British tourist mauled by captive cheetahs
Violet D’Mello petting a cheetah before the attack.
PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa — Two excited, supposedly tame cheetahs mauled a Scottish tourist in a petting area at a South Africa game park, forcing her to play dead and turning her holiday into a “nightmare.”
The Port Elizabeth Herald reported the incident at the Kragga Kamma Game Park began last Saturday when Violet D’Mello, who had just posed for a picture with the hand-reared cheetahs named Mark and Monty, tried to protect a seven-year-old boy.
According to D’Mello, who was with her husband, Archibald, one of the animals first grabbed the leg of a visiting eight-year-old girl, leaving her with cuts and abrasions.
When she was free, it appeared to run after her seven-year-old brother.
“They weren’t being vicious,” D’Mello, from Aberdeen, told the paper. “You could tell they [the cheetahs] were just excited, but it became serious very quickly.”
As she tried to protect the boy, “something jumped me from behind.”
The cheetah knocked her to the ground where it pawed at her head, the Herald said.
As their guide tried frantically to pull off the large cat, D’Mello said, “Something inside me just said, ‘Don’t move. Don’t move at all. Don’t react, just play dead’.”
As soon as the guide pulled the first cat off, the other one jumped in, biting D’Mello’s legs and holding her down.
Visitors struggled to get both cats off at once, and, after a few minutes, they all managed to make a run for the gate, the Herald said.
“This was meant to be a holiday, but it’s really turned into a nightmare,” said D’Mello, who reportedly received stitches for a head wound.
Park manager Mike Cantor said it was not clear what had triggered the attack by the cheetahs, who had been hand-reared since birth and were considered extremely tame.
“From what we’ve been told, there was a lot of commotion at the scene, which, unfortunately, most likely aggravated them somewhat,” Cantor told the Herald.
“We’re also considering the possibility that a female in heat in one of the neighboring enclosures might have played a role here, but we can’t be sure at this stage.”
Last Updated: 3:09 PM, May 4, 2012
Posted: 10:37 AM, May 4, 2012
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/british_tourist_mauled_by_tame_cheetahs_1AM8bLyfan8YQng7QMw7qL#ixzz1uBkiTYD0
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The Elephant (and lion, zebra, baboon, king cobra and giraffe) in the room
A quiet but sleepless pre-dawn and I returned once again to extraordinarily vivid and happy memories of experiencing African wild animals where they belong, just a few weeks ago. I’m not at all sure what stupid stroke of curiosity led me to leave such joyous memories for a web search of “wild animals for sale” and similar phrases but there I was, staring at ads from people offering to sell and as many from individuals wanting to buy just about every animal I had seen and many more I had not: shopping lists and classified ads for animals from Africa, Australia and every other corner of the planet.
On one exotic animal specialty site, Carlos writes “I am looking for a pure gray wolf cub” and Ryan wants “pygmy marmoset, kinkajou, or a fat-tailed dwarf lemur or anything similar” reassuringly noting, just in case would-be sellers might be worried: “Not an impulse buy. I have experience with exotics!” Meanwhile, Carly in Ohio wants “a female camel of breeding age” and John in Arkansas is seeking a zebra for stud service because obviously, as we all know, the Ohio and Arkansas camel and zebra populations have severely declined over the past few years.
Elsewhere we find Harley who provides the following shopping list: “zebras (preferably 2 males and 5 females), giraffes (1 male, 1 female), any ape species (pairs or trios or quads, no gender preference), cotton top, golden lion tamarinds, koalas, any otter species (preferably small to medium group), meerkat, prairie dog, lions (a small pride), any ocelots or servals.” And then there’s Esteban, who writes “I am looking for Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. They would need to be 3 ft. or more, anything less I could not use.”
