Now at Big Cat Rescue July 11 2014

Now at Big Cat Rescue July 11 2014

China Admits to Trade in Captive Tiger Skins


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


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:


Now at Big Cat Rescue June 25 2014

Now at Big Cat Rescue June 25 2014

Summer Fair Season is NO FUN for big cats!


If you are from NJ or NY your voice would be especially helpful right now in ending this kind of treatment of big cats at the Meadowlands Fair. U.S. Residents please send an email at

Everyone, US or not, can post to the Fair’s FB page here


Sad Goodbye to Carol Porter



I was so sad to find out that Carol Porter died. I look for her periodically because she told me she hated the way USDA failed to enforce the Animal Welfare Act against big cat breeders and exploiters and always said she was going to write a book about it after leaving her position. I kept looking for her to see how that book is coming along, but today I learned that at the young age of 51 she is gone.


Florida’s Panther Population Increasing – Slowly

Citing a 10 percent increase in kitten survival, Gil McRae, the director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s research institute announced that new estimates put the number of Florida panthers in the wild at somewhere around 180 animals.

Even though they have been on the Federal Endangered Species List since the mid-1960s, the Florida panther almost became extinct in the early 1990s, but a concerted conservation effort by state and federal wildlife officials have turned that death spiral around and studies now show that the population has increased steadily since….. continue reading


Utah DWR Officials Order Euthanasia of Captured Lion

Tuesday, officials from the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources euthanized a scared, helpless mountain lion that had taken refuge in a garage in the community of American Fork, Utah.

The lion was first discovered around 12:30 pm by a teenage boy who had entered his family’s garage. When confronted by the human, the young mountain lion snarled at the boy and backed further into a dark corner of the garage in a vain attempt to escape. American Fork police officers and a local animal control officer were dispatched to the scene to contain the animal. When Josee Seamons, a wildlife….. continue reading


Lost Lion Caught After Wandering East Sacramento

After a day-long, self-guided tour of residences on the east side of Sacramento, a young, lost mountain lion eventually sought shelter in the “jungle-like” backyard of 74-year old Mabel Furr’s North Oak Park home at the corner of 32nd and X streets, where he was captured late Saturday evening by members of the Sacramento police force and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The one-and-a-half year old male mountain lion, weighing approximately 70 lb, was first spotted around 1:35 a.m. early Saturday morning near 58th and M streets. Sacramento police officers….. continue reading

Big Cat Rescue gives a huge SHOUT OUT to Porsche!

Big Cat Rescue gives a huge SHOUT OUT to Porsche!

Big Cat Rescue gives a huge SHOUT OUT to Porsche!


This month Porsche is unveiling their new SUV called the Macan – which means Tiger in Indonesian. When Big Cat Rescue recently learned that Porsche dealerships around the country planned to rent tiger cubs as part of the “entertainment” at their Macan launch parties, we knew we had to try and educate Porsche about why this is cub abuse.

We contacted Porsche North America’s headquarters in Atlanta and explained that Big Cat Rescue as well as other GFAS-accredited sanctuaries and reputable animal welfare groups such as PETA are highly opposed to the exploitation of tiger cubs for entertainment, PR and “shock value.” We explained to Porsche that tigers are endangered in the wild and using them as props to promote automobiles would send the very wrong message that exotic animals are ours to use at will.

We were extremely pleased to find that Porsche management quickly “got it” about the abuse to the cubs and immediately notified all of their dealers around the country NOT to include tiger cubs in their marketing promotions for the Macan. And after further discussions with Big Cat Rescue and PETA, Porsche has adopted a no-animal policy for all dealer activities!!

Thanks to YOU, our wonderful supporters, our efforts to educate are increasingly gaining traction with both the public and Congress (several more House Reps and Senators have recently signed on as co-sponsors of the Big Cats bill!) and this victory with Porsche is a great example.

And a very special THANK YOU to Porsche for caring about tiger cubs and taking a responsible stance on wild animal exhibitions!

Big Cat Rescue encourages our supporters to visit their local Porsche dealer and test drive the new Macan. To read PETA’s press release, read on:




Company Shares Concerns With PETA, Big Cat Rescue Over Animals’ Well-Being, Customers’ Safety


Atlanta — In response to appeals from PETA and Big Cat Rescue citing animal welfare and public-safety concerns raised by Porsche dealerships’ reported plans to exhibit tiger cubs at unveilings of the new Porsche Macan, Porsche Cars North America has pledged to urge all of its U.S. dealerships to cancel any plans to display tiger cubs or any other animals at events.

In an e-mail to PETA, Porsche’s vice president of marketing, Andre Oosthuizen, told PETA that Porsche shares its concerns “when it comes to the ethical treatment of any animal, large or small, wild or domesticated” and “will personally make contact with every Porsche dealer to reinforce our appeal that no animals whatsoever be used in any dealer activity.”

