Listen to Ty the Serval Om Nom Nom while eating his dinner!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Thanks to the generosity of the family of William and Lois Modglin of Glendale, California, this grant provides that any donations to Big Cat Rescue that indicate they are to be submitted for a match from this grant will be matched dollar for dollar by a donation from this grant immediately upon receipt of you donation up to the $200,000 maximum. This 100% match means your donation has twice the impact!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Of course we think all of our cats are cute, but we have selected 15 different cats to let viewers decide which they think is the CUTEST! Watch the video decide which cat you think should win, then simply visit our facebook page and comment on their photo, the cat with the most comments and "likes" will be crowned "Big Cat Rescue's Cutest Cat" and the person with the funniest comment will WIN an original Paw Painting by Contestant #8 Narla the cougar worth $100 - The purr-fect Christmas gift!
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
The idea of petting and playing with a tiger cub has an understandable natural appeal. The cubs are adorable, and the tiger is one of the most powerful and fascinating of all animals. What you don't know haunts them for a lifetime of deprivation and abuse.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
By MATT BAUME
Updated 3:15 PM PST, Fri, Nov 26, 2010
Just-released transcripts reveal the interrogation techniques of police responding to a fatal tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo.
The mauling happened on Christmas Day, 2007. There were no independent witnesses or security cameras, so it's hard to say exactly what happened. What's known is that the tiger, named Tatiana, somehow escaped her enclosure, surrounded by a moat, and attacked a trio of young men.
Kulbir and Amritpal “Paul” Dhaliwal survived. Carlos Sousa Jr. did not.
According to Amritpal, "I started running from him and he [expletive] just attacked me. I couldn’t get away from him. And then right after, like, somehow I got away and he got my boy Carlos."
There's been heavy speculation that the men provoked the attack by harassing the tiger and throwing stuff into the moat. The police interrogator learned that they'd been eating nachos, and repeatedly asked if they'd thrown them at the animal or in the moat.
According to transcripts of the interrogation, the brothers saw the tiger slide down into the moat, then leap over a wall that was supposed to be insurmountable. That wall has since been increased in height by several feet. The men's lawyer has said that the zoo was negligent in not installing a higher wall in the first place.
Since the mauling, the brothers were involved in a drunk driving accident, one was arrested on suspicion of cocaine possession, and another was convicted of stealing electronics.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
We celebrate Thanksgiving at Big Cat Rescue and it's a favorite holiday for the Tigers, Lions and Leopards too! Watch as we hand out whole turkeys and chickens to the big cats living at the sanctuary, the cats consume the whole bird bones 'n all!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
When you pay to pet a cub, what are you really supporting? This video shows you how people pimp out tiger cubs to support themselves while making no provisions for the lifetime care of the big cats they are breeding and buying. Watch this video about two such pay to play schemes run by Kathy Stearns of Dade City's Wild Things and Joe Schreibvogel of G.W. Exotics.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Police say the worker is in serious condition with neck wounds from Monday's attack.
Officers fired shots at the tiger but missed. The big cat's owner, Jose Juarez Gil, finally found Satan hiding behind bushes several hours later and got him back in the cage.
The tiger is about 16 years old and has no fangs or claws, but weighs about 440 pounds.
Juarez Gil is a breeder and has four other tigers in cages in a fairly crowded area not far from Cancun's international airport. Juarez Gil says he isn't sure who left the cage unlocked.
Sunday, November 07, 2010
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Diver, (Kupwara) Nov 6: Residents of this village in Lolab area of north Kashmir district are up in arms against wildlife department for failing to neutralise man-eater leopard who mauled an eight-year-old boy here.
Student of second standard, Zahid Mukhtar son of Mukhtar Ahmad Khan was caught by a leopard near his home Friday evening and taken away to a nearby forest where his body was found next morning by the family members and residents.
“Zahid’s body was found in a den and in a mutilated form,” said the locals.
Agitated over the incident, residents staged protests against the wildlife department.
When contacted wildlife warden North circle Rouf Ahmad, told Greater Kashmir that there was no protected area for wildlife in Kupwara district and people were living inside the forest areas.
“Immediately we can’t stop the attacks of wildlife animals on locals. We can only acquaint people not to venture into the forests,” he added.
“To trap the man eater leopards in Diver and Hafrada areas we have constituted special teams which are equipped with tranquillisers and traps. In this connection we are utilizing the services of local people. Our teams have surveyed the areas and monitoring their movement,” he added.
Chief Conservator Forests Kashmir, Shafat Ahmad told Greater Kashmir that to minimize the casualties of locals, the officials of forest department will coordinate with wildlife officials.
Friday, November 05, 2010
HARARE - A lion mauled and killed a Zimbabwean man as he was taking a bath at a camping site in the northern Makuti district, the country's wildlife authority said on Thursday.
"Peter John Evershed was on holiday with his wife and two local friends when he was attacked by a lion as he took a shower under a tree about 38 metres (42 yards) from the camp site," Caroline Washaya-Moyo, a spokeswoman for the parks and wildlife authority, told AFP.
Evershed, 59, was based in Harare.
"This is a sad and unfortunate incident," Washaya-Moyo said. "We urge our clients to observe the rules of the parks as these animals are wild."
The state-owned Herald newspaper said Evershed was in the company of his wife and other local tourists and went to take a bath under a tree when a pride of lions surrounded him.
"He screamed for help from other tourists who quickly drove to the scene flashing their lights in a bid to scare away the marauding lions," provincial police spokesman Clemence Mabgweazara told the newspaper.
The lions dispersed when a safari operator fired gunshots into the air, the police spokesman said, but Evershed had already sustained a deep gash to the throat.
In a separate incident, an 80-year-old man died after being attacked by a hyena on his way to church in eastern Zimbabwe, state news agency New Ziana reported on Thursday.
Quoting police spokesman Jephry Mudzemba, the news agency said Misheck Mudechiwe was in the company of his wife when a hyena confronted them on their way to a church service in a neighbouring village.
"The hyena severed his left arm and mauled part of his face," Mudzemba said.
Wildlife, especially lions and elephants, roam freely in remote parts of Zimbabwe, often preying on livestock and destroying crops.
© Copyright (c) AFP
Cape Town, South Africa
The death of a camper mauled to death by lions at a Zimbabwe game park highlights the country’s poaching crisis, a leading conservationist said.
Johnny Rodrigues said illegal hunting of lions, as well as prey such as impala and bison, is ‘traumatizing’ and forces those animals to encroach on public game parks, increasing the risk to humans.
Mr. Rodrigues, who is chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said, “Poaching is a big problem in Zimbabwe – not just by professional hunters after animals like lions, but also local people after buck (deer) or bison for food.
