Why Can’t They Go Free?

This question is one of the top five most asked questions so it tells me that people just don’t know the laws of nature or the laws of governments.

Law of Nature

In the wild kittens or cubs stay with their mothers from a year and a half to 5 years, depending on the species of wildcat and the environment.  During that time the mother may nurse them for a year or more, while also teaching them how to hunt.  Being able to kill something does not mean that a cat is a good enough hunter to survive in the wild.

Florida panther cubsThe mother cat teaches them the ways of nature and that you should only kill enough to feed yourself and your family, so that there will be food left for the coming weeks and years.  There have been some spectacular failures where people have tried to raise big cats in fenced areas, and have taught the cats to kill, but the cats then proceeded to kill everything that moved, even if they had eaten plenty. That’s not good for the environment and the cats were never able to be released to the wild, despite millions of dollars being spent on the ill fated project.

A wild mother cat teaches her kittens and cubs to stay away from people. Even the most gentle natured, captive born exotic cat, who may have been handled since a cub herself, will teach her kittens to despise humans.  Instinct, as well as her personal experience with being held hostage, inspires her to encourage her kittens to fight for their lives if they come in contact with humans.  In April 2016 USDA adopted the position that cubs should be left with their mothers for at least the first 4 weeks of life, which makes them too feral to handle for cub petting schemes.  USDA should follow Nature’s guidance, which keeps the cubs with their mothers for well over a year.

Even with this training from their mothers in captivity, the kittens or cubs have so many more life lessons that can only be taught in the wild.  These include finding the best mates to insure longevity of the clan and how to protect their territories from those who would run them out or kill them.  If you have ever watched shows in the Big Cat Diary series you will see that mothers teach their young about the perils of the wild; from how to hide, how to cover your scent, how to know when to fight and when to flee, how to stalk prey and save all your energy for the pounce and kill.  There is so much to being a wild cat that just cannot be replicated in a cage, even if that cage were many square miles in size.  Consider that a bobcat will patrol more than 5 square miles and a tiger can maintain a territory of more than 400 square miles.

Law of the Land

It’s illegal to release a non native wild animal.  That’s true in the U.S. and would make sense in other countries.  The reason you cannot release a non native animal (an animal that doesn’t normally exist in an area) is because doing so upsets the entire balance of nature.  Nature is flawless, where man has not intervened, because there is a symphony of interconnected animals and plants that all work together in harmony; even if it also includes predators who maintain the balance.

A perfect example of what goes wrong when non native species are released into an area, that they do not typically inhabit, is the case of Florida allowing people to buy pet pythons, which never turn out well as pets once they are hundreds of pounds and can eat small children and pets. People don’t want to euthanize the exotic pets they raised, so they turn them loose, even though it is against the law.  Florida has since outlawed a number of pythons as pets, but the damage was already done because scientists and biologists all report that our most pristine forests, in the Everglades, are now devoid of almost all animal life (other than the snakes).  The animals who originally lived in the Everglades had never seen predators such as these pythons that were 15-20 feet long and none of the animals who lived there were able to prey on such huge invaders.

To a lesser extent we would see the same thing happen with bobcats.  Big Cat Rescue is allowed, by law, to rehab and release bobcats who were born in the wild in Florida, back to the wild in Florida.  Florida rehabbers are NOT allowed to rehab bobcats from Georgia (or any other state) for release into Florida.  The reason is that bobcats from other states are bigger, have different hunting skills and different instincts than those native to FL, so introducing them could wipe out the Florida bobcat, or infiltrate the gene pool sufficiently to make a mess of things.  You could argue that at state lines bobcats may cross back and forth on their own, but you have to draw the line somewhere (for enforcement’s sake) so governments draw it at their state or federal lines.

Law of Common Sense

DEW Yankee Jungle(OK, well there should be such a law) Last, but not least, most of the wild cats in captivity were born from generations of captive wild cats who have been selectively bred for characteristics that do not enhance survival.  They have been inbred to create white coats, which results in a plethora of other birth defects and mental retardation.  They have been bred to be used as ego props, with breeders preferring the ones who are the least apt to struggle against being held.  That’s not a good trait when you have to fight for survival in the wild. Many have been mutilated by having their claws and teeth removed.

Almost all captive bred exotic cats suffer from nutritional deficiencies.  Since lion and tiger cub pimps want to use cubs for pay to play schemes, they pull them from their mothers when they are only hours old so that they do not bond with their mothers.  They are fed a diet that is insufficient for their nutritional needs because you can’t get canned tiger milk and tigers aren’t puppies, kittens, cows or goats.  This insufficient diet often results in bones that are frail and break from a simple jump.  It almost always results in nutritional cataracts and no one knows for sure how much damage is done to their eyes from the near constant flashes from cameras as they are paraded as props to hold for selfies.

All of these reasons are why “they can’t just be set free”

Captive born wild cats have been dealt a lousy hand.  They are hardwired to desire freedom and yet are denied it by those who breed them for life in cages.  We hate it and are glad you do too.  So, lets put our energy where it can make a difference and end the practice of breeding wild cats for life in cages.  You can take action RIGHT NOW at CatLaws.com no matter who you are, or where you live.


International Tiger Coalition

International Tiger Coalition

International Tiger Coalition


International Tiger Coalition logoTop 10 Tiger Facts

1. Poaching of tigers and their prey is driving decreases in tiger populations throughout their range, along with poaching of their prey and degradation of their habitat.

2. Inadequate law enforcement and residual demand for tiger products pose the greatest near-term threats to the survival of wild tigers.

3. Even talk of reopening trade in farmed (or captive-bred) tiger products has helped sustain residual demand, prompted investors to stockpile tiger skins and bones, and caused police in some Asian countries to take tiger trafficking less seriously.

4. Tiger farms (and other Intensive tiger breeding operations) must be phased out immediately while, at the same time, intelligence-led wildlife law enforcement and demand-reduction campaigns are intensified.

5. Demand reduction campaigns do work, but they have not yet been given adequate support to do so.

6. Intelligence-led law enforcement does work, but it has not been given adequate support to do so.

7. Governments should provide urgently needed support to increase capacity of national, regional and international law enforcement and intelligence exchange mechanisms, especially the coordinating capacities of INTERPOL, the CITES Secretariat and the World Customs Organization.

8. To increase the likelihood to stopping tiger trade from all sources, national, regional and international wildlife law enforcement agencies should compile and share with one another all information on tiger crime.

9. The number of tigers on China’s tiger farms alone has surpassed 6,000, while similar intensive tiger breeding operations are starting up in Southeast Asia. Investors in these farms depend on demand for tiger parts and products to increase. In fact, if wild tigers go extinct, these investors will enjoy a monopoly for supplying tiger-bone wine and tiger skins to China and, perhaps, the world.

10. Registration systems for intensive tiger breeding operations, including those using DNA, will not reduce demand for tiger products. Tiger farms and other intensive tiger breeding operations must be phased out to reduce this grave threat to wild tigers. The mere existence of these facilities sustains consumer demand.

11. China banned domestic tiger trade in 1993 because it was undermining the CITES ban on international tiger trade. The potential for domestic tiger trade in China to undermine CITES is now exponentially greater due to growth of human populations and per capita buying power.

12. The 2010 Chinese Year of the Tiger is offering unprecedented opportunities for policymakers in Asia and around the world to take action to bring back wild tigers. If they do not take immediate and bold new action, there may be no wild tigers left when the Year of the Tiger comes around again in 12 years.

13. Concern for saving “face” among tiger range and consuming counties should not supersede discussing “sensitive” issues that must be addressed if the world is to avoid losing wild tigers.

14. Wild tigers are emblematic of all of nature’s abundance (species and ecosystems) now endangered by degradation and overexploitation. People say, ‘when tigers disappear, forest fall,’ which robs people of livelihoods, food, water and health security.

Other important links include:

CITES Res. Conf. 12.5

CITES Dec. 14.69

CITES Notifications related to Dec. 14.69

EU proposal to amend 12.5 at CITES CoP15

China’s CoP14 report on tigers

New EIA report on tiger trade in China

Harrison Ford w/HSUS Tiger Kids“If we can’t save the tiger from extinction, we can’t save anything!” was repeated in a myriad of ways over the past week in Washington, DC by conservation experts from around the world.  Einstein’s definition of insanity is to do the same thing, over and over and expect a different result.  That has been “conservation as usual” to use the slang bantered about at this two day event that has been formally described as, “The most important conservation initiative undertaken in the history of the world to conserve wild tigers.” What makes this initiative unlike all of the past programs is two fold.  39 major conservation groups, including Big Cat Rescue, have joined forces with one common goal:  Save the tiger in the wild.  There have been other joint efforts, but none this large and never before has an entity as powerful as the World Bank been a committed partner in saving wild places for wild animals.

Harrison Ford, one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, thanks to his latest Indiana Jones movie breaking records in theaters, is on the board of Conservation International and spoke at the June 9th launch.  Also in attendance were our friend, the beautiful Bo Derek, who won the Wildlife Guardian Award at the Fur Ball last year, and Robert Duvall.  HSUS brought Tiger Kids to the launch and this photo is from their participation as a ITC members.  See these celebrities up close and purrsonal in the most important roles of their lives in this video we shot and find out more about how the World Bank and the International Tiger Coalition plan to save the tiger.

Big Cat Rescue has been accepted into the International Tiger Coalition based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild.  We keep the most accurate and up to date information on tigers in captivity, from attacks, maulings and escapes to proper care for tigers who have been bred for life in cages.  We will be working with the team members of the International Tiger Coalition to stop the private possession and trafficking in tigers through better laws.

The US is the 2nd largest consumer of tiger parts.  As China continues to defy world policy on tiger protection through their determination to farm tigers for their parts, it would create a legal market in China for tiger bones, organs and skins.  When tigers are bred for photo opportunities in the US they outgrow their usefulness in just a few short months.  If the trade of tigers in China is legalized, it gives US breeders a loop hole to sell their babies into slaughterhouse situations.  While such slaughter is illegal in the US it is easy for those, who are so unscrupulous as to breed tigers in the first place, to exploit.

This is how they do it:

There is no cooperation between states to track tiger movement.  Those who wish to exploit this lack of governance will license themselves in two states.  Each state only cares about what happens in their own jurisdiction.  Once the cat crosses a state line, no one is tracking what happens next. That way they can quietly disappear. This is why people in the industry are trying so hard to stop federal laws that would require them to be accountable from birth to death.

If a cat is owned by someone in one state, who is also licensed in a second state, and they want to get rid of the cat, all they have to do is tell the state where the cat is currently located that they are sending him to their out of state facility. USDA only tracks movement of tigers (sporadically) from one owner to another and not within the same ownership, even if in two different states.  No one in the other state is alerted that the cat should be arriving and typically never does. This is how the the worst of the abusers bury the trail with the cat.

If big cat breeders and dealers will use a cub and shoot them when they are through it only stands to reason that they would leap at the opportunity to sell the tiger into underground slaughterhouses.  Help Big Cat Rescue and the International Tiger Coalition put an end to tiger farming.


Who Cares About Tigers?

The International Tiger Coalition is an alliance of many organizations representing more than 40 organizations across the globe, united under the common aim of stopping trade in tiger parts and products from all sources. Members include:
American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Animal Welfare Institute

Animals Asia Foundation

Association of Zoos & Aquariums

Tigers need your voiceBig Cat Rescue

Born Free Foundation

Born Free USA (now part of API)

British and Irish Association of Zoos & Aquariums

Care for the Wild International

Conservation International

Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Environmental Investigation Agency

Global Tiger Initiative

Global Tiger Patrol

Humane Society International

Humane Society of the United States

International Fund for Animal Welfare


Save The Tiger Fund

Species Survival Network

Tigris Foundation


21st Century Tiger


Wildlife Alliance

Wildlife Conservation Nepal

Wildlife Conservation Society

Wildlife Protection Society of India

Wildlife Trust of India

World Association of Zoos & Aquariums

World Society for the Protection of Animals


Zoological Society of London

This unprecedented coalition, made up of environmental, zoo and animal protection organizations as well as the traditional Chinese medicine community, has come together to speak with one voice in calling for an end to trade in tiger parts and products through increased intelligence-led law enforcement and strengthening existing tiger-trade bans. Furthermore, the coalition joins leaders of the international traditional Chinese medicine industry in asking China to make its successful 14-year tiger-trade ban permanent.

Read the Ten in Ten Plan to save 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years HERE and see how you can help.

See a slideshow of tigers at Big Cat Rescue HERE

Get the 60 page report by TRAFFIC on the role of the U.S. Captive tigers in the trade of tiger parts HERE

The aim of the coalition is to coordinate research, communications and awareness-raising efforts in order to provide an organized response to the organized crime that sustains illegal tiger trade and endangers all wild tigers. www.endtigertrade.org


Timeline of the International Tiger Coalition


TigerPhototigerphotosA loose coalition of NGO’s began working together in 2007 and had achieved some unprecedented goals by 2009 when Big Cat Rescue joined the coalition.

2009 Big Cat Rescue attended the launch of the World Bank’s involvement in Washington, D.C. which was emceed by Harrison Ford and attended by Bo Derek and Robert Duvall.

2010  Big Cat Rescue sponsored the ITC booth at CITES and sponsored the attendance of the ITC Moderator, Judy Mills at the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.

2010 Big Cat Rescue sponsored the International Tiger Coalition booth in Doha, Qatar thanks to your votes for us in the Chase contest where we won $25,000. Your votes help save tigers!

2011  Big Cat Rescue made introductions to the members of the ITC to form the Big Cat Coalition.

2016 Presentation in Washington, DC

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream


Letter to CITES Standing Committee

Open Letter to Participants in the 58th Meeting of the CITES Standing Committee Get the PDF

June 24, 2009

From the 40 Member Organizations of the International Tiger Coalition Re: Response to Notification to the Parties Number 2008/059 on Tiger Breeding Operations

In 2007, the CITES Parties agreed by consensus that “Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers; tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives.” (Decision 14.69)

In 2008, the CITES Standing Committee decided to ask relevant Parties to report on implementation of Decision 14.69. To this end, the Standing Committee established a working group to assist the CITES Secretariat in developing language for a Notification to the Parties requesting reports, with specific content, from relevant Parties.

Notification number 2008/059, issued on October 8, 2008, asked relevant Parties to report on their implementation of Decision 14.69, specifically:

a) the establishment of a national individual animal registration process incorporating a marking system;

b) the segregation of sexes to prevent further breeding;

c) the development of a strategic plan for the phasing-out of intensive breeding operations on a commercial scale or their conversion to operations devoted solely to the conservation of tigers; and,

d) the development of a policy with regard to what will happen to tigers currently in intensive breeding operations.

The undersigned 40 members of the International Tiger Coalition (ITC) are concerned that no country to which this Notification applies has responded meaningfully, i.e. with the information requested by the Standing Committee.

The only Party to respond at all was China. The ITC welcomes the fact that China responded.

However, Chinese authorities did not report specifically on their implementation of Decision 14.69 and did not address the four aforementioned issues specified in the Notification. Furthermore, the ITC is disappointed that other relevant Parties did not respond to the Notification in any form.

The ITC urges the Standing Committee to mandate the CITES Secretariat to take all appropriate measures to verify progress by relevant Parties to implement Decision 14.69, and to take appropriate steps if reports are not forthcoming within 90 days of the 58th Standing Committee meeting (SC58). Measures should include sending a delegation to relevant countries to assess their actions to implement the Decision and reporting to the next Standing Committee meeting, directly before the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties. The ITC also calls for donors to support such missions.

CITES Parties have endorsed the view that tiger farming for commercial purposes is a threat to the survival of wild tigers and needs to be stopped. We urge the Standing Committee, the CITES Secretariat and all relevant Parties to ensure full implementation of Decision 14.69 and full reporting on progress towards doing so as requested under the Notification. The CITES Parties were unanimous at CoP14 in their concerns for the future of wild tigers. That future requires a serious and timely response to this critical issue.

