Dear David (David.Terry@itv.com),
I am contacting you about your upcoming series My Pet and Me about exotic animals as pets. It never works out well for the animal and I really hope that you do not offer the solution to exotic owner wannabees that they can "turn over their exotic pet to a sanctuary." The fact is that the good sanctuaries (those that do not breed, sell, exploit and add to the problem and that are accredited) number less than 40 in the world and they are always full and overflowing with unwanted exotic pets. Zoos will not accept these unwanted pets as they are where the animals originated in the first place as they bred to have babies on display every year with no thought as to where they would go the next year.
The following is a partial listing (593) of incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990. The U.S. incidents have resulted in the deaths of 21 humans, 16 adults and 5 children, the additional mauling of 196 more adults and children, 174 escapes, the killing of 94 big cats, and 126 confiscations. There have also been 186 big cat incidents outside the U.S. that have resulted in the deaths of 66 humans and the mauling of 101 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_news.htm
The hybrid cat issue is really becoming an international crisis as well. More on that here:
I know you said you don't wish to be seen as judgmental, but every time one of these irresponsible shows airs about exotic pets, we are slammed with people calling and asking if they can buy a baby tiger. The exotic pet trade causes more suffering for big cats than all of the other atrocities combined. Every week we are called upon to rescue another exotic cat because the sanctuaries are full and there is not enough money to take care of all of the rejects of the pet and entertainment industry. We take in as many as we can, but always have to consider the needs of the animals we have already committed to first.
The following charts are just the calls that we get personally. This is only a small percentage of the overwhelming problem. The saddest news is that, as one of the world's largest exotic cat sanctuaries, if we cannot take them, there is virtually no where else for them to go.
| Unwanted||We Took|| Found|
| Big Cats||These|| Homes|
| For These|
|1999|| 55||13|| 0|
|2000|| 56||11|| 0|
|2001|| 78||10|| 6|
|2002|| 74||4|| 0|
|2003|| 312||8|| 4|
|2004|| 110||6|| 3|
|2005|| 94||9|| 2|
|2006|| 81||0|| 3|
|2007|| 72||14|| 1|
|2008|| 85||3|| 0|
| 1017||78|| 19|
The real story that needs to be told is that exotic animals are being abused by being bred for life in cages when there is no excuse other than greed and ego for the exotic pet industry.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
Free ways to join us and help the big cats:
Twitter: Follow Me and be invited to enter our Animal Lover's Dream Vacation Giveaway! http://twitter.com/BigCatRescue