In Big Cat Rescue’s work to end abuse of big cats, attacks by the exhibitors, breeders and those who selfishly want to own exotic cats demonstrate just how effectively we are achieving our goal. Why do these people spend time, energy and money making absurdly false statements about Big Cat Rescue?
Because we are winning!
Societal values evolve and change over time. It typically starts out slowly, with a few people questioning the societal norm, then builds at an increasingly rapid pace. There was a time, not that long ago, when slavery and not allowing women to vote were dominant values in our society. Today we take women’s rights and absence of slavery for granted as values. But it took years to make that transition.
We are seeing this transition today, at an accelerating pace, in the way society views how we treat animals generally, and big cats in particular. Increasingly, scientific studies show animals to be more like human beings than was ever imagined in the past, with a wide range of emotions and feelings, and the capacity to suffer psychologically as well as physically.
Bruce Brydon, a ranger for 30 years at Kruger National Park, in his book A Game Ranger Remembers, described this evolution of thought this way:
“When the Park was proclaimed by President Paul Kruger, attitudes toward wild animals were still based on a very literal interpretation of the biblical injunction that God had given Man dominion over the birds of the air and the fishes of the sea. By the time the pioneers bowed out the world was coming to realize that such dominion meant not the conferral of a license to plunder but the assumption of a great and noble responsibility.”
One of the most vivid examples of this shift in our society, and recognition that private ownership of big cats results in widespread abuse, is in the trend in our laws. Currently all but 2 states have some form of ban or restriction on private ownership of big cats. And the trend is accelerating in favor of protection of the cats. In just the last 5 years, eight states have all passed bans or partial bans, with the one in Washington State being particularly strong. Recently an agreement has been reached to implement a ban in Ohio, a state known for lack of laws and widespread possession of exotic animals in horrible conditions. Two of our lions and two of our tigers came from Ohio, where three of them had been defanged and used for “photo ops.” Meantime, local governments are banning circuses and more and more people are saying they do not want their children to see animals treated this way. We did not hear this a generation ago.
As one exhibitor who makes a living carting big cats out for display in small cages told a reporter, “I thought I would not see it in my lifetime, but I think it’s coming – any form of private ownership will be gone”. We believe he is right.
So, in the face of this unstoppable trend to ban using and abusing big cats to make money, what can the exhibitors do? There are no arguments to justify what they do that will resonate with a public who cares about animals. So, their only defense is to attack those who are leading the effort to stop their abuse.
The good news is that, as a group, the abusers are so devoid of ethics -not a surprise given how they treat animals – that their attacks are so absurd that they simply show their lack of character and drive supporters to us. At times we are tempted to thank them as they reach people who are on the fence about whether or not exotic animals should be used for profit and personal gratification. Almost all of their attempts to disparage are based on material that is 10-18 years old and was part of our own growth to the philosophies we hold today. When Carole brought home the first 56 bobcats she saved from being turned into fur coats, her plan was to find them homes as pets, not knowing better. The lessons came when they matured and started being returned. You can read about the history of the sanctuary at ..evolution of thought.
The most recent attacks are by Joe Shreibvogel, owner of G.W. Exotics, a man who makes his living carting cats around in mobile cages to put on display to draw crowds and by breeding and selling the cats to others who do this. He recently came on a tour of Big Cat Rescue, took video, and covered it with captions that are such ridiculous lies that all we can do is shake our heads in amusement.
He then faxed a ridiculous two page piece to some of our Fur Ball sponsors, all of whom know our work, know of the battle with these abusers, and who simply laughed. For the most part, the attacks help our cause. They provide more awareness – many who have seen his caption doctored video have commented on how good the sanctuary looks. But more importantly, because anyone who has visited the sanctuary or knows of our work can see that the statements in the captions are so obviously false, these attacks help by showing the total lack of integrity of the people who make money by keeping big cats in abusive conditions. Seeing what people like Joe are really like helps make our case and reinforces the resolve of our supporters to help end the abuse.
In Joe’s movie he manages to cram 43 lies into a 34 minute video.
