Kali (pronounced Kah-lee’) the tiger was born in a travel trailer in the year 2000 the day after her mother and a transport full of tigers, leopards, cougars, bears and wolves were dropped off at the Augusta Conservation Education in GA. The founder of the organization rescued over 300 animals in the 20 years that he ran the facility, but by 2014 he could no longer afford it and began placing the remaining animals. The International Fund for Animal Welfare asked if we could take Kali, the last cat on the site and we agreed.
The Hindu goddess Kali is the fierce destructive form of the wife of Shiva, but also considered the goddess of time and change.
Kali’s previous owner shared many of Big Cat Rescue’s ideals of a sanctuary including no breeding, buying, or selling, but he did believe in physical interaction with his animals.
Big Cat Rescue takes a hands off approach to working with the big cats. Even though these animals were born and raised in captivity they are still wild animals and having close physical interaction puts both the people and animals at risk of serious injury.
Overall Kali was well cared for. She had been fed a good diet and had a spacious although barren cage. Because Kali was so well fed she was very difficult to lure into a transport cage. Her owner did not want Kali to be sedated and so he spent weeks trying to get her accustomed to going in the transport cage to receive her food. His patience paid off and the day of the rescue Kali loaded up within seconds.
When Kali first arrived she was depressed. She would spend the entire day sulking from atop her platform. At dinner time she would come down to eat, but would then immediately go right back up to her perch. Perhaps she missed her owner and the interactions they shared.
Most of our cats were mistreated before their arrival and are happy to find a new home where they are loved and fed a good diet. Kali had a different experience in that she was cared for, and then suddenly was moved away from the only home she had ever known. A lot of people rescue animals with the best intentions, but when life happens they find themselves no longer able to provide for the animals that they have committed to.
This was the case with Kali’s owner. He was going through a bitter divorce and neither he nor his wife were able to provide sanctuary to the animals that they had rescued.
Thankfully for Kali she will never have to worry about being moved from her home again. Big Cat Rescue will provide her with a stable and loving home for the rest of her life.
A few weeks after her arrival Kali made a complete turn around. She bounces up to keepers chuffing all the way, plays with her toys and enrichment, and loves lounging in the tall soft grass.
Big Cat Rescue will be her forever home because we operate this sanctuary in a responsible manner that ensures all of our cats will have a permanent home regardless of changes in the economy or even the leadership of the sanctuary. We have done this by creating detailed strategic plans, setting aside money for reserves and training all of our staff and volunteers extensively. People like you, who learn about the plight of these cats, and who donate to help, are the way we can continue to help cats like Kali.
LAOS’ SIN CITY IS AN ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE SUPERMARKET FOR VISITING CHINESE TOURISTS
LONDON: A resort complex tucked away in Laos and marketed to Chinese gamblers and tourists is a hub for trade in illegal wildlife products and parts, a new report reveals.
In Sin City: Illegal Wildlife Trade in Laos’ Special Economic Zone, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) documents how the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (GT SEZ) in Bokeo Province has effectively become a lawless playground.
The complex comprises a casino, hotel, shops, restaurants, a shooting range and massage parlours, and visitors can openly buy endangered species products including tigers, leopards, elephants, rhinos, pangolins, helmeted hornbills, snakes and bears – smuggled in from Asia and Africa.
Undercover investigators from EIA and its partner Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) documented restaurants with endangered species on their menus, from ”sauté tiger meat” and bear paws to reptiles and pangolins; one business kept a live python and a bear cub in cages, both of which were available to eat on request.
And the complex has ambitious plans for the manufacture of tiger bone wine. EIA/ENV found four tigers at the GT SEZ in mid-2014 but by February 2015 the number had risen to 35; a senior keeper revealed the goal is to acquire a total of 50 females for breeding to increase the population to 500 tigers within three years and to 1,000 in the long term to produce tiger bone wine for consumption at the GT SEZ and for export to China, via Yunnan.
The GT SEZ is run by the Chinese company Kings Romans Group, which has a 99-year lease and an 80 per cent stake in the operation. The Government of Laos has a 20 per cent stake in the GT SEZ, declaring it a duty-free area and giving it political patronage at the highest level.
Despite being situated in Laos, the GT SEZ functions more as an extension of China – it runs on Beijing time, signs are in Mandarin, most workers are Chinese nationals and the Chinese yuan is the main currency. Chinese nationals are permitted to visit with just an identity card rather than a passport.
The complex is accessed via a purpose-built 30km road from the nearest Laos town of Houaxay and China City Construction Group, a Chinese state-owned company, has been commissioned to build an international airport, a proposal which has created conflict with local farmers over land rights.
While Laos’ wildlife law enforcement is notoriously weak, there is not even a pretense of enforcement in the GT SEZ.
Debbie Banks, EIA Head of Tigers Campaign, said: “The activities within the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone constitute an intolerable disregard for international law as it concerns the illegal wildlife trade and endangered species.
“The Government of China urgently needs to recognise the immense damage this place does to its international reputation and to take meaningful action to rein in a Chinese company which is, in effect, running amuck with impunity in a neighbouring country with weak governance.
“China also needs to understand and accept that its legal domestic trade in the skins of captive-bred tigers is doing nothing but driving consumer demand – whether that demand is thriving at home or, as in the case of the GT SEZ, conveniently shunted into a neighbouring country.”
The report calls for the Government of Laos to immediately establish a multi-agency task force to tackle illegal wildlife trade at the GT SEZ and across the country, and to seize all illegal wildlife products at the GT SEZ.
It further calls on the Government of China to investigate connections between Chinese businesses and traders operating at the GT SEZ and wildlife criminals operating between Laos, Myanmar and China, and to cooperate with international counterparts to disrupt criminal networks.
In addition, Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) should seek CITES trade suspensions until such time as the governments of Laos and China demonstrate that adequate law enforcement, criminal justice and policy measures are being applied towards ending illegal wildlife trade associated with operations at the GT SEZ.
• Interviews are available on request; please contact Debbie Banks viadebbiebanks@eia-international. org or telephone +44 7773 428360, or Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman via paulnewman@eia-international. org or+44 20 7354 7960.
For information on illegal tiger trade in Vietnam, please contact Douglas Hendrie at Education for Nature Vietnam on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +84 4 6281 5424.
1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK- and Washington DC-based Non-Governmental Organisation that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste, and trade in climate and ozone-altering chemicals. More info at http://eia-international.org/
2. Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV) is an independent national Vietnamese NGO whose mission is to foster a greater understanding among the Vietnamese public about the need to protect nature and wildlife. ENV works closely with Government and partners to strengthen policy and legislation and directly support enforcement efforts to protect endangered species. ENV has led NGO efforts in Vietnam to document the illegal trade in tiger parts and products, including from tigers that have come from captive sources in Vietnam and neighbouring Laos. More info at http://envietnam.org/
3. Read & download Sin City: Illegal Wildlife Trade in Laos’ Special Economic Zone at http://eia-international.org/ wp-content/uploads/EIA-Sin- City-FINAL-med-res.pdf
Common Name: Tiger Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata) Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Family: Felidae Genus: Pantherinae Panthera Species: tigris
Bengal Tiger – Panthera tigris tigris 1200-1500 left
Siberian (Amurian) Tiger – Panthera tigris altaica 331 left
Sumatran Tiger – Panthera tigris sumatrae 136 left
Indo-Chinese Tiger – Panthera tigris corbetti
Malayan Tiger – Panthera tigris jacksoni **
South China Tiger – Panthera tigris amoyensis 37 left
Javan Tiger – Panthera tigris sondaica – extinct since early 1980’s
Bali Tiger – Panthera tigris balica – extinct since the 1940’s
Caspian Tiger – Panthera tigris virgata – formerly thought to be extinct since the early 1970’s *
*1/16/09 A team of scientists from Oxford University and the NCI Laboratory of Genomic Diversity in the USA have discovered that the Caspian Tiger and the Siberian Tiger have the same DNA. The tiger sub-species studied were the Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata), the Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), the Indian – Bengal – tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) and the South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis). The Caspian tiger was found to differ by only one nucleotide of its mitochondrial DNA from the Siberian tiger: other tiger sub-species differ by at least two nucleotides.
**In 2004, the tigers of Peninsular Malaysia were recognized as a new subspecies, Panthera tigris jacksoni, when a genetic analysis found that they are distinct in mtDNA and micro-satellite sequences from tigers of northern Indochina, P. t. corbetti (Luo et al., 2004). However, Mazak and Groves (2006) found no clear morphological differences (in cranial measurements or pelage characteristics) between tigers from Peninsular Malaysia and those elsewhere in Indochina, and argue for inclusion in P. t. corbetti. P. t. jacksoni is provisionally accepted here. The geographic division between P. t. jacksoniand P. t. corbetti is unclear as tiger populations in northern Malaysia are contiguous with those in southern Thailand (T. Lynam pers. comm. 2008).
Misc: This species has been (and is still) widely hunted throughout its range for sport, for the fur trade, and for the traditional Asian medicine market. For the medicine trade – no part of the Tiger’s body goes unused (see diagram below). The tiger is one of the best known mammals, and has become a symbol everywhere for conservation. Today, sadly, there are more tigers in captivity then exist in the wild. There are thought to be between 5,000 and 10,000 tigers in U.S. cages and 90% of them are in miserable roadside zoos, backyard breeder facilities, circus wagons and pet homes. Read about the conviction of those involved in canned hunts in the US.
The numbers on the tiger illustrate parts of the tiger that are traded on the black market. These myths are why the tiger has been hunted nearly to extinction.
Size and Appearance: The largest of all the living cats, the tiger is immediately recognizable by its unique reddish – orange coat with black stripes. Stripe patterns differ among individuals and are as unique to the animal as are fingerprints to humans. The dark lines above the eyes tend to be symmetrical, but the marks on the sides of the face and body can be different. Males have a prominent ruff or collar, which is especially pronounced in the Sumatran tiger.
One single white cub was found in the wild and taken by a hunter who killed his mother and normal colored siblings. He was named Mohan and is the progenitor of most white tigers now in captivity. White tigers would never survive in the wild as the white coat is only produced through severe inbreeding. White tigers have brown stripes and crystal blue eyes, and some specimens in captivity have no stripes at all.
Black tigers have been reported, but only a single pelt from illegal traders remains the only evidence. The pelt shows that the black only occurs on the top of the head and back, but turns into stripes down the sides, unlike in other cats that are completely and truly black (or melanistic).
Body size of the tiger varies with latitude, the smallest occurring at low latitudes in Indonesia and the largest at high altitudes in Manchuria and Siberia. The largest, the Siberian tiger can reach weights exceeding 700 pounds and reach lengths of 10+ feet, and the smallest, the Indonesian or Bali tiger weighing a mere 200 pounds with a total length of 7 ft.
While Amur Tigers are usually the largest tigers in captivity the Indian tigers in the wild have proven to be larger than any recorded Siberian cats. Female Bengal tigers (panthera tigris tigris) will average 300 pounds and males 450. Several in Nepal have been recorded between 550 and 700. The largest Siberian on record is 845 pounds. The Guiness Book of Records has one tiger in India at 857 pounds, shot by a hunter from Philadelphia in 1967, near what is now Corbett Tiger Reserve.”
Scientists in Russia report that no tigers immobilized by the Russian team have weighed as much as those in Chitwan. It probably is a function of habitat quality. Siberian tigers have the potential for being the largest, and captive ones are larger than captive Bengals. But in the wild the prey base in Russia is not abundant enough for those tigers to realize their full potential. Prey is more scattered and the Russian tigers need huge territories to capture sufficient food, so much more energy is expended in the food quest.
In sanctuaries tigers have lived up to 26 years, as compared to 15 in the wild. Tigers only live 10-12 years in most zoos.
Habitat: Tigers occupy a wide variety of habitats including tropical evergreen forests, deciduous forests, coniferous woodlands (Taiga), mangrove swamps, thorn forests and grass jungles. The factors common to all of the tiger’s habitats are some form of dense vegetative cover, sufficient large prey, and access to water. Tigers are extremely adept swimmers and readily take to water. They have been recorded easily swimming across rivers achieving distances of just under 20 miles. The tiger also spends much of its time during the heat of the day during hot seasons half submerged in lakes and ponds to keep cool. Indian tigers generally have a range of 8-60 square miles, based on availability of prey. Sumatran tigers have a range of about 150 square miles. Due to the severity of the climate and lack of prey, the Siberian tiger can require a range of 400 square miles. Tigers have lost more than 40% of their habitat in the past decade. (1)
Distribution: Indian subcontinent, Amur River region of Russia, China, North Korea, Sumatra, Indonesia, and Continental southeast Asia. In 2004, the Malayan tiger was declared a separate sub species from the Indochinese sub species of tiger. Found exclusively in the southern part of the Malay Peninsula. It is the third largest tiger population behind the Bengal tiger and the Indochinese tiger.
Reproduction and Offspring: Tigers will mate throughout the year, but most frequently between the end of November to early April. After a gestation of 103 days a litter of up to 7 cubs, although averaging 3, is born. Cubs will leave their mothers as young as 18 months old, or as old as 28 months old. During the first year, mortality can be as high as 35%, and of that 73% of the time it is the entire litter that is lost. The main causes of infant mortality are fire, floods, and infanticide, with the latter being the leading cause. Females tend to reproduce around 3 ½ years and males just under 5 years. In captivity, females have produced through age 14.
Social System and Communication: Tigers, like most cats are solitary, however, they are not anti-social. Males not only come together with females for breeding, but will feed with or rest with females and cubs. There have actually been reports of some tigers socializing and traveling in groups. Females with cubs have also been seen coming together to share meals. Most likely, in all of these cases they are somehow related. Males will kill cubs from other males, so it is likely that the offspring in question is his own. The females most likely are mother and daughter with overlapping home ranges. Hear our roars, chuffs, hisses, snarls, calls, and growl sounds HERE
Hunting and Diet: Tigers hunt primarily between dusk and dawn, and they attack using the same method as do the lions. They stalk, chase, and attack, bringing down and killing the prey with usually a bite to the nape of the neck or the throat. The bite to the throat allows the tiger the ability to suffocate the prey bringing death relatively quickly and painlessly. Smaller animals are often killed with the bite to the nape of the neck allowing the tiger to to fracture the vertebrae and compress the spinal chord of its victim. Once killed, the tiger either drags or carries its meal into cover. The tiger’s enormous strength allows it to drag an animal that would require 13 adult men to move. Tigers consume anywhere from 35 – 90 pounds of meat at one sitting, beginning at the rump of the prey. If undisturbed, they will return to the carcass for 3-6 days, feeding until it has completely consumed its kill. Because tigers are not the most successful of hunters, only killing 1 in every 10-20 attempts, it may be several days before it has its next meal. In the wild, cooperative hunting among tigers has also been observed where couples and families hunted like a pride of lions. This, however, is the exception not the rule. Unlike the other felids, man is a regular part of the tiger’s diet and has earned them greatest reputation as man-eaters. The most common prey items are various species of deer and pig, but they will also take crocodiles, young elephants and rhinos, monkeys, birds, fish, leopards, bears, and even their own kind. They have also been reported to eat carrion.
Status: IUCN: Endangered
Felid TAG recommendation: Tiger (Panthera tigris). The SSP for tigers supports a target population of 150-160 individuals for each of three subspecies. The Amur (formerly called the Siberian) Tiger SSP is nearly 20 years old, has functioned well with this target population, and has periodically obtained new founders from orphan situations or as F1 captive-born individuals from Europe. Its goals are not likely to change in the future. The Sumatran Tiger SSP is well under its target population, and additional spaces are readily available, especially in zoos located in warmer climates. Additional founders are periodically available from Sumatra via captive-bred individuals or wild-born tigers that must be removed from the wild. At this time, the Indochinese or Corbett’s tiger also is included in the RCP (albeit present in only four zoos). Given the small founder population presently in the North American population, additional animals from range-country zoos that are unrelated to those in North America are being sought. Although still present in large but declining numbers, no space is allocated for hybrid tigers (including white tigers, tabby tigers, “snow tigers” and ligers since they are all inbred, crossbred, and suffer congenital birth defects). No purebred Bengal tigers exist in North America because the zoos hybridized all of their stock trying to produce white tigers that could survive the inbreeding necessary to create the white coat. Due to this and a lack of space, this race will not be targeted by the Felid TAG for inclusion in its RCP. No one who breeds tigers outside of the Species Survival Plan which is only for AZA accredited zoos is really breeding for conservation.
How rare is this cat ? The largest wild population of tigers are in India. According to statistics released in 2009 there are 1,200 – 1,500 tigers left on 27 wildlife reserves in 11 states in India. Tigers are no longer “burning bright” in our world’s most famous tiger preserves.
Tiger numbers in the wild are thought to have plunged from 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to between 1,500 and 3,500 today. A century ago, India had some 100,000 tigers. Now, officials estimate they number about 1,200 – 1,500. The Bali, Javan, and Caspian subspecies, have become extinct in the past 70 years. The South China tiger is on the verge of extinction, with just 20 to 30 remaining in the wild. The International Species Information Service lists in captivity 1,098 worldwide in captivity with 256 being registered with ISIS in the U.S. as purebred tigers, as of 2009. There are NO purebred Bengal tigers in the U.S. The only purebred tigers in the U.S. are in AZA zoos and include 133 Amur (AKA Siberian), 73 Sumatran and 50 Malayan tigers in the Species Survival Plan. All other U.S. captive tigers are inbred and cross bred and do not serve any conservation value.
The rampant Pay to Play industry, that breeds these generic tigers solely to produce cubs that are marketed as “orphaned” or “rejected” to unwitting patrons is largely responsible for the decline of wild tiger populations. Cubs can only be used for public contact, according to USDA guidelines, until they are 12 weeks old. After that they are considered too dangerous and can bite off a finger. Animal exploiters constantly breed tigers to have plenty of profitable cubs on hand for petting and photo sessions. Once they reach maturity they are often relegated to tiny, barren breeding pens to create more cubs, or can end up in “canned hunts” and on the menu because lions are not currently a protected species and it is impossible to tell tiger meat from lion meat.
Update 1/4/2010: According to official statistics, as many as 59 tiger deaths were reported from across India in 2009 till December 8. Of the 59, 15 were “poached” while the remaining 44 died due to “illness and other causes”. Madhya Pradesh topped the charts with 13 tiger deaths followed by Assam (10), Karnataka (9) and Uttarakhand (7).
2009 saw the deaths of 85 tigers; more than a two-fold increase in the number of tiger deaths compared to 2008 and almost a two-fold increase compared to 2007. In all, 28 big cats were killed in 2008 and 30 in 2007. NGOs, nevertheless, peg the number of tiger deaths at more than 53 in 2010 which is approximately one per week.
2010 Tiger Census
Lao PDR 30
Viet Nam 30
Total in the wild: 3,062 Total in cages in the U.S. in 2004 4,955 Note that there are NO legitimate reintroduction programs.
The first few minutes are sounds you might not have ever heard a tiger make, as Amanda Tiger does Operant Conditioning w/ Olga, our guest from Spain. After being away for a few days, Carole goes around checking on cats and takes note of what the volunteers and interns have been doing. Rare footage of Vern at Family Dinner too.
I’d like to begin by saying that in some ways I truly admire you. Perhaps we have different views on some (or many) social issues, but I do see in you a deep desire to be kind to others. You seem to put great effort into being a progressive and independent woman and a role model not only to entertainment-obsessed masses, but to the youth of America (this includes your young daughter). I think it was, perhaps, a mother’s love and the need to provide your daughter with extraordinary opportunities, that you, yourself, never had, that was the impetus behind what was an incredibly misguided, but well intentioned action.
You and your husband brought your young daughter to Thailand and whilst there paid to have your family photographed while bottle feeding a tiger cub. No doubt in your mind this would be an image captured forever on film that would allow your daughter to look back on that family trip and say “Wow, how fortunate I was to be part of such a ‘rare’ experience.” What you did not know, and what I think, sadly, you still have not realized, is that while this experience was, indeed, amazing, it was also a form of animal abuse. One that does not occur only in Thailand, but all over the world.
Sadly, the practice of ‘paying to play’ is most prevalent here in the United States.
What seems like a harmless encounter to humans is, in actuality, just one brief moment in a lifetime of misery and abuse for these cubs. Here in America dozens of traveling zoos and roadside exhibits make quite a pretty penny by charging members of the public to pet, play with, or even swim with adolescent wild animals. The most common victims in the ‘pay to play scheme, are cubs of the big cats.
What the public doesn’t understand, is that the adorable babies they get to hold have been ripped from the care of their mothers, artificially orphaned, and thrust into a short life of suffering and abuse as nothing more than photography props.
The inhumane treatment begins early on with the removal of the cubs from their mothers. At this vulnerable age their immune systems are not fully developed and the intense stress and exposure from constant handling puts them at great risk for disease or fatality. Unnatural habitats and prolonged photo sessions leave the cubs unable to regulate their sleep patterns, which further damages their growth. Forced to endure being passed around like merchandise and exposure to flashbulbs, some of them develop vision and limb problems. Many suffer the removal of their claws and teeth, in order to guarantee the safety of the customers paying to hold them.
Others are starved in an attempt to stunt their growth, thus keeping them viable for use in ‘pay to play’ gigs even as they age. I will never forget the first time I watched a cub-handling encounter on YouTube.
The way the handlers roughly grabbed them and hung them by their armpits to “reset” them, claiming that this is how they would be held in the wild, blowing in their faces to “calm” them down. Or the heartbreaking cries of protest from the cubs as they were tossed from stranger to stranger simply for entertainment value.
As a mother, I am sure you can’t imagine letting anyone handle your child in such a way.
The luckiest cubs will grow too large or too aggressive to be useful as photo props, and subsequently will be spared the prison sentence of a life in captivity. Instead, they will be sold for use in canned hunts. Taken to open land and released for a few precious moment before the bullet of a paying hunter puts an end to their short-lived joy. Others will be butchered outright, their body parts sold on the blackmarket. As I said, those animals are the lucky ones. Many ‘pay to play’ cubs will, unfortunately, become part of the exotic animal trade, an industry which is surpassed in profit only by drugs and guns.
I share all this with you now, not to shame you. I know you have been slandered and criticized by many because of your actions. While I understand the anger that many people feel, what some fail to understand is that the fault lies not only on your shoulders. We must also blame a lack of education within our society. Fault also lies within our media. Commercials and television programs glorify the idea of turning wild animals into pets, and precious little attention is given to the vile underworld of animal trafficking and the abuse associated with ‘pay to play’ venues.
Why has so little attention been paid to this horrendous form of abuse?
Why is it allowed to go on legally in so many parts of our country and elsewhere in the world? Equally culpable are our lawmakers. At what point do we say, “We must change the laws that allow this to continue”?
Ms. Carter, you did not create the industry that propagates this kind of abuse, but I ask you now to take a stand against it. Channel your inner Sasha Fierce and speak out on behalf of those who have no voice of their own. We need your help. The baby wild animals need your help.
There is no shame in making a mistake, no matter how erroneous, if you acknowledge that mistake and embrace the change that allows you to become a more enlightened human being. I hope my words find you somehow through social media and that not only do they inspire you to instigate change, but that they help you realize that as human beings we are fallible. In the end you are not guilty of anything but remaining silent.
With warm regards and hope for the future of all the Earth’s children,