DEMAND AIRLINES REASSESS POLICIES PROHIBITING SHIPMENT OF ANIMAL TROPHIES
FOLLOWING TRAGIC KILLING OF AFRICAN LION, BLUMENTHAL, BOOKER DEMAND AIRLINES REASSESS POLICIES PROHIBITING SHIPMENT OF ANIMAL TROPHIES
“As long as even one carrier will transport trophies into the United States, these individuals have a way to bring their ill-gotten goods home for display.”
(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.) wrote to Airlines for America (A4A) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) to request details of their members’ policies of shipping animal trophies, following the tragic killing of Cecil the Lion in Africa by a Minnesota dentist, and to call on all member airlines to cease allowing the shipment of such trophies. Since the killing of Cecil the Lion, Delta, United, and American Airlines – members of both A4A and IATA – announced that they will ban the shipment of “trophy animals” on their planes.
Blumenthal and Booker wrote, “Americans who engage in trophy hunting do so because they are confident that they will be able to transport their trophies back to the United States with ease, including by airline. Passenger and freight airlines that permit shipment of animal trophies aid and abet trophy hunting and these abhorrent acts of barbarism.”
“We were very pleased to see Delta’s announcement yesterday that it will ban the shipment of any trophies from the so-called Africa Big Five: lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo. American Airlines, United Airlines, and some international airlines have also announced similar prohibitions. These airlines have clearly recognized their responsibility and influence in this area, and we’re glad that they chose to take on trophy hunters and the trouble that trophy hunting represents.”
“However, there are many other carriers that you represent which have an important role to play in stopping trophy hunting. As long as even one carrier will transport trophies into the United States, these individuals have a way to bring their ill-gotten goods home for display.”
Full text of the letter can be viewed here and below:
Dear Messrs. Calio and Tyler,
Earlier this summer, an African lion named Cecil – well-known and beloved by his local community in Zimbabwe – was tragically killed and maimed by trophy hunters. This repugnant, reprehensible act has rightfully drawn the ire of the American public and shocked supporters of wildlife worldwide.
Sadly, Cecil’s killing was not an isolated incident. This vicious act was the latest consequence of the inhumane commercial trophy hunting industry. The perverse desire of some individuals – many of whom are from America – to acquire an animal trophy fuels the demand for this cruel industry. The individual who killed Cecil reportedly paid a fee of $50,000 to destroy a priceless animal. Such practices have had devastating consequences for wildlife populations, including endangered species that have already been decimated by other factors including habitat encroachment. The population of wild lions has decreased by more than 40 percent over the last twenty-one years, and trophy hunting has been a factor in that appalling decline.
Americans who engage in trophy hunting do so because they are confident that they will be able to transport their trophies back to the United States with ease, including by airline. Passenger and freight airlines that permit shipment of animal trophies aid and abet trophy hunting and these abhorrent acts of barbarism. We were very pleased to see Delta’s announcement yesterday that it will ban the shipment of any trophies from the so-called Africa Big Five: lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo. American Airlines, United Airlines, and some international airlines have also announced similar prohibitions. These airlines have clearly recognized their responsibility and influence in this area, and we are glad that they chose to take on trophy hunters and the trouble that trophy hunting represents. However, there are other carriers that you represent which have an important role to play in stopping trophy hunting. As long as even one carrier will transport trophies into the United States, these individuals have a way to bring their ill-gotten goods home for display.
We are writing to request more information about the policies of your member airlines regarding the shipment of animal trophies. Specifically, we request responses to the following questions:
· What are the current policies of your member airlines that operate in the United States regarding the shipment of animal trophies?
· Will you confirm that your member airlines that operate in the United States will immediately enact prohibitions on the shipment of animal trophies, if they haven’t already?
Your member airlines would be powerful allies in the fight against inhumane trophy hunting, and we hope that we can work together on this incredibly important issue going forward. We appreciate your attention to this request and look forward to your response.
Olga Bellon gets a crash course in big cat care at Big Cat Rescue to implement in the new big cat facility being built in Spain as part of AAP. Download the Lower Res Podcast File here.
More about Big Cat Rescue’s work with AAP Primadomus
Big Cat Rescue was recruited to offer our expertise and guidance in the development of a rescue center in Spain that will be broadening their focus from primates to now include big cats. AAP Primadomus is located on more than 400 acres in Villena and currently houses a variety of primates that have been rescued from private ownership, circuses, and laboratories. They are now expanding their focus to also rescue countless lions and tigers that are in need across their country.