While the nonsense he writes is laughable to people who know our work, people who are not familiar with the sanctuary who stumble on his and a few other websites devoted to trying to slow our progress with lies have no way to know what to believe. For them, and for supporters who would like to help respond to any questions they get from friends or others who are unknowingly taken in by the abusers, we have addressed his silly falsehoods one by one below and encourage you to visit and see for yourself. In fact, we would encourage you to visit his facility as well – or try. Meet him. Meet us. Then see what you think.
The Truth About Big Cat Rescue and Carole Baskin
BCR the Movie from Joe Schreibvogel
To understand why Joe Schreibvogel of G.W. Exotics is making false accusations about Big Cat Rescue (BCR) and Carole Baskin visit Joe Schreibvogel of G.W. Exotics
He posted a amateurish video that is making the rounds with people who think it is their “right” to own any kind of wild animal they want. Below I will go thought point by point to illustrate what he is doing to mislead the public.
Lie #1 He claims that in the waiting area there “is a cage containing a cat that has no public barrier…”
What the camera shows is a 8 foot high privacy fence. On the outside of the privacy fence you can see the top of a nearby 12 foot high cage that is huge and full of trees, bushes, grass and space for a declawed bobcat. There are vines draped over the wall, giving shade and beauty to the cage and those also drape over the 8 foot high barricade of the privacy fence.
Joe snidely says into the camera that he is going to harass our tour guide by asking to pet the cat and laughs.
He posts a screen calling one of our lovely cat caregivers a “walking poop pole.” This woman is a retired professional from the travel industry who has achieved her Green shirt in our Admin program (our highest level) and who has done amazing things to get travel and sales items donated to our Fur Ball each year. She wanted to also learn the Keeper side of things and so she is wearing our entry level Red shirt as she is cleaning the cages this day.
By his fourth overlay, Joe shows that he is illiterate and cannot even spell leopard, when he says what a sad life Jumanji has. I actually agree that it is very sad that any of these cats are in cages and Big Cat Rescue is doing all we can to end the trade. Jumanji’s story: http://bigcatrescue.org/jumanji/
Lie #2 Joe says that every cage is full of dead branches for housing.
The cats all have water proof dens. The sticks are forts that our volunteers have made from the trees we trim and the trees that are donated at Christmas time, in addition to their regular dens. The cats love the new smell, something they can explore and spray. We change them out when needed and are not adding any man made materials to landfills.
The tour guide is a Red shirt level, meaning she is new, and she is explaining that Big Cat Rescue is accredited because we are a true sanctuary. To deflect from that, Joe makes fun of her stage fright by posting Ummmm! over her words. Then he challenges by whom we are accredited, insinuating that I am the accrediting body, but I am not affiliated with the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries in any way, other than in the capacity of being accredited by them. You can check their list of accredited sanctuaries and see that neither Joe nor any of the people who post negative comments about Big Cat Rescue are accredited. http://www.sanctuaryfederation.org/gfas/gfas-sanctuaries/ By contrast Joe has made up his own officious sounding website whereby he grants himself accreditation because no legitimate agency would.
To see our other affiliations and how we are an asset to the community visit: http://bigcatrescue.org/about/credentials/
Lie #3 Joe said he was “horrified to hear the lies this chick tells” when the tour guide had been giving an accurate and truthful tour. She was talking about how the sanctuary was started and the rescue of cats from fur farms.
The tour guide explains that we tried to adopt the rescued bobcats and lynx out into pet homes. We have always been truthful about the mistakes we made in the early years on our web site, in our training of tour guides and she is illustrating that beautifully here. Instead of Joe being able to see that all of his accusations to the contrary have been wrong, he posts “What? Exotic’s (sp) as pets? Shame on you…”
Lie #4 The tour guide goes on to tell about how when those cats started maturing the people brought them back to us and while she is explaining how we took them back, and how all exotic cats grow up to spray and not make good pets, Joe again tries to shift the focus to his text that says, “For someone not open to the public there sure are alot (sp) of people who paid $25.00 to walk around.
We do not claim to be “not open to the public.” What we often say is we are not open to the public like a zoo, where you can just walk around unescorted. All of our tours are guided and have a back up who makes sure everyone obeys the rules, like no annoying the cats or reaching over barricades and stays with the guide. You can see in the group of about a dozen coming in that they are being led by a Green shirt guide.