“After hearing from PETA about how tiger cubs used for displays are torn away from their mothers shortly after birth, Porsche was quick to kick a ‘no live animals’ policy into high gear,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “By speaking out against cruel big-cat displays, Porsche has set an example of kindness and good business sense for other companies to follow.”

Baby tigers used for public display are typically only 8 to 12 weeks old—and the cubs displayed at a Porsche dealership in Tampa, Fla., earlier this month were believed to be only 3 weeks old.




In nature, tiger cubs stay with their mothers for two years, but tiger cubs used for display are generally taken away from their mothers when they’re just days old in order to “acclimate” them to human handling. The frightened, helpless cubs are continually carted from town to town and venue to venue—and when they grow up and are no longer profitable, they’re often left to languish in small cages or are disposed of.

Wild-animal displays also place the public at risk of injury and disease transmission. A bear cub recently used in a promotion at Washington University in St. Louis bit at least 18 people.

PETA’s correspondence with Porsche Cars North America is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA’s blog 

Failed Big Cat Facilities



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)

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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:

John Cuneo Hawthorn Circus owner  appx. 50 big cats

G.W. Exotics in Oklahoma claims to have 190 big cats, 23 cubs died in an 18 mo. period, filed for bankruptcy in 2013

Big Cats of Serenity Springs, CO appx 130 big cats – USDA lists 71 tigers in 2011

The Zoo owned by Pat and Robert Engesser DBA Jungle Safari Chiefland, FL

T.I.G.E.R.S. owned by Bhagavan Antle who calls himself “Doc” Antle  appx 75 big cats – USDA lists 51 tigers 2011

K ay and Clay Rosaire Circus  reports 18 tigers on her 2011 USDA census

Big Cat Rescue’s mission is to provide for the cats we have already committed ourselves to and to educate people and change laws so that animals don’t end up in situations requiring their rescue.


Help us stay vital so that the cats you have helped rescue will have a home for life.  Donate to Save Big Cats

Today at Big Cat Rescue Aug 10 2013

Today at Big Cat Rescue Aug 10 2013

Project Bobcat


These are my kind of people!  Please share this video and share their mission.


Even Rednecks Know You Shouldn’t Pet Tiger Cubs



I had originally asked this couple to pretend that they were going to go pet tigers at the fair, but they were so appalled that anyone would do that, they asked to make the video in their own way to show that even rednecks know better than to pay to pay with tiger cubs or see big cats at the circus. They created their own script and certainly injected a lot of their own passion toward protecting animals. Check them out on as BShore2000


Silly Tiger With Ball


World Lion Day


“This is the perfect opportunity for the world to take note of the plight of the African lion, for us all to take the time to ponder the reality of today’s pressures on wildlife and the wilderness sustaining these wondrous animals who have, to date, stood the test of time – but for how long will they be able to run from man,” said Tammy Hoth, Director of the AfriCat Foundation.


Namibia is a forerunner in Africa regarding conservation and sustainable management of wildlife.


Namibia’s lion numbers range from between 600 and 800, found only in the Kunene, Etosha, and Caprivi region and in the Khaudom Park/Nyae-Nyae Conservancy along Namibia’s border with Botswana.



Despite the low numbers, the status of the Namibian lion is regarded by many as ‘healthy’.


After at least ten years of above-average rainfall in most parts of Namibia, as well as valuable data collected by researchers, it is believed that lion numbers and their distribution have increased in some regions.


“Persecution of lions by farmers has, however, continued unabated and with the first drought in years becoming a reality, livestock losses will be even less tolerated and more lions will be destroyed,” said Hoth.


Human-wildlife conflict is ever present on both communal and commercial farmland, especially along the borders of Etosha, on surrounding farmland and in a number of communal conservancies.


With the Namibian Lion Management Plan yet to be finalised, guidelines as to best practice regarding long-term lion conservation are not in place in communal conservancies, nor on commercial farms.


Hoth also said trophy hunting quotas are only allocated to hunting concessions in conservancies, where reliable research data is absent in most cases and the methods used to establish these quotas are debatable. Black- maned, male lions are naturally favoured as trophies and bring the highest fees to the conservancy.


Large numbers of lions are trapped, shot and poisoned on farmland annually, with the mandatory reporting of such killings irregular – thus, the official lion mortality figures cannot be regarded as true, according to Hoth.


The AfriCat Foundation, with bases in central and northern Namibia, believes that Namibia’s lions can survive.


“With programmes including research, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and community support, our motto ‘Conservation Through Education’ can and will support the long-term survival of our lions,” Hoth concluded.