“A lot of animals are becoming traumatized by it. They’re becoming more aggressive and are coming into contact with humans whereas before, when there were plenty of animals they’d shy away from us. We’re turning these hunters into scavengers.”
Businessman Peter Evershed, 59, was on holiday with his wife, brother-in-law and a friend at the Mana Pools National Park on the Zambezi River when he went to take an outside shower on Saturday night.
It is thought that a young male lion, followed by four other giant cats, attacked him while he was in the shower. By the time those traveling with him dashed to the shower, which was 125 feet from their tents, Mr. Evershed had suffered fatal neck injuries.
The Zimbabwean’s body was taken back to Harare, where his wife Liz appealed for clemency for the lions.
“The party raised the alarm and five cars arrived and they started firing but it was too late. He didn’t stand a chance," Rodrigues said.
Lions and other animals roam freely in the park, which is not fenced.
“We used to have a lot of impala and buffalo here, but they’ve been poached or killed over the years, so it’s forced the lions to come closer to humans," Rodrigues added.
“More people are also coming to national parks like Mana and there’s no limit to people coming in. They can walk around without guides and the lions see that. They are wild animals and will kill if they’re hungry – it’s natural to them.”
He said the area has seen a reduction in the number of prides (lion herds) – from 20 prides five years ago to about eight now – spurred on by poaching. Chinese buyers will pay $3,000 per kilogram for lion bones to grind down for medicine or wine.
Rodrigues's conservation group said eight people were killed by lions in rural areas of Zimbabwe between May and June, which resulted in some cats being killed in revenge.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Mandi, Nov 2 (PTI) A leopard mauled a seven-year-old boy to death in village Gutkar in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh last night.
Sagar was playing outside a cowshed near his house when the leopard attacked him and took him away, police said.
The boy''s body and torn clothes were found in the fields, they said adding villagers, who were searching for the boy, had spotted the man-eater leopard.
Divisional Forest Officer Anil Joshi said a cage had been set up to trap the leopard.
He also handed over Rs 10,000 as financial relief to the bereaved family.
THE sole witness of a horror attack in which a lion farm restaurant manager in Addo was mauled to death by three lions at the weekend has for the first time spoken out about the traumatic incident.
Yesterday, Simon Almanza, 35, described how Addo Croc and Lion Ranch restaurant manager Jan Frederiek Bredenhand, 30, was pulled from the fence of a lion enclosure by a three-year-old lion in the early hours of Sunday and mauled to death before his eyes.
While the ranch’s permits have been found to be in order, the Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs has said it is investigating the incident, through its compliance, enforcement and biodiversity units. “The findings will be made available when the investigation is complete,” said spokesperson Sixolile Makaula.
According to Almanza, who works as an IT specialist on a farm nearby, they had walked to the lion camp shortly after 3am.
He said neither of them was drunk or had taunted the lions, as eyewitnesses who arrived at the scene later had suggested.
“I had had a few drinks, but I was far from p****d. Bredenhand wasn’t drunk, either.
“He had one or two shooters during his shift after patrons bought them for him, but that was all.
“I sat down in front of the fence, when he foolishly climbed that pole (a thick, 2m-high pole next to the gate). I didn’t stop him. I guess I was under the impression that he worked with them (the lions) and I didn’t think anything of it.
“I don’t think he had been up there for more than 15 seconds – it wasn’t long. Then one of the lions reached up and grabbed him. It was very swift. I’m fairly certain he had his legs dangling over the fence while sitting on the pole. As I remember it, the lion grabbed his leg and dragged him down.”
Bredenhand “disappeared” after falling into the enclosure.
In shock, Almanza ran back to the main homestead screaming for help, only to find no-one there.
“Then I flagged Waldo (Le Roux, who had been accompanying his wife to the Mondi Herald Addo Mountain Bike Challenge). He turned around and came back and I asked him to phone the police.” — By BRIAN HAYWARD The Herald
Monday, November 01, 2010
Standing outside his Baraboo home Saturday, Jon Meeker, 38, describes an incident in which a 600-pound Siberian tiger pulled his arm through a cage and bit down. His wife, Emily, at right, now changes his bandages twice daily.
Ten days after a 600-pound Siberian tiger played tug-of-war with his arm, Jon Meeker says he's just trying to take it easy.
"No one is to blame for this," said Meeker, 38, at his Baraboo home Saturday as an IV pumped antibiotics into his system to help fight off infection.
Meeker and his wife, Emily, both volunteers at the Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue in Rock Springs, were doing chores at the outdoor facility Oct. 22 when the incident occurred. Jon was using a five-gallon jug to pour water through the cages and into bowls for the abandoned tigers, lions and leopards that live there.
As he walked toward the cage that held seven-year-old Kahn, a 600-pound Siberia tiger, Jon noticed the animal rubbing its body against the cage.
"He was being affectionate," he said.
He lifted the jug and began to pour, and the tiger clawed at the gate in what Jon described as a playful bat. One of the animal's five-inch claws went through the gate and caught a piece of Jon's clothing.
Before he knew it, the animal had pulled his arm entirely through the gate.
"Him popping my hand through was a one in a million chance," Jon said. "When he did, he got a hold of me and let me know it was time to play."
Even though he felt he was only being played with and not attacked, Jon said it was in that moment that a feeling of intense terror set in.
The animal clasped his arm and took a bite.
"I started screaming and my wife turned around and saw what was going on," he said. "She came over and started banging on the cage."
Volunteers helped get Jon away from the cage by distracting the animal and began administering first aid until first responders arrived.
Jon was flown to UW-Madison Hospital were he was treated for puncture wounds, a five-inch gash on his upper arm and torn tendons. Nerves had been pulled from his fingers and the cartilage in his wrist was "ripped up," he said. He was released five days later.
Emily now helps care for his wounds, changing his bandages twice a day and giving him pain killers when he needs them. It will be four or five weeks before he is functional again, Jon said, and he'll have to undergo cosmetic surgery and physical therapy.
The Meekers got to know Jeff Kozlowski, the rescue facility's owner, when Emily was working at a pet food store. Jon started volunteering there last spring.
He said he plans to start helping out again as soon as possible.
"They are wonderful companions, but you've got to respect the size," Jon said of the rescue facility's abandoned cats. "If that was a full-fledged attack, I wouldn't have an arm left."
Jon said he likely will feel nervous the next time he is around Kahn, but he won't let that stop him from volunteering. However, he said he wouldn't ever wear baggy clothes near the cages again.
Emily said she will plans to continue volunteering at the refuge, adding that the work done at the facility is too important to give up. She said she is amazed at her husband's resiliency.
"He takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'," Emily said.
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Three lions proved who's at the top of the food chain when they pulled an inebriated worker who was taunting them into their enclosure and devoured him before his horrified friend, authorities said.
