Saturday, January 31, 2009

Endangered Sumatran tigers kill Indonesian farmers

Endangered Sumatran tigers kill Indonesian farmers

The Associated Press
Saturday, January 31, 2009

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Rare Sumatran tigers increasingly under threat as their jungle habitat shrinks have been blamed for deadly attacks on three Indonesian farmers, including the mauling of a father and son while they slept, officials said Friday.

The bodies were discovered over the past week within a 25-mile (40-kilometer) range on Jambi province, Sumatra, police chief Tedjo Dwikora said. A 58-year-old father and his 21-year-old son were attacked in their sleep Wednesday in a hut near their village, while another man's body was found a week earlier in a nearby village, he said.

Two old tigers known to roam the area are believed to have carried out the killings, said local conservationist Didy Wurdjanto.

Fewer than 700 Sumatran tigers remain worldwide, according to estimates. The endangered animals are being forced to venture beyond traditional hunting grounds as rampant illegal logging, land clearing and commercial development eats into their jungle habitat. They are also threatened by poaching for the lucrative animal trade.

Only 20 such tigers still live in Sumatra's Jambi province on impoverished Indonesia's westernmost island, once a wildlife heartland.

Tigers kill at least seven in north India

Tigers kill at least seven in north India

Saturday, January 31, 2009

KISHANPUR: Tigers have killed at least three children and four adults in north India in recent weeks, officials said on Friday, forcing frightened villagers to stay indoors while forest rangers search for the wild cats.

Authorities wielding guns combed villages surrounding the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in the state of Uttar Pradesh, from which seven tigers are believed to have strayed. One of the tigers is believed to have killed at least four people in the last two weeks, including three children between the ages of 8 and 15.

“An order has been issued either to tranquilize and cage the man-eater or, if it is not possible, to kill it,” said PP Singh, a local forest official. Villagers in the area are keeping their children home from school and have stopped tending their fields for fear of the tigers. “Please help, a tiger has eaten up my nephew and the forest department is doing nothing to protect the villagers,” said Lakhan Singh in Tanda village, roughly 95 miles southeast of the state capital of Lucknow. KK Singh, a senior forest official, said the conflicts were due to villagers encroaching upon the tigers’ land. Park authorities say there are roughly 100 tigers in the 300 square-mile reserve. The recent incidents are the first fatal attacks in the region in several years, officials said. “It is a real struggle between the man and animal in which we have to save both of them,” Singh said. There are an estimated 1,500 tigers in India’s reserves and jungles – down from about 3,600 just five years ago and about 100,000 a century ago, according to a 2007 government survey.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Teacher fought with tiger mauling his friend

Teacher fought with tiger mauling his friend

Saturday, 31 January 2009

An Auckland teacher has told how he fought to save his friend being mauled by a tiger at a Thai tourist resort.

Daniel Charman was horrified when the semi-tame tiger called Pancake attacked his friend Ruth Corlett, 45, as she posed for a picture with the animal at the Khumsu Chiang Mai Tiger Centre.

The tiger, apparently trained so tourists can pat it, grabbed Mrs Corlett's leg and tried to drag her away.

Mr Charman said the tiger lunged at his friend and grabbed her leg.

Mrs Corlett grabbed his leg as the tiger tried to drag her off.

"I'm a big guy and I never thought I'd say it, but it's nice to be big," he told The Weekend Herald.

"My weight probably kept us both from being dragged away."

He said as the tiger locked its teeth around Mrs Corlett's leg he grabbed its head.

"It seems a bit thick but I tried to grapple this tiger's mouth open. I wasn't really yanking it open but sort of tried to prise its (mouth) open."

He said no one appeared to be doing anything when he acted but the trainer arrived and hit the tiger on the head, making it let go of Mrs Corlett's leg.

"I looked at Ruth's leg and I knew from her groans that this was heavy stuff. I told her to get on my shoulders and we got out of the enclosure."

She was taken to hospital where she needed 54 stitches to close the wound.

Mrs Corlett moved to Thailand in 2007 with her family to work for a charity-based organisation.
Mr Charman is a teacher at Auckland's Elim Christian College from which six children and a teacher lost their lives in a canyoning accident last year.

He said he could not believe that he could be involved in another danegrous situation so soon after the Mangatepopo tragedy.

Fisherman saved from tiger's jaws

Fisherman saved from tiger's jaws

31 Jan 2009, 0353 hrs IST, Prithvijit Mitra, TNN

KOLKATA: When Joydeb Halder and his six companions were rolling in their fishing nets after a tiring day at Sujjimoni Char in Sundebans on Thursday, they had no idea that danger was lurking less than 20 feet away in a bush. A Bengal tiger had been stalking the group, waiting to pounce for the kill. In a flash it was on to Joydeb and had its jaw firmly locked around the fisherman's head.

Most of his friends were rooted in horror as the tiger started dragging Joydeb into the forest. His brother Rabiram shook off the fear and jumped to the rescue with a stick. The rest followed. They managed to chase away the animal but not before it had mauled Joydeb. Chunks of flesh had been torn off his right cheek, shoulders and the back of his head.

Bleeding and losing consciousness, Joydeb was brought to SSKM Hospital early Friday morning. Doctors managed to save his life but he is still too weak and terror-struck to speak.

Rabiram said they, too, were yet to recover from the shock. The group had left Gopalganj in Kultali on two boats to fish deep inside the forest area. "None of us had ever encountered a tiger before. We should have been more careful because several of our neighbouring villages have been raided by tigers in recent months. It is clear that something is wrong either with the forest or with tigers," said Sukdeb Halder, Joydeb's elder brother.

"We were in knee-deep water, pulling back our nets. It was getting dark. None of us had noticed the tiger which had crept into a nearby bush. By the time we sensed it, the huge animal had already gripped Joydeb's neck and was trying to drag him away. Luckily, we managed to save him," said Rabiram.

Joydeb's condition is stable but his injuries will take a long time to heal, said doctors at SSKM.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Md. mauling: Jaguar to be evaluated for health changes

Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009

Thurmont zookeeper, mauled by big cat, is 'serious but stable'

by Jeremy Hauck - Staff Writer

A Frederick County animal control officer on Feb. 17 will evaluate a pair of jaguars involved in an attack on a Thurmont zookeeper this month.

If the jaguars' temperament and health appear to be steady, they will return to their normal enclosure at Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo.

"Unless there is a health issue or a drastic change in their behavior or temperament … the quarantine would end," said Harold Domer, director of Frederick County Animal Control, on Tuesday.

A change in health or temperament would lead to a discussion on further measures for the animals. "We would discuss that with the public health officer," Domer said.
Diego, a 10-year-old male jaguar weighing between 180 and 200 pounds, attacked a female zookeeper on Jan. 18. Diego has been quarantined since, along with Evita, a 12-year-old female jaguar in the same enclosure at the zoo.

Deborah Gregory, 32, of Severn did not completely secure the jaguar area she was working in at about 11 a.m. on Jan. 18. Diego attacked and bit her. Other employees heard her cries and came to her aid, fending off the jaguar with a fire extinguisher.

Gregory, who had worked at the zoo for about one month, was responsive after the attack, but her injuries were serious enough to require hospitalization.

Gregory's condition has been improved from critical to serious but stable, according to Deena Holler, trauma coordinator at R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Holler could not discuss Gregory's injuries, but said, "I think she should do well."
Michael Douglas, a Frederick County Animal Control officer, is handling the investigation. Douglas responded to the zoo on Jan. 18 and accompanied Domer there on Jan. 19.

"We do have plans to interview the victim," Domer said.

The 30-day quarantine is standard procedure.

"This quarantine period is a consistent procedure for incidents involving well-vaccinated exotic species," according to Deborah Roubian, spokeswoman for the Frederick County Health Department, an agency involved in the case.

Diego and Evita are both longtime residents at the zoo, and were born in captivity.
"He's been there since he was about a year old," said Whitney Hahn, media liaison for the zoo and daughter of owner/director Richard Hahn. "He was born at another zoo in the U.S. Same with Evita."

The zoo, owned and operated by the Hahn family since Richard Hahn bought the Jungleland Snake Farm in 1965, has about 450 animals on its 35 acres south of Thurmont.

The zoo is in the middle of its three-month off-season.

E-mail Jeremy Hauck at


Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at

Boat stuck, fisherman in killer jaws

Boat stuck, fisherman in killer jaws

Issue Date: Thursday , January 29 , 2009

Calcutta, Jan. 28: A tiger sneaked up from behind, grabbed by the neck a fishermen pushing his boat out of the shallows and swam for about 15 feet to the bank last night.

It could not, however, drag the fisherman into the forest as half a dozen others who were with Khudiram Haldar, 42, chased it through waist-deep water with bamboo sticks.

When the fishermen reached the Canning Subdivisional Hospital five hours later, Khudiram was declared dead.

He is the second tiger victim in 28 days of 2009.

Keshab Mondal, 45, said seven of them had set out for the high seas from Moukhali village in Canning, 70km from Calcutta, a week ago. “We were on the way home when our mechanised boat got stuck in the Matla’s silt during low tide. The water was waist deep and we decided to get down and push the boat. Khudiram was closest to the bank.”

Keshab heard a yell and saw the tiger taking away Khudiram as he struggled to free himself. “We started shouting at the top of our voice and beating the water with sticks. The tiger swam about 15 feet with Khudiram and dragged him on to the riverbank. Then suddenly it left him behind and sprinted into the jungle.”

Bringing Khudiram back to the boat, his mates pushed it out of the shallows and set sail again along the various tributaries of the Matla. It took over five hours to make it to Canning, around 100km away.

