zoo, where visitors could pay an admission fee and see the animals in their cages.

But the Smiths had their operating license revoked by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2003 following an investigation into numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

The Smiths also had to pay a $13,000 fine.

A 2006 USDA investigation uncovered violations including the failure to provide minimally adequate veterinary treatment, a lack of training for employees, unsanitary food storage, unsafe caging for the animals, unsanitary drinking water, failure to have perimeter fencing sufficient to safely contain dangerous animals and the general inhumane treatment of the animals which existed on the property.

"This was an accident waiting to happen," said Debbie Leahy, director of the Captive Animals Rescue and Enforcement organization. "Wesa-A-Geya-Ya has a long history of abuse and neglect and has been cited repeatedly by the USDA for unsafe caging.

"Wesa-A-Geh-Ya is so substandard that the USDA permanently revoked its owner's exhibitors license," added Leahy, "an action that is virtually unheard of."

On Monday, Leahy wrote to Benito Perez, the chief of law enforcement for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, calling for a thorough investigation of the entire incident.

In her letter, Leahy said she also is concerned by what she called the "unexplained disappearance" of endangered species in Wesa's animal inventory.

In June of 2007, Wesa had 40 animals registered with county authorities according to Leahy. But only 35 animals were found there during an on-site investigation that same month.

The sanctuary currently includes an estimated 50 animals, including lions, tigers, bears, wolves and a leopard.

Kenneth Smith is currently on probation for failing to register some animals. Sandra Smith received probation in 2003 after she was charged with failing to keep the animal's cages properly locked.

http://www.emissourian.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19899039&BRD=1409&PAG=461&dept_id=653413&rfi=6

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Hawthorn Tiger Maul Larry Dean

August 5, 2008  Richmond Township, IL:  Larry Dean said he was practicing a circus act at the Hawthorn Corporation farm near Richmond when the tiger suddenly became aggressive and grabbed him with its mouth. "He had numerous scratch marks and bite marks," said Richmond Township Fire Chief Rick Gallas. "I would say that was a mauling... he was pretty bloody." Gallas said workers told paramedics they had to beat the tiger with baseball bats to get it to release Dean. Gallas said Dean told paramedics it was the second time a tiger had attacked him at the farm, but Dean declined to comment when asked about that on Thursday and Hawthorn's owner, John Cuneo says Dean should not have been near the tigers.  Hawthorn owns about 50 tigers but only about 30 of the animals are at the farm, Cuneo said. Others are performing at circuses around the world, Cuneo said.  In 2003 the U.S. Department of Agriculture accused Hawthorn of failing to care for its elephants properly. But in 2004 he agreed to give away his elephants in exchange for keeping his circus tigers.  Cuneo has tried to get rid of his tigers when they won't perform by asking Big Cat Rescue to take them, but Big Cat Rescue does not enable bad behaviour.  Cuneo's Sarasota neighbors are concerned that he plans to move his tigers to their neighborhood as he has purchased 5 acres of beach front there and asked for permits to install n 8 foot high wall.  FL law requires 5 ac and an 8' fence for people to keep tigers in their back yard. 

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.




Thursday, August 07, 2008

From his hospital bed, man dismisses tiger attack as 'not a big deal'

From his hospital bed, man dismisses tiger attack as 'not a big deal'

He suffered puncture wounds in Tuesday attack

By Carolyn Starks and Jeff Long Chicago Tribune staff reporters
August 8, 2008

Despite the nightmarish memory of a tiger biting him repeatedly, an animal trainer downplayed a mauling at a McHenry County circus farm on Tuesday that left him hospitalized with deep puncture wounds.

"It's not that bad," Larry Dean said Thursday from his hospital bed. "If you do it for a very long time, it will happen every now and then. It's really not a big deal. How many people get bitten by dogs all the time?"

Dean said he was practicing a circus act at the Hawthorn Corporation farm near Richmond when the tiger suddenly became aggressive Tuesday and grabbed him with its mouth. He has a puncture wound on his knee, a bite on his arm and several scratches, he said.

