4/5/2016 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’s Next?
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
Don’t Forget Your Favorite Mom
These gifts have been hand selected by our online Gift Shop manager to bring you the best gifts for Mom, and in time for her special day if you order now. Shop for Mom and Save Big Cats Too!
To Celebrate Mother’s Day Will You Help Us “Mother” Our Foster Kittens?
Did you know that Big Cat Rescue fosters domestic kittens until they are old enough to be adopted? In the last 3 years our interns and volunteers have mothered literally hundreds of foster kittens! See some of the little cuties and find out more at http://bigcatrescue.org/mother-foster-kittens/
Big Cat Rescue’s In Situ Conservation Work 2016
dOnce a month, a volunteer or intern is selected for outstanding service to the cats. Big Cat Rescue rewards them by making a $1,000 donation to conservation projects in their honor. So far this year Big Cat Rescue has donated to the following projects to save wild cats in the wild.
Big Cat Rescue donated $5,000 to The Corbett Foundation, a charitable, non-profit and non-governmental organization solely committed to the conservation of wildlife. They work towards a harmonious coexistence between human beings and wildlife across some of the most important wildlife habitats in India, namely Corbett Tiger Reserve, Kanha and Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserves, Kaziranga Tiger Reserve and around the Greater Rann of Kutch.
In February 2016, BCR donated $2,000 to assist the Urban Caracal Project. The Cape Peninsula is a biodiversity hotspot that has lost almost all of its large mammals such as cape lions, leopards and brown hyenas. Caracals as a result may play a major role in maintaining the ecosystem as they are the largest remaining predator in the area.
In March 2016 BCR donated funds to assist the Black Footed Cat Working Group, with one of the longest running small cat projects that has been in process for over 23 years, conserving the Black Footed Cat population in South Africa. More than 60 cats have been caught and collared over 100 times and what is known today about the species has been found during this field study.
Big Cat Rescue donated $1,000 to the first-ever study on the ecology and behavior of the Sand Cat in Morocco. Learn more about these projects at http://bigcatrescue.org/insitu/
We are thrilled to announce a fantastic matching funds opportunity to help Big Cat Rescue purchase a state-of-the-art ultrasound machine so that we can continue to provide the best veterinary care possible.
While our x-ray machine is critical for examining bone structure it has limited capacity for evaluating organs. An ultrasound machine is more suited for examining soft tissue. Currently our vet team relies on a physical exam, blood work and x-rays to determine the cause of a cat’s illness. If the cause is not readily apparent using these tools, they must perform an invasive exploratory surgery.
It is critically important that the person operating the ultrasound machine be trained and have extensive experience reading sonograms. If we purchased a standard ultrasound machine, we would have to incur the logistical issues and cost of bringing in an expert technician each time we needed to use it. This is not practical because in many cases we would not know if we were going to need to do an ultrasound until after we take x-rays. If we did need to do it, we would have to do it immediately while the cat was sedated and would not have time to arrange for a technician.
The specialized machine we need solves this problem in an ingenious way. It has a camera mounted to it and an Internet connection to a board certified technician who will guide our vet via camera to make sure they get the best possible sonogram images and will aid in correctly reading the images.
The specialized one we need for our cats costs $50,000. The great news is that the Reitzel Foundation has stepped up and pledged a dollar-for-dollar match up to $25,000! So your much needed and greatly appreciated donation toward our ultrasound machine for the cats will go twice as far! Thank you for continuing to support our cats and our sanctuary. This ultrasound machine will make a world of difference in the lives of our precious cats.
If you would like to contribute to the matching fund, please donate here. Thanks!
Thor, the bobcat who was hit in the head by a car, and lived to tell about it, has been healing in the onsite cat hospital. The last two items to check off his list are to be sure that the injured eye won’t be a hazard for him and to see him get back into hunting condition. His last eye check by veterinary ophthalmologist, Tammy Miller, indicates that the eye is doing well, even if not visual and you can log in and watch him daily on the Bobcat Rehab webcam provided by explore.org at http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-bobcat-rehab-and-release
Hamburger Mary’s Event
It was a gaudy night of fun and bingo last week that raised $1,100.00 for the cats!
YOUR VOICE NEEDED TODAY TO SPEAK OUT FOR TIGER CUBS BEING EXPLOITED!
The notorious Robert Engesser and his traveling roadside zoo Jungle Safari are RIGHT NOW exploiting a tiger cub by charging the public to pose for photos with the cub. Adult tigers as well as many other animals are in tiny cages in the parking lot of the Ozark Shopping Center in Ozark, Alabama. Plus, Dothan’s ABC news station WDHN News aired a “news” piece about the deplorable zoo and gushed about how wonderful it was to have wild animals in a parking lot!