Experts said lack of food in the core areas of the reserve was driving tigers towards human beings and into villages .

The forest department is rearing deer to be released into the forest, an official said. It has also decided to encourage forest villagers to rear pigs

Monday, January 26, 2009

NZ aid worker mauled in Thai tiger enclosure

NZ aid worker mauled in Thai tiger enclosure

4:00AM Tuesday Jan 27, 2009
By Vaimoana Tapaleao

A New Zealand woman is in hospital after being mauled by a tiger in Thailand.

Ruth Corlett, 45, was at an enclosure on Sunday with her family when the female tiger jumped at her and bit her leg.

Mrs Corlett was rushed to hospital, where she received 54 stitches on the wound.

Thai media reported that Mrs Corlett touched the year-old tiger's head before it jumped at her in the Khumsu Chiang Mai Tiger Centre.

Mrs Corlett travelled to Thailand with her husband and three children in 2007 to work with an organisation that runs orphanages, emergency relief and development programmes on the Thai border.

Her husband, Stuart Corlett, said last night that his wife was still in hospital and was doing "okay".

"It was just at one of those tiger places where people are allowed to play with the tigers," he said. "She was near one of them and the thing just jumped up and bit her in the leg. But she's okay now."

The owners of the tiger enclosure have offered to pay for all of Mrs Corlett's medical expenses.

A staff member at the enclosure said the tiger that attacked Mrs Corlett - named Pancake - was usually very friendly and had been trained to stay with humans.

"Pancake has never bitten anyone before, despite being played with by tourists very often," the staff member said.

"The [New Zealand] woman touched the tiger on its head and suddenly the sleeve of her arm, or the cloth of her shirt, got into the eye of the tiger and the tiger got irritated."

Local Thai media reported that Mr Corlett is looking to sue the Chiang Mai tiger enclosure, but the Herald could not confirm this last night.

Staff at the centre have said that the case has not been filed with police.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sumatran tiger kills Indonesian farmer

Sumatran tiger kills Indonesian farmer

Asia-Pacific News
Jan 25, 2009, 3:20 GMT

Jakarta - A wild tiger attacked and mauled to death a farmer in Indonesia's Riau province on the eastern of Sumatra, a local media report said Sunday.

The incident occurred Saturday morning when the victim, identified only as Rabai, 45, was walking to the rubber plantation in Pemantang Raman village of Muara Jambi district, the online news portal reported.

Didi Wurjanto, the head of Jambi provincial Natural Resources and Conservation Agency, was quoted as saying residents found the body of Rabai not far from his hut with deep wounds on his chest and waist.

'For a tiger to pounce a man like this is a rare case,' Didi said, explaining that tigers generally avoid humans.

The incident occurred at dawn and the tiger probably thought the man was livestock, because it left immediately and did not eat him, Didi said.

He speculated the tiger entered the settlement area looking for livestock, as food sources in the forest are increasingly difficult to obtain. He added that conservation officials had installed carbide bombs to drive the beast back into the forest.

Environmentalists say such attacks result from the destruction of the tiger's natural habitat by logging, noting that the animals would not disturb humans if their habitat were not destroyed.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are between 400 and 500 Sumatra tigers left in the wild. The Sumatran tiger is believed to be the last remaining sub-species of tiger indigenous to Indonesia. The Bali and Java tigers are believed to be extinct.

Environmentalists blame illegal hunting, which claims an estimated 50 Sumatran tigers per year, and rampant deforestation in Sumatra for the big cats' drastic drop in population.

Big Cat Attacks, Maulings and Escapes in 2008

December 26, 2008 Mexico City, Mexico:  Lions and tigers were confiscated during drug raid.  A gardener detained along with more than a dozen members of an alleged drug trafficking ring testified that police threatened him to feed him to lions and tigers during a raid at a Mexico City mansion. The gardener, Fernando Maya, testified that police dragged him to cages with lions and tigers and threatened to throw him inside. "They kept saying, where is he? And that they were going to throw me to the lions, they were going to throw me to the tigers, which had not eaten."  Eleven Colombians, a U.S. citizen, two Mexicans an Uruguayan were detained in the raid. Prosecutors said the gang allegedly arranged for cocaine shipments from Colombia to Mexico's Beltran Levya cartel.

December 9, 2008 Albion, IN: Noble County 911 Director Mitch Fiandt said an18-year-old female tiger escaped from the Black Pine Animal Park.  Park officials say the tiger returned to the property 8 hours later and was back in its enclosure about an hour after that.  An Albion firefighter alerted authorities after spotting the tiger on his property.  Authorities shot the tiger with a tranquilizer, but were not immediately able to capture it.

December 8, 2008 Hamilton TWP, NJ:  Santa Claus bit by pet bobcat in Petsmart.  Scratches and bites cover the hand and arm of Jonathan Bebbington, after being mauled by a pet bobcat who was brought to Petsmart for a photo session.  Bebbington says, "It hurt, it had a lot of power in its jaws."  He struggled to control the cat for nearly 5 minutes while it bit him repeatedly. "He locked on here, grabbed the skin," he says as he points to his left hand. The cat's owner left after the incident without providing her name, though she did tell volunteers with Penny Angel's Beagle Rescue, which ran the event, that she had it shipped from Wyoming for $1,500. It is illegal to own a bobcat in New Jersey and allegedly this owner was keeping hers tethered in yard. There have been other cases of bobcats in South Jersey, including Mr. Peepers at the Cape May County Park Zoo, which was rescued from Bridgeton. Anyone with information about the bobcat or its owner should call the Atlantic County Division of Public Health at (609) 645 5931.

December 6, 2008 Wisconsin Dells, WI: Alan Borud was greeted by a 50 lb Siberian Lynx in his yard.  Borud watched as the cat came up on the porch, stood on its hind legs, at which point it was about chest high to Borud, and looked in the window. He called DNR who took the cat to a local humane society.  Big Cat Rescue called the authorities and offered a home to the cat, but Derick Duane of the McKenzie Wildlife Center said the owner was coming to retrieve her. They have had issues with this owner before, and have taken our name as a placement option if the owner cannot keep the Siberian Lynx contained. An anonymous tipster said the owner bought this cat and her mate in MO and then raised them as pets. When the cats reached about a year of age, the male began attacking the husband and son in the family and both the male and female were said to have been turned loose on purpose. No one has caught the male, and the owner denies that there ever was a male cat and denies that he turned this female loose.

December 1, 2008 Cass, WVa:  Davide Cassell killed his pet tiger today said Hoy Murphy, spokesman for the state Division of Natural Resources.  Murphy said the snowmaking crew at Snowshoe Mountain Resort saw the big cat on Monday morning.  Cassell, who works at Mountain Lodge on Snowshoe Mountain, was trying to find the animal and tranquilize it, but ended up killing the cat instead.  Cassell had a permit for the animal.  In May 2006, an Asian brown bear owned by Cassell escaped and the 400-pound bear was not seen again.

November 27, 2008 Kansas City, KS:  An exotic African cat (a Serval) roaming a Kansas City neighborhood has been shot and killed by police. Residents worried the cat was dangerous to children. But efforts to trap it over several weeks were unsuccessful, and an officer shot it Thursday with a patrol rifle.  Police think the cat was dumped or had escaped from people who were keeping it as a pet. The identity of the owners is not known.

November 26, 2008 Harrisburg, PA:  A Chester County farm caretaker says he thought he was shooting a bobcat in the chicken coop -- then his heart sank when he saw it had a collar.  The animal he killed was a Serval cat that someone was keeping as a pet.  Heim says once he realized he'd shot a pet, he was sad for the animal -- and angry at its owner for allowing it to be out.

November 19, 2008 Columbus, GA:  Wildlife officials say a cougar killed at West Point Lake was an illegal pet.  The 140-pound, 88-inch cat was shot by deer hunter David Adams of Newnan on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land near the Georgia-Alabama border.  Officials said the cat had not been living on wild game and had callouses indicative of living on concrete her whole life.

November 17, 2008 Miami, FL: A 16-year-old girl mauled by a 150-pound cougar required more than two hours of surgery to repair a large gash in the back of her neck suffered when the animal clenched its powerful jaws around her head. "It's really a miracle that she's alive," said a family spokesman. Because the male cougar, named Chaos, was declawed, the girl did not suffer scratches to her face or body.  Saturday's attack was witnessed by the girl's mother, who had brought her daughter to work cleaning out cages at a private wild animal sanctuary in a North Miami-Dade home to earn community service hours required to graduate from high school. The cougar lunged at the teen in the yard of the home of Alan Rigerman who keeps the animals at his home in the 17900 block of Northwest 84th Avenue.  Rigerman owns a second cougar, snakes, tortoises and alligators. The girl and her mother had been brought to the home by Anthony Zitnick, 21, who after the attack was arrested on a charge of burglary of an occupied dwelling. Rigerman told The Miami Herald that Zitnick entered the property with a key he had given him after Hurricane Wilma in 2005, but that Zitnick only helped with the animals while under Rigerman's "supervision."  Zitnick casually knew the girl's mother and had asked her if any of her children would be interested in the nonpaying job.  The girl and her mother had no idea Mr. Zitnick did not belong on the premises, which they entered with a key.

Chaos got agitated, suddenly lurched and pinned the girl, and put his mouth around her head. A neighbor who heard the girl's screams jumped over the fence and helped free her from Chaos' jaws by punching the animal in the face. At the time of Saturday's attack, Rigerman was out of town at a reptile show in Tampa. Rigerman often attends public meetings of Florida's Wildlife Conservation Commission praising them for their lax regulations and enforcement and opposing new rules that would curb his behavior.  He has publicly threatened other attendees who favor tougher regulations.