We thank you for your consideration,

International Tiger Coalition

American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine


Animal Welfare Institute

Wildlife Trust of India

Animals Asia Foundation

Association of Zoos & Aquariums

Big Cat Rescue

Born Free Foundation

Born Free USA

British and Irish Association of Zoos & Aquariums

Care for the Wild International

Conservation International

Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Education for Nature – Vietnam

Environmental Investigation Agency


Global Tiger Patrol

Humane Society International

Humane Society of the United States

International Fund for Animal Welfare

Phoenix Fund

Pro Fauna Indonesia

Save The Tiger Fund

Species Survival Network

The Tigris Foundation

Tour Operators for Tigers


21st Century Tiger


Wild Cat Conservation Legal Aid Society

Wildlife Conservation Nepal

Wildlife Conservation Society

Wildlife Trust of India

Wildlife Watch Group

World Association of Zoos @ Axquariums

World Society for the Protection of Animals

World Wildlife Fund

Zoological Society of London

Relocating Bobcats and Cougars

Relocating Bobcats and Cougars

Relocating the Cats is Not the Solution

A single bobcat requires 5 square miles of territory in order to have enough prey to support him. All exotic cats, male and female, spray to mark their boundaries. Except for an overlapping of territory during mating the cats patrol and defend their boundaries against other cats and other top predators. These boundaries must be fiercely guarded or the cats will starve to death. If two wild cats find themselves in the same area they will fight to the death. That is why respecting these scent marked boundary lines is so important to them.

…the cat is being dumped into some other cat’s territory
and one of them is going to die.

Bobcats will almost never show themselves, so if you see one it may mean that development around you has taken his home or that sport hunters have taken his food.  Nature is perfectly balanced until man enters the scene with a gun.  If you are living in an area where a wild cat has called home and the cat is transported to another suitable habitat, then you can be sure the cat is being dumped into some other cat’s territory and one of them is going to die. You may reason that your home is in a busy city environment and the cat is in peril because it is crossing busy highways and coming in close contact with people with guns. That is true and that is sad but relocating the cat is not the answer.

Bobcats are smart and can live right alongside people and stay out of trouble.  They are a great asset as they prey upon rats and help control disease by keeping the vermin population in check.  Nature is perfectly balanced until man steps in and starts trying to eliminate key animals in the cycle of life.

Get a brochure you can print and share:  Living with Bobcats

Check out these great suggestions for protecting your pets from predation: Protecting pets from bobcats and cougars.



See How Tigers are Helping Bobcats



Bobcat’s visit raises natural question

Bobcats belong in the wildSherry Boas | Simply Living

November 4, 2007

I went outside to feed the birds today and saw a bobcat.

He (or she) was about 200 feet away, resting on the ground in front of the compost pile.

Compost piles are wildlife magnets. The odiferous porridge of kitchen wastes attracts mammals large and small. I’ve watched foxes and raccoons explore these bins of human detritus, but this was the first time a bobcat showed interest in the family dumping ground for avocado pits, eggshells, burnt rice and apple cores.

The bobcat, a tawny mass of cropped fur and pointy ears, looked comfortable. Like an oversized house cat who had just polished off a hearty meal, he rested contentedly on the matted grass. We eyed each other from afar. I squatted low, to appear less threatening. The cat simply stared in my direction, tufted ears at full attention, assessing the menace.

Reluctant to miss anything, but eager to immortalize this special moment, I rose slowly and slipped back into the house. Unfortunately, my camera wasn’t hanging on the hook next to the kitchen door as I assumed it would be.

Not wanting to waste precious time searching the house, I eased back outside. By then, the bobcat had risen, but remained in the same place.

The feral feline must have realized (correctly) that I was harmless, because he proceeded to stretch with a long, leisurely gee-I-wish-you-hadn’t-disturbed-me arch of the back. Standing my ground, I watched in awe.

Moments later, the object of my attention ambled off toward a more sheltered environ. There was nothing frantic or fearful about his movements. His graceful gait was slow and steady. I watched as he rounded the corner, disappearing from sight. Wanting more, I followed in his wake, moving as quietly as my bare feet would allow.

bobcat kitten in treeAs I approached, I noticed the bobcat had paused beneath the overhanging branches of a nearby mulberry tree. The low-hanging limbs of the leafy fruit tree provided a tangled web that blended perfectly with his reddish-brown fur. When I rounded the corner, the cat caught sight of me. He responded by moving toward the woods. My eyes followed his trail for an instant before he vanished into the brambly undergrowth.

My one-on-one moment with nature was over. My only photographs were mental snapshots of the bobcat’s movements. I rushed back inside, eager to share my experience with Ralph and Toby.

Although this was the first time I’ve seen a bobcat by the compost pile, it was not my first sighting. On at least a half dozen occasions, I’ve chanced upon bobcats on the property. Each encounter has been spectacular, a cherished gift. But these experiences concern me, too. I’m not scared for myself or for the safety of others, but for the bobcats themselves. Every peek into the waning wilderness reminds me of what we have to lose.

So much untamed land has already been developed. What will happen to the bobcats, bears, deer, foxes and coyotes when people eliminate even more woods to make way for shopping centers, residential communities and industrial complexes?

The Florida panther is endangered. According to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), only about 100 of these magnificent mammals remain in the wild. About a million bobcats roam throughout North America. In Florida, they are neither endangered nor threatened. But how long can that last?

Bobcats are solitary hunters. A male needs about 4,900 acres of field and forest in order to supply its carnivorous needs. A female needs 2,900 acres. That’s so much land. While these dog-size consumers of rats, mice, birds and rabbits can adapt to eating out of compost piles, foraging through trash cans and licking the remains of pet food bowls, it’s unlikely suburban residents will welcome their arrival to the neighborhood. Any nondomesticated creature that wanders into suburbia is more apt to arouse panic than peaceful observation and gratitude.

That’s not how I feel. I’m grateful for any chance to see a wild animal — large or small, on foot, wing or water.

I went out to feed the birds today and wound up feeding my own insatiable appetite for wildlife encounters. The few minutes the bobcat and I shared made an impression that will last for years. Will moments like this continue to happen? I don’t know, but I hope they will. I hope time is gentle to bobcats and the many other creatures whose fate relies heavily on the course of human actions.

Sherry Boas can be reached at simplyliving@beautifulbamboo.com.



In FL Nuisance Animals Are Killed, Not Relocated

Keep this in mind before you call someone and ask them to relocate a wild animal.  It is against the law for a trapper to relocate a problem animal.  They have to kill him or her by state law.

1/29/2009 The following is the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission’s position on killing nuisance bobcats instead of relocating them or allowing them to be given sanctuary at Big Cat Rescue and other such sanctuaries.

“We sincerely appreciate and share your concerns for Florida’s wildlife, particularly in the recent incident in which a bobcat was euthanized after it was captured by a nuisance wildlife trapper in an Orlando community.

Nobody likes to see an animal killed like this, whether the reason makes sense biologically or for public safety, or not. In fact, allowing nuisance animals to be euthanized is something we would rather not do, and we consider that to be a last resort. This particular incident is very sad and unfortunate, but as is often the case, it may have resulted from inappropriate behavior by people.

The staff of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is dedicated to wildlife conservation, which means protecting and managing wildlife species. So allowing an animal like this bobcat to be euthanized may seem counter to our agency’s mission. But, as unfortunate as it is, this bobcat was an example of an animal for which there was no good alternative other than euthanasia.

Many people have called our agency to ask why this bobcat couldn’t be taken to a zoo or other type of captive wildlife facility. The reason is that it’s difficult or impossible for many animals taken from the wild to adapt to living in a captive situation. As a result, most captive wildlife facilities are hesitant to take them because the animals become stressed, are subject to illness, fight with other animals and introduce disease into the facility.

People also asked why it couldn’t be relocated to the wild. There are many reasons for this, which are explained below, but the bottom line is that this animal had become too accustomed to being around people and no longer had much fear of them.

How this unnatural behavior happened is unknown, but the fact remains that it did. The bobcat was no longer acting like a wild bobcat. People in the community may have allowed it to eat pet food, or may even have set out food specifically for the bobcat. Or maybe nobody did anything to discourage it from hanging around. Maybe at first it was a novelty to see a bobcat up close, perhaps a good photo opportunity. So people tiptoed around the bobcat, and nobody tried to scare it away.

Or maybe the bobcat was sick; sick animals often exhibit unnatural behaviors and sometimes may lose their fear of people.

A wild animal that loses its fear and becomes comfortable around people, for whatever reason, is not a wild animal you want in your neighborhood. An animal like this becomes unpredictable and could easily injure someone. If it is sick and attacks someone the problems are even worse.

Moving an animal such as this bobcat provides an opportunity for it to become the same problem animal in a different neighborhood, or perhaps it could even spread disease to other wild animals in a new area.

Studies have shown that many relocated wild animals often try to return home – no matter how far away home is. Along the way an animal like this bobcat may find another neighborhood whose residents offer the same amenities – generally easy meals and few threats to its safety. The nuisance problems then start all over again in a new community.

Relocated animals cross unfamiliar roads and often get hit and injured or killed by vehicles. And, they end up in another bobcat’s established territory, alone and unfamiliar with the lay of the land. They often fall victim to fights that are frequently won by the resident animal.

The best solution to wild animals becoming nuisance animals is people – you and me – making sure that our actions don’t cause wild animals to change their behaviors. The key is in knowing how to live with them. Even in a state with seemingly runaway development, we can and often do co-exist with many wild animals. If people do the right things, then harm usually won’t come to either us or the animals.

If this is to work, it may require some people to modify their own behavior. How much you have to modify often depends upon where you live or how recently your neighborhood was built. It is often a real benefit to live right next to wetlands or woods, but if you do, you probably have lots of wildlife neighbors, some of which are looking for easy meals.

One of the surest ways to make a wild animal lose its fear of people and become a nuisance is to leave your pet’s food outside. For that matter, leaving any kind of food outside can attract wild critters. If we leave our garbage in an unsecured trash can, it can become a buffet for raccoons, bears, opossums and other wild animals. The seemingly innocuous birdfeeders can sometimes attract much more than birds. Even compost piles are heavenly to some wildlife. Unfortunately, in the end, all of these foods that humans provide unwittingly to wild critters can lead to the death of those wild critters who are so tempted by them.

We are all affected when the wild animals become used to people, then are branded nuisances and are sentenced to death. Nobody likes that, but often people can make small changes in their actions and prevent it from happening.

I hope this helps you understand some of the issues we face when humans and wildlife interact in these situations, as well as some of the solutions.

You may also find the enclosed document useful. It explains some of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s nuisance wildlife rules and provides a little more information about why it’s rarely a good idea to relocate wildlife.

Again, thank you for your heartfelt concern, and please know that we share many of your concerns.


Sabrina Menendez

FWC Citizen Services”

Update 2010:  Thanks to so many Big Cat Rescuers showing up to ask the FWC to protect the bobcat, they revised their ruling that all trapped bobcats must be killed to say that the bobcat must be released as close to the point of pick up as possible and that it must be on at least 40 acres, in the same county and there must be a signed approval for release by the owner of the property OR the bobcat has to be killed.


Why so many cougar attacks and cougar sightings?

Every day there is a story in a paper somewhere in the U.S. about cougar or mountain lion sightings in areas where the cats have not existed in the wild in over 100 years. Why is that? Could it possibly be that despite the fact that extinction rates are more than 1000 times greater than they should be due to the uncontrolled population growth of man and our extermination of everything in our path, the cougar is making a come back? That is what the fish and game departments across the country are claiming, but that is because they make their money from the issuance of permits to kill big cats. Hunters have wiped out the Jaguar for the most part and the cougar only exists in a few areas. Fish and game “experts” would have us believe that despite the fact that the big cats have been driven to extinction in most of their ranges around the world, that miraculously, the much-prized-trophy-cougar is alive and well and a public menace to boot.

Consider a much more likely scenario: The cougars who are being spotted in areas where they haven’t lived in up to 200 years, who are brazen enough to walk through subdivisions, and nap in trees above the family mini van, and who are living off eating dogs and cats and other domestic animals are the pets and captive born breeders turned loose due to the new law that makes it illegal to sell cougars across state lines. The Captive Wild Animal Safety Act was signed into law in Dec. 2003 by President Bush and immediately there was a flurry of cougar sightings. In every case the stories paint a portrait of a cougar nonchalantly strolling through a neighborhood. This is the behaviour of an animal born and raised around people, not a wild animal.

They had a hard time explaining why one of them who was hit by a car
turned out to be declawed.

Delighted with the prospect of being able to sell permits to shoot the majestic cats the department of natural resources keeps assuring the public that these are wild cougars and that blasting them out of the trees is done in the name of public safety. They had a hard time explaining why one of them who was hit by a car turned out to be declawed.




Big Cat Rescue tracked the calls we received from people trying to get rid of unwanted big cats over the past decade:

	Unwanted	We Took	Found	We Offered	We Took
	Big Cats	These	Homes	To Take	These
			For These
1999	55	13	*	*	7 tigers, 2 cougars, 2 bobcats, 2 servals
2000	54	11	*	*	7 tigers, 2 jungle cats + hybrids
2001	78	10	6	*	2 lions, 4 bobcats + hybrids
2002	74	4	0	*	2 tigers, 1 leopard, 1 bobcat
2003	312	8	4	*	2 jaguars, 1 leopard, 3 bobcats, + hybrids
2004	110	6	3	*	5 tigers, 1 lion
2005	94	9	2	*	6 tigers, 3 cougars; Ares, Artemis, Orion
2006	79	0	0	*	none other than hybrids
2007	67	13	1	*	6 tigers, 2 lions, 5 rehab bobcats *who are not incl in list of abandoned cats
2008	85	3	0	22	2 tigers, 1 liger:  Cookie, Alex, Freckles
2009	50	2	0	17	1 cougar, 1 serval;  Sophia and Desiree
2010	89	9	1	53	3 cougars, Narla, Freddy, Sassy, 5 bobcats and a serval named Servie
	1147	88	17


…these cats are being turned loose to fend
for themselves. 

Every year that number was growing dramatically, but in the year following the new law prohibiting the sale of big cats across state lines as pets, the number dropped by 1/3. The only other marginal drop was right after 9/11 and that coincided with a huge drop in discretionary spending.

It is a shame that these cats are being turned loose to fend for themselves. They don’t have the skills and some cases don’t even have the claws, to catch their own food. Those who are not shot will probably starve to death and in time we will start to see a drop in the number of sightings reported. The only good news is that this new federal law has been effective at curbing the number of cougars and lions that are being born for a life of misery and captivity.

People are still getting around the prohibition on big cats as pets by calling themselves educators or sanctuaries. Big Cat Rescue is working hard to close the loopholes in the laws that allow people to exploit big cats for profit. Please bookmark our page on Laws to keep up on the latest efforts to make the world a safer place for people and the exotic cats.

How do the wildlife agencies make it worse?

Nature has become purposely imbalanced by our wildlife agencies in order to insure that there are plenty of animals to be killed for fun and profit. Cougars prefer deer and rabbits to people, but our wildlife departments make money from selling permits to the 5% of our population that enjoying killing the cougar’s natural prey. This is often done in excess so that the cougars appear to be a public menace so that the state’s fish and game departments can then gain public support to sell the permits to kill the highly prized cougars.

Fact:  Only 5% (12.5 million) of our population are hunters, yet they kill over 115
million animals each year for fun.

These are just the animals that licensed hunters report killing and do not include all the animals who are poached each year by those who believe that they are above the law.  Even more despicable are the canned hunts where far too many exotic cats end up when they are discarded from zoos, circus acts and pet owners.  Although it is illegal to kill most endangered species, the practice is common and for the right price and a guarantee of secrecy trophy hunters can kill a tiger or leopard while it sits in a cage.  If this isn’t bad enough consider the fact that they don’t want to ruin the trophy and will therefore aim for areas that cause a slow and painful death.

Wild cats do not purchase hunting licenses and most state wildlife managers draw their pay from revenue derived from the sale of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses.  That, in brief, is what is wrong with wildlife management in America.  In the US the decisions to protect or destroy, conserve or control, restore populations or reduce them are made by the interest of hunters.  The 93% of Americans who do not hunt have been effectively excluded from the decision making process.  Now that more caring people are trying to get involved, the state’s are fighting as never before to keep them out.  Understanding the hunter’s hold on wildlife is the critical first step to loosening that grip.

Hunting and fishing licenses are not simply issued by the state, but sold for a fee. Normally, these fees would be deposited in a state’s general treasury, and from there appropriated to whatever state programs the public, acting through their elected legislators, consider important. Instead, however, the conservation lobby persuaded state legislatures to dedicate hunting and fishing license fees to conservation programs. This means that license fees go directly to the state’s wildlife management agency, effectively insulating it from the legislature’s – and thereby the public’s – most effective means of oversight, the power of the purse. In a very real sense, state wildlife agency staff are not public servants, they are employees of the hunters and fishers whose license fees fund their programs and pay their salaries.

