You remember the Ice Bucket Challenge, don’t you? It was a crazy, popular way to raise awareness about Lou Gherig’s Disease, that started in 2014 and has already raised more than 100,000 million dollars for ALS research. Just yesterday Boston Mayor Marty Walsh took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—and challenged Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to do the same. A full year later this form of public activism is still grabbing headlines.
What if the cats had such a successful campaign to raise awareness about the suffering they endure for tiger selfies, lion selfies and liger selfies?
You KNOW we could end the pay to play schemes, once and for all, if everyone knew that posing with tiger cubs was Cruel NOT Cool!
The Tiger Selfie Challenge is a lot easier than the Ice Bucket Challenge. (Cats wouldn’t want any part of dumping ice water on anyone) All you have to do is buy the .99 cent Tiger Selfie App, snap some selfies, pick from an array of tiger photos in the app and post it to social sites. The image you post tells your viewers why posing with real cubs is so cruel. You aren’t asking your friends to donate huge sums of money; just to buy the app and share their own tiger selfie images to raise awareness.
The app developer has committed to donating half of the money to tiger sanctuaries to make sure the tigers have safe places to go once the world figures out that they should never support any organization that allows cub handling.
The big cats need YOUR help in promoting the Tiger Selfie Challenge. If Cecil the Lion touched your heart, then the Tiger Selfie Challenge is something you can do, right now, to end the abuse. LionAid reports that 99% of the lions shot as trophies in S. Africa were born in cages. The cubs are pimped out there, just like is done at tiger breeding mills in the U.S., and then when they get too big to use for the pay to play schemes they are turned out into a fenced area to be shot by trophy hunters.
The lions, tigers and ligers that are born in the U.S. tiger mills just disappear off the radar each year. It is suspected that they end up being killed for their skins, bones, and teeth as well, but it is a network of criminals who operate with very little over sight.
YOU can end the abuse by taking the Tiger Selfie Challenge today and sharing it with everyone you know. People love to share photos of themselves and the tiger overlays in the app make an image that they will want to share.
Think how easy it will be to pass the Big Cats and Public Safety Act this year if everyone in Congress has heard of, and maybe even taken, the Tiger Selfie Challenge! This is an easy and fun action that you can take, right now, to make a difference!
Be sure to use the hashtag #TigerSelfie so we can see your power in reaching the masses with this educational app.
Sorry, this is only available on iPhone, but visit TigerSelfieApp.com to let the developer know that you want it for Android.
Below is an example of how your tiger selfie can look. In social streams, such as Facebook and Instagram the graphic changes from your image to the tiger cub handling message automatically, but on a web page you would have to click the play symbol.
I’d like to begin by saying that in some ways I truly admire you. Perhaps we have different views on some (or many) social issues, but I do see in you a deep desire to be kind to others. You seem to put great effort into being a progressive and independent woman and a role model not only to entertainment-obsessed masses, but to the youth of America (this includes your young daughter). I think it was, perhaps, a mother’s love and the need to provide your daughter with extraordinary opportunities, that you, yourself, never had, that was the impetus behind what was an incredibly misguided, but well intentioned action.
You and your husband brought your young daughter to Thailand and whilst there paid to have your family photographed while bottle feeding a tiger cub. No doubt in your mind this would be an image captured forever on film that would allow your daughter to look back on that family trip and say “Wow, how fortunate I was to be part of such a ‘rare’ experience.” What you did not know, and what I think, sadly, you still have not realized, is that while this experience was, indeed, amazing, it was also a form of animal abuse. One that does not occur only in Thailand, but all over the world.
Sadly, the practice of ‘paying to play’ is most prevalent here in the United States.
What seems like a harmless encounter to humans is, in actuality, just one brief moment in a lifetime of misery and abuse for these cubs. Here in America dozens of traveling zoos and roadside exhibits make quite a pretty penny by charging members of the public to pet, play with, or even swim with adolescent wild animals. The most common victims in the ‘pay to play scheme, are cubs of the big cats.
What the public doesn’t understand, is that the adorable babies they get to hold have been ripped from the care of their mothers, artificially orphaned, and thrust into a short life of suffering and abuse as nothing more than photography props.
The inhumane treatment begins early on with the removal of the cubs from their mothers. At this vulnerable age their immune systems are not fully developed and the intense stress and exposure from constant handling puts them at great risk for disease or fatality. Unnatural habitats and prolonged photo sessions leave the cubs unable to regulate their sleep patterns, which further damages their growth. Forced to endure being passed around like merchandise and exposure to flashbulbs, some of them develop vision and limb problems. Many suffer the removal of their claws and teeth, in order to guarantee the safety of the customers paying to hold them.
Others are starved in an attempt to stunt their growth, thus keeping them viable for use in ‘pay to play’ gigs even as they age. I will never forget the first time I watched a cub-handling encounter on YouTube.