November 16, 2008 Luray, VA:  A 15 year old keeper lost her finger to a 5 year old tiger named Star at the Luray Zoo located at 1087 US Hwy 211 West, in Luray, Virginia 22835 owned by Mark Kilby and Jennifer Westhoff.  She was showing off and petting the cat in front of visitors at the time.  The Page County Sheriff's Office says the girl's finger was amputated as result of a tiger bite. The private zoo's web page is covered in pictures of people petting exotic cats and behaving recklessly.  The Luray Zoo has frequently employed people as young as 14, said Kilby. It is a violation of VA's Dept. of Labor laws that teens under 18 work in any "occupation that exposes them to a recognized hazard capable of causing serious physical injury or death."  Kilby declined to discuss whether the zoo carries insurance for such attacks.  Besides the tiger, the zoo's 37 mammals include five other breeds of what Kilby terms "big cats" - two lynxes, one serval and one bobcat.

November 14, 2008 Camperdown, So. Africa:  12 lions escaped the Lion Park after a storm downed the fences.  Ten lions have been recaptured and are being kept in cages, while two others are still roving about the reserve.  "Two lions were found at the front gate [of the park] and this was when we first became aware that the others might have escaped," Boswell said.  A search party of about 20 Lion Park staff members, a helicopter pilot and a district official from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) conservation authority searched for the remaining 10 lions throughout the morning.  The police and the EKZNW officials were notified, but were asked NOT to alert the public of the potential danger lurking in the tall grass.  Boswell said that the park did not want to involve the public because they did not wish to cause public panic.

November 13, 2008 Singapore:  Three white tigers mauled Nordin Bin Montong, 32, a Malaysian working as a cleaner at the zoo, to death after the man jumped into their enclosure. "Keepers managed to separate the worker from the tiger. While waiting for the ambulance, our vets attended to him," said Guha. "The worker
tragically succumbed to his wound." Nordin was seen behaving in an agitated manner before he fell into the moat. Terrified visitors near the section watched the vicious attack in horror and screamed, the paper said. Aziz Ansari, 16, a student, filmed the initial part of the horrific attack with his handphone. The video clip showed Mr Nordin's desperate fight to save himself, first by trying to get up and back into the moat, then by kicking one of the two tigers.

November 11, 2008 Mexico City, Mexico:  A tiger escaped from an unlocked cage at a commercial zoo and fatally mauled its caretaker before it was captured and killed.  State officials said that Bioparque Estrella had closed Monday when the tiger escaped his unlocked cage and fatally attacked 26-year-old Herminio Rodriguez Palma.  Some 150 police officers and zoo veterinarians began an intense search for the tiger at the 740-acre wild animal park in the countryside northwest of Mexico City. Mexico has had problems with dangerous animals escaping from their caretakers recently.  In September, a five-ton elephant got away from his trainer at a circus, wandered onto a highway outside Mexico City and was fatally hit by a bus. The bus driver also was killed.  Three tigers escaped from a circus truck and took shelter in a house in western Mexico last week and in August, a 500-pound lion escaped from a local lawmaker's private zoo in southern Mexico, killing two dogs and a pig and attacking a woman and child on a donkey before it was sedated and captured.

November 11, 2008 Maddaloni, Italy: A 700lb Siberian tiger which can grow to 12 feet long prowled the streets of Maddaloni, southern Italy, for more than five hours after escaping the circus.

November 9, 2008 Junsele, Sweden: A keeper was mauled by a white tiger at the zoo.  The keeper, who has worked with the zoo's tigers for 16 years, was trapped in a cage with the big cat unti the zoo's owner, Ulf Henriksson lured the tiger away with a piece of meat so rescue workers could get the man out of the cage and into an ambulance.  The keeper was bitten in the foot and the shoulder and would be hospitalized for a couple of days to ensure against infection from the wounds, Henriksson said, noting the tiger saw the keeper more as a playmate than a threat.

November 8, 2008 Anchorage, AK:  In the past week, three reports of the cat wandering near Fort Richardson and Point Woronzof, some 10 miles apart, have reached Rick Sinnott, Anchorage-area wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The cat's reported spots and size appear to describe the serval, an African wildcat sometimes kept as a "designer" pet, he said.  Possessing such an animal is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine, he said.

November 5, 2008 Mexico City, Mexico: A family in Mexico was in shock after finding a tiger, which had escaped from a circus, lying on their patio, police said. The tiger terrified the town of Zitacuaro, in western Michoacan state, as it wandered the streets for an hour and a half before entering a house.  The tiger "went through the house and lay down on the patio," the officer said. "The family was terrified and they hid." A total of three tigers escaped from their circus cages when the doors were left open the day before.

November 3, 2008 Ratchaburi:  A male Bengal tiger has been on the loose in Ratchaburi since Thursday, when it escaped from its cage at a wildlife research station after attacking a keeper.  The tiger, named Silathong, attacked Bunma Thongkerd, at the Khaoson wildlife research centre as he opened the cage for cleaning. Mr Bunma was mauled but survived. The tiger slipped out of the cage and ran off.

October 29, 2008 Broken Arrow, OK:  Safari's Interactive Animal Sanctuary is home to 27 big cats. Former keepers have warned for years that the practices there of allowing contact with adult tigers would lead to injuries, escapes and death. SIAS' website is covered in the typically ignorant photos of the President, Lori Ensign Scroggins (ex-wife of Joe Estes who runs Safari Joe's) bottle feeding tigers and walking them on leashes. That kind of irresponsible behavior can only lead to tragedy for humans as well as the animals when they pay the ultimate price. Now the liger named Rocky may be killed for mauling to death a volunteer named Peter Getz who walked in the cage while feeding the cat a deer carcass.  The mauling happened in the presence of more than 40 pre schoolers who were ushered away from the scene.

October 29, 2008 Winston, OR:  Two cheetahs headed for the Memphis Zoo aboard a Delta flight made a stop at the Atlanta airport where it was discovered one of them had gotten free in the plane. The cheetahs are one-year-old sisters from Wildlife Safari Park in Winston, Oregon.

October 29, 2008Cambridgeshire U.K.:Hamerton Zoo offers 'Face to Face with a Cheetah' sessions but today the face to face happened with a little boy after the Cheetah escaped the zoo.  The 6ft long animal was just 15 feet from 9 year oldToby when he spotted it. Toby dropped the bicycle he had been playing with and fled. As he reached the house the three-year-old, 66lb cheetah named Akea bit chunks out of the saddle and ripped the tires with his claws. Toby has since had nightmares over the incident. He said: "I panicked. It looked massive and really scary. I thought it would attack me. I ran as fast as I could."

October 28, 2008 Latham, NY: Many attacks and escapes go unreported as those who deal in exotics do not want the bad press, but they can't help but brag about it on what they think are private chat groups.  This was posted on Phoenix Exotics by a breeder of Savannah cats:  "Hell I got seriously bitten by a serval and I went to the ER and said I fell out of a tree and landed on barbed wire..." signed Deborah-Ann Milette, The home of the best known Savannah"MOTZIE"  In 2005 USDA fined her and revoked her license 21-C-0218 for because she allegedly drugged and killed a tiger cub among other things.  See for more.

October 28, 2008 Berlin, Germany:  Rescue workers saved six tigers from a blazing 43-foot wagon by turning them loose on the highway.  One tiger appeared to have suffered some smoke inhalation, but the other five were in good condition, owner Daniel Renz said.  Renz said his show would go on, as planned on October 30, but the six tigers involved in Monday's blaze -- Queeni, Aschima, Lena, Sonja, Sibi and Goldi -- will be given a break and some of the circus' seven other tigers will perform in their place.  The suspected cause was an overheated suspension system on the truck, said Renz.

October 14, 2008 Johannesbrg, So. Africa:  Nelson Silaigwana of Three Streams Farm in Mangwe was found mauled to death by escaped lions.  Two weeks ago, the eight-year-old daughter of a farmer was mauled by a lion and a lioness her father kept caged.  Courtney Sparrow, who suffered a hole in her throat and serious injuries to her arms, face and head, underwent ten hours of surgery in Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg.  Her father, Ron Sparrow, said he used the lions to deter attackers, but two lions broke through a weak window and the lioness attacked Courtney. A domestic worker was injured when she tried to rip Courtney from the lioness's grip.

October 13, 2008 Fallon, NV:  A volunteer named Emmie was invited to pet the big cats at Tiger Touch owned by John and Barbara Williamson.  She was petting a cougar named Kicky when the cat latched onto her palm and tried to drag her into the cage.  See photos of the injury and read more about the mauling HERE.

October 4, 2008 Palm City, FL: A 50 lb, declawed Siberian Lynx disappeared from 3560 SW Wood Creek Trail at about 4:30 a.m., shortly after owner Tina Love fed her on the screened patio.  "She's not the type to walk around," Love said. "But I thought she might have just wandered off."  The property was unfenced. Love bought Simba from a breeder in Wisconsin for $2,500 after she gave away her bobcat because it was too wild. The Siberian Lynx was found again a couple weeks later, a mile and a half away, hanging out in a children's playground.  She was confiscated by authorities as the owner did not have current permits and lacked appropriate caging.  Often Big Cat Rescue has to turn away cats, from irresponsible owners who are trying to dump them, because the owners refuse to sign a contract stating that they will never again fuel the exotic pet trade.