Jan Bredenhand, who had been working as the restaurant manager for the Addo Croc and Lion Ranch near Port Elizabeth, South Africa, for just one month, returned from an all-night party Sunday morning and hopped on a gate around the lions enclosure when he was attacked.
A witness told police that the 30-year-old and one of his friends provoked the lions with loud taunts, South Africa's Daily Dispatch reported.
"He climbed the fence around their enclosure and clearly got too close," police spokeswoman Gerda Swart told London's The Sun newspaper. "Since he was drunk he may not have been in sound mind, but it was an incredibly dangerous and stupid thing to do.
"People who play dangerous games with animals like lions are asking for trouble - and he got it."
It was the second mauling death of a worker by lions at the park in six years.
The friend, identified only as "Simon," ran for help and brought back several tourists who were staying in a nearby chalet, but it was too late.
"It was horrific," one of the tourists, Veluchia Hassim told South Africa's News 24 TV. "The one lion was gnawing on his ribs when we got there."
Sunday, October 31, 2010
A mauling by an escaped jaguar the other day is the latest, sad episode in a too-often-repeated series of ill-fated, cross-species encounters that usually end badly for humans and almost always worse for wild animals.
After this incident in the Central American nation of Belize both two-legged and four-legged critters were carted away feet first, a two-part tragedy that could have been averted if people only learned from past experience that large predators belong in their native habitat, never in cages.
It all began when a 4-year-old, 130-pound jaguar male jaguar, kept in captivity by filmmakers Richard and Carol Foster – who produced wildlife documentaries for National Geographic – escaped after winds from Hurricane Richard toppled a tree onto his cage.
The large cat, named Max, then attacked a dog owned by the Fosters' U.S.-born neighbor, Bruce Cullerton, and when Cullerton tried to save his pet the jaguar pounced, dragged him into the bushes and bit him savagely on the arms and neck.
After authorities found Cullerton's mangled body they baited a steel-mesh trap, re-captured the jaguar and killed it – the circle of life, wild-animal-in-captivity style.
I've never been a huge fan of wildlife documentaries since I always suspected filmmakers used captive animals for much of their footage, and the Fosters' episode would seem to confirm my suspicion.
According to published reports the Fosters were shocked – shocked! – by the attack since Max never showed any violent tendencies. Never mind that jaguars are the largest and most ferocious felines in the Western Hemisphere, stalking prey and breaking skull bones between their powerful jaws.
They obtained the jaguar two years ago from the owner of a resort who faced numerous complaints from visitors (I can't imagine why – after all, what is more enjoyable than watching a dangerous animal pacing back and forth in a cage?)
If you think these sorts of things happen only in foreign countries, you are overlooking numerous attacks in the good old U.S. of A. Last year a jaguar at Baltimore's Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo pounced on and critically injured an animal care worker; in 2007 one mauled a keeper at the Denver Zoo.
These incidents were relatively tame compared to other wild-animal attacks. We here in the Nutmeg State are all too familiar with the horrific episode involving Travis the chimp, who escaped from his enclosure in a Stamford home, went berserk and ripped off the hands, eyelids and nose of a woman called by the owner to help capture the animal.
Police finally shot poor Travis, and the victim, Charla Nash, was so badly mutilated a traumatized police officer who responded has had to undergo counseling. Nash, who has had numerous surgeries, sued the owner, Sandra Herold, and the state for allowing Herold to keep the animal. Herold died in May, so Nash would have to collect any damages from her estate.
I thought of Travis, Nash and Herold a few weeks ago when I read about a 300-pound chimpanzee named Sue that ran amok in Kansas City, racing through the neighborhood, pounding on doors, opening car doors, dragging a trash bin down a street and even smashing the windshield on a police cruiser. Luckily, nobody's face got torn off so the cops didn't have to shoot her. It was treated as just another lighthearted story with a happy ending to wrap up the evening newscast.
The brutal Stamford incident, though, has gained the dubious distinction of ranking Number 2 on Time magazine's top 10 list of animal attacks on humans. In case you're keeping score, here's the rest:
No. 10: San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein (then husband of actress Sharon Stone) is forced to have foot surgery after being bitten by a venomous Komodo dragon during a private tour of the Los Angeles Zoo in 2001.
No. 9: A 600-lb. white Bengal tiger attacks Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy during their show at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 2002.
No. 8: A 12-year-old boy named Brian Jeffrey Griffin is killed when an alligator pulls him under the water as he swam with friends in Florida's Dead River in June 2003.
No. 7: Bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend are killed and partially eaten by coastal grizzlies in 2003 after living among them at Katmai National Park in Alaska for about 13 seasons. Treadwell was later the subject of the documentary film "Grizzly Man."
No. 6: "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin died after being fatally pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming in Australia's Great Barrier Reef in 2006.
No. 5: A trainer is killed and more than 20 spectators injured after an elephant goes on a rampage at a ceremonial festival in the south Indian state of Kerala in 2007.
No.4: Tatiana, a 4-year-old Siberian tiger, escapes from its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo and kills one teen and injures two others on Christmas afternoon in 2007.
No. 3: Rocky, a 5-year-old grizzly trained to wrestle with experienced handlers, bites Stephan Miller in the neck in 2008 during the filming of a promotional video in Big Bear Lake, Calif., killing him instantly.
No. 2: The Travis rampage.
No. 1: A 12,300-lb. killer whale named Tilikum fatally attacks his 40-year-old SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau, dragging her underwater during a live performance last February.
You may have noticed, as I did, that in all but one of those incidents (the alligator attack on the 12-year-old swimmer) the human victims were not exactly innocent.
The animal victims, though, always are.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Belize's national police identified the victim as Bruce Cullerton, who held US and Belizean citizenship. Authorities found the victim's body near the animal center on Tuesday. They did not say where he lived.
The 4-year-old cat, named Max, escaped when a tree fell on his cage Sunday, the same day the Category 1 hurricane hit the Central American country's Caribbean coast with howling winds and rain.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Foster Park in Youngsville has been reopened for recreational activities. The public is advised to be careful and watchful for any sightings that are out of the ordinary, such as the serval. There is no evidence that the cat has been around any of the traps that were set, and there have been no sightings as of Friday afternoon.
Since the cat is thought to be domesticated and there is no evidence of the cat in the area, Foster Park is open for weekend activities.
UPDATED 1:40 PM
No new sightings of the serval have been reported today in Youngsville, said Animal Control supervisor Virginia Lee.
Lee said they have not received any reports from possible owners and none of their traps have been set off.
She said the initial search is over and Animal Control will only react from reported sightings.
UPDATED 11:30 AM
Lafayette Animal Control continues the search for the loose serval in Youngsville. Traps are still set up in the sugarcane field near Foster Memorial Park, but it has not been caught yet.
Lafayette Animal Control is still on the lookout for an African serval, an exotic cat, in Youngsville after it was first spotted early Thursday morning.
