SECRETARY, TREASURER, ADVISORY BOARD CHAIRMAN AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Howard Baskin is a retired management consultant who worked with early stage and fast growing companies in the areas of strategic planning, finance and operations. He spent 11 years at Citicorp in various assignments, most recently as Director of Strategic Planning for the Commercial Real Estate Division. After leaving Citicorp in 1991 he was an equity participant and general manager in three companies, one of which he co-founded. He now devotes full time to Big Cat Rescue and serves on the Audit Committee.
Other civic activities include serving three years on the Board of Directors of the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and serving as first Chairman of its Performance Oversight and Monitoring Committee and member of it External Relations Committee. He also is a past member of The Rotary Club of Tampa, serving as Chairman of the Community Service Committee and on the Board of Directors.
Howard received his B.S. cum laude from Union College, Schenectady, NY in 1972, his J.D. cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1978 and his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1980.
Howard Baskin admits that a few homeless cats have won his heart over the years, but saving abandoned and abused lions, lynxes, and leopards was by no means his dream, let alone his passion. When it came to giving to animal causes, he might write a modest check to the Humane Society of the United States. His world was finance and marketing.
Yet there’s no denying that a stroll where he works at the 45-acre Big Cat Rescue, a nonprofit educational sanctuary in Tampa, one of the largest in the world devoted to the big cats, leaves him inspired.
This is where Bengal tigers, African lions, snow leopards, bobcats, and other exotic cats recline gracefully on tree limbs, stretch languidly in their dens, or splash playfully in ponds amid shady oaks and palmettos. In all, there are 140 feline residents with permanent homes here. “Looking at these animals and realizing that I’ve been able to make a difference in the quality of their lives and securing their future is wonderful,” he says.
Baskin, 57, isn’t one of the cats’ caregivers, but he uses his financial acumen to ensure they live a healthful life. With a Harvard M.B.A. and a law degree, he spent the first 11 years of his career at Citicorp, rising to become director of strategic planning for the commercial real-estate division in New York. “Working in a small business had always been my plan, but I kept getting interesting jobs at the bank,” he recalls.
Finally, in 1991, he left Citi to work as a management consultant for a succession of small companies. Eight years later, he opted for a less stressful pace, consulting part time and freeing up time for tennis and leisurely rounds of golf. But something was missing.
And in 2003, just a few years into his semiretired bachelor life, he did an about-face. Before he knew it, he had ramped up to 60-hour workweeks at the sanctuary and agreed to take charge of its finances free. Sure, Baskin is fond of the cats, but it was another love that inspired him. His wife, Carole, whom he met in 2002 and married in 2004, founded the 15-year-old sanctuary and is ceo.
“I kind of married into this transition, although it was of course my choice, not a requirement,” Baskin says. “I fell in love with her. One thing that drew me to her was her passion for the mission and the excitement of working for a cause, not just living.”
Take Nikita, for example. The 6-year-old lioness spent her first year living on a concrete slab, chained to a wall by a drug dealer in Nashville. She was discovered in a raid and arrived at Big Cat five years ago with sores on her elbows the size of tennis balls.
Purrfect fit. Not all of the cats were abused. Some were abandoned by owners who could no longer afford to care for them. Others were retired from circus acts, rescued from fur farms, or obtained from roadside zoos that had fallen on hard times. Baskin came well prepared to bolster the sanctuary’s shaky financial underpinnings. The small firms where he used to work ran the gamut from a bridge builder to a foundry to an audiovisual firm. They were businesses where finances were in disarray when he arrived. Someone had to figure out how to get things organized and create systematic controls.
Visitors who take educational tours of Big Cat have doubled since 2003, to 26,000 last year. Revenues from contributions rose 50 percent in 2006 alone. The annual Fur Ball, the chief fundraiser, brought in an estimated $100,000 in October, up from $17,000 five years ago. Carole has had time to advocate for laws to crack down on illegal animal dealers and implement humane care standards for the cats.
Although Baskin would like to spend a bit more time on the golf course, there’s little other downside. His full-time consulting income, which often topped six figures, had already been trimmed, and he had a thrifty lifestyle, enough savings, and growing retirement funds.
“I don’t take a traditional salary, but, in reality, I get a double payback. I not only get to do something for the cats,” he says as he watches Nikita devour her afternoon “bloodsicle” snack. “I feel like I am contributing to the world. More importantly, I get to make Carole happy. That’s my No. 1 goal.” Spoken like a true newlywed.