In 2006  12.5 million hunters  spent $23 billion on their sport of which  $642,069,054 went to wildlife agencies. 71 million wildlife watchers spent $45 billion in 2001, nearly twice as much as hunters, a fact generally ignored by state wildlife agencies when they tout the economic benefits of hunting.  Since wildlife watchers do not have to purchase licenses or tags and they do not pay a  tax on their equipment, the percentage of their $45 billion that went to wildlife agencies was exactly zero.  Who do you think the wildlife agencies are working for?

In 2006 Thirty-one percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older fed, observed, or photographed wildlife. These wildlife watchers increased in number by 8% from 2001 to 2006. Their expenditures for wildlife-watching equipment (binoculars, cameras, etc.) increased by 20% and for wildlife-watching trips by 40%.

The mass murder and manipulation of wild animals is just another business.  Hunters are a tiny minority, and it’s crucial to them that the millions of people who don’t hunt not be awakened from their long sleep and become anti hunting. (Williams 1990) In 1995 the Humane Society of the United States, HSUS attempted to compile information about the structure of the wildlife commissions across the nation.  Seventeen states refused to respond, indicating their disdain for animal lover’s involvement in THEIR business.  The remaining states admitted that their boards are dominated by consumptive wildlife users.   Several of these are people who own canned hunting operations. Most important is to note, that by their own admission, none of their commission members are opposed to hunting. Consider now the fact that another poll of the public, taken the same year, showed that 93% do not hunt and that most Americans are opposed to the brutal practice.  Clearly these governing boards are not representing the majority of the people in their wildlife management policies.

The myth that we have been expected to buy into says; “We have to kill animals so that they don’t over populate and starve to death.”  The fact is that habitat is managed for maximum deer and duck numbers; wildlife is trapped and transplanted to the killing fields; fires are set; trees are planted or mown down; fields are flooded and fields are drained all to maximize the numbers of animals available to hunters for the joy of killing.  Natural predators, such as Cougars, Bobcats, Lynx, Wolves and Coyotes are killed by the thousands so that they don’t compete with the hunters.

The predominance of Aldo Leopold’s philosophy in wildlife management assures that our incredible war on wildlife can continue indefinitely. It is, in fact, the only war in history conducted by rules that were deliberately designed to keep it from ending. The conservation philosophy was created to guarantee that animals will continue to suffer and die at the hands of hunters forever. It is a philosophy of animal abuse in perpetuity.

Florida spends more on wildlife law enforcement than it does on wildlife and fisheries management combined.  This is typical of most states.  We expect to pay our officers to protect the unbridled exploitation of our state’s wildlife, but the bulk of the budget is spent to ensure that the licensed hunters and anglers are obeying the law regarding size, weight and number of kills.  These expenditures would be virtually un necessary if there were no hunting.  This fact undermines the assertion made by the hunting industry that it pays for wildlife and parks.  At the very best, hunters pay to produce lots of animals that they want to kill and pay to enforce regulations to keep each other from killing too many of them or in an illegal

The numbers killed are staggering.  These figures all came from reported kills, in just one recent year,  by licensed hunters and do not include
animals that were killed illegally:  

Bears         25,729

Bobcats     40,008

Cougar       2,109

Coyote     491,298

Deer       6,189,116

Ducks   10,119,700

Fox            367,527

Otter           18,896

Rabbits  11,492,357

As people become more enlightened fewer and fewer people each year are taking up hunting as a sport. To change this trend, the hunters and the state’s wildlife agencies are promoting hunting to children.  Faced with declining numbers of hunters and an increasing population of non consumptive wildlife users, the states are circling the wagons to protect hunting.  Instead of seriously seeking alternative sources of funding, ways to include the non hunting public, and management that emphasizes non hunted species, they are trying to increase hunter numbers so that they don’t have to change the status quo.  Your tax dollars are paying for promotional campaigns to urge children as young as 6 to get involved in trapping and killing animals because it has been discovered that if a child is not exposed to this sort of violence during their formative years, they will be very unlikely to be able to stomach the thought of killing for pleasure as an adult.  Animal abuse is directly linked to human abuse and murder.

For more details read:  Teach Our Children.

Five percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older, 12.5 million people, hunted in 2006. The number of all hunters declined by 4% from 2001 to 2006.  Wildlife agencies are now targeting children as young as 10 and women as the hunters of the future by portraying the killing of animals as a way to feel empowered in their world.  See USFWS 2006 report.

What can we do to stop the violence?

The answer lies in becoming active and speaking out.  Most of us feel the same way, but we aren’t being heard, because we are standing idly by waiting for someone else to do the right thing.  Most wildlife commissioners are appointed by the governor.

Use your state’s freedom of information act to find out how members are appointed to your board and what their position really is on wildlife protection.  Make sure that plenty of non hunters attend each meeting of your wildlife commission.  Make sure that they attend to important issues like hound hunting, baiting, long trap check intervals, hunting contests, children recruitment policies and how animals are identified as being so unworthy of protection that there is unlimited, open season on their killing.

Speak out calmly and professionally.  To act irrational and thus label all people who care as being unstable won’t help the animals.  Ask the commission to schedule votes on these issues and to go on the record about their support of them.  Get the press involved to cover the meetings and the failure of the commission to act in favour of reasonable wildlife protection measures.  The media wants to print articles that will be favourable to the masses and the masses have said that they are not in favour of hunting.

Work to change the composition of the commission to include members who are not hunters.  Lobby the governor’s office to appoint qualified candidates who represent the majority of the people in your state.  If these candidates are continually passed over in favour of less
qualified hunters, then let the media know about it.  Work with your state legislator so see if perhaps a ballot initiative might be implemented to restructure the commission. 

Lobby members of the appropriate committees in your state legislature to earmark general funds for the support of the wildlife department.  With enough funding we can demand that our concerns be seriously addressed by the commission and the department.

If you don’t know who your representatives are, you can find them on line by clicking on the lion at the left.

115 million animals are counting on YOU to speak out for them this year.

Animal Lover’s Dream Vacation

Animal Lover’s Dream Vacation

Animal Lover's Dream Vacation

Animal Lover’s Dream Vacation Giveaway

You and a guest could win 4 Days/ 3 Nights at the Sirata Beach Resort, one of the most popular St. Pete Beach waterfront hotels, Airfare, Big Cat Rescue Keeper Tour, Dolphin Watch Cruise, and more! Print flier HERE Your Keeper Tour includes walking the 67 acre sanctuary and meeting many of the 80 (appx) exotic cats who call Big Cat Rescue home. Most were formerly bred to be coats, seized by police, abandoned or abused. You will be allowed to help our Keepers make treats to hand out and will be witness to the feeding of the great cats. Spend time with the Founder on a private tour. See more species of cats all in one place than you probably even knew existed. Many species of wild cat currently have a forever home at the sanctuary.

Random drawing on March 15th of each year determines winner. Must book your vacation within one year of winning. Vacation dates good on week days only. Some substitutions may apply in case of venues being unavailable, but will be comparable. We want this to be the experience of your life so that you will be telling everyone about your Animal Lover’s Dream Vacation!

Enter To Win

Or mail your name and email address to Big Cat Rescue 12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625 813.920.4130 fax 813.885.4457 Mark your entry:  Dream Vacation. Restrictions: Limit one entry per person. Void where prohibited. Must be 18 years old to win. Airfare limited to the continental U.S., no weekends and some black out dates apply.

 See what previous winners had to say about their Animal Lovers Dream Vacation and see photos, too: http://bigcatrescue.org/dream-vacation-winner-review/

Big Cat Attacks 2000-2005

Big Cat Attacks 2000-2005

See recent big cat killings, maulings, escapes and stats here: http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-attacks

See 2006-2010 big cat killings, maulings, escapes and stats here: http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-attacks-2006-2010/

See 1919-1999 big cat killings, maulings, escapes and stats here: http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-attacks-before-2000/


December 18, 2005 Zoo tiger kills man who was fleeing arrest. Gerber said the man was naked when he was found. His clothes had been ripped from his body and the shreds were found in the enclosure too. The man fell about 10m into the tigers’ den. Marks indicated that the body was dragged. More…

December 13, 2005 NJ: Bergen County Zoo’s escaped ocelot is recaptured.  Zookeepers believe she had been wandering in and around the zoo’s property, feasting on field mice and squirrels for two weeks. Last week’s snow may have cut off the food supply, forcing the ocelot back toward home, said Tim Gunther, the zoo director.

December 9, 2005 Foley, AL: Joe Higginbotham, owner of Kids Country Zoo said the 2-year-old male tiger became unruly so he killed him. The tiger’s body has been send to a taxidermist for mounting and will be on display here at the zoo,” Higginbotham told the Mobile Register.

December 1, 2005 Greensboro, NC: Sabre’s owner, Megan Morris, could be cited by animal control if the loose Serval turns out to be Sabre again. The feline would then be given to a humane society or wildlife refuge or euthanized if no appropriate home can be found.

November 30, 2005 Delmont, SD: A declawed mountain lion was shot by a hunter.  That indicates the cat probably was raised in captivity. (duh) “The hunter claimed it just stood there about 10 feet away from him,” he said. Vandel said it might be difficult to find out where the cat came from because the GF&P does not regulate captive wild animals. “A lot of times, unless there are some local ordinances, they may exist as somebody’s pets – we don’t find out about them for a long time,” he said.

November 19, 2005 Greenwich, NY: Jeff Ash, owner of the Ashville Game Farm was cited by the DEC in 2004 after a wolf escaped from the zoo and was never found. Ash pleaded guilty to a charge that he didn’t provide proper housing for the animal. After Tahan, a 300-pound golden tabby tiger, broke out of her cage the DEC issued Ash a ticket for the same violation. Tahan was sedated with a tranquilizer dart about two miles away from the game farm after she broke through the roof of her cage. PETA sent a letter to the USDA calling for the agency to investigate Ash referring to USDA reports from 2002 and 2003, in which PETA called Ash a “chronic violator of the Animal Welfare Act” because of accusations he failed to maintain clean cages, allowed water troughs to freeze over and failed to keep accurate records.

November 11, 2005 Lisbon: A circus tiger tore off a woman’s arm when she put her hand into its cage to stroke it, a newspaper reported. The 24-year-old Romanian woman worked at the Circo Atlas circus but was off-duty when the attack occurred.  Her arm could not be re attached.

October 23, 2005 Knox County, OH: Siberian Tiger Bites Boy at road side zoo. A 10-year-old Columbus-area boy got too close to a Siberian tiger that bit him Knox County Sheriff David Barber said. Ethan Newman of 1011 Colony Way in Perry Township was bitten on the leg in a fenced compound at the Siberian Tiger Foundation off Deal Road, Barber said. The park is 2 miles southeast of Gambier. The foundation is owned by David and Diana Cziraky who charge customers for a “close encounter” in which they enter a compound with Siberian tigers chained to posts, the sheriff said. The boy and his father, Robert, were in the compound with a trainer for a close encounter when the incident occurred.

October 7, 2005 Deluth, MN: A Lake Superior Zoo’s keeper was bitten by a 400-pound Siberian tiger was hospitalized with puncture wounds. The zookeeper was bitten Thursday while he helped move the tiger to its cage from the Lake Superior Zoo’s animal care center. “If you’ve got a tiger attached to your arm, (30 seconds) is a long time. “Getting a tiger to release when it’s semiconscious is quite challenging. The jaws go into a lock position. He’s not about to let go.” The zookeeper who was hospitalized was being held overnight at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth . Doctors cleaned out his wounds and were monitoring him for nerve damage, Janis said.

September 28, 2005 Alfred, Canada: A tiger was found wandering down the highway. The zoo is trying to figure out how the tiger was able to leave its enclosure. The family-owned and operated Papanack Zoo has been breeding exotic animals and birds since the early 1980s.

September 28, 2005 Lewis County, WA: A 5-year-old boy was tackled by one of his grandfather’s pet tigers. The tiger scratched the boy’s leg and gave him a puncture wound on his foot.

September 23, 2005 Shelbyville, IN: DNR is poised to seize 24 tigers, 6 leopards and 1 mountain lion from Dennis Hill’s Flatrock Exotics because the conditions they reported as being horrific.  Dennis Hill was the breeder of Shere Khan.  The tigers were found living in a six-inch deep mixture of mud, feces and urine.   Free Online

September 16, 2005 Dallas, TX The 4-month-old male tiger was found darting in and out of traffic near the Leary exit on Interstate 30. How the cub ended up on the interstate was a mystery until Thursday. Horn said the tiger’s owner was driving through Bowie County on his way to the Dallas area when the animal escaped from a kennel in the back of the owner’s truck. “The tiger jumped out while the truck was moving.” The owners passed through Bowie County about 1:30 a.m. Monday and did not realize the big cat was missing until they reached Dallas.

September 14, 2005 San Diego, CA: Officials with the San Diego Zoo had some anxious moments Wednesday when one of its more exotic cats got out of its enclosure. A caracal, a reddish brown wildcat native to Southwest Asia and East Africa, escaped when a zookeeper was cleaning its cage and a hose got caught in gate. Zoo officials told NBC 7/39 that animal-care staff then surrounded the caracal with nets, cages and tranquilizer guns. About 45 minutes after it escaped, a zoo worker grabbed the caracal and it was quickly returned to its cage.

September 5, 2005 Coal Valley, IL: A male lion cub born in June at the Niabi Zoo here died Saturday after a door to his exhibit area malfunctioned and fell on him. The cub was half-way between the indoor and outdoor portions of his exhibit area, he said, when a pulley on the 80-pound door that separates the areas broke, causing the door to fall on him.  “We are not sure why it broke. We are investigating,” he said.

August 22, 2005 Zimbabwe, Africa: A 50 year old Japanese diplomat was visiting a 49 acres Lion and Cheetah wildlife park when she was attacked and killed by a hungry lion.

August 18, 2005 Mound Valley, KS: (AP) – A Siberian tiger attacked and killed a teenage girl who was posing for photos at a family-run animal facility called Lost Creek Animal Sanctuary.  Free Online Update: 11/18/06 Lost Creek Operators Doug and Keith Billingsly cannot engage in any activity for which a license under the Animal Welfare Act is required, until 2011 according to the ruling from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.  That includes, breeding and selling, exhibiting or any public use of the big cats. In its 10-page decision issued Nov. 3, the Agriculture Department cited several violations of the Animal Welfare Act at Lost Creek, including allowing the public to have direct contact and pose for photographs with adult tigers. It also did not establish and maintain a program of adequate veterinary care to prevent and control injuries, the ruling stated. The ruling says there were not adequate methods of tranquilization available at the facility. Doug Billingsly’s nephew and authorities had to shoot and kill Shakka after the animal attacked Hilderbrand. The ruling also alleges that the Billingslys did not allow officials with the Agriculture Department’s animal inspection service to inspect the operation on four separate occasions from September 2004 to January 2005, months before the Siberian tiger attacked and killed Hilderbrand. Under the terms of the probation, the Billingslys can be fined $12,600 each if they violate the Animal Welfare Act again. They also were ordered to get rid of all animals subject to the act.

August 15, 2005 Clackamas, OR: Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a pet lynx after it pounced on a six-year-old girl and began clawing her head.  Deputies said the owner reported the pet missing Friday to a Clackamas veterinary clinic, which contacted the sheriff’s office.  Attempts to trap the animal had failed. http://bigcatescapesmaulings.blogspot.com/

August 6, 2005 Mayfield, NY: A baby Siberian tiger was confiscated by NY DEC from Steve Salton. The cub was purchased in OH for $1000.00 and declawed and spayed but the owner was in violation of NY license laws and the state is waiting for the cub to heal before placing her in a sanctuary.

August 1, 2005 Brit Spaugh Zoo, KS: Bart the cougar walked through an open door on his cage in the North American section of the zoo and came face to face with a family.

July 23, 2005 Africa: The owner of the Addo Croc and Lion Ranch, Lourens van Straaten died after being mauled by a lion that he had bottle raised. Van Straaten, a taxidermist by trade, was given a suspended fine in 1994 for trading in rhino horn. He was also at the centre of controversy in 2004 when allegations were made about the condition of his lions and whether he had the necessary “performing animal” permits for the public handling of lion cubs. Van Straaten is not the first Eastern Cape lion breeder to fall victim to his charges. In 1996, Shumba Safaris’ owner, JP Kleinhans, was mauled to death by one of his lions at his lodge near Patensie.

