Hoover

Hoover

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Watch Hoover LIVE 24/7

http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-vacation-rotation

At this link you will see TJ Tiger in the lakefront cage to the left and Hoover to the right of the brown fence through the water.

THE SAD STORY OF HOOVER THE CIRCUS TIGER HAS A FAIRYTALE ENDING…

Hoover Tiger arrived at Big Cat Rescue on Saturday, April 23rd, which was his 12th Birthday!!

Fairy Tales HooverHome

Thank you TroySovich.com for this graphic

#HooverHome

We are very excited to let everyone know that Big Cat Rescue is the forever home for a former circus tiger named Hoover from Peru!! Hoover arrived on his 12th birthday, Saturday, April 23, 2016 to a huge party in his honor!

In April of 2015 Animal Defenders International (ADI) and Peruvian wildlife officials seized Hoover from the circus. ADI contacted Big Cat Rescue about becoming Hoover’s forever home and we quickly agreed. However, the process of importing a tiger into the U.S. turned out to be a year long process and we finally received the green light from USFWS just last week.

ADI had been on track to remove Hoover and another tiger from the Peruvian circus in a nationwide law enforcement operation in 2014, but the circus went underground. Hoover’s road to freedom finally began when, after months of searching, a member of the public tipped off ADI’s team to the location of the illegal wild animal circus. A dramatic rescue ensued.

See National Geographic’s article on Hoover:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/04/160421-tiger-hoover-circus-rescue/

See USA Today’s article on Hoover’s rescue: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/todayinthesky/2016/04/22/rescued-circus-tiger-hoover-miami-airport/83379482/

See Fox 13’s piece on the Hoover Tiger:  http://www.fox13news.com/news/local-news/130966764-story

See Bay News 9 article: http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/bn9/2016/4/23/big_cat_rescue_welco.html

Read Tampa Tribune article about Hoover:  http://www.tbo.com/news/breaking-news/hoover-the-tiger-finds-forever-home-in-tampa-20160423/

Hoover is an 12 year old tiger who was owned by Circo Africano, a circus in northwestern Peru, where for many years he was forced to perform in circus acts and live and travel in a tiny, barren cage.

 

Hoover Tee ShirtSadly, Hoover is the sole survivor of between six and 12 tigers that were kept by Circo Africano in Peru. He arrived at ADI’s rescue center frightened, sick and emaciated. But after months of intensive veterinary care, rehabilitation and exercise, Hoover has recovered and is ready to start the next chapter of his life in America at Big Cat Rescue.

Big Cat Rescue is forever grateful that ADI rescued Hoover and will be transporting him to our sanctuary. Hoover will be flown to his new home at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa and is expected to arrive mid April.

Hoover’s days will now be spent relaxing in the sunshine, lounging up on his platforms and cooling off in Big Cat Rescue’s lake. He will reside in a huge enclosure with lots of trees, foliage and shade. He will literally be a world away from the abuse he suffered most of his life.

Can we count on you to help us fund Hoover’s ongoing care at Big Cat Rescue? It costs us about $10,000 per year for food and veterinary care for a tiger. It’s because of wonderful donors like YOU that we can continue to rescue and provide a permanent home for exotic cats like Hoover!  Thank you!

Donate to Big Cat Rescue

Read South Florida Reporter:  http://southfloridareporter.com/circus-tiger-rescued-peru-animal-defenders-international-arriving-mia/

See Examiner article about Hoover Tiger:  http://www.examiner.com/article/abused-tiger-retiring-to-florida-sanctuary-after-south-american-circus-rescue

Read Mother Nature Network’s article about Hoover:  http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/abused-circus-tiger-gets-happy-ending

See WOKC’s piece on Hoover:  http://www.wokc.com/?p=30038 and here:  http://www.wokc.com/?p=29959

Read Miami Airport’s announcement about Hoover the Tiger:  http://www.miami-airport.com/hoovermia.asp

See Don411’s post:  http://don411.com/former-circus-tiger-rescued-in-peru-by-animal-defenders-international-arriving-at-mia-and-being-transported-to-his-forever-home-at-big-cat-rescue/#.Vxy8e6MrI8Y

Read Wold Animal News:  http://www.worldanimalnews.com/content.php?content_ID=771

Patch in California wrote about Hoover: http://patch.com/california/westhollywood/abused-tiger-retiring-florida-sanctuary-after-south-american-circus-rescue