When the guide says that Jumanji was a pet and had been walked on a leash, Joe posts “YA! Carole Baskin did”. This is where our detractors try very hard to make something of nothing and they do it successfully to the lazy because the answer can’t be given in a sound bite.
We have always been open and honest about where our cats come from, our early mistakes, the lessons we learned and why we believe now that there is no excuse for breeding cats for life in cages. All of that history and evolution of thought is posted here: http://bigcatrescue.org/historyandevolution.htm
How we started is posted here: http://bigcatrescue.org/about/our-evolution/
Where we have had difficulty in finding the perfect balance of offering information and yet making clear that we have grown in our understanding of the issues is in how we present information that is factual without condoning practices, such as breeding, selling and trading exotic cats. Our web site gets 1.6 million visitors each year. Since 1992 we have rescued 223 exotic animals plus 28 were born here between 1993 and 1997 when Don left. None of the births were lions or tigers. Only six of the sanctuary’s existing 126 animals were born here after 1997 as some were already pregnant and I was separating and neutering animals as quickly as I could afford. Those 6 include 2 Binturongs, 2 Amur Leopard Cats, a bobcat, and a serval. Except for one Leopard Cat who was born to parents that were in their late teens and thought beyond breeding age, all of them were born prior to 2001. The births of the Binturongs was the most troubling to me until I learned that the are delayed ovulators meaning they can get pregnant now and decide any time later when to actually have the baby. That’s why we only rescue cats. I don’t think it is fair to the animals to take on species that you don’t know everything about.
To say that in the year 2010, a decade later, we are “still breeding” is nonsense. In the overall numbers it is fair to say that less than 16% of the cats we have had were born here.
On each of the cats who was born here we used to state that on their online bios, their cage signs and in our Safari Guide which could be purchased online and in our gift shop. What we discovered is that people would comment that it must be OK to breed exotic cats in captivity because Big Cat Rescue (or Wildlife on Easy Street as we were called then) was such a good place that surely they wouldn’t have done it unless it really did serve some conservation effort.
So, the next thing we tried was stating online, their cage signs and in the Safari Guide a paragraph that talked about how even though that cat had been born here, we had learned that it was abusive to the animals and that we had quit breeding and were trying to change the laws to ban breeding outside of the Species Survival Plans administered by AZA zoos. The problem with that is that we still kept hearing that people weren’t reading the whole thing and were missing the important point, which is that big cats should not be bred for lives of deprivation and confinement.
On the cage signs there is only a line of text for each, so we couldn’t spell it all out. Our new guides use those cage signs as a way to remind themselves of what the message is that they want to share about the cats. Even though some of the cats’ signs that said “pet trade” were pets who were born here we have always used that as just a launch point to talk about why it is so bad to breed and trade in wild cats as pets. Our detractors try to make it look like we are not being honest by indicating the animal was part of the pet trade because they can take that out of context. What I find truly absurd is that most of the people who are complaining that some of our cats were born here a decade ago are the ones breeding, buying, exploiting and trading in tigers and other big cats right now.
Where we are in 2010 in trying to make sure the information we provide is accurate and yet not subject to being misunderstood as condoning practices we have learned to be abusive, is that online and in our Safari Guide we don’t always address where the cats born here originated, other than in the pages linked above or where we give a full disclosure of our history and evolution. Instead we talk about what is most interesting or important about the plight of that animal in the wild and in captivity.
In our tours we don’t go cage to cage saying “this cat was born here” in every applicable case, because that isn’t the most important part of the message that we need to convey so that people understand there is no reason for people to be buying, breeding, exploiting or trading in exotic cats or their hybrids. We only have an hour and a half of their time and we make the most of it to educate them about why we need bans on the private possession of dangerous wild animals. We openly admit our mistakes but the tour is not meant to be an hour and a half of every stupid thing we did or thought about 15+ years ago. It is about what can be done to protect cats now.