On the seller’s side of the street, with just a few key strokes I find a pair of white rhinos being offered along with the also endangered sable antelope, plus white faced capuchin monkeys (babies at $8,500., adults for half that price), marmosets by the dozen, water buffalo, zebras (all three species, individuals of all ages), wallabies, wallaroos and kangaroos, camels, jackals (both striped and black-backed), serval (“we have four and only need three” so now’s your chance!), an eight year old castrated giraffe (“loves people and will take food out of your hand, $35,000.”), pit vipers and king cobras, sloths, caracal, Asian leopard cats, Geoffrey’s cats, a white tiger cub, long nosed fruit bats, lions cubs (“They are well trained, friendly and highly socialized. Looking for a good, loving and caring home.” Yea, right) and an eighteen month old baboon (advertised as “very trained, knows a handful of tricks” and who the seller insists “is not a pet and must go to an experienced monkey person”).
Sure, various permits are required by many states (not all) and cities (even fewer) for people wishing to either buy or sell, but where there is a will and a credit card I assume there is a way. And once you make the deal and find yourself with a completely inappropriate animal, a living being who you so callously brought to your home, cheer up for all is not lost. Chances are the animal is not long for the world. And then you can respond to another ad, like the one from John who writes on one of these sites, probably a pretty wise move in fact: “I am a taxidermist and am looking for exotic animals that have passed away and in good presentable shape.” What a very strange and in many ways disturbing animal we can be.
UPDATE: Cougar shot and killed this morning in Kennewick
By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City Herald
Bob Brawdy -Tri-City Herald – Law enforcement officers shot and killed a cougar at 3207 W. Third Ave. in Kennewick this morning. It’s not known how long it had been in the neighborhood. Officials said the big cat had to be killed because it could not be trapped safely after it climbed a tree.
Kennewick A state Department of Fish and Wildlife officer shot and killed a cougar at a home in downtown Kennewick this morning after the cougar had spent about nine hours in the area.
The cougar was about 25 feet up in a tree in the backyard of the home at 3207 W. Third Place in Kennewick.
Casey Leach’s two shepherd mixes were keeping the cougar up in the tree. As soon as she called the dogs into her home at about 10 a.m., the cougar was killed, said Sgt. Mike Jewell of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Kennewick Police Department had received three different calls reporting a cougar in a half-mile radius near where it was eventually found. The first call came in at about 1 a.m. today.
Jewell said he arrived at the home at about 9 a.m. The decision to shoot the cougar was made after discussing options with his supervisor, the area wildlife biologist and Kennewick Police officers.
There were no other options based on the situation, Jewell said. A tranquilizer would take 15 to 20 minutes to immobilize the animal in ideal circumstances, he said.
And there was no escape route for the cougar because it was in a neighborhood surrounded by other homes and people, Jewell said.
“We had no other option, and we want to make sure we keep the public safe,” he said.
Washington State Patrol also assisted in the response.
Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2012/05/02/1925175/kennewick-cougar-shot-and-killed.html#storylink=cpy
New Delhi: Advancing efforts to conserve the growing population of tigers, the Centre today asked the states to expedite steps towards raising, arming and deploying the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) in and around big cat habitats.
“We persuade all the states to raise, arm and deploy the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF). I would like to request all of you to ensure that this be expedited by all the states,” Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan told All India Meeting of Field Directors of Tiger Reserves.
Stating that field protection is something which continues to remain extremely high on tiger agenda of India, which holds over half the world’s tiger population, the Minister said the Centre supported the states in a “very big way” to deploy the local workforce for protection of big cats.
“Despite a 100 percent central assistance to four states– Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Orissa– the deployment of STPF has not taken place,” she said.
Karnataka has emerged as the first state to deploy STPF.
“I am happy to announce and also to congratulate Karnataka, which has emerged as the first state to implement the STPF,” she said after distributing awards for best performance to various tiger reserves in the country.
“Tiger conservation is a collective responsibility between government of India, state governments and civil society. Today tigers need support from one and all,” Natarajan said.
According to the latest tiger census report, the current tiger population is estimated at 1,706. The results include figures from 17 states with tiger reserves.
The Minster also released a book ‘Fundamentals of the Wildlife Management’ written by Rajesh Gopal, Member Secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority.
Natarajan said that since last year, the Ministry has sharpened its focus on the tiger.
“The centrally sponsored scheme of Project Tiger was revised in August 2011. Its allotment was stepped up to Rs 1216.86 crores, especially to support the states for securing inviolate space for tigers,” she said.