Read the Democratic Underground:  http://www.democraticunderground.com/110849605

Local Channel 10 did a story on Hoover:  http://www.local10.com/news/tiger-rescued-from-peru-circus-to-arrive-in-miami-on-earth-day

I Iz Cat did a blog post about Hoover’s arrival:  http://www.iizcat.com/post/3543/Lifetime-abused-circus-tiger-gets-his-fairy-tale-ending

True Viral News ran with Hoover’s story: http://trueviralnews.com/?p=74357

2015 article by ADI about Hoover’s rescue:  http://www.ad-international.org/animal_rescues/go.php?id=3927&ssi=24

Hoover flies into Miami International Airport (MIA) this evening and will arrive to a hero’s welcome! Join Big Cat Rescue in thanking everyone at MIA for welcoming Hoover with this 78-foot sign over the entrance to the airport!!

Hoover Home MIA Jumbo Tron700

#HooverHome @IflyMIA

Miami International Airport (MIA) arranged for elementary school children in the Miami area to write letters and create drawings welcoming Hoover tiger to his new Florida home at Big Cat Rescue!  #HooverHome  @IflyMIA

Kids Letters Welcome HooverHome

More about Hoover’s rescue in Peru below.

 

Hoover at the ADI Rescue Center in Peru

HooverADIRescueCenter1 HooverADIRescueCenter2 HooverFBFreedomSongADI

Hoover Tiger’s New Home at Big Cat Rescue

Hoover Tiger Lakeside

Note to the Press.  You can download the high res version of the above video by clicking Vimeo above, right and selecting the download icon on the page.  Feel free to cut the video into your own footage of Hoover’s arrival so that you can show your audience Hoover’s new world through his own perspective.

HooverTigersNewHomeDenPlatformSide HooverTigersNewHomeLake HooverTigersNewHomeLakeside HooverTigersNewHomePlatform HooverTigersNewHomeSwamp HooverTigersNewHomeWoods

HooverMensTeeBrown Hoover Tee Shirt

Donate now to help feed Hoover at https://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51389/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=9319

And more press on Hoover Tiger:

Rescued circus tiger from Peru gets new life at sanctuary

Clay Center Dispatch – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
He was flown into the Miami airport Friday night and taken to Big Cat Rescue Saturday. The 12-year-old tiger will enjoy a very spacious enclosure with lots of shady trees and grass. He’ll also have access to a spring-fed lake for swimming. Hoover’s 

Rescued circus tiger from Peru gets new life at sanctuary

Hastings Tribune – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
He was flown into the Miami airport Friday night and taken to Big Cat Rescue Saturday. The 12-year-old tiger will enjoy a very spacious enclosure with lots of shady trees and grass. He’ll also have access to a spring-fed lake for swimming. Hoover’s 

Rescued circus tiger from Peru gets new life at sanctuary

Bryan-College Station Eagle – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
He was flown into the Miami airport Friday night and taken to Big Cat Rescue Saturday. The 12-year-old tiger will enjoy a very spacious enclosure with lots of shady trees and grass. He’ll also have access to a spring-fed lake for swimming. Hoover’s 

Rescued circus tiger from Peru gets new life at sanctuary

Bristol Herald Courier (press release) (blog) – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
MIAMI (AP) — A circus tiger from Peru is heading to his new home at a rescue facility in Tampa. AnimalDefenders International seized Hoover last year to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses. The animal rescue group says the cat was sick and …

Rescued circus tiger from Peru gets new life at sanctuary

TCPalm – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
MIAMI (AP) – A circus tiger from Peru is heading to his new home at a rescue facility in Tampa. Animal Defenders International seized Hoover last year to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses. The animal rescue group says the cat was sick and …

Rescued circus tiger from Peru gets new life at sanctuary

NewsOK.com – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
MIAMI (AP) — A circus tiger from Peru is heading to his new home at a rescue facility in Tampa. AnimalDefenders International seized Hoover last year to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses. The animal rescue group says the cat was sick and …

Rescued circus tiger from Peru gets new life at sanctuary

wflx – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
MIAMI (AP) – A circus tiger from Peru is heading to his new home at a rescue facility in Tampa. Animal Defenders International seized Hoover last year to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses. The animal rescue group says the cat was sick and …

Rescued circus tiger from Peru gets new life at sanctuary

NBC2 News – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
MIAMI (AP) – A circus tiger from Peru is heading to his new home at a rescue facility in Tampa. Animal Defenders International seized Hoover last year to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses. The animal rescue group says the cat was sick and …