The way the handlers roughly grabbed them and hung them by their armpits to “reset” them, claiming that this is how they would be held in the wild, blowing in their faces to “calm” them down. Or the heartbreaking cries of protest from the cubs as they were tossed from stranger to stranger simply for entertainment value.
As a mother, I am sure you can’t imagine letting anyone handle your child in such a way.
The luckiest cubs will grow too large or too aggressive to be useful as photo props, and subsequently will be spared the prison sentence of a life in captivity. Instead, they will be sold for use in canned hunts. Taken to open land and released for a few precious moment before the bullet of a paying hunter puts an end to their short-lived joy. Others will be butchered outright, their body parts sold on the blackmarket. As I said, those animals are the lucky ones. Many ‘pay to play’ cubs will, unfortunately, become part of the exotic animal trade, an industry which is surpassed in profit only by drugs and guns.
I share all this with you now, not to shame you. I know you have been slandered and criticized by many because of your actions. While I understand the anger that many people feel, what some fail to understand is that the fault lies not only on your shoulders. We must also blame a lack of education within our society. Fault also lies within our media. Commercials and television programs glorify the idea of turning wild animals into pets, and precious little attention is given to the vile underworld of animal trafficking and the abuse associated with ‘pay to play’ venues.
Why has so little attention been paid to this horrendous form of abuse?
Why is it allowed to go on legally in so many parts of our country and elsewhere in the world? Equally culpable are our lawmakers. At what point do we say, “We must change the laws that allow this to continue”?
Ms. Carter, you did not create the industry that propagates this kind of abuse, but I ask you now to take a stand against it. Channel your inner Sasha Fierce and speak out on behalf of those who have no voice of their own. We need your help. The baby wild animals need your help.
There is no shame in making a mistake, no matter how erroneous, if you acknowledge that mistake and embrace the change that allows you to become a more enlightened human being. I hope my words find you somehow through social media and that not only do they inspire you to instigate change, but that they help you realize that as human beings we are fallible. In the end you are not guilty of anything but remaining silent.
With warm regards and hope for the future of all the Earth’s children,
Today Big Cat Rescue hosted a celebrity. Her name is Elizabeth and she was the woman in the background of this famous photo.
Iconic VJ Day Sailor and Nurse in foreground and Elizabeth to the left behind them.
After news of the Japanese acceptance and before Truman’s announcement, Americans began celebrating “as if joy had been rationed and saved up for the three years, eight months and seven days since Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941”, as Life magazine later reported.
Fast forward 69 years…
Elizabeth came to meet Amazing Grace the Ocelot today as that is the cat on her http://www.bigcatrescue.biz/ which was given to her as a gift by my mother, Mary Stairs. Elizabeth attends church with me and my family and makes me a hand crocheted cup doily each year.
Just over the sailor’s shoulder
WORLD WAR II
Times Staff Writer
28 August 2005
St. Petersburg Times
TAMPA – The first time Elizabeth Harris saw the photo, she had no idea it was an American icon in the making.
It was not long after V-J Day, Aug. 15, 1945. She was a 22-year-old from Tacoma, Wash., working in New York City and waiting for her fiance to return from the service.
When she saw Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstadt’s joyous shot of a sailor planting a big smooch on a nurse in Times Square amid the victory celebration, what she noticed was herself.
“That’s me,” says Harris, 82. “You can just see me over his shoulder.”
She’s not the nurse; several women have claimed to be, and about a dozen men have said they were the sailor. Life has never identified them.
“So many people claimed to be them, and I’m sure they all thought they were right,” Harris says.
But she is sure she is the dark-haired, laughing woman whose face is partly visible just above the sailor’s right arm.
Harris, then Elizabeth Bahler, worked in the accounting department of the J.C. Penney Co., on 34th Street off Broadway. “I used to ride up on the elevator with Mr. Penney.”
When news of the war’s end broke, she says, the bosses told everyone to take the rest of the day off.
She met her friend Rose Marie Jones, also from Tacoma, and they joined the throngs whooping it up in the streets of the city.
Somewhere near 42nd Street, they saw the sailor and the nurse.
“He just grabbed her. Everyone was screaming and hollering,” she says.
“I guess he hiked her skirt up when he grabbed her, because it wasn’t that short.” She taps the photograph. “Oh, those stockings with seams. They were horrible.”
She and Jones (who is also in the photo, Harris says, although just a smidgen of her forehead is visible) noticed the photographer. “But they were all over the place, too.”
In the swirl of the crowd, she didn’t see what happened after the sailor turned the nurse loose.
But Harris had other things on her mind than photographic immortality.
“I felt wonderful. I was engaged, and we were going to get married when he got back. Of course, we were going to get married whether the war was over or not.” But the end of the war meant the wedding might come sooner.
World War II had touched her life long before she came to New York.
In Tacoma, she says, there were often air raids. “The air raid warden lived right next door, and he scared us half to death” with warnings of what could happen if they didn’t follow orders.