Spelling out the steps being taken by the Ministry, she said several additional components include change in the funding pattern in respect of north eastern states (90:10), raising compensation for man-animal conflict to Rs 2 lakh and acquisition of private land for making the core/critical tiger habitat inviolate.
The Minister also said the Centre has given a nod for establishment of tiger safaris, interpretation/awareness centres under the existing component of ‘co-existence agenda in buffer/fringe areas’ and management of such centres through the respective Panchayati Raj institutions, and re- introduction of cheetah.
WASHINGTON–The scare caused by the release of dozens of exotic animals from an Ohio backyard menagerie last year is spurring a drive in Washington to put restrictions on the private possession of dangerous big cats.
Lions Tigers and Bears in CA Meet Narasha Tiger
The measure would require anyone who possesses big cats, such as lions, tigers, cougars, leopards and cheetahs, to register with federal authorities to keep the animals they own. It would outlaw the breeding of any big cat except at accredited zoos and research and educational institutions.
“How many incidents must we catalog before we take action to crack down on private ownership of dangerous exotic animals?’’ Reps. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), sponsors of the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, said in a letter to colleagues seeking their support.
“Not only is it dangerous for humans to house these animals, but it’s dangerous for these animals too,’’ they said.
Violators of the law could have their animals confiscated and face up of to $20,000 in fines and up to five years in prison. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) plans to introduce a similar bill in the Senate, a spokeswoman for the lawmaker said.
The measure comes after Terry Thompson in October released 56 animals, including lions and rare Bengal tigers, from his Zanesville farm, then committed suicide. Authorities killed 48 of the animals; some of the animals are believed to have been eaten by other escaped animals. State officials this week said they will return five surviving animals, two leopards, two primates and a bear, to Thompson’s widow.
Bills to restrict private possession of exotic animals have been introduced in at least a dozen states, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
But Ralph Henry, an attorney with the Humane Society of the United States, told The Times that federal legislation is needed to address a patchwork of state laws.
“The private possession and breeding of big cats simply exacerbates welfare and public safety problems—as we saw with the incident in Zanesville, Ohio, last year—and does not nothing to contribute to global conservation efforts for the species,’’ he said.
There are an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 big cats in private ownership, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
McKeon sponsored the 2003 Captive Wildlife Safety Act, banning the interstate sale of big cats for pets and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003. His district includes an Acton, Calif., wildlife sanctuary operated by actress Tippi Hedren.
The bill has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee for consideration.
By Richard Simon
May 2, 2012, 11:40 a.m.
HuffPo did a pretty good article about the BigCatsAct.com but the last line was weak. It really should have concluded, “If the McKeon-Sanchez bill HR 4122 does not succeed, it is sure to result in the number of unwanted big cats continuing to rise, along with killings, maulings and escapes. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120501/us-pets-big-cats/
LOS ANGELES — Of all the beasts set free by the suicidal owner of an exotic animal farm in Ohio last year, few were as scary or as lethal as the big cats.
Tigers, leopards and lions – more than two dozen – were loose before being hunted by sheriff’s deputies.
While the slaughter was chilling, it was truly panic-inducing that an unstable owner had accumulated such a collection of dangerous animals.
Yet, by some estimates, there are thousands of tigers in captivity in American backyards – more than there are in the wild on the planet.
No one knows the number for certain because there’s only scattered regulation for such pets. In fact, it’s easier in some states to buy a tiger or lion from a breeder than it is to adopt a kitten from a shelter.
That’s likely to change after the Zanesville stampede drew the attention of lawmakers around the country.
Legislation has been proposed in Congress that would ban private ownership of exotic cats. Ohio and other states are also looking to outlaw the animals or to keep them more tightly controlled.
One leader of the cat fight is actress and animal activist Tippi Hedren, best known for being terrorized by crows in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”
Hedren has devoted much of her life to rescuing big cats at her Shambala Preserve north of Los Angeles, home to 53 seized or abandoned exotic cats, and she doesn’t think they make good pets.
“It is the job of the predator to take out any old, sick or lame animal. What quality there makes for a good pet?” she asked. “If you get near its food, it will kill you.”
The Zanesville animals may have forced the issue into the open, but it certainly isn’t the first tragedy involving private cats.