Rescued circus tiger from Peru gets new life at sanctuary

News965 – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
A circus tiger from Peru is heading to his new home at a rescue facility in Tampa. Animal Defenders International seized Hoover last year to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses. The animal rescue group says the catwas sick and emaciated and …

Rescued circus tiger from Peru gets new life at sanctuary

Palm Beach Post – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
He was flown into the Miami airport Friday night and taken to Big Cat Rescue Saturday. The 12-year-old tiger will enjoy a very spacious enclosure with lots of shady trees and grass. He’ll also have access to a spring-fed lake for swimming. Hoover’s 

Rescued circus tiger from Peru gets new life at sanctuary

Washington Times – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
MIAMI (AP) – A circus tiger from Peru is heading to his new home at a rescue facility in Tampa. Animal Defenders International seized Hoover last year to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses. The animal rescue group says the cat was sick and …

A circus tiger from Peru is heading to his new home at a rescue facility in Tampa

The Republic – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
He was flown into the Miami airport Friday night and taken to Big Cat Rescue Saturday. The 12-year-old tiger will enjoy a very spacious enclosure with lots of shady trees and grass. He’ll also have access to a spring-fed lake for swimming. Hoover’s 

A circus tiger from Peru is heading to his new home at a rescue facility in Tampa

Greenfield Daily Reporter – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
Animal Defenders International seized Hoover last year to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses. Theanimal rescue group says the cat was sick and emaciated and lived at a temporary rescue facility in Lima where he was rehabilitated for the 

A circus tiger from Peru is heading to his new home at a rescue facility in Tampa

Daily Journal – ‎Apr 23, 2016‎
He was flown into the Miami airport Friday night and taken to Big Cat Rescue Saturday. The 12-year-old tiger will enjoy a very spacious enclosure with lots of shady trees and grass. He’ll also have access to a spring-fed lake for swimming. Hoover’s 
When Can We Pet the Cubs?

When Can We Pet the Cubs?

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Can we pet some of the cats?

That’s almost always the first question out of the mouths of people who are contemplating visiting Big Cat Rescue, or said almost immediately upon arrival.  After 24 years of this unbelievably stupid question, I nearly bite my tongue in half in order to calmly explain all of the reasons why that is cruel to the cubs, and their mothers, and why it is disrespectful and dangerous.  I tell myself they just don’t know, and I need to say it in a way that doesn’t sound like I think they are either ignorant or selfish.

But there really are only two reasons that people want to pet big cats.

  1. They are ignorant.

  2. They are selfish.

Forgive me for being blunt, but if you can walk an hour and a half in my shoes (and I will condense that tour time to about 5 minutes here) then maybe you can help me find a way to get the message out better than I have.  At this point I’m considering doing one of those roadside sign campaigns, like the old Burma Shave ads.  As people drive the quarter mile of dirt road to our gate, maybe I could post signs that say, No Cub Petting, No, You Can’t Pet the Tigers, Absolutely Not! You Are NOT Going to Pet Wild Cats Here! but given what I hear on my tours, I don’t think it would help.

Our website is all about educating people as to why cub handling is cruel and why we go to such great lengths to prevent our keepers from ever coming in contact with the cats.  There is nothing in our tour ticketing process that would make someone think they could touch a lion or tiger here.

All of our tours start the same; we have people sign a release form but we assure them that we are a NO TOUCH facility, so they won’t be coming in contact with the big cats.

Then we show them a video with all the rules, including quite a bit focusing on making sure they keep their hands on their side of the barricades that are about 4-5 feet from the cages so that they don’t come in contact with the cats.

Then I lead them into the sanctuary and start out by trying to head them off at the pass.  I know what they are going to say.  Despite being told twice (or more), the first words out of their mouths once the tour begins will be, “Are there any big cats we can pet?”  So I just address it before giving them a chance to open their mouths and state again that we don’t touch the cats here.  I explain that even I don’t touch them unless it is for some medical purpose to save their lives, and even then, I don’t go in cages with the cats unless they are restrained by the vet or locked up.  I tell them that:

  1. The main reason there is so much big cat abuse is because people will pay to pet cubs.
  2. The cubs are ripped from their mothers, when only hours or days old, to be used extensively and then discarded when they get too big.
  3. The cubs never get to return to their mothers and suffer all kinds of health and psychological issues from being separated.
  4. Cats are 12 times stronger, pound for pound, than humans are, and would kill us just in play.
  5. None of the cats bred for cub handling serve any sort of conservation purpose.
  6. None of the big cats bred in cages can ever be released back to the wild.
  7. Cubs who were used and discarded sometimes end up in the illegal trade for their parts.
  8. Breeding big cats for life in cages provides a smokescreen for illegal activities like poaching.
  9. Our keepers spend two years caring for bobcats and servals before they can care for the lions, tigers & leopards who could kill them.
  10. Even though we provide as much space and enrichment as possible, there is no way to humanely keep wild cats captive.

At the end of all of that, invariably, the guest will ask, “So when do we get to pet a cub?”

At that point, I usually want to just escort them right back to the parking lot, refund their tour fee and tell them to go educate themselves but that’s not going to happen.  These people have been brought into my world because they need educating and they probably aren’t going to get it anywhere else.  I’m dumbfounded at how they have come to be so uneducated about wild cats. Why is it ubiquitous that people expect they should be able to pet a lion or a tiger or even a bobcat.  What planet are they from where that’s OK?

You may think I am ranting after just having a bad group on my tour, but at least 90% of the tours I give have someone, or everyone, on them asking REPEATEDLY to pet a big cat or a cub.  So, I keep the tour going, trying to manage my tone, and repeating to them, in different ways, dumbing it down with each progressive response, to explain why they are not going to pet a wild animal here and why it is cruel to do so.  I explain why we don’t breed exotic cats for life in cages, and that all of our cats who live together are spayed or neutered, to prevent any “accidents.”

And invariably, they will continue to ask if they can pet a cub or a big cat as we continue our walk.

By the end of the tour I’m usually exhausted from having to manage my temper for an hour and a half.  Some people will have “gotten it” and that makes it worth while.  Others will ask if there are other places they can go to pet a cub, and all I can do is look at them in utter disbelief and tell them that our goal is to put ourselves out of business by ending the cub petting industry, so “No, I’m not going to tell you where you can go pet a cub.”

Where Do People Get the Idea That It’s OK for Them to Pet Exotic Cats?

Mississippi Fair Tiger Cub AbusePeople have come here wanting to pet cubs since the 90’s so I think it came from shows like Flipper, Daktari, Honey West, etc. where they saw people handling wild animals and wanted to be like them.  Talk show hosts, like Johnny Carson, Conan, and Jay Leno would bring on wranglers like Jack Hanna and Jim Fowler, who would bring baby wild animals on T.V. to increase ratings.  People like the “Lion Whisperer” were romanticized on television.  When the Internet came along and everyone started carrying camera phones, the cub handling industry took off.  Tiger pimps would set up in malls and charge $20 a person for people to use the cubs for their selfie shots. Big Cat Rescue pretty much killed that practice by educating the owners of more than 200 malls, about why that was so cruel and offensive to people who truly love animals, but it still happens at fairs because those are usually people who don’t care about animal welfare.

There are still tiger, lion and liger mills in the U.S., Mexico, Africa, Thailand and other places that churn out a never ending supply of cute cubs who will be used, abused and discarded or warehoused.  Most of them offer the cub petting behind locked gates and don’t allow people to use their own photos or videos, for fear of the public reprisal if it gets out how badly the cubs are treated.  For a fee they can buy the photos, taken and screened by the proprietors, to then show off online.  That practice is what keeps the cruel cycle repeating.  It’s monkey see, monkey do.  People see someone handling an exotic cat, or their cub, and they will pay to do it too.  Then they come here, with their heads full of the images they have seen, and they just can’t hear what they are being told.  They don’t want to hear it.  All they can focus on is:

When Can I Pet a Cub?

That’s why I believe there are only two reasons that people pay to play with cubs.  Either they don’t know any better, or they are so full of themselves that they can’t hear anything except their own selfish desire to have what they want, no matter the cost to the animal.

USDA says they are going to educate people about why they shouldn’t handle cubs, but that is not going to be a deterrent.  The only way to end the abuse of captive big cats is to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act.  “Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.” ― Martin Luther King

What Can YOU Do?

If you bothered to read this far, you clearly aren’t one of those people who justifies breeding big cats for egotistical purposes.  You can call your member of Congress, if you are in the U.S. and ask them to champion the Big Cat Public Safety Act ( http://bigcatact.com )  You can take action on a number of other exotic cat issues at CatLaws.com regardless of where you live.