The Sad Life of Dolly the Mountain Lion

The Sad Life of Dolly the Mountain Lion

Three Mountain Lion Cubs

It’s 1994 and a hunter has just killed the mother Mountain Lion in Colorado so that he can steal her young cubs and sell them into the pet trade.  One of the cubs is purchased by an ill advised woman who tries to make a pet of her, and flees the state to end up in Maine a year later.  The cub, named Dolly, is outgrowing the woman’s ability to restrain her though, as she approaches 100 lbs in her first year.


When the authorities found out they confiscated the illegally kept cub and placed her in a little roadside zoo in Lincoln, Maine, owned by Walt Libby.


Dolly lived in this reportedly substandard facility for the next 11 years. People who knew Dolly said that she was kept in a basement like environment with no windows and was never allowed to go outside. When Maine finally began to crack down on these sleazy little roadside zoos, Libby decided it wasn’t worth it to upgrade his place so he sent a bear and mountain lion named Dolly to the Howell Rehab Center in Amity, Maine. It only got worse from there.


The A E Howell Wildlife Conservation Center is located in northern Maine, where winters are extremely cold. Because of the life that Dolly has been forced to live, she suffers from arthritis, and as a result, this northern climate is very painful and debilitating to her. Former volunteers, who spent 14 years working at the wildlife center shared horrific stories; these are just a few:


“The facility was well known in the community for rehabbing and releasing bears and donations came in because the public thought these bears were being released into protected habitat. What was later discovered was that the bears were being released into a hunting area where the “sportsmen” were known to bait the bears with food to insure an easy kill. Turns out this was the same sportsman’s center where A E Howell would cart Dolly, in a small circus wagon, for three day stints in the gymnasium, where she would be poked and prodded at my those who get their jollies killing animals for fun.”

“During one of these shows a three year old boy walked up to the mountain lion and asked the elderly volunteer a question. When she leaned over to hear the boy, A E Howell poked Dolly with his cane so that she lunged toward the docent; all teeth and claws and barely missed grabbing her from behind. All the while the owner laughed uproariously.”

“A coyote was frozen in place last winter because the facilities offer such poor shelter from the cold. Rather than taking the effort to free the coyote he was shot in the head by the owner.”

“When animals died they were sold to a local taxidermist for hundreds of dollars. Rehab animals were often kept in cages, even after they had healed and were ready to be released because they were more valuable as exhibit pieces and for their dead bodies when they succumbed to the relentless winters. Some of the rehab animals were bred when it was discovered that inbreeding caused color morphs that the owner found curious.”


Dolly had been moved from one appalling place to another. She spent the next 7 years in a small shack, 15 feet x 20 feet, made of particle board, with no insulation or heat. There was just one window at the end of the room, where visitors would stand and gawk at her misery. She lies on filthy straw on a dirt floor because no one can enter the room to clean it or change the bedding. She has an outside enclosure 7 x 15, but she needs to jump up 3 feet through an elevated guillotine door leading outside. Because she is debilitated with arthritis, she cannot jump the three feet, and therefore has no no way to get out into her small outside enclosure.


Visitors might shake their head, and think, “what a pity,” but no one ever spoke up for her, except for her caregivers, and they had nearly given up after years of being ignored.  Not one person ever took the time to post a review on TripAdvisor about the dismal conditions at the Howell Wildlife Conservation Center.  From viewing the inspection reports at USDA, not one inspector ever bothered to document her miserable life.  In all the years that Dolly spent in dark, dank, freezing cold cages, not one government official ever stepped forward to end her suffering until now.  Not once, in the past 19 years had anyone called Big Cat Rescue to tell us about this precious, captive cougar.  Caregivers were told that A E Howell had powerful political connections and that is why his USDA reports were always compliant and his rehab license had never been revoked, despite the many violations they had reported, such as breeding and selling the wildlife in his possession.


Last winter Dolly almost died of dehydration as her water froze because of the sub-standard care and housing. Caregivers say that this is common for the animals there. The volunteers wear picks on their boots to make it across the frozen, snow covered grounds. They have to break the ice off the water bowls with a hammer for the animals to drink, but the water quickly freezes back over during days of prolonged, sub zero weather. A E Howell is reported to be elderly, ill and irresponsible when it comes to making sure the animals are cleaned, watered and fed properly.


On January 30, 2012 Big Cat Rescue was alerted that the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department wanted to send Dolly to a real sanctuary. Big Cat Rescue contacted Geri Vistein, a Conservation Biologist and Richard Hoppe, Regional Biologist for Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, to let them know that Dolly was welcome here in Tampa for her final years. We scrambled into high gear to make arrangements for a vet to take a look at her and issue a health certificate and we obtained the Florida import permit in less than 24 hours because her situation was so heartbreaking and dire.