Since 1990, 21 people, including five children, have been killed and 246 mauled, according to Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Fla. Over that period, 254 cats have escaped and 143 have been killed.
There have been other federal laws proposed over the years, but most have failed.
Deputies shot nearly 50 wild animals freed on Oct. 18 at Muskingum County Animal Farm near Zanesville. Owner Terry Thompson opened their cages before committing suicide. Some believe it was one last act of retaliation against neighbors and authorities.
Reps. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., and Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., introduced the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act in February to require owners of tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, panthers and other cats to register with the Department of Agriculture. Breeding would be banned except at accredited zoos and research and educational institutions. Penalties would include seizures, fines and jail.
“When accidents happen and these wild cats are released into our neighborhoods, it causes panic, puts a strain on our local public safety responders and is extremely dangerous,” McKeon said. He believes his bill will protect the public and the cats.
In Ohio, the state Senate recently passed a bill that would ban new ownership of lions, monkeys and other exotic animals, but allows current owners to keep their animals by obtaining a new state-issued permit by 2014 and meeting other strict conditions. It now goes to the House for consideration. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it will return five surviving exotic animals, including two leopards, to Terry Thompson’s widow, Marian Thompson.
Virginia, Arizona, Missouri, West Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana and Oklahoma are also considering exotic animal bans, according to Uappeal, an exotic animal lobbying group.
Currently, no single agency oversees how big cats are kept or treated. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums and USDA have some regulations. Some states, counties and cities have laws but many don’t.
The federal bill has the backing of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Born Free USA and other groups. But fans of the majestic beasts are in an uproar.
“All a ban law will do is force all these people to go underground and it will not help the animals at all,” said Joseph Schreibvogel, president of the United States Zoological Association, which advocates on behalf of wild animal owners.
Lynn Culver, executive director of the Feline Conservation Federation, thinks the number of people who keep exotic cats as pets has been hugely inflated by proponents of the House bill. She says the bill will interfere with captive conservation and bring an end to circus and stage acts and cats in movies and on television.
“Independent zoos will be allowed to keep their existing animals but when the cats die, there will be zoos without big cats and that’s tragic,” Culver said. “Big cats are charismatic species, key to the success of any zoo or wildlife exhibit.”
There are as many as 20,000 privately owned cats in the U.S. and about half are tigers, according to groups like the World Wildlife Fund and the AZA. The WWF says there are only 3,200 tigers left in the wild in Asia.
How the backyard population swelled while dwindling in nature is partly attributed to an unregulated industry, where a tiger cub can be bought for as little as $300 without any permit or registration.
Yet someone trying to adopt a kitten from a shelter might have to undergo a home inspection and have the pet sterilized, vaccinated, microchipped and licensed, said WWF senior policy adviser Leigh Henry.
In just months, a cub can weigh 400 pounds, cost $5,500 a year to feed and need room to roam. Defanging and declawing them doesn’t make them safe, said AZA spokesman Steve Feldman.
Backyard breeders sell the big cats for pets, parts, game ranches, canned hunts, sideshows, photo booths and roadside attractions.
Overwhelmed pet owners often turn to sanctuaries to rescue them from mounting bills and potential danger.
Bobbi Brink, owner of Lions Tigers and Bears outside San Diego, started her sanctuary in 2002 after rescuing tigers Raja and Natasha from a Texas man who was ordered to upgrade their 6-foot-by-12-foot cages or find new homes for them.
She spent $250,000 on a tiger habitat with a pool and plenty of running room on 94 acres.
Brink recently said no to three 8-year-old Texas tigers seized from a man with dementia. She doesn’t have room.
Accredited and established sanctuaries across the country are reaching capacity and some have been forced to close because donations dwindled during the recession. Accredited zoos will no longer take privately owned tigers. Their goal is species preservation and privately owned or “generic” tigers can’t be traced to their wildly caught ancestors.
If the McKeon-Sanchez bill succeeds, some worry there will be a glut of displaced tigers and too many will be euthanized.
Carole’s note on facebook: It really should have concluded, “If the McKeon-Sanchez bill HR 4122 does not succeed, it is sure to result in the number of unwanted big cats continuing to rise, along with killings, maulings and escapes.