Virginia Lee, Lafayette Animal Control supervisor, said the first spotting of the serval was near Foster Memorial Park in Youngsville early Thursday morning.
The animal was still loose as of 7 p.m. Thursday.
Traps were set up in a sugarcane field near the park in hopes of capturing the serval, and Lee is hopeful it will be caught in a peaceful manner.
Animal Control received about three to four calls throughout the day about confirmed sightings of the serval, with the furthest being about a half-mile north of Foster Park.
Animal Control has not received any recent sightings, with the last one being at 1 p.m.
"We've stretched our search area into the perimeters of Youngsville," Lee said, although she was not able to specify how far out. "We might have to come up with a different game plan (today) if we don't catch it tonight."
The owners also have not been identified, nor have they come forward.
"After talking to some people, we're having the feeling this cat has been on loose for a while," Lee said.
The traps, Lee said, are humane traps they also use to catch stray dogs and cats. She said they are wire traps that when an animal steps inside, it triggers the door to close.
A serval is a medium-sized cat that originates from Africa. They are mainly a nocturnal animal and are carnivorous, with their diets including rodents, birds or reptiles, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.
Lee said while the serval they are looking for has been domesticated, there is still some risk involved. She said it's not uncommon for people to want to buy a serval as a house pet, but she doesn't encourage such actions.
"Don't just walk up to something like this," she said. "It's always an unsafe thing when it's an animal that's not well known."
She said anytime there is an animal outside of its normal settings, it will become defensive, especially when approached by people it's not used to.
Lee said anyone who spots the serval should leave it alone and call 911, where they will be directed to the right person.
Lillo Gope (55) was grazing his cattle when he saw the animal chasing the duo. On seeing this, Gope pushed the woman and her child to safety. Annoyed by this, the leopard attacked Gope who sustained injuries in the abdomen and head. But, Gope did not give up and fought with the leopard with his lathi and rained blows on the animal.
At this juncture, the scared woman rushed to the village and informed the people who rushed to the spot to rescue Gope. On seeing the villagers, the leopard left the spot and went inside the forest nearby where the victim was grazing his cattle.
Later, the villagers admitted Gope to Hazaribagh Sadar Hospital. After getting the news, both police and forest department officials recorded the statement of Gope. Hospital sources said Gope's condition was very serious and all efforts were being made to provide him the best possible treatment so that he survives.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
By Brian D. Bridgeford Posted: Saturday, October 23, 2010 3:30 am
ROCK SPRINGS - A Baraboo man was flown to University of Wisconsin Hospital on Friday - but is reported to be recovering - after having his arm grabbed by a tiger at a big cat refuge.
Shortly after 12:30 p.m. Sauk County 911 dispatch received a call from Jeff Kozlowski at the Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue and Education reporting an injury to a volunteer, according a statement by Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Sheriff Richard "Chip" Meister.
The North Freedom First Responders were called to assist John M. Meeker, 38, who was injured by a 7-year-old Siberian tiger named Kahn, Meister reported. Meeker had been watering the cat through his enclosure of chain link fencing. Kahn grabbed the man's arm and pulled it into the enclosure. Other people at the refuge were able to get Meeker away from the cat and administer first aid.
A short time after the incident, North Freedom firefighters could be heard over the police scanner setting up a landing zone on a field near the refuge. Meeker was taken to University Hospital in Madison by the Med Flight helicopter ambulance, Meister stated.
Kozlowski said Meeker was watering Kahn from outside his cage by pouring through the 4-inch-square chain link mesh of the cat's enclosure. In an act Kozlowski said was playful, not aggressive, Kahn grabbed a loose sleeve of Meeker's sweatshirt and pulled his hand into the cage.
Meeker reflexively tried to pull his arm back. The tiger then clamped his mouth down harder, resulting in a number of punctures to Meeker's skin, he said.
"There's some puncture wounds and tearing," Kozlowski said. "He's got full feeling in his fingers and can move them."
Kozlowski said he does not consider the event an attack. Witnesses reported Kahn was not growling, he said.
"He was just playing," Kozlowski said. "He's grabbed my hand before and pulled it through."
Kahn is up-to-date on rabies and other shots, so Kozlowski said he doesn't expect ramifications from the incident.
"He's quarantined for 10 days, which is regular for an animal bite," he said. "But he's already quarantined - he's in his own cage."
Shortly before 6 p.m. Kozlowski said he had spoken with Meeker's wife Emily on the phone moments earlier. John Meeker's wounds were being cleaned and sutured by hospital staff, he said.
The incident remains under investigation by the Sheriff's Department, according to Meister.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Associated Press - October 21, 2010 2:24 PM ET
YOUNGSVILLE, La. (AP) - Authorities say an exotic cat is on the loose, forcing an elementary school to keep its students indoors as officials worked to capture the cat.
The Green T. Lindon school was placed on lockdown Thursday after the cat, believed to be a serval, was reported to be nearby.
The Daily Advertiser reports that the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office, Broussard Police Department, Youngsville Police Department and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries were on the scene.
Sheriff's deputies say the serval, a cheetah-like cat and native of Africa, likely got loose from its owner, who was not immediately identified.
What is believed to be a serval cat is lurking through Youngsville neighborhoods.
Law enforcement and paramedics were called after a Youngsville Police officer spotted the animal this morning. The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office contacted Wildlife and Fisheries to assist Youngsville P.D in the search.
The public is asked not the approach the animal. Animal control workers are hoping to lure it into a trap.
The search for the elusive animal has prompted one school to change its daily routine. Students at Green T. Lindon Elementary are securely in classrooms. Normally they would have PE and recess, but that's all canceled that for today, according to Principal Gina Cahee.
Officals are getting several tips from various neighborhoods, including 4th Street, Fortune Road and Verot School Road in the Youngsville area.
KATC contacted the Zoo of Acadiana. Spokesperson Leigh Coletti said all their large cats are accounted for. They do not have cheetahs, but they do have a leopard and serval cats.
Zoo owners Matthew and George Olbenburg are participating in the search to help identify the animal if they can find it.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
By SCOTT ALLEN, email@example.com
Published: Monday, October 11, 2010 8:12 PM CDT
IDAVILLE — An Indiana conservation officer explained that no one was endangered after two tigers escaped their pen at Great Cats of Indiana on Saturday.
Indiana Conservation Officer Bill Hinshaw assisted Officer Matt Tholen in investigating an incident at the big cat sanctuary after a pair of Bengal tigers slipped out of their enclosure last weekend.
“The owner was guessing that the tigers were wrestling, they fell against (the corner) and popped the board and wire enough that they were able to get out,” Hinshaw said.
But, Hinshaw said, the tigers didn’t breach the perimeter fence at Great Cats and no one was endangered.