I think one of the most important things you can do is to speak up when you see abuse.  Whenever you see an article or a post, where someone has physical contact with a big cat or their cub, you have the power to educate right there in the moment.  Maybe the selfish individual who posted such an image won’t be educated, but you may actually reach some other viewer before they too become part of the problem.  If you have other suggestions, feel free to post them in the comments below, but please refrain from cursing.

 

Earth Day 2016

Earth Day 2016

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Fires were sweeping across Florida in the direction of the sanctuary in 1999 due to drought conditions.

At that time the fire department warned us that we were on our own because we were surrounded by woods, not human habitation, and they wouldn’t be bringing their fire trucks down the pot hole ridden, quarter mile of bad road, called Easy Street that led to our gate.  We began installing sprinkler systems on the cats’ cages and had firehoses of our own at the ready to use the dwindling lake water to save our cats.  I felt helpless and did the only thing I could, from a personal perspective.

I quit eating red meat, and so did my teen age daughter.

At least I could save some water by not eating meat because it takes about 9 gallons of water to raise one pound of beef.  That proved to be pretty difficult in the 90s as there weren’t many choices in the grocery stores and almost none in restaurants.  Now that’s different and there are lots of great vegetarian and vegan choices.

Our friends at One Green Planet really made it easy today with their fantastic new app called Food Monster.  Get it here:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/food-monster-5000+-recipes./id1052988561?mt=8

Share these great images with a link to the app:

Food Monster App Deforestation

Food Monster App Animals

And check out all of these interesting facts about how your food choices can make or break the planet:  http://www.onegreenplanet.org/eatfortheplanet/

Jamie and I still maintain a primarily plant based diet and are stronger and healthier than most of our peers.  I hope you will check out the app and see if there are some meals that you could replace with some healthier, tastier, planet friendlier options. – Carole Baskin

Was There a Cougar Bite at Big Cat Rescue?

Was There a Cougar Bite at Big Cat Rescue?

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Transparency Is Critical at Sanctuaries and Zoos

As I was watching the inept way the Palm Beach Zoo was dealing with the death of a zookeeper, it made me think about the way we always try to be completely transparent about what happens behind closed gates at Big Cat Rescue.  The very day our critics, those backyard breeders and tiger cub pimps, were sending private messages to our fans on Facebook, alleging a cougar bite at Big Cat Rescue, there was a tragedy reported at the Palm Beach Zoo.  As you can imagine, the story of a zookeeper being mauled to death at a well known zoo, caused an international media flurry that resulted in our phones ringing off the hook with requests for comment.

If I have to write the same email more than once, it is probably worthy of being a blog post to our site, so that I don’t have to keep writing it.  The media can find it online, if they do any research at all, and can take their quotes from the article.  That is the genesis of this article and the one I wrote called When Tigers Kill Keepers.  Our PR Director Susan Bass and I spoke this morning about the fact that the zookeeper’s death, while horrific, would typically only have resulted in a two day news cycle, but it was being handled so poorly that it was still in the news today; a week later.  Meanwhile, our opponents to legislation that would end the private possession of big cats, were accusing us of not being forthcoming about what they called a cougar bite.

So let me clear that up now

There wasn’t a cougar bite at Big Cat Rescue

The Florida Wildlife Commission report, that is being posted by our haters, and sent to our supporters, has been blurred out in the sections that negate the earlier report of a cougar biting a volunteer.  These same bad guys filed a false report with OSHA and an online petition.  Since I had to take the time to respond to OSHA, I am posting here for anyone who has been contacted by those who seek to discredit us.

Dear OSHA Rep.,

Can you print this email as a response to your request, as accessing a fax machine is a huge hassle and mailing this simple answer seems like a waste of paper and postage?

First; the volunteer in question was never an employee of Big Cat Rescue. None of the animal care work at the sanctuary is done by employees. It is all done by volunteers. Paid staff are only paid to to administrative work but she has never even been paid staff.

While the original hospital report stated that she had been bitten, it just wasn’t possible given her description to me after the fact and the quarter inch long, minor surface cut to her hand. She said her hand never went in the cage so when the cat moved toward her, she probably just dragged her hand across the cage wall quickly, in order to avoid contact, and caused the scratch on the wire. The galvanizing can cause an infection, which is probably what happened.

