In celebration of International Tiger Day 2016, Big Cat Rescue and Clemson University Tigers for Tigers are teaming up in a fundraising effort to protect tigers in the wild. Clemson University Tigers for Tigers (t4tclemson.org) is a student-led group dedicated to preserving their mascot through education, research, and service learning on local and global levels. For International Tiger Day onJuly 29th, Big Cat Rescue and Clemson T4T have designed PURR-fect t-shirts, which are available for purchase via SunFrog. 100% of t-shirt revenue will be donated to the International Tiger (ITP). Big Cat Rescue is matching the profits for all t-shirts sold up to $3,000, check out the t-shirts here:
The International Tiger Project (ITP) is a not-for-profit project supporting Sumatran tiger conservation, rainforest protection, and local community partnerships. With less than 3,200 tigers left in the wild, projects such as this are essential for their continued existence. In the past century, we have lost 97% of tigers in the wild predominantly due to poaching and habitat loss. This loss has created a dire need for increased monitoring and conservation efforts of tiger species and the areas they inhabit. One major strategy employed by ITP to combat these issues is the use of camera traps to monitor tigers. The location of their work is the Bukit Tigapuluh Reserve, which has been identified as one of the priority landscapes for long-term tiger conservation in Sumatra. A Wildlife Protection Unit (WPU), initiated by ITP, adds additional protection for the tigers with an on-the-ground patrol that works with local communities to see that both tigers and humans remain safe and live in harmony. The WPU also provides employment opportunities for the community, thereby increasing the profile of the Sumatran tiger and its importance in the area.
Big Cat Rescue donated towards an ongoing in situ research project, The Pallas Cat Study and Conservation Program, that started in 2004 in order to collect data pertaining to the true conservation status of the species. The Pallas Cat is one of the least studied wild cats in the world despite having a large habitat ranging across Russia, Mongolia and North-Western China. The habitat of this species has been decreasing over the years, meaning species numbers have dramatically declined. Biology of the species and its adaptations to different landscapes have never been studied adequately, meaning data is lacking on the current spatial distribution, migratory patterns and habitat preference.
The project started initially with interview surveys and snow-tracking research in all the main regions of Russia where the species resides. Since 2009 they have also studied Pallas cats in Kazakhstan, with the north-east region proving to be the most important habitat for the cats, as this is where the majority of the data was obtained. Since 2013, the project has moved its focus to study factors influencing Pallas Cat distribution, clarification of actual and potential threats to the species, population density estimations, pilot studies of Pallas Cat Biology and public awareness. Techniques such as GPS tracking, GIS databases, on foot tracking and the involvement of locals has contributed to the progress thus far for the data collected. Read more about their work here: http://www.savemanul.org/eng/
Tanzania Lion Illumination Project
Human-animal conflict is an ever growing problem especially in ares where the habitats of humans and animals overlap. With human populations increasing, there is more pressure on wildlife to survive due to habitat loss, and livestock Bomas provide an easy meal for many predators. When predators kill the livestock, the locals retaliate by killing the predators and thus it means, in countries like Tanzania, Kenya and Nairobi, where human-animal conflict is prevalent, lion and leopard populations are dramatically declining.
Big Cat Rescue donated to the Tanzania Lion Illumination Project to aid in a solution for this ever growing problem. The Tanzania Lion Illumination Project is a small, non-profit organization that works out in Tanzania installing “Lion Lights” on to livestock Bomas in areas where they are needed, to help rural communities protect their livestock and reduce retaliatory killings. “Lion lights” are a simple and effective method that involved the installation of LED lights around the tops of livestock bomas. The flashing LED lights are solar powered and help to repel predators, by disorientating them and causing them to flee. To date the Tanzania Lion Illumination Project has installed lights on more than 70 Bomas and the result has shown a dramatic decrease in both livestock loss and retaliatory predator killings.
The Tanzania Lion Illumination Project not only funds the light systems but also trains local people and the native tribes in the installation and upkeep. By doing this they hope to be able to educate them and raise awareness about living in peace with the animals. Read more about their work here: http://www.tanzlight.org/home.html
The Corbett Foundation
Big Cat Rescue donated $5,000 to The Corbett Foundation, a charitable, non-profit and non-governmental organization solely committed to the conservation of wildlife. They work towards a harmonious coexistence between human beings and wildlife across some of the most important wildlife habitats in India, namely Corbett Tiger Reserve, Kanha and Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserves, Kaziranga Tiger Reserve and around the Greater Rann of Kutch.
Local Communities and wildlife share natural ecosystems and this often raises conflict, so the health and wellbeing of these communities are often directly linked to their willingness to participate in wildlife conservation efforts. The Corbett foundation has implemented its programs in over 400 villages in the last decade. One specific area the Corbett foundation is working on is the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.
Open farm wells, dug by villagers, in the buffer zone of the Reserve, are proving to be a deathtrap for wild animals, with several cases having been reported of animals, including tigers and leopards, drowning by accidentally falling into the open wells. Currently around 2500 of these open farm wells exist, many in the core zone of the Tiger Reserve. The Corbett Foundation with the support of Exodus Travels Ltd UK, has initiated a project to install chain-link fencing around such open farm wells to prevent any further accidental drowning. More here: Big Cat Fences
In the first phase of the project, 200 fences have already been built around wells closest to the core of the reserve. The cost of one fence is 7500 Indian Rupees so approximately $111, meaning from the $5000 donated, between 40-45 fences can be built. You can read more about the other great work done by Corbett Foundation here: http://www.corbettfoundation.org/what-we-do.php#wildlife-conservation
The Urban Caracal Project
In February 2016, BCR donated funds to assist the Urban Caracal Project. The Cape Peninsula is a biodiversity hotspot that has lost almost all of its large mammals such as cape lions, leopards and brown hyenas. Caracals as a result may play a major role in maintaining the ecosystem as they are the largest remaining predator in the area.
The Urban Caracal Project, fronted by Dr Laurel Seyries and the Cape Leopard Trust, is a project that aims to establish baseline information about the caracal population in the Cape Peninsula: population size, health of individuals, and the distribution of caracals across the Peninsula. In addition they want to evaluate the effects of urbanization on the behavior, movement patterns, diet, and genetic health of caracals and assess threats to survival of caracals in the Peninsula and potentially beyond to other parts of South Africa. This study is an essential tool to understand how urbanization may be threatening wildlife in other parts of the world affected by similar factors. Read more about the Urban Caracal Project: http://www.urbancaracal.org/about/
See Caracals Living Free
The Black Footed Cat Working Group
In March 2016 BCR donated funds to assist the Black Footed Cat Working Group, with one of the longest running small cat projects that has been in process for over 23 years, conserving the Black Footed Cat population in South Africa. More than 60 cats have been caught and collared over 100 times and what is known today about the species has been found during this field study. The study collects data on the ecology of the species, like home range sizes, home range usage, social organisation, food habits but also mortality, longevity, dispersal and reproduction of the population.
The Black-footed Cat Working Group was formed to publish and share findings from the project and the group consists of 7 biologists and veterinarians that act as a central information source for the species. Read more about The Black Footed Cat Working Group here: http://www.black-footed-cat.wild-cat.org
Sand Cat in Morocco
Big Cat Rescue donated $1,000 towards the first ever study on the ecology and behavior of Sand cats in Morocco, launched in 2015 by Dr Alex Sliwa and Gregory Breton, scientists from Europe. The researchers aimed to study the cats over several years to collect data, throughout the lives of individuals but also across generations. In an attempt to understand the species better the research aims to look at particular ecological aspects such as activity times, size of home range, territory, social and reproductive behaviors, prey species and different hunting methods. The method of the study is for researchers to actively search for Sand Cats. Once located, the animal are caught and sedated, to be measured and given a health check, then fitted with a radio collar. These animals will then be followed with an receiver and antenna to determine their movements.
2015 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
On Father’s Day (Sunday June 21, 2015) Big Cat Rescue hosted our second annual walkabout to fund conservation efforts.
In 2014 Big Cat Rescue donated $15,000.00 to conservation programs.
$900 to Walk for Lions in Kenya (from our March for Lions event)
$7,000 to Campaign Against Canned Hunting in S. Africa (from our March for Lions event)
$1,000 to Build a Boma via Nat Geo initiative in S. Africa (from our March for Lions event)
$1,100 to Animal Defenders International
$5,000 Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation
1. Saving Lions. March 15th’sMarch for Lions may have just seemed like one heck of a party, but thanks to everyone who came and fundraised for the event, we were able to net $10,000 and we wanted to spend it on ways to help lions outside our gates. The movers and shakers behind the Global March for Lions were Chris and Bev Mercer of CannedLion.org. Any time we need the truth on what is happening in Africa regarding lions, we always turn to Chris and Bev. They have been the leading force against lion hunting and pay to play schemes that pimp out lion cubs, only to sell them into canned hunts as easy targets. They would never ask for help, but this event made it possible for us to contribute $7,000. to their continued efforts to ban lion hunting. Chris said this is the equivalent of a small fortune in his world and that he will put it to good use in protecting lions.
2. We were impressed with Nat Geo’s Cause an Uproar campaign and donated $1,000. to their BuildABoma.org project. This will build two bomas to help protect lions from being killed for harming livestock.
3. We have long been impressed by Animal Defenders International because they are a small organization that has been winning huge victories for animals. What really brought them up on our radar was the amazing work they have done in the past few years to ban circus acts that use wild animals in 40 + countries. If you saw Blackfish and thought, “big cats need a movie like that,” then you have to see Lion Ark. We saw it and were so enamored that we sent $1,100. to help with their efforts to free all big cats from circuses.
4. Before the March for Lions even began we sent the early money we raised, in the amount of $900. to Walking for Lions to be a major sponsor for the cycling event from Kenya to Botswana to raise awareness of the plight of lions. So, thanks to your generosity we are raising awareness, supporting boots on the ground, giving locals a way to live with lions, rescuing lions from circuses and letting everyone know that when you pay to play with a cub, the cub is always the one who pays with his loss of life and liberty.
5. Big Cat Rescue was recruited to offer our expertise, guidance and funding in the expansion of facilities to house jaguars who are rescued from being killed and sent to the Belize Zoo. The zoo does not breed their cats, but cannot release the jaguars either because there are too many in the area and they get in trouble with people.
6. Created 22 Intranet sites, which are sort of a sanctuary-in-a-box site, for other sanctuaries to use. These came complete with every training video, training manual, chart and idea that we use to run Big Cat Rescue. We do this for free for sanctuaries around the world that do not breed, buy, sell, trade nor allow contact w/ wild animals.
2013 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
In 2013 Big Cat Rescue donated $3,883.91 towards four conservation programs in the FL and in other countries on behalf of our volunteers.
$1522.91 to Panthera to save corridors for wild cats to travel safely and outfitting rangers on behalf of our volunteers.
$850.00 to the Snow Leopard Trust to cover the cost of camera traps and snow leopard monitoring.
$500.00 to the Tiger Trust to protect tigers in India by providing better legal assistance and training for game wardens.
1. 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!
See a digital rendition they did from the plans submitted:
2. Created 8 Intranet sites, which are sort of a sanctuary-in-a-box site, for other global sanctuaries to use. These came complete with every training video, training manual, chart and idea that we use to run Big Cat Rescue. We do this for free for sanctuaries that do not breed, buy, sell, trade nor allow contact w/ wild animals.
3. Presented at Tigers 4 Tigers which is a coalition of all colleges that have tiger mascots who are working to save the tiger. It was also the last place for the good friend and world famous and much beloved tiger expert Ron Tilson to make a presentation before his untimely death this year. http://youtu.be/o1ve94nYbP4
2012 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
After delivering a couple of free webinars for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), and hosting their first in person 2 day Workshop in 2011, Patty Finch asked if the board of GFAS could use our facilities for their meeting. We were delighted to meet the members of the board that we had not met before and were proud to show off Big Cat Rescue to all of them. Howard Baskin presented on our fundraising streams and the history of Big Cat Rescue and I shared how we use google Apps and how we manage over 100 top notch volunteers.
2011 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue funded a $5,000 GPS tracking collar program that will be monitored by researchers with the Snow Leopard Trust. Founded in 1981, the Snow Leopard Trust is the world’s leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard. This collar will allow researchers to track a wild snow leopard in order to study its habits and territory needs.
A GPS tracking collar has been placed on one of the cubs of Khashaa, a female and mother snow leopard, within the study area. The cub, a male, is already pretty big at one and a half years old. We find this so exciting because it will help us begin to answer some of the unanswered questions about snow leopards, including information about dispersal patterns.
