Big Top, Big Cruelty

Big Top, Big Cruelty

 

Good Morning, fellow Big Cat supporters! I’d like to share with you an article I’ve written as the new Legislation Intern for Big Cat Rescue! My particular internship is a new one here and was created to further the incredibly important big cat welfare legislation we are constantly working on! Please keep your eye out for the articles and blogs I will share to keep you in the know about one of the most important that Big Cat does and how you can help us end the trade and save the cats!!!

Big Top, Big Cruelty

by Jessica James

 

Who can forget the thrill of your first circus? Consider the sweet smell of popcorn in the air and the sound of the ringmaster calling to you in the distance. He promised you death-defying feats and to behold exotic wonders. Who can forget the excitement that you felt your ticket clutched tightly in hand, overwhelmed by scents and sounds that were foreign to you in your everyday life? Though there were fearless tightrope walkers, inhumanely flexible acrobats and comical clowns what we were all craning our necks to see were the performing animal acts. How could we know, in our tender adolescence, of the cruelty that happened after the lights turned off and the big top came down.

Hollywood bans circusSo many myths surround the circus. Myths propagated by organizations that force animals to engage in unnatural acts and exploit them for profit. How often have we heard the following:

  • “Circus animals perform tricks for enjoyment and out of love for their trainers.”

In reality, circuses use a plethora of cruel training methods on their animals. Often they are beaten, restrained or deprived of food until they perform a trick satisfactorily.

  • “The circus is wholesome family fun and completely safe for both the animals and your children.”

The truth is that the circus is an incredibly dangerous place not only for the animals, but for the trainers and the audience as well. These wild animals can be very unpredictable. In the past decade there have been over 40 violent circus incidents, including one where a trainer was dragged helpless around the ring in the jaws of a tiger in front of 200 terrified children.

  • “In between shows the animals rest comfortably in regulation sized enclosures.”

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be any more misleading. Animals are locked in small cages and shipped from town to town on freight cars with no heat or air conditioning. They often suffer from heat exhaustion and severe dehydration due to lack of access to ventilation and water.

  • “Circuses are working hard to conserve species and educate the public.”

Many circuses falsely claim to be conserving a species when in fact none of the animals they breed are ever put back into the wild. These animals simply end up in the circus trade until they are too old to perform and are then relegated to a life of breeding or are sold off or traded when their performing skills are no longer up to par. In addition to that, the circus does nothing to educate people on the natural history or behaviors of these animals. Watching wild animals perform unnatural tricks such as balancing on balls and jumping through hoops of fire doesn’t teach the public anything about animals in the wild. What we are being told is that animals are merely props that are here to entertain us. 

  • “There are well, enforced laws that protect these animals from abuse or neglect. “

The United States Department of Agriculture does have regulations meant to protect performing wildlife, but these are very poorly enforced and the punishments for not adhering to their standards are minimal. Even habitual offenders of the worst kind are very rarely prosecuted.

Animals suffer the worst kinds of emotional and physical abuse during their lifetime as circus performers. The physical abuse often includes punishments so severe that it is literally crippling. Past trainers have remarked on the use of bull hooks and other forms of “training” methods. They have gone on record admitting elephants are struck repeatedly with a bull hook and that they see “hook boils”-these are infections caused by the bull hook wounds- on an average of twice a week. Not only does this happen during training, but also during shows. Patrons have reported seeing the performing elephants bleeding all over the floor of the stage after being beaten with the bull hook over and over again during a performance.

Many of the most horrific circus incidents have been publicized, however there are dangers that we are completely unaware of. The sharp claws, and bone crushing jaws of the lion are a clear threat to human life, but just as deadly are the dangers of zoonotic diseases that remain unknown to the public and undiscussed by the media. These are diseases carried within animals that are communicable to humans. A group of circus elephants were tested and found positive for TB (tuberculosis). Of the 22 elephant handlers that were tested, 11 were found to be positive. The Journal of Internal Medicine reported that an estimated 50 million people worldwide had been infected with zoonotic diseases between the years of 2000 and 2007 and as many as 78,000 people died as a result of those illnesses. Not every danger of these wild animals is easily identifiable to the eye.

Currently 38 countries have circus bans and sadly the United States is not among them. We remain a nation proud of our incredible progress, be it scientific or humanitarian and yet still we have animals suffering for a form of amusement that has outlived its entertainment value. Philanthropist and television personality Bob Barker has said “Big, wild animals should not be part of the traveling circus and simply put, animal acts in circuses are antiquated and belong in the past, in a time when humans were ignorant about the needs of other species who share our planet.” As modern Americans we have the ability to educate ourselves and learn from the mistakes of those who came before us in order to set our future generations on the path towards becoming a kinder, more socially aware nation.

