The Humane Society Speaks Out Against Cubs and Props
Wild Animals Are Not Stuffed Toys
Across the country, the public can pet, feed, pose, and play with tiger, bear, and lion cubs, as well as other wild animals for a fee. These baby animals are bred and used for just a few months for photo ops and play time, and then discarded. This vicious cycle fuels the exotic pet trade, puts animals at risk, endangers the public, and creates a burden for both law enforcement and nonprofit sanctuaries when these cast-off cubs become adults and are too large and unpredictable to handle.
In response to a legal petition from The HSUS and other animal protection and conservation organizations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is requesting comments on whether to prohibit public handling of dangerous wild animals.
USDA has changed the Animal Welfare Act regulations by revising its definition of retail pet store in order to keep pace with the modern marketplace and to ensure that animals sold via the Internet or other non-traditional methods receive humane care and treatment.
In an effort to provide all pertinent information in one location, USDA Animal Care has created a special web page. On this page, we will post all related materials and updates. We encourage you to please visit the page and read through the posted materials in order to: 1) gain a better understanding of this regulation change; 2) learn the reasons that prompted the change; and 3) see if you need a USDA license or if you are exempt from licensing.
Hardly a week goes by now that there isn’t a case in the news of a big cat facility that was once considered a haven for the animals rescued has found itself over run with animals that there are no funds to provide for.
People love a good rescue story and they want to be involved. They will volunteer or donate to facilities that are in the public eye doing the heart pounding rescues because it makes them feel good about themselves. They are instantly gratified with the rescue of the animal from some deplorable condition and for a few weeks they thrill in seeing the animal rebound in health and personality until the rescued one appears to be safely set for life…then they are off looking for the next thrilling rescue.
Sometimes sanctuary founders are this short sighted themselves and they continue to take on more animals than they can afford because they believe that recognition is right around the corner and surely some big donor is just about to discover them. Sort of like the starry eyed actress that lives hand to mouth until she has lost her good looks and ability to land a meaningful job, while hoping to be discovered by Hollywood. They usually mean well but just aren’t in touch with reality.
Often a person with the chutzpah to start a sanctuary may be cognizant of how unlikely this is, but they may depend on volunteers and donations to keep their dream alive and they know that if they aren’t rescuing the “animal in distress of the week” then they will lose their volunteers and donors to someone who is acting so irresponsibly.
One thing you can always count on is that the unexpected will happen. A founder will become sick or die or just change their mind about how they want to spend their life. A day like 9/11 will send the world as we know it into a three year tail spin. A year in which there is not a month that goes by without a tsunami, earthquake, major health epidemic, war or a hurricane will happen and the giving public will be so greatly pressed upon for human needs that there will be little left over for the animals. With global warming now finally being recognized as a planet changing reality we are only just beginning to see times of trouble…expensive trouble.
The following list of links go to stories about facilities that once housed big cats and failed. In some cases they never were really sanctuaries, but they claimed to be and many people were fooled into supporting them. In other cases they actually were sanctuaries and some of them even great ones but something happened and they either shut down or had to consider doing so. When a big cat sanctuary closes there is no where for the great cats to go. All of the decent sanctuaries are full and most of the rest continue to breed, sell and further exacerbate the exploitation. These are just a few sad examples of what happens when a big cat facility goes under.
Closed exotic cat facilities of considerable size:
Archangel Underwood, MN
Ashville Game Farm, Jeff Ash, NY
Bearcat Hollow, Ken Kraft, MN
Catherine Gordon Twiss, MS (had 86 lions and tigers when she was shut down)
Corpus Christi Zoo
Cougar Haven David Mallory had 38 big cats at one time, but only 14 at the time that he abandoned them. 9 tigers died while waiting for help to arrive.