We often do tell about a cat being born here as part of our background to the tour group to explain how we have learned from our mistakes. When asked outright about a cats’ origins we always tell the truth, if we know it. I qualified that, with “if we know it” because our tour guides are well trained but they have to keep 100+ cats’ stories straight and they may not remember if that pet was a pet born here or a pet rescued elsewhere. Our tour guides use the Safari Guide to get their tour facts from and in some cases, since as mentioned before, it has caused people to think we support practices we do not, they may not know for sure which cats were born here. http://bigcatrescue.org/catbio/ They are always welcome to ask for clarification and we do ongoing tour guide training sessions. We are always open and honest with our staff, volunteers, guests and supporters.
Back to Joe’s pathetic video. You may need motion sickness medicine to get through the whole thing.
Lie #5 Joe claims that having visitors means we are not a sanctuary. Neither the accrediting body for sanctuaries (GFAS), nor the US Fish & Wildlife Service say that sanctuaries cannot have visitors. What they both do say is that sanctuaries are not to allow contact between exotic cats and the public. When Joe takes his tiger cubs to the mall to pimp them out for petting and photo ops, that is what lets the public know G.W. Exotics, Welch’s Tiger Adventures or Animal Awakening or whatever he is calling himself this week, is not a true sanctuary.
Lie #6 a guest asks the guide if the leopard is socialized from having been a pet and thus still handlable. Joe’s text says that the leopard is still my pet and the public is paying for him. A pet is an animal who lives in close proximity to you and with whom you share a mutual trust. One lawmaker said it well when he said that a pet should be defined as an animal who doesn’t look at you like you are dinner. I agree. While I have hand reared some of these cats, and rescued others from horrid situations, they show me a heartwarming appreciation, but I am not so naive as to think that it would be safe to reach in and pet them. We have a zero tolerance here for me, staff and our volunteers to be touching the cats unless the cat is being netted or is sedated for a veterinarian. I haven’t petted a cat here in years and they still show a great deal of pleasure in my presence. They don’t need my hands on them to feel good. On the contrary, it is the ignorant or selfish people who want the pleasure of touching the wild and the wild always loses everything that makes them wild to have to accommodate that demand.
Lie #7 Joe shows his second grade writing skills saying, “If they don’t mean to than why are you blaming the cats every day of your life?” The guide isn’t blaming the cats. She is explaining why it is their nature to play rough and why that usually ends badly for tiger-tamer-wanabees.
Lie # 8 Joe says, “This den is so below ground level, it is full of rain water and this is what they sleep in…” The floors of the dens are elevated above ground level for the very purpose of giving the cats a dry place to get in out of the rain. If you look at the video you can see that is the case and he did a shaky, but nice job of showing how huge our cages are (1200 square feet per cat in most cases and some are 1 and 3 acres) It also showed how we build sections even higher than our normal 12 foot height so that cats like this leopard can get up into the high tree branches. It also shows that the cage is roofed to be safe and toys all over the place. If you zoom out, you can see that our dens are actually elevated above the grade as in this photo.
The guide says the cages are built 6 to 8 feet into the ground, but she knows better and obviously meant to say 6 to 8 inches. Joe accuses her of smoking something illegal rather than asking her to verify what she meant to say. As she explains our safety protocols Joe again tries to detract from the message by accusing her of smoking crack. As he pans over all of the lush landscaping that is inside our cats’ cages for them to enjoy, he makes snide remarks about rust and weeds. We have a rigid reporting protocol for making sure our cages stay in good repair. Light surface rust is inevitable in Florida, but before it ever reaches a serious stage we paint the wire with Rustoleum. That paint is rust colored, but you can tell, if you look closely, as our inspectors do, that the cages are properly sealed and maintained.
Lie #9 Joe says, “Your lession (sp) on how they clean their cages, if this pole does not reach it, it never gets cleaned.” Anyone who knows exotic cats knows that the way they mark their territory is to spray and defecate along its outside border. This means that 99.9% of the time their feces will be where we can reach it with these poles. The guide was explaining the great lengths we go to in order to make sure our keepers stay a safe distance from the cats while cleaning. In the rare case where their are feces or old food remnants outside of the reach of the pole, our cages are built in sections so that we can shut the cats in one side while going in the other side to retrieve the mess. One thing our inspectors always comment on is that there aren’t flies here like there are in other facilities.