July 21, 2005 Pelican Rapids, MN: Dr. Roy Alexander Cordy is in violation of his order to remove all of the exotic animals from his farm and the tiger will be confiscated and killed if he doesn’t find a place for the cat.  Cordy, 43, pleaded guilty last year to depriving an animal on his farm of necessary food, water and shelter.

July 8, 2005 Peoria, IL: A Frisco Bros. Petting Zoo employee was injured when a 2-year-old tiger grabbed his hand with her front claws as he was removing a feeding tray from an enclosure. The man was taken to the emergency room, and the tiger was quarantined by animal control for 30 days.

July 6, 2005 East London: Lion Park A bottle raised yearling tiger attempted to rip out the jugular of a 17 year old girl visiting him at the zoo. She was stabilised at the scene and taken to St Dominic’s Hospital where she underwent a two-hour operation to repair the damage to her throat. Free online …

July 1, 2005 Richmond, IA: Craig Perry, 42, of Center Point, Iowa, said a tiger mauled his left leg moments before he was to pose with 14 of the animals for photographs at an arena on Hawthorn Corp.’s property, at 9819 N. Solon Road, Richmond.  Perry is the owner of Iowa-based Perry’s Wilderness and Zoo Inc. The facility where the alleged attack occurred is the Hawthorn Corp. which was charged in April 2003 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with 47 violations of the Animal Welfare Act after 16 of its elephants were exposed to a human strain of tuberculosis.  In May 2004, Hawthorn Corp. admitted to 14 animal-welfare violations and agreed to pay a $200,000 fine and remove the elephants from the property.

June 27, 2005 Punta Gorda, FL: Charlotte County gives Lions, Tigers and Bears 6 months to leave or get rid of their lions, tigers and bears for violation zoning laws.  Free online…

June 25, 2005 Little Falls, MN: AP- A lion and tiger, two of ten caged cats at Best Buy Auto, owned by auto mechanic Chuck Mock bolted from their cage and pounced on a 10-year-old boy leaving Russell Lala of Royalton, MN., fighting for his life at Hennepin County Medical Center. The child is now a quadriplegic and on a respirator due to the severe injuries to his spinal cord and brain.  The lion and tiger were killed. This was the second known mauling at the garage.  Free Online…

June 22, 2005 TX: Two rare white tiger cubs seized from a man trying to drive them into Mexico have found a new home in Wise County.

June 21, 2005 OH: Heaven’s Corner owner Kord McGuire recalls the day a run-in with the 200-pound cougar almost cost him his life. “I was transferring Zeb, who I bottle-fed when he was a baby, to my traveling van to go to an educational program for some Cub Scouts in Camden . Suddenly Zeb leaped up and took my arm in his mouth. He also bit me on the side, narrowly missing my kidney. As I fought him off, he went for my foot, shredding the brand new Nike tennis shoe I was wearing. I finally escaped by climbing on top of the cage.”

June 14, 2005 Conway, AR: An unemployed sheet metal worker, facing an order to appear in court and a possible fine, says he’ll go to jail before he gives up his aging pet cougar because of his violations of the exotic pet regulations.

June 11, 2005 Lima, OH: Perry Township resident Bradley Craft, 33, was attacked June 11 by his 3-year-old, 160-pound pet mountain lion, Niko. Health Commissioner David Rosebrock said Craft grabbed the cat’s tail to prevent it from attacking his mother. Niko then turned on Craft, who was building an enclosure for the exotic pet at the time. Craft was bitten in the leg by the animal, Ellis said, adding that he had treated other animal attack victims at his practice. One of those lost a foot because of a pet bear.

June 11, 2005 Underwood, MN: Acrhangel Lion killed after escaping from cage in Otter Tail County. Attempts to contact the owner Mrs. Mears, were unsuccessful. On May 28th she was given 10 days to find homes for the 9 tigers and the lions in the basement her boyfriend David Piccirillo had left behind when he took tiger cubs to Florida for photo ops.

June 7, 2005 Beaverton, OR: Deborah Walding admitted buying and selling of endangered ocelots as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. As part of her guilty plea, Walding agreed to pay a $25,000 fine, cooperate with investigators probing animal trafficking and, in a unique twist, to speak publicly about her conviction at two upcoming national exotic cat conferences.

June 6, 2005 Johnson City, TN: A bobcat escaped after his owner died and is being sent to a wildlife rehabilitator in Unicoi county.

June 2, 2005 Princeton, NJ: “I could feel the bones cracking and the warm blood in my eye,” Blakney recalled. “After some time, I decided he finally has me and I should play dead before I pass out. He remembers that the right side of his lower jaw was in about 17 pieces and that a doctor told him it wouldn’t work to try putting them back together. So instead, surgeons made a metal jaw. Blakney quickly pointed out that he didn’t feel the attack was the mountain lion’s fault. “He was just playing out his instinct and was a very good lion through all my years with him,” “I raised him on a bottle from the age of six weeks said Blakney.  He had the lion killed so that he didn’t have to have rabies shots and had the mate killed as well so that she wouldn’t hurt anyone, despite the fact that she was not involved.  He sold their pelts to his neighbor.More…

June 1, 2005 Long Island, NY: A Long Island man accused of chaining and beating his wife as two leopards crouched nearby had created a zoological horror show at his home. In the house were stuffed endangered animals and rotting animal carcasses. Suffolk police busted Anthony Barone on Sunday for the May 20 assault on Anastasia Barone, 33, and in the process discovered the leopards in a dank, feces-laden room. In an unplugged freezer investigators found the rotting carcass of a lynx. Anastasia Barone told authorities the lynx mauled the couple’s 8-year-old son last winter. After the attack, Anthony Barone chained up the lynx, until it strangled to death. Barone was in the process of buying two black leopards, describes himself as a “big-cat trainer, animal lover”. More…

June 1, 2005 Salisbury, NC: Rowan County Park told 6NEWS a veteran employee was feeding the animals when he was bit on the left leg by one of the park’s new bobcats. The worker was treated and released from the hospital.

May 28, 2005 Underwood, MN: A 16-year-old girl was petting a tiger through the bars of a cage at the Arcangel Wildlife Farm when the tiger bit her finger and clawed her hand. The wound required a dozen stitches and three operations to treat an acute infection. The girl also underwent rabies shots.  Underwood woman must get rid of 9 tigers and lion after three people were bitten by cats at her animal farm called Arcangel Wildlife. Mears has 10 days to find homes for the cats or the county will confiscate them.

May 19, 2005 Omaha, NE: A serval on the loose has found a new home. The big cat was captured Wednesday at 59th and Franklin.

May 15, 2005 Kennewick, WA: A 110-pound cougar, likely an escaped pet, was found in the garage of an auto repair shop by a guard after the animal set off a burglar alarm several times. The owner of the shop believed the cougar had been inside during work hours. The animal was removed after being shot with a tranquilizer gun by a Fish and Wildlife Officer.

April 30, 2005 Minneapolis, MN: Tiger attack victim remains in hospital after being attacked by the animals, whose owner, Grant Oly, was in jail on charges he failed to register them. In 2003, a tiger at the site was euthanized after it bit a 31-year-old pregnant woman.

April 25, 2005 Lacey, WA: Serval lost and hybrid found. Donny Roder reported loosing his 40 lb Serval and authorities nabbed a Serval hybrid while looking for the lost pet, but this cat was larger and no owner found.

April 23, 2005 Coon Rapids, MN: A Serval was discovered in the rafters of a garage and taken to the Humane Society. No owner has come forward.

April 21, 2005 Branson, MO: Animal control officials are trying to track a black panther that apparently has been roaming southwest Missouri . McRoy suspects the panther is someone’s pet. Wildlife biologists confirmed from the video that the panther is not native to the region, McRoy said.

April 18, 2005 Jinan, China: A tiger forced out of its pen and mauled a zoo worker to death Sunday in Laizhou city of east China’s Shandong Province, zoo officials and hospital sources confirmed on Monday.

April 12, 2005 China: A desperate father fought in vain to save his eight-year-old son from being mauled to death by a tiger at a zoo in Changde, Central China’s Hunan Province . Mei Changhua climbed over a 3 foot-high barrier to get a better view of the big cats, when a tiger attacked him through the bars of its cage. Despite his father’s efforts, Mei bled to death before reaching hospital.

April 12, 2005 Thackery, IL: A 4-year-old McLeansboro girl is recuperating from injuries sustained Saturday evening when she was bitten by an adult cougar. The animal’s owner, Terry Biggerstaff, 58, shot and killed the animal. Holly Higgins was taken to Hamilton Memorial Hospital where she was treated for a broken arm and lacerations to her hand and arm. Her parents said it took numerous stitches to close the wounds. An emergency room physician asked Holly if she was allergic to anything and she replied, “nothing but big cats”.

March 10, 2005 KIEV: An Amur tiger at Kiev zoo mauled a keeper to death who mistakenly walked into her enclosure.

March 6, 2005 Dent, MN: (AP) Stephanie Truesdell said she was petting a large tiger through the bars of a cage at the Arcangel Wildlife farm near Underwood when the cat gave her a “playful” swipe with its paw and snagged her hand with its claw. Doctors closed the cuts with about a dozen stitches. Since then, an infection set in that required operations to drain the infection, re-close a wound that didn’t heal properly and graft healthy skin to the area. Archangel’s owner, David Piccirillo abandoned the adult cats and headed to Florida to make money off photo ops with the cubs, but was busted at a Motel 6 for not having a FL permit. He left behind his girlfriend with 9 tigers in the yard and lions in the basement in MN.

February 26, 2005 Wellington, FL: A 500-pound tiger escaped from its cage at Panther Ridge Sanctuary located at 14755 Palm Beach Pointe Blvd. Wellington. Judy Berens, the sanctuary owner, stated that Tristan was not her cat and that he was being boarded and cared for by his owner Gail Laviola,  who was solely responsible for the escape and that it was Laviola who was cited for escaped captive wildlife, a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail or a $500 fine. More than 20 sheriff’s deputies and state wildlife officers armed with rifles were positioned inside and outside the perimeter fence of the facility as the tiger wandered the grounds for more than two hours. Two tranquilizer darts were required to sedate the tiger so that he could be recaptured.  Panther Ridge has 16 large cats, including Amos, a black leopard, and Eros and China, two spotted leopards. Some were left with her; others Berens bought. Video Tristen, the escapee & conditions. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel )

February 23, 2005 Pahrump, NV: A pet leopard at Karl Mitchell’s facility bit off the tip of a woman’s finger. February 23, 2005 Sima Valley, CA: A 400 pound tiger was shot after being tracked for 8 days across 29 miles of heavily populated areas of Ventura County. Abby and Emma Hedengran, owners of Wild World/Tiger Creek Foundation were licensed with a 10 year permit to possess 30 big cats as of 2004.  When the permit expired they could not renew and had to move with 25 cats to the Moorpark area where they rented a trailer and barn and had all of their cats in transport cages and carriers until Ventura County sent them packing.  Federal authorities said charges were filed relating to the possession of exotic cats by Gert “Abby” Hedengran, 56, and his wife, Roena “Emma” Hedengran, 52 in the escape and death of Tuffy the tiger. Their cats were confiscated and relocated to NV. Free Online.

February 12, 2005 Oldsmar, FL: Marcus Cook of Zoo Dynamics, fka Zoo Pros was cited with unsafe handling of captive wildlife, resulting in injury to Sandra Hopps-Caraballo when a white tiger cub he was using for photo opportunities with people and their children bit her on the hand. Cook said the cubs belonged to Ken and Nancy Kraft of Bearcat Hollow who had been indicted on 55 counts of violating the Endangered species Act and the Lacey Act. Marcus Cook was also charged in this grand jury indictment for his involvement. After the cub bit the woman FWC ordered Cook to remove the baby tigerfrom his public petting routine while in FL. Cook said he was sending the cubs back to the Krafts who have relocated from Racine, MN, to SD where the laws are less strict, but his handler said the cubs had been shipped off to a show in Las Vegas. Two children were reported to have been bitten by Cook’s tiger cubs while he was traveling through TX and one of the cats in his side show was reported to have killed a woman by ripping her arm off. ( St. Petersburg Times )

February 12, 2005 Cut and Shoot, TX: Woman mauled in leopard attack at 6912 Dusty Lane at Wildlife Extravaganza, owned by Reginald “Lefty” Parr. Parr owns two leopards, a cougar, several tigers and a lion. There have been two prior incidents where cats escaped from Parr’s facility. In 1998, two tigers escaped from their cages after a trainer had left them open. Both tigers were later shot. In another incident, two cougars escaped from their cages. At that time, the animals were just housed in cages, which violates the Animal Welfare Act, she said. Following the second incident, Parr lost his exhibitor license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He also was found guilty of several violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including constructing and maintaining housing facilities for animals that are not structurally sound and in good repair, failing to utilize a sufficient number of trained employees to maintain the prescribed level of husbandry practices and failing to establish and maintain programs of disease control and prevention, euthanasia and adequate veterinary care under the supervision and assistance of a veterinarian.

February 7, 2005 Baton Rouge, LA: Eric Drogosch is accused of violating the Animal Welfare Act for denying USDA inspectors access to his facilities, animals and records; providing insufficient housing and care to the animals; and failing to “handle tigers carefully,” which led to a child being injured. “The gravity of the violations alleged in the complaint is great,” the order says. “(Drogosch) has continually failed to comply with the regulations and standards, after having been repeatedly advised of deficiencies.” After five years and the deaths of several tigers USDA finally revoked his license. Free online.

February 4, 2005 Sacramento CA: Sacramento zoo lion kills mate of 15 months. In a zoo there is nowhere to run. Zookeepers describe such killings as rare, but on a national scale, they cannot say how rare. No one, either in industry groups or among federal overseers, keeps nationwide records on captive animals that kill their fellows – or on virtually any other cause of captive animal deaths.

February 1, 2005 Vero Beach, FL: The large golden African Serval, scared and lashing out, was dragging its left leg through the underbrush due to a broken back. Sadly, the animal had to be euthanized. Dangerfield estimated that it was about 2 years old and said it had not been declawed. The cat may have escaped from someone’s private collection, said Dangerfield. (www.tcpalm.com )

February 1, 2005 Winfield, IN: Video and still pictures of the animal aren’t clear enough to determine what it is, Davis said, but the tracks show it’s a feline. Davis estimated it may weigh about 25 to 35 pounds, similar in size to a bobcat – and much smaller than a cougar, which can weigh up to 150 pounds. The animal appeared to be black. Last summer, Davis said, the DNR captured a mixed-breed cat of about the same size and proportions in Hobart , north of Winfield. A dead bobcat was found near Indiana 49 near Chesterton earlier this month by the DNR. The department did not know if it was a wild feline or a former family pet. People sometimes buy exotic animals and then find that they don’t make good pets, he said.

January 30, 2005 Los Angeles, CA: Hollywood Hills residents were under warning today that a serval — a spotted, long-eared African cat that apparently escaped from whoever was keeping it as a pet — is roaming their area. “Keep small children and small pets indoors. Do not leave small children unattended outdoors,” said a Los Angeles Department of Animal Services statement.

January 29, 2005 Sioux Falls, SD: A critically endangered tiger might have to be killed after a man reached through a chain-link fence Tuesday at the Great Plains Zoo and was bitten by the animal. When people are bitten by wild animals, their heads have to be cut off to be tested for rabies, because there are no rabies vaccines approved for use in animals other than cats and dogs.

January 28, 2005 Toronto, Canada: A stripper mauled by a tiger in a Canadian safari park sued for $8,000,000.00 in damages (winning 838k) because her scars meant she could no longer work. Her musician boyfriend, David Balac, won $1.78 million because his injuries left him unable to work as an accordion player. African Lion Safari, near Hamilton, Ontario, west of Toronto, said it is reviewing the ruling, but it insisted the park was safe.

January 27, 2005 Moorpark, CA: Abby and Emma Hedengran, owners of Wild World/Tiger Creek Foundation transferred their cats from a Temecula facility to their new residence and facility in Moorpark. During the move, a Siberian lynx and an adult male Siberian tiger escaped. The lynx was found on the porch of a home near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and tranquilized. The tiger was later shot and killed.

January 20, 2005 Baraboo, WI: An 8-year-old girl was bitten on the chest by an 80-pound, 7-month-old lion cub at Creature Features Pet Store. The girl had to undergo rabies shots.