Dennis Hill Exotics Shelbyville, IN (20 tigers confiscated in 2005 and he got rid of the last 4 in 2011)
Great Cats of Indiana
Greenville Wildlife Center in Greenville, NJ
Horseshoe Creek in Davenport, FL owned by Darryl Atkinson
Karl Mitchell, Pahrump, NV
L & L Exotics owned by Lorenza Pearson in Copeley Township, OH
Savage Kingdom owned by Robert Baudy in Centerville, FL (had 11 tigers at time of closure)
Buy Big Cat Auto Accessories
Siberian Tiger Foundation owned by Diana Cziraky aka Diana McCourt (6 tigers at time of closure)
Tiger Creek/Wild World Morepark, CA (4 tigers in 2004)
Tiger Rescue Colton, CA (2002 10 tigers were seized and in 2003 13 young tigers were confiscated and 58 cubs found in the freezer)
Tigers Only owned by Joan Byron-Marasek in Ocean County, NJ (24 tigers were seized and sent to Wild Animal Orphanage in 2003)
Tiger Truck Stop AKA Tiger Travel Plaza ordered to remove Tony the tiger by Dec. 2011
Wesa-A-Geh-Ya in Warrenton, MO Sandra and Kenneth Smith, owners of Wesa-A-Geh-Ya animal facility, settle with USDA after being charged with violations of Animal Welfare Act. Smiths agree to civil penalty of $13,000 and revoking of their AWA license. Although Smiths no longer have USDA exhibitor’s license or AWA license, no law prevents them from keeping their animals under little supervision from any state or federal agency. (Warrenton Journal)
Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio, TX shuttered her doors in May of 2010 after a state attorney investigation into misappropriation of funds and a take over by the board of directors. At the time of closure the board members in charge said they had 400 wild animals and that 200 were tigers. Later, once groups like GFAS, IFAW and Born Free were called in there were only 75 tigers to be found. Where did 125 tigers go in those first couple of months? A year after closure there are still 30 tigers left languishing and countless primates, bears and other animals.
Zoo Cats AKA Zoo Dynamics owned by Marcus Cook FL and TX addresses (17 tigers in 2008, 7 in 2010)
This video shows facilities that are currently licensed and approved by the USDA and the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission that have been operating at this level or worse for more than 10 years and yet are still open to the public. This shows precisely why we need better laws. Play 6 minute video HERE.
Cited by officials animal welfare violations but still in operation:
If you were the director of the Denver County Fair in Colorado, wouldn’t you research the people and acts you were bringing in and promoting? Wouldn’t you take 5 minutes to find out if the person bringing tiger cubs to your fair year after year is a convicted felon on multiple counts? Wouldn’t you be concerned that the USDA has filed a lawsuit against this person to revoke his license after years of USDA violations and the deaths of dozens of animals in his care?
It seems the management of the Denver County Fair did not. Otherwise, a quick Internet search would have revealed reams of negative information about Serenity Springs and its notorious owner Nick Sculac.
What about if you were a reporter doing a story about the Denver County Fair? Surely a reporter, who is trained to do research, would look into all angles of a story? Guess not. Reporter Tom Green from Denver’s Channel 2 only did a fluff piece about Sculac and the six-week-old tiger cub he used to promote the upcoming fair. Not once in the news piece did Green mention Sculac’s abusive history with animals or question whether young cubs forced to be handled by hundreds of people at the fair would be in the best interest of the cubs.
As those of us who truly love and appreciate big cats know, the real fact is that exotic cats should not be exploited at fairs and other venues and used for entertainment and profit. Please add your voice to ours in speaking up for these cubs: politely let the Denver County Fair and Denver’s Channel 2 news station know that the majority of people in America love animals and want these abusive practices to end.
I am shocked and disgusted to learn that the Denver County Fair is featuring visitor interactions with baby tiger cubs provided by Serenity Springs Wildlife Center. Nick Sculac, the notorious owner of Serenity Springs, is a convicted felon and the USDA has filed a lawsuit against him to revoke his license after years of USDA violations and the deaths of at least 31 animals in his care.
Quoting from the USDA and Secretary of Agriculture’s enforcement document regarding Serenity Springs dated February 1, 2012: “The gravity of the violations herein is great, and include the repeated noncompliance with the regulations and failure to meet the minimum standards for veterinary care, housing, and husbandry. Between May 2007 and January 2010, no fewer than 31 animals in respondent’s custody died.”
Is this the type of person the Denver County Fair and Channel 2 want to associate with and promote? Do you not do any research before allowing vendors to take part in your fair or be promoted on television? It is unconscionable that the Denver County Fair allows this! Please do the right thing immediately and halt your association with and promotion of this convicted felon and his irresponsible breeding and exploitation of tiger cubs and other wild animals.