We had a beautiful enclosure all ready for Dolly;  with an underground den, a big hill from which she would be able to survey her cougar neighbors, and platforms, trees, bushes and grass.  It had been Missouri Cougar’s cat-a-tat until she had died from bone cancer.  We told Cody, Missouri’s life long mate, that there would soon be a new “girl” in town next door.


It is a common misconception to think that if someone is abusing a big cat in the U.S. that the government can or will do anything about it.  If the government does anything, it usually takes six years or more to slowly wind through the judicial process.  Richard Hoppe knew that Dolly didn’t have that much time and said he felt certain he could get A E Howell to sign our contract releasing Dolly to Big Cat Rescue.


We found a local vet, Dr. Coville, who corresponded with our vet, Dr. Liz Wynn, to make sure that we would have the right drugs and a licensed practitioner in Maine to oversee the rescue.  We would also need a health certificate for Dolly to enter Florida so Dr. Coville was preparing to obtain that for us as well.  Geri Vistein put us in touch with the two long time caregivers to have them describe the doors, access ways and other issues we would encounter so that we would be sure to have everything necessary to try and load her without tranquilization. In order to accomodate the schedules of the wildlife officers, the Maine vet and the owner, we set a date of February 16 to have our rescue crew arrive in Amity, Maine.  Three Big Cat Rescuers would leave Tampa on Valentine’s Day to make the 1,700 mile trip, by switching drivers pretty much straight through to Maine.


Richard Hoppe drove our contract to the rehab center on February 6 and was disgusted and dismayed at what he found.


Dolly could not walk. She could barely stand, and when she did she was so feeble, shaking in the cold, that all she could do was fall back over into her own waste. Richard Hoppe called the rehab center’s primary vet to ask when she had been seen last. Dr. Arnott said that he had prescribed Glucosamine in mid December for her advanced arthritis and the staff swore that they had been giving it to her, but her condition had only continued to deteriorate. The Regional Biologist was told by the vet that Dolly had reached the end and that it would be cruel to make her hang on for help to come.  He felt certain the move would kill her, if she didn’t die on her own before we could get there.  The temperature was 3 degrees that day.


Not ready to concede defeat I relayed a few cases (see video below) where cats were at the very end of their rope when we arrived and yet managed to have some very good years here once we brought them back to Easy Street. I sense that Mr. Hoppe is a compassionate man, and that he wanted to believe that Dolly could survive until we arrived, but he was committed to do as the vet had suggested. These are the experts that he has to deal with every day and I can understand why he feels compelled to do as they say. I think the vet has the best interest of Dolly in his heart. He doesn’t want to see her suffer any further and it certainly isn’t up to us to second guess his opinion.  She’s 19 and that’s very old for a mountain lion.




On the very day that her death was determined, Texas introduced a bill that would ban the private possession of big cats. Last year Ohio did so. The worst states in the country for allowing the rampant trade in big cats have always been, FL, OH and TX in that order. Since the day that Dolly’s mom was killed and Dolly and her litter mates sold into the exotic pet trade back in 1994, nearly a dozen states have passed bans or partial bans.  In 2003 the Captive Wildlife Safety Act passed unanimously in Congress, making it illegal to sell or transport a big cat, like Dolly, across state lines as a pet.  There is a strong trend toward ending the abuses that Dolly suffered. The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act would put an end to this sort of abuse. That would be a federal ban on the private possession of big cats.



Mountain Lion Cub Stolen From The Wild

While we are heartbroken to not be able to give Dolly those final days, weeks, months or years of quiet warmth in the Florida sunshine we have been forever touched by this mountain lion named Dolly. Somewhere out there her siblings have likely endured similar fates.  She had a story to tell and we want to be sure that you heard it.  Now that you have, we hope that you will be the voice for the thousands of wild cats, like Dolly, who continue to be bred for life in cages, exploited, abandoned and abused.  Speak up for them at




Note: No one knows for sure how Dolly was taken from the wild or how many siblings survived, if any.  What we do know is that her first owner had obtained her from the wild in Colorado and the rest is based on witness accounts of Dolly’s life.  Photos are from this Mountain Lion rescue in 2005.  We have offered to have Dolly cremated and her ashes sent to Florida so that she will not be sold to a taxidermist to be made into a den decoration.

Update June 16, 2013:  We were startled to hear that Popcorn Park announced in their June newsletter that they had rescued Dolly the mountain lion on Mar 8, 2013, nearly a month after we had been told that she had been euthanized.  When her former caregiver found out, she asked to send a donation to Popcorn Park for Dolly on June 4, 2013 but was told that the cat had already died on June 1st from bloat.