September 16, 2008 Gaveston, TX:  Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough said Tuesday that a tiger is out of its enclosure from an exotic pets center. The news follows reports of a lion holed up in a Baptist church with its owner on Bolivar Peninsula.  Yarbrough said, "I understand he's hungry ... so we're staying away from him."  Hurricane Ike made landfall Sept. 13 but a week later, the tiger still had not been found.   The lioness and her owner were waist deep in water in the church along with several people who had fled there for shelter.  "They worked pretty well together, actually," said the lion's owner, Michael Ray Kujawa. "When you have to swim, the lion doesn't care about eating nobody."

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.

August 19, 2008 West Palm Beach, FL: Authorities found and sedated a missing tiger from McCarthy's Wildlife Center. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the adult lion and tiger escaped and were loose overnight at McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary (a breeding compound and not a true sanctuary) about 20 miles northwest of West Palm Beach. Three schools, Golden Grove Elementary, Acreage Pines Elementary and Western Pines Middle, were on lock-down until the tiger was found and sedated at 11:00 am the next day. Authorities say they don't know how the big cats escaped.  A person who answered the telephone at the sanctuary on Wednesday said they couldn't comment and abruptly hung up.  Marc McCarthy houses 22 big cats on what appears in aerial maps to be about 8 lots in a subdivision.  In May, McCarthy was rushed to the hospital after being bitten on the leg by one of his tigers, Sabi, on the set of a rap video being filmed in Miami.

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. 

August 4, 2008 Branson, MO:  A 16-year-old boy named Dakoda Ramel is in the hospital after an attack at the Interactive Zoo and Aquarium( fka Predator World) in Branson West owned by Breck Wakefield. Rescue crews say a 16-year-old employee entered the tiger exhibit to take some photos for guests. Witnesses tell rescuers the teen was knocked to the ground.  That's when they say two other tigers joined in, dragging the teen to the water trough. "We have two puncture wounds on the neck, one big one on the leg, a big gash on the leg. His neck is bleeding," a caller says on the 911 tape.  That's the condition in which he was airlifted to Springfield, where he remains four days later in critical condition.  The father of the boy, Jim Barr said, "It was holding him down by his leg and tearing his calf off, eating it right in front of him."  A lot of people remember Predator World from last year, when some wolves, a fox and a bear escaped. The bear killed an adult tiger at the park.  What this park is known for is its interactions with animals like sharks, tigers and alligators.

August 3, 2008  Warren County, MO:  A 26 year old volunteer named Jacob Barr was mauled by a tiger at the Wesa-A-Geh-Ya Animal Facility and lost his leg below the knee.  The Warren County Sheriff's Department responded, to a report of a dog attack. Staff at the compound described not a tiger, but rather a pitbull attack. "This was not a dog attack, it was indeed a cat (800 lb tiger) attack on the person," Sheriff Kevin Harrison said. "And that they had tried to mislead my investigators and cover it up."  The victim lost his leg below the knee and was airlifted to Barnes Hospital by Arch Air Medical.  The tiger named Hercules who was said to have hopped the fence was shot to death by the owners, Ken and Sandra Smith. They then hid the body at a family member's house.  The farm is home to 50 exotic animals and has been criticized by animal protection groups and USDA.  About four years ago, the USDA filed allegations against the Smiths that included not providing proper veterinary treatment and lacking adequately trained employees. The Smiths gave up their exhibitor license and later had it revoked for operating without a license.  They are no longer inspected by USDA and the Sheriff's office has no resources to devote to managing these kinds of operations.  More HERE.

July 17, 2008 New Zealand Safari Park:  Lisa Baxter, a 19 year old tour guide knew that if she screamed it would wake the rest of the pack and she would be killed, so she quietly worked to free her hands from the piercing bite of 18 month old Timba, the lion.  Lisa, of Gullane, East Lothian, said: "I was stroking Timba's nose when he just grabbed my hand. His teeth were razorsharp and went straight through my skin."  Later she added, "My hands were so swollen, I thought they were going to explode."

July  10, 2008 Atlanta, GA:  A serval was found wandering near 14th Street and Georgia Tech in mid-town Atlanta and picked up by Animal Services who said the problem is more prevalent than most people think.  Owning an exotic cat as a pet is illegal in GA unless it is being used for "education" so when exotic cats escape their owners rarely come forward.  Big Cat Rescue received a report from a neighbor saying that the owner had become fearful of the cat as he matured and turned him loose on purpose.  The cat, dubbed Ozzie, has been placed in a licensed facility.  GA has no accredited sanctuaries, so that probably wasn't a happy ending for the cat.

June 20, 2008 Thailand's Tiger Temple:  In a report on the Tiger Temple released today is documented and account of a Thai woman who came with her partner to help raise funds for the Temple, put her hand into the tiger, Dao Ruang's, cage to pet her. Dao took hold of the woman's hand with her mouth. When the
frightened woman tried to pull her hand away, Dao Ruang bit through it and held on. The woman's partner came over and hit Dao Ruang over the head. The woman's hand was badly torn between her 3rd and 4th fingers and required numerous stitches to close the wound. On other occasions, investigators observed tigers attacking staff and volunteers. One resulted in an injured finger, which needing suturing, another a French volunteer whose shirt was ripped, narrowly missing her neck and another a Danish volunteer who was tackled to the ground by and bitten on the leg. The resulting injury got infected and the volunteer need medical treatment at a hospital. During an interview with a journalist in January 2008, the Abbot was asked why the tigers do not bite. The Abbot said, "They want to bite and one day they will bite." Meanwhile the Monks spray tiger urine in the cats' faces to subdue them.   Animal Planet has removed all references to the show.  Read the entire report HERE.

June 19, 2008 Newton County, MO: A deputy shot and killed a 6 month old, declawed, black jaguar after being called to the home of a woman who thought she had seen a cougar. The jaguar had body fat, but no food in its stomach, and his paw pads indicated having been kept on concrete, which means he had escaped from captivity. Missouri does not regulate non-native wildlife, so the agency has no records that might have revealed where the jaguar was being kept.  Last month, a declawed black leopard was shot to death in Neosho, MO.

June 17, 2008  McAllen, TX:  Police said Michelle Ashton, 49, who was arrested while exchanging carriers filled with six tiger cubs in a parking lot, could be linked to a suspected tiger-smuggling ring. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Alejandro Rodriguez says it appears the cubs were bound for Mexico when they were seized. According to the feds, smuggling wildlife is a lucrative business that ranks second only to drug smuggling. "It's a very huge problem," Fish & Wildlife Service Agent Nicholas Chavez said. "It's been prevalent for years. It's something that we see definitely every week." "You could get anywhere from probably $3000 to $25000 a piece for them depending on what color they are, what they look like," he said. Ashton allegedly told police that she was a representative of Spring Hill Wildlife Ranch outside of Calvert in Robertson County. If convicted Ashton could face a $250,000 dollar fine and up to five years in prison for violating the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  Wildlife trafficking earns billions of dollars annually. Smuggling wildlife products feeds into multipurpose criminal distribution networks that generate what Younger called "peripheral
crime." This includes corruption of officials, falsification of documents, intimidation and murder. "Once we start to dig into these things we find that not only are they smuggling wildlife, for example, but they'll be smuggling narcotics, or diamonds or gold bullion," he said.

June 12, 2008 Shifang, China: Following an earthquake on May 12 and mudslides that caused 400 people to flee on foot, a circus turned loose many of their animals and left 3 lions and 2 tigers behind in cages. On June 3 soldiers shot one 2 year old tiger to death in his cage. One white lion had starved to death already. When Chen Qinghua, head of Wanguan Group, was informed that a tiger and 2 lions were still alive, he organized a rescue party who transported the big cats by helicopter to the Bifengxia Zoo. They had gone without food or water for 25 days.

June 7, 2008 Tokyo, Japan: Zookeeper, Atsushi Ito, was mauled to death by an 11 year old, 330 lb. male tiger while cleaning the animal's cage at the Kyoto City Zoo in western Japan. Police suspected Ito had failed to lock a door that connected two cages.

June 6, 2008 Winnepeg, Canada:  Kelly John Clarke, 38, sometimes called the Tiger Man of St. Clements has been charged with two counts of first degree murder in connection with the brutal killings of Joel Labossiere, 34, and his pregnant wife Magdalena, 33, who were found shot to death inside their St. Vital house on April 20. Clarke first made headlines in 1997 when his Midwest Exotics – a business that bought and sold exotic animals to pet stores, zoos and universities – brought to his St. Clements home Sheena, a Siberian tiger. When his trailer burned to the ground 1998, surrounding residents pressured council to bring forward a restricted exotic animal bylaw. Most of the animals were confiscated, but in August 1999, Winnipeg police seized the 250-kilogram Sheena after the tiger was spotted in a cage in the back of a van in River Heights. In December 2001 Clarke was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and a 10-year weapons prohibition for 14 armed robberies. He went on the spree to fund a $1,000-a-day crack cocaine habit. In August 2007, Clarke was arrested in Selkirk and charged with intimidation after allegedly disrupting a Winnipeg trial and following a Crown attorney while she drove home from work. These are the kind of people who have big cats as pets.

May 27 So. Africa:  A man in his forties was attacked and killed by six lions on a lion farm in Setlagole, near Mafikeng, North West police said.  Superintendent Koos Degenaar said the man went into the lion's cage to give the animals water.  He was then attacked by six lions. All that was left of the man were fingers and intestines. This is the sixth such incident to be reported in the province in two years. Other incidents include a 13 year old boy who was killed by lions at Tosca, two people who were killed on two different farms at
Zeerust, anther fatal lion attack at a farm near Swartruggens and a fifth occurred near Potchefstroom.