“The whole compound has a perimeter fencing that is, I think, 10 feet tall,” the conservation officer said. “They never got out of the compound; they were still enclosed within the perimeter fencing.”
But because, Hinshaw said, the tigers were jumping up on the perimeter fence Great Cats owner Rob Craig elected to take decisive action.
“He didn’t want to take any chances of them getting off the property,” said Hinshaw. “He elected to shoot them; he ended up wounding one and destroying the other.
“They never got off the property.”
He said the tiger that was wounded was hit in a fatty area on its body and actually retreated into a cage.
“The other one got a little more aggressive and was jumping more on the fence, and he elected to put it down and was able to destroy it,” Hinshaw said.
The conservation officer believes that when the tigers’ pen broke, they left it to explore the grounds but never left the perimeter fencing.
For neighbor Margaret Haskell, her only issue with Great Cats of Indiana has been overgrown weeds.
“Really I had the impression that the pens or the cages were pretty strong and well built,” said Haskell, who lives next door to the cat sanctuary.
“One thing that has concerned me has been all the weeds that are so tall, next to our house between the two places,” she said. “I thought at different times a tiger could get out and be in there and I wouldn’t know it until they jumped my fence.”
Haskell described a mostly affable neighbor relationship with Craig.
When the incident occurred Saturday night, at around 10:30 p.m., she was already asleep but her son heard a commotion.
“My son was in the family room out here and he heard … what sounded like some gun shots,” Haskell said, estimating five or six shots.
“He didn’t see anything that evening but the next day he commented that he wondered what had happened.”
Haskell said that she’s observed Great Cats of Indiana has been mostly closed this season though its typically advertised as open to the public seven days a week.
“It’s shut down to the public; it has been most of this year,” she said. “He’s got closed signs there at the gate.”
Though the website http://www.greatcatsofindiana.org/ is still online, the published phone number for Great Cats was disconnected Thursday.
“It’s just one of those things, I hope somebody double checks those cages and makes sure they’re still strong,” Haskell said.
Tigers, Lions, Leopards ... we recycle a little differently at Big Cat Rescue! With 45 acres and over 100 big cats to care for we have lots of landscaping projects as well as lots of cats to keep enriched, so we do both at the same time!
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Gina, 11, died Friday, leaving behind a male companion named Sam. Both leopards came to the zoo in 2007 from a rescue group, Vanskike said.
Tests will likely take several weeks to reveal the cause of the leopard's death.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Posted: Today at 6:45 pm EDT
Last Updated: Today at 6:56 pm EDT
Wed Sep 22, 2010
See Video At: http://www.wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21002289194315/
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Police have released the calls for help after a tiger gets loose at a South Florida attraction.
Miami Police released the 911 calls Wednesday afternoon, after a tiger and an ape escaped from their enclosures on Aug. 28th and caused a public panic.
Caller: "He just jumped out."
911 Dispatcher: "He jumped out?"
Caller: "He jumped out."
911 Dispatcher: "Do you know which way he went?"
Caller: "No, I don't know."
According to witnesses, the ordeal began when a monkey escaped its enclosure at the park and went into the tigers' exhibit. Officials said a mechanical problem and human error by an employee led to the escape of the monkey.
Caller: "I think it's very dangerous, because the tiger is wandering here with people with kids, and they have us here waiting for them to catch the tiger. This is an extremely dangerous situation."
Caller: "No one seems to have control of the situation over here."
Several guests escaped, but one caller describes hiding in the bathroom.
911 Dispatcher: "OK, so you're in the males' bathroom?"
Caller: "Yes, I'm in the bathroom with the males."
Another caller is heard expressing concern for the safety of the children at the park.
911 Dispatcher: "The police is coming."
Caller: "And tell them that we are all here at the back, and people are getting very nervous."
The president of Jungle Island has been charged with two misdemeanors in the tiger escape. The owner of the tiger was also charged.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
A couple of insiders blame poor coordination between the administration and ground staff for the deaths of the animals. If they are to be believed, the zoo is guilty of neglecting the animals in its care, particularly where their feeding is concerned. While the park buys about 600 kgs of beef every day to feed about 150 carnivores, including lions, tigers and leopards, the meat is allegedly never washed or checked. “Zoos across the globe follow quality control where the food of the animals is concerned. The meat is washed with boiling water to remove infectious bacteria before it is given to the animals. But nothing of the sort is done at the BBP,” they alleged.
It is also claimed that senior officers at the park are not present during the feeding of the carnivores and other animals. “Officers of assistant conservator of forests rank and above are supposed to be present when the animals are fed or when they are given medication. But such rules are not followed at the park. It is left to the animal keepers to gives the big cats both their feed and medication,” claim a few insiders.
Animal experts feel the zoo is becoming too commercial for its good, and is losing its focus on animal conservation and education as a result. “The park organises as many as 120 safari trips every day and the drivers hurry up each round, so that they can move on to the next. Why are they concentrating so much on making money? The BBP was set up as a rescue centre for animals and not to provide people entertainment,” says a wildlife expert. Park officials admit it is sometimes difficult to provide the thousand odd animals in their care individual attention, particularly as they are short of animal keepers and wildlife veterinarians.
But they maintain that a range forest officer has been given the responsiblity of feeding and taking care of the animals in the safari area and he tries to do the best he can.
Monday, September 13, 2010
According to the forest department, the incident occurred at about 9.30 pm inside the compound of a farmhouse owned by Dinesh Dodiya in Vadi area on Ishwariya Road in the village.
"Doidya's son Dishant was playing in their courtyard, while his family members were taking supper, when a leopard pounced upon him. Seeing this, Dodiya's wife Rasila rushed to her son's rescue, shouting for help. Her cries alerted labourers in the farm who gathered at the site, following which, the big cat left the boy and vanished back into the forest," said round forester VS Aparnathi.
The incident left the boy with claw injuries on his back, following which, he was rushed to the primary health centre, where doctors said his wounds were not serious and would heal soon. Meanwhile, the forest department has installed several cages with live baits in them around different places near the site of the incident to catch the big cat.
"Ishwariya Road is becoming infamous as leopard road, as the sight of the spotted big cats is a common occurrence at sundown," said a source from the forest department.
By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY
The normally docile lions are a big attraction at the MGM Grand in Vegas.
Las Vegas News Bureau
A man who worked at the popular Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is "doing well," after being attacked by one of his charges, Yvette Monet of MGM Resorts tells me.
The incident, which happened without warning as lionkeepers worked inside the glass-walled Habitat Sept. 1, was captured on video. He looked to be bitten on the leg, though MGM says it cannot discuss details.
An MGM statement says that the Habitat is not run by the casino resort and that "the Habitat operator tells us that the handler is in good health and anxious to return to work."