Big Cat Rescue has been working with WildTracks this year to provide images of our tigers’ paw prints for entry into their computer program which can determine who a cat is by their tracks when there are enough tracks submitted to use for comparison. Learn more and see photos of the print collection at http://bigcatrescue.org/2011/today-at-big-cat-rescue-sept-22
Big Cat Rescue offered to sponsor the first ever Florida Panther Festival if they agreed not to use any live cats at their exhibits. They did not take us up on the offer to sponsor the event, but did assure us that they would not exploit cats this way. Our camera traps have been set in various locations to monitor wildlife populations and poachers in the area.
After delivering a couple of free webinars for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), Patty asked if we would host their first in person 2 day Workshop. Howard Baskin presented on our fundraising streams and the history of Big Cat Rescue, Jeff Kremer presented on donor recognition while giving the group of 20+ attendees a tour, Chris Poole spoke on social marketing and networking, Patty Ragan shared the value of hiring a coach, Kari Bagnall illustrated how to get the most out of a tabling event, Patty Finch taught grant writing, teaching your board how to be helpful and how to avoid “founder’s syndrome” and I shared how we use google Apps, how we manage over 100 top notch volunteers, why it is important to have a plan and stick to it.
Big Cat Rescue later hosted HSUS Sanctuary CEO’s for their annual retreat and gave them an inside look at how we operate. In both the GFAS and HSUS workshops we shared our Intranet site along with all of our training documents and all of the assets to create a “sanctuary in a box.” All of these tools are included on our website behind a $1.00 pay wall so that anyone who wishes to improve their facility has access to everything we do. Big Cat Rescue also helped the Humane Society Legislative Fund in their work to end puppy mills because the same laws would protect cats and kittens from use in kitten mills as well.
2010 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue continued working with the International Tiger Coalition, which is a group of 40+ organizations committed to saving the tiger, based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild. The goal is 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years. There are less than 3,000 in the wild currently and we are losing one per day due to poaching. We persuaded ITC to keep US tiger farming issue as part of their mission to eradicate because legalized trade puts even more pressure on wild populations.
What makes this initiative unlike all of the past programs is two fold. 40+ 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. 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. Leonardo DiCaprio attended as well and met with Prime Minister Putin. DiCaprio donated 1 million dollars to WWF’s fund for saving the tiger.
23 FL Panthers died in 2010 but 90 were born according to FWC. Big Cat Rescue is stepping up our support of local initiatives to save the Florida Panther.
2009 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue continued working with the International Tiger Coalition, which is a group of 39 organizations committed to saving the tiger, based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild. The goal is 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years. There are less than 3,000 in the wild currently and we are losing one per day due to poaching. We persuaded ITC to keep US tiger farming issue as part of their mission to eradicate because legalized trade puts even more pressure on wild populations.
We assisted in the rehabilitation of an orphaned baby bobcat in NC. Nina Fischesser, Director, Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, NC had contacted us for advice in rehabbing and releasing an orphaned baby bobcat. Giving cats a second chance at living free is the best part of our day!
We began working with Dr. Wynn’s CO colleague and a Florida Wildlife Commission epidemiologist on research involving FIV in bobcats and FL panthers. We will begin testing all road kill for FIV, as well as testing bobcats who are reported frequenting human habitation if we can safely trap and release them without too much stress to them.
2008 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue was welcomed into the International Tiger Coalition, which is a group of 39 organizations committed to saving the tiger, based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild. The goal is 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years. There are less than 3,000 in the wild currently and we are losing one per day due to poaching. We persuaded ITC to keep US tiger farming issue as part of their mission to eradicate because legalized trade puts even more pressure on wild populations.
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.
2007 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
The Jaguar Trust Trapping is the furthest thing from our mission, except when it comes to camera traps for tracking and aiding wildlife. Our own Big Cat Rescue president Jamie Veronica went to Guyana, South America with a fellow volunteer on a mission for the sanctuary. Jamie and Justin Boorstein were in Guyana for ten days setting new digital camera traps with video to track Jaguars, Ocelots and Pumas. Our partner, Foster Parrots, tells us that with the recent import ban of all birds into Europe, Guyana now finds herself in a position to change the long practiced wildlife export industry there. Many trappers are finding that there are no markets for their “products”! Many of these trappers now find themselves unemployed and the government may start to look at the potential revenues of eco-tourism to fill the gap. If we can make a concerted effort with our conservation project we hope to serve as an example and to garner the support of Guyana to create the world’s premier rainforest destination. Our plans include the promotion of our project here in the US and a marketing strategy to heighten the visibility of this important move in Guyana.
Visitors to Guyana will have a choice of tour itineraries ranging from an ambitious 3 and 4-day Kanuku Mountains hike that will bring them to the realm of the Harpy Eagle, to more leisurely tours that will encompass sightings of Red Bellied, Scarlet, Red and Green, Blue and Yellow Macaws, Giant Anteaters and a wide variety of primates. Horseback and canoe excursions will let tour groups experience the wilds of Guyana at an intimate level. Visitors can also travel to Kaeiteur Falls to witness one of the world’s tallest single-drop waterfalls of 741 feet. Construction on the first of two planned lodge complexes, located in Nappi Village, has been completed by the local tribes with funds from Foster Parrots and Big Cat Rescue. Contact SaveTheCats@bigcatrescue.org to spend your vacation dollars saving the wildcats in the rainforest.
Africa President Jamie Veronica and volunteer Barbara Stairs also toured Africa to see the issues first hand that have resulted in game parks being virtually the only lands left that house wild cats. She will work with relatives there to check out sources for offering handmade products in our gift shop that could help preserve wildlife there as we currently do in the Jaguar Trust. (Barbara Stairs funded this excursion)
Since 2005 Big Cat Rescue has provided both funds and volunteers to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. Lewa relocates problematic wildlife to protected areas and provides education to children in the area who would not otherwise be able to read or write. In addition to the funds that Big Cat Rescue donates, we also provide a U.S. market for Kenya ‘s craftsmen and send clothing with our volunteers to distribute when they visit. Our volunteers take their skills and attitudes of compassion for all life into these barren regions and share a message of hope.
China, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia and Pakistan: Every year since 1997 Big Cat Rescue has donated to the countries that are home to the Himalayan mountain range where the elusive snow leopard is found. One whole corner of the gift shop explains how the sale of items made by the villagers helps save the snow leopard in the wild. In 2006, Dr. Tom McCarthy, the Conservation Director for the Snow Leopard Trust, came to Big Cat Rescue to explain just how crucial each sale was to protect of these exquisite cats.
The snow leopard lives in regions where the average person makes the equivalent of $1.00 per day. Most of the people who share the same highlands with the snow leopard are herders and to them, the loss of one sheep or goat can mean the difference in their survival. Most of the snow leopards that are killed are retribution killings; meaning that the cat has been blamed for killing one of the herd and the herdsman has killed the next snow leopard he saw. The herdsman can eat the cat and sell the hide for 25.00 which for them is a month’s wage. There are many other middle men along the way who are anxious to get their hands on a snow leopard pelt or penis for the Asian medicinal trade or for the black market. The pelt dramatically becomes more valuable as it goes down the line and can cost $5,000.00 or more to the final buyer.
The Snow Leopard Trust members in China, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia and Pakistan work closely with the local people to find out what they need. In some cases, they can create handicrafts like those we sell and make five times what they can make from herding.
The programs are structured with reducing reliance on Snow Leopard Trust funds for each consecutive year and to remain in the program the community must ensure that no snow leopards are killed. If anyone in the community kills a snow leopard, the entire community risks losing their right to participate in the program for a year and that is enough to keep everyone watching out for the snow leopard. Their claims of protection must verified by the game wardens and governmental agencies who actually have incentives to discover poaching because they are often paid a portion of the confiscation if they can catch a poacher.
Big Cat Rescue is the second largest retailer for Snow Leopard Enterprises.
We collected fecal samples from our captive snow leopards for the Snow Leopard Trust to use in training dogs to be able to tell one wild snow leopard from another just by sniffing the scat left behind. This will greatly enhance conservation efforts and is a cost effective method as well. The video we produced is being aired on our sites, and also being used as a marketing tool for the new program and the Snow Leopard Trust.
The U.S. State Department enlisted our help in saving the critically endangered Amur Leopard because of our ability to reach so many people who care about wild cats and their habitat.
2006 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
When our beloved tiger, Nini, died Brian Czarnik wanted her to live on and so we sponsored a tiger in the wild in Way Kambas Park. The money donated will help protect the tigers in this critical reserve. We worked with the Smithsonian Institution in a project to examine the population biology of small carnivores in Gabon, West Africa and Borneo. We hosted a party and raised more than $1000.00 to aid the campaign that would require the government to provide emergency plans for people who won’t leave their pets. This bill became law in 2006 and will protect America’s pets in times of disaster. We also sent proceeds from our Fur Ball to Lewa Conservancy in S. Africa and invested in creating eco-tourism in Guyana, South America to protect the wild cats in that area. At the request of the World Wildlife Fund in Poland we have provided photographs for them to use in creating a handbook for border guards to prevent the illegal trade in exotic cats and their pelts.
2005 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
We raised $1000.00 each for conservation programs to save the margay in Brazil, to help start an eco tourism lodge in Guyana and to assist Lewa in Africa.
The following is a partial listing (757) of incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990. The U.S. incidents have resulted in the deaths of 24 humans, 17 adults and 5 children, the additional mauling of 259 more adults and children, 274 escapes, the killing of 146 big cats, and 133 confiscations. There have also been 292 big cat incidents outside the U.S. that have resulted in the deaths of 97 humans and the mauling of 154 humans by captive big cats. These figures only represent the headlines that Big Cat Rescue has been able to track. Because there is no reporting agency that keeps such records the actual numbers are certainly much higher. http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-attacks
Mauled by a Privately Owned Exotic Pet Who Escaped
To see the number of exotic cats abandoned each year check out that section of our most recent Annual Report.
The U.S. represents less than 5% of the entire global population, but up through 2006 79% of ALL captive cat incidents occurred in the U.S. (Now that the US is clamping down on the exotic pet trade, the reports in 2007 show a decline in U.S. incidents compared to the rest of the world) Likewise, Florida represents less than 6% of the U.S. population while 12% of all U.S. incidents occur in Florida. Florida boasts the most comprehensive sets of regulations allowing private ownership of exotic cats while ranking #1 in the highest numbers of big cat killings, maulings and escapes. To view photos of fatal injuries from cases reported in the American Journal of Forensic Medicine click http://bigcatrescue.org/laws/AMJForensicFeline.pdf
May 21, 2016 Chile: Two lions were killed after a man jumped into the lion enclosure at the Santiago Metropolitan Zoo in Chile, local police said. They say the man climbed over the fence and removed his clothes before he approached the lions inside the enclosure, and zoo staff shot the lions to protect him. The incident has provoked outrage on social media, while the zoo is defending its actions.
Apr 21, 2016 TX: The Conroe Police Department began receiving phone calls reporting a small tiger on the loose. Given that tigers are not native to the Houston, Texas suburb, this probably seemed pretty strange. Conroe police are not pleased with the young tigress’ presence. Dorcy McGinnis of the Conroe Police Department told KHOU, “[The tiger] is a very strong animal. It definitely would not be appropriate here in the City of Conroe.” Although tigers can be legally kept as pets in the state of Texas, Conroe’s city ordinances prohibit owning or harboring a “dangerous animal” in the city. A day later and no owner has come forward.
Apr 15, 2016 Palm Beach, FL: A woman has died after a tiger injured her inside the tiger’s night house at the Palm Beach Zoo. The victim was said to be “very knowledgeable about the tigers and loved them dearly”. She was flown by Trauma Hawk to St. Mary’s for treatment, according to Naki Carter, a zoo spokesperson. Police said the tiger was tranquilized. Authorities had to wait until the drugs took effect on the tiger before rescue crews could get to the victim. Yes, that’s two people killed by captive tigers on the same day. A new record.
Apr 15, 2016 San Salvadore: A white tiger being kept in a private zoo in El Salvador fatally attacked its keeper and escaped but was recaptured hours later. “It looks like the keeper wasn’t following safety protocols as he fed the white tiger and it attacked him, causing serious injuries that caused his death.” The big cat was being kept in an animal park run by a group called the Wildlife Refuge Foundation on the outskirts of Jayaque, a town just west of the capital San Salvador.
Apr 2, 2016 Malta: The hunters’ international fair, organised by the Hunters’ Federation, attracted thousands of visitors to Montekristo Estates for a weekend of guns, ammunition and hunting paraphernalia. It also attracted visitors to the animal park that had been closed last Nov after the mauling of another child by a tiger on the loose. While the zoo was inexplicably open, a second child, this time a young boy, suffered scratches to his neck and back from another animal, a juvenile lioness.
Mar 7, 2016 Russia: A toddler has been mauled by a lion cub after it was left to run loose in a Russian park in Vladimir, east of Moscow. A traveling “zoo” owner was showing off the lion cub in the park. Within seconds the young animal’s attention is diverted to a small child sitting nearby and the cub races to the boy and begins to maul his neck. His mother can be heard screaming in Russian “get him” as the helpless child cries out “mummy.” The handler quickly pulls the lion off the toddler and proceeds to beat it.