“Do the best you can until you know better, and when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou.

Big Cats and Public Safety Protection HR1998 S1381

Big Cats and Public Safety Protection HR1998 S1381

Click the link below for the new page 2015-2016

http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-act/

Below is from last’s years efforts, but go to the link above for the current version of the bill and what you can do to help.

 

This bill called the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act HR 1998 and S 1381 is the most important piece of legislation to ever be introduced to protect lions, tigers and other exotic wild cats from being kept as pets and in miserable roadside zoos.  Ask your member of Congress to Co-Sponsor this bill now!

 

 

Send a quick and easy letter to your lawmaker using our sample letter asking them to support BigCatLaws.com

 

 

Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act HR 1998 and S 1381

 

On May 15, 2013, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) introduced H.R. 1998, and in July 2013 Senator Blumenthal introduced S 1381, to prohibit the private possession and breeding of big cats. The bill will insure that lions, tigers and other dangerous big cats – which are kept as pets and exploited in roadside zoos and traveling exhibits – do not threaten public safety, diminish the global big cat conservation efforts, or end up living in deplorable conditions where they can be subject to mistreatment and cruelty.

 

White Tiger cub crying for his motherThe debate over private ownership of big cats garnered national attention in October 2011 when the owner of a backyard menagerie in Zanesville, Ohio, opened the cages of his tigers, leopards, lions, wolves, bears and monkeys before committing suicide. Local police, who were neither trained nor properly equipped to deal with a situation of that magnitude, were forced to shoot and kill nearly 50 animals—38 of them big cats—before they could enter populated areas.

 

The bill would make it illegal to possess any big cat except at accredited zoos and wildlife sanctuaries where they can be properly cared for and sheltered, and would only allow breeding at accredited zoos, along with some research or educational institutions. Current owners would be allowed to keep the cats they currently have provided they register their cats with USDA but they would not be allowed to acquire or breed more. This “grandfather” clause is necessary because there is no place for the animals to go if owners were forced to give them up, and the prospect of confiscation might create an incentive to kill animals and illegally sell their parts. Violators of the law could have their animals confiscated along with any vehicles or equipment used to aid in their activity, and could face stiff penalties including fines up to $20,000 and up to five years in jail.

 

Public Safety.

 

It is estimated that there are 10,000 to 20,000 big cats currently held in private ownership in the U.S., although the exact number remains a mystery. In the past 21 years, U.S. incidents involving captive big cats—including tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs and lion/tiger hybrids—have resulted in the deaths of 22 humans, 248 maulings, 260 escapes, 144 big cats deaths and 131 confiscations.

 

 

Illegal trade in big cat parts and impact on conservation in the wild.

 

Despite the claims of breeders who profit from selling these animals, the rampant breeding of big cats in private hands to exploit in exhibits or inappropriately keep as pets does absolutely nothing to further conservation in the wild. In fact, the opposite is true. In the case of tigers, of the estimated 5000 in this country, only about 250 are pure bred subspecies and those are housed in AZA accredited zoos. All of the rest are “generic,” i.e. cross bred between two or more subspecies, and have no conservation value whatsoever. Undercover operations by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service over the last decade and as recently as January 2012 have demonstrated that there is an illegal trade in big cat parts, including skins and bones. According to the International Tiger Coalition, the more these parts are supplied from the captive big cat population, the more the market for these parts grows, and the more demand grows for the “real” or premium product, i.e. parts from big cats poached from the wild.

 

 

Deplorable conditions are the rule, not the exception.

 

sad tiger cubIn the case of big cats owned as pets, i.e. not exhibited to the public, there is no federal regulation governing how they are kept. State laws vary from no restrictions, to simply requiring registration, to some states banning ownership as pets. But, the bans are often ineffective because the states that ban ownership as pets often do so by exempting those who hold USDA licenses as commercial exhibitors. According to a 2010 audit of USDA by OIG, 70% of private owners with four or less cats were actually pet owners simply using USDA registration to evade the state law. So, individuals buy cute cubs that grow up to be dangerous, unmanageable and expensive to feed. They end up in tiny, barren cages in back yards, abandoned to sanctuaries that are struggling financially to support the steady flow of unwanted cats, or in the illegal trade for their parts. Cats owned by exhibitors do fall under the regulations promulgated by USDA under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), but they fare no better. The USDA sets minimum standards that allow these cats to spend their entire lives in small, concrete and chain link cages that in effect are prison cells. And even these minimal standards are totally impractical to enforce. USDA has about 100 inspectors to police over 2700 exotic animal exhibitors and thousands of other animal facilities. Horrible facilities are cited year after year and only a few of the very worst are ever shut down. As a result, the vast majority of big cats live in conditions that any compassionate person would view as cruel and inhumane.