The Habitat, off the casino, is one of Vegas' most popular free attractions. The MGM statement says that "the lions do not live at the hotel. They are provided by Keith Evans, a contracted animal expert, and housed at an off-site facility. The animals are displayed on rotating shifts at the Habitat ... Most of their time is spent at the large desert compound where they live. The trainer involved in this incident was treated and released from the hospital. ... Incidents where animal handlers are bitten are very rare."
Take a look at a YouTube video of the attack, shot by a visitor, at
Posted Sep 9 2010 4:04PM Comments 22
Sunday, September 12, 2010
A woman said she noticed the cat walking around the backyard while she was babysitting three children.
The African Serval has been missing since early July, and the cat's owner is eager to have her back again.
Police and the owner want people to know that the cat has been declawed and is not a danger to people or their pets.
They think she has been surviving on mice ever since she ran out of the house two months ago.
Lindsay Ayres said, "When I first heard that there was one on the loose, I thought it was somewhat of a joke. I never expected to actually see it."
ON Friday, Ayres was watching television with the boys she was babysitting, when she noticed something strange in the backyard.
"I looked out the window and something caught my eye moving over by those palm trees," said Ayres.
She knew right away that it was a cat. However, this animal was bigger and longer than any cat that she had ever seen before.
She made some noise to see what the cat would do, but it did not seem to notice her.
Ayres said, "It just looked, it didn't really care, and just kept on going."
The cat followed a treeline and finally disappeared into a field behind the house.
"I could see it was blondish in color, yellow, and it possibly had spots," said Ayres.
Cindy Shaffer believes that was her cat.
"Absolutely! There's been too many people that have described her like that," Shaffer said.
Whenever someone has spotted her pet, named Seraphina, Shaffer goes there and sets up traps. So far, she has always been a few hours too late.
Shaffer said, "We believe that if we can get there and see her, that we'll be able to catch her."
She wants everyone to know that Seraphina is not dangerous but she says it would not be wise to try and catch her yourself.
"If she doesn't know someone and they try to pick her up, there's a chance she could bite them. Any animal could. But she's not a danger," said Shaffer.
Still, Lindsay Ayres said she will keep the three children that she babysits inside for awhile.
"I would assume that it's somewhere off in these fields hiding," said Ayres.
You should call the police if you happen to see the cat.
Shaffer said she is hoping that Seraphina will be returning home soon and she won't become wild in the two months she has spent prowling around Clark County.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
LAS VEGAS -- Video of a lion attacking a trainer at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas has been posted on the YouTube website.
MGM Resorts International spokeswoman Yvette Monet on Tuesday confirmed the video was from the Sept. 1 incident, when a lion lunged at a trainer in full view of casino patrons.
The video shows the trainer attempting to hold the lion down and a second trainer stepping in between the two. The lion is eventually pushed away, but continues to walk around the habitat as if in pursuit of the trainer.
Monet had previously said the trainer, who received stitches in his leg, was not an MGM employee.
The incident is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency also responded in 2003 to the Las Vegas’ most famous animal attack, when magician Roy Horn was mauled by a tiger during a performance at the Mirage resort.
Monday, September 06, 2010
And attacked we were, albeit mostly just vile verbal attacks from people like Vernon Yates, Alan Rigerman, Gloria Johnson & Lisa Welch among others who wouldn't curse me to my face, but hissed the evil they would do to me as I passed. Others including Kevin Antle of T.I.G.E.R.S, Zuzanna Kuko of R.E.X.A.N.O., Joe Schreibvogal of G.W. Exotics and others have slandered us on the Internet.
Want to help Big Cat Rescue AND get great pet supplies? Visit www.petsuppliestampa.com, the brand-new online pet supply store started by Big Cat Rescue’s Operations Manager Gale Ingham and volunteer senior keeper Willow Hecht. Ten percent of the profits from the website will go to Big Cat Rescue!
Petsuppliestampa.com features affordable, quality pet supplies and great customer service from two animal lovers. The site has everything you need for cats, dogs, birds, reptiles, and small mammals, and features products not found in local pet stores. The site also has an extensive inventory of professional-grade grooming supplies, such as shampoos, flea dips, and clippers. Visit www.petsuppliestampa.com to pamper your pets and help the big cats.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
TNN, Sep 5, 2010, 12.21am IST
LUCKNOW: The search for the elusive tiger continued in and around Khutar range of Shahjahanpur forest division on Saturday. The big cat was not even once spotted during the whole day.
The villagers raised an alarm about having seen the tiger around Saraiyan village quite a few times during the day. However, officials could not find any trace of the big cat at any of the spots.
The combing continued in the area which has vast expanses of sugarcane fields and tiger, if at all present in the area, could have taken refuge in these dense fields. Since the department has already ordered for "tranquilisation and capturing" of the big cat combing operation might continue.
The tiger chase of an ape at Jungle Island has resulted in charges against the tiger's owner and the park's president.
Posted on Saturday, 09.04.10
BY PAMELA DUQUE
The president of Jungle Island has been charged with two misdemeanors following the brief escape of a gibbon and a tiger that spurred a lockdown at the facility.
The owner of the male tiger also was charged with one misdemeanor for keeping the animal in conditions that could jeopardize public safety, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Saturday.
Investigators with the agency, known by its acronym FWC, charged the park's president, Bern M. Levine, with two second-degree misdemeanors for conditions resulting in the animals' escape. The FWC investigation concluded that the ape escaped due to human and mechanical error, and the cage in which the tiger was kept does not meet state requirements.
``The investigation revealed that there was about a foot and a half, almost two feet, of mulch added to the floor of the cage, making the cage a little bit lower than it appeared,'' FWC spokesman Jorge Pino said.
Florida law requires the fence of the cage to be 10-feet high with two feet of overhang.
The FWC recommended Jungle Island raise fences to at least 14 feet with four feet of overhang.
Levine was also given a written warning for not notifying the FWC of the incident. According to Pino, it was the Miami-Dade Police Department who notified the FWC.
``If you own captive wild life, the very first call you make is to the FWC if something happens,'' Pino said. ``We are the agency specialized in recapturing the animals, and we are the investigating agency to investigate the escape.''
Bhagavan Antle, the owner of the 500-pound tiger named Mahesh, was charged with one count of maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition, resulting in threats to public safety.
Neither Levine nor Antle could be reached for comment Saturday. The charges for both men have a maximum penalty of $500, Pino said.
Mahesh, a male tiger, jumped over his fence to chase after Watson, a small, 8-year-old ape, after it, too, sneaked out of his cage.
No one was seriously injured during the Aug. 28 incident, but four people were treated for minor injuries and a fifth was treated for a panic attack.
The park's staff managed to capture the tiger without tranquilizers, and Watson was later found on a picnic table. The park also moved the male tiger to a different cage while changes are made to meet state requirements, Pino said.