INVITATION TO TIGER TRADE EVENT AT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
TIGER trade is a serious and pressing threat to the last of the world’s wild tigers and the London-basedEnvironmental Investigation Agency (EIA) – together with partners Education for Nature – Vietnam(ENV) and Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) – is calling on the European Union to take urgent action to tackle it.
On Wednesday, May 25, 2016, Neena Gill MEP (West Midlands) will host an event to highlight the issue at the European Parliament in Brussels at which EIA, ENV and WPSI will give insights into the situation on the ground in China, Vietnam, India and other countries, and discuss practical policy measures the EU can take.
The purpose is to showcase the plight of wild tigers and the threat posed by tiger ‘farming’, and to ensure Indian and Vietnamese civil society perspectives are heard.
All three NGOs believe the EU can play a critical role in helping to end the demand for, and trade in, tigers and other Asian big cats.
The global wild tiger population is likely little higher than 3,200; however, in the absence of completed scientific population surveys across all range countries it is difficult to establish an accurate estimate. In contrast, there are more than twice that number of captive tigers in ‘tiger farms’ in China, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos – facilities which stimulate demand for tiger parts and undermine enforcement efforts.
WHAT: Panel Discussion on Tiger Trade
WHEN: 16:30-18:30 on Wednesday, May 25, 2016
WHERE: Meeting Room ASP 3H1, European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium
CONTACTS FOR MEDIA:
• Ms Debbie Banks, EIA – debbiebanks@eia-international. org
• Ms Shruti Suresh, EIA – shrutisuresh@eia- international.org
• Mrs Nguyen Dung, ENV – firstname.lastname@example.org
• Ms Belinda Wright, WPSI – email@example.com
1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK- and Washington DC-based Non-Governmental Organisation that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals. More information here: https://eia-international.org/
2. Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV) is the country’s first NGO focused on the conservation of nature and protection of the environment: More information here. http://envietnam.org/index.php
3. Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) is one of the most effective wildlife conservation organisations in India, providing support and information to government authorities to combat illegal wildlife trade, particularly in wild tigers. More information here: http://www.wpsi-india.org/wpsi/index.php
4. More information on the tiger trade is available here. https://eia-international.org/our-work/environmental-crime-and-governance/illegal-wildlife-trade/illegal-trade-seizures-tigers-asian-big-cats
5. More information on tiger farming is available here: https://eia-international.org/where-are-the-tigers
Environmental Investigation Agency
62-63 Upper Street
London N1 0NY
Tel: +44 207 354 7960
PRESIDENT, VOLUNTEER COMMITTEE, BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jamie Veronica is President of Big Cat Rescue, a member of the Board of Directors, and Chair of the Volunteer Committee. She has served in these capacities for well over ten years. She spent many years developing a sponsorship program whose financial success continues to contribute largely toward meeting our annual budget.
Jamie runs everything involved with the administrative side of the volunteer program including processing promotion applications, running hour reports, follow up with volunteers regarding their hours or classes, keeping the coordinators up to date on volunteers in need of training, keeping our policies and training classes up to date so that our people and animals are safe, coordinates rescues, runs our online gift shop and eBay store, manages the foster kitten program, including scheduling veterinary care, manages enclosure maintenance, coordinates our fundraising events and special online efforts.
An award-winning photographer, Jamie is the staff photographer and publishes our quarterly Big Cat Times newspaper, distributed to over 80,000 readers. She creates all of our print and web advertisements, billboards, brochures, books, donor plaques and signage. She manages all of the discount offers and reciprocal agreements with other attractions. She designed and initially implemented the sanctuary’s worldwide Internship Program.
Jamie is also a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and manages the sanctuary’s bobcat rehab program. She has successfully raised, rehabilitated and released many wild Florida bobcats and leads expeditions into the release sites to track and camera trap wild bobcat populations. She oversees and handles all rescues, veterinary procedures, transfer of animals on the property, and regulatory compliance issues. Jamie Carole’s daughter, Vernon and Barbara’s grand daughter and is married to Dr. Justin Boorstein, DVM.
See Jamie and Dr. Justin’s wild life here: https://vimeo.com/41566377
Bred for profit, the animals are often cruelly deformed by inbreeding.