"He had numerous scratch marks and bite marks," said Richmond Township Fire Chief Rick Gallas. "I would say that was a mauling—quite a bit above the waist. The guy walked up to us, but he was pretty bloody."

Gallas said Dean told paramedics it was the second time a tiger had attacked him at the farm, but Dean declined to comment when asked about that on Thursday.

Hawthorn owner John Cuneo said Dean should not have been near the tigers when he was attacked about 9:45 a.m.

"Somehow, he got close to one of the tigers," said Cuneo, who spoke to Dean on Thursday morning but said he was still unclear about the details of the mauling.

Gallas said workers told paramedics they had to beat the tiger with baseball bats to get it to release Dean, but Dean disputed that account.

"They didn't get him off me," Dean said. "Somebody overreacted and called an ambulance. I was on my way out to my truck" to drive to the hospital.

Dean said he is having difficulty walking because of the knee injury.

"It is a bad bite," he said. "It was big teeth."

Dean declined to elaborate on specifically where the attack occurred or what act he was practicing.

He said he expects to be released from Centegra Hospital in McHenry on Friday after doctors make sure he doesn't have an infection.

Hawthorn owns about 50 tigers, according to Cuneo, but he said only about 30 of the animals are at the farm adding that the rest are currently performing at circuses around the country and the world.

In 2003 the Department of Agriculture accused Hawthorn of failing to care for its elephants properly, a charge Cuneo denied. But in 2004 he agreed to give away his elephants in exchange for permission to keep his circus tigers.

A visitor to the Hawthorn farm was mauled by a tiger in 2005, according to a lawsuit filed in McHenry County Circuit Court. An Iowa man claims in the suit that he was invited into an arena at the facility where 14 white tigers were being trained. One attacked him, causing severe leg injuries.

Cuneo has said the man hit the tiger, spurring the attack.

That case is still pending.

cstarks@tribune.com

jjlong@tribune.com

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-mchenry-tiger-maul-both-08aug08,0,5270738.story

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Tiger mauls worker at McHenry County circus-training site

Tiger mauls worker at McHenry County circus-training site

Cuneo Farm kept big cats in exchange for giving up elephants to sanctuaries

By Jeff Long Chicago Tribune reporter
2:23 PM CDT, August 7, 2008

A supervisor at a circus-training farm in McHenry County is recovering from scratches and bites to his upper body after being mauled by a tiger this week, the farm's owner said Thursday.

Larry Dean, who has worked at Hawthorn Corp. for more than 10 years, should not have been near the tigers when he was mauled Tuesday at the farm near Richmond, said Hawthorn owner John Cuneo.

"Somehow, he got close to one of the tigers," said Cuneo, who spoke to Dean on Thursday morning but was still unclear about details of the attack.

Cuneo said Dean is expected to be released Friday from Centegra Hospital-McHenry.

"They're always worried about infection, and rightly so," Cuneo said.

Hawthorn owns about 50 tigers, Cuneo said. But only about 30 of the animals are at the farm, he said. Others are performing at circuses around the world, Cuneo said.

In 2003 the U.S. Department of Agriculture accused Hawthorn of failing to care for its elephants properly, a charge denied by Cuneo. But in 2004 he agreed to give away his elephants in exchange for keeping his circus tigers.

Sanctuaries in Tennessee and California took Cuneo's 10 remaining elephants in 2006 and 2007.

jjlong@tribune.com

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-mchenry-tiger-maul-web-07-aug08,0,439411.story

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Legislator plans to re-introduce exotic animal bill

Legislator plans to re-introduce exotic animal bill

By Mike Penprase August 6, 2008
MPENPRASE@NEWS-LEADER.COM

Two recent tiger attacks in Missouri could prompt stronger support for a bill tightening controls over dangerous exotic animals, the legislator who has led the effort for several years said Wednesday.

Rep. Michael Sutherland, R-Warrenton, said a bill he sponsored in the past and will sponsor again would regulate exotics as pets and provide more state oversight of facilities such as those in Warrenton and Branson West where people were injured by tigers on Sunday and Monday.

“They would have been able to operate, but they would have had to operate under some pretty strict guidelines under the state as far as identification of the animals, and definitely a lot more regulations on how the facilities were kept and the type of facilities the animals were kept in, so the public didn’t have to worry about safety issues,” he said.