 

 

HR 1998 and S 1381 would avert unnecessary human suffering from deaths and injuries from these inherently dangerous animals, stop the illegal trade in captive animal parts that encourages poaching of the wild population, and end the widespread misery these majestic animals endure in private hands when exploited for exhibition or inappropriately kept as pets. This bill is supported by Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Big Cat Rescue, Born Free USA, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS, Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), ROAR Foundation and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

 

Download the Big Cats Act Factsheet to share with your friends and your lawmakers.

 

Big Cat Ban Save the CubsSee the actual markup language of the amendments to the Lacey Act

 

Listen to a radio interview with Howard Baskin done by one of the Cox Radio stations

 

 

 

 

Some videos to share with your friends, depending on their purr-sonalities:

 

 

 

 

 

2012 Version of the Bill:

 

Th bill below died in Congress in 2012 due to the Fiscal Cliff being the only issue that congress was focused on even though there were more than 60 bi partisan co sponsors for both a House 4122 and Senate 3257 bill.  Press Release from IFAW  Congressman McKeon and Congresswoman Sanchez Introduce Bipartisan Bill.

 

Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act HR 4122

 

Big Cats and Public Safety Protection

Big Cats and Public Safety Protection

Washington, D.C.- Today, Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) introduced the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act.”  Unfortunately, an alarming number of wild cats have been bred and sold as domestic pets in the U.S. This trend threatens public safety and often results in the mistreatment of these animals.  Just recently, the tragic events in Zanesville, Ohio, where 49 wild animals were killed after they were let loose on an unlicensed wild animal preserve, showcases the dangerous implications of this trend.  Currently, only nine states have laws enforcing “no wild animals permitted,” and the remaining states have weak or no laws in existence. This bi-partisan bill will ensure that lions, tigers and other dangerous big cats, do not threaten public safety, diminish global big cat conservation efforts, or end up living in horrible conditions where they can be subject to mistreatment and cruelty.

 

The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act would prohibit private possession of big cats except at highly-qualified facilities like accredited zoos where they can be properly cared for and restrained.  Also, since nobody, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), state agencies, and local first responders knows exactly how many dangerous big cats are being kept in private hands, under what conditions, and in what locations, the bill would require any persons who currently possess big cats to register those animals with USDA in order to keep the cats they currently own.  The bill would also outlaw the breeding of any big cat except at accredited zoos and research and educational institutions.  Violators of the law could have their animals confiscated along with any vehicles or equipment used to aid in their illegal activity, and could face stiff penalties including fines as much as $20,000, and up to five years in jail.

 

“No matter how many times people try to do it, wildcats such as lions, tigers, panthers, cheetahs are impossible to domesticate for personal possession and require much higher living standards compared to a domestic house cat,” said Congressman McKeon.  “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. This bill is a step forward in protecting the public and ensuring that wildcats reside in proper living conditions.”

 

“The events in Ohio last year showed the tragedy that can occur when exotic animals are privately owned by individuals, with little to no oversight,” said Congresswoman Sanchez.  “Wild animals are dangerous and we clearly need better laws limiting their ownership.  Exotic species should be regulated to high quality facilities with the ability to properly care for them.”

 

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is working on introducing a companion bill in the Senate.

 

“It’s a little hard to believe that there’s a crazy patchwork of regulations governing people who try to keep wild cats as pets,” said Senator Kerry.  “I know it sounds like something you just read about when there’s a tragic news story, but it’s all too real for first responders who respond to a 911 call and are surprised to come face to face with a Bengal tiger.  This bill will ensure that these endangered creatures are kept in secure, professional facilities like wildlife sanctuaries rather than in small cages in someone’s backyard or apartment building.”

 

This legislation is supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Born Free USA, Humane Society of United States, and Big Cat Rescue of Tampa, FL.

 

We make it easy for you to contact your lawmakers at the link below.  Or you can print the HR4122BigCatsAct flier.

 

Contact Congress and tell them that you support this bill.

 

Here is the actual language of the Big Cats Act bill:

 

US Big Cats Legislation (Lacey Act markup)

§ 3371. Definitions

For the purposes of this chapter:

(g) Prohibited wildlife species–The term “prohibited wildlife species” means any live species of lion, tiger, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, or cougar or any hybrid of such a species.