May 26, 2008 South Bend, IN:  A Potawatomi Zoo worker was attacked by a leopard as she cleaned the cat's holding area, leaving her with head wounds.  Zoo visitors watched Saturday as veteran zoo keeper Jeri Ellis was wheeled away on a stretcher, her head wrapped in bandages and towels spotted in blood.

May 24, 2008 Detroit Zoo, MI:  Royal Oak - An animal handler at the Detroit Zoo has received stitches after being scratched and bitten by a lioness named Katie.  The Detroit Free Press reports the attack happened shortly after Saturday's 5 p.m. public closing time.  Zoo spokeswoman Patricia Mills Janeway says Brett Kipley, who in his 20s, received stitches at a hospital.  The newspaper says Kipley used pepper spray to fend off the animal during the attack.

May 21, 2008 Neosho, MO:  A 61 year old woman was chased into her house by a black leopard.  An officer on the scene said he shot the cat with a shot gun two or three times as it approched him and then fired several rounds from a .45 caliber Glock into the cat's chest before stopping him.  The cat was pawing at the door to get into the house when the police arrived.  The leopard was a declawed pet that had escaped or had been dumped.

May 14, 2008 Russia:  A drunken Russian zookeeper, who was mauled by a lion after climbing into its pen May 1 at a zoo in the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, died in hospital Tuesday, investigators said. The man, who had been suspended from work for being drunk, entered the animal's enclosure while the lion slept and was attacked by the big cat as he tried to tap it on the nose.

May 11, 2008 Toledo, OH:  The Toledo Zoo said that a zookeeper suffered three lacerations to the chest while caring for the tigers. The tiger's paw made it through a double mesh barrier at an odd angle, enabling the tiger to come into contact with the keeper.

May 10, 2008 Carrollton, IL:  Authorities have seized an African Serval named Max from Tammy Ruehl who was keeping it as a pet without a permit.  Ruehl says she received a $75 fine. Carrollton Police Chief Mike Kiger says the state had the right to confiscate the animal.

May 9, 2007 Loxahatchee, FL:  According to  and Palm Beach Post: "Mark McCarthy who took his tiger onto the set of rapper Rick Ross' new video, was savagely attacked by the white tiger.  The big cat, which featured in the background of one of Ross' scenes with Nellie was being used as a prop to look like the rapper's pet.  The tiger turned on the unnamed trainer when he tried to coax the fierce creature out of its cage during filming. Reportedly agitated from being in chains all day, the tiger bit the trainer's leg as he tried to remove it from its cage. The tiger's keeper suffered severe bite wounds to his right leg and was rushed to hospital after the attack.  Now laid up, McCarthy had to cancel some of his other gigs. "Won't be the first time I've been bit, won't be the last. I've been bit by everything from venomous snakes to tigers and leopards and monkeys and who knows what else," said the 52-year-old owner of McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary.  He said the $5,000 bonus he got for the video will barely make up for the shows he missed. "

May 9, 2008 Muskegon, MI: Both a serval and a bear are believed to have escaped April 28 or 29. Numerous residents in Fruitport Township reported seeing the bear early this week before it was recovered.  The serval, a declawed cat with no way to protect himself or hunt, is still missing.  He escaped through a window in the room where he was kept. DNR spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said the agency probably will seek a misdemeanor charge against the owners for failure to report the missing bear, as required by the SPCA's permit.

May 1, 2008 Quebec:  The 70-kilogram king of the jungle, who goes by the name of Boomer, has been on the lam since he escaped last night from a house where he was kept as a man's personal pet. The lion, which is about four feet high, was last spotted beside Highway 105, near Maniwaki, about an hour north of Ottawa.

April 18, 2008 Los Angeles, CA: Five Circus Vazquez tigers have been evicted by Los Angeles animal welfare officials because the big-cats earlier attacked and killed another tiger in their small cage. Department general manager Ed Boks says the tigers killed one of their own in Huntington Park on March 31 and the U.S. Department ofAgriculture cited Circus Vazquez for having too many tigers in close proximity to each other. Los Angeles officials went to the San Fernando Valley where the circus was performing across from the Panorama City Mall and the tigers were close together in the same cage. Boks says it was believed to be a public danger.

April 18, 2008 San Francisco, CA: Nicki Phung, 31 and Steven Tieu, 38, admitted in federal court to trying to illegally import a real, stuffed tiger into the United States. The two were caught in December when a U.S. Customs official at San Francisco International Airport inspected a box labeled "toy tiger" mailed from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and bound for the couple's home in Hercules, CA.

March 29, 2008 Wellington, FL:  Judy Berens, owner of Panther Ridge Sanctuary, was showing off her two male cheetahs, Matt and Charlie, that she says she paid $40,000.00 for in Africa, when they knocked her down and punctured her arms and back more than 40 times before volunteers were able to rescue her.  Berens says she has to pay another $10,000. to the Cheetah Conservation Botswana and Cheetah Outreach as part of her deal with the US Fish & Wildlife Service who are not supposed to allow the import of endangered species unless doing so somehow enhances their species chances at survival.  Many of these Cheetah conservation centers are merely breeding facilities that supply cats to zoos and private collectors.  (The cats are not set free.)  Berens has more than twenty exotic cats in her 5 acre back yard and said, she fashioned herself after Katharine Hepburn's leopard-owning character in Bringing up Baby. "I figured if she can have a leopard, why can't I..?." Judy Berens' comment is exactly why displaying big cats as tractable is harmful to people and the cats. If show biz had not portrayed Hepburn as a master of the leopard, Berens might not have shelled out 7500.00 for her Jaguars nor the 50,000 for her pet Cheetahs. As long as people, like Berens continue to exhibit exotic cats as if they were tame, others will say, "...why can't I?"

March 28, 2008 Davenport, FL:  Darryl Atkinson of Horseshoe Creek says the animals have to go now that he won't be able to exhibit them for money.  He has more than 30 big cats in cages that have been cited more than 40 times for being too small and too flimsy.  When Big Cat Rescue called to see if they could help they were told that Atkinson was going to work with Bhagavan Antle (T.I.G.E.R.S. in SC and FL) and that his cats were going with him.  There isn't much the state or federal government can do to stop him if another dealer is willing to let him continue to operate under their license. 

March 20, 2008 Ontario, Canada Bowmanville Zoo: A martial arts teacher knocked over by a lion during a photo shoot for Desi Life at Bowmanville Zoo says she is happy to have come away with four broken ribs and a bloodied lung.  "To be honest, the sensation I have is a great deal of gratitude to be alive," Gitanjali Kolanad said yesterday.  In the video, one minder kicks the baby lion in the neck while the other pulls on a leash. The lion takes a second, unsuccessful lunge at Kolanad as she lies gasping, before he is hauled out the door. "I couldn't breathe – that was the terrifying part. The muscles in my chest seized up and they didn't relax until I was in the emergency room and they gave me a muscle relaxant."  See it here:

February 23, 2008 Miami, FL:  A pet serval was turned in, no questions asked, at an exotic pet amnesty day sponsored by the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission.  100 owners dropped off bags full of pythons, scorpions and assorted other reptiles, birds and mammals.  "This is garden-variety stuff," said exotic pet veterinarian Thomas Goldsmith, who examined the submissions. "This is Miami. People have sloths and leopards and God knows what else."  The FWC then gave the dumped pets to new owners.  One of the people surrendering her pets, Christie Lyon said, "People have no idea what they're getting into."

February 21, 2008 Honolulu, HI:  A 245-pound Sumatra tiger named Berani was discovered wandering around an unsecured area just before the Honolulu Zoo's opening on Thursday. A startled female volunteer reported the escape after the tiger brushed past her. Zoo workers describe 8-year-old Berani as the tamest of three tigers at the zoo. Quintal says staff members who cleaned the tiger enclosure failed to properly latch a gate.

February 21, 2008 Johnstown, OH:  Ben Uditis was driving when he noticed a fire at 3159 S. County Line
Rd. Editis woke Rick Armstrong and helped him get his animals out of his garage, including a caged tiger.  Firefighters arriving on the scene had to work around the big cat to put out the blaze. ( Since no one was harmed, this is not included in the totals above as an incident although the first responders would certainly call it one. )

February 13, 2008 Bracebridge, Ontario: Provincial police were forced to shoot and kill a six year old jaguar named Bhino after he broke through a chain link cage at Guhu Exotic Animal Reserve. When officers arrived, they found the jaguar with the family's pet dog in his mouth. The dog was on a chain and therefore couldn't escape the jaguar and had to be put down because of severe injuries.

February 9, 2008 Davenport, FL: Brenda Chapman was clawed by a tiger named Kheira while cleaning out its cage, at Horseshoe Creek said Gary Morse of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.The incident comes on the heels of Darryl Atkinson's Feb. 1 arrest on charges of grand theft and signing a forged instrument. The commission said it found Atkinson accepting money from people on court-ordered probation in exchange for signing off on community service work they did not do. "That's just not what I need with all this other stuff," owner Darryl Atkinson said.

January 24, 2008 Seattle, WA:  Two declawed, yearling servals were found wandering around West Seattle. Animal Control picked up one on Jan. 1 as it was going after some cat food left on a doorstep. Officers picked up the second one on the grounds of Madison Middle School.  Officer Don Baxter suspects they both belonged to the same owner, who has not claimed them.

