Now at Big Cat Rescue March 28 2014

Now at Big Cat Rescue March 28 2014

What Would You Like BCR to Do?

Let us know in the comments section below.

What will you do on World Lion Day?

10th August 2014
There are four whole months before the big day.  Plenty of time to organise something.

Start by sharing this newsletter with your family and friends.
Then have a glance at our suggestions below. Any event will do.  Big march or small Fun Run. Up to you.
Reflections on the march

A Triumph for Animal Welfare.

The success of the global march exceeded all expectations. A synchronised march in 62 cities around the world was simply unprecedented. With little or no help from the lamestream media, thousands turned out in support. The numbers were all the more remarkable because the whole organisation rose up from grassroots, with no chain of command. The real enjoyment of the day by marchers is captured in Hein Ungerer’s video of the Cape Town march.

The heroes.
There were too many heroes to name here. All the organisers – hundreds of them – were heroes. The Auckland marchers who braved the cyclone to march. Dr. Ambrosini, the respected IFP MP, who left his sick bed, suffering from Stage 4 lung cancer, to stand on the steps of Parliament toreceive the Memo of Protest from the Cape Town marchers on behalf of Parliament. Global 
White Lion Trust and Vier Pfoten (Four Paws). The Norwegian girl who went in to the forest and set up a shrine for lions, candle and all, because she could not find anyone to march with her. 

Every one of the marchers who gave up their time and made the effort to come out, in all kinds of weather, to support the lions of South Africa. We salute your passion and commitment.

Take a look at the photos and march reports on the organisers’ page of our website. Just be inspired by the passion and commitment of so many people all around the world – all marching for our lions.
Don’t let them put us South Africans to shame!
What can you do to help?
Send protest emails to all conservation structures in SA. We’ve listed them all for you in thisGlobal March page.
On the same page you’ll see the Message to Marchers and other info that you can copy and paste in to your protest emails.
Make your voice heard.
      Lessons learned
Forget Press Conferences and the lamestream media. They made themselves irrelevant. We have the Internet. The power to inform millions at the touch of a button is unprecedented in human history and we must learn to use it effectively.
Tweets,Tweetdeck,Tweetstorms etc – how important it was to have social media experts assisting us to get our message out. Neytiri and the other social media gurus like Monica Gilbert added a whole new dimension to the event.

Interestingly, the marches generated intense interest from TV and radio. On the day I must have given a dozen TV and radio interviews.
But take note: the media only took an interest after the events had created their own newsworthiness. It was the spectacle of the march that hooked the media; not the serious message that inspired the march.
     The way forward

1. The media belatedly came to the party, but the lesson learned is clearly that it is the Internet, not the Press, that will bring the sordid canned hunting industry to an end. Just as the hunting industry lobbyists pump out a stream of propaganda to whitewash the hunting fraternity’s squalid activities, so we need to keep up the pressure by posting relevant context to all our social media. Two can – and must – play at the public relations business.

2. Raising awareness by itself is not enough. Decision makers need to be brought in to the struggle. Not only politicians and conservation officials but also corporate sponsors. If corporate sponsors began transferring their sponsorship away from the big pro-hunting NGO’s like WWF, you can bet that WWF’s policies would change. Money can change the debate.

3. Hard work. Campaigning and lobbying is hard work. But someone has to do it. Volunteers are needed to help take on this task. For example, we could petition airlines not to carry hunting weapons or trophies.

4. Code of practice. We need to collaborate on producing a Code of Practice, based on the five freedoms set out in the UDAW (Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare) which could be adopted by tourism authorities, volunteer placement firms, tour operators and the travel business as an industry standard.
Volunteer organisations who send their clients out to Africa to volunteer at wildlife sanctuaries need to be informed that they are only feeding the hunting industry when they send their clients to unethical destinations.
How does one know if the facility is unethical?
Easy! If the so-called ‘sanctuary’:
a) breeds predators in captivity
b) offers cub petting, or
c) offers lion cubs for volunteers to hand rear, or
d) offers walking with lions
– then avoid it. 
What did we achieve?
1. We raised awareness like never before. The complacent world of conservation has never been rattled like this before.

2. We have built a strong, united global community that now has a real sense of purpose, to tackle this important wildlife issue.

3. Hundreds of volunteer organisers who knew very little about canned hunting – beyond the cruelty that shouts out from a Melissa Backman kill photo – have now been educated. Both CACH and Lionaid took time and made the effort to turn mostly uninformed volunteer organisers into experts on how and why lion farming and canned hunting functions. Hundreds of people worldwide are now able to see through hunting industry public relations.

4. We have exposed the lie propagated by the hunters and parroted by conservation authorities and pro-hunting NGOs, that canned hunting (as artificially defined by them) is illegal in SA.
To show how shell shocked conservation structures are by our march, the Department of Environmental Affairs pulled out of a radio debate with me on the popular SAFM Morning Live show yesterday, citing ‘unpreparedness.’
That left me alone on national radio for a whole half hour to explain to a national audience of listeners how conservation in SA is nothing but a protection racket for the hunting fraternity.

World Lion Day – 10th August

Some suggestions for you if you’d like to join in.

Organising an event need not be a frightening thing. No one expects you to organise a million man march.

But surely you could get your friends and family to do something?

Play golf? Organise a sponsored golf day for the lions.

Enjoy cycling? Get your cycling cub to join with other cycling clubs and have a Fun Ride for the lions.

Anything that raises awareness of the plight of both wild and captive lions.


You could hold a small event in your city. A Fun Run? A dog walk? A motor bike ride for the lions. A cycle race for the lions. Gather at a shopping centre with some placards.

Together we can make a difference.
Email us                                         
We’re here to help.

Carole’s Note:  We had such great feed back on our March for Lions event, so maybe a similarly structured day at the sanctuary would be appropriate for World Lion Day.  It takes a lot of work and planning, so anything you can suggest now would help us as we consider such an endeavor.

Also:  Our local media was far from lame.  We had more news coverage leading up to the event than after and it was great coverage.  And, I know there are a lot of animal welfare organizations that don’t like the WWF, but the WWF has been helpful to the Big Cat Coalition in our efforts to end cub handling, stop white tiger breeding and end the private possession of big cats.  Their connections and expertise have been an important part of our success.


Lion Ark Movie Comes to Florida


LET YOUR FRIENDS IN FLORIDA KNOW: Lion Ark will be screening on Saturday 5th April and Wednesday April 9th at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Lion Ark Director and rescue team member Tim Phillips will be doing a Q&A session after both screenings. Don’t miss out. Check out the details here


Watch for Howard and Carole.  We will be there!


Botswana to Ban Canned Lion Hunting!

Some heartening news from Botswana, and we very much hope South Africa and other countries will follow their lead…
ADI is delighted to hear reports that Botswana intends to ban canned hunting – in a statement made last week the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism said it “does not tolerate cruelty to our wildlife in any form.” The move follows the implementation of bans on both trophy hunting and the export of wildlife (excluding pets) in January of this year.


N.J. zoo, nearby towns have animal emergency plans

At Cape May Zoo, cages aren’t the only safety measures

By MICHAEL MILLER, Staff Writer, 609-463-6712 – Posted: Sunday, May 24, 2009 3:10 am

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – The skull and crossbones on the back of the cage say it all: Do not open under penalty of death.

The Cape May County Zoo does not take any chances with its timber rattlesnakes or the other dangerous animals in its collection. Only the snake handlers have keys to the heavy-duty Master locks securing the viper exhibits.

This is one