 

§ 3372. Prohibited acts

(a) Offenses other than marking offenses

It is unlawful for any person–

(1) to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any fish or wildlife or plant taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States or in violation of any Indian tribal law;

(2) to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce–

(A) any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State or in violation of any foreign law; or

(B) any plant–

(i) taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State, or any foreign law, that protects plants or that regulates–

(I) the theft of plants;

(II) the taking of plants from a park, forest reserve, or other officially protected area;

(III) the taking of plants from an officially designated area; or

(IV) the taking of plants without, or contrary to, required authorization;

(ii) taken, possessed, transported, or sold without the payment of appropriate royalties, taxes, or stumpage fees required for the plant by any law or regulation of any State or any foreign law; or

(iii) taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any limitation under any law or regulation of any State, or under any foreign law, governing the export or transshipment of plants; or

(C) any prohibited wildlife species (subject to subsection (e) of this section);

(3) within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in section 7 of Title 18)–

(A) to possess any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State or in violation of any foreign law or Indian tribal law, or

(B) to possess any plant–

(i) taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State, or any foreign law, that protects plants or that regulates–

(I) the theft of plants;

II) the taking of plants from a park, forest reserve, or other officially protected area;

(III) the taking of plants from an officially designated area; or

(IV) the taking of plants without, or contrary to, required authorization;

(ii) taken, possessed, transported, or sold without the payment of appropriate royalties, taxes, or stumpage fees required for the plant by any law or regulation of any State or any foreign law; or

(iii) taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any limitation under any law or regulation of any State, or under any foreign law, governing the export or transshipment of plants; or

(4) Subject to subsection (e), to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, purchase, breed, possess or own any prohibited wildlife species; or

(4) (5) to attempt to commit any act described in paragraphs (1) through (3) (1) through (4).

(e) Nonapplicability of prohibited wildlife species offense.

(1) In general, Subsection (a)(2)(C) (a)(4) of this section does not apply to –

(A) importation, exportation, transportation, sale, receipt, acquisition, breeding, possession, ownership, or purchase of an animal of a prohibited wildlife species, by a person that, under regulations prescribed under paragraph (3), is described in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), or (D) with respect to that species; and

(B) transportation, possession, or ownership of an animal of a prohibited wildlife species, by a person that, under regulations prescribed under paragraph (3), is described in subparagraph (E) of paragraph (2) with respect to that animal.

(2) Persons described

A person is described in this paragraph, if the person–

(A) is licensed or registered, and inspected, by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or any other Federal agency with respect to that species is a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums;

(B) is a State college, university, or agency, State-licensed wildlife rehabilitator, or State-licensed veterinarian;

C) is an accredited is a wildlife sanctuary that cares for prohibited wildlife species and–

(i) is a corporation that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of Title 26 and described in sections 501(c)(3) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of Title 26;

(ii) does not commercially trade in animals listed in section 3371(g) of this title, including offspring, parts, and byproducts of such animals;

(iii) does not propagate animals listed in section 3371(g) of this title; and

(iv) does not allow direct contact between the public and animals; or and

(v)  does not allow the transport and display of animals off-site;

(D) has custody of the animal solely for the purpose of expeditiously transporting the animal to a person described in this paragraph with respect to the species.;or

(E) is in possession of one or more animals of a prohibited wildlife species, that–

 

            (i) were born before the dates of enactment of this subparagraph; and

 

(ii) are registered with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service within 6 months after the date of promulgation of regulations implementing this subparagraph by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture.

 

§ 3373. Penalties and sanctions

(a) Civil penalties

(1) Any person who engages in conduct prohibited by any provision of this chapter (other than subsections (a)(4), (b), (d) and (f) of section 3372 of this title) and in the exercise of due care should know that the fish or wildlife or plants were taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of, or in a manner unlawful under, any underlying law, treaty, or regulation, and any person who knowingly violates subsection (d) subsections (a)(4), (d), of section 3372 of this title, may be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of not more than $10,000 for each such violation: Provided, That when the violation involves fish or wildlife or plants with a market value of less than $350, and involves only the transportation, acquisition, or receipt of fish or wildlife or plants taken or possessed in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States, any Indian tribal law, any foreign law, or any law or regulation of any State, the penalty assessed shall not exceed the maximum provided for violation of said law, treaty, or regulation, or $10,000, whichever is less.

(2) Any person who violates subsection (b) or (f) of section 3372 of this title, except as provided in paragraph (1), may be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of not more than $250.

(3) For purposes of paragraphs (1) and (2), any reference to a provision of this chapter or to a section of this chapter shall be treated as including any regulation issued to carry out any such provision or section.