Lie #10 Joe claims that because we have a photo of Kenny, a white tiger who was rescued by Turpentine Creek with very obvious birth defects, posted on the tour path next to the tigers, we are trying to deceive the public into thinking that is a photo of our white tiger Zabu. He says that while our intern guide is talking about how inbred all white tigers are, as she stands in front of Zabu. We have never claimed that the cat in the photo lives in the cage, but rather have it there to show people that most white tigers suffer horrible birth defects and only the one in many who looks somewhat normal ever ends up in front of the public.
Lie #11 Joe is video taping one of our board members, a professional woman in the advertising business, who is cleaning a cage and says, “Never does the entire cage get cleaned. Does yours?” As explained above, this isn’t true and it is obvious from the lack of smell and flies that he has lied, but his statement shows what is really bothering him. Most people who call themselves rescues or sanctuaries know that the easy money comes from pimping out cubs and doing “rescues.” In most cases the cats being rescued end up in situations just as bad or worse, as they are then warehoused in tiny, concrete or gravel floored cells. It is easy to spray out a concrete cell and call it clean, but that doesn’t make it fit for an animal who needs lots of room to run and who was never designed to stand on concrete or gravel all day.
Lie #12 Joe zooms in on one of our tree stump dens. Almost all of our cats have the big concrete shells that are 4 inches of concrete, reinforced with rebar, elevated above ground level and covered over, in most cases with a huge hill of dirt, grass and plants. This makes the den cooler in the summer, easier to warm in the winter and gives the cat a great vantage point on top where they can see in every direction. The tree stump dens are scattered about just to give the cats another place to duck into or perch upon. Joe says the floors are sunken and under water, but it is obvious, even in his video that he isn’t telling the truth and is omitting the fact that they have even bigger and better dens too.
Lie #13 Joe shows pine boughs that keepers have made into a sweet smelling nest for one of the cats inside one of the cat’s secondary tree stump dens and says “Another house full of crap…”
Lie #14 Joe films inside one of the big concrete bunker style dens and shows that the floor is soft earth and insinuates that because it is an earthen floor it isn’t clean. See #11 above about why concrete isn’t suitable for exotic cats.
Lie #15 All of our tigers, 3 of our cougars, 2 of our lions and 1 of our servals have cages that include huge pools with recirculating water from our 18 acre lake. It would appear that Joe filed a false complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency saying that we were polluting the water by providing these pools, but little did he know that we had proactively consulted with experts, had the water tested before, after and continuously, and we are not causing any problems. The problem is that we have found an excellent, albeit expensive, ,way to give our cats a great way to cool off and yet keep the water fresh. If you have never been to a lake, you may not know that algae grows in lakes and his video shows the lake water in the pools and over flow area. Joe wants you to think that he is filming a water bowl, but anyone can see the “bowl” overflow is on the outside of the cage. In previous parts of the video you can see that all of our cats have a feeding box with an elevated bowl of clean water (so they don’t pee in it.) The water bowls are cleaned and refilled daily.
Lie #16 Joe shows TJ who is peacefully snoozing away as the guests walk by and then focuses on Bella and says, “Watch this under fed tiger stress out the entire time. In its small round cage..” You can read about Bella here: http://bigcatrescue.org/bella/ None of our cats are underfed. As they age or deal with cancer or other ailments caused from the severe inbreeding that went into their genetics they may be thin, but it is not from a lack or food or proper care. TJ and Bella have 1200 square feet each and then are alternated in having access to an additional 1200 square feet between them. This means that at any given time, one will be in 1200 square feet and the other in 2400 square feet of space. By contrast the state minimums, which is all most tigers get, is the size of a parking space for one car. Bella loves attention and comes up to meet people as they go by. She is obviously not under stress to anyone who knows anything about tigers. Later as the guide is pointing out how large the cages are, and shows them both ends from different perspectives so they can see it, the group oohs and ahhs over it. Joe ignored that, but kept it in the video.
Lie #17 Joe has filmed Simba the leopard who is sleeping right next to the tour path and is unfazed by the passing group. He zooms in on a ball that has mud on it and says, “Notice how high the water has been, and remember the cats all sleep below ground level.” As stated before, the cats do not sleep below ground level and the fact that the ball has been rolled into the mud doesn’t indicate that the whole cage, and thus 45 acres of surrounding land, has been under water. If he really thought that was the case, he could have asked the tour guide as we welcome questions on our tours.