Engesser claims the exhibit is an “educational zoo.” This shopping center is owned and operated by the City of Ozark under the auspices of the Ozark City Council. It’s time to let WDHN as well as the Mayor of Ozark and City Council members know that cub petting is not “educational” or “humane,” and that by supporting it, they’re supporting animal abuse and the wildlife trade.
Have you always wanted a career in wild animal care or management?
Zoo College is modeled after the Keeper Training offered at Big Cat Rescue. It is the only online, virtual training center, where you can test your skills against real life animal care challenges. The lessons you will learn have been tested and improved over more than 20 years in dealing with some of the most dangerous and majestic carnivores on the planet.
Before now, the only way to get this extensive zookeeper training was to volunteer or intern at Big Cat Rescue, in Tampa, FL. Minimum time requirements for onsite training range from four hours a week to 16 hours per week. Due to the danger involved in caring for lions, tigers, ligers, leopards and other wild cats, it takes two years of training to achieve proficiency, so it would mean years of commitment for you to progress through that experience.
With Zoo College you can pace yourself and test your knowledge, using all of the same teaching guides, videos and methods, before making such a huge commitment of time or finances for a biology degree that won’t give you any real sense of what it means to care for wild animals in a zoo or sanctuary setting.
Because we are still in Beta and working out the bugs, we are offering the course for only $9 per month. Check it out at Zoo College
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Strengthens Protections for Captive Tigers under the Endangered Species Act
April 5, 2016
In an effort to strengthen protections for certain captive tigers under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a rule declaring that captive “generic” tigers — tigers of unknown genetic background or crosses between two different subspecies of tigers — are no longer exempt from certain permitting requirements.
Anyone selling tigers across state lines must now first obtain an interstate commerce permit or register under the Captive-bred Wildlife Registration program regardless of whether it is a generic tiger or a pure subspecies.
“Removing the loophole that enabled some tigers to be sold for purposes that do not benefit tigers in the wild will strengthen protections for these magnificent creatures and help reduce the trade in tigers that is so detrimental to wild populations,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “This will be a positive driver for tiger conservation.”
The wild tiger is under severe threat from habitat loss and the demand for tiger parts in traditional Asian medicine. Once abundant throughout Asia, today the species numbers only 3,000-5,000 animals in small fragmented groups. As a result, tigers are protected as endangered under the ESA and under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – the highest levels of international protection. Tigers readily breed in captivity, however, and the number of captive tigers in the United States alone likely exceeds the numbers found in the wild, although the exact number is currently unknown.
The Service has worked with international partners to implement measures that ensure wild tigers survive in their native habitats and that captive tigers do not contribute to the illegal trade in tiger parts.
While this new rule does not prevent individuals from owning generic tigers, extending the permitting or registration requirement to all tigers strengthens the Service’s efforts in addressing the illegal wildlife trade, both domestically and internationally. This rule results in a uniform policy that applies to all tigers and will help Service law enforcement agents enforce the ESA.
The final rule will publish in the Federal Register on April 6, 2016, and will go into effect 30 days after publication on May 6, 2016.
Note: 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. Carole Baskin emailed those in charge, at least every six months, during this 9 year process, always asking when they would finally take action. 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. 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
Questions and Answers
U.S. Captive-bred Inter-subspecific Crossed or Generic Tigers
What action is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service taking?
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a rule that strengthens protections for certain captive tigers under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The final rule declares that captive “generic tigers” (Panthera tigris) (i.e., specimens not identified or identifiable as members of Bengal, Sumatran, Siberian or Indochinese subspecies (P. t. tigris, P. t. sumatrae, P. t. altaica and P. t. corbetti, respectively)) are no longer exempt from certain permitting requirements.
Anyone selling tigers across state lines must now first obtain an interstate commerce permit or register under the Captive-bred Wildlife Registration (CBW) program, regardless of whether it is a generic tiger or a pure subspecies.
What is a generic tiger?
Inter-subspecific crossed or “generic” tigers are of unknown genetic origin and are typically not maintained in a manner to ensure that inbreeding or other inappropriate matings of animals do not occur.
What is the CBW program?
In 1979, the Service established Captive-bred Wildlife (CBW) regulations to reduce federal permitting requirements and facilitate the breeding of endangered and threatened species for conservation purposes. Under the CBW program, otherwise prohibited activities, such as interstate commerce, are authorized, but only when the activities can be shown to enhance the propagation or survival of the species. Registrants of the CBW program must provide a written annual report with information on activities including births, deaths and transfers of specimens.