January 18, 2008 Mayes County, OK:  The fire at Safari Joe's Exotic Wildlife Refuge destroyed a large barn that housed big cats, monkeys, birds and reptiles. Joe Estes, who owns the refuge, says he was able to save some tigers and lions but at least two tigers housed on the property died in the flames along with about 100 other exotic animals.

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

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Escaped tiger nabbed near Ingram

Escaped tiger nabbed near Ingram

By Zeke MacCormack - Express-News

Kerr County authorities say they'll retain custody of Kimra, a Bengal tiger, until its owner repairs the pen from which the big cat escaped briefly Sunday morning, alarming its Ingram-area neighbors.

The 300-pound pet was shot with a dart gun about 4 a.m. Sunday, said Jamie Roman, Kerr County animal control officer.

“We tranquilized the tiger and took it into custody and the owner is currently working to get the enclosure back into compliance,” she said.

The tiger wasn't acting aggressively, Roman said, and its owner, Anke Leitner, was present when it was caught in a neighbor's yard on Beaver Street just outside Ingram.

Still, Roman admitted, “It was pretty intense.”

Mildred Crenshaw, in whose yard the animal was shot, agreed.

“That's a terrible feeling to wake up with police surrounding your house, with their lights on, and to look out your window and see a tiger standing there,” she said Wednesday.

Crenshaw's daughter, who has a police radio scanner, called to tell her what was transpiring. “Nobody came to my door. Nobody called,” said Crenshaw, 79.

Kimra is properly registered with the county, as required under dangerous animals regulations adopted in 2001, Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer said.

That hasn't eased the concern among those living near the tiger's home, he said.

“I guarantee you all those people don't want it there, but unfortunately she's meeting the law and there's nothing I can do about it,” Hierholzer said.

Leitner declined comment. It took five people to move the sedated animal, which is being kept at an undisclosed location until the pen is repaired and reinspected, Roman said.

“Apparently when (Leitner) went to feed the cat, one of the barbed wires on top (of the pen) fell off and it jumped on a small ledge and got out,” said Roman.

Crenshaw said Leitner's tiger has been a cause of concern for years to nearby residents, some of whom appealed to county and state leaders to no avail.

“Regardless of if she has the right permits and everything else, I don't think anybody should have one, period,” Crenshaw said. “They're not pets.”

Beyond the county regulations, Texas law sets requirements for the registration of dangerous animals and their penning, transport, care, sales and liability insurance coverage. The statute's long list of dangerous animals includes lions, tigers, bears, hyenas, chimps, gorillas and “any hybrid” of any one of them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tiger attacks in Sundarbans wake-up call

Tiger attacks in Sundarbans wake-up call

14 Jan 2009, 0905 hrs IST, PTI

KOLKATA: Man is not a natural prey for big cats, but tigers in the Sundarbans in West Bengal are increasingly sneaking out of the dense mangrove forests and attacking humans, prompting the government to finally wake up to the warning signals.

An expert committee will be set up to monitor the activities of maneaters, as such big cats are called. It will try to find out why the tigers are attacking villagers - officially, there have been at least six such cases in the past year, but many more are suspected to have gone unrecorded.

It will also suggest steps to prevent such crises.

According to top sources in the Sundarbans development affairs department, the proposal to form the expert committee was placed before Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee last week during a meeting with the Sundarbans board.

"The committee will comprise senior officials from the state environment and Sundarbans development affairs departments. This apart, several wildlife experts, especially those who deal with tiger-related issues, will be included. The blueprint is ready and it's with the chief minister now," a top state government source said on condition of anonymity.

"The committee will monitor why the tigers are often coming out of their core forest belt and attacking humans. If there's any dearth in the food chain, the expert team will also try to find that out after a detailed survey.

"We expect the committee to be formed shortly and it'll start functioning this month," he said, adding the team might be headed by state chief secretary Ashok Mohon Chakraborty.

"A few names have already been suggested but those are not yet finalised," the official added.

According to sources, the team may have experts from the Zoological Survey of India, representatives from the Wildlife Institute of India and faculty members of Calcutta University's zoological department.

Admitting that the number of tiger attacks has seen a sharp increase in the past one year, state Sundarbans Affairs Minister Kanti Ganguly said: "We've not seen such a rise in the past 25 years".

In India alone, the Sundarbans has a vast area covering 4,262 sq km, including a 2,125 sq km maze of mangrove forests, creeks and tidal rivers. A larger portion of the forest is in neighbouring Bangladesh. There are many villages within this area, with the local population largely dependent on the forest to earn a living, thus triggering a conflict with animals.

Shrinking habitat due to climate change and cyclone Sidr, which left behind a trail of devastation in 2007, forced many a Royal Bengal tiger to migrate from Bangladesh into the Indian side of the Sundarbans island. Wildlife experts say a good number of tigers might have come into the Indian forests in search of food.

Reports came Saturday that a fisherman, Gouranga Das, went missing at Jharkhali after he went to the Matla river to catch crabs. Das was cooking his meal on a small boat when a tiger jumped upon the boat and dragged him into the forest.

A few pug marks were also spotted Friday evening near Gosaba village in the Sundarbans, triggering panic among villagers. District forest department officials were informed and searched the area, to no avail.

Three people - including a girl and a forest official - were injured when a tiger entered Deulbari village near Kultali in South 24 Pargans district, about 110 km from here, in the last week of December. The tiger was later captured by forest officials.

Another injured tiger that strayed into a village in the Sundarbans Dec 31 was taken to Kolkata for medical treatment.

"In the past year, at least six people were killed in tiger attacks in the Sundarbans," Ganguly said. "Generally what happens is that many people enter Sundarbans creeks without any permit.

"And when they are attacked, their family members don't lodge any complaint with the police. So naturally, we don't get to know the exact figure of how many people are actually killed in tiger attacks in Sundarbans every year."

"We've also seen a sea change in the behaviour of the Sundarban tigers. Now they are fearlessly entering nearby villages and attacking people," the minister said.

He said the state government was planning pig farming in Sundarbans to provide adequate food to the man-eaters and stop growing tiger intrusion in the locality.

The Sundarbans forest is the world's largest mangrove reserve, recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Elusive tiger makes second kill

Elusive tiger makes second kill

12 Jan 2009, 0352 hrs IST, Neha Shukla, TNN

LUCKNOW: The young tiger is back in news for its second human kill. The feline killed a 55-years old man on Saturday night in Saidpur gram sabha of Rudauli tehsil. The forest staff at Faizabad shared that public resentment has been uncontrollable in the area.

According to the reports from the spot, the man had entered into the forest and did not return till late in the evening. A hunt was launched for the missing man after the villagers raised an alarm. The forest team which had gone searching for the missing man recovered clothes with bloodstains from the forest. The tiger had eaten portions from the body of the man. The body was sent for the post-mortem on Sunday.

The villagers in this area go into the forest to collect `lantana' stems for making baskets. The man too had gone for the same and had a chance encounter with the tiger in the evening. It is the nature of the tiger to attack humans in the evening.

Neither the man nor the tiger is to be blamed here. The fault definitely lies with the department. It has failed to solve the problem. Even the scientific input from Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has not helped. Preventing men from entering the forest is not feasible in the human areas. The effort, therefore, should be to trap the tiger.

This is the second man-killing incident. The big cat had killed a 14-years old boy in Bastauli village of Barabanki division on December 20. It was after this incident that the tiger was tagged as a man-eater and the department had ordered to shoot it down. Though the orders still exist but the effort has shifted towards trapping it alive.

The tiger has been moving around, changing places frequently in Rudauli range, ever since it entered Faizabad division on December 27. It was hiding in the forest patches along the villages and Gomti river. The staff shared that it has confined the tiger to 10-12 kms of area in the past ten days or so but it is not possible to hold it to one place for long.

Much water has flown under the bridge since December 13 when the tiger was spotted in an open area by the villagers of Gauriaghat village. The department had initiated the efforts to get hold of the tiger since then. The strategies and partners in the mission have changed but the result remains the same. The tiger is still elusive.

But, if the man-killing incidents keep taking place will the tiger be safe for long? The anger against the tiger is mounting among the villagers.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

On the prowl, tiger kills girl in Lakhimpur Kheri

On the prowl, tiger kills girl in Lakhimpur Kheri

Express News Service Posted: Jan 11, 2009 at 0158 hrs

Lucknow Nearly a week after a tiger had attacked and killed a boy in Lakhimpur Kheri, another casualty has been reported from the same district.

The latest case involves a 15-year-old girl, Pooja, from Nahrosa village who was killed in the sugarcane field where she had apparently gone with her siblings.

Forest Department officials suspect the same tiger from the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary, which had earlier killed a boy, to be behind the attack. The officials will match the tiger pug marks in both the incidents to confirm its identity.

“We have collected the samples of pug marks from the area where the animal killed the girl and the same will be matched with the pug marks of the tiger which killed the boy in Tanda village. The tiger appears to be an adult though we are yet to ascertain that,” said Singh.

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), North Kheri, K K Singh said: “The victim’s siblings managed to run away and raise an alarm. The tiger dragged the body inside the fields and it was only after gunshots were fired by villagers that it moved away from the body.”

He added the tiger later killed a calf. “The calf was taken from the village barely half-a-kilometre away from the spot where Pooja was killed,” said Singh. On January 5, a tiger had killed Pillu Singh (16), a resident of Tanda village.

Tiger drags off fisherman

Tiger drags off fisherman


Calcutta, Jan. 10: A tiger pounced on a 60-year-old fisherman in the Sunderbans and dragged him into the forest last evening when he was returning home with his catch with four other fishermen on a boat.