January 18, 2005 AR: A 400-pound pet tiger was abandoned in the mountains of north central Arkansas along the Buffalo River. The tiger trekked 60 miles over the next four days, returning to his owner’s home and was then taken to a refuge.

January 13, 2005 Petal, MS: A bobcat is on her way to a sanctuary. The adult bobcat was emaciated and infected by buckshot wounds. Her collar was so tight it embedded in her fur. She was spayed and declawed and trailed a chain, adding to the theory that someone illegally kept her as a pet. Unable to hunt without her claws, Rose nearly starved before someone grabbed her chain and turned her over to a local rescue group. Most animals in her situation don’t end up getting placed like she did. Only one out of 20 or 30 avoid being euthanized.

January 11, 2005 Sacramento, CA: A 400 pound DEAD tiger escaped from the back of a truck as the vehicle swerved on Highway 99 in on the way to a lab for a necropsy.

January 9, 2005 Charlotte, Kings Mountain, NC: Two 75-125 pound tiger cubs were found wandering in a neighborhood full of children. These cats are banned in this area and even after the media has shown their pictures all over T.V. no one has stepped forward to claim them. One cub suffered a broken tail and the other a dislocated pelvis when they were apparently thrown from the back of a moving vehicle with electric cords tied around their necks. The cubs were separated and sent to separate animal shelters that are only equipped for dogs and cats. More.



December 24, 2004 Suffolk County, NY: An 8-year-old boy was attacked by his father’s pet leopard. The boy was scratched on the chest and bitten on the neck, and he required medical treatment.

December 10, 2004 Cassville, MO: At 1:14 p.m. Wednesday, Lisa (no last name) at St. John’s Hospital reported a man with a cougar bite.

December 7, 2004 Copenhagen, Denmark: (AP) A rare Siberian tiger was shot and killed Tuesday after it escaped from a downtown zoo by climbing over a 16-foot electrified fence in southern Denmark.

December 5, 2004 Laredo, TX: Texas circus worker bitten by Bengal tiger. A circus staffer working at a show in Texas was injured after getting too close to the tiger cage. The worker’s hand was bitten and mangled by a Bengal tiger. The tiger belongs to the Great Circus of China. Circus managers say the tiger was properly caged at the time. They added that workers know not to go into the cages.

November 20, 2004 Branson West, MO: An 18-year-old volunteer at Predator World spent the night in the hospital after being bitten on the arm by an 80-pound black leopard as he stood next to the cage

November 20, 2004 St. Augustine, FL: (AP) A 14 year old boy was mauled by a 450 lb tiger that was being walked on a leash at the St. Johns County Fair by the cat’s owner, Curt LoGiudice, owner of the Catty Shack Ranch at Jacksonville. The boy and some friends were watching the tiger being moved to the truck when the tiger went for the boy, hooking the boy’s thigh and pulling the boy under him. That’s when the deputies shot the tiger with the Tasers. The handler tried to get between the tiger and the boy, and after the tiger released the boy, it then bit the handler around his neck and head, Suchy said. At one time, the handler’s head was in the tiger’s mouth, Suchy said. LoGiudice has been questioned four times for attacks: One of his cougars bit a 19-month-old in 1999, while an elderly woman was bitten on the arm by a tiger cub in 2000, a trainer suffered 23 puncture wounds from a cougar and a woman sued LoGiudice after the same cougar attacked her, but Florida Game and Fish officials say that these attacks will not cause Curt LoGiudice of Catty Shack Ranch to lose his license to exhibit the cats.  ( Associated Press ) Free Online.

November 10, 2004 Gentry, AR: A tiger pulled the flesh off the right middle finger of Angela Pruitt, 36, of Vian, OK at the Wild Wilderness Drive Thru Safari. The owners of the safari refused to comment on the woman’s injury or provide safety tips for visitors attending the park.

November 10, 2004 Columbia, TN: An 19 month old Serval named Nyla escapes while her owner, Talisa Bowers is out of town when the family dog forced open her gate to get to her food. Nyla had eluded recapture for more than a month last October when she escaped by pushing the door open herself. At this time the declawed Serval is still on the loose with only domestic pets to feed on since she is incapable of capturing real prey. Free Online.

November 3, 2004 Taipei City Zoo: A man who suffers from a mental disorder jumped into the lion’s pit at the zoo. The man climbed the two-story high concrete wall and jumped down into the animal’s home. He suffered only minor bite wounds, unlike the innocent lions, who were anesthetized and quarantined. Free online.

October 2004, CA: Saugus High School hosted a display by Sid Yost of Amazing Animal Actors, who took a lion to a homecoming assembly at the school. Yost has been repeatedly cited and was fined $2,000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act-including failure to handle animals in a way that ensures public safety and the welfare of the animals-after one of his chimpanzees bit someone.

October 30, 2004 Salisbury, MD:A visitor to the Salisbury Zoo had part of his finger torn off when he approached a cage containing a jaguar.

October 29, 2004 Shawnee County, KS: The Wichita Eagle: A mountain lion was found dead shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday night in Shawnee County. “It was a young one, only 50 to 60 pounds, and had been declawed and its canine teeth had been filed down,” We have not been able to verify if this animal belonged to a few people in the area who have permits for mountain lions or if it might have belonged to someone who was keeping one illegally without a permit and then dumped it there,” Ladner said. “They did try to make it appear like the animal was crossing the road.” Free online.

October 22, 2004 Bangkok, Thailand: (Reuters) The bird flu toll among tigers at a Thai zoo has risen to 83, but the keepers who looked after them are free of the deadly disease which has killed 31 people in southeast Asia this year, officials said on Friday. http://bigcatescapesmaulings.blogspot.com/.

September 9, 2004 Chicago, IL: A keeper at Lincoln Park Zoo was seriously injured with multiple bite wounds and lacerations after being attacked by a lion in the outdoor exhibit. The incident forced an evacuation of the zoo.

September 8, 2004 Trenton, MN: An employee was seriously injured, with wounds to his face and arm, by a leopard at the Acadia Zoological Park.

August 31, 2004 Ft. Polk, LA: AP 40 soldiers, several trappers and others searched a military installation and surrounding area for a 100 pound, collared pet tiger for several days. Free online.

August 19, 2004 Punta Gorda, FL: (AP) Two lions were running down Highway 17 in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley.

August 23, 2004 The big cat crises was the August 23, 2004 Cover Story of TIME Magazine.  Read more in that issue by clicking on the cover. Articles cover the threats of vanishing habitat, their endangered status and the problems associated with them being kept as pets.

July 30, 2004 Queens, NY: 450 pound Cole Brothers Circus Tiger belonging to Adriatic Animal Attractions Escapes in New York. Sighting of the tiger walking along the road and through a park causes multi-car accident that resulted in injuries to four adults and a child. The city was sued for 3.5 million by the victims of the wreck.  The circus was restrained from bringing their big cats and elephants to their next gig.

July 27, 2004 Bullitt Co., KY: A two year old Snow Leopard escaped in Shepherdsville, Kentucky from his private owner and has been missing for days.  The owner says he would probably run from people, but that kids and pets shouldn’t be let out.

July 14, 2004 Detroit Lakes, MN: A worker with the Arcangel Wildlife Farm was bitten by a tiger who was on display at a local festival. The leashed tiger lunged at the man and bit him on the arm when the man attempted to move him.

July 14, 2004 Little Falls, MN: A 22-year-old woman was bitten by an African lion when she stuck her hand into a cage while visiting a private collection of pet exotic cats kept at an auto dealership owned by Chuck Mock. The woman suffered a severe laceration to her middle finger and cuts on two other fingers.

July 12, 2004 West Palm Beach – Loxahatchee, FL: Tiger escapes private owner in West Palm Beach and eludes authorities.  In February 2002, Bobo, the 750-pound tiger mauled a woman who was helping Sipek during a photo shoot at his compound. She was bit on the head. After eluding capture for two days, Bobo was shot and killed.

June 14, 2004 Elgin, Canada: A 10-year-old Toronto boy is in London hospital with serious neck and head injuries after being attacked by a tiger. The owner was showing the visitors his 160-kilogram Siberian tiger and led the tiger out on a leash. When the tiger lunged, the boy turned to run and was attacked in the back of the head and neck, suffering injuries that sent him to Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario in London.

June 9, 2004 Copley Twp. OH: Trucks haul away 29 exotic animals. Pearson’s L&L Exotic Animal Farm loses bid to keep lions, tigers, leopards. This is not the first time the farm has drawn attention from the law and from the media, reported Costen. In 1983, tragedy struck when a 250-pound tiger killed Pearson’s 2-year-old son. 2006 Update: The U.S. Department of Agriculture filed a complaint against Pearson and the L&L Exotic Animal
Farm in 2002, but the process to revoke his license stagnated after the hearing was temporarily halted in September 2003. When the hearing resumed Pearson faced 953 violations of the Animal Welfare Act, from February 1997 through February 2006.

June 2, 2004 Landover Hills, MD: A tiger belonging to exhibitor Mitchel Kalmanson escaped from the UniverSoul Circus after fighting with another tiger and attacked an elephant, biting her on the hip. During the escape, there were several elementary schools attending the performance, and children were walking under the tent in the area where the tiger escaped.

May 30, 2004 Chillicothe, OH: (AP) A man whose pet lioness attacked his daughter has given away his second big cat. Charles Peters had to shoot and kill Sheba on Friday evening after the lioness wouldn’t let go of the arm of Peters’ 33-year-old daughter, Lisa Peters. Charles Peters, who lives about 10 miles east of Chillicothe in southern Ohio, said he has kept big cats off and on for about 20 years without a problem. “I had a tiger that used
to pull my granddaughter around by the diaper,” he said. “Gentle as could be.” But now he and his wife, Marty, say they’re done keeping big cats. Ohio has no state prohibition on keeping big cats as pets.

May 15, 2004 Albuquerque, NM: (AP) A frequent Albuquerque zoo visitor whose finger was found bitten off outside the jaguar exhibit has been banned from the zoo for life. The victim denied missing any fingers. But Darnell says a print lifted from the detached finger said otherwise. He says police went to the man’s house and visually confirmed he was the right person.

May 1, 2004 Bangkok, Thailand: A teenage worker at a Thai zoo died on Saturday after being mauled by six tigers in front of more than 100 shocked tourists, an official said. The zoo hit Thai headlines last year after its sale of 100 tigers to China raised suspicions the animals were butchered and used to make traditional medicine.

April 15, 2004 Hollywood, CA: Elisha Cuthbert was bitten by a cougar and had to be rushed to hospital while filming the hit American TV series 24. She says, “My stunt double was petting the animal, so I put my hand out to stroke it and it bit me, it almost ripped my thumb off. I was rushed to hospital with two puncture wounds, one of which went right through my hand, I had a brace on my hand for five weeks.”

April 15, 2004 Indio Hills, CA: Tiger escapes attacks owner. Police say a man called to say that his 200 lb pet tiger knocked him down and pinned him to the ground. We’re told the man is not hurt, but afraid the tiger could get out again.

April 8, 2004 Long Island, NY: Suffolk County Police are Looking For Exotic Cat On Long Island . The 40 lb. Serval Martha Wentz kept in the basement broke out of the window and has been on the loose while Wentz was vacationing in FL.

April 7, 2004 Knoxville, TN: A woman’s pet bobcat escaped from her home in East Knoxville. The bobcat’s owner says he escaped through the kitchen window of her home. This is the third time she has asked authorities to help her find the exotic pet she calls “Brambles.” “I thought it would be pretty neat to own one,” says Harrison . “As I’m finding out, he’s getting me into a lot of trouble.”

March 31, 2004 Cosby, TN: Michael Pulley has been forced to surrender the lion. Michael Pulley owns a nine-month-old lion named Mischa. He says he didn’t know he needed a permit to have her, but the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says the law is clear. Pulley faces charges and possible jail time.

Mar. 17, 2004 Massena, NY: (AP) A 4-year-old was hospitalized after her grandmother’s caged cougar mauled her at the woman’s home in northern New York. The girl told her mother the 160-pound male cat reached through the cage and grabbed her. Aubrey Swart was treated Saturday evening at Massena Memorial Hospital for cuts, bruises to the head and an eye injury, and transferred to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlngton , Vt.

March 11, 2004 Reno, NV: A volunteer needed more than 15 stitches after a declawed leopard at the Sierra Safari Zoo bit her as she reached into the pen for a food bowl.

Mar. 10, 2004 East Limestone, AL: (AP) A cougar, named Dracula, got out of its cage and spent the night on its owner’s 120-acre farm in Limestone County before being sedated and returned to a pen. Owner, Doug Wells, said Dracula ran out of the pen Sunday when a beef shoulder roast bounced out of the cage at feeding time. Dracula ran past Tom Cahall, who helps Wells on the farm, and when Cahall grabbed for the cat’s nape, it bit Cahall’s arm, requiring stitches.

March 5, 2004 The Star: The SARS corona virus initially jumped to humans from the weasel-like civet cat and other exotic animals. “We saw examples where patients were able to transmit it to a large number of people with minimal contact,” A year later – after 8,098 people in 29 countries contracted the disease and 774 of them died, including 44 in the Toronto area – much about SARS remains unknown.

February 20, 2004 Volusia County, FL: Florida Wildlife agents busted a group traveling with lions, tigers, snakes and alligators Friday for not having a permit for the dangerous animals.One man is jailed and the other, James Garrettson, is escorted out of the state.

February 20, 2004 Red Wing, MN: A jury found a Red Wing man guilty of violating a zoning ordinance for keeping up to eight Siberian tigers at his rural residence.  four people had been bitten and one cat killed after biting a pregnant woman.

February 19, 2004/Beijing, China: A rare Siberian tiger which escaped from an animal park in China’s northeast, mauling a man on the way, returned by itself after eluding authorities for two days.

February 17, 2004 Dade City , FL: “Pet” cougar is found lounging near neighbor’s pool 3/10ths of mile away from his home. Animal’s possessor retrieves animal without incident, but she will have to appear in court for allowing cougar to escape. ( Tampa Tribune )

February 14, 2004 Lake County, IL: Animal control officials are investigating sightings of what might be a cougar on the loose that is thought to be an escaped pet.

February 13, 2004 Elizabethtown, IL (AP) — A 52 year old Hardin County man who kept exotic animals was apparently attacked and killed Thursday by a pet African lion, authorities said.  During the autopsy, a coroner found that the man had suffered numerous puncture wounds and a broken neck. The lion was discovered running loose on the property and was shot and killed by police.Meanwhile a tiger was confiscated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. It came from a guy who had a tiger for a pet. He pulled up to a stop light in Sandwich with his tiger in the back of his pickup truck. An elderly woman was behind him and she called police. The tiger ended up going to a big cat rescue organization in Colorado. It was 10 months old and weighed 220 pounds.

February 9, 2004 New Orleans, LA:  A leopard the family had raised from a cub attacked his owner.  A woman was attacked by a declawed pet leopard she kept in a makeshift 10-foot by 10-foot cage behind her house trailer. The leopard bit her on the head, nearly tearing off her ear and ripping the flesh from her scalp. Sheriff deputies and one of the woman’s relatives shot the leopard four times, killing him.

February 6, 2004 Roanoke, VA: Couple’s big cats violate county law, jury decides.  District Attorney seeks 2000.00 a day fines.

February 6, 2004 Palm Beach, FL: The Palm Beach Post proclaims that McCarthy’s Wildlife Center may have to close due to lack of support.

February 4, 2004 Omaha NE: Serval is found wandering in a neighborhood.  Owners try to convince law enforcement that it is a legal hybrid.

February 4, 2004 Shenyang, China: (Xinhuanet) A wild Siberian tiger has been found dead in Manchu Autonomous County of Xinbin, Fushun City of northeast China’s Liaoning Province.  Died from near starvation and then caught by poachers.

February 1, 2004 Fort Wayne, IN: A 150-pound mountain lion that had escaped Saturday night from its owner’s car following a minor traffic accident was shot and killed by police after it became agitated and tried to jump on an officer. Judge orders man to give up cats, but mortgage holder forecloses and man skips town with cats.  Judge Stanley Levine ordered Dutcher to pay about $7,400 in attorneys’ fees incurred by the Still Water Place Community Association.

February 1, 2004 Otter Tail County, MN: Authorities are trying to determine what killed several large exotic cats and a camel found dead. The owner of an exotic animal farm says the four tigers and one camel found dead on his property Tuesday weren’t neglected.

January 31, 2004 Fort Wayne, IN: A 4-year-old, 140-pound pet cougar escaped from a car during a traffic accident and was shot and killed by police when he lunged at an emergency worker.