Why were generic tigers exempted from the CBW?
In 1998, the Service amended the CBW regulations to delete the requirement to register under the program for holders of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers. This exemption was based on the alleged lack of conservation value of these specimens due to their mixed or unknown genetic composition, and the belief there was conservation value in exhibition designed to educate the public about the ecological role and conservation needs of the species. The intention behind the exemption was for the Service to focus its oversight on populations of “purebred” animals of the various tiger subspecies to further their conservation in the wild. Despite this exemption, inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers are still protected under the ESA. Tigers have been listed under the ESA as endangered since 1970.
Why should generic tigers now be included under CBW registration?
By exempting holders of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers from the CBW registration process in 1998, the Service may have inadvertently suggested that the breeding of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers qualifies as conservation. By removing the CBW exemption, the Service can reinforce the value of conservation breeding of individual tiger subspecies and discourage the breeding of inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers. The Service has finalized this change to the regulations to ensure the agency can maintain strict oversight of captive tigers in the United States.
Withdrawing the CBW exemption for generic tigers would also close a loophole in current federal and state regulations that could allow for the use of captive U.S. tigers in trade in a manner inconsistent with conservation of the species. It places the United States in a stronger position in international negotiations regarding commercial tiger breeding farms in Asia and trade in tiger parts.
How will removal of the generic tiger exemption from the CBW regulations impact current owners of generic tigers?
Removing the CBW exemption for generic tigers will not result in control of private ownership, and will not impact sale of generic tigers within their state of residence (intrastate commerce) or non-commercial movement across state lines. However, other activities, such as the sale of animals across state lines (interstate commerce), would require authorization from the Service before such actions could be taken.
While this new rule does not prevent individuals from owning generic tigers, the permitting or registration requirement for all tigers strengthens the Service’s efforts in addressing the illegal wildlife trade, both domestically and internationally. Tigers are listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
This final rule results in a uniform policy that applies to all tigers and will help Service law enforcement agents enforce the ESA.
Would all private owners have to apply for a permit before breeding their tigers?
Private owners would still be able to breed generic tigers without a permit for sale or commercial purposes within their state or for non-commercial movement across state lines, provided that you meet the criteria of the Captive Wildlife Safety Act.
I own a male and female tiger and would like to breed them so that I can give a cub to my daughter. Would I need to apply for a permit under this new regulation?
If you plan to give the cub away as opposed to selling it, you would not need to apply for a permit, regardless of the recipient’s state, provided that you meet the criteria of the Captive Wildlife Safety Act if the cub is going across state lines. If you have additional cubs in the litter, you could sell them within your state to someone else who resides in the same state or donate them to sanctuaries or others, either inside or outside of your state. Again, you would need to meet the criteria of the Captive Wildlife Safety Act if moving tigers across state lines.
I’m a private owner of tigers and I often display them at fairs and festivals in other states. Would the new regulation prohibit me from doing this?
The new regulation would still allow generic tigers to cross state lines for exhibition purposes, as long as the tigers are not to be sold or offered for sale.
How can I meet the standard to get a permit or register under the CBW regulations to sell a generic tiger across state lines if the Service is saying that generic tigers have no any conservation value?
The CBW registration was set up to allow institutions that were breeding listed species for conservation purposes to sell animals across state lines to other registered facilities. While it is true that breeding these animals would not provide a direct conservation benefit to the species in the wild and therefore the Service probably would not register a facility with generic tigers, it is still possible to obtain an individual permit authorizing interstate commerce with a generic tiger if the applicant meets the issuance criteria established in our regulations, i.e., if the parties involved in the sale are carrying out activities that enhance the propagation or survival of the species. While it is unlikely that such a commercial transaction would provide a direct benefit to the species, such as reintroduction, there may be indirect benefits that could be obtained from the transaction. It should also be noted that the requirement to show this benefit could be met through an individual or institution, or a group of individuals or institutions together, working to provide a benefit to the species in the wild.
For example, if one or more zoological institutions were purchasing inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers for educational and display purposes, they could provide support (e.g., via the solicitation of donations
from visitors) to carry out on-the-ground conservation efforts in the tiger’s native range. The Service prefers a clear on-going commitment of several years on the part of the applicant for such conservation or research support. This on-going commitment could be fulfilled by a group of institutions working together to maximize their resources for the benefit of tigers in the wild.