Lie #18 Joe claims that the Cougar Haven debacle never happened. The tour guide couldn’t remember the name of the facility, but here is the story: http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-bailout-2/ The guide may have assumed that 38 cats died there, but we don’t know how many died along the way. The owner had 38 big cats at one time. When the economy tanked he took the money, bought a topless bar and moved 70 miles away abandoning the cats. We rescued the last three cats who had been left behind and were told by former staff that 9 of the cats had died before we found out about the situation. The guide also said that we didn’t realize the liger’s teeth had been broken off, which isn’t correct. We knew they had been broken off but were unable to anesthetize her for further dental work until she was strong enough to undergo surgery. Because of her poor condition and advanced age we waited until she was stronger and then brought in a world renown expert to do the work.
Lie #19 Joe insinuates that Freckles the liger isn’t really here. What Joe leaves out, but is obvious to the astute, is that even though a liger is a huge attraction, because it is rare, our guide was explaining to the group that sometimes Freckles doesn’t like company and when that is the case we don’t take tours by her. Our cats’ needs always come first and even though this guide could have chosen to take her group over next to Freckles, she could see that Freckles wasn’t up for it and so she was making sure our guests knew why they were not going to get to see her.
Lie #20 Joe and John walk in front of the camera person, so we have to assume it was one of his little minions doing this awful job of filming, but Joe takes credit for the video. As he slinks away he says he must be tired of the lies. My guess is, from his tone and body language, that he is really feeling jealous that he will never run an operation as well loved and respected as Big Cat Rescue.
Lie #21 Joe says, “Look at all the people and she is not making money off of exhibiting animals.?” Poor punctuation aside, it is untrue to assert that I make any money off this. I have invested millions of dollars into building this sanctuary into what it is today and I do not take a paycheck, I don’t live on the property and I don’t drive a company vehicle. About 1/3 of the sanctuary’s revenue comes from our educational tours, but our tours are educating people about why places like Big Cat Rescue should never need to exist. It is our goal to end the trade in wild cats and end the abuses that cause them to need rescue. After a tour here, if you didn’t get that message, you weren’t listening.
Lie #22 Joe accused us of providing swamp water to the cats’ pools, but you can clearly see that it is provided via a beautiful 18 ac lake that is fully contained on our property. When a guest asks if we clean the pools the guide affirms that we do. Joe tried to turn that exchange into something it wasn’t.
Lie #23 Joe and his sidekick are snickering into the camera and saying that the guests on the tour have figured out what they are up to, but were that the case, the guests probably would have tossed them and their equipment into the lake. One great thing about our educational tours is that most of the people who leave here become advocates for our cause. It was pure narcissism for Joe to assume anyone thought he was doing anything worthy of admiration. If the guests were looking at them it was because they were talking to each other and being disruptive to the tour.
Lie #24 He asserts that Don is buried behind the Siberian Lynx cage. That is just hurtful and hateful and while I don’t know where Don is, I can assure you that he isn’t here. The cross has been there since long before Don left and marks the grave of a Himalayan cat that was named Toss. Joe says, as he zooms in on the cross that it is “just hilarious.” All of this is being discussed to divert from the fact that the guide is talking about how our volunteers have been building hammocks for the cats just to give them something new to enjoy. Joe shows his childishness when the guide suggests, “let’s go see Tonga” by blurting out, “let’s not.”
Lie #25 Referring to Tonga, the white serval, Joe says, “this cat could not even get up, it is so sick.” The cat was relaxing by the lake and not at all concerned with visitors coming by. He wasn’t sick.
Lie #26 Joe claims I was busted in the news for lying about Shere Khan’s disabilities when he arrived. He refers to a reporter taking the word of a convicted felon and meth dealer over me back in 2007. We have had the facts posted online here: http://bigcatrescue.org/st-pete-times-the-big-cat-fight-by-leonora-lapeter-anton/ that anyone could find with a simple search to know that the news story which ran in the St. Pete Times and Bay News 9 was not accurate. Bay News 9 removed the story, but our detractors continue to run pirated copies of it on their web sites as it was the only time out of 1,000+ recent media stories we were in the press that there was anything even slightly negative suggested.