January 27, 2004 Zeeland, MI: City Attorney James Donkersloot said it was illegal for Jarnigan to  have the bobcat. “If she didn’t have a license, she was violating the rights of everyone else in the state.  They have  laws for a purpose and people should respect the laws.”

January 25, 2004 Surry County, IN: LOWGAP A 14-year-old Surry County girl was mauled by a tiger kept in a cage behind the family’s trailer and seriously injured less than two months after a tiger killed a 10-year-old boy at his uncle’s home 40 miles away in Wilkes County.  All four tigers were killed on site.

January 22, 2004 Kent County, DE: A family relinquished a bobcat on  Jan. 22, after it reportedly bit another human. Because the cat wasn’t  vaccinated, it had to be euthanized for a rabies check.

Unknown Date.  See 2014 story re: Buckhead, GA lynx attack which mentions a lynx escape documented in 2004, which apparently didn’t make the news.



December 14,2003 Millers Creek, NC: Ruth Bynum’s 400-pound Bengal tiger fatally mauled her 10-year-old nephew after pulling him under a fence and into his cage, authorities said. Cat was kept behind the family’s home in a cage that allowed the family dog to run in and out of the cage. The boy, Clayton James Eller, was shoveling snow Sunday afternoon near the tiger’s cage, an enclosure made of chain link “This little boy got too close, and it pulled him under the fence,” Coroner Howard Laney said. The boy’s uncle, James Marshall Eller, heard Clayton scream and saw the tiger dragging the boy into its cage. Sheriff Dane Mastin said Eller tried in vain to get the tiger off the boy, then ran and got his gun and shot the tiger to death. But it was too late to save the boy. The boy’s mother, Angela Eller, had left the boy in the care of her sister Ruth Bynum, the tiger’s owner, while she went to work, Mastin said. James Eller is the brother of the two women.

December 12, 2003 Marion County, KS: A sheriff killed a second tiger at Chris McDonald’s private menagerie when the animal became aggressive following the killing of his companion.

December 9, 2003 Marion County, KS: A tiger was shot and killed after escaping from Chris McDonald’s private menagerie and killing two dogs and a wolf.

November 11, 2003 Palm Desert, CA: A zoo employee and a zoo visitor at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens were bitten by a cheetah who was being walked on a leash through the park. The zoo visitor was holding a 2-year-old child on her lap when the cheetah attacked her, biting her calf and thigh. The child was treated for a head injury after she fell onto cement.

November 8, 2003 Frisco, TX: A 4-month-old, 50-pound declawed tiger cub was abandoned and captured by police after a motorist spotted the animal roaming on the side of the road.

November 7, 2003 Rockwell, NC: Steve Macaluso, owner of a private menagerie called Charlotte Metro Zoo, was bitten on the neck by a leopard. Zoo volunteers and employees reported that Macaluso needed dozens of stitches.

October 6, 2003 Golden Valley, AZ: An employee at Keepers of the Wild Zoo was bitten and dragged by a 450-pound tiger as she tried to pet him. She was hospitalized for five days with four puncture wounds on her leg.

Oct. 4, 2003 New York, NY: A 400-pound tiger, along with a 5-foot alligator, was found in a New York apartment owned by Antoine Yates. The tiger had attacked her owner. Yates was later arrested at a Philadelphia hospital where he had fled for treatment of a deep bite wound to his right leg. At various times, eight children had lived in the apartment where the tiger was kept. The Siberian-Bengal mix had been kept in the apartment since he was a cub, authorities said. The owner and his 68 year old mother potentially face 7 years in jail for reckless endangerment.

Oct. 3, 2003 Las Vegas, NV: A 600-pound white tiger dragged Roy Horn, 59, half of the famed duo, offstage by the neck after Horn tapped its nose with a microphone for ignoring a command. He was in critical but stable condition Sunday at a Las Vegas hospital. Five months pass before Horn takes his first steps to recovery.

September 20, 2003 Baghad, Iraq: A U.S. soldier shot and killed a tiger at the Baghdad Zoo after the tiger bit off the finger and clawed the arm of another soldier who was feeding him through the bars of the cage.

September 4, 2003 Alexandria, Egypt: A tiger pounced on a circus trainer during an act, causing deep cuts to his face and a broken jaw.

August 21, 2003 Whetstone Township, OH: A chained 180-pound “pet” cougar snapped his collar, escaped, and attacked a neighbor’s dog, causing more than 100 lacerations.

August 14, 2003 St. Louis, MO: A cheetah at the St. Louis Zoo escaped from her enclosure–by going through a 12-foot wide moat and over a 12-foot high wall–and walked among visitors before being recaptured.

August 8, 2003 Dhaka, Bangladesh: A zookeeper fainted when a tiger escaped from his cage at the Bangladesh Zoo. The tiger roamed freely for an hour.

July 29, 2003 Chisinau, Moldova: A tiger at a zoo bit off a 10-year-old girl’s arm when she reached into the tiger’s cage and tried to pet him.

July 18, 2003 Chihuahua, Mexico: A 12-year-old New Mexico boy, vacationing in Mexico, nearly lost his finger when he was bitten by a jaguar at a petting zoo. The child’s finger received 42 stitches.

July 3, 2003 La Crosse, WI: A tiger mauled circus trainer Bruno Blaszak in front of 400 people during his show at a festival. The tiger charged at Blaszak, knocked him down, and clawed him. His right leg required 30 to 40 stitches.

June 2003 Mead, WA: A Korean actor filed a negligence lawsuit against Cat Tales Zoological Park, a roadside zoo and exotic animal training center, after she was mauled by a white tiger during filming of a story about two of the facility’s tigers. She suffered a cut on her forearm.

June 30, 2003 Calhan, CO: Two tigers severely mauled an employee of Big Cats of Serenity Springs as he entered their cage. The employee was knocked down by one tiger and suffered a mangled leg and scalp injuries. As a result, the tigers were beaten with shovels and later killed.

June 23, 2003 Crossett, AR: A firefighter visiting the Crossett Zoo suffered a deep laceration and lost part of his thumb when he was bitten by a tiger.

June 14, 2003 Dodge City, KS: An adult tiger who was being exhibited by G.W. Exotic Animal Foundation swiped at a young boy, tearing his pants. The tiger was being used for photo ops with the public at the Village Square Mall.

May 28, 2003 Nampa, ID: At a roadside zoo called For the Birds, where visitors are allowed to pet tigers, a toddler was jumped on and licked by a 170-pound tiger. Other zoo visitors and employees have been jumped on and bitten by tigers.

April 28, 2003 Russia: Two lions escaped from their cage, which had been left open, and killed a circus trainer. Police shot and killed the lions.

April 23, 2003 Colmenar Viejo, Spain: A tiger with the Italian-owned International Circus bit off the right arm and caused serious injury to the left arm of a man who approached the his cage.

April 23, 2003 Tokyo, Japan: Several lions attacked and killed an animal handler who was patrolling the grounds at a drive-through facility called African Safari Park.

April 22, 2003 Colton, CA: On Earth Day California Department of Fish and Game representatives found the bodies of 30 tigers and other big cats and 58 dead cubs during a raid on Weinhart’s Glen Avon home, evidently used by his nonprofit organization, Tiger Rescue. The Department of Fish and Game also seized 13 tiger and leopard cubs, ranging in age from a few weeks to a few months.

April 6, 2003 San Antonio, TX: A lion from Wild Animal Orphanage escaped and roamed through a northwest area neighborhood for several hours. An employee required hospital treatment for a fractured pelvic bone and bruised rib when the lion charged and knocked her down as she attempted to shoot the animal with a tranquilizer dart. The lion was shot and killed by four police officers armed with handguns and shotguns.

April 2, 2003 Adair, OK: Several tigers belonging to the International Wildlife Center of Texas and boarded at Safari Joe’s Rock Creek Exotic Animal Park attacked and killed a handler. One tiger grabbed her arm and pulled her into the cage as she was giving them water, and other tigers in the cage pounced on her. Another keeper tried to help, but things got only worse. “The first one grabbed her and the rest of them joined in,” says Mayes County Deputy Charles McGuire. “The other girl who was there grabbed a shovel and joined in and beat the tigers to get them away from her and that’s when they removed the deceased’s left arm.” Bracket was brought to Tulsa for treatment, but she died.  These tigers were later reported to be included in James Garretson’s traveling side show called Killer Cat Show which is based in Florida.  The tigers were displayed at fairs and used in photo ops with the public.

March 31, 2003 Hennepin, IL: As he entered their pen to shift them to another enclosure, a man was mauled to death by two tigers he kept in a backyard menagerie. Police shot and killed both tigers in order to retrieve the body. This was the second incident at the Second Nature Exotic Cats Sanctuary (see May 26, 2002/Hennepin, Ill.).

March 23, 2003 Sacramento, CA: A keeper at the Sacramento Zoo was hospitalized and treated for puncture wounds to his neck, right shoulder, and left leg after he was attacked by a 325-pound tiger while he was preparing to feed the animal. Another worker beat the tiger on the head with a shovel to stop the attack.

March 22, 2003 Red Wing, MN: A 5-month-old, 40-pound tiger cub at Grant Oly’s Tiger Zone grabbed and bit a pregnant woman on the wrist, causing a puncture wound, and bit a 16-year-old girl. Police searching Oly’s premises found guns, ammunition, and marijuana.

March 16, 2003 Dehiwela, Sri Lanka: A leopard at the Colombo Zoo reached through the bars of his cage and attacked an infant, causing severe head injuries.

February 3, 2003 Jacksonville, FL: A 450-pound tiger with UniverSoul Circus escaped while the cage was being cleaned. The tiger climbed a car, jumped over a fence, headed down an alley, frightened employees at a nearby restaurant, and was recaptured 10 minutes later.  100s of people witness Chad ‘s escape. ( Associated Press, The Florida Times-Union, WjXT-TV Channel 4 ( IND ) Jacksonville )

January 30, 2003 Benimantell, Spain: A lion bit off a British woman’s arm at the elbow as she attempted to pet the animal while touring a zoo.

January 24, 2003 Albert Lea, MN: A malnourished tiger cub was seized from a home in a residential neighborhood after school officials learned that scratches and bite marks on a fifth-grade boy were caused by his father’s “pet” tiger.

January 17, 2003 Hubei Province, China: Two lions at Wuhan Forest Safari Park mauled a keeper to death as he entered their cage to feed them, then escaped and ran loose for hours before being recaptured.

January 15, 2003 Miami, FL: Exotic cat is found along Florida highway. Cat’s “owner” claims animal was stolen ( WSVN-TV Channel 7 (Fox) )

January 8, 2003 Laurens, SC: A 200-pound “pet” cougar was recaptured in a residential neighborhood after he had escaped from a pen 5 miles away and roamed freely for three days.




December 15, 2002 Leesburg, VA.: Animal control was called to help recapture an 80-pound tiger who escaped from a petting zoo and was on top of a car in a parking lot.

November 29, 2002 Kaohsiung City, China: A tiger from an American circus based in Las Vegas bit off a woman’s hand as she tried to pet him during a parade to advertise circus performances.

November 14, 2002 Detroit, MI: A tiger who had been beaten to death and dumped in a field was found by local residents.

November 4, 2002 Red Wing, MN: A teenager reported to authorities that tigers at Grant Oly’s Tiger Zone had bitten him and two adults.

November 3, 2002 Guatemala: A leopard with the King Gitano Circus attacked and killed a 2-year-old girl after she wandered near the animal’s cage. The leopard reached out, grabbed her with his claws, threw her against the cage, and bit her. She died of a fractured skull.

October 28, 2002 Las Vegas, NV: Neighbors became frightened and alerted animal control when they spotted two tiger cubs running loose on a neighbor’s rooftop. The cubs had escaped from the homeowner’s private menagerie.

October 17, 2002 Southport, FL: A 500-pound African lion pounced on, dragged, and mauled his owner at a roadside zoo called 77 Zoological Park as the owner stepped into the cage to pose for a picture. The lion ripped a hole in his throat, pulled his right eye out of its socket, severed tendons in his neck and chest, tore his skin, and bit through his flesh to the bone. The man spent weeks in the hospital and was in critical condition for 11 days.  He loses 80% of eyesight. He has trained large animals since age 12 when he began training bears in circus in Europe.

October 11, 2002 Jackson, NJ: The 70-year-old husband of “tiger lady” Joan Byron-Marasek was suddenly attacked by a tiger at her controversial preserve as he was feeding the tigers. He suffered head injuries, and his arm was nearly severed.

October 9, 2002 Potsdam, Germany: A tiger escaped from a circus, forcing fearful residents to stay indoors for more than two hours. A park was sealed off and 20 police officers and veterinarians searched for the tiger, using a tranquilizer gun to recapture her.

October 4, 2002 Leona, TX: A man was severely mauled by a 400-pound tiger at the Perrydise Exotic Animal Ranch when he stuck his arm in the feeding opening of the cage to touch the animal, resulting in amputation of his arm just above the elbow.

September 28, 2002 Bloomington, IL: A 400-pound tiger was shot and killed by police after he escaped from a trailer at a truck stop and hid in bushes near a residential area for nine hours. Local police spent $9,000 attempting to recapture the tiger. This same tiger mauled a 7-year-old girl in Hennepin, Ill. (see May 26, 2002).

September 22, 2002 Mayagüez, Puerto Rico: Police officers shot and killed a jaguar after she escaped from her cage at the Mayagüez Zoo. The jaguar, found hiding in a tree, made several attempts to attack the officers before they gunned her down.

September 22, 2002 Quitman, AR: Four African lions, believed to have escaped from a nearby exotic animal farm, were shot and killed after running loose for several days, terrifying residents.

September 20, 2002 Scotts Valley, CA: A declawed 150-pound tiger, who was being walked on a leash by Zoo to You at a school assembly with 150 children at the Baymonte Christian School, suddenly lunged at a 6-year-old boy and grabbed the child by the head with her jaws. The boy was wrestled away from the tiger by the principal and airlifted to a medical center where he received 55 stitches for two cuts to his scalp. A psychologist gave counseling to the terrified children who witnessed the attack.

August 23, 2002 El Arish, Egypt: A circus trainer was taken to a hospital for treatment after his lion lashed out as he attempted to play with him. The lion severely wounded his hand.

August 14, 2002 Akron, OH: A 30-pound “pet” serval-hybrid escaped and ran loose for several blocks, worrying neighbors who were concerned for the safety of children playing outdoors.

July 22, 2002 Cozumel, Mexico: A 13-year-old Florida resident vacationing in Mexico was mauled by one of two lions displayed in a cage as an attraction at a restaurant. The girl was petting the lion when the lion bit her arm and refused to let go for five minutes. The girl’s arm was severely torn above the elbow and required more than 300 stitches.

June 9, 2002 South Africa: Three lions mauled a tourist from Texas as she posed for a picture in their enclosure at a game lodge. She suffered injuries to her arm, shoulder, and leg and was hospitalized for 10 days.

May 26, 2002 Hennepin, IL: A 7-year-old girl was bitten by a tiger at a private menagerie as she attempted to pet the animal. The girl required 110 stitches and three months of therapy.

May 22, 2002 Mayagüez, Puerto Rico: A 12-year-old boy was scratched on the hand by a jaguar at the Mayagüez Zoo when he reached inside the jaguar’s cage.

May 15, 2002 Romania: A 3-year-old girl was mauled by a 9-month-old lion tied up outside of a shop. The girl, who had tried to play with the lion, required hospital treatment for cuts to her chest, belly, and buttocks.

May 12, 2002 Tampa, FL: A 350-pound African lion at Busch Gardens ripped off the arm of a zookeeper standing next to the lion’s cage while she was giving a private tour to her family. The attack occurred shortly after the zookeeper had fed the lion pieces of meat during training exercises. ( Tampa Tribune )

April 28, 2002 Pickens County, SC: According to the Post & Courier, a “pet” tiger was quarantined for biting an 8-year-old boy in the leg after the tiger had been given a bath. The tiger is normally kept in a metal cage in the backyard.

March 6, 2002 Vienna, Austria: While visitors watched, three jaguars at the Schoenbrunn zoo attacked and killed an employee as she was preparing their food and injured the zoo’s director when he tried to rescue the zookeeper.

February 15, 2002 Pahrump, NV: Animal exhibitor Karl Mitchell shot and killed one of his tigers after the animal became frightened and escaped his control while being moved to a new residence.