He had hoped legislation toughening regulations on dangerous exotic animals would become law before anyone was injured or killed.

“Unfortunately, it looks like we’ve waited too long, and we’ll have to be reactive,” Sutherland said in the aftermath of Monday’s attack on 16-year-old Dakoda Wood-Ramel at the Branson Interactive Zoo and Aquarium and a tiger attack Sunday at the Wesa-A-Geh-Yah center in Warrenton.

Wood-Ramel remains in critical condition in Cox South Hospital, while Warrenton sanctuary volunteer Jacob Barr lost his leg below one knee.

Wesa-A-Geh-Yah’s owner said Wednesday the facility has closed and the animals will be sent to other sanctuaries.

Closed Monday after Wood-Ramel was injured, the Branson West attraction re-opened Tuesday.

The only statewide regulation on dangerous exotic animals requires owners to register their animals with county sheriffs, Sutherland said, but he added sheriffs have more than enough to do to without having to check on the presence of big cats and other exotics.

Sutherland’s bill would increase penalties for not registering an animal in a bill covering a Noah’s Ark of animals, ranging from tigers and bears to other carnivores such as jaguars, mountain lions, ocelots, cheetahs, hyenas and wolves. The bill also covers non-human primates and dangerous or poisonous reptiles.

The bill also calls for sheriffs to maintain a registry of animals to inform the public and for use during emergencies. It would exempt traveling circuses, research facilities and educational institutions, research laboratories, veterinarians and zoos that are accredited with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums from having to register their animals.

The Branson West business is not an AZA member and has never applied for membership, an AZA spokesman said.

Owners of animals would not be allowed to take them onto public property and people who don’t own the animals or work as keepers would not be allowed to handle them.

While other legislators offered bills tightening control of exotics in Missouri, Sutherland said he’s been at the effort the longest, starting in 2003 after he was elected to the General Assembly.

Constituents at the first town hall meeting he held voiced concern about the Warrenton exotic animal facility, Sutherland said.

Although early efforts didn’t make it past the hearing stage, a companion bill introduced by Sen. Tom Dempsey in the last session gave the bill more support, Sutherland said.

“Probably in light of the current situation, it will probably push from both sides, the House and the Senate, next year,” he said. “I think there will be a lot more interest.”

Few other state regulations apply to such facilities.

The Missouri Department of Conservation requires people in possession of wildlife native to Missouri to register with the department, but Conservation has no oversight of non-native exotics, department spokesman Jim Low said.

And other than a regulation requiring that animal carcasses be disposed of properly, the Missouri Department of Agriculture has no regulations on dangerous exotics, state Veterinarian Dr. Taylor Wood said.

Sutherland said only the U.S. Department of Agriculture has any oversight over exotic animals through its inspections of facilities that have the animals.

But the fact that the Warrenton refuge continued to operate after the USDA revoked its license is an indication the agency has little clout, Sutherland said.

The USDA is taking complaints about the Branson West facility seriously, agency spokeswoman Brie German said.

“At this time, we’re looking into the incident,” she said.

German would not confirm if USDA inspectors had visited the attraction. Commenting further would compromise the agency’s examination of the incident, she said.

On Tuesday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked the USDA to investigate and consider revoking Branson Interactive Zoo and Aquarium’s license.

PETA cited several incidents to take that action, including the injury of a zoo volunteer by a black panther in 2003 and the escape of three wolves in 2007.

The Humane Society of the United States wants Missouri to ban private ownership of tigers and other dangerous wild animals, but considers Sutherland’s proposal encouraging, HUSA director of the exotic pets campaign Beth Preiss said.

“I would say legislation like that would be a step in the right direction,” she said.

Missouri lawmakers need to act soon because several nearby states including Kansas have enacted bans, and Missouri could become a dumping ground for exotic animals, she said.

Rep. Dennis Woods, R-Kimberling City, said Missouri needs to control private ownership of dangerous exotic animals, but he would oppose regulations that would affect the Branson West animal attraction.