Contact these people and let them know how you feel:
Denver County Fair
Dana Cain, Director 303-347-8252 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tracy Weil, Marketing Director 303-913-7508 email@example.com
Andrew Novick, Entertainment Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Ventura County has conditionally APPROVED the housing of five tigers in the residential area of West Malibu at 11077 Pacific View Road, Malibu. We are writing to you to ask for your support to ensure that tigers are not introduced into this residential and sensitive wildlife area. The permit appears to be in Irena’s sister’s name:
SOPHIA KRYSZEK of ISIS PRESERVATION USDA # 93-C-0762 7131 TUJUNGA AVENUE NORTH HOLLYWOOD ,CA 91605
In short, the tiger merchant Irena Hauser allegedly has her residence in Beverly Hills, CA, but claims in her application that her family will be living on site with the tigers in Malibu. Hauser claims that the tigers will be used in the entertainment industry but she already commercializes them by selling tiger clothing and “teeth” online. Hauser claims that the tigers will be transported for filming purposes, putting the public at even greater risk every time the tigers are transported.
Tigers are motivated to escape by stimulus and these tigers will be surrounded by stimuli. They will be in the middle of the sensitive Santa Monica Mountains which support such wildlife as deer, rabbits and coyotes. Other domestic animals in the vicinity include many horses in an equestrian stable just next door to the proposed site for the tigers. The smell of horses will certainly stimulate the tigers’ appetite for escape.
The County has stated that they intend to issue a Negative Declaration for this project, implying there would be no significant impacts. No biological assessments have been made, violating permitting requirements in Ventura County. The noise and smell of the tigers will deter wildlife from using the area for foraging, shelter or movement between habitat areas. Over the long term, the larger wildlife species will no longer utilize the natural resources in the vicinity. This area is home to wildlife, living peaceably among residential family homes, small farming communities, and stables.
Please write a letter opposing case PL 13-0011 to the assigned case planner: email@example.com, or otherwise assist us in this matter. Attached is a list of County Supervisors who should also receive the opposition letters. Please send us a copy of your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. We need your immediate help! email@example.com
Ventura County Board of Supervisors
Steve Bennett, District 1 Supervisor firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Linda Parks, District 2 Supervisor fax: 805-480-0585 Linda.Parks@ventura.org
Kathy Long, District 3 Supervisor firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter C. Foy, District 4 Supervisor email@example.com
John C. Zaragoza, District 5 Supervisor firstname.lastname@example.org
Ventura County Planning Division 800 S. Victoria L#1740, Ventura CA 93009 tel: 805-654-2481 fax: 805-654-2509
Brian Baca, Commercial and Industrial Permits Section Manager Brian.Baca@ventura.org
Jay Dobrowalski, Case Planner Jay.Dobrowalski@ventura.org fax: 805-654-2509
Kim Prillhart, Planning Director email@example.com
Daniel Klemann, Residential Permits Supervisor firstname.lastname@example.org
Tricia Maier, Senior Program Administrator email@example.com
When Darnell Docket, a player for the Arizona Cardinals, became what we consider to be the poster child for over paid sports’ figures, behaving badly toward animals, by announcing that he had bought a tiger to show off at games, it caused a lot of people to ask the question, “Is it legal to buy a tiger?”
After spending the last 20 years rescuing lions, tigers and other exotic cats, I am left bewildered by the existing laws; or maybe, more precisely, by the lack of enforcement of existing laws.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states that:
“Unless you are exempt under the Act, you cannot sell a cat to someone in another State. You may be able to make such a sale within your State, unless State or local laws prohibit such sales.” Darnell is in Arizona, according to Commission Rule R12-4-402, it is unlawful to import restricted live wildlife (incl. tigers) into the state without a special permit or license from the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Arizona does not issue permits to people to own tigers as pets.
The penalties for breaking the law are pretty clear:
“If you import or export a big cat or sell or buy a cat or cats worth more than $350 in interstate commerce, you have committed a felony. You could be sent to prison for up to five years and ordered to pay a fine of up to $250,000. Fines for organizations can be as high as $500,000.”
The only parties who are exempt are USDA licensees, accredited sanctuaries that do not allow anyone to touch the animals, a state college, university or agency, a state licensed veterinarian or a state licensed rehabber. We don’t think that Darnell Dockett qualifies for any of these exemptions. So why is he bragging openly on Twitter that he has bought a tiger and that he intends to bring it to his games, rather than being arrested and fined?
Why hasn’t anyone investigated who the seller of this tiger was as well, since it would appear that they broke the law by selling a tiger to someone who does not appear to properly licensed?
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
4401 N. Fairfax Drive,
Mail Stop LE-3000
Arlington, VA 22203
Phone: (703) 358 1949
Arizona Game and Fish Department
5000 W. Carefree Highway
Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000