What will the economic impact be on the public and small businesses?
The Service does not have data on how many businesses are involved in the interstate commerce of generic tigers, the number of businesses for which an interstate commerce permit or registration in the CBW program will be a viable option, and the economic impacts if prospective applicants are unable to either secure an interstate commerce permit or registration in the CBW program. Nonetheless, the Service believes that the regulatory change is not major in scope and would create only a modest financial or paperwork burden on the affected members of the general public.
This rule would not have a significant economic effect. If individuals or breeding operations wish to carry out an otherwise prohibited activity, such as interstate commerce, it would require that a permit application be submitted to the Service at a cost of $100-$200 per application. Submission of an application, however, would not be a guarantee that authorization will be granted.
Did you know that Big Cat Rescue fosters domestic kittens until they are old enough to be adopted? In the last 3 years our interns and volunteers have mothered literally hundreds of foster kittens!
This includes mommy cats with babies, bottle feeder kittens without mommies, kittens under 2 lbs. (the legal weight to spay & neuter them), and feral kittens that need to be socialized. Big Cat Rescue’s amazing interns – who live on property and ADORE kittens!! – care for the kittens from the time they arrive to the time they are brought back to the Humane Society for adoption. That’s a lot of love, nurturing, care and socializing!
When the kittens are old enough to have their first vaccines and have been SNAP tested (for Feline Aids and Feline Leukemia), they can spend their days in our Kitten Cabana while the interns are working at the sanctuary. Volunteers who have taken our Kitten Playtime Class can go into the Kitten Cabana to play with and socialize them. Playing with kittens! Yippee. Friendly kittens have a much better chance of being adopted. WATCH OUR KITTENS LIVE DURING THE DAY in the Kitten Cabana at http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-kitten-cabana
Big Cat Rescue provides the kittens with food, formula, litter, crates, carriers, bottles, toys, cat trees, catnip, heating pads, scales, nebulizers, intern housing, Internet for webcams and emergency care. If YOU would like to help support our Foster Kitten Program and “mother” our tiny charges, DONATE HERE
Or we can always use these supplies for our kittens: Purina Kitten Chow, plain clay litter (no clumping), wet food, soft blankets, towels, toys, beds, heating pads and kitten nursing supplies. Easy to order from our Amazon Wishlist.
SPAY AND PLAY – One more really cool thing…we put our mouth where are paws are! If you bring us an original receipt from your vet showing that you spayed or neutered a pet, or a receipt from an animal shelter showing that you adopted a spayed or neutered pet within the past year, Big Cat Rescue will give you a FREE PASS for our Day Tour. That’s a $36.00 value! If you are the kind of person who cares enough to protect your pet or feral cats from over population and all the horrors that go with it, then you are the kind of person we want to meet! See Day Tours for times and tell the Ticket agent you have a Free Pass to redeem.
JUST A FEW SPOTS LEFT TO JOIN BIG CAT RESCUE FOR BINGO AT HAMBURGER MARY’S THIS SUNDAY NIGHT!
Join Big Cat Rescue at Hamburger Mary’s in Tampa (Ybor City location) for Bingo to benefit the cats this Sunday evening, April 3, at 7 pm. We’ve done this a few times in the past and it is always a blast and usually sells out! Several folks from Big Cat Rescue will be there too, so please say hello.
The first 100 people to arrive and purr-chase a bingo card will receive this adorable cat ear headband too!!
Come in costume, come in drag, come in your funniest safari gear, wear your cat ears…you name it to have a roaring good time. Seating is limited and close to selling out! Please RSVP at 813 241-MARY for Sunday, April 3 at 7PM.
No cover charge. All you pay for is your drinks, food and bingo cards, which are 10 cards of 3 for $10. Lots of great prizes and fun! The winners of all 10 bingo games will receive custom Gift Baskets chock full of Big Cat Rescue and cat-themed goodies! Don’t miss it!!
Mr. Claws has done a great job of healing and preparing for life in the wild, so in the next few days he will be returned to the same county where he was found and set free. You can help us rescue, rehab and release bobcats, like Mr. Claws with the purchase of this fun, new tee called, My Bobcat’s in Rehab.
Meet Mr. and Mrs. Claws
Having been rescued from Christmas, Florida, we just couldn’t resist the timely names. Help make their holiday wishes come true by supporting their rehab and release back to the wild.
We wish they could talk, because it would take a lot of the guesswork out of their care. Based on the injuries and and reports by Carol Hardee, the rehabber who was the first on the scene for both kittens, here is how it probably happened.