Wood said he would support a ban on keeping large cats and other dangerous exotic animals as private pets, but not legislation that would threaten the Branson West attraction.

Wood said he has been to the Branson Interactive Zoo and Aquarium and knows the people who run it.

“This zoo in my district is the only opportunity my local kids have for that kind of exposure,” he said. “I want to be real careful we provide every protection there can be without the elimination of this exposure for the kids and people who might not ever have an opportunity to see a wild animal.”


http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200880806042

http://www.bigcatrescue.org

2 tiger attacks show tougher laws needed

By BETSY TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer 19 minutes ago

ST. LOUIS - Two tiger attacks this week at two different Missouri animal facilities that had both been cited for past problems have law enforcement officials calling for tougher exotic animal laws.

On Monday, a 16-year-old worker entered a tiger pen at the Predator World attraction in southwest Missouri to take pictures for a visitor and was attacked by three of the big cats. The boy, Dakoda Ramel, remained in critical condition Tuesday at a Springfield hospital. There was no immediate response to a call seeking an update on his condition Wednesday.

Just the day before, a separate tiger attack in eastern Missouri cost a 26-year-old volunteer part of his leg. Jacob Barr's leg below the knee was amputated after he was attacked by a tiger Sunday at the Wesa-A-Geh-Ya animal facility in Warrenton. Barr faced more surgery Wednesday at a St. Louis hospital.

Federal officials have pointed to problems at both facilities. A 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection at Predator World noted three instances of animals getting out of their pens: two wolves that escaped into the community; a grizzly bear that remained on the property but was able to kill a tiger; and a fox that was hit by a car.

The Wesa-A-Geh-Ya facility, which used to have a license to exhibit its animals through the USDA, surrendered that license in 2003 and then had it revoked after a number of violations involving animal care were alleged.

Critics say a patchwork of laws means no single agency in the state or nation is responsible for law enforcement and inspections related to exotic animals like large carnivores. One of the tiger owners, while deeply upset by the tiger attack, said she thinks existing regulations contributed to the problem.

Warren County Sheriff Kevin Harrison said he'd like the state to improve exotic animal laws, but in recent weeks he proposed changes at the county level.

"I think it's such a politically charged topic: What do you do with these exotic animals?" he said.

Both Harrison and Stone County Sheriff Richard Hill, where the other tiger attack took place, said in Missouri owners are supposed to register their exotic animals with their sheriff's department. But they said the law doesn't specify how soon after possessing an animal someone must register. The law also lacks requirements for proper enclosures, or how often the registration needs to be updated.

The Missouri Department of Conservation visits Wesa-A-Geh-Ya at least annually to check on animal species that are native to the state, like mountain lions, wolves and a bear — though the wolves at Wesa-A-Geh-Ya are Arctic wolves.

"There's never been any problem with them mistreating the animals or problems with the enclosures," said Dan Zarlenga, a spokesman for the Department of Conservation.

But the agency does not inspect animals not native to Missouri, like the tigers.

Sandra Smith, one of the owners of Wesa-A-Geh-Ya, said existing regulations are confusing and problematic. She said she had wanted to make cages more secure but was told she couldn't without a local permit.

"If there's going to be more regulations, put someone on the job who knows what they're doing," she said.

Smith said she's getting out of animal care altogether. She said she's started looking for new homes for the 49 animals on her property.

Harrison said Wesa-A-Geh-Ya owners needed to take responsibility for the tiger attack, saying they were the ones who decided to house wild animals on the site behind chain-link fences.

Predator World did not respond to requests for comment.

The USDA report on Predator World, provided to The Associated Press by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, notes that two of the previous animal incidents at the facility occurred during storms.

The fox escaped after a tree fell on its enclosure during an ice storm. The bear also escaped from its enclosure when a tree limb fell after a storm "allowing it to enter the enjoining enclosure and kill an adult female tiger."

Hill said that if exotic animal owners don't register the creatures, authorities will not have accurate, updated information about what potentially dangerous animals are residing in their counties during severe weather.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects one victim's name to Dakoda sted Dakota, no update available on his condition, UPDATES with second victim facing more surgery.)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080806/ap_on_re_us/tiger_attack

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.