Feb 28, 2016 Canada: The owner of Papanack’s Exotic Animals shot and killed a five-year-old male lion named Zeus that had escaped from its enclosure. Officers from Hawkesbury OPP rushed to the scene and found the African lion walking near the entrance of Papanack Park Zoo, an unfenced area. There was no way to contain the animal, police say, and the zoo owner was forced to shoot it. Kerri Bayford posted on behalf of the park “At approximately 5:19 p.m. our male lion breached its primary perimeter fence. Police were called immediately and within minutes our staff, with police present, made the decision to euthanize the lion on our property,” Bayford wrote. “The risk to the public of trying to sedate the lion was simply too high as the sedative takes too long to kick in and this would have put everyone at risk.”
Jan 21, 2016 Australia: A 12 year old tiger has attacked a keeper at an Australian zoo founded by the late Steve Irwin. The incident, which took place Thursday morning at the Sunshine Coast’s Australia Zoo, left 41-year-old Che Woolcott with “significant puncture wounds” to his head and forearm, according to local media reports. He was treated at the scene before being transferred to the hospital.
Dec 18, 2015 Canada, BC: Creston RCMP say a cheetah was spotted along Highway 3a in the Crawford Bay and Kootenay Bay areas. The cheetah was seen at the side of the road near Kootenay Bay by a motorist who took some pictures of the cat wearing an orange cloth collar and called the RCMP.
Dec 17 2015 Durban South Africa: A tiger that had escaped from its enclosure at the Natal Zoological Gardens and Lion Park in Cato Ridge on Tuesday has been shot dead. The circus tiger, owned by Brian Boswell had originally survived the shot gun blast and walked off into the nearby bushes. It was not clear if the tiger was shot a second time or if it died from its wounds later.
Nov 29 Malta: Ħal-Farrug zoo was closed by its owners after a tiger severely injures a 3 year old boy. A spokesman for the zoo said the incident happened when the two handlers were walking the “friendly” tiger, which they had raised, outside its cage since it had been slightly unwell. The tiger was lying on the floor when the incident happened. Upon seeing the animal, the boy ran towards it, prompting the tiger to raise its paws, lashing the child in the face in the process, the spokesman said.
Nov 16 Yemen: Other than rebels, Saudi troops also have to deal with other elements while fighting in Yemen. In this case, they had to deal with a lion! The lion attacked the Saudi soldiers but the trained soldiers managed to control him. They eventually tied him to a tank with a rope.
Nov 1 2015 Mexico: Police in Mexico are on the lookout for two tigers that escaped from a ranch in the western state of Michoacán. Such incidents are a regular occurrence in Mexico, where ownership of big cats is not uncommon. Just two days earlier, another tiger escaped from a hotel where it was kept as an attraction in the neighboring state of Guerrero. In September 2015, authorities in Jalisco state captured yet another tiger that had escaped from a gated community in the city of Guadalajara.
Nov. 1, 2015 OMAHA, NB: A 33-year-old woman is recovering from a severe hand injury after police say she broke into the Omaha Zoo to pet a tiger. Officer James Shade says the woman acted aggressively and appeared to be intoxicated. Police determined that the woman snuck into the zoo to try to pet a tiger. She was bitten when she reached into the animal’s cage. The woman was ticketed on suspicion of trespassing while she was being treated at the hospital.
Oct 3, 2015 Bahalwpur Zoo: A zookeeper identified as Fayyaz was badly injured when two lions attacked him after he entered the lion enclosure. The incident happened when the zookeeper reportedly entered the enclosure to shift the cubs to another room.
Sept 19, 2015 New Zealand: The woman killed by a male tiger named Oz at Hamilton Zoo today was senior staff member, Samantha Kudeweh, age 43 who held the job title of Zoo Curator. She had over 20 years experience in the field. Before joining the team in Hamilton, she had spent eight years at Auckland Zoo and two years at Melbourne and Werribee Zoo’s. Before working in zoo, she completed a BSc at Auckland University.
Sept 16, 2015 Warsaw, Poland: A police spokesman says a tiger has fatally wounded a keeper at a zoo in Wroclaw, southwestern Poland. Rynkiewicz said the rare Sumatran tiger attacked the man during routine cleaning of the animal’s run. Prosecutors are investigating the accident. TVN24 said the man had 20 years of experience in taking care of predators at the zoo.
Sept 8, 2015 Suzhuo, China: A lioness was hit by a car and then shot 20 times by police after escaping a local circus.
Sept 6, 2015 Indianapolis, IN: The Indianapolis Zoo issued a Code Red after a cheetah escaped from its enclosure. The cheetah somehow got onto the “beaver bridge” and managed to escape its enclosure. Zoo officials said the cheetah was one of two new brothers that came to the zoo from San Diego a week ago.
Sept 4, 2015 Hemet, CA: A 3 month old tiger was found wandering the streets of Hemet, CA before being turned in to the Ramona Humane Society for care. The 25-pound cub was found declawed and will need surgery to remove a hernia from his abdomen. It has been illegal to declaw big cats in the U.S. since 2006. He has been sent to Lions, Tigers & Bears in Alpine, CA.
Aug 17, 2015 Detroit, MI: Animals of Montana brought an adult tiger, bobcats and wolves to the abandoned Packard Plant for a photo shoot. When the tiger escaped handlers instructed the film crew to chase it downstairs using a weedwhacker and a tarp. City officials claimed they had no idea that wild animals would be brought to the site, much less set free.
Aug 14, 2015 Morganton, NC: Tyra, a Serval, went missing in the White Street/Valdese Avenue area of Morganton. Owner Jon Freed is afraid someone will mistake his 45-pound cat for a cheetah. Freed recently moved from Fort Mill, South Carolina, to Morganton, NC. Tyra escaped from Freed’s screened-in porch. This is yet one more reason why we need a federal ban on exotic cat possession.
Jun 14, 2015 Georgia Russia: Tigers, lions, a hippopotamus and other animals escaped from the zoo in Georgia’s capital after heavy flooding destroyed their enclosures, prompting authorities to warn residents in Tbilisi to say inside Sunday. At least 12 people have been killed in the disaster, including three zoo workers. One lost his arm to a tiger last month.
Jun 1, 2015 Johannesburg, SA: Katherine Chappell, 29, a visual effects artist for Game of Thrones, was killed and her tour guide seriously injured in an attack by a lioness at the Lion Park near Lanseria. The two people were travelling in the car with their windows open. It’s understood a lioness jumped through the open window, biting the woman who was in the passenger seat. The driver, a tour guide, was badly injured while attempting to free the woman from the animal’s grasp. The park’s Scott Simpson said, “There was a car driving to the lion camp and the lioness came through the window and it bit the tourist. The ambulance arrived quite soon but the lady has passed away.” Three months ago an Australian tourist was bitten in the thigh while driving though the park, also with his window down.
Jun 2, 2015 Alor Gajah, Malaysia: The body of the 38-year-old animal keeper named Herman who was mauled to death by a tiger at a popular resort has been sent back to his country of origin. District police chief Superintendent Muhammad Ismail Muhammad Yusof said “In classifying the case as sudden death we have closed the case and the victim, who was single, has been sent back to Indonesia.” He went on to say, “It could be that the caretaker had taken his relationship with the tiger for granted since he had been handling the tiger for the past eight years, including bathing and feeding it.”
May 27, 2015 Russia: Doctors had to amputate one arm on a woman who was attacked by a tiger in Tbilisi Zoo. The victim, Guliko Chitadze, is a 25 year veteran of the zoo. She was in the caretaker area at the time of the incident, while the tiger was inside the cage. She was taken to the hospital and according to the doctors she is in a serious condition, and her legs may have to be amputated. Tbilisi Zoo was opened in 1927 and currently holds 300 species of animals, including white tiger, white lion, African wild dogs, elephants and penguins. There are also fishes and reptiles. (The very fact that they are exhibiting white tigers and white lions would seem to indicate they are just a roadside zoo.
May 24, 2015 Tiger Temple, Thailand: The abbot of the province’s renowned “Tiger Temple” is in hospital after he was mauled by one of the scores of tigers that have made the monastery world famous. The monk said he was walking Hern Fa, a male Bengal tiger aged about seven or eight, on the temple’s ground. The abbot had raised the tiger from a young age and loved it very much. Suddenly Hern Fa attacked the 64 year old monk. It mauled his face and shoulder. The Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) first announced the seizure of 10 tigers kept at the temple about a decade ago because the temple had no permit to keep them. However, officials then asked the temple to help take care of the animals instead of taking them back. Department chief Nipon Chotiban said he did not know why the authorities wanted the temple to take care of the tigers. The number of tigers has since increased from 10 to 146. The department recently wanted the temple to hand them over, saying it had no permits to keep them. But Luangta Chan and his disciples are fiercely opposed to the removal of the tigers and other wildlife from the temple. The 146 tigers and their future offspring are state property and could remain at the temple on the condition that it must seek a legal permit to operate a zoo. The temple must not exploit the tigers and use legal ways to generate income to feed the animals.
May 17, 2015 China: A lion was shot dead after it killed one of its keepers and escaped at the Taian Tiger Mountain Park in Shandong. Authorities said the 65-year-old keeper was cleaning the enclosure when the lion bit him on his shoulders and neck. He died later from his injuries. The lion was on the loose in the zoo for more than an hour before it was shot dead by police. The spokesman said they cornered the lion by a wall within the zoo grounds, and shot it dead to “ensure the safety of park visitors”.
Apr 30, 2015 OKC, OK: A 4-year-old Sumatran tiger named Lola got out of her enclosure at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Officials said they issued a “Code Red,” alerting zoo staff to the situation. In a statement, they said: “In keeping with the Zoo’s safety protocol, the public was ushered out of the Cat Forest area and Zoo-wide announcements were made to inform guests of the situation. The veterinary team immobilized the animal at approximately 2:02 p.m. to extricate her from the space between the exhibits and transport her to the tiger holding building. The veterinary staff is monitoring her condition and she continues to recover well from the immobilization. The emergency alert was cleared by 2:25 p.m. and the Zoo resumed normal operations.” Visitors to the zoo told CBS “We ran, we were weren’t really thinking about anything, we were just going, we were just running out. It was just pretty – pretty intense,” said Dean Smith.
Apr 29, 2015 London, England: A man was mauled to death by lions after jumping into the lions’ enclosure at the East London zoo. Buffalo City Metro spokesman Thandy Matebese said “According to the CCTV footage‚ the man entered the zoo this morning at around 9am. He paid the entrance fee and proceeded into the zoo premises. He was alone and did not display any signs of being emotional or distressed. We suspect that he used the corner of the security wall and the fence of the lion’s enclosure to climb up and jumped over the fence. His corpse was discovered around 10am when it was time to feed the lions.”
Apr 15, 2015 Seattle, WA: A 6-month-old lion cub walked out of its exhibit through an open door April 15, the same day handlers moved elephants Bamboo and Chai to the Oklahoma City Zoo. The cub roamed the service area in the feline building for about an hour before being returned to his exhibit. The escape fuels the ongoing legal battle surrounding the elephants. It was used as evidence of a pattern of unsafe handling in a complaint filed Monday by a group that wants Bamboo and Chai moved to a sanctuary instead of another zoo.
Apr 1, 2015 Lion Park, South Africa: Only two days after an Australian tourist was bitten by a lion at the Lion Park in Honeydew, Joburg, a 13-year-old boy was attacked by a cheetah. The boy who lives in an informal settlement close by, had been riding his bicycle when the incident happened. Park manager, Scott Simpson said that the boy had cut through a wire fence and took a short cut through the park. Two game guides rushed to assist him, but the cheetah managed to bite him twice before they reached him. Even though cheetahs are known to be the most docile of the big cats, often found in petting pens at wildlife experience centres, their natural instincts to chase after moving prey may kick in in these sorts of situations. Two days before this incident, Brendan Smith from Australia had been attacked by a lion. He had opened his window while driving through the Lion Park.
Mar 27, 2015 China, Yichun city, Jiangxi: A zookeeper, named Gong, was attacked by a tiger at the zoo. Employees rushed to drive the tiger away and injected it with anesthetic, while paramedics carried out the badly mauled body. Despite immediate medical treatment, the keeper was later pronounced dead. Reports from the scene indicate that after the tiger was fed that morning, someone at the zoo forgot to close the door separating the enclosure from the feeding area.