Lie #27 Joe accuses the guide of lying about the size and weight of the tiger, but the cat is in his den and not visible, so he had no information to base his accusation on. He was just being obnoxious for no reason and again to try and assert an impropriety when he had no evidence to the contrary.
Lie #28 When the guide is explaining the den construction and benefits to the cats Joe says, “Great, when its (sp) raining they can do lay in dens full of water.” Explained above. Not true.
Lie #29 Joe says, “Carole Baskin has spent over $95,000.00 buying animals to fill her Sanctuary so you can fill (sp) sorry for the animals. As detailed above, we did not start out as a sanctuary. When we learned that the breeders and dealers like Joe Schreibvogel were not really breeding for any conservation purpose and that there are no legitimate release programs for big cats, and all of the reasons we have since learned why there will never be such programs, we changed our ways. Our philosophy has evolved and we are doing right by the cats. Joe however was here delivering yet another white tiger cub to Kathy and Randy Stearns at Dade City Wild Things. The one they got from Vernon Yates in St. Pete earlier this year died, so they got another one to pimp out for pay to play sessions from Joe.
Lie #30 Joe claims that we have been charged with over 26 counts of violating the Animal Welfare Act and insinuates by omission that these are pending charges. What he does not share is the fact that the charges were all based upon inspections prior to 1997 and were all dismissed. Anyone can go online and get copies of USDA inspections here and you will see that ours are excellent. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/publications_and_reports.shtml You will see that Joe is still being investigated for the fact that 23 tiger cubs died at his hand in 2011. In 2014 a worker lost her arm to a big cat there and that is still under investigation as well.
Lie #31 While the guide is explaining that state standards and USDA standards fall far short of being humane, Joe and his minion are making childish comments to each other and his overlay says, “She has her staff lie daily to keep making her rich.” As stated above, I make nothing from the sanctuary. I have given most of what I had to keep it running and I donated all of the land and equipment to the non profit entity back in the mid 1990s. When Big Cat Rescue achieves its goal of ending the trade in, and abuse of, exotic cats then the assets must, by law, be donated to another charity. They can never come back to me or my family.
Lie #32 Joe points the camera to the USDA and FL state standard cage sizes and says, “The examples of cages animals are rescued in. (in this shot) are not much larger than what she forces them to live in now.” The truth is that our cages are many, many times larger than those allowed by the USDA or FWC and are far larger than cages at Joe’s place, in other sanctuaries, pseudo sanctuaries and even most zoos.
He makes one last nasty comment that his viewers should help the tour guide get into rehab. She is a kind and gentle person who has done her best to make this a great tour for all of her guests, but has had to deal with this crackpot and his little band of miscreants the whole time. She could have radioed for us to come remove them at any time but she apparently thought that she might be able to reach through to them if she kept trying.
At the end of his tour he came up to her and accused her of lying and said he was coming back with a helicopter. He did and he circled the sanctuary, flying way too low for the comfort of our cats. I don’t know if he was deliberately trying to spook the cats into injuring themselves, or just showing off that he could rent a helicopter at $800.00 an hour.
Lie #33 Joe says, “Carole Baskin claims to be saving animals, when all she is saving is money at the expense of the animals (sp) care.” I have explained above how I do not benefit from donations and it is obvious from the glossy coats, shiny eyes and extraordinary longevity of our cats that they are getting the best food and care possible.
Lie #34 Joe claims, “Carole uses, Blackmail, threats, scare tactics to get her way.” This isn’t true. My “way”, my mission in life, is to end the abuses inflicted on exotic cats. I believe the way to do that is through education and legislation. We are succeeding in this mission so effectively that this sort of attempted smear campaign is the only response our opponents can muster. There is no excuse for breeding, buying, exploiting or trading in wild animals and they know it. To see our successes visit: http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-bans-enacted/
Lie #35 Joe claims to have emails between me and Jack Hanna’s crew setting up a fake rescue and exploiting the mentally handicapped. I can’t even begin to guess what he is talking about. Back in 2000 we filmed the arrival of two cougars who had been rescued. No one involved was mentally handicapped. Since our opponents cannot make any good excuse for what they are doing to animals, their only tactic is to make up nonsense, spread it to anyone who will listen, and hope that I have to spend all answering their wild allegations. They just keep getting wilder and that’s fine. It helps us build our slander and libel cases.