July 28, 2010
by Ravi SomaiyaAlmost all of America’s 7,000 tigers are born and raised here. Reports from tiger farms suggest there are many unscrupulous breeders, and activists allege that the trade is cruel. What’s clear is that tigers are often kept in small pens, people die when safety is lax, and the cats are hideously inbred to produce valuable white cubs.The trade is not illegal, though a recent law bans the sale or trade of big cats across state lines for the pet trade. But breeders exploit a patchwork of state-by-state rules, and loopholes, to continue to sell cubs. People who rescue unwanted or mistreated tigers estimate that the number of breeders might be in the hundreds. Several alleged traders contacted by NEWSWEEK refused to be interviewed, perhaps because in recent years many operations have been shut down by authorities.
One of the biggest, Savage Kingdom, in Florida, was closed by the Department of Agriculture in 2006. Several accidents had occurred there. In 2001 a handyman named Vincent Lowe went into a cage to repair a dangerously worn-down gate. Colleagues had to watch as a 318-pound male tiger, Tijik, “ripped out [his] throat,” according to the USDA report. They could not rescue him for fear of being attacked themselves.
The tiger was eventually shot by Savage Kingdom’s octogenarian owner, Robert Baudy, who had been in the tiger trade for many decades—he’d even been on The Ed Sullivan Show promoting his animals. “He was from an era before animal welfare,” says Jamie Veronica, who is with the charity Big Cat Rescue and went into the farm after it was closed to try to remove and resettle dozens of tigers (all were eventually moved safely). “When he started out, people just saw animals as a commodity, a way to make money.” The USDA report blamed Baudy for safety failures that led to Lowe’s death. He could not be reached for comment at a number listed for him.Baudy specialized in white tigers, which sell for up to $20,000 per cub. But white tigers are rare genetic mutations, not a different species. According to the San Diego Zoo, every American white tiger is descended from a single father. New cubs must be inbred further. For every healthy, valuable cub, it is thought that many are born with ailments like shortened tendons, club foot, kidney problems, malformed backbones, contorted necks, and twisted faces.
Emily McCormack, a zoologist at Turpentine Creek, a refuge in Arkansas that rescues unwanted or abused big cats, has taken in several deformed cubs. “People don’t want these tigers because they don’t look perfect,” she says. “Who’s to say how many have been born with deformities that have been killed instead of rescued?” Activists also campaign against so-called white-tiger-conservation programs, whose very descriptions, says McCormack, are misleading: “They will never be returned to the wild. They don’t really exist in the wild.”
Siegfried & Roy, the illusionist duo, are famous for their white tigers. They claim on their Web site that they have 38. “For more than 20 years,” they say, “we have been entrusted with the care and preservation of the Royal White Tigers.” A spokesperson for the two did not return calls for comment about their breeding program. A statement from the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which houses many of Siegfried & Roy’s white tigers in an attraction called the Secret Garden, did not directly address the possibility that the program may have bred deformed cubs. It did say that “breeding is done responsibly under strict genetic management.” The Mirage did not respond to NEWSWEEK’s request for more information.
Veterinary Trial Confirms That Cranimals UTI Supplement Equivalent to Antibiotics
Cranimals reports that its Cranimals Original Urinary Tract Pet Supplement was independently tested in Taiwan and had a 100% success rate in the prevention of canine Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) caused by E. Coli.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, April 27, 2016(Newswire.com) – An independent in vivo and in vitro veterinary study published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research [77(4), 2016], compared Cranimals Original UTI supplement to the antibiotic cephalexin. Based on both clinical signs and laboratory urinanalysis, none of the dogs receiving Cranimals Original developed a UTI. All dogs were expected to contract a UTI during the 6 month experimental period based on their medical histories.
Scanning Electron Microscopy confirmed that Cranimals Original significantly reduced the ability of E Coli to attach to canine kidney/uroepithelial cells, and this effect became more pronounced, the longer Cranimals Original was administered. There is general consensus that E Coli successfully infects the urinary tract of animals and humans by adhering to the uroepithelium, preventing it from being flushed out via urine flow, one of the bladders’ most important defenses.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are common in dogs and cats, and pet UTIs are typically treated with antibiotics. This easily leads to the overuse and misuse of these antibiotic drugs. Pathogens like E Coli are rapidly becoming resistant to many antibiotics used in veterinary and human medicine. The transfer of these antibiotic resistant strains of E coli between animals and humans is concerning. Bacterial resistance also leads to unresolved or recurrent urinary tract infections; infection related complications (struvite stones, urinary blockage, renal damage), and increased economic costs (repeated treatments). The widespread use of natural therapies such as Cranimals Original, to help reduce antibiotic use is crucial to ensure conventional drug therapies remain effective.