See the video at the bottom of the page to understand why they were separated. The webcam footage is black and white and grainy because it was captured after dark using IR cameras.
September 2015 Mrs Claws:
Only a few weeks old, and not barely 3 pounds, she was being shaken to the core. She could barely breathe due to the crushing jaws that had snatched her from her den. Being shaken wildly, she could barely think, much less scream out for her mother, to return and save her. The tiny bobcat was flung into the air, and hitting the ground rolled a few feet, but before she could gather her balance to run, she was snatched up again. She was being carried away by some monster that was having fun playing with her, like she was a toy, but she was bleeding and this “toy” wasn’t going to last long.
With every last bit of strength, and every thing she learned from being raised by one of the most fierce of all felines, she bit and clawed back. She aimed for the eyes and the sensitive nose, since that’s all she could reach from her vantage point of being held in the mouth of this creature. With a yelp her freedom had been secured. She didn’t know if it would be for a moment, or for good. She had to find her mother as soon as possible. She was just too young to be dealing with this terror on her own.
She called and called, but she’d been carried too far away. Her mother couldn’t find her and she was too small and too badly injured to find her way back to the nest. But Carol Hardee, of the Wildlife Rehab Center, found her and began treating her life threatening wounds.
The kitten doubled in size, but was reaching an age when she would need to be transferred to a rehab center that could teach her to hunt. A mother will spend a year and a half, or more, teaching her kittens how to hunt, how to stay away from people and how to survive in a tough world. This kitten was about ready to make that move, to a new stage of training, when Mr. Claws arrived on the scene.
November 5 2015 Mr Claws
He had found a warm spot under the hood of a car to hide until dark. He’d gotten too far out of the woods for his own good, and now there were kids running wild in the YMCA parking lot, so he figured he would just wait it out. The one thing his mother hadn’t taught him about being a bobcat, is that you should never go near cars, even if they are sitting still and being silent.
When the owner returned, the slam of the door almost gave him enough notice, but not quite. The key turned in the ignition and a ton of metal gears, belts and a fan roared to life. The fan both cut him to the bone in one leg, while snapping another leg bone in two. He was flipped out to the pavement beneath. As the owner of the car backed out of the parking space, he saw the young bobcat trying desperately to pull himself to safety with his front paws.
Not knowing what to do, the auto driver called the police. They called the Florida Wildlife Commission and between them managed to capture the broken little bobcat in a box.
Again, the closest rehabber was Carol Hardee, of the Wildlife Rehab Center, who does her life saving work from a ranch in the woods, on Reindeer Lane in Christmas, Florida.
Due to family matters she was not able to get the bobcat X-rayed, but could see that he was not recovering properly and it really was time for the little female to start to learn to hunt. Carol Hardee called Carole Baskin, of Big Cat Rescue to see if we could take both bobcats and finish their rehab and release.
Jamie Veronica made the 5 hour round trip, ending at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, where Mr. Claws was rushed into X-ray. Jamie’s husband, Dr. Boorstein, had enlisted the help of Dr. Bard and tech, Jamie Gibbs, and the four of them worked on saving Mr. Claws leg for the next 4 hours.
There was no handling this wild child, so he had to be sedated.
The vets were able to get a good look at his face, noting a slight ulceration to the eye, and some broken and missing teeth. The gash was cleaned and sewed up. His tail had been separated in the spinal column, but no outer damage was visible. It could have happened in the accident, or someone may have grabbed him by the tail trying to save him. The tail may be dead and might have to be amputated later.
The damage to the back leg bone is obvious, but what is less obvious is that the pelvis is cracked and uneven. This may heal or may need further surgery. Dr. Boorstein is consulting with orthopedic specialist, Dr. Callum Hay.
Humane Society of Tampa Bay vet tech, Jamie Gibbs, prepares Mr. Claws for surgery.
Dr. Justin Boorstein and Dr. Bard working to save Mr. Claws leg.
Pins in the bone to hold it together under the skin. You can’t put a cast on a wild cat. They will chew it or their leg off.
We can’t know for certain what happened to either of these kittens before they arrived here, but one thing we do know for certain is that we will always be here to help wild cats like them, as long as you are by our side.
We Sure Hope They Kiss and Make Up Before Valentine’s Day
More Photos of Mr and Mrs Claws
Mr. and Mrs. Claws are in our onsite West Boensch Cat Hospital temporarily. Soon we hope to send them to a far larger outdoor space where they can begin to get ready for life in the wild. At this writing we have 6 bobcats in rehab and desperately need to build a larger rehab area to accommodate this growing need.