Mar 9, 2015 India, Bannerghata National Park: With more than 50 bite wounds and scratches, doctors are keeping a close watch on the animal keeper, who continued to remain critical a day after he was mauled by a lion. Krishna (38) was with four others in the holding house at the lion safari when the big cat slipped through an open squeeze cage and pounced on him. “He has at least 20 deep wounds, and nearly 40 scratches. The surgery on the deep wounds is scheduled for Thursday. As it is an animal bite, there is a high chance of infection that can spread to the muscles causing gangrene,” said A.N. Venkatesh, Head of the Department of Emergency at Apollo Hospitals on Bannerghata Road. Nakula (4), the 200-kg lion that had attacked his keeper continued to remain in its pride of ten.
Feb 15, 2015 Monterey: A stunned Miguel Martinez, 32, got home from work and discovered a lion in his front yard, trying to get into his house with his young daughter. He saw the big cat lying under a bush outside his front door as he pulled into his driveway, assuming it was a toy – until it started growling. Fearing his children would be attacked, Mr Martinez sat in his Audi and called police, who arrived and humanely trapped the seven-month old beast. A 19-year-old pregnant neighbour, Maria Fernanda Martinez, who had named him Simba after receiving him as a gift for getting pregnant.
Feb. 12, 2015 Seoul, South Korea: An zoo keeper died after apparently being attacked by two lions at a zoo in South Korea’s capital, officials said. A colleague found the keeper, 52-year-old Kim Geun-bae, unconscious and bleeding heavily from his neck and legs in the animals’ enclosure, as a male and female lion wandered near him, according to Seoul Children’s Grand Park official Jisun Lee. Kim was pronounced dead at a hospital about two hours later, she said. There were no witnesses or visitors at the time of the attack because the zoo has been closed since last week to prevent the spread of avian flu, Lee said. The park said Kim had 20 years’ experience as an animal keeper and had been working with dangerous animals such as lions, tigers and leopards for the past three years.
Feb. 9, 2015 Egypt: Faten El-Helw was in the middle of her routine, dancing and waving to the crowds during the circus performance in Egypt, when the lion attacked. The crowd of adults and children can be heard screaming and the music stops as her fellow performers rush to her rescue. El-Helw comes from a long line of lion tamers – many of whom have suffered similar attacks. Her late husband Ibrahim reportedly died from his injuries after being attacked by a lion in 2004, while relative Mohamed El-Helw was mauled and died during the 1980s.
Feb. 2015 Johannesburg, SA: ‘I’m 15 years old and have survived mauling by lions in a cage which was opened by the ranger,’ Neha Sharma wrote. ‘The lions were as tall as me and attacked my head… I could hear lions teeth crunching on my head and biting my arms and chest. While I was passing out I could hear mum and dad screaming for help.’ Dr Sharma recalled ‘My wife and I were yelling, kept asking the Park Ranger to help Neha but he remained on the ground. He just left my daughter and didn’t move once. So I thought he was dead.’ Dr Sharma said he could hear his daughter screaming out for him as he watched the lion bite her head, arms and legs. Neha then became unconscious when the lion bit her on her chest. ‘I felt so helpless. That moment felt like hell to me. No one was around to help and I thought I was going to be left with nothing,’ Dr Sharma said. ‘So at that point, I remember thinking that I had to fight the lion myself knowing that I was going to die. I knew if I went in, I would be killed but that would be better than watching my daughter get eaten alive.’ But Neha extraordinarily regained consciousness at that moment, stood up and ran straight towards the cage gate where her father opened it and let her out.
Dec 25, 2014 Kuala Lampur, Malaysia: The Malayan tiger escaped the Taiping Zoo when maintenance work was being carried out by new workers. Workers immediately shot the animal with a tranquiliser dart, however it managed to run into the forest area nearby after jumping over the 1.8 metre zoo wall. The tiger was found in the forest and was shot with a tranquiliser dart again and was recaptured.
Dec 11, 2014 Kuwait City: A Filipina woman died two days after she was attacked by a lion inside a house in Sulaibikhat. According to security sources, the medical report indicated that the housemaid was bitten by the lion inside her employer’s house where the owner allegedly raises wild animals. During interrogations, the sponsor denied raising a lion in his house. A case has been registered and further investigations in this regard are ongoing.
Dec 7, 2014: Barcelona, Spain: A 45 year old man, with a history of odd behavior, leaped into the lion’s cage at the Barcelona Zoo, and was mauled by 3 lions. He was dragged down a tunnel by three beasts in the frightening attack. He was rescued alive, but taken to hospital in a serious condition after being bitten a number of times.
Dec 3, 2014: Buckhead, GA: A SiberianLynx attacked his caregiver while his owner, Fred Boyajian, was out of town. The person was reportedly bitten on the head at the 3000 block of Paces Ferry Road NW. Police say the woman was bitten on her head and had cuts on her arms and back. She was treated at the hospital. David Laws, the primary caregiver for the cats tried to downplay the event, but the 911 call was pretty terrifying. The owner has 9 cats, including 4 Siberian Lynxes, one Canada lynx, and 3 other cats of comparable size. Channel 2’s Carl Willis went to the neighborhood, where neighbors said it isn’t the first incident involving the large cats. Neighbors are nervous as it’s still not clear how the animal was able to attack a person hired to feed them. They say it doesn’t help matters that one of the large cats has gotten loose in the neighborhood before. Aerial footage from NewsChopper2 showed a large cat pacing in its cage at a home in Buckhead. It was moments after police say a Siberian Lynx bit someone. Police found the victim bleeding heavily from her head. DNR says the owner is permitted to breed the animals on the property. In 2004, another lynx, belonging to the same owner, got loose. A 50-pound lynx was spotted near a home on Beechwood Hills Court. “Because I don’t think any of us really know how they’re being contained and if one of them was to get out and bite someone in my family or anyone else, it’d be pretty terrifying,” a neighbor said.
Oct. 31, 2014 China, Chongqing, Xinhua: A circus tiger killed an 8 year old girl in southwestern Chongqing Municipality. She slipped into an closed animal training site of a circus in Leheledu Amusement Park and died in the hospital after serious injuries. The circus is hired by the Leheledu Amusement Park for performances. A spokesman from the park said they have reached initial agreement on settling the incident with the victim’s family.
Oct. 21, 2014 Thailand: Phuket’s Tiger Kingdom closed its Big Cat enclosure after a 15-month-old tiger attacked Australian tourist Paul Goudie, 49, biting his both legs and stomach. Bangkok Post reported that Mr Goudie has undergone surgery and has more operations scheduled. The incident happened while Mr Goudie was walking around in an area where visitors are allowed to touch and take photos with the big cats. The adult tigers are reportedly chained and drugged so that visitors can cuddle up to them and take photographs. Tiger Kingdom has closed Big Cat enclosure temporarily, though visitors can still visit cages containing smaller tigers, reported Phuket Wan.
Oct. 10, 2014 Little Rock, AR: A three-year-old boy was mauled when he fell from the railing above the jaguar pit at the Little Rock Zoo. According to the police report, the boy’s grandfather placed the toddler on the railing to view the two jaguars. His father Andrew Garber was taking pictures of the cats when he says he saw the boy fall in his peripheral view. The boy fell four-and-a-half meters, or about 15 feet, into the jaguar pit. Witnesses told THV11 they saw one jaguar biting child’s neck and the other biting the boy’s foot. The toddler suffered a fractured skull, scalp lacerations and minor puncture wounds both during the fall and jaguar attack.
Oct 9, 2014 St. Paul, MN: Brian Casey Phillips climbed over the guardrail at the Como Zoo and was apparently yelling at the cougars in the exhibit and pushing on the cage wall when he apparently was scratched by one of the cougars. He was cited for disturbing zoo animals and released at the scene.
Oct. 6, 2014 Jupiter, FL: A construction worker lost his thumb after being bitten by a tiger at Zoological Wildlife Foundation (a ZAA member) owned by a convicted felon and suspected drug kingpin, Mario Tabraue. Visitors to the zoo are encouraged to interact with the animals in the vast collection, which includes an alligator, different types of monkeys, birds, two different kinds of anteater, a fox and other exotic creatures.
In December 1987, the Associated Press reported that Tabraue was arrested as part of a sting operation targeting a drug-trafficking ring that killed an informant and dismembered his body while smuggling in a half-million pounds of marijuana. During the trial, witnesses recounted how Tabraue and an associate allegedly carved up the corpse of federal informant Larry Nash with a circular saw, dumped it in a horse trough and set it alight. Tabraue’s drug-smuggling operation allegedly imported 500,000 of tons of pot and more than 200lbs of cocaine from Colombia, earning him $75million in profit.
Now Tabraue funds Frank Vitello, a lobbyist to thwart the Big Cats & Public Safety Act which would put an end to the private collection of big cats.
Sept 22, 2014 Delhi Zoo: A white tiger attacked and killed a 20-year-old man named Maksood who apparently slipped and fell 18 feet into a dry moat at the Delhi zoo. Some say he was sitting on the enclosure, others say the barricade was too low and he fell in. A witness said he raced to the tiger enclosure after hearing screams, to see the man locked in the tiger’s jaws, “writhing badly in pain”.
“We saw some kids throwing in small sticks and stones inside the tiger enclosure. Then we saw that a white tiger had gripped a man by his neck. No one helped him,” said Himanshu, a visitor. Witnesses say the man suffered for an agonizing 10-15 minutes before dying.
“The tiger didn’t attack at first, till stones were thrown at it. I saw the man folding his hands before the tiger, who kept looking at first. The man tried to run away but the tiger swiped at him, wounding his neck. Then it carried him away by the head,” said Bittu, a witness who filmed the horrific incident on his mobile phone.
August 24, 2014 Rietfontein, Johannesburg, S. Africa: A circus worker sustained severe bite wounds and lacerations to his neck and chest, Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha said in a statement. The tiger escaped from its enclosure early on Sunday morning. The man was taken to hospital. Botha could provide no further details on the attack. Nor could he provide the name of the circus, which he said was on Beyers Naude Drive.
August 23, 2014 Dallas, TX: A 35 year old senior zookeeper is recovering after being attacked by a lion at the Dallas zoo. “We had an unfortunate incident and accident with one of our keepers who was actually in the same space with a lion and was bitten by the lion,” said Gregg Hudson, President and CEO of the Dallas Zoo. One of two Zookeepers who were present, inadvertently left the door of an enclosure area open. The male Zookeeper who, according to zoo officials, is among the most experienced, was bitten at least once on the shoulder and scratched several times. “Anytime that you’re bitten by a lion, it’s going to be pretty serious …but I was able to speak to him this afternoon and he’s in good spirits, ” assured Hudson.
August 16, 2014 Cusco, Peru: The teacher, who was out with the students for a day of fun at the Monaco Circus in Cusco, Peru, was called out by the lion tamer to show her students that the animal didn’t pose a threat. But the applause quickly turned to screams of terror when she entered the cage and the lion attacked her, dragging her out in front of the crowd with its teeth while her students watched in shock.
August 10, 2014 Aiken, SC:Lt, Jake Mahoney with the Aiken Department of Public Safety is investigating the disappearance of a pet mountain lion from a Aquarium Pets on Richland Avenue West in Aiken. The animal is described as black in color, (mountain lions are all tan, so was this really a black leopard?) weighing approximately 100 pounds, and three feet tall. The mountain lion was wearing a dog harness when it was last seen. The owner told officers that the animal has been declawed, which has been illegal since 2004. Investigators have determined that the entire story has been fabricated, Mahoney said Sunday evening. Mahoney said at this time there is no indication as to why the original complainant fabricated the story. The search for the missing mountain lion has now turned into a criminal investigation pertaining to the filing of a false police report. The stats for escapes and incidents above have been reduced accordingly.
August 1, 2014 Brazil: An 11-year-old boy was visiting Cascavel Zoo in Parana, Brazil, when he jumped over the barriers and started trying to touch a tiger named Hu through the fence. Before the boy’s father realized his son was in the prohibited area, the tiger had attacked the child. He was taken to a nearby hospital, but his arm was so damaged that after several operations surgeons decided they had to remove it.
July 30, 2014 Queensland, Australia: An animal handler is recovering after being bitten by a tiger named Juma at Australia Zoo (owned by the family of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin) on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. The 42-year-old suffered puncture wounds while trying to move the big cat to another enclosure. He was taken to hospital in a stable condition. Last year, 30-year-old tiger handler Dave Styles was mauled on the neck and shoulders during an attempt to swim with tigers.
July 27, 2014 Tawas, MI : Renae Ferguson and her daughter Tina Dobson said the lion attack happened at the Sunrise Side Nature Trail and Exotic Park. They were visiting the zoo when they claim a worker let them into the lion’s cage. “I was totally in shock. I really didn’t believe that was part of my finger laying on the ground,” Renae Ferguson said. “I put my hand down there to pet it and it ripped my finger,” Ferguson said.
July 27, 2014 France: A lion reached out of his cage and scratched a 16-month-old girl at the Claudio Zavatta Circus in France, injuring the child’s head and back. The child wandered away from her parents and walked past a security barrier that way around the animals’ cages. The lion stuck a paw out of his cage and grabbed for the girl. She was taken to the hospital to be stitched up. The news came the same day as a not guilty verdict for the owner of a circus elephant that killed an elderly man.