Cranimals Original has been used successfully by integrated veterinary care practitioners. It is ideal to prevent recurrent infections and in pets at high risk of developing UTIs (bladder cancer, diabetes, polypoid cystitis, compromised immune systems) without the long terms use of antibiotics. This study adds further scientific validation for its use in conventional veterinary practice, and substantiates Cranimals as the leader in natural urinary tract remedies for dogs, puppies and cats.
About the Animals behind Cranimals
Cranimals Pet Supplements is a privately owned, Canadian company, based in Vancouver, BC and manufactures a variety of cat and dog supplements, and distributes diagnostic tests used by consumers to diagnose UTIs, diabetes and kidney failure at home.
For more information please contact Cranimals.
Cranimals and the Cranimals logo are registered global Trademarks.
Bowing to public pressure it faced throughout the past year, the N.H. Fish and Game Department on Wednesday withdrew its proposal to re-establish a bobcat hunting season.
The move comes after the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules objected to the proposal earlier this month.
In a 9-1 vote at the Statehouse on April 1, the committee objected on the grounds that a bobcat season would violate the federal endangered species act and that the proposal was not in the financial best interest of the public.
The Fish and Game Department made the decision after consulting with the N.H. Fish and Game Commission, which had originally approved a bobcat hunting season in February.
“It just didn’t make any sense for us to continue down the road,” said Glenn Normandeau, the executive director of Fish and Game, in an interview Wednesday. “I just made the decision to pull it and move on.”
The money Fish and Game would have made from selling all 50 bobcat permits in its proposal totaled $5,000, while the cost to implement the hunting season was estimated to be between $15,000 and $20,000 per year, according to the department’s website.
Those permits would have been issued via lottery. Each permitted hunter would have been allowed to capture one bobcat during the season, which would have taken place from the beginning of December through the end of January.
During the legislative committee’s meeting April 1, state Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord, a committee member, said having a bobcat season would breach the endangered species act by putting Canada lynx, a threatened species, at risk of being hunted because the two cats have the same habitats.
Had the department gone forward with the proposal despite the legislative committee’s objection, Normandeau said he could only foresee a long, drawn-out battle between Fish and Game and the Legislature.
Fish and Game also had the option to modify its proposed rule, but Normandeau said he didn’t see any changes that would satisfy the joint committee’s objections.
“It was an argument about ‘no, no, no,’ “ he said. “I didn’t see anything in our proposal — which was very restrained — that really was going to make much difference on everyone’s positions.”
The proposal allowed trapping and hounding of the animal; it did not allow night hunting and would have required documentation of bobcats that were caught.
Withdrawal of the rule means the proposal is dead, according to Normandeau. For a bobcat season to be reconsidered, it would have to go through the whole rulemaking process all over again, he said.
Many rejoiced over the department’s decision.
Jeremy Wilson, executive director of the Hancock-based Harris Center for Conservation Education, said he was delighted to hear the proposal had been withdrawn.
The center had long protested a bobcat hunting season and had issues with the Fish and Game-commissioned study with the University of New Hampshire, which had been pivotal to the plans to re-start a hunting season.
The study revealed that the bobcat population has rebounded from about 100 to 150 in the 1980s to an estimated 800 to 1,200 throughout the state in 2014. Results from the four-year study were released in 2014.
On its website, Fish and Game lists the number of bobcats at 1,400 as of the winter of 2014.
The study tracked 19 bobcats in southwestern and southeastern New Hampshire; it also relied on the public to report bobcat sightings and submit photos.
Wilson said he thought the margin for error was too large, and he was also concerned about the future of hunting bobcats if the proposal took effect.
“We were worried that over time the level of hunt could grow in terms of the number of bobcats killed,” he said.
Colebrook resident John Harrigan, a well-known outdoorsman and longtime newspaper columnist, had been confident the proposal would eventually go down. He credited the amount of pressure put on the Fish and Game department and commission by people from across the state.
“I never had a doubt because I’ve got great faith in the judgment of New Hampshire’s people, and boy did they come out of the woodwork for this one,” Harrigan said.
Geoffrey Jones, chairman of the Stoddard Conservation Commission, said following the bobcat season proposal was an eye-opening experience for him in terms of how Fish and Game operates.