February 3, 2002 Loxahatchee, FL: A woman was hospitalized in critical condition with a skull fracture after she was attacked and bitten by a 750-pound declawed tiger. The woman had been painting in preparation for a photo shoot at Steve Sipek’s private animal compound. ( Associated Press & Palm Beach Post )

January 24, 2002 Gentry, AR: Two animal handlers at Wild Wilderness Drive Thru Safari were attacked while transferring cougars between cages. One handler received multiple bites on an arm and leg, and the other was bitten in the face.

January 16, 2002 Pickering, Canada: A 500-pound tiger used for photo ops with small children and strippers snapped her tether, escaped, and wandered in the streets near Toronto, alarming residents. More than half a dozen police cruisers and a helicopter were dispatched to locate and recapture the tiger.



December 29, 2001 Leona, TX: A 6-year-old boy was taken to the emergency room after being attacked by a tiger at the Perrydise Exotic Animal Ranch. The child sustained severe lacerations to his face and hand when a tiger reached through the cage and clawed him as he was photographing the animal.

December 9, 2001 Davie, FL: A 7-year-old boy was taken to the hospital for stitches after being attacked and bitten “bone-deep” on the neck by a 40-pound declawed African serval at a PepsiCo International picnic.
The child was walking by when the unattended serval leaped on him and knocked him to the ground. Pangaea Productions, now called Animal World which is owned by Corinne Oltz, was hired to bring the serval and other animals to the event to be used for entertainment.

November 2, 2001 Pahrump, NV: A man was severely injured by a tiger while visiting a private residence. The man was bitten on the arm when he was allowed to feed the animals and required more than $160,000 in medical care, including reconstructive surgery. A lawsuit was filed against tiger owner Annette Grabowski and her companion, Paul Mason, for negligence and against Nye County for failure to take action despite a previous biting incident.

October 22, 2001 Lyons, France: A lion belonging to a circus and being used in a film escaped from the film set and was discovered near a children’s home. The lion was shot and killed.

October 21, 2001 Kunming, China: A zookeeper was mauled to death by a tiger as she entered the cage to feed the animal.

October 10, 2001 Lee County, TX: A 3-year-old boy was killed by one of three of a relative’s “pet” tigers as he was about to have his picture taken with the animals. The 250-pound tiger snatched the boy from the arms of an adult, clamped down on his leg, and dragged him around the enclosure, causing head injuries. The tiger was beaten on the head until he released the boy’s foot.

October 6, 2001 Wuhan, China: A lion at a drive-thru animal park attacked and injured two tourists. A mother and son were throwing live hens to the lion from the open window of a bus when the lion grabbed the boy’s arm and dragged him out through the window. The mother was scratched as she tried to rescue her son. As punishment, the lion will spend the rest of his life in a small cage.

October 3, 2001 Pittsburgh, PA: A “pet” African serval escaped for the fourth time in two years (see August 3, 2001).

September 26, 2001 Paris, France: A lion escaped from his cage at Zoo de Vincennes and ripped open a zookeeper’s carotid artery during an attack, killing him.

August 16, 2001 Quitandinha, Brazil: A trapeze artist with the Imperial Circus of Mexico had an arm amputated after he was attacked by a lioness while helping a worker feed her.

August 11, 2001 Sydney, Australia: A lion trainer was “thrown around like a rag doll” by two lions during a performance. The trainer was hospitalized for several days in serious condition with puncture wounds to his chest, back, arms, and buttocks. Emergency workers used fire hoses to push back the lions so that the trainer could be rescued.

August 3, 2001 Pittsburgh, PA: A 42-pound “pet” African serval alarmed the neighborhood after he escaped and ran loose for the third time in two years. The serval was undernourished when he was re-captured a month later.

July 31, 2001 Center Hill, FL: A 500-pound tiger mauled and killed Vincent Lowe who was making cage repairs at a roadside zoo called Savage Kingdom. The man had suffered a fatal bite to his neck and severe injuries to his head, arm, and ribs. The tiger was later shot and killed by zoo workers.

July 27, 2001 Racine, MN: A 2-year-old, 400-pound white Siberian tiger was destroyed for rabies tests after he bit a 7-year-old girl. The tiger had escaped from a cage at a roadside zoo called B.E.A.R.C.A.T. Hollow and attacked the girl, inflicting two puncture wounds that became infected. The tiger was stuffed and mounted.

July 11, 2001 Africa: British film-maker Nigel Marven was mauled by a hand-reared lion while filming a show. The lion clawed his leg and tried to bite his head.

July 11, 2001 Moscow, Russia: A leopard reached through the bars of his cage at the Krasnoyarsk Zoo and mauled a 4-year-old’s neck as she posed next to the animal for a photograph. The girl was hospitalized and required surgery.

June 29, 2001 Valladolid, Spain: A zookeeper was mauled to death by four lions at a zoo when he moved the animals into another part of their cage and accidentally left their cage door ajar.

June 25, 2001 Nashville, TN: The Nashville Zoo was evacuated after officials found a cheetah wandering outside of his pen. The cheetah was shot with a tranquilizer dart and recaptured.

June 13, 2001 Kazan, Russia: A Siberian tiger was shot and killed by police after he escaped from a zoo and attacked a keeper. More than 700 officers and a helicopter searched for the escaped tiger for more than four hours.

May 23, 2001 Michoacán, Mexico: Two lions belonging to the Hermanos Rodriguez Ayala circus escaped from their cages during a severe rainstorm. The lions caused panic among local residents before police and circus
workers recaptured the animals.

May 2001 Douglass (Berks) Township, PA: An escaped “pet” African serval was struck and killed by a car after roaming free for a week.

April 2001 Omaha, NE: Animal handler Bryan Franzen required stitches after he was clawed by a tiger during a performance at the Tangier Shrine Circus.

April 29, 2001 Oskaloosa, KS: A Jefferson County sheriff’s lieutenant shot and killed an escaped tiger as the tiger crouched in an attack position. The 600-pound tiger ran loose for an hour after fleeing while being unloaded at a traveling zoo called, “Gatekeepers Wildlife Sanctuary.” The animal had twice tried to attack a veterinarian when he was shot with a tranquilizer dart.

April 27, 2001 Oakwood, OH: The sheriff’s office warned residents to keep their children and companion animals indoors after receiving a report that an escaped lion had been sighted.

April 16, 2001 Cascante, Spain: Three lions and a tiger escaped from a circus, killing or injuring several other animals at the circus. Police cordoned off the area and warned residents to stay indoors. Two of the lions were recaptured, and police shot and killed the tiger and the third lion the next day.

April 12, 2001 Brasov, Romania: A lion being used for photo shoots with tourists attacked an 8-year-old boy and escaped. The lion was recaptured by police, and the boy was hospitalized with bite wounds to his shoulder.

April 7, 2001 Van Buren County, AR: Three tigers escaped from their cages while being moved by court order from a Faulkner County subdivision, where they had been kept in violation of a local ordinance. The tigers were found three hours later, and one died after being tranquilized. After the escape, the sheriff of Van Buren County stated that he did not want the tigers in his county either.

March 27, 2001 Morgan County, MO: An African lion at Ozark Nature Center escaped from his cage while animals were being loaded for transport. Terrified residents spent the next four days escorting children and keeping companion animals indoors while dozens of police officers and conservation agents searched for the animal. The lion was found napping near a road and recaptured.

March 25, 2001 Las Vegas, NV: A tiger with Safari Wildlife attacked and killed his handler. The tiger put his paw on the man’s back, pushed him down, and bit his throat. The handler died within minutes from loss of blood. The tiger was used for photo ops with the public and had also appeared in numerous motion pictures and advertisements. He was being groomed for a promotional advertisement when the attack occurred. Another handler was hospitalized with injuries to his knees and puncture wounds.

March 22, 2001 Toronto, Canada: A 400-pound tiger with Garden Bros. Circus bit off a circus worker’s fingertip while being given water.

March 20, 2001 Olmsted Falls, OH: A worker spreading gravel in a tiger enclosure at Burnette Farm was mauled and critically injured by a 500-pound tiger. The worker underwent surgery for bite wounds to his neck.

March 16, 2001 Witts Springs, AR: A tiger escaped from a backyard menagerie by gnawing her way through the heavy steel enclosure. The tiger was loose for three days, terrorizing residents and biting a dog, who was subsequently treated for three large fang marks on each side of his neck. The tiger continued to elude capture after she was shot in the shoulder by an area resident. She was tranquilized and recaptured after she was located in a thickly wooded area by a police helicopter.

March 10, 2001 Kamarkundu, India: Just minutes after the show started, a tiger suddenly mauled a worker at the Olympic Circus while the animal was being forced to jump through a fireball. The circus worker received
15 stitches on his head, neck, and jaws.

February 5, 2001 Keal Cotes, England: An animal trainer suffered bite wounds to his leg and shoulder when he was mauled by a 550-pound tiger during a training exercise.

January 26, 2001 Las Vegas, NV: A “pet” cougar escaped from her pen and hopped aboard a school bus. No children were on board at the time. The driver fled from the bus, and animal control workers captured
the animal.



December 29, 2000 Frankfurt, Germany: A tiger escaped from a circus and caused a 12-mile traffic jam on Germany’s busiest motorway that lasted longer than two hours while he eluded capture by 50 police, firefighters, animal experts, and circus personnel. A helicopter with heat-seeking equipment located the tiger at night, and he was finally captured after being sedated with six shots from an anesthetic dart gun.

December 20, 2000 Omaha, NE: A 6-month-old mountain lion cub pounced on the landlord of a rental home that he was checking on after the tenant was arrested for armed robbery.

December 15, 2000 Calcutta, India: A 30-year-old man, believed to be drunk, was killed by a tiger in front of horrified spectators at the Alipur Zoo when he jumped over a fence into the tiger enclosure. The tiger swiped at
the man once with his paw.

December 15, 2000 West Bengal, India: A tiger trainer was mauled to death by three tigers during an act that required nine tigers to jump over her and then pass through a ring.

November 5, 2000 Amberg, Germany: A 5-year-old girl was critically wounded when a tiger/lion mix broke through his cage, knocked down a fence, and grabbed her at a circus.

November?, 2000:  AK:  Al, an 11 year old tiger at the Alaska Zoo, had a brief taste of freedom. In the fall of 2000, the zoo reported that vandals broke into several cages at the zoo with bolt-cutters and released 10 animals, including Al.  This didn’t make the press until 2007 however.

October 21, 2000 Gambier, OH: A 10-year-old boy was knocked to the ground and bitten on the leg by a tiger at the Siberian Tiger Foundation owned by Diana McCourt while participating in a “close encounter” at the facility. This was the tenth incident in seven months of people being bitten or otherwise injured by tigers at the facility.

September 21, 2000 Vandalur, India: A zookeeper died after being mauled by a panther at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park. The panther pounced on the keeper and grasped her by the neck while she was cleaning the
cage. This was the third keeper to be killed by an animal at the zoo.

September 12, 2000 Brisbane, Australia: Two tiger handlers received stitches after they were attacked and bitten by a tiger prior to shooting a scene for the U.S. television series Beastmaster.

September 10, 2000 Albuquerque, NM: A tiger cub bit a man during a photo op at the New Mexico State Fair.

August 26, 2000 Sioux Falls, SD: A 14-year-old boy was hospitalized after being mauled by a tiger on his father’s farm. The teenager was hospitalized for more than a month with bite wounds to the leg, neck, and shoulder.

August 16, 2000 Sapulpa, OK: One of two 11-month-old tigers broke loose and frightened nearby children while they were being moved between cages at Safari Joe’s.

August 12, 2000 Boise, ID: Jan Gold was mauled by a tiger at a fundraiser for Zoo Boise after the cat escaped from an unlocked cage. She was hospitalized in serious condition with a broken leg, puncture wounds, and a gunshot wound that she received when police fired their guns to scare the tiger away.   Jan later said, “He crawled over me, and bit into my head,” she said. “I thought I wasn’t going to survive. The sound was terrible, I thought he was crushing my skull. He bit through the scalp and just dragged his teeth across my skull, the back of my head was sliced open and my neck.”  Gold suffered nerve damage from both the tiger bite and gunshot wound but she says she’s lucky to be alive and is moving forward with her life.

August 7, 2000 São Paulo, Brazil: Police firing machine guns and shotguns killed six lions from a circus after they had escaped from their cage and prowled through the town.

July 12, 2000 Chippewa Falls, WI: An employee at the Irvine Park Zoo in Wisconsin was bitten by a cougar after she tried to pet him. She was hospitalized for three days.

June 28, 2000 Rensselaer, NY: A 4-year-old boy underwent plastic surgery for a bite to the neck and two puncture wounds to the face when he was attacked by a 40-pound African serval being taken for a walk. The man walking the cat received several stitches for bite wounds to the hand.

June 12, 2000 Ahmadabad, India: A leopard escaped from a zoo and attacked two construction workers, one seriously, and a cyclist before being recaptured two hours later.

June 7, 2000 Bloomington, IL: A man was treated for a 3-inch cut and puncture wounds to his hand, inflicted by a snow leopard after he tried to pet the animal at the Miller Park Zoo. A similar incident occurred at the same zoo in September 1995 when a man suffered a 3 inch gash to his hand when he attempted to pet a leopard.

May 31, 2000 Guyana, South America: A jaguar attacked and killed his handler at the Georgetown Zoo and escaped from his cage. Police later found the jaguar in a nearby shrub and shot him to death.

May 21, 2000 Kiowa, CO: A tiger ripped off the arm of a volunteer at a zoo in Colorado.  The Denver woman had been a volunteer at Praire Wind Animal Refuge for six years. She was asked whether the refuge’s operators ever had problems with people sticking their hands in the cages. “She stuck her hand in, and one of the bengal tigers came up to her and licked her hand,” Shaw said. “She scratched its nose.” Then the 2-year-old, fully grown tiger grabbed onto the woman’s hand, holding it tightly at first but not breaking the skin. Within moments, it moved further up the woman’s arm, biting, and finally ripped off the limb at the shoulder. The woman’s arm was not found, Shaw said.

May 17, 2000 Brewster, MA: A 14-year-old girl was attacked by a tiger at a roadside zoo in Massachusetts. The girl, a part-time employee at the zoo, was feeding the cat when he bit her leg and shook her before releasing her.

April 10, 2000 São Paulo, Brazil: Five lions used in a circus devoured a 6-year-old boy after one dragged him away from his father and into the cage inside a tent full of spectators. Police wounded two people with bullet fragments as they sprayed the top of the cage with machine-gun fire to scare the lions off the boy’s body. Four lions were killed.

April 2000 Jacksonville, FL: Deborah Warrick of the St. Augustine Wild Reserve in NE Florida, was mauled by the same cougar at the Catty Shack Ranch who mauled a man the month before when she tried to clean his cage. She sued LoGiudice and the ranch in Circuit Court even though she had raised the cougar in California. LoGiudice was keeping it for her as she moved to St. Augustine. “He stood up on his hind legs, ran at me, pushed me into the fence,” Warrick said in a phone interview. “It took six people to get him off me, and I’m lucky I had people there to help.”

March 28, 2000 Bohuslän, Sweden: A zookeeper suffered gashes on her head, arms, and shoulders and was rushed to the hospital after being mauled by a snow leopard at Nordern’s Ark. The big cat had torn a pound of
flesh from her body.

March 15, 2000 Channelview, TX: A 3-year-old boy had his arm bitten off by his uncle’s “pet” tiger.

March 14, 2000 Warsaw, Poland: An escaped tiger traveling with a circus attacked a veterinarian before being gunned down by police after a two-hour chase through the streets of Warsaw. The veterinarian was also killed by a bullet meant for the tiger.

March 2000 Jacksonville, FL: A trainer from California entered an enclosure at the Catty Shack Ranch to cover the chain-link bottom of the cage with sand. A 230-pound Western cougar “presented himself for petting,” and the man scratched its head. The cat grasped the man’s arm in its mouth. When he tried to pull it out, the cougar stood on its hind legs and pushed him to the ground and attacked. The man suffered 23 puncture wounds to both arms.

April 2000 Jacksonville, FL: Deborah Warrick of the St. Augustine Wild Reserve in NE Florida, was mauled by the same cougar at the Catty Shack Ranch who mauled a man the month before when she tried to clean his cage. She sued LoGiudice and the ranch in Circuit Court even though she had raised the cougar in California. Curt LoGiudice was keeping it for her as she moved to St. Augustine. “He stood up on his hind legs, ran at me, pushed me into the fence,” Warrick said in a phone interview. “It took six people to get him off me, and I’m lucky I had people there to help.”