(4) No civil penalty may be assessed under this subsection unless the person accused of the violation is given notice and opportunity for a hearing with respect to the violation. Each violation shall be a separate offense and the offense shall be deemed to have been committed not only in the district where the violation first occurred, but also in any district in which a person may have taken or been in possession of the said fish or wildlife or plants.

(5) Any civil penalty assessed under this subsection may be remitted or mitigated by the Secretary.

(6) In determining the amount of any penalty assessed pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2), the Secretary shall take into account the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the prohibited act committed, and with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, ability to pay, and such other matters as justice may require.

(b) Hearings

Hearings held during proceedings for the assessment of civil penalties shall be conducted in accordance with section 554 of Title 5. The administrative law judge may issue subpoenas for the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of relevant papers, books, or documents, and may administer oaths. Witnesses summoned shall be paid the same fees and mileage that are paid to witnesses in the courts of the United States. In case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpoena issued pursuant to this paragraph and served upon any person, the district court of the United States for any district in which such person is found, resides, or transacts business, upon application by the United States and after notice to such person, shall have jurisdiction to issue an order requiring such person to appear and give testimony before the administrative law judge or to appear and produce documents before the administrative law judge, or both, and any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by such court as a contempt thereof.

(c) Review of civil penalty

Any person against whom a civil penalty is assessed under this section may obtain review thereof in the appropriate District Court of the United States by filing a complaint in such court within 30 days after the date of such order and by simultaneously serving a copy of the complaint by certified mail on the Secretary, the Attorney General, and the appropriate United States attorney. The Secretary shall promptly file in such court a certified copy of the record upon which such violation was found or such penalty imposed, as provided in section 2112 of Title 28. If any person fails to pay an assessment of a civil penalty after it has become a final and unappealable order or after the appropriate court has entered final judgment in favor of the Secretary, the Secretary may request the Attorney General of the United States to institute a civil action in an appropriate district court of the United States to collect the penalty, and such court shall have jurisdiction to hear and decide any such action. In hearing such action, the court shall have authority to review the violation and the assessment of the civil penalty de novo.

(d) Criminal penalties

(1) Any person who–

(A) knowingly imports or exports any fish or wildlife or plants in violation of any provision of this chapter (other than subsections (b), (d) and (f) of section 3372 of this title), or

(B) knowingly violates paragraph (4) of section 3(a), or

(B) (C) violates any provision of this chapter (other than subsections (b), (d) and (f) of section 3372 of this title) by knowingly engaging in conduct that involves the sale or purchase of, the offer of sale or purchase of, or the intent to sell or purchase, fish or wildlife or plants with a market value in excess of $350, knowing that the fish or wildlife or plants were taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of, or in a manner unlawful under, any underlying law, treaty or regulation, shall be fined not more than $20,000, or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both. Each violation shall be a separate offense and the offense shall be deemed to have been committed not only in the district where the violation first occurred, but also in any district in which the defendant may have taken or been in possession of the said fish or wildlife or plants.

(2) Any person who knowingly engages in conduct prohibited by any provision of this chapter (other than subsections (b), (d), and (f) of section 3372 of this title) and in the exercise of due care should know that the fish or wildlife or plants were taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of, or in a manner unlawful under, any underlying law, treaty or regulation, or in the exercise of due care should know that the conduct violates paragraph 4 of section 3(a) shall be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. Each violation shall be a separate offense and the offense shall be deemed to have been committed not only in the district where the violation first occurred, but also in any district in which the defendant may have taken or been in possession of the said fish or wildlife or plants.

(3) Any person who knowingly violates subsection (d) or (f) of section 3372 of this title–

(A) shall be fined under Title 18, or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, if the offense involves–

(i) the importation or exportation of fish or wildlife or plants; or

(ii) the sale or purchase, offer of sale or purchase, or commission of an act with intent to sell or purchase fish or wildlife or plants with a market value greater than $350; and

(B) shall be fined under Title 18, or imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both, if the offense does not involve conduct described in subparagraph (A).

(e) Permit sanctions

The Secretary may also suspend, modify, or cancel any Federal hunting or fishing license, permit, or stamp, or any license or permit authorizing a person to import or export fish or wildlife or plants (other than a permit or license issued pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act [16 U.S.C.A. § 1801 et seq.]), or to operate a quarantine station or rescue center for imported wildlife or plants, issued to any person who is convicted of a criminal violation of any provision of this chapter or any regulation issued hereunder. The Secretary shall not be liable for the payments of any compensation, reimbursement, or damages in connection with the modification, suspension, or revocation of any licenses, permits, stamps, or other agreements pursuant to this section.