Gouranga Das, from the village of Basanti, was at the rear of the boat on the Matla when the Royal Bengal tiger jumped on him.

“We were about to return after fishing in the Matla. Gouranga was sitting at the rear of the boat. All of a sudden, a tiger pounced on him and dragged him into the jungle before we could realise what had happened,” said 52-year-old Dhiraj Sardar, who was in the boat.

“We got off and chased the animal with bamboo sticks but it was of no use. It was dark and we had to come back,” Dhiraj said.

“Gouranga had been fishing in the Matla since childhood. I cannot believe he was taken away by a tiger.”

The four fishermen informed Gouranga’s family in Basanti, about 210km from Calcutta, this morning and then alerted the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve in Canning.

A search party left for the jungle but Gouranga’s body is yet to be found.

Subrata Mukherjee, field director of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve, said Gouranga’s family would get a compensation of Rs 1 lakh only if they furnish the valid passes to prove he had permission to fish in the forest core area. “We have asked the other fishermen who had accompanied Gouranga to also appear before us with their passes. If the victim had permission from the forest department then the kin will get compensation of Rs 1 lakh.”

Seven persons were either killed or taken away by tigers in the Sunderbans last year.

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Tiger Bites Man At Mexico City Zoo

Tiger Bites Man At Mexico City Zoo

MEXICO CITY -- A Bengal tiger bit a young man who climbed over a fence and entered its enclosure at Mexico City's Chapultepec Zoo, a park spokesman said.

The man made it over the barriers at the tiger exhibit on Wednesday and stood in front of the male tiger, who merely tried to "play" with the intruder, nipping him twice in the arm, the zoo spokesman said.

The man did not try to provoke the tiger, one of a pair at the zoo, and just held his ground.

Zookeepers tranquilized the big cat, pulled the man out of the enclosure and had him taken to a hospital for treatment of his wounds.

Zoo officials speculated that the man may have been trying to commit suicide, but they said they could not confirm this.

The Chapultepec Zoo, located in the forest of the same name in the Mexican capital, is the largest attraction of its type in Latin America.

The zoo, which opened in 1923, has more than 2,000 animals from over 200 species on display and is free for residents, with an estimated 5.5 million to 8 million people visiting each year.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Big Cat Bailout

Big Cat Bailout

Alex the tiger sleeps through his moveOur federal government allows the private sector to trade in big cats, but when times get tough and the owners can't feed the cats, who eat 15 lb of meat a day, it isn't the government bailing them out. When you hear the term, "too big to fail" they aren't talking about 500 lb cats and too many of them, but maybe they should be. All over America there are back yard cages, full of starving lions, tigers and leopards.

How did they get there?

Little to no oversight allows just about anyone to breed and discard big cats. They are only profitable as cubs when they are used for photo ops, petting sessions and stupid pet tricks. Places that advertise you can have your picture made with a lion or tiger will help you feel good about something you know is wrong by telling you that you are helping save the tigers by doing so.

Where do the big cats go?

Once they are a few months old they are too hard to handle and are discarded to unwitting pet owners, shot in canned hunts, cut up for their parts or relegated to tiny back yard, or "off exhibit" cages. Because of the lack of oversight and no requirement to report the death or disposal of these endangered species, they quietly disappear.

A few lucky ones end up at Big Cat Rescue. In December 2008 when the airwaves were all a-chatter about the government bailouts, Big Cat Rescue was bailing out a failed sanctuary formerly known as Cougar Haven. Driving away from the abandoned house, with its row upon row of now empty cages, ended a chapter in the 12 year history of David Mallory's dream to be a big cat rescuer. Once lauded as a hero and now disgraced as a quitter, Mallory's story is repeated frequently across the nation. It happens so often; that it barely makes the news any more and that alone is noteworthy.

In 1996 a big cat collector by the name of Catherine Gordon Twiss, who was convicted on 73 counts of cruelty, ended up with her 86 lions, tigers and bears selling at bankruptcy auction. Twiss had changed names and had fled from Indiana, to Arkansas, to Texas and finally to Mississippi. In each case Twiss would partner with some local who wanted a zoo or collection, but she would soon be thrown out for the wretched conditions in which she kept the animals. For example, an adult cougar was confined to a feces filled oil drum with barely enough room to turn around. (USDA standards only require the cage be big enough for the animal to stand up and turn around) As cubs continued to be born for fundraising purposes, like the photo ops mentioned above, the adults were crammed into tighter and tighter quarters. Lions and tigers were kept in small, urine soaked muddy cages with putrid buckets of drinking water. Many of her cats bore facial scars from fighting for their lives in these unnatural groupings of animals that are hard wired to be solitary. In Defense of Animals tried to help rescue some of the cats and, with the help of Mallory and a generous benefactor named Dr. Jim Cook, set up Cougar Haven in the backyard of a house at 39 Dobbs Road in Gore Springs, MS.

Scott meets Alex the tiger who can nearly reach the top of his cageAt its peak Cougar Haven was home to 38 big cats but there was never much local support for the sanctuary. It was seen as an eccentric's private collection as a tunnel was built through the house so that guests could sit in the living room and watch cougars pace through. The open topped chain link cages were less than 8 feet high and as you can see in the photo, the cats could nearly reach the top.  The owner reported that there had been escapes and people had been chased by loose tigers.  Mallory was in the lumber business and things were good during the housing boom, but when that came to a screeching halt in 2007 conditions for the cats began to worsen. When the benefactor Dr. Cook died, his wife Rhonda cut off all income to the rescue and things really got bad.

The food was cut to just the cheapest chicken cuts and just often enough to keep them alive. The vet could no longer be employed. Cats began to die. By 2008 there were only 14 cats left and they were dying fast. One cougar bled for 12 days with no medical attention before suffering a cruel death. Mallory bought a topless bar 70 miles away and moved to be near it, leaving the remaining dozen big cats unsupervised most of the time. With no locks on the perimeter fence, neighborhood children could walk right in and stick their arms into the cages of lions and tigers. He quit paying Rita Montgomery, the cats' caretaker, in May but she loved the cats too much to just walk away and leave them to die. Sometimes Mallory would send food, but when he didn't, Montgomery did her best to scavenge what she could for the cats.

Rita called Doll Stanley who put out a desperate plea to Vernon Weir of the American Sanctuary Association in search of someone who could rescue these remaining cats. (The Mississippi Wildlife and Fisheries had ignored the call for help.) ASA member Tammy Quist, contacted Lynn Cuny of the Association of Sanctuaries (now called the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries) and Lynn rescued the two lions in October of 2008.  By the time Big Cat Rescue heard about the situation all but three of the remaining cats had died. Nine had passed away in just the past year. The last cats to remain were Freckles a 15 year old liger, Cookie a 14 year old tigress and Alex a 12 year old tiger. Freckles had a hole in her jaw that had gone untreated for a long time. It is not known if this is an abscess or cancer. All of her canine teeth were broken off from chewing at the chain link of her enclosure. Now, at Big Cat Rescue, she is finally getting the vet care she had been denied. They may not have much time left, but their last days will be their best days ever.

The Rescue

Big Cat Rescuers drove all night, through a fog as thick as pea soup, and arrived at Cougar Haven the morning of Dec. 18th. Scott Lope, Cathy Neumann, Chris Poole and Carole Baskin met up with Don & Rita Montgomery to assess the layout and prepare for the move. The cats' vet, Dr. Abernathy, donated his services to issue the health certificates and to bring the tranquilization drugs in case the cats could not be coaxed into the transport cages. The transport team, Mike and Jamie, drove the Humane Train owned by Animal Sanctuary of the United States and arrived around 4 PM. Doll Stanley and Eric Phelps from In Defense of Animals came to see the cats off to their new home. Doll provided these photos and commiserated that, "People think that when they call a rescue group we can somehow just wave a magic wand and fix the problem."

Door jams and Alex the tiger escapes the transportWith only an hour to work before dark the team quickly secured the transport to the first gate and tried to coax Alex in with a piece of meat. He was hungry and within minutes had leaped into the cage to grab the meat, but when he spun to leave he leaped up and hit his head on the top of the wagon. Between hitting his head and the noise of trying to shut the transport door, which had jammed, Alex freaked out and ran from the cage. We would try again later, but you only get one chance to trap a cat. They learn quick and starving or not, they don't want to be confined to a small area.

We moved the transport over to the front door housing Freckles the liger.   The flimsy dog kennel styled door on her cage was barely containing her as mudslides had washed away a hole at the bottom large enough for her to stick her head under to try and bite the feet of anyone walking by.  She had just watched Alex and was wary of the situation, but in true cat style seemed to believe she too could grab the meat and get out of there. To paraphrase Ginger Rogers, Freckles implied "If Alex can do it, I can do it backwards and in heels." Unseen to Big Cat Rescuers, David Mallory entered Freckles cage from the rear and as she was considering her big move, he nudged her forward and we shut the door. We know that entering a cage with a big cat is just an accident waiting to happen. People get away with it for years and then one day they get killed. We were horrified by Mallory's reckless action but this was his yard and his rules.

We turned our attention in the waning light to secure Cookie the tigress. The transport had been rolled almost into place when Mallory opened the door of her cage and body blocked the charging tigress.  I nearly dropped the camera as Mallory was now the only thing between an adult tiger and all of us.  He moved aside and then pushed Cookie the last few inches into the transport. You can believe that door was shut quickly as it was now the only thing separating Cookie from the 12 human course dinner that she could have had. We stood there in stunned silence, shocked at the stupidity and thankful that the cat had not chosen to take advantage of it. By the time her transport was rolled up the hill to stand in line next to Freckles it was nearly dark and we still had to load Alex.