She had several friends of Japanese descent who were sent to internment camps after Pearl Harbor. “They were second-generation American. They didn’t even speak Japanese.
“Those families lost everything.”
In 1943, at age 20, she decided to head east. “I don’t know how I had the nerve to do that, just get on a train and go across the country. But I did.”
She met James Harris not long after she came to New York. When she first arrived, she and her friend Jones lived at the YWCA in Greenwich Village.
“It was $6 a week, $3 for each of us. The bathroom was down the hall.
We could eat at the Automat for a total of about a quarter. We made $30 a week, so we did pretty well.”
Meeting her future husband, she says, was “very much serendipity.”
“Rosie came out (from Washington) ahead of me, and she met a sailor on the train. He wrote to his sister in Texas and told her about this nice girl on the train. The sister wrote her friend Bessie in New York.
“It turned out Bessie worked at the phone company with Rosie, and she took us to her church. The first time we went, we met James.
“He told his friend, “I didn’t know which one to take (as if he had to take one of us!), so I decided to take the small one.’
“Rosie never did see that sailor again.”
James Harris was a student at the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., when they met. Soon he was in the service, often performing dangerous duty such as loading and transporting ammunition.
He visited her in New York occasionally, but much of their courtship was conducted by letter, Harris says. “He was very good about writing, and I always wrote him back. We wrote just about every day.”
They became engaged in January 1945, when they bought a ring at Macy’s and then went to the observation deck of the Empire State Building, where he put it on her finger.
That building played another role on the day they applied for a marriage license: July 28, 1945.
That morning, as they were downtown getting the license, the pilot of an Army B-25 bomber became lost in dense fog, flew into Manhattan and crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building. Fourteen people died.
“We were coming home and saw that plane sticking out of the building,” Harris says. “Thank goodness it was a Saturday; if it had been a weekday, a lot more people would have been in there working.”
The Harrises married in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 1945. After he got out of the service, with both of them working, they made $60 a week.
They lived in an apartment on W 69th Street, where Lincoln Center is today.
They later lived in Pennsylvania, then came to Tampa in 1951. They moved into a house near Lowry Park in 1957, when nearby N Boulevard was still a sand road. “I remember getting stuck in it.”
James Harris worked onshore for several companies while their three children were young, but he returned to the Merchant Marine after the kids were grown. He died in December.
Elizabeth Harris still lives in the house where they raised their family, a tidy place with wood paneling and lots of photos of the children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. “Almost three,” Harris says.
She and her husband were married for 59 years. “We were very fortunate.”
Their love of travel was one of their bonds; one son lives in London, and, she says, they got to travel all over Europe while visiting him.
In 1995, they spent most of a month in London during the 50th anniversary of V-E Day.
And on almost every anniversary of World War II events, Harris says, she sees that exuberantly romantic photo of a kiss in Times Square, and her own smiling face just above a sailor’s embracing arm.
“Throughout the years, on every anniversary, you see it and say, Oh yes! I remember.”
Thanks to the ROARING generosity of The Royal Manticoran Navy, the Official Honor Harrington Fan Association, representatives from Big Cat Rescue recently tabled and spoke as part of the 35th Annual Shore Leave Science Fiction Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland.
The Royal Manticoran Navy is comprised of an international group of incredibly talented and passionate animal advocates who have generously supported Big Cat Rescue’s fiscal and advocacy initiatives for a number of years, including approximately $3000 raised during Shore Leave 2013.
The group celebrates the literary works of David Weber and the universe he created in his Honor Harrington series of books, which boasts over 3 million copies in print. Mr. Weber has had more than 13 of his titles appear on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Shore Leave 2013 included such notable celebrities as William Shatner (James Kirk, Star Trek), Brent Spiner (Cmdr. Data, Star Trek, Next Generation), Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary’s Dr. Helen Magnus; Stargate G1/Atlantis’s Col Samantha Carter) and Saul Rubinek, Eddie McClintock and Neil Grayston (Warehouse 13).
Big Cat Rescue has had the honor of being visited by and/or working with a number of big name celebrities including Bo Derek, Harrison Ford, Leonardo DeCaprio, Jane Goodall, Kate Walsh, Barbara Niven, Jack Harris, Jim Fowler, Jack Hanna, Bill Murphy, Tippi Hedren, Tim Harrison, Arch Deal, Congresswoman Castor, athletes from the Tampabay Bucs, the Lightning, the New York Yankees, and the casts of Wicked, Mary Poppins and the Jersey Boys just to name a few.
We have had many local celebrities come to love us such as Chadd & Kristi, Sue Zelenko and a number of media purr-sonalities.
In 2011 Ian Anderson created this wonderful PSA about the work he and Big Cat Rescue are doing to save exotic cats in the wild and to protect them from exploitation in captivity. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull For Big Cat Rescue
Click on the links below to see photos from their visits and / or how they are working to help save big cats from extinction and exploitation.