In an effort to prepare for this project nearly a dozen experts were invited to a symposium that focused on sharing information regarding the proper care of big cats in captivity, emergency protocol development, and enclosure design. Big Cat Rescue President Jamie Veronica and volunteer veterinarian Justin Boorstein travelled to Spain and joined experts from Italy, South Africa, France, Austria, the Netherlands and all across the United Kingdom.
Over the course of three days the team worked tirelessly to provide as much information as possible to the members of not only AAP Primadomus, but its origin center Stitching AAP. Stitching AAP is a rescue center for apes, monkeys and small exotic animals in the Netherlands that was founded more than 35 years ago.
The symposium was a huge success. Big Cat Rescue will continue to work with AAP remotely throughout the development process. We are so pleased to provide assistance to organizations that are saving big cats across the globe!
Primadomus Success 2015
It has passed almost 2 years since you came to Villena to help us in this new project for us.
We are very proud to inform you that we finally made this reality and wanted to share it with you, so you can witness from distance the good job we all did! We had to take some time after being able to share graphic info, that’s why I contact you today, but we have had all you in mind during this time.
Last Friday we rescued our 4 first animals. We are very happy to give them a better life in our facilities.
I hope you enjoy!! And of course, you are all welcomed to come to visit us and see it by your own eyes.
Amanda is the most timid of the three tigers who live together. She is very shy and years after her rescue will still slink away to hide when people approach her enclosure.Although at times she has the opposite reaction and will charge the side of the enclosure and roar. It is unclear if she is doing this to be aggressive or to get a rise out of her keepers for her own entertainment. The reason it is unclear is if when she charges and roars and the keeper stands still and chuffs at her she will chuff back and rub her cheeks and head on the side of the enclosure in a friendly manner.
Amanda is being worked with often through the operant conditioning program to build a trusting relationship between her and her keepers. The operant conditioning program is a critical tool used at the sanctuary to ensure the cats in our care are comfortable and happy.
By rewarding the simple act of approaching an operant trainer to receive a food treat Amanda will overtime begin to associate her human caregivers with a positive experience and thus will become more comfortable with her surroundings.
Arthur, Andre and Amanda were born in 1996 in New Jersey to be used as pay-to-play photo props. It never makes sense to breed more cubs to raise money to feed last year’s cats, and the New Jersey facility fell into disrepair and then was shut down after USDA revoked their license following a tiger escape.
In 2003, Wild Animal Orphanage took in the 24 tigers but big cats have big appetites and by 2010 the Wild Animal Orphanage was in bankruptcy.
It took over a year to find permanent homes for all of the cats because it is hard to place a big cat who will cost $10,000 per year in food and vet care.
Amazingly, an anonymous donor couple who had known these tigers as cubs fortuitously stepped in to fund the ongoing care of these three lucky tigers who came to Big Cat Rescue in 2011.
Amanda Tiger is doing well this morning. We are watching her on the DropCam.
Dr. Helga Blaeyart, VMD DACVS of Blue Pearl did the surgery. Assisted by Dr. Sami Peterson, Dr. Tammy Miller and Dr. Liz Wynn. Three of the vets work at Blue Pearl and our vet, Dr. Wynn works at Ehrlich Road Animal Hospital.
Dr. Miller and Dr. Peterson are eye doctors, so they called in Dr. Blaeyart, who they said was their best surgeon. She worked very quickly and was ultra cautious about leaving any bleeding vessels untied.
The uterus was so huge and so full of pus that it was no easy task. The blood supplies that attached it were as big as your finger, so making sure they were tied off well enough that they wouldn’t allow her to bleed to death internally was a monumental task. There was also the tension of knowing that at any second that whole mess could rupture, spilling pus into Amanda’s abdomen, where it would have poisoned her beyond any antibiotic’s ability to cure. It was like watching a bomb being disarmed while it was strapped to a loved one.
Later, as we put Amanda back in the transport, after surgery, Gale was adjusting the anesthesia tube and asked the vets to feel under Amanda’s chin. They said it feels like her lower jaw bone, had been broken on one side and is just floating in space. They said the ends feel rounded at both ends, as if this was from a very long time ago, and it doesn’t impede her eating, so we probably can’t do anything about it. In the video that Afton will post later you will see that she has white spots, like pimples, all over her spleen. Again, there probably isn’t much we can do about that either in a 19 year old cat, but the vets will research it more.