When the FWC inspector came out on March 7, 2016 we found a couple tiny points of galvanizing on the cage wall that could have caused a scratch, of the insignificance of that shown to me. I’ve had paper cuts that were much, much worse.

I flicked the shards off with my finger nail to prevent any future incident. The FWC inspectors and I ran our hands over the rest of the area and didn’t find any other sharp edges. We have checked the other cages to make sure there are no flecks of galvanizing that could scratch a person or a cat.

Please let me know if this was sufficient to lay this to rest.

So, that was the extent of the event, or non event as it turns out.

By contrast the Palm Beach Zoo seems to have tried to cover up their death

News reports, nearly a week later, release the damning 911 call tape.  It seems pretty clear that the woman tasked with calling for medical help was trying to make sure that the news didn’t connect the dots that there was an incident at the zoo.

When the dispatcher recognizes the address as the Zoo, she blurts out, “Is that the Zoo?!?” Once the cat is out of the bag, the caller admits it, but you can hear the annoyance in her voice and how she tries to end the call without giving any further information that might be of lifesaving help.

“This is not the place or the time to take questions. This is an ongoing investigation,” zoo spokesperson, Naki Carter said.

Really?

When would that time be?  I’m guessing that they are hoping it will all die down and they will never have to answer those tough questions.

tigerphoto_jv065-2The medical report states that 37 year old Stacey Konwiser died from a “neck injury” inflicted by the tiger; falling short of saying it it was from a tooth or a claw.  The zoo has repeatedly stated that the zookeeper was going about her regular duties and did nothing out of the norm.  People have legitimate questions, such as:

How did it happen?

Why was the tiger tranquilized if the woman was still alive and in his grasp?

How long between the time of the incident and calling 911?

It the zoo were being transparent, I think they would be posting photos of the area, to show how safe their cages are and the mechanisms that are in place to prevent keepers from being injured by the wild animals there.  I would expect them to be posting protocols and training documents, like Big Cat Rescue does, to assure the public that they are properly training their keepers to stay out of harms way.  You would think they would be talking about how their accrediting body, AZA, does not allow contact between big cats and keepers and their strict adherence to that safety policy.  Instead they say, “This is not the place or the time to take questions.”

It really boils down to the fact that there are only two ways a zookeeper gets hurt by captive wild animals.  Either the cage design, or safety mechanisms fail, which is the fault of the zoo, or a person over rides those safety measures by breaking a rule or being careless.  If it is the latter, the zoo or sanctuary, may still be responsible depending on what measures they implemented to avoid such an act.  At Big Cat Rescue we have put physical safety measures in place and our volunteers are trained extensively around smaller cats for two years before they are allowed to graduate up to lions, tigers and leopards.

Despite all we do to keep our people and our wild cats safe, we do recognize that tragedy can strike in the blink of an eye.  When we hear that a fellow animal caregiver has lost their life, we aren’t looking to place blame, although we are frequently asked for our expert opinion on who is to blame.  The public wants to blame the zoo or the keeper because blaming themselves for enabling the continued captivity of big cats is just too uncomfortable.

Our deepest felt emotion to such news is to feel that gut wrenching sense of loss and sympathy for those involved.  It is felt so deeply because we know that accidents happen, physical barriers fail and humans sometimes make bad decisions.  It could be any one of us or any one we know and love.

So, what can be done to prevent such future tragedies?

That’s pretty easy and what we have been pressing for.  It is what makes us the target of those who post lies and half truths about us.  We could all just stop and think about why we have wild cats in cages and put an end to it.  Those who make a business of having exotic cats on display say it is to foster concern about them in the wild and to raise funds for conservation, but if the millions of dollars spent seeing animals in cages, actually went to wildlife conservation, we wouldn’t be facing an extinction rate that is 1,000 times higher than normal.  Breeding wild cats for life in cages has not helped save them in the wild, and may well be harming conservation efforts. Unfortunately the public seem to rationalize, “Why do the hard work of saving big cats where you may never see them, when it’s cheap and fun to see them in cages?”

The Big Cat Public Safety Act won’t put zoos like Palm Beach Zoo out of business, but it could help end tragedies where keepers think they have some bond with a wild animal who then kills them.  The whole notion of wild cats as cuddly playthings is promoted largely by those to breed cubs to use as photo props.  The more people see such images of cuddling with baby and juvenile big cats, or those who claim to be “lion whisperers” rolling around with exotic cats, the more they buy into the fantasy that they too can be “special” and get attention by behaving irresponsibly in the presence of apex predators.