§ 3374. Forfeiture

(a) In general

(1) All fish or wildlife or plants imported, exported, transported, sold, received, acquired, bred, possessed, owned, or purchased contrary to the provisions of section 3372 of this title (other than section 3372(b) of this title), or any regulation issued pursuant thereto, shall be subject to forfeiture to the United States notwithstanding any culpability requirements for civil penalty assessment or criminal prosecution included in section 3373 of this title.

(2) All vessels, vehicles, aircraft, and other equipment used to aid in the importing, exporting, transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring, breeding, possessing, owning, or purchasing of fish or wildlife or plants in a criminal violation of this chapter for which a felony conviction is obtained shall be subject to forfeiture to the United States if (A) the owner of such vessel, vehicle, aircraft, or equipment was at the time of the alleged illegal act a consenting party or privy thereto or in the exercise of due care should have known that such vessel, vehicle, aircraft, or equipment would be used in a criminal violation of this chapter, and (B) the violation involved the sale or purchase of, the offer of sale or purchase of, or the intent to sell or purchase, fish or wildlife or plants, or involved the breeding, possession, or ownership of a prohibited wildlife species.

(b) Application of customs laws

All provisions of law relating to the seizure, forfeiture, and condemnation of property for violation of the customs laws, the disposition of such property or the proceeds from the sale thereof, and the remission or mitigation of such forfeiture, shall apply to the seizures and forfeitures incurred, or alleged to have been incurred, under the provisions of this chapter, insofar as such provisions of law are applicable and not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter, except that all powers, rights, and duties conferred or imposed by the customs laws upon any officer or employee of the Treasury Department may, for the purposes of this chapter, also be exercised or performed by the Secretary or by such persons as he may designate: Provided, That any warrant for search or seizure shall be issued in accordance with rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

(c) Storage cost

Any person convicted of an offense, or assessed a civil penalty, under section 3373 of this title shall be liable for the costs incurred in the storage, care, and maintenance of any fish or wildlife or plant seized in connection with the violation concerned.

(d) Civil forfeitures

Civil forfeitures under this section shall be governed by the provisions of chapter 46 of Title 18.

 

Now at Big Cat Rescue Oct 3 2014

Now at Big Cat Rescue Oct 3 2014

Genie the Sandcat is rushed to the vet when her keepers note that she is acting weird.

Vet-Genie-Sandcat_1094

Genie Sandcat was sedated in a glass box used for domestic cats.

 

Vet-Genie-Sandcat_1099

This was to make sedation easier on her since she is only 3.3 pounds and 14 years old.

 

Vet-Genie-Sandcat_1103

Dr. Wynn keeps a close eye on her vitals.

 

Vet-Genie-Sandcat_1104

The monitors are just all over the place, so she has to rely on feel, sound and instincts.

 

Vet-Genie-Sandcat_1105

For such an old and tiny cat, Genie Sandcat has some fearsome teeth!

 

Vet-Genie-Sandcat_1108

The tiniest mask straps are too big, so Carole holds the gas mask in place.

 

Vet-Genie-Sandcat_1109

Sandcats are the softest of the exotic cat species.

 

Vet-Genie-Sandcat_1110

No spinal issues and her lungs don’t look terrible, but she has a case of bronchitis.

 

Vet-Genie-Sandcat_1112

This is good news, because Genie Sandcat is given a long lasting antibiotic shot and has a good chance at recovery.

 

Vet-Genie-Sandcat_1113

Dr. Wynn gives her fluids, steroids and antibiotics to help tiny little Genie fight off her symptoms.

 

Vet-Genie-Sandcat-paw_1106

Genie Sandcat’s paw is the size of the tip of Jamie Veronica’s finger.

 

Vet-Genie-Sandcat-paws_1102

 

Sandcat paws are fully furred on the bottom for running on desert sands.

 

Violations at Big Cat Facilities 2011-2014

 

The USDA site doesn’t work most of the time and when it does it is so slow that most browsers will time out and quit before you can download the information you are looking for.  This information is current as of Oct. 3, 2014.

USDA Facilities with big cats who have had citations

USDA Facilities with big cats who have had repeat violations

USDA Facilities with repeat violations for all animal species

 

 

Petition

Petition

We Petition Congress, USDA & USFWS to:

Ban the Private Possession of Wild Animals.