** July 23, 2014 – Video “Toda at Big Cat Rescue” – The 3 Texas Tigers, Amanda, Andre and Arthur show off how smart they are at dinner time, enrichment is given to Alex Tiger, Simba Leopard, Zeus Tiger and Sundari Leopard. + MORE http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-july-23-2014/
** July 26, 2013 Video of a typical day at Big Cat Rescue – The part that wasn’t typical was Amanda the tigress being so mad. She isn’t on the tour path, because she doesn’t care for most people, but she was really upset after being locked up all day as volunteers built some new platforms for her and her brothers. http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-july-26-2013/
Zabu was born at a circus and roadside zoo in New England that has since closed.
Zabu was raised and housed with Cameron, a male lion, neither of which were spayed or neutered. Leaving these two intact cats together could have had grotesque consequences resulting in the birth of ligers. These genetically mutated cross-breeds are victim to a plethora of birth defects that plague the animal its entire life. These freakish hybrids have become popular, though this is not an animal that would even exist in the wild.
It is important that people understand that by refusing to visit venues with these animals on display, this type of animal abuse can be stopped. White tigers also do not exist in the wild. They can neither hide from attack nor sneak on prey. Man has created the glut of white tigers in captivity today through rampant inbreeding.
Because white tigers are all so deeply inbred, they all carry genetic flaws. Zabu is no exception. She has a shortened upper lip leaving her teeth exposed and unprotected. For every white tiger you may see in captivity, many normal colored tigers have died. Since public demand for the white tiger has driven up prices for them, more and more are being bred. Those that are born “the wrong color” are discarded in various horrific ways.
When Zabu and Cameron were rescued we constructed a large natural enclosure for the two of them to share since they are truly bonded as a couple. Cameron received a vasectomy shortly after his arrival to prevent any cubs from being produced. The two lived together happily for years, however, when Zabu would go into heat Cameron would become possessive over her and aggressive towards keepers. Zabu was spayed in order to curb this behavior which was successful for a few more years.
Cameron reverted to his previous behavior and the decision was made to neuter him, which would mean he would lose his beautiful mane. The loss was merely cosmetic and well worth the price to keep this loving pair together.
While Cameron tries to sleep most of the day away (as lions do in the wild), Zabu is extremely energetic and is always pestering him to play. She’ll often give up on him and just run and jump and play with her big red ball or splash endlessly in her pool. Of course, that’s after she’s tired of playfully stalking her keepers or trying to spray the groups of visitors that stop by.
Carole’s Presentation to Volunteers About White Tigers
I’ve been working in the area by Zabu for the past several days and have had the pleasure of hearing tour guides talking about the white tiger issue. I have heard the amazement in the voices of the guests as they learned that every thing they thought knew about white tigers was wrong.
I have heard guests try to argue the facts or ignore the new information by proclaiming that they still think white tigers are beautiful. It has given me a new appreciation for what all of you go through when giving tours. It especially impresses me that some of you, who are still so new to the knowledge yourselves, manage to be firm in your presentations while still being kind to the guests.
This week a thirty year old secret was exposed in Newsweek, the second largest weekly magazine in America. Sharyn Beach exposed it in Britannica Online Encyclopedia in March of this year. It is the same secret that Big Cat Rescue exposed 11 years ago as the first organization to go public with the truth about the white tiger.
What I knew in 1998 was that people could sell a white tiger cub for $60,000 and just about all of the breeders and dealers and zoos were out to breed them. I had been to facilities such as the one where Shere Khan was born, and where Modnic, TJ & Bella came from and where Auroara had come from. What I saw haunted me because I saw many tigers who had horrible deformities; teeth going in all directions, eyes out on the nose, clubbed feet and lame hips.
These birth defects were primarily in the white tigers, but some of their golden litter mates were affected as well. I started asking about who the tigers’ parents were, who their siblings were, and discovered that people were inbreeding these cats. They never used that word, but rather would say “line breeding” or “selective breeding” or they would make outrageous claims about how they had “created” a line of white tigers by choosing the best pairings. In 1998 there were only 200 white tigers world wide. With Siegfried and Roy promoting white tigers as Royal White Bengal tigers the breeders scurried to meet demand.
Especially complicit were the Cincinnati Zoo & the Nashville Zoo who knew that the origins of white tigers only came from severe inbreeding. It was common knowledge to breeders that there was an 80% mortality rate. They should have put an end to it right then and there, but white tigers were a novelty and people would pay to see them. The accredited zoos, who actually keep pedigrees on their tigers, knew that inbreeding was the only way to increase their probability of getting that money making white cub.
In 1998 I still thought that most of the breeders and dealers out there were just ignorant. I was a member of AZA and had been attending their conferences and meeting their cat experts to find out what they thought to be best practices. I thought that if the private sector knew better they would behave better and so I spent a lot of time writing articles for their club called the Feline Conservation Federation. I was part of their list serve and participated in discussions about exotic cat husbandry in the hopes of helping their cats have better lives. We had only had the Internet for a couple of years and were still trying to find ways to use it to band all exotic cat owners together for a comprehensive repository of information on best practices. Our own website had only been up for two years and I was using it as a way of making all of the lessons we had learned available for everyone else. I figured the reason all of these breeders had so many defective tigers was because they didn’t know that they were all so inbred and they were just making it worse by not keeping records.
I proposed all of what I knew about white tigers on our website and suggested that we create a registry of all of the cats in the private sector, along with micro chipping, to make sure that no more cats suffered from such terrible birth defects. I quickly learned that the people making money off the white tigers knew what they were doing and ignored the agony they were inflicting.
About a year later a veterinarian wrote to me after finding our white tiger page on the Internet. He said that we were the only people telling the truth and that he had the full story because he had been the veterinarian for the Las Vegas duo for many years, as well as the vet for several large zoos. He had worked with 250 tigers. He spent 20 years documenting the origins and malpractice involved in breeding white tigers and had never found a way to make his findings publicly known. The zoos didn’t want anyone to know. Dr. Dan Laughlin and I spent hours on the phone pouring over the documents he had sent me to convince me of his credentials and his findings.
We launched his letter on our website which culminated in his statement,
“…every white tiger in the U.S. is not only the result of repeated inbreeding of genetically defective animals but, even worse, is a hybrid or crossbred animal. Thus, anyone involved in breeding and/or exhibiting white tigers is doing a great disservice to honest conservation and preservation efforts to save the five remaining and endangered subspecies of tigers barely clinging to survival…”
We also quoted Ron Tilson, the head of the tiger species survival plan who said,
“The white tiger controversy among zoos is a small part ethics and a large part economics. The tiger Species Survival Plan has condemned breeding white tigers because of their mixed ancestry, most have been hybridized with other subspecies and are of unknown lineage, and because they serve no conservation purpose…”
“However, there is an unspoken issue that shames the very integrity of zoos, their alleged conservation programs and their message to the visiting public. To produce white tigers or any other phenotypic curiosity, directors of zoos and other facilities must continuously inbreed father to daughter and father to granddaughter and so on. At issue is a contradiction of fundamental genetic principles upon which all Species Survival Plans for endangered species in captivity are based. White tigers are an aberration artificially bred and proliferated by some zoos, private breeders and a few circuses who do so for economic rather than conservation reasons.”
Our tour guides began sharing this information with our visitors. We began writing letters to USDA, state wildlife agencies and to the media to raise awareness about the horrific practice of inbreeding to get white tigers.
The breeders, dealers, zoos and circus acts who were profiting from white tigers saw us as public enemy number one. There was no way they could prove the outrageous stories they were promoting about how these cats came from hidden islands, or were the product of their animal husbandry genius. If anyone looked beyond the image in front of them, they would find out the truth and that would mean the end of their profits. White tiger sales began to plummet, both from the over abundance of animals born and because more people were becoming aware of the inbreeding. I have seen white tiger cubs selling for as little as $1000.00. I have lost track of the number of adults who were offered to us for free and sometimes people even offering to pay us to take them so they could make space for more cubs.
Zabu the White Tiger
The people who went from making $60,000 for a white cub to only $1000 for a white cub have no excuse for what they do. The only thing they can do is to try and discredit us. That is why they are always attacking us, and me in particular.
The breeders and dealers seem to spend all their time talking trash about me. Little do they realize that it is actually helping us show the world what kind of person would breed white tigers.
Thanks to the pressure that Big Cat Rescuers have kept on them, the AZA came out with a policy statement against breeding white tigers fairly recently, even though they do not yet enforce it strongly.
It is so exciting to me to see that we have persevered through more than a decade of trying to get the world to see that breeding white tigers (especially) is cruel and unconscionable. To see Britannica and Newsweek running stories that tell the truth is a HUGE win! This was the headline caption for the Newsweek story this past week, “Bred for profit, the animals are often cruelly deformed by inbreeding.” The only reason the truth is being exposed is because of you. No one else was willing to take on the Goliath of zoos, circuses and Las Vegas. The day is coming when no more tigers will be purposely inbred to create a freak for the paying public. That day is coming because Big Cat Rescuers won’t give up until it does.