As long as it is considered socially acceptable to interact with wild cats, or keep them in cages, the species involved are doomed, as are many of those humans who will continue to be injured and killed.

 

 

AZA vs ZAA

AZA vs ZAA

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What’s the Difference Between the AZA & ZAA?

 

More than can be included in this article, but here are two of the differences that are most important to saving big cats.

 

Origins of AZA vs ZAA

 

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) was founded in 1924.  The Zoological Association of America (ZAA) claims to have been founded in 2005, but appears to have just been an idea that never really took off until the Lowry Park Zoo, under leadership of Lex Salisbury, lost its AZA accreditation in 2008.  Online sources show that Salisbury had hosted the ZAA at the Lowry Park Zoo in 2007 and began using the zoo’s facilities to run the ZAA in 2008, presumably to maintain the appearance of being accredited by someone.

The Lowry Park Zoo was able to regain their AZA accreditation after firing Lex Salisbury in 2008 for his allegedly self serving trades of more than 200 of the zoo’s animals to his own privately held animal collection.  As of 2013 Salisbury still serves on the ZAA board of directors.

The AZA has always been the gold standard for zoos, but has been challenged by the lack of public understanding of the meaning of accreditation.  Much time and money has been spent on branding so that zoo-goers know if they are supporting a good zoo or a bad zoo.  There has never been a serious threat to that branding until the ZAA began heralding themselves as an accrediting body. It isn’t that there is any real threat of competition between the two organizations; only a matter of confusion to the public.  It is our belief that some of the current AZA zoos, who don’t like the more strict and humane standards being adopted by AZA, are choosing to be accredited by both ZAA and AZA so that when they lose their prestigious AZA accreditation they will be able to dupe patrons into thinking that ZAA is the same thing.

 

So how does the AZA differ from ZAA?

 

From our perspective, at Big Cat Rescue, the biggest difference is in their attitudes toward breeding and handling of captive big cats and their cubs.

The AZA only recommends breeding of exotic cats based upon their genetics which are managed by the Species Survival Plans.  These SSPs are managed by experts for each species of animal.  Matings are suggested based upon providing the most genetic diversity and healthy specimens.  (ie: that is why the AZA does not condone breeding white tigers, white lions or other inbred animals) Each animal must have a pedigree that traces all the way back to their wild ancestors because many instincts are geographic and thus, if these animals are truly ever to enhance wild populations it is imperative that they are suitable for the areas to which they could one day be returned.

The ZAA promotes breeding of exotic animals by private owners of animals that cannot be traced back to the wild and thus could never serve any conservation value.  Most of their board members appear to be private, backyard breeders.   The ZAA states as its purpose, “Protect and defend the right to own exotic and domestic animals, both privately and publically…” and yes, they can’t even spell publicly.

The AZA does not promote big cats as pets and does not allow the public to handle their big cats; nor do they pimp out the cubs for photo and handling sessions.  A few AZA facilities still allow public contact with cheetah, but after several recent maulings by cheetah, we believe that practice will soon go the way of the Dodo.

 

Cheetahs Maul Dmellow

 

All you have to do is take a look at the list of ZAA accredited facilities to see that it is rife with facilities that pimp out lion and tiger cubs every few months for public contact.  This is unsustainable and results in hundreds of big cats outgrowing their profitable cub stage only to end up being relegated to tiny jail cells, or worse.

Do you know someone who works for an AZA zoo?  You can help them distinguish themselves from ZAA roadside zoos and backyard breeders by asking them to publicly support the ban on the private ownership and breeding of exotic cats.

Why ZAA facilities should not be exempt from the Big Cats and Public Safety Act.

Download the ZAA Factsheet

 

 

 

 

 

When Tigers Kill Keepers

When Tigers Kill Keepers

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There are only 2 Reasons Why Zoo Keepers Are Killed by Tigers

  1.  There has been a failure in the safety measures to keep tigers and zoo keepers apart, or
  2. The zoo keeper doesn’t understand their relationship with tigers or any other big cat.

 

There is a lot that can go wrong, from failing latches, to not having a clear line of sight between the cat and keeper to the mishaps that are caused by a keeper purposely entering the cats’ space. Even if the cats are not killed, for doing what comes naturally, they are doomed to life in prison.