April 14, 2014 Khobar, Saudi Arabia: A tiger in a private zoo attacked an Asian worker when he was cleaning the premises. Other workers managed to free the man before the beast could devour him. Despite the efforts, the worker died due to the severe injuries he sustained on his head, shoulder, and other parts of his body. The incident took place earlier this week, reported Sabq news.The spokesman for the Eastern Region Police, Colonel Ziad Alriqaiti said that they were investigating the incident that took place at the small private zoo near a housing complex in the eastern town of Khobar.
Feb 17, 2014 China: After going to the Chengdu Zoo, 27 year old Yang Jinhai wrote how depressing it was to see the ‘noble and magnificent tigers’ living in such humble surroundings, where they were caged and unable to follow their natural instincts to hunt and kill. He then announced that he had decided to sacrifice himself in order to provide the Bengal tigers with support. He climbed into the tiger cage to sacrifice himself, but was rescued by staff after being dragged around the cage for a while by the tigers.
Jan 26, 2014 Montgomery, AL: An inbred white tiger escaped from her enclosure and entered another animal pen at the Montgomery Zoo, prompting a lockdown of the facility. WSFA-TV reported that a street near the zoo was temporarily blocked during the lockdown. Montgomery police also responded to the situation. The tiger was out of her exhibit for about 30 minutes. The big cat was tranquilized and returned to her own enclosure. Zoo officials are now working to repair the breach in the underwater fencing. The zoo introduced its two young tigers in March.
Jan 20, 2014 Tbilisi, Ukraine: A 24 year old lion tamer, named Roman Gurkin, from a group of Ukrainian performers entered the lion’s cage to do some cleaning, and that was when the animal attacked. Gurkin, who had been caring for the lion for years, died from his injuries at the Republican Hospital in Tbilisi. Thursday night’s performance was just over when the incident happened. This was the circus’ last performance in Georgia.
Jan 3, 2014 Spring Hill, FL: The agricultural unit of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is assisting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission in locating a lion believed to be loose from the Survival Outreach Sanctuary run by Judy Watson. The facility is located at 22005 Bowman Road in Spring Hill. USDA cited this facility for unsafe lion caging in Feb 2013 and gave Watson until March 2013 to make repairs but there is no evidence that USDA ever followed up. SOS cited by USDA for unsafe Lion Cage. A few days later a deer, that had apparently failed rehab, gored out the eye of a visitor and left her badly cut on her neck and arms.
Dec 22, 2013 San Diego, CA: A female Malayan tiger was killed Saturday while mating at the San Diego Zoo. Zoo officials say what happened at the zoo on Saturday when “Tiga” was killed was not an attack, but rather said it was a natural part of breeding. What is NOT natural is introducing captive cats to each other in such small spaces. These animals should be free to choose their own mates and not be held captive and used to breed more animals for captivity.
Dec 17, 2013 Shanghai: A 56 year old keeper named Zhou, at Shanghai’s zoo, was mauled to death by a rare South China tiger after entering the 9 year old male’s enclosure to clean it. The tiger was had no prior record of aggression against people. It said the attack occurred at the zoo’s breeding facility where safety procedures are in place. State media cited unidentified colleagues as saying the man entered the tiger enclosure to clean it and “did not come out again.” The highly endangered South China tiger is considered effectively extinct in the wild after decades of being hunted as a pest. Only a few are kept in zoos. Shanghai’s zoo is one of China’s largest and most popular urban animal parks.
Dec 9, 2013 Spain: Danny Gottani of the Gottani Circus was in the middle of a performance when the tiger leapt at him, wrapping its arms around the trainer and swiping at him. Other circus workers had to hit the animal with sticks to get it off 60 year old Gottani, who was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. He had been working with tigers since he was 18. Gottani’s mother also taken after she had a panic attack watching the terrifying scene.
Dec 8 2012 Montgomery, AL: A tiger escaped into a neighboring cage at the Montgomery Zoo, according to WSFA. The Montgomery Zoo introduced its two new Bengal tigers, an orange male and a white female, in March, but something led to one driving the other out. The report says the zoo as well the street surrounding it were put on lock down after the animal entered another animal’s pen. The Montgomery Police Department responded and the Montgomery Zoo staff was able to get the tiger back into its exhibit.
Dec 2, 2013 Duluth, MN: At the Lake Superior Zoo a 4-year veteran zoo-keeper was feeding the Siberian tiger venison, when the food slipped from her hand and the tiger tried to catch it but instead caught the zookeepers finger. Jennifer Eickhoff was doing operant conditioning with Ussuri, a 400-pound male Amur tiger when a piece of meat got stuck in the fence and she apparently pushed it in with her finger. “It’s still attached, it’s just a little on the mangled side,” said Peter Pruett, director of zoo operations. “She was in complete shock.” She was taken to the hospital in Duluth. Pruett says the bite was completely unintentional. “When she comes back to work, I’ll sit down with her and we’ll discuss the incident and we’ll look through our protocols and we’ll make the necessary changes to make sure this type of accident doesn’t happen again,” said Pruett.
Nov 25, 2013 Australia: A 30 year old tiger handler, named Dave Styles, who has 9 years of experience at this zoo, was mauled by a tiger that he had raised from a cub, during a show at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. He was bitten on the shoulder and neck. Several colleagues risked their own lives and rushed to his rescue, dragging the man to safety. The incident happened in front of a crowd of spectators. Paramedics tried to treat the man at the scene but massive bleeding led to him being flown to the Royal Brisbane Hospital. His condition is listed as serious but stable. In a radio interview with Carole Baskin, by Fairfax Radio Network, it was stated to her that this zoo participates in pay to play schemes whereby the zoo patrons pay to pose with cubs.
Nov 24, 2013 Seoul: A 52 year old zookeeper, named Shim, at Seoul Zoo died a couple weeks after being mauled by a 3 year old male Siberian tiger after the animal escaped from its indoor enclosure into a corridor used by zoo staff, Yonhap news agency reported. The incident prompted calls for improved safety checks and awareness at the zoo, the South Korean news agency said.
Nov 9 2013 Sherwood, OR: Renee Radziwon-Chapman, a 35 yr old woman was killed after she was bitten by a cougar at WildCat Haven. She was alone at the facility at the time. The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said they are not releasing details about the worker killed but said the medical examiner was responding. News reports stated that fire crews have had a difficult time reaching the worker because there are several cats loose within the enclosure where Chapman was found dead. Renee was survived by her husband, Aaron Chapman, a former worker at the facility and their 5 month old daughter, Noa Elise. WildCat Haven is the lifetime home for more than 60 neglected, abandoned, and abused captive-born wildcats.
Oct 5 2013 Garold Wayne Interactive Zoo, Wynnewood, OK: Joe Schreibvogel, owner of the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood, OK according to ABC news, said the arm was still attached when the 27 year old, Kelci Saffery was airlifted to Pauls Valley Hospital helipad as the nearest air evac had to respond from Duncan, Oklahoma. From there she was air lifted to OU Medical Center where her arm was amputated from the elbow down. Joe Schreibvogel blamed Saffery on facebook, and it was posted on dozens of news sites, saying, “This was an employee error of violating the safety protocols of placing any part of the body inside a cage.” That seems like a hypocritical policy given that Schreibvogel frequently parades around in front of staff and guests walking an adult tiger on a leash and allowing staff and even guests to go in the cages and play with lions, ligers and tigers.
Sept 17, 2013 Ethiopia Musie Kiflom Zoo: A lion has mauled to death a keeper at a zoo in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, after he forgot to close the door to the inner cage where the animal sleeps. The lion, named Kenenisa bit Abera Silsay, 51, in the neck. The attack is said to have lasted for 15-20 minutes. This is the second time a zookeeper has been killed by a lion at the centre in the past 17 years.
Sept 7, 2013 Kuwait: A passerby lured a runaway lion roaming an upmarket suburb of Kuwait into his car and then called the police. Pictures in Kuwaiti media showed the animal glaring out of the back of a police car. The lion, which police said was a young adult, filled the backseat. Police are seeking the owner of the lion, believed to be someone who was illegally rearing it as a pet in a country where such animals are sometimes considered status symbols by rich individuals.
Sept 5, 2013 Starkville, MS: Huyanh Ralph Tran, 35, was arrested following an exotic animals investigation. Tran resides Park Avenue, where a search warrant was issued on August 28. Officers responded to neighbors complaining of loud animal noises coming from the residence. Once inside the residence, investigators discovered an illegal commercial exotic animal breeding farm with dozens of large constrictor snakes, African cats, rare frogs, parrots, macaws and other large birds.
Sept 4, 2013 Fairfield Beach, OH: The Ohio Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Erica Hawkins says the agency wants to know how the 400 lb., 2-year-old lioness ended up in a neighbor’s yard Sunday in Fairfield County. Hawkins said the animal was registered, though its enclosure might not meet the state’s temporary standards. The lion belongs to John Moore. He worked as a caretaker for the suicidal man who freed dozens of exotic animals near Zanesville two years ago.
Aug 30, 2013 Tiger Temple, Thailand: The Daily Mail reported that a 19 year old student had been assured by the monks at the Tiger Temple that it was perfectly safe to pet the tigers, but as she was petting one tiger another leaped across the arena and bit through her leg, leaving her unable to walk, even 8 weeks later when the story finally was discovered by the media. The young woman said the monks had been paying all of her bills, but they couldn’t buy her silence. She said it isn’t as safe as they tell you.
Aug 10, 2013 Patna Zoo, India: Mohammad Imran Khan, 22, barged into the Patna Zoo den of a lion named Vishal. He was saved from what looked like a certain death by zoo keeper Shatrughan Paswan who managed to divert attention of the animal and push it into a night shelter. Khan jumped into a moat in the enclosure, a fall of 12-13 feet, after scaling the wall. “It all happen in split of a second. The animal attacked him from behind, holding his neck and shoulder with its claws. He would have mauled the man to death had not keeper in charge showed presence of mind”, a witness said. The zoo director said it was a freak incident. “Patrolling parties make repeated rounds of the zoo ground on such crowded days. Still, crazy people have managed to do this kind of thing thrice earlier,” he said.
July 18, 2013 Belize, S.A.: A family trip to an animal “sanctuary” in Belize ended with the 10 year old autistic child being mauled by an Ocelot. His mother had subjected him, and his two siblings, to being leapt on by Jaguars in a close encounter offered by the pseudo sanctuary. It took 40 minutes for the family and zoo keepers to drive through the jungle to the hospital. The little boy was interviewed and said that all wild animals should be behind multiple barricades to avoid such incidents. No legitimate zoo or sanctuary allows public contact with exotic cats.
July 11, 2013 Reliant, TX: A Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey tiger trainer was injured during a show at Reliant Stadium. Alexander Lacey was doing the double walk tiger trick. He was bleeding quite a bit, but Lacey continued with the show. Onsite paramedics examined Lacey following the end of his act. According to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show, Lacey is going to perform in Friday night’s show.
July 3, 2013 Pretoria, South Africa:
Lauren Fagen, 18, says she was kissing the fur of a male lion named Duma when he suddenly reached through the bars of his cage, grabbed her legs in and began mauling her at the Moholoholo animal rehabilitation centre in Pretoria, South Africa. She was walking next to the cage for a five-year-old male lion when he stuck his paws between the bars and grappled her. “My leg was through the bars into his enclosure… and I was in the feeding cage. He started biting my leg and scratching it, and I tried to push back with my other leg but somehow… he had both my legs up to my upper thigh inside the enclosure. The bars are quite close together so I couldn’t pull them out because at my knee it got stuck, and i could see him biting me and I thought I was going to lose both my legs,” she said.
Fagen said she remembers the male lion being quite affectionate with her and in a very good mood. A few minutes later, she noticed the lion was at the door to the feeding cage, and that’s when he grabbed the bottom of her leg and tried to pull her through the bars. A female lion approached and also began mauling her legs as well. The teenager said that’s when she was certain she was going to die. Other volunteers at the centre heard Fagen’s screams and ran to her rescue, fending off the lions with brooms. She was rushed to a hospital and treated for multiple lacerations to her legs and abdomen.
July 2, 2013 Turin, Italy: A 72 yr old zookeeper, Mauro Lagiard was mauled and eaten by his own tigers when he went to feed them. He was dragged 100ft while his 73 yr old wife watched. According to the Daily Mail, Police said his dismembered body was later found by the tigers’ water trough. He went in to the cage to give the tigers chicken meatballs on Tuesday night. However, the alpha-male of the pack, named Samir, went in for the kill, quickly followed by two others of the pack. Five recently born cubs watched the attack. The tigers dragged the zookeeper through the dirt to a clearing and tore him to pieces.