February 2000 Jacksonville, FL: An elderly neighbor of Curt LoGiudice’s Catty Shack was gardening in her yard next to his fence. A tiger cub wandered over to her and jumped to bite at the woman’s hat, but got her arm instead. She suffered two punctures.

February 24, 2000 Kent, England: A keeper at a zoo in Kent, England was bitten on the eyelid by an ocelot while in the cage feeding the cat.

February 23, 2000 Great Bend, KS: A high school student was bitten on the hand and arm after sticking her arm into a cougar’s cage at the Brit Spaugh Zoo.

February 3, 2000 Tokyo, Japan: An employee of a company that rented out animals was killed by a tiger at the firm’s breeding compound in Tokyo. The company rented animals to television stations for use
in their programs.

January 22, 2000 Rome, Italy: A man who kept wild animals as “pets” was found dead. He had been eaten by one of his lions.


1999 & Before




Critical Incident Hurricane and Disaster Plan

Critical Incident Hurricane and Disaster Plan

Big Cat Rescue Captive Wildlife Critical Incident/Disaster Plan


Contact info:  Big Cat Rescue 12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625 813.920.4130 fax 866.571.4523 Info@bigcatrescue.org

USDA 58-C-0814 FL ESB 578 ID# 402067429

Lat 28.061125 Long. -82.571387

Hurricane Evacuation Zone Category? NO  Flood Zone? NO


Emergency Contacts:

Veterinarian: Dr. Liz Wynn, DVM Ehrlich Animal Hospital 8009 Gunn Hwy. Tampa, FL 33625 813.920.0566 also Dr. Justin Boorstein, DVM Humane Society of Tampabay.

Sanctuary Operations  Gale Ingham  813 850-7052 Gale.Ingham@bigcatrescue.org

CEO:  Carole Baskin 12802 Easy St. Tampa, FL 33625  813.493.4564 Carole.Baskin@BigCatRescue.org


Capture Equipment Kept on Site:


1 blowgun, 1 pole syringe, 1 dart pistol, 2 dart rifles, 1 12 gauge shotgun, 1 30/30 rifle and net gun.  Several staff members are trained and well practiced in the use of these.  Kept in locked cabinets in locked rooms of locked buildings.


Transport Cages and Vehicles:

2 rolling circus wagons, ‘2012 Toyota Tundra with A/C topper, ’98 Dodge Ram extended van with two large cages made to fit inside.  ’05 Dodge Ram pick up truck 3/4 ton with Reese hitch, custom enclosed trailer that will haul two rolling circus wagons and other smaller cages in climate controlled space, assorted yard trucks, pallet jack, Kobelco tractor (lifts 3,000 lbs) with bucket attachment, dozens of carriers, wire transports and every cat’s cage is equipped with a lock out.


For a site plan of the facility to see buildings, access points, gates and cage layout visit these links:





We conduct random drills to test our staff and volunteers in the event of personal injuries, such as heat stroke, escapes, maulings, fire and hurricanes.  Although we cannot simulate a fire or hurricane we have often staged the other disasters so that most of the participants did not know it was a drill.  We have been very pleased with the results.


For What Kind of Emergencies Are We Prepared?


Scientist tell us that global warming will continue to disrupt our weather patterns and that we can expect far more powerful hurricanes for many years to come.  We have prepared in every way possible and are providing this page as a portal for those who are concerned about us and for those who are trying to find ways to protect their own sanctuaries.

Some disasters cannot be prevented, but others can.  Read more about what we are doing to ensure the safety of our cats and the surrounding communities at Big Cat Rescue below.


Hurricane Preparedness



The lockouts can no longer be removed as easily as back then.


How do you prepare a 55 acre sanctuary housing 100+ big cats for a Hurricane?  Since 2004’s episode including 4 major hurricanes in 6 weeks we get asked that question a lot.

The answer isn’t something that can be said in a sound byte though, because it takes months of planning, preparing and training to make sure that when the winds quit howling, the cats don’t start howling from the wrong side of the fence.

It starts with the caging.  Our cages are built from galvanized wire panels that are twice what the state standards require for strength.  Vern builds them in rounded, peanut styled formations that utilize the strength of the curvature without the necessity of posts.  Because there is nothing to catch the wind, which is the major factor in a hurricane, there is nothing to blow away.  Almost all of our Cat-A-Tats (our word for cages) have roofs made of the same material so the animal is safely contained on the top, sides and bottom.  The only major damage we have had to cages was in the non roofed enclosures.

Anticipating that, we had moved cats living in those enclosures into roofed cages to ride out the storms.  As soon as the winds reach 30 MPH all cats in open air enclosures are shut into their smaller, roofed areas until the winds subside.

The cougar hurricane shelter non roofed areas all are equipped with two or three strands of hot wire that is solar powered, because in a hurricane, the first thing to go is the power.  The solar units we use are very expensive but are reported to last 5 days in the dark.  Fortunately we have never had to test that claim; losing only 3 days of power at any given time.

All of our cats have dens to escape the rain.  Some of the small cats have igloo type dog houses that are shaped like tree stumps and barrels with one end half cut out up in the trees.  Most of the cats have some form of concrete den that is built to accommodate their size.  A cougar, for instance, has an underground area (which is actually elevated above the grade to prevent water from pooling inside) that is 8 feet by 12 feet by 2.5 feet high.  Over that is a mountain of dirt, plants and grass that provides a cool area in the summer and warmth against the chilling winds in the winter.  There isn’t a tree big enough to smash one of these 4 inch thick, rebar reinforced, concrete dens that are buried inside our man made hills.

Most of the other places in Florida housing exotic animals reported losing most of their trees during Charly, Francis, Ivan and Jeanne but we only lost a couple of dead pine trees.  As we looked around, and thought about why, we concluded that the same thing that kept our cats from blowing away, kept our trees from toppling as well.  Most of them are “caged”.  We build our Cat-A-Tats around trees and Vern very cleverly encloses the top into the center of the boughs so that the cats have lots of opportunities to climb and to do the things they would in the wild, like sleep in the trees all day and wait for night.  Because all of our best trees are part of enclosures this way, they were anchored to the ground by 1200 square foot cages.  The wind just couldn’t get a good enough grip to pull them up from the soggy earth.


Hurricane preparedness has a lot to do with our people.

The chain of command is clear.  There is always at least one staff member on property who has taken responsibility for the sanctuary that day.  That person in usually the Operations manager, but if it is their day off, someone is always scheduled to be the person in charge in their absence.  There are coordinators who have had years of training who then manage all of the 100 or so volunteers.  All of the staff have smart phones and all of the volunteers and staff carry 2 way radios.

Long before the first cloud blows in off the bay they have been rehearsing for the worst possible situation.  Thanks to the Volunteer Committee, regular drills are performed, documented and analyzed to see where we have come up short and what we can do to make sure that we are ready in the case of a real emergency such as a loose cat, an injured person or a fire.  Our President, Jamie Veronica, is always checking the supplies in the Emergency Response Center and the Cat Hospital.  These crucial supplies are always being checked, rechecked and restocked as they expire.

Classes are offered weekly to our members in such things as Animal Emergency, Human CPR and how to find the right tools and the right people in the most effective manner.  Everyone knows the chain of command and who has access to dart guns, tranquilizers and the expertise to use them.  All of our staff, volunteers and interns carry a two way radio with them at all times and do a radio check upon entering the property to be sure they can hear and be heard.

Our people are taught from day one that they have to lay eyes on every cat they care for and to report anything amiss with the animal and to report any threat to the cage that may compromise its ability to contain its inhabitant.  Those observations are all logged digitally in a daily record and the Operations Manager, double checks the entries and the cause each day. Her actions are then logged on Big Cat Rescue’s intranet site and reviewed at the weekly staff meetings.  All maintenance and preventative maintenance is done immediately.

Gale, Honey, Vern, Barbara and a dozen or more interns live on site and the perimeter fence is walked throughout the day and night daily to inspect for threats to its integrity.  During inclement weather all of these processes are stepped up.  Thanks to our involvement with Hillsborough County’s Emergency Operations Center we get up to the minute reports on all tropical storms and hurricanes via e-mail, complete with radar photos, tracking projections and information on what is being done across the state to prepare.

The cats are prepared for emergencies as well.  Thanks to an awesome Operant Conditioning Program the cats are trained to come into “lockout” on command.  Most of our cages are built in at least two sections so that the cat can be shut into one side or the other for cleaning or repair, but in the worst case scenario we are prepared to move the cat completely.  The cats are also trained to come to a target if we need to move them from side to side and while we haven’t tried that outside their cage, we are prepared to with our new golf cart gear.

Golf Cart RenovationDespite all of the best planning, things go wrong.  What if a big cat escapes his enclosure?  Then what?  Oddly, you can drive right up to a big cat and they don’t even think twice about it, but the minute you step out of the car, you are lunch or you are to be run from.  Neither of those options is conducive to a successful recapture. There are some places on the property that you just can’t get to by car but you can access these areas by golf cart.  Treats always come on golf carts and so do the Operant Conditioning people, so the cats LOVE golf carts.  Vern designed a portable cage that can be dropped down over the frame of a golf cart in a matter of seconds that protects the driver and a “shooter” much like the notion of sending a person in a cage down into a tank of sharks.  The golf cart can get within a couple feet of the cat in most cases and lure the cat back to a safe area by way of targeting as we do in Operant Conditioning, or the cat can be darted with a tranquilizer.

In the worst case, where escape from the property is eminent, the cat must be shot with a bullet.  Our staff has been trained and practices regularly with dart guns, blow pipes, and rifles and shotguns if there is no other alternative.  They have been mentally preparing for the day when they may have to shoot one of their “best friends” to keep the cat from being a danger to society, because avoiding an escape is critical to the continuance of the sanctuary for all of the good that we do for the rest of the animals.


Sheltering in Place


There is no place safer than Big Cat Rescue for the 100 or so big cats who live here.  In the event of just about any kind of emergency we are prepared to “shelter in place.”  Since we have 10-20 volunteers and staff living on site, there are plenty of people on hand to care for the cats.  If we had to move an animal or animals we have a climate controlled trailer, with remote cameras, that is designed to carry our biggest cats in a rolling beast wagon, or crates of our smaller cats.

Most of our cats are micro chipped and if we have to sedate a cat for any reason, we always micro chip them, if they have not been already.  All of our cats are in a census with their name, date of birth, date of arrival at the sanctuary, if they have been neutered or spayed, if they were declawed by their owners, and their photographs are all online.  All of our documentation is both in paper and paperless forms, kept online and in back hard drives.


Other Types of Emergencies




Only one building on the property houses exotic cats and that is the West Boensch Cat Hospital.  There is a working fire extinguisher in the building.  The Cool Cat Cave and Intern Housing houses domestic cats and kittens who are being fostered for adoption.  The office has an office cat.  All of these buildings are equipped with fire and smoke detectors, an alarm system that notifies the Operations Manager, President and Founder / CEO in the event of an emergency.  Working fire extinguishers are maintained in each building and there are regular inspections from the fire marshall.

Many of the cages are outfitted with PVC rain makers that can be turned on with the flip of the red levers that are at eye level.  Portable generators are by the lake, with fire hoses attached, and can be employed for putting out fires.   We are completely surrounded by commercial properties and homes.  No wildfire is likely to make it past these highly populated areas to us.  The fire department is 1.1 mile away (3 min.) http://goo.gl/maps/TFaLq


Electrical Outages


We have a propane powered generator that is capable of running our Cat Hospital and Food Prep during an extended power outage.  The domestic cats that are housed in Intern housing can be shifted to other buildings that are not on the same power poles, if there is an outage in one area of the property.  We have three, or more, portable generators that can be used in an emergency.


Disruption in Clean Water or Food Supply


Our water supply comes from five wells on the property.  These can be powered by the many portable generators we own.  We can store 17,000 pounds of frozen raw meat and our freezers are positioned next to the huge, propane generator, which was purchased primarily for insuring that we do not lose our food source during the aftermath of a hurricane.


Road Closed


There are three roads into the sanctuary.  We have chainsaws and people who know how to use them if trees were to block the roads.


Terrorist Attack on the Sanctuary


No one is allow unescorted on the property.  All guests are led by a tour guide and a tour back up.  The tour guide and tour back up both carry radios and will alert their coordinator if there is any trouble from a guest.  The coordinator knows to call 911 if the guest poses a threat to the animals, others or themselves.  The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is .7 miles away (3 minutes) Map:  http://goo.gl/maps/dBpBV


Hazardous Materials


The only hazardous materials we have been subjected to since 1992 was during the fruit fly outbreak when USDA sprayed Malathion on us from airplanes.  A number of animals died during and immediately after the spraying and USDA was notified that their claims of the spray being non lethal to pets was a lie. More information on what we do for poisoning here:  http://bigcatrescue.org/poisoning/


Employee Absence


None of Big Cat Rescue’s employees are paid to do animal care.  We have more than 100 volunteers, who put in at least 4 hours per week, who are happy to make sure the cats are always fed, cleaned, given their meds and given enrichment and operant training.  Our paid staff manage these volunteers and do administrative work, so even if all of the 10+ employees were to walk out at the same time, the volunteers would make sure the animals were well cared for.


Death of Founder


Big Cat Rescue is unique in that the death of the Founder and CEO would have very little impact on the sustainability of the sanctuary.  The sanctuary has policies, protocols and a set of checks and balances that ensure the long term viability of the sanctuary.


Failure of Heating / Cooling in Cat Hospital


Cat Hospital LogsThe Cat Hospital is the only building where extremely elderly or sickly cats are brought inside during extreme weather.  The cats are monitored on web cams to insure that they are comfortable and the web cams are available to hundreds of our AdvoCats who live all around the world.  These people watch diligently for any sign of the cats being stressed or uncomfortable and have the ability to contact the Operations Manager by cell phone.  We have generators that can be used if the electricity is out.  We used Air O Force to do regular maintenance of our A/C’s and heat pumps.


Animal Escapes


Escapes are the obvious emergency crisis for which we are prepared.  More here:  http://bigcatrescue.org/escapes/


Animal Disease Outbreak


All of our cats are vaccinated regularly for the typical feline diseases, but some diseases are jumping boundaries between species, such as Canine Parvo and Canine Distemper showing up in cats.  In our situation, the likely carriers of these diseases would be native raccoons and foxes.  We do not allow dogs on property.  We set humane traps daily for vermin to remove them immediately and take precautions to stake wire under fences and trim back trees to prevent intrusion.

Thanks to the diligence of our volunteers and the daily observation logs on the intranet site, we have been able to diagnose and quarantine cats who show signs of being ill so quickly that there has not been a spread of disease.  When a cat is in quarantine we use foot baths going into the areas around their cages, and designate a separate set of cleaning tools, and a designated, certified quarantine trained volunteer for their care.

Drugs and supportive therapy is administered as prescribed by our vets and we have had excellent success in nursing cats back from situations that could easily have claimed their lives.




The generators and fire hoses can pump down areas that flood, into ditches that carry the excess water off to Rocky Creek and out to Tampa Bay.




We haven’t had one yet, but our cages are built in a unique design that is anchored to the ground by the many trees inside them and the foliage that grows up the sides.  There is nothing to fall on the cages that would damage them.




All of the same work that we do to prepare for hurricanes would apply to tornadoes.  The difference is that a tornado can do a lot more damage, without as much warning.  If a cage, or cages, were rendered unsafe, we have 2-3 times as much cage space, if we shut guillotine doors between sections.  This gives us plenty of built in caging to use while repairing any tornado damage.


Extreme Heat

White tiger Zabu in the pool

The rain maker PVC systems that we installed for fires can be used just for cooling the cats off, if there were some freakish weather.  It’s Florida and it is often hot and humid.  Our cats have plenty of natural shade, dens that are 4 inches of reinforced concreate covered in earth and ferns for cooling, access to fresh water at all times and breezes that come up off the lake.  Our volunteers note on the observation log and let their coordinators know if they see any signs of heat stress.

All of the lions and tigers and some of the other cats have access to spring fed pools that are recirculated constantly.  We have portable pools that could be offered to cats who do not have permanent pools, if they needed to cool off more than their environment would allow.  These portable pools have always been used as a form of enrichment rather than for emergency use.



Human First Aid





If you are injured, seek professional, medical help.


You can help care for the cats in these perilous times.