Lie #36 Joe asserts, again with a child’s spelling ability, that our fences are inadequate, but USDA just did a focused inspection of our fences and found them in compliance. We have an ongoing wall campaign.
Lie #37 He shows a photo of a water fall that joins two ponds to our lake and says it is, “Green drinking water for the animals.” As stated above, the cats all have clean water daily in clean, elevated water bowls.
Lie #38 is a photo of one of the tree stump dens with a nest of pine boughs for the cat to snuggle in and his text reads, “Houses that have never been cleaned.” Our cages are cleaned daily and thoroughly.
Lie #39 he shows a photo of the Sand Cat cage where we have given Canyon some pottery to hide in and a boma of branches as a little cave to play in and accuses, “Cages full of feces and junk.” The Sand Cats have sand in their cages, but leaves have fallen onto the sand, which is what I am assuming Joe wants you to think are feces.
Lie #40 Joe shows our rescue transport trailer and says it is a “Mobile animal trailer to take animals out to the public.” We stopped taking animals out in public back in the late 1990s. The trailer he refers to has been designed to provide comfort to cats we rescue while in transport and has never been used to take an animal out for a public appearance.
Lie #41 Joe shows a shot from the helicopter and claims that the 4 acre bay head on the right side of the shot is the only place where cats are kept and that the rest is water. That 4 acre spot is one 3 ac cage that houses two tigers and a one acre cage next to it that houses 2 tigers. The rest of our enclosures are to the top, left and south of that spot. What this image does show is how nicely shaded our enclosures are that you can barely see them from 1000 feet up. This photo at right shows you how we spread our Cat-a-Tats all over the property to give the animals plenty of space and privacy.
Lie #42 Joe says, “The trees in the middle of the screen is the only area for cages. None other exsist (sp) anywhere for large cats. His photo shows only a tiny corner of our property. It is a nice shot of the beach we use for weddings and shows the great swimming area for 4 tigers too. While Joe was up there playing the the big shot, I was down below mowing and making sure our cats have enclosures that are safe and as close to natural as possible.
Lie #43 Joe claims to have left the video unedited so that you can see he hasn’t taken things out of context, but the tour is 1.5 hours long and the video is only 34 minutes long. Obviously there was so much excellent information about why exotic cats shouldn’t be treated the way he treats them and images of our beautiful sanctuary that he did not want to share that with his viewers.
Joe’s real agenda shows up in his last shot where he tries to look important, sitting in a helicopter, and stating that his goal is to protect his and others “right” to own exotic animals.
You won’t get inside Joe’s place or his friend’s places with a camera and there is a reason for that. Most of these places won’t even let you inside, because if you saw what really happens to those cute little cubs when they can no longer be used for pay to play schemes, you wouldn’t support the industry. If you have any further questions or concerns, you can always email me at MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org or come see for yourself. Big Cat Rescue 12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625 Tour Times
See more than 600 videos of the conditions at Big Cat Rescue.
Update 10/5/2010 Because of all of the false complaints filed by Joe Schreibvogel and others he trades tiger cubs with, we had full EPA, USDA and Florida Wildlife Commission inspections within a week. EPA said there were no violations here and that the complainant was a bird breeder. Lisa Welch has filed several such false complaints about us, so we suspect it was her. USDA asked us to run a third strand of hot wire around the top of Cameron and Zabu’s cage and to cut off a 2 inch diameter limb that was nine feet from the cage wall. These were not violations of any USDA regulation, but we did it to appease them. The three FWC inspectors issued no citations and said it was obvious that the complaints were just retaliatory because we are doing such a good job of cracking down on the breeders and dealers by pushing for better laws. On the contrary they raved about the great condition of our cats, our cages and the high tech methods we use to provide the ultimate in care, training and record keeping.