Ban the private possession of wild animals

Ban the private possession of wild animals

Wild animals in cages do nothing to enhance the survival of the species in the wild. There are no reintroduction programs whereby big cats are bred in cages for reintroduction to the wild. On the contrary, the private possession of wild animals harms the survival of those in the wild because paying to see them diverts money from real conservation and they provide a smoke screen for illegal poaching. Authorities cannot tell a captive bred tiger from a wild tiger after he has has been killed. Just last year a private owner turned 56 lions, tigers & bears loose before killing himself. Hundreds of Americans have been killed or maimed by dangerous wild animals who have been kept as pets in typically deplorable conditions. Learn about private ownership & why it’s bad from BigCatRescue.org

 

Take action on today’s big cat issues here:  http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51389/p/salsa/web/blog/public/?blog_KEY=31

Now at Big Cat Rescue July 11 2014

Now at Big Cat Rescue July 11 2014

China Admits to Trade in Captive Tiger Skins

TJ-tiger-byAlexWalsh

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-28258595

China has for the first time admitted that it permits trade in skins from captive tigers, participants and officials at a meeting of an international convention to protect endangered species have said. They say Chinese authorities had never before reported this.
“We don’t ban trade in tiger skins but we do ban trade in tiger bones,” a participant at the meeting said.
Between 5,000 and 6,000 tigers are believed to be in captivity in China.
Worldwide efforts – including tagging – are underway to protect tigers being killed and sold for their body parts.

 

Tiger Skins Used as Bribes to Officials in China

 

China admits trading in tiger skins

China has for the first time admitted in public that it permits trade in skins from captive tigers, according to participants and officials at a meeting of an international convention to protect endangered species.

Chinese authorities have never before reported this to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). However, during the convention’s standing committee meeting in Geneva, China reportedly said that it still banned tiger bones. “A Chinese delegate said, ‘we don’t ban trade in tiger skins but we do ban trade in tiger bones,'” a participant in the meeting said.
Sources within the CITES Secretariat confirmed that a member of the Chinese delegation had said this. Chinese officials have not responded to a BBC request for comment.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 tigers are believed to be in captivity in China. Wildlife conservation organizations have long demanded an end to the trade in skins. Wildlife experts believe “tiger farming” in China has fuelled demand for the poaching and trafficking of the endangered species elsewhere. They say the admission at the meeting will increase pressure on China to curb the practice. Reports also say that the farms where the captive tigers are held have been providing live animals and parts for illegal international trade.

‘Commercial scale’
According to officials and participants at the CITES meeting, the admission from China followed the presentation of a report which gave details of how the Chinese government had allowed commercial trade in skins from captive tigers. “The report presented in the meeting created a situation that required China to respond,” said a participant who did not wish to be named. “Basically when the meeting focused on the findings of this report, the Chinese delegate intervened,” he said. “It was the first time they admitted officially that this trade exists in China.”

Participants say this created quite a sensation during the CITES meeting. “After the Chinese intervention… we too intervened and made it clear that the investigations we have done with other organizations clearly show that the trade in China is happening on a commercial scale,” said Shruti Suresh, a wildlife campaigner with the UK-based Environment Investigation Agency, which has investigated the illegal wildlife trade across the globe. “The clarification was necessary because the Chinese delegate did not say that it was happening on a commercial scale, and there was a risk that the trade could later be misreported as something done for scientific research or, say, displays in the museums.”

Member countries of the CITES are required to report on what progress they have made to ensure that trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. A new report on illegal wildlife trade suggests that around 1,600 tigers, both from captivity and the wild, have been traded globally since 2000.

‘Non-financial bribes’
While China has been a major market for tiger parts, wildlife experts say other South East Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia are also emerging as consumers, where tiger farming is growing. Reports say that in the past two years, there have been seizures of nearly 90 tigers likely to have been sourced from, or trafficked through, captive facilities across South East Asia and China.

“Demand-reduction efforts and enforcement and anti-trafficking activities are undermined both by the existence of facilities that keep and breed tigers for commercial purposes, and the lack of enforcement to stop trade from or through them,” says a report by Species Survival Network (SSN), whose members include more than 100 wildlife conservation organizations. “Trade in these specimens perpetuated the desirability of tiger parts and China’s experiment in licensing the domestic trade in skins of captive tigers has done nothing to alleviate pressure on wild tigers, as evidenced through continued poaching in the wild.”

A little more than 3,000 tigers are believed to be left in the wild across the globe. More than half of those are in India, where 42 tigers were killed last year. “If the Chinese government has admitted the trade in tiger skins, I think it is a forward step toward curbing illegal trade in tiger parts,” said SP Yadav, deputy inspector general of India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority. “Denial mode does not help solve the problem, but once you accept what is happening, it’s easy to move ahead.”

