Carole's Post at TBO.com
Wiregrass Mall’s manager and security are to be commended for protecting the public and for not allowing animal abuse on their property. DCWT has been prohibited from exhibiting at Get Rescued in Gulfport because of her verbal assault on the Education Directors from Big Cat Rescue. I have had to deal with her hurling hateful vulgarities at me when ever I attend FWC meetings. Big Cat Rescue opposes the private possession of these magnificent cats and is active in changing the laws (not breaking them) to protect habitat and restrict the captive breeding, abuse and abandonment of big cats.
Those who make their money from the abuse just hate Big Cat Rescue. Many claim to rescue animals, but do not require the owners to quit buying, breeding or selling more like we do now.* They do not want the problem to go away because they would then have no one paying attention to them and that is the only reason one takes a tiger out on a leash. Big Cat Rescue’s goal is to put ourselves out of business by striking at the root of the problem.
You can help by sending photos of people breaking the laws in FL to Big Cat Rescue. Contact is not allowed with big cats after they reach 25 lbs. A 4 month old tiger would have been required to be kept behind safety barriers. A leash is not a barrier. Any photos you have of this violation should be sent to Big Cat Rescue and the FWC.
* I realize, after posting, that this sentence was poorly stated and what I was trying to say is that Big Cat Rescue requires owners to give up their licenses, and stop breeding, buying and/or selling before we will rescue their cat from them. More about our Acquisition Policies here:
Kathy Stearns obviously understands that bad press is better than no press and will probably continue to behave badly in public as long as it gets her the attention she so desperately craves. The Tampa Tribune interviewed Scott Lope about this incident, but being the voice of reason, he wasn't quoted and the article even ended with a pitch about how to support Dade City Wild Things. That is a sad commentary on both what sells papers and what keeps donations coming in to pseudo sanctuaries. IT really is worth your time to contact the reporter and let her know that you do not approve of this kind of animal abuse AND especially contact the Wiregrass Mall manager and security and let them know that they did the right thing for the animals and for their reputation.
Shops at Wiregrass Mall http://www.theshopsatwiregrass.com/go/contactUs.cfm
Lisa A. Davis firstname.lastname@example.org
Tiger cub raised ruckus at Wiregrass mall Saturday
By LISA A. DAVIS The Tampa Tribune
A central Pasco outdoor mall boasts that it's pet friendly, even supplying baggies when furry friends take care of business on its grounds.
But on Saturday, Shops at Wiregrass officials say, a group of people took it too far when they brought a leashed 4-month-old tiger cub.
The group, from Dade City Wild Things, a nonprofit zoological rescue and rehab , went to the mall around 5:30 p.m. to promote their cause and were handing out fliers during the mall's car show Saturday night.
"We didn't know it would be a big to-do," said zoo director Kathy Stearns. "We just thought that people would like to see the tiger."
So, they doubled-leashed Bo, the cub, with Stearns and her 25-year-old son, Randall, each holding one, and they strolled through the main outdoor concourse where the show was being held. Sure, she said, Bo drew attention. Lots of people seemed surprised but not startled and many took pictures, she said.
When a rainstorm rolled in with heavy lightening, she said, they had to quickly seek shelter. She and her son stood in the door of American Eagle with Bo. That's when trouble began.
"The lightning go so bad, I was like everyone's got to go in, Kathy Stearns said. "It was just one of those really bad storms."
Bo, who started being socialized when he was only two weeks old, seemed fine with the storm but Stearns wanted to keep him occupied because he doesn't usually sit in public for long periods of time. She had her son buy Bo an inexpensive jacket from American Eagle so he could play. She held on to the arm and they played a bit of game of tug-of-war. He also played, mostly laying on his back, with the paper bag it came with, shredding it.
Something made the store manager nervous, it seems. He at first he didn't appear bothered by the cub, Stearns said, and was asking questions about it. Then suddenly mall security appeared and they asked the group to leave.
No soliciting is allowed at Wiregrass. Stearns said she couldn't leave immediately because of the storm but left when it was safe. Apparently, at some point the sheriff's office was called and security officers gave deputies a different account of what happened.
A store video tape, according to a Pasco Sheriff's Office report, shows that the group actually went inside the store with the tiger and stood in an alcove adjacent to the doors. Customers came within a couple of feet of the tiger. The manager asked them to leave and eventually they moved outside to under the awning but were blocking the entryway, the report states.
"The individuals were very belligerent and refused to leave," a deputy wrote in a report. "One of the females went as far as to say he was discriminating against animals and that she had a right to be on the mall property."
Stearns said none of that is true.
When deputies arrived, however, the tiger and most members of the group were gone. Stearns said her son and a couple of his friends stayed behind to do some shopping. Randall Stearns and a deputy had words but he eventually left, the report says.
Nobody was arrested, and, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Stearns didn't do anything illegal. She has her permits and the cub is within the age and weight restrictions to be out in the public.
""It's fairly common to see these and start socializing these animals," said Gary Morse, FWC spokesman. "And it's a real good idea."
Of course, none of that matters when a tiger is brought uninvited onto private property.
"Any pets that are perceived to be a possible threat to the safety and comfort of our guests cannot be on the property," said Greg Lenners, general manager of Wiregrass. "We perceived it as still being a wild animal."
In addition, he said, the group was soliciting and that's also a no-no.
Bo resides at the zoo's 22-acre facility in Dade City with his brother, Luke and sister, Daisy. They are three of more than 190 exotic animals available for public viewing at the property accessible only by their special trolley. Donations and proceeds from the tickets cost are the only funding for the facility. Their Web site can be found at http://www.dadecityswildthings.com.
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
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