Freckles the liger is loadedSeveral fruitless attempts were made to coax Alex into the wagon. We knew that there was very little chance of succeeding, but we had to try. Cats often respond very badly to sedation. It can kill them and it builds up in their system, taxing their kidneys, and is a big contributor to why zoo cats often only live half as long as our cats do. Most of our medical care can be done using operant conditioning, where the cat will let us draw blood or give shots while getting treats. This takes a lot more time and patience, but pays off in longer, healthier lives.

Another distressing factor was that the cages were deep with mud and pools of bone chillingly cold water. If Alex dropped in the water he could drown before we could get to him. There was a section of the cage in the back that was drier than the rest, so Alex was solicited into this area and then sedated. The challenge to this smaller area was that we could not get the transport anywhere near the door and if the door was opened and Alex wasn't completely asleep he would be in immediate contact with all of us. Unlike the shows you watch on TV it takes about 20 minutes for a big cat to pass out and they frequently come to rather unexpectedly. In this half dazed state they are even more dangerous because they lash out even when it is their nature to be easy going.

Shaking in the cold, the flash lights were the only illumination. We couldn't see our own hands in front of our faces. Scenes flashed through my head of headlines that read, "Dozen Die in Big Cat Killing Spree" or "Tiger Flees Rescue and Attacks Kids at Bus Stop." I kept trying to picture all three living their new life at Big Cat Rescue, but the scary headlines kept whizzing through as well. Then, as now, I am angry that there is even an opportunity for such awful consequences. If our government would take responsibility, as the U.K. has done, and ban the private possession of big cats, we wouldn't be risking our lives and others while bailing out failed facilities.

Once we were certain that Alex was sleeping we loaded him onto a human stretcher and carried him around the back and side of the enclosures to the front yard where we slid him into the transport wagon. When we first arrived we thought that rolling the transports up the slimy slope to the road where the Humane Train was parked would be the hard part. After what we had just gone through that was the easy part.

The cages were all rolled up into the modified car carrier and plywood was placed between them for privacy. Before hitting the road we had to wait for Alex to wake up enough to know that he wasn't going to die from the drugs. The vet forgot to bring the reversal agent and it was 2 hours before he was able to return to his clinic and back. We cannot legally transport these drugs across state lines so we are dependant upon local vets to help. The reversal worked and Alex was awake enough to travel by 9PM. Not only was he awake, but he was mad. Really mad. The madder he got, the more he scared Cookie and Freckles with the sound of his roars of displeasure. It was so sad to see big cats experiencing fear. These animals are at the top of the food chain and should never have to experience a single day of human induced fear.

Seeing us off, Rita said, "I will miss them, but I am so happy they will finally go someplace where they will get the care they need!" A truck pulled up along side us as we were closing the doors and said that he would miss their morning roars but that his wife, who had spent days in the hospital after being bitten by one of the cats, probably wasn't going to miss them. We report on big cat attacks that make the news, but there is no way to know how many such maulings go unreported in the press.

Transport truck breaks down at 4 AMThe crew decided to forego sleep and drive straight through the night back to Big Cat Rescue. Mike and Jamie drove the Humane Train carrying the cats and Big Cat Rescuers followed in two cars. We made good time until we pulled off for gas in Cottendale, FL (near Marianna) where the Humane Train broke down. Prepared for the worse, Jamie and Mike hired a wrecker, at four in the morning, to tow the trailer to a motel where the generators kept the cats comfortable.  They had the truck towed to the nearest Ford dealer. Knowing that the dealer wouldn't even be open until much later in the morning we opted to get a little shuteye so we could hit the road as soon as the truck was repaired.

Coaxing the mechanics off their butts turned out to be harder than coaxing the three big cats into boxes. It was their last day of work before Christmas.  By noon we gave up and began looking for a truck that could pull a 40 foot goose neck trailer. In a town that only has 881 residents, there aren't a lot of options. We were pulling away from our last chance, a gas station that had a couple of unventilated box trucks to rent, when we were chased down by the owner with an afterthought. Turned out the proprietor had just remembered the name of a man in nearby Marianna who hauled horses that might be able to help. We had called horse haulers from Tampa to Gainesville and one of our Green level Keepers, Susan Mitchell was already enroute from Tampa, but that would add seven hours to the cats' time on the road, so we looked up Greg Scott and plead for help.

Much to our amazement Mr. Scott was on the scene within an hour and we quickly hooked up the trailer and were back on the road. By the time we reached Tampa it was dark again. It just wasn't worth the risk to life and limb to try and unload the cats in the dark given that our entire crew had been awake for two days straight with only the cat nap in Cottendale. We all got some sleep so that we would be fresh for the move from trailer to Cat-a-tats at the first light of dawn. Scott slept on a picnic bench in the parking lot so that he could listen for any trouble in the trailer. I guess after being kept in a box in the middle of a wild pride of lions, in Lion Feeding Frenzy on Discovery channel, Scott is sensitive to what it is like to feel trapped and surrounded by unknown wild animals.

The unloading went about the same as the loading, but without the crazy aspect of someone risking everyone's lives by coming into contact with a big cat. Dr. Wynn, our vet, and Jarrod took off from work to come out early and help us unload.  Freckles, the liger, was first off and couldn't wait to step out into her big new enclosure. She settled down behind a log to watch her friends as they were wheeled in.

Unloading the liger and tigers at Big Cat RescueCookie was next and she chuffed nervously the entire wagon ride from the parking lot to "tiger row." She immediately took to her new surroundings and has been right at home from the first minute off the truck. Her neighbor, India the circus tiger, chuffed her welcome to Cookie. Of the group Cookie was the first to start eating, the first to start hanging out with keepers as they cleaned and has proven to have a wonderful disposition.

Alex was still mad and was determined to rip his way out of the transport wagon if we dared come near him. That wasn't a possibility but he could break off teeth in the process and we decided the only way to keep him from inflicting severe injury to himself would be to sedate him for the move. It would give our vet, Dr. Liz Wynn, a chance to see if he had done any harm to himself during the move. We wheeled the transport and sleeping tiger up to the gate but had to lift him into his new home. He surprised us all by raising his head during the move but we tossed a blanket over his head and he quickly fell back into slumber. We took the opportunity to give him IV fluids and a physical exam before reversing the sedation. He woke up quickly and sauntered over to his new den.

Alex and Freckles spent their first few days evaluating their new home from the safety of their big rock caves. Their dens are larger than a lot of cages that lions and tigers live their entire lives in elsewhere. From this dark, cool spot they can watch both ends of their enclosures. By the third day Alex was hanging half in and half out of the den to watch everything around him. He would chuff as keepers came up to talk to him, but wasn't quite ready to expose his entire body. Alex and Freckles would only come out at dinner and after dark at first, but each day gave them a little more assurance. The tour routes have been roped off so that they are only dealing with a few keepers in the area. We won't expose them to tours until they are happy being around people.

Cookie would have been ready to meet her adoring fans that day, but since she is living right next to Alex and Freckles, she will have to wait. All three are adjusting to their new and improved diets and have had the experience of getting whole prey for possibly the first time in their lives. The whole rats and rabbits are fed dead, but the new "wrappers" are as much fun as the new food is nutritious and tasty. Thursday mornings are always the hardest days to clean as the prey fur is plucked and scattered all over 40 acres here. Many of us are card carrying "bunny huggers" too so it is hard to witness the aftermath of whole prey night, but the benefit to the cats is worth the damage to our psyches.

Alex the tiger examined by vetRescuing Freckles, Alex and Cookie gives us and our supporters the instant gratification of knowing that we saved lives. It gives our lives meaning to know that we spend our time and resources so that cats like these can experience compassion for once in their lives. It makes our hearts well up with pride, but it is just a small drop in the bucket. In 2008 we had to turn away 85 big cats and there are so few decent sanctuaries out there who can take big cats that we know most of them ended up dying or in horrible, overcrowded conditions where they will be allowed to "accidentally" breed more and more cubs. Pseudo sanctuaries almost always have cubs to use as photo props or pay to play schemes, and yet they ask you to believe that they were the result of "accidental" matings year after year after year.

Most people were opposed to the automotive industry bailout by our government. In large part it was because nothing was being required of the industry to change its ways. By the same token we do not accept animals from places that are just continuing to breed, sell, trade and exploit big cats. Many places do, because they rely on the new rescues to keep donations coming in. If the breeders and dealers were shut down, there would be no big cats to rescue and thus no reason for them to exist. Very few sanctuaries are trying to end the problem at its source and will say that they don't like to get involved in politics or that they cannot because they are a non profit but that just isn't true. Laws to end the trade in big cats are the most effective means to end the suffering.

Each big cat that we rescue means an increase of 7,500. per year in expenses so your support is critical to each of our cats, but it also goes a long way in helping us solve the problem of so many discarded big cats. Even people who cannot afford to donate much in the way of money can still be a huge part of the solution by educating others. By telling others about the plight of captive big cats, writing your lawmakers, and sending letters to the editor when you read about big cats in the news you are saving thousands of big cats from being born into lives of confinement and deprivation. Our goal is a world where all big cats live free and with your help we can do it.

Rita says Goodbye to Cookie the tigressSee the liger and tiger rescue slide show


Sources: Animal Underworld by Alan Green

Doll Stanley at In Defense of Animals

David Mallory

Rita & Don Montgomery


Care for a Liger and 2 Tigers!

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