The SSN report says the skins of tigers, leopards and snow leopards are valued among the political, military and business elite as luxury home decorations in China. “The outcome of recent corruption cases in China confirm they are ‘gifted’ as non-financial bribes to officials,” the report says.

In 2005, China had announced that it was considering re-opening the domestic trade in tiger bone from tiger breeding facilities. Two years later, CITES parties adopted a decision calling for the phasing out of such facilities.  BBC  July 11, 2014  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-28258595

 

Unsporting Bill Shot Down

Michael Markarian: Animals & Politics

The Senate today shot down a motion to move forward on S. 2363, the dangerous if innocuous sounding “Sportsmen’s Act,” which has been portrayed as feel-good legislation but could have serious and far-reaching consequences for wildlife, public spaces, and human health and safety. The bill needed 60 votes to advance, but only received 41 in favor, and 56 opposed—a result of some Democrats opposing the bill because of its extreme provisions and Republicans uniting in opposition because they could not offer amendments on gun rights and other topics.  Get the rest of the story here:  http://hslf.typepad.com/political_animal/2014/07/unsporting-bill-shot-down.html?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=hslf

 

Now at Big Cat Rescue June 30 2014

Now at Big Cat Rescue June 30 2014

#TAFA14

 

Big Cat Rescuers are sitting in the airport waiting for the flight back to Tampa.  We are so exhausted we can hardly speak, but it is that wonderful sort of exhaustion that comes from knowing you gave it everything you had and that you made a difference.

Big Cat Rescue was the Diamond Sponsor of the 2014 Taking Action for Animals Conference because it gave unparalleled exposure to more than 1,200 animal activists who cared enough to travel to D.C. for four days to learn about ways to help animals.  Our sponsorship also gave us access to all of the celebrities and high rollers who attended the Humane Society of the United State’s 60th Anniversary gala.

It also gave us the premiere location in the Exhibit Hall and I don’t know how many people attended that, but it was far more than just the 1,200 attendees, as that part was open to the public. Jeff and Coleen Kremer, Susan Bass, Lauren Buckingham, & Valerie Stockton manned the booth, answered questions, shared our mission and made many new friends in the animal welfare community.

Big Cat Rescue AdvoCats, Jennifer Leon and Stephanie Derdouri attended as well and carried our mission to attendees and members of Congress as well.

Below are some of the photos from the trip.

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It was so cool to see our logo everywhere.  It was also on everyone’s gift bag and name badge.  The sign on the left promoted Howie’s talk at 1PM both days about why we need a ban rather than relying on regs that are not enforced.

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We got two, full page, full color ads in the beautiful TAFA show guide.  One inside the front cover and the other inside the back cover.

 

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Howie stays on top of all of his other work at the sanctuary by cell phone during the breaks.

 

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This was on all of the screens in the rooms where the workshops were held.  The screens were 10-15 feet high.

 

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Mike Markarian introduces Howie as the next speaker at the Plenary.

 

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Above the exhibit hall there was a balcony where Howie talked about why we need a big cat ban.

 

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I should have gotten a photo later because every seat was filled and people were lining the sidelines to hear Howie on Saturday.  The turnout on Sunday was amazingly good since we figured everyone who wanted to hear it had been there on Saturday.

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Lauren and Valerie have done an amazing job helping our guests reach out to their legislative offices so we took them to TAFA. Valerie says she would like to find a job, full time, in this arena.  Lauren is from the U.K., but we would love to have her here full time.

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HSUS celebrated their 60th anniversary with this $500 a plate, star studded gala.  As the Diamond Sponsor of TAFA we got in free.

 

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There really is no other organization that is having such a huge impact in protecting animals.

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Everyone was chattering about how this guy was from The Walking Dead.  His dad is on the board.  There were a lot of celebrities there, but Jane Velez Mitchell was the only one I recognized.  I don’t watch much T.V.

 

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This was the sign outside the door for my presentation.  After my talk some people said it was the most inspiring talk of the event.

 

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The show hall was gigantic, so the booths had a lot of space to set up so that people weren’t crowded.  There were masses of people but it never seemed crowded because of the layout.

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On Lobby Day there were about 30 people in the Florida delegation who went around to talk to our Senators and Representatives.  Most states were represented, but FL seemed to be the biggest group.

 

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Lauren has her packet of bills to present to lawmakers.

 

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Jennifer came as our guest for all the work she does as an AdvoCat.

 

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Wayne Pacelle talks to everyone on Lobby Day about some of the bills that we are trying to push over the finish line.

 

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Howie takes a selfie of us in front of the Capitol on Lobby Day.

 

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Howie takes a selfie of us with Jennifer.