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Were it completely over I might give in to that temptation, but it's not, so I'd like to share where we have been, what has been accomplished and how you can help us end an era of abuse and exploitation. This story starts in 1994 when I attended my first Florida Wildlife Commission meeting. I think they called themselves Game & Fish back then and that is the name that I always have to dismiss from my tongue in search of whatever they are calling themselves most recently. The legislature had put into statute in 1967 that the trade in wildlife was to be regulated, but it wasn't until 1974 that the legislature addressed the growing concern of people keeping lions and tigers as pets with a second statute. Bare bones rules were enacted, but were not revisited until 1994 when killings, maulings and escapes by big cats first peaked. They seem to have been trying to reinvent themselves to remain relevant, while still clinging to the practice of killing animals for fun, which is not an activity embraced by 99% of Floridians and 97% of Americans overall. Their rule enhancements did nothing to stop the escalation of killings, maulings and escapes which nearly doubled by 2003.
I still remember that 1994 meeting and having signed up to speak my heart was pounding so hard that the pressure threatened to send a spray of blood out my nose, eyes and ears. Speaking before a crowd and addressing this agency that had dealt so treacherously with me before were the last thing in the world that I wanted to do, but I felt it was important. They were asking for stakeholder input on some new cage regulations and given the inhumanely small cages that were currently legal in the state, I just had to be there. When I stood to speak I nearly passed out, but remained standing, clutching the chair in front of me, and said what needed to be said despite the fact that the room had closed in dark around me and I was unable to see or hear anything but the sound of jet engines roaring in my head. I relayed how we has started out with cages that were many times the size of their minimums, but had discovered that the cats would let you know when you had it right. They would quit their incessant pacing if they had more room. Their new rules, which were a minor improvement but still far short of humane, were implemented in 1998.
From 1999 until 2003 Big Cat Rescue worked to support the Captive Wildlife Safety Act which was a federal bill that prevented the sale of big cats, (lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars and cheetahs) across state lines as pets. The number of cats we had been called upon to rescue had been doubling every other year and in 2003 we had to turn away 312 big cats who had been bred for use as pets and props and now had outgrown their profitability. When the Captive Wildlife Safety Act passed, the next year the number we had to turn away dropped to 110 and has continued to drop every year. This proved conclusively that the best way to save the most big cats was through legislation as we could only afford to rescue 5 or 6 cats each year whereas better laws had prevented the birth and abandonment of hundreds of big cats, mostly tigers.
Over the years I continued to attend their meetings but 2005 was the beginning of five year investment that Big Cat Rescue would put into improving the rules that regulate the possession of wild animals. I attended countless stakeholder meetings, watched in horror as their Captive Wild Animal Technical Assistance Group made one self serving suggestion after another in the hopes of making it easier for the 9 out of 11 of them to deal in wildlife and I attended most of the Commissioner hearings. The only people who attended these meetings were people who own and exploit wild animals and who spoke out loudly against any provision that would provide a modicum of comfort for the animal or safety for the public. There were three of us, and sometimes four, who I could count on to be there as a voice for the animals; Dr. Jennifer Hobgood from HSUS, Lori or Liz from Defenders of Wildlife & Heather Veleanu (who has now moved to PA.) We would huddle together like a 3 headed cat looking in all directions for an attack by one of the breeders, dealers or egotists who fancied the idea of a pet tiger.
And attacked we have been, albeit mostly just vile verbal attacks from people like Vernon Yates, Alan Rigerman, Gloria Johnson & Lisa Welch among others who wouldn't curse me to my face, but hissed the evil they would do to me as I passed. Others including Kevin Antle of T.I.G.E.R.S, Zuzanna Kuko of R.E.X.A.N.Ol, Joe Schreibvogal of G.W. Exotics and others have slandered us on the Internet. Dr. Hobgood had her car broken in to and her computer stolen and I have been ushered out of the building more than once by armed FWC officers who sought to insure my safety until I wasn't their responsibility (read off their property.) In one instance I had a police escort until I was completely out of the city limits on the interstate headed home one night after an FWC meeting. There was even a hotel in the Florida Keys that would not allow me to stay in their facility overnight for fear of what the animal terrorists might do to me. I had tried to hire a body guard for that meeting, but a last minute problem on their end left me exposed. A friend of a dealer in Miami who had been implicated in killing a USDA officer and stuffing his hacked up body parts into a drum had assured me that any trip of mine to So. Florida would not include a return home.
Our vehicles were often the target of the animal terrorists and Big Cat Rescue had to replace 12 tires over the course of these past 5 years from someone slicing our valve stems. The tire experts said it had been done maliciously so that at high speeds the tires would blow simultaneously and this had happened to my daughter as she was driving a van load of interns one night. I couldn't share much more of what was being threatened against me because I needed to be there for the cats and if my husband or family knew what I was up against they would never have allowed me to be in such peril. I take a deep sigh of relief knowing that we have finally reached a tipping point and even though I will not be liked by some of the animal abusing miscreants at future meetings we finally outnumber them.
In this recent five year ordeal cage size minimums were never even considered. They limited the scope of their work to redefining Class I (big cats), Class II (medium sized cats) and Class III (small cats) minimum acreage requirements for possession Class I and Class II, reset violation penalties and looked at how to resolve the clash between their agency issuing permits to people to own dangerous animals and the counties trying to prevent such possession in inappropriate neighborhoods. I tried to make it easy for them and affordable for tax payers. I took their 67 pages of rules and using all of their same terminology and formatting crafted new rules that would prevent the future breeding of captive wild animals, except for legitimate species survival plans administered by AZA zoos.
The draft would enhance the safety of the public and the welfare of the captives so that no animals would be displaced and thus would allow owners to keep their animals until they died of old age, but they would not be able to buy, breed, trade or sell to replace them. The rules put the burden of identifying and accountability upon the exotic animal owner and called for these records to be publicly available because there are plenty of watchdog groups who would make sure the rules were not being broken. This would save the FWC and thus the taxpayer from having any additional expense for all of the additional improvements.
One of the problems the FWC admitted to a reporter when they said, "In a perfect world we would know where all of these animals are." was that they didn't have good records that told them what nor how many wild animals were held. Iin some cases only P.O. boxes or out of state addresses were listed for licensees who clearly had dangerous animals inside the state. Using a combination of USDA, FWC, newspaper mentions and eye witness reports, I created the first map to show where exotic cats were within the state. From 1967 when there were 1,000 people in possession of captive wild animals the number rose to 8,000 by 1994. As the rules have been made even slightly more restrictive the number of wild animal possessors have dropped to 4,000 in 2008. Despite this drop, Florida big cat incidents continued to climb against the mirrored decline across the nation. The reason is that eight states passed bans or partial bans since 2005 while the FWC just piddled around with a few inconsequential improvements to their rules. The indisputable conclusion here is that regulation can't work; only outright bans do.