“As we’ve all found out, people are pretty upset, and they’re not only upset about opening a season on a species that’s still in recovery, but I think people are upset about the process,” he said.
Throughout the process, Jones said he didn’t think the Fish and Game commission ever listened to people’s concerns.
Fish and Game held a month-long comment period on the proposed season, allowing the public to submit opinions via email or mail. That period closed in February. Letters to the editor published in The Sentinel have overwhelmingly opposed the hunt.
The department received approximately 6,000 comments, with just about 250 in favor of the season, according to a department staffer.
The Fish and Game Commission made up of 11 members appointed by the governor and Executive Council, including one from each N.H. county, also held two public hearings in early February that drew heavy turnout, and where citizens got to voice their opinions.
Over a massive public outcry, N.H. Fish and Game Commissioners voted 5-4 on Feb. 17 to re-establish a bobcat hunting season for the first time in 27 years. Robert Phillipson of Keene, the commissioner from Cheshire County, voted in favor of the proposal.
Bobcats have been protected in New Hampshire since 1989 because of concerns about a diminishing number of the animals in the state.
Going forward, changes need to be made in how the department runs to represent the interests of all people, according to Jones.
“To me, to take a species like the bobcat that’s still in recovery, to start hunting it, it felt so wrong to me,” Jones said.
The proposed hunt had drawn concern from national animal-rights and conservation groups.
A joint news release from the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity and Washington, D.C-based Animal Welfare Institute Wednesday said both groups were pleased with the decision to pull the bobcat hunting season.
The Animal Welfare Institute was considering bringing a lawsuit against Fish and Game over its proposal, claiming it would violate the endangered species act by putting Canada lynx at risk of being hunted because of their resemblance to bobcats.
“We’re so relieved the agency listened to our concerns, and that New Hampshire’s bobcats and lynx are safe from hunters and trappers,” Collette Adkins, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney and biologist, said in the release. “At public expense, these bobcat seasons would have benefited only the few who’d like to kill these beautiful animals for sport or ship their pelts overseas to China for profit. The state heard loud and clear that people value these cats in the wild and don’t want to see them cruelly trapped or shot.”
Nagpur: As delegates prepare for the 3rd Asia ministerial conference on tiger conservation in Delhi, over 23 NGOs and bodies in the country want a commitment to zero demand for tiger parts in order to achieve zero poaching.
The Asia ministerial conference will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. More than 700 tiger experts, scientists, managers, donors and other stakeholders are gathering to discuss issues related to tiger conservation. Ministers and government officials from all tiger range countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russian Federation, Thailand, Vietnam, besides Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan are also participating in the meet.
This conference is being co-organized by ministry of environment, forest and climate change, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Global Tiger Forum (GTF), Global Tiger Initiative Council (GTIC), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), WWF and Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT).
“Conservation successes are visible in tiger range countries with enactment of strong laws and where wild tigers are valued for the role they play in the ecosystem, compared to those tiger range countries where ‘tiger farming’ exists and where they are valued as a commodity,” the NGOs said. “It is time for tiger range countries to unite in a commitment to end tiger farming and to end all domestic and international trade in parts and derivatives of tigers from captive facilities,” they said.
The signatories include Satpuda Foundation, Tiger Conservation And Action Trust (TRACT), Born Free, Conservation Action Trust (CAT), Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), Wildlife SOS India, Sanctuary Asia, The Corbett Foundation, BNHS India, Big Cat Rescue among others.
The NGOs have reminded the conference that many facilities that keep tigers are engaged in legal and illegal trade, both domestic and international, in parts and derivatives of tigers. There are estimated 7,000 tigers in captivity in tiger farms in South East Asia and China — and there are no signs that these facilities are being phased out.
Chinese government allows domestic trade in the skin of captive-bred tigers for use as luxury home decor and for taxidermy. This stimulates the demand and increases pressure on the world’s remaining 3,200 wild tigers.
“How can we expect demand-reduction campaigns to work in China if the government itself permits people to buy tiger skins,” the NGOs asked, adding tigers in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Russian Far East are still being targeted for markets in China and for Chinese consumers in Myanmar and Lao PDR.
There is also a thriving market in Vietnam and Indonesia. Tigers are not just killed for skin, but their bones are used to brew ‘tiger bone wine’, meat is sold as a delicacy and teeth and claws are sold as charms. “We collectively call on the conference to urge the countries with facilities which keep or breed tigers for trade to demonstrate genuine commitment to tiger conservation,” the NGOs demanded.