Night Houses seem to often be part of the human / big cat mauling or killing scenario and maybe it is because it is such a cruel practice. Cats are most active at night, but for liability reasons are shut in prison-like, windowless, cells by zoos when they are closed. The cats hate it, so they have to withhold food to force them in at night.

Big Cat Rescue does not lock cats up at night and thanks to our mild climate in Florida, does not utilize any sort of indoor housing for the big cats. Because there are no solid walls or doors, the keepers at Big Cat Rescue can always see where the cat is before approaching the enclosure. Caregivers at the sanctuary do not enter the enclosures of any big cat, unless that cat is safely locked into another portion of the cage by the CEO or President and the Operations Manager.

Exotic cats are spectacularly intelligent creatures and have years to plot their escape or revenge.

The second reason keepers are killed by big cats is that they think they are “tiger whisperers” or they think they have some super natural bond with apex predators that makes them special.  Anyone who espouses such nonsense shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a captive big cat, because they clearly do not understand exotic cats.  It is just a matter of time before it ends in tragedy.

white tiger abuseCats in cages may be solicitous of their owners or keepers, but that’s because they have to beg for everything. It’s sad to see it, when you think about how majestic these animals are meant to be.  Humans mistake their temporary power, ensured by the strength of the cage, for having a bond or relationship with the big cat.  Tigers have their own agenda and it doesn’t include pleasing people.  Some may not be overtly nasty about it, but given a choice will escape and never look back.

At Big Cat Rescue our caregivers are trained to feed and clean small cats, like bobcats, servals, caracals and lynx for 6 months before they can graduate to cougars.  We are a NO TOUCH facility; no, not even their fingertips, may touch the cats!  If they prove themselves trustworthy around the smaller cats, they can graduate to cougar keeping.  They are with us about two years before they are even allowed to be in the sections where lions, tigers and leopards are housed.  That two year process allows us ample time to weed out the delusional people who think they could get away with touching a big cat and live to tell about it.

More Resources on the Captive Big Cat Issues

Just like the better zoos are accredited by AZA, the better sanctuaries are accredited by GFAS. http://SanctuaryFederation.org

These are the big cat standards for GFAS:  http://www.sanctuaryfederation.org/gfas/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/FelidStandardsJuly2013HA.pdf

The state of Florida does not allow contact with big cats over 40 lbs., but may have some exemption for employees. http://myfwc.com/license/captive-wildlife/

NeverPayToPetCubs

USDA has enforced actions against facilities that allowed public contact with big cat cubs over the age of 12 weeks, as they can take off a finger at that age and just recently announced they will cite facilities for pimping out cubs under the age of 4 weeks. AZA zoos don’t do that, but there are plenty of backyard breeders that do.  https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/downloads/big_cat/big_cat_q&a.pdf

April 3, 2016 USDA cracks down on abuse of cubs under the age of four weeks. In response to a 2012 legal petition filed by The Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, Detroit Zoological Society, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Born Free USA, Big Cat Rescue, Fund for Animals and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, theU.S. Department of Agriculture issued guidance making clear that exhibitors violate the Animal Welfare Act by allowing members of the public to handle or feed infant exotic cats like tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars or leopards. Read more.

April 5, 2016 USFWS announced that they are rescinding the generic tiger loophole. Big Cat Rescue has been pressuring the USFWS since at least 2007 to rescind this loophole and on 8/22/11 after a meeting with the USFWS the Generic Tiger issue was published to the Federal Register for public comment and got over 15,000 comments in support of our request to ban the breeding of non purebred tigers. Read more.

Big Cat Rescue has been pressuring the USDA since the 90’s and USFWS since at least 2007 to end cub handling and rescind the generic tiger loophole and on 8/22/11 after a meeting with the USFWS the Generic Tiger issue was published to the Federal Register for public comment and got over 15,000 comments in support of our request to ban the breeding of non purebred tigers. According to their Q&A it sounds like the USFWS may still rubber stamp activities that really don’t help tiger conservation, but it’s a step. USDA only banned the contact with cubs under four weeks, but that is a step too.

So What Can You Do to Stop the Abuse and the Killings and Maulings?

As long as big cats are privately owned and used as photo and ego props, the fantasy that they can be handled safely will prevail and accidents will continue to happen.

Regulations can’t work, because USDA and USFWS don’t have the resources nor apparently the will to enforce the weak rules they have, so that is why we need an all out ban on the private possession of big cats. You can help get that done at http://BigCatAct.com