The reason for that is enforcement. There will never be enough tax money available to enable adequate inspections and there is no incentive for inspectors at the state or federal level to do their job, because to do so only results in them being perceived as the "bad guys." If an inspector sees animal abuse and cites the owner, there is an expectation that they do something about it if the owner doesn't comply. The kind of people who keep exotic animals in cages for their own amusement or financial gain are not the kind of people who care about following the rules. If the inspector continues to cite the owner, year after year for the same infraction, then the watchdog groups can report to the public that the government isn't doing their job. The problem is that there is no where for the wild animals to go if they are confiscated. Zoos want to breed babies for a paying public to see, so they don't want adults. Sanctuaries are over flowing and under funded and cannot possibly handle the influx of unwanted adult wildlife. The only alternative available to the government, if they do their job and seize an abused wild animal, is to euthanize the animal and that is a public relations nightmare that no one wants to consider.
The result is that the inspectors don't report the abuse they see and in most cases the abuses are hidden from public view so that they are unknown and ignored. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was a law pushed through Congress in 2006 by the animal abusive industries such as biomedical and factory farms which made it a federal crime of terrorism to trespass for the purpose of documenting abuse. The law is so overly broad and vague that it will not withstand challenge, but has had a chilling effect on whistle blowers and undercover investigations, which was its creators' intent. While it was proposed as a counter to animal extremists, they were breaking the law already and wouldn't care about a new one. This law only made it harder for people who care about animals to show others what really happens behind closed doors and gates.
The past five years have really been a roller coaster ride of wins and losses for the animals. Even though the Captive Wildlife Safety Act passed in 2003 there was no rule enacted to enforce it until 2007 and it was deeply flawed until 2009. I look at that sentence and think to myself how amazing it is that six years of frustration, letter writing, calls to Congress and to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and USDA and the Secretary of the Interior and all of the hard work of thousands of our supporters and other animal welfare organizations and their supporters; how all of that effort went into what can be summed up in one sentence…in one result: the banning of trade in big cats across state lines as pets. Its text doesn't look like much on this page, but if you consider the trend of unwanted big cats doubling every other year that was halted by this one law, and do the math, then there were easily 2,500 big cats who were spared being brought into this world for the purpose of being used as ego props. That made all of the blood, sweat and tears worthwhile.
Back at the state level the final rules have been proposed by the FWC after all of our combined efforts. The results are far more modest than what we have been able to do at a federal level, but as to just exotic cats they include:
1. Cougars can no longer be kept as pets. Existing pets can remain where they are, but cannot be replaced unless the owner upgrades their facilities to house Class I animals, which means 5 acres, instead of 2.5 acres and stronger cage material. It also means cougars are added to the list of big cats that cannot be walked on leashes in public or handled by the public after reaching 40 lbs according the the FWC in contrast to the the age of 12 weeks according to USDA provisions.
2. Bobcats who are trapped as "nuisance wildlife" cannot be killed, but rather must be turned loose on 40+ acres in the same county where trapped.
3. Anyone who possesses a Class I animal, such as a lion, tiger, bear, etc. must post a $10,000 bond to protect the public in case of injury or escape.
4. Those who possesses a wild animal must disclose where the animal is kept; ie a physical address.
5. In the past the FL statutes read that a person could not keep a Class I animal as a pet, and thus had to be a commercial enterprise in order to possess lions, tigers and other big cats. The USDA requires that anyone using a wild animal for a commercial purpose must be licensed by USDA but the FWC ignored that federal requirement and allowed that all a person had to do was to claim they were a business in order to keep a tiger in their back yard. The new Florida rules state that if you are required to have a USDA license by claiming your wild animal is a commercial enterprise, then you must have that USDA license in order to qualify for a FWC license. This will flush out many of the back yard breeders who will now have to comply with USDA standards which are minimal, but in many cases superior to FWC standards. For example the FWC does not require than animals be given veterinary care, wholesome food nor clean cages which are mandated by the USDA.
6. Fox penning was a FWC sanctioned form of animal fighting whereby bobcats, foxes and coyotes would be released into caged areas and hunters would turn packs of dogs loose to chase and kill the wild animals. The wildlife would be ripped, limb from limb by the baying hounds and all in the name of "training" and sportsmanship. When a neighboring family to one of these 16 licensed fox pens alerted us in 2009 to the activities happening in broad daylight, seven days a week at one of these "fox pens" we began a crusade with our supporters to shut them down. We succeeded in the fall of 2010 with a complete ban on the practice of turning dogs loose on bobcats, foxes and coyotes in fenced areas.
7. The last win was the weakest in language adopted by the FWC, but may have the most impact in practice. The FWC stipulated that whenever there is a new application for a Class I license, or if someone upgrades to a Class I license, they will notify the county. Our proposal and that of tens of thousands of animal lovers was that cities, counties and municipalities be given the authority to craft even more restrictive ordinances to insure the humane treatment of animals and the safety of their citizens. The state of Florida is unique in that the FWC was granted extraordinary power by virtue of a constitutional amendment and have interpreted that to mean that only they can determine appropriate neighborhoods for the possession of wild animals. This conflicts with the counties' authority to decide land use and zoning so there have been a number of squabbles over what is or isn't an appropriate neighborhood to have a tiger kept in a cage the size of a parking space. While the FWC did not formally concede to the counties' interest, they have at least agreed to let counties know when someone plans to bring lions, tigers and bears to their area.
In some ways the 7 wins for the cats above don't seem like much for all of the effort that went into it, but it reminds me of the story about the man who watched a boy throwing beached starfish back into the sea. As the man looked down the miles of shoreline and chided the boy that he couldn't make a difference for all of the hapless starfish, the boy tossed another one back into the surf and replied that it made a difference to that one.
While the report above is told from my vantage point, I was only one person involved in these changes. There were thousands of others who did what they could and many who pushed beyond their own limitations to come in person to speak up for the animals. At the June FWC hearing the animal lovers outnumbered the animal terrorists 52 to 20. By the September FWC hearing the animal protectionists outnumbered the animal exploiters six to one. As a result there are thousands of exotic cats who won't be bred into lives of confinement and deprivation. Bobcats won't be trapped and sold into situations where they are used as dog bait. The public now has some small recourse against the $10,000 bond if they are injured or sustain damage from a large captive wild animal and the increased requirements mean that there will be less likelihood of living next door to lions, tigers and other big cats. To the people who won't lose life and limb because of this past five years' worth of work, it means everything to them, even if they never know that they are the beneficiary of the work. To the animals who will be spared lives of misery it also means the world.
All in all it was worth it but there is still much to be done. We will continue to seek out the truth and expose the abuses. We will continue to ask you to join us in making a difference.