According to reports, the tiger that attacked first was his favorite, even though the same animal had attacked him before two years ago and caused him to spend eight months in hospital. Neighbors said the animals were malnourished and aggressive. The tigers were fed just twice a week. In 2010 large bills and dwindling numbers of tourists forced the closure of the zoo. The tigers are currently in the care of vets while their fate is decided. Samir is likely to be put down.
June 21, 2013 Anderson, IN: A 21 year old female employee named Marissa Dub was attacked by tiger at Joe Taft’s Exotic Feline Rescue Center. For cleaning purposes, the tiger was moved into a holding area. Officials report that the door to the holding area did not get shut all the way, allowing the tiger to bite and latch onto her head. Co workers distracted the tiger with food and retrieved Dub who was airlifted in critical condition to Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis.
June 20, 2013 Charlestown, IN: A woman got the shock of her life when she fired into the shadows, in an attempt to kill what she thought had been a bobcat, and discovered the cat she killed to be a 9 month old baby leopard. Tim Stark, a mile away, at Wildlife in Need, a backyard menagerie, said he had been setting traps to catch a leopard, but claimed it was because his neighbors asked him to do so.
June 19, 2013 Westtown, NY: A male, 30-35 pound serval was left outside the Dawn Animal Agency sanctuary entrance in a flimsy wire crate, and quickly escaped. He was on the loose for 3 days before being caught with a net while going for some food that was set out as a lure. The USDA is trying to track down the owner.
June 11, 2013 South Africa, Bloemfontein: Manie and Angelique Visser, from Brits, have been left seriously injured after apparently trying to play with a lion cub at the Ukutula Lion Park & Lodge. According to Manie they had fostered the lion, called Markus, since it was a cub of three weeks until it was eight months old when they returned it to the park last year. “We visited it every two or three months and we went again on Sunday. As Angelique was leaving, the lion rubbed against Angelique’s legs and then grabbed her leg,” Manie said.
He got hold of her calf and I tried to get his mouth open. He then turned on me and started biting. One of the park workers grabbed him by the tail and I was trying to push him away. The other worker hit him with a stick.” Manie said he had no idea how long the attack lasted. He sustained bite wounds to his legs, arms, hands, back and head. “The lion took a chunk out of my leg,” Angelique said.
The pair, who had recently bought the lion, were both admitted to hospital and had to have surgery. They had owned lions before and insisted they knew what they were doing.
June 04, 2013 Novosibirsk, Russia: A zookeeper at a zoo in western Siberia died Tuesday after a female jaguar mauled her, officials say. Police said the attack at the zoo in Novosibirsk occurred in an area of the enclosure the woman cleaning. A partition between the animal’s open-air enclosure and their indoor pen had been accidentally unlocked and the women entered an area occupied by a 5-year-old female jaguar and her 7-month-old cub, zoo director Rostislav Shilo said. The 48-year-old woman died instantly when the jaguar broke her back. The woman had worked at the zoo for two years.
May 25, 2013, Dalton-in-Furness, UK: A 24 yr old, female zoo worker, Sarah McClay, a long time staff member at South Lakes Wild Animal Park was mauled to death after apparently walking into the tiger cage. CEO, Mr Gill said Miss McClay had worked at the wildlife park for a number of years and was ‘very proficient’ in her work with big cats. He told BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday: ‘After investigation by the authorities here and the police, it does seem that she just basically failed to follow the correct procedures. ‘For some unknown reason, an inexplicable reason, because there is no reason for why she did it, she opened the door and went into the tiger enclosure and straight into the tigers, and now we’ll never know why.’
April 20, 2013, Salina, KS: A circus tiger escaped during an Isus Shrine Circus show at the Salina Bicentennial Center. Initial reports indicated that the circus was trying to downplay the escape, saying no one even noticed, but that’s not what Jenna Krehbiel said. Krehbiel had finished watching the large cat show when she decided to step out into the hall and came face to face with the escaped tiger.
March 28, 2013 Montreal Canada: A zoo employee was mauled by a tiger at the Zoo Sauvage in St-Félicien, in the Lac St. Jean area. The male custodian was attacked by the female tiger and was very badly injured but conscious when the officers arrived. He is currently being treated in hospital and the tiger has been placed in isolation.
March 6, 2013 Fresno, CA: A 24 year old intern named Dianna Hanson was mauled to death while inside a cage with a four year old male lion named Cous Cous. The lion had been raised at the zoo since he was 8 weeks old. Another worker tried to distract the lion, to no avail, and the sheriff shot the cat to death, but it was too late for Dianna Hanson. The facility is called Project Survival Cat Haven and is run by Dale Anderson. On his website he says, “In the seventh grade a gentleman brought a Mountain Lion to my class… After that experience I wanted to have a cat of some kind at some later date.” This is why it is so bad to use wild animals as ego props, especially in the presence of children who will grow up to fulfill their desire to “be that guy,” even if it means dooming wild animals to life in cages.
February 2, 2013 Etchojoa, Sonora: Police say that Alexander Crispin, 35, died after being attacked by his tiger inside the Suarez circus tent. Crispin, who was originally from the United States and worked as a tiger tamer, was bitten on the neck by the enraged animal in the middle of the show. Crispin was taken by ambulance to the Red Cross hospital Huatabampo, Sonora where he died while receiving medical care, as a result of hypovolemic shock. Hysterical spectators ran out of the scene during the attack. It is believed that the tiger was killed during the struggle when beating him did not cause him to release Crispin.
Nov 23, 2012 Czech Liberac Zoo: A white tiger escaped from its enclosure at a Czech zoo and mauled three employees.
Nov 11, 2012 Skopje, Macedonia: Several hundred spectators got an unexpected shock at a circus in Macedonia after a lion broke through a safety enclosure during a performance. Spectators fled in panic when the lion charged through metal fencing at the Hungarian circus Safari. Children were crying and some women even fainted.
Sept 21, 2012 Bronx Zoo, NY: A 25 year old man jumped out of the monorail into the tiger exhibit where he was badly mauled by one of the tigers before zoo employees rescued him using fire extinguishers, zoo officials said. The man severely injured his leg and foot in the attack and also has deep cuts to the back. Once the tiger backed away, the man was instructed to roll under a hot wire to safety, said Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny.
August 26, 2012 Berlin, Germany: A 4 year old tiger named Altai escaped his cage at Cologne Zoo in western Germany and killed a 43 year old female keeper before being shot dead by the zoo’s director, police said. The tiger slipped through a passage between the enclosure and an adjacent storage building said police spokesman Stefan Kirchner, saying “It appears the gate wasn’t properly shut”
August 18, 2012 Cisarua, Bogor, West Java: A janitor at the Taman Safari Indonesia zoo identified as Junaedi, 32, was mauled to death by a tiger while busy trimming grass in the Sumatran tiger compound . Junaedi was not aware that the adult Sumatran tiger was stalking him. The tiger suddenly attacked Junaedi, who died instantly at the scene with wounds to his head, hands and legs.
July 30, 2012 Chile’s Santiago Metropolitan Zoo: A zookeeper, Jose Silva, who had more than 25 years experience with big cats, was mauled and seriously injured by a white tiger named Pampa, who was later killed. Pampa had arrived at the zoo seven years ago from Buenos Aires, and attacked the zookeeper both inside and outside the enclosure.
July 19, 2012 Nanping Jiufeng Mountain Zoo, China: A substitute zookeeper was mauled to death by a leopard when he opened the cage.
July 15, 2012 Tata Steel Zoo India: A man was mauled when entering the tiger cage at Tata Steel Zoo. Reports said that he was not stable and may have been there to steal the cubs or poison the cats.
July 12, 2012 Toronto, Canada: A declawed Mountain Lion who killed a dog may have been from nearby Guha’s Tiger and Lion Farm a backyard menagerie. Calls to Guha’s were not returned said The Star.
July 11, 2012 Copenhagen Zoo, Denmark: A 21 year old man was found dead in the tiger pit at the Copenhagen Zoo. It was unclear how or why the 21-year-old Afghan-born man had entered the Siberian tiger den, but investigators could not exclude suicide as a motive, police spokesman Lars Borg said. The man sustained multiple bite wounds to the throat, face, chest and a thigh.
May 29, 2012 Hernando County, FL: Charlie, a 275 lb mountain lion pushed the wall out of his cage, escaped and killed a neighbor’s dog. Video at Ch 10 News
May 23, 2012 Plano, TX: A bobcat has been filmed who is wearing a collar, and was obviously a pet, wandering around a Plano, TX neighborhood with her kittens. It is not known if she escaped, or if she was abandoned, nor is it known if she was pregnant at the time of release or if she has mated with native bobcats. What this does do is prove that bobcats should not be kept as pets and when they escape into the environment they can multiply. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing for bobcats in TX, except that most pet bobcats are the Northern varieties and thus the mixing of genes in the wild could threaten local varieties as the northern cats are usually much larger.
May 15, 2012 Hoedspruit, South Africa: In a pay to play scheme Madelein Querk, 28, visited the Tshukudu game lodge where she posed for pictures with the lion cubs. One cub bit her, leaving her with four deep cuts on her face, and lacerations on her left arm and leg, where the lion clawed her. Querk’s husband attempted to distract the lion by hitting it with his camera. The injured woman received 60 stitches at the Nelspruit Mediclinic.
May 4, 2012 Belleview, WA: Animal Control impounded a 13-year-old lynx that bit the girlfriend of a man who lived in the 1900 block of 160th Avenue Northeast area of Belleview. The Canada Lynx was impounded by the King County Animal Control. Big Cat Rescue contacted Animal Control asking that the lynx be released to their care rather than killed.
April 28, 2012 Port Elizabeth, South Africa: Two excited, supposedly tame cheetahs mauled a Scottish tourist in a petting area at the Kragga Kamma Game Park, forcing her to play dead to save her life. Violet D’Mello, who had just posed for a picture with the hand-reared cheetahs named Mark and Monty, tried to protect a seven-year-old boy. According to D’Mello, who was with her husband, Archibald, one of the animals first grabbed the leg of a visiting eight-year-old girl, leaving her with cuts and abrasions. When she was free, it appeared to run after her seven-year-old brother. D’Mellow was viciously knocked to the ground and attacked, proving that wild cats act on instinct and cannot be tamed.
March 2, 2012 Crocodylus Park, DarwinAustralia: A lioness mauled Peter Davidson, who runs hunting safaris in the Top End, called Arnhemland Hunting Safaris had been hired by Crocodylus Park to spray for weeds. It appeared he put his hand inside the animal’s cage. He said the nine-year-old lioness named Shebe grabbed Mr Davidson’s arm in her mouth. Prof Webb said Shebe had never harmed anybody and he was at a loss to explain why Mr Davidson put his hand in the enclosure. “We really need to talk to him. He was with the head keeper. She turned around and the next thing he yelled,” he said. He was sent to the Royal Darwin Hospital where he is in stable condition.
February 27, 2012 Loxahatchee, FL: After more than 5 years of non compliance with Florida’s wildlife possession laws, and a failed attempt as securing a federal permit, three big cats (2 tigers and a leopard) were confiscated from Steve Sipek. He was jailed during the confiscation to assure public safety and had been infamous for once playing a Spanish version of Tarzan and for the escape of a tiger named Bobo, who was shot to death while roaming the community of Loxahatchee.
February 15, 2012 Johannesburg Zoo in South Africa: A lioness attacked and mauled a 63-year-old zoo keeper to death at a farm owned by Johannesburg Zoo in South Africa. Joe Ramonetha, who had worked at the zoo for more than 40 years, died from a bite to the neck, zoo officials have said.
January 11, 2012 Bhubaneswar: Two days after a wild leopard strayed into Guwahati and mauled four persons, a lioness escaped from its enclosure in Nandankanan Zoo sending the animal park authorities into a tizzy. Multiple attempts to dart the lioness have failed.
January 4, 2012 Blagoveshchenski, Russia: A tiger at a roadside zoo attacked a three year old child who neurosurgery. Dmitry Serezhichev said the tiger was behind a barrier but that the parents put the child too close to the cage to take his picture.
December 27, 2011 China: In Hefei a female Siberian tiger escaped from a zoo and entered a public park so she was immediately put down by police on safety concerns. The nine-year-old tiger made her way out of the zoo after a zookeeper came to feed her but forgot to properly lock the cage. Zoo officials said the tiger had a bad temper, probably caused by mating anxiety. This was the latest incident in a string of cases involving tigers escaping from zoos in China over the past few years, according to local media reports. Most escaped tigers were put down by police if they were not caught. A Bengal tiger killed a zookeeper after escaping the cage in Shanghai last year.
November 28, 2011 Wynnewood, OK: In an expose on tiger cub abuse at malls, Inside Edition filmed an employee of G.W. Exotic Animal Park saying that just last month he was mauled by a six month old tiger and that “There was blood everywhere. It was a total, total mess!” The segment also showed children interacting with a sickly tiger cub who appeared to have ringworm, a highly contagious fungus.
November 9, 2011 Seattle, WA: A lion got out of its den at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, but it didn’t get far before it was tranquilized in a service building. The zoo says the 12-year-old female named Kalisa gained access to a hallway.
October 19, 2011 Zanesville, OH: 56 lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, wolves, giraffes, camels and bears escaped from a the Muskingum County Animal Farm, and the owner Terry Thompson, who had just gotten out of prison was found dead there after shooting himself. Neighbor Danielle White, whose father’s property abuts the animal preserve, said she didn’t see loose animals this time but did in 2006, when a lion escaped. Thompson, who lived on the property, had orangutans and chimps in his home, but those were still in their cages. 18 tigers, 17 lions and 3 cougars were shot to death because the owner had cut all of the doors off the cages to prevent their containment. A cougar is still at large. In the last six years, local authorities visited Thompson’s farm nearly 30 times in response to complaints about escaped animals, animal cruelty, and more. Police knew the rare animals were at a huge risk, but there was nothing they could do because OH does not ban the private possession of wild animals.
October 16, 2011 Odessa, TX: A 4-year-old boy was mauled by a pet mountain lion owned by his aunt. His mother and aunt refused to speak to the press and wanted to hide the attack. The boy received lacerations and puncture wounds on his left side, including a bite mark on the left side of his face during the attack in West Odessa, Sgt. Gary Duesler with the Ector County Sheriff’s Office said. Amber Michelle Couch, 9450 W. 26th St., who owned the mountain lion, was given a citation for not keeping up with the vaccines and was warned in July that the cage was too small and gaps where the cat could reach out too large, but had done nothing to correct the situation.
September 17, 2011 Wynnewood, OK: Again at Joe Schreibvogel’s G.W. Exotic Animal Park rather incredibly just a week later, there was another incident of a child being bitten by one of the cubs. If you go to the link you will see a child walk around behind the guide to a tiger cub while the guide is not paying attention. When the child screams the guide whirls and from what ensues and the conversation is it clear that the cub knocked the boy down and bit him on the leg. It is two minutes because it includes where the manager of G.W. Animal Park goes on to tell a story about being bitten by a full grown tiger. To appease the screaming child the manager then brings out a two week old cub which is far below the legal age for such public use. A complaint was filed with USDA and a citation issued on Dec. 5.
September 10, 2011 Wynnewood, OK: At Joe Schreibvogel’s G.W. Exotic Animal Park a child is bitten by one of the cubs being used in a pay-to-play scheme where the public pays to pet a lion or tiger cub. You can see the video at TigerCubAbuse.com. You will hear a tour guide who is off camera say that a girl was bitten by one of the cubs who were over the legal age, ranging from 15 to 20 weeks. (The only legal age in which contact is currently allowed is 8-12 weeks) A complaint was filed with USDA. A search of this page will show there have been numerous injuries by cubs from this facility who are bred and used to generate income at both the compound and at malls and fairs across the country.
August 12, 2011 Halifax Township, Dauphin County, PA: A Harrisburg woman in her twenties is recovering after being bitten by a tiger at the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park where she is a tour guide. Officials say she climbed over the fence, walked in between the tiger cages and was bitten when she reached in to pet the tigers. The woman told first responders she has pet the animals hundreds of times before. She was airlifted to the hospital and will require rehab to regain use of her arm.
July 26, 2011 Tyrone Township, MI: The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office said a Serval, an African wild cat, has been found in Tyrone Township. The cat may be sent to a zoo if the owner does not come forward.
July 21, 2011 Hugo, OK: Kelly Miller Circus, a sister circus of Carson & Barnes, had three tigers escape from their enclosure and injure a horse according to the Colorado News.
July 18, 2011 Bela-Bela, Limpopo: Finlay Holden, 5, was mauled by a six-month-old Bengal tiger that got hold of him at the Zebula Golf Estate and Spa near Bela-Bela in Limpopo. His mother, Claire Holden, said she, her 3-year-old daughter Hannah and Finlay went to look at the two tigers so they could pose with them for pictures. As Finlay stroked the back of one of the tigers it suddenly turned around and grabbed the boy’s head between its paws. “The animal’s mouth was wide open over his head,” said Holden. While Finlay yelled hysterically, “Mom, make it stop! Make it stop!”, she tried to pull the growling tiger off her son with her bare hands. nother tourist ran to the scene and began choking the tiger to make him let go of the terrified child. Holden said: “My child and I were covered in blood. My little daughter saw everything.”
July 18, 2011 Ajman, United Arab Emirates: Salem Al Sayed, the 2 year old girl’s father, said “Sarah accompanied my brother’s children and the maid to a neighbor’s house to play with the children there. Sarah went innocently towards the lion, which was in a cage which was not properly closed. The lion pounced on the girl and was about to bite her when the maid intervened and saved baby. Effects of the lion’s canines can be cured with time, but the psychological effects of the attack is difficult to heal, as my daughter still suffers from intense fear and starts screaming and crying at any loud sound.” He added “I call upon the concerned authorities to impose controls on breeding wild animals in the homes, this time my baby narrowly escaped death, but what will be the fate of others who may be exposed to similar incidents.”
July 17, 2011 Manchester, IA: The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office says 52-year-old Tom Sellner suffered lacerations to his head and torso in the brutal tiger attack at Cricket Hollow Zoo in Manchester. The Des Moines Register wrote that Sellner and his wife ?are routinely bitten or clawed and that in this incident, the tiger had ripped the meat from the bone of his upper arm, had practically scalped him with front teeth the size of knife blades. His left ear dangled from his head. Sellner, who was found to be in violation of Iowa’s Dangerous Wild Animal law, was flown to an Iowa City hospital for treatment. The zoo’s website says it has more than 300 birds and animals, including tigers, African lions and other exotic cats.
July 10, 2011 Eynsford, England: The zoo has been in trouble with local authorities about their perimeter fence being inadequate. A bystander said, “The staff were jokingly describing that they were filming the cheetahs to prove to the local authority that they were friendly,” when one of the cheetahs attacked the two men who had gone in to film. Mr Cooper added: “The cheetah had taken quite a few bites and scratches from both the cameraman and the trainer, ripping the shorts off one in one close swipe of the paw. The two men managed to sit on the cheetahs head while another member of staff ran for a fire extinguisher. He was very lucky to escape with his life.”
July 8, 2011 Smolensk, Russia: Russian police said they would not be charging the owners of a circus where a leopardmauled a small girl, as the law failed to provide adequately for such an event. The incident took place in Smolensk, a city some 400 km to the southwest of Moscow. The leopard bit the girl’s thigh and scratched her shin before being restrained by circus staff. “Russian law does not provide any clear description of how to act with regard to wild animals, including in a circus, and does not state any punishment for the owner of an animal that attacks a person,” said Alexander Borovikov, a senior aide to the prosecutor for the Smolensk Region.
May 6, 2011 Wichita, KS: A first-grade student on a class field trip to a Wichita zoo was mauled by a leopard after climbing a railing and approaching the animal. Sedgwick County Zoo spokesman Jim Marlett says the boy climbed over the 4- to 5-foot railing and approached the Amur leopard. The leopard grabbed him around the head with both paws and tried to bite him. A woman on the zoo’s tram saw what was happening and spooked the leopard. The child suffered lacerations and puncture wounds to his head and neck. He was listed in fair condition. The boy’s age hasn’t been released. There were several school groups at the zoo including his group from Linwood Elementary.
January 31, 2011 Longview, WA: An illegally kept serval was found running loose near Pacific Way and Sunset Way after escaping roughly a week earlier from his owner’s home on Nevada Dr. Throughout the week, Rajah, an African serval, had been showing up on people’s backyard decks in the Columbia Heights area, startling neighbors who suspected he might be a cheetah, Humane Society Director Rick Johnson said. An animal control officer and local veterinarian caught it after setting a trap baited with cat food. Johnson said Rajah’s owner does not have permits to own the cat, and Humane Society officials are researching what permits the owners need to legally keep it.
Carole Baskin is the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue. She runs a real estate business and manages 100+ volunteers and interns from around the world and 20 staff and contractors. She has run this Tampa based non profit since 1992 and has garnered international attention to the plight of captive big cats on CNN, Animal Planet, Discovery, U.S. News & World Report, People Magazine, The Today Show, Sports Illustrated, all of the local media outlets and many more national and international programs. She is the host of the Cat Chat Show, a weekly, live interview with cat experts from around the world.
She has lectured in Costa Rica, Panama and many cities across the U.S. on legislative affairs, and sanctuary standards in Universities, Law Colleges, and in numerous animal association conferences. Her efforts, combined with many others of like mind, have resulted in the 2003 passage of the Captive Wild Animal Safety Act which made it illegal to sell a big cat across state lines as a pet, the 2009 requirement that those in Florida who possess Class I animals must post a $10,000 bond and the reclassification of a cougar to Class I, making it illegal to own as a pet in FL.
As part of the Big Cat Coalition she has worked with The International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Humane Society of the United States, Born Free, the World Wildlife Fund, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Wild Cat Conservation Legal Aid Society, World Council for Animal Rights, the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, Ian Somerhalder Foundation, and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Together they represent more than 18 million supporters.
The coalition formed in 2011 and decided on a three prong approach to ending the abuse of tigers including; Closing the generic tiger loophole at the USFWS, Asking USDA to close the 4 week window of cub petting and a federal bill that ends the breeding and trade in big cats outside of AZA zoos. By 2013 the USFWS and the USDA had put the group’s suggestions on the Federal Register for public comment and had received nearly 30,000 comments in support. The Big Cat Public Safety Act, a federal bill to stop public handling of big cats and their cubs and ending the private possession of big cats is gaining momentum and is poised for passage.
Carole Baskin’s mission is to end the trade in exotic cats and thus put herself out of business.
Carole Baskin is the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, the world’s largest accredited rescue facility for exotic cats. She and her family volunteer for Big Cat Rescue as unpaid staff and have 100+ volunteers and a dozen interns from around the world. She has run this Tampa based non profit since 1992 and you may have seen Big Cat Rescue on CNN, Animal Planet, Discovery, People Magazine, The Today Show, Sports Illustrated, all of the local media outlets and many more national and international programs. She has been asked to provide lectures in Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, and Australia, as well as countless cities across the U.S. She has lectured on cage construction, legislative affairs, and sanctuary standards in Universities, Law Colleges, and in numerous animal association conferences.
She has successfully rehabbed and released a number of bobcats and other native animals. Big Cat Rescue is accredited by The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and Carole Baskin served as a past President of, The Association of Sanctuaries (a national accrediting body that later folded into GFAS and is to sanctuaries what the American Zoological Association is to zoos.
She previously served on the board of the Humane USA PAC and had been the legislative liaison to the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, and was responsible for representing The Association of Sanctuaries at their meetings. She supplies CWAPC with all of the current data on exotic cat issues, including the numbers being displaced, the maulings, escapes and killings of both the public and the cats involved. She scans the media daily for news regarding exotic cats and reports to some 300 people of three different groups with the daily headlines.
In 2005 she was appointed by Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair as a member of the Animal Advisory Committee to assist Animal Services in their service to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and was unanimously elected as Chairperson the following year. Big Cat Rescue is a member of the International Tiger Coalition, Florida Association of the Restoration of Ethics, a member of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, The Tampabay Visitors and Convention Bureau, and many other animal welfare groups.
Big Cat Rescue assists other accredited sanctuaries by helping them build cages, train their volunteers and they lend their people and resources to help them recover from natural and man made disasters. Big Cat Rescue is licensed by and in good standing with FWC, USFWS, USDA and is registered with the state of Florida as a charity.
Big Cat Rescue’s founder, Carole Baskin, with members of the Humane USA’s staff and board of directors.
In their role as a current board member this person is not independent and is a voting member in 2016.
The CEO’s pay is determined based upon others in the industry and her performance, which is reviewed by the board annually.
SECRETARY, TREASURER, ADVISORY BOARD CHAIRMAN AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Howard Baskin is a retired management consultant who worked with early stage and fast growing companies in the areas of strategic planning, finance and operations. He spent 11 years at Citicorp in various assignments, most recently as Director of Strategic Planning for the Commercial Real Estate Division. After leaving Citicorp in 1991 he was an equity participant and general manager in three companies, one of which he co-founded. He now devotes full time to Big Cat Rescue and serves on the Audit Committee.
Other civic activities include serving three years on the Board of Directors of the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and serving as first Chairman of its Performance Oversight and Monitoring Committee and member of it External Relations Committee. He also is a past member of The Rotary Club of Tampa, serving as Chairman of the Community Service Committee and on the Board of Directors.
Howard received his B.S. cum laude from Union College, Schenectady, NY in 1972, his J.D. cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1978 and his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1980.
Howard Baskin admits that a few homeless cats have won his heart over the years, but saving abandoned and abused lions, lynxes, and leopards was by no means his dream, let alone his passion. When it came to giving to animal causes, he might write a modest check to the Humane Society of the United States. His world was finance and marketing.
Yet there’s no denying that a stroll where he works at the 45-acre Big Cat Rescue, a nonprofit educational sanctuary in Tampa, one of the largest in the world devoted to the big cats, leaves him inspired.
This is where Bengal tigers, African lions, snow leopards, bobcats, and other exotic cats recline gracefully on tree limbs, stretch languidly in their dens, or splash playfully in ponds amid shady oaks and palmettos. In all, there are 140 feline residents with permanent homes here. “Looking at these animals and realizing that I’ve been able to make a difference in the quality of their lives and securing their future is wonderful,” he says.
Baskin, 57, isn’t one of the cats’ caregivers, but he uses his financial acumen to ensure they live a healthful life. With a Harvard M.B.A. and a law degree, he spent the first 11 years of his career at Citicorp, rising to become director of strategic planning for the commercial real-estate division in New York. “Working in a small business had always been my plan, but I kept getting interesting jobs at the bank,” he recalls.
Finally, in 1991, he left Citi to work as a management consultant for a succession of small companies. Eight years later, he opted for a less stressful pace, consulting part time and freeing up time for tennis and leisurely rounds of golf. But something was missing.
And in 2003, just a few years into his semiretired bachelor life, he did an about-face. Before he knew it, he had ramped up to 60-hour workweeks at the sanctuary and agreed to take charge of its finances free. Sure, Baskin is fond of the cats, but it was another love that inspired him. His wife, Carole, whom he met in 2002 and married in 2004, founded the 15-year-old sanctuary and is ceo.
“I kind of married into this transition, although it was of course my choice, not a requirement,” Baskin says. “I fell in love with her. One thing that drew me to her was her passion for the mission and the excitement of working for a cause, not just living.”
Take Nikita, for example. The 6-year-old lioness spent her first year living on a concrete slab, chained to a wall by a drug dealer in Nashville. She was discovered in a raid and arrived at Big Cat five years ago with sores on her elbows the size of tennis balls.
Purrfect fit. Not all of the cats were abused. Some were abandoned by owners who could no longer afford to care for them. Others were retired from circus acts, rescued from fur farms, or obtained from roadside zoos that had fallen on hard times. Baskin came well prepared to bolster the sanctuary’s shaky financial underpinnings. The small firms where he used to work ran the gamut from a bridge builder to a foundry to an audiovisual firm. They were businesses where finances were in disarray when he arrived. Someone had to figure out how to get things organized and create systematic controls.
Visitors who take educational tours of Big Cat have doubled since 2003, to 26,000 last year. Revenues from contributions rose 50 percent in 2006 alone. The annual Fur Ball, the chief fundraiser, brought in an estimated $100,000 in October, up from $17,000 five years ago. Carole has had time to advocate for laws to crack down on illegal animal dealers and implement humane care standards for the cats.
Although Baskin would like to spend a bit more time on the golf course, there’s little other downside. His full-time consulting income, which often topped six figures, had already been trimmed, and he had a thrifty lifestyle, enough savings, and growing retirement funds.
“I don’t take a traditional salary, but, in reality, I get a double payback. I not only get to do something for the cats,” he says as he watches Nikita devour her afternoon “bloodsicle” snack. “I feel like I am contributing to the world. More importantly, I get to make Carole happy. That’s my No. 1 goal.” Spoken like a true newlywed.
PRESIDENT, VOLUNTEER COMMITTEE, BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jamie Veronica is President of Big Cat Rescue, a member of the Board of Directors, and Chair of the Volunteer Committee. She has served in these capacities for well over ten years. She spent many years developing a sponsorship program whose financial success continues to contribute largely toward meeting our annual budget.
Jamie runs everything involved with the administrative side of the volunteer program including processing promotion applications, running hour reports, follow up with volunteers regarding their hours or classes, keeping the coordinators up to date on volunteers in need of training, keeping our policies and training classes up to date so that our people and animals are safe, coordinates rescues, runs our online gift shop and eBay store, manages the foster kitten program, including scheduling veterinary care, manages enclosure maintenance, coordinates our fundraising events and special online efforts.
An award-winning photographer, Jamie is the staff photographer and publishes our quarterly Big Cat Times newspaper, distributed to over 80,000 readers. She creates all of our print and web advertisements, billboards, brochures, books, donor plaques and signage. She manages all of the discount offers and reciprocal agreements with other attractions. She designed and initially implemented the sanctuary’s worldwide Internship Program.
Jamie is also a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and manages the sanctuary’s bobcat rehab program. She has successfully raised, rehabilitated and released many wild Florida bobcats and leads expeditions into the release sites to track and camera trap wild bobcat populations. She oversees and handles all rescues, veterinary procedures, transfer of animals on the property, and regulatory compliance issues. Jamie Carole’s daughter, Vernon and Barbara’s grand daughter and is married to Dr. Justin Boorstein, DVM.
See Jamie and Dr. Justin’s wild life here: https://vimeo.com/41566377
Bred for profit, the animals are often cruelly deformed by inbreeding.
July 28, 2010
by Ravi SomaiyaAlmost all of America’s 7,000 tigers are born and raised here. Reports from tiger farms suggest there are many unscrupulous breeders, and activists allege that the trade is cruel. What’s clear is that tigers are often kept in small pens, people die when safety is lax, and the cats are hideously inbred to produce valuable white cubs.The trade is not illegal, though a recent law bans the sale or trade of big cats across state lines for the pet trade. But breeders exploit a patchwork of state-by-state rules, and loopholes, to continue to sell cubs. People who rescue unwanted or mistreated tigers estimate that the number of breeders might be in the hundreds. Several alleged traders contacted by NEWSWEEK refused to be interviewed, perhaps because in recent years many operations have been shut down by authorities.
One of the biggest, Savage Kingdom, in Florida, was closed by the Department of Agriculture in 2006. Several accidents had occurred there. In 2001 a handyman named Vincent Lowe went into a cage to repair a dangerously worn-down gate. Colleagues had to watch as a 318-pound male tiger, Tijik, “ripped out [his] throat,” according to the USDA report. They could not rescue him for fear of being attacked themselves.
The tiger was eventually shot by Savage Kingdom’s octogenarian owner, Robert Baudy, who had been in the tiger trade for many decades—he’d even been on The Ed Sullivan Show promoting his animals. “He was from an era before animal welfare,” says Jamie Veronica, who is with the charity Big Cat Rescue and went into the farm after it was closed to try to remove and resettle dozens of tigers (all were eventually moved safely). “When he started out, people just saw animals as a commodity, a way to make money.” The USDA report blamed Baudy for safety failures that led to Lowe’s death. He could not be reached for comment at a number listed for him.Baudy specialized in white tigers, which sell for up to $20,000 per cub. But white tigers are rare genetic mutations, not a different species. According to the San Diego Zoo, every American white tiger is descended from a single father. New cubs must be inbred further. For every healthy, valuable cub, it is thought that many are born with ailments like shortened tendons, club foot, kidney problems, malformed backbones, contorted necks, and twisted faces.
Emily McCormack, a zoologist at Turpentine Creek, a refuge in Arkansas that rescues unwanted or abused big cats, has taken in several deformed cubs. “People don’t want these tigers because they don’t look perfect,” she says. “Who’s to say how many have been born with deformities that have been killed instead of rescued?” Activists also campaign against so-called white-tiger-conservation programs, whose very descriptions, says McCormack, are misleading: “They will never be returned to the wild. They don’t really exist in the wild.”
Siegfried & Roy, the illusionist duo, are famous for their white tigers. They claim on their Web site that they have 38. “For more than 20 years,” they say, “we have been entrusted with the care and preservation of the Royal White Tigers.” A spokesperson for the two did not return calls for comment about their breeding program. A statement from the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which houses many of Siegfried & Roy’s white tigers in an attraction called the Secret Garden, did not directly address the possibility that the program may have bred deformed cubs. It did say that “breeding is done responsibly under strict genetic management.” The Mirage did not respond to NEWSWEEK’s request for more information.
Cage rest sounds pretty peaceful for the cat, but it’s a real challenge for the caregivers.
See 2 playlists of some of our rehab bobcats
While we do bobcat rescue, rehab and release in Florida, we will not relocate bobcats as state law requires that they be released very near where they were captured. They must be released on at least 40 acres and we must get written permission from the owner of the property. They may not be released into state owned parks (strangely) but rather must be released on privately owned land with the land owner’s consent.
Big Cat Rescue has decades of experience rehabbing and releasing bobcats back to the wild where they belong. We provide huge, naturalistic enclosures where these cats can learn or perfect their hunting skills before being released back to the wild. We have trained staff who are experts at capturing an injured bobcat or hand rearing orphaned bobcats until a surrogate can be found.
We go to great lengths to keep these wild cats from imprinting on humans and monitor their care via surveillance cameras to make sure they are thriving. When they are healed, or old enough for release (about 18 months of age) we find the best habitat possible for sustaining them and set them free to live out the life that nature intended.
If you have a bobcat emergency in a state other than Florida, we can help you find a rehabber or will be a resource to wildlife rehabilitators who need help with bobcats, lynx or cougars. When you are searching for a bobcat rehabber ask the following questions:
1. Do they have experience with bobcats?
2. How big are their rehab enclosures? (Ours start at 1200 square feet and some are double that)
3. Do they feed a live diet of prey to insure that the cats will be able to hunt for themselves?
4. Do they keep people, including themselves to the extent possible, away from the bobcat so that they do not imprint on people and end up approaching humans after release?
5. Do they have a vet on staff or on call 24/7 for emergencies?
Rehabbing and releasing bobcats is much more difficult that the rehabilitation of most wildlife. These magnificent little wildcats need every opportunity to fulfill their role in nature and Big Cat Rescue is here to give them that second chance.
We are thinking the bobcat rehab rebuild is going to run about a quarter of a million dollars.
The area that would be most suitable on our property would allow a foot print of about 200 feet by 800 feet and would give us about 1/3 of that in thick woods and 2/3 in grassy runs. The woods are a blessing and a curse when we are talking chain link boxes.
Click map to see larger
The pink areas are our permanent big cat residents. The green shaded area is where we want to move our bobcat rehab facilities. It will be the opposite end of our property from the new hotel that is going in on Easy Street.
The 18 acre lake was dug out by the previous owner and then he was filling it in, starting w/ the green shaded area, with concrete and construction materials from demolition sites. He dug the lake down to 30 feet in places, so we could have that much concrete to drill through.
Wild bobcats DO dig, so we have to have a floor. That’s why I was thinking that a big chain link box, complete with roof and floor, might actually work there. It would have to be 1 in mesh and at least 11.5 gauge to meet state standards and keep their live rats from escaping. We would put dirt, grass and shrubs over the flooring after install.
This year we had 7 bobcats in rehab, which is the most we’ve had at one time, but as our reputation for successful releases grows, more cats seem to end up here, so we need to be ready for that growing demand.
We are confident that we can end the practice of private ownership of big cats, so the wildlife rehab work will expand as the need for big cat sanctuaries decreases with our legislative wins.
We own the three houses and two barns that are south of the green shaded area, so there is water, power and Internet nearby. The main house and the two barns have a life estate by the elderly owner though, so I’d have to build something for indoor care of injured cats, but it wouldn’t have to be huge because of the opportunity to take over the existing structures soon.
Currently the intensive care is done in our on site Cat Hospitals, but it would really be nice to have the wild bobcats totally away from the hubbub of the sanctuary, in their own recovery facilities adjoining the outdoor runs.
What I envision here are 8 long, narrow runs, maybe 20 by 230 each, that could be opened up into 4 that are 20 x 470 when there are 4 or fewer cats. Still puzzling about how to make the space expandable, without shared walls, which are just a tragedy waiting to happen.
Whether a bobcat comes to us injured or orphaned, they usually go through these stages:
1. Inside intensive care
2. Outside, small (low) cages so they don’t climb and fall.
3. 1000 -2500 square feet of space to perfect their hunting, climbing, hiding skills.
Another factor that I haven’t quite figured out yet, is how to mount cameras so that we can make sure the cats are doing well, and to engage the public. Our Bobcat Rehab camera is very popular at http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-bobcat-rehab-and-release and a great way to engage people in caring about wildlife, so I want to build it with a goal of it being a good virtual visual experience.
Each cage will require 27,120 sf of 1 in chain link mesh. Or roughly 64,750 linear feet of 8 foot high chain link mesh. http://www.yourfencestore.com/ lists 10 gauge, 1 inch mesh for 11.14 per linear foot which means a retail cost.
Below are mockups by Kenni Pedersen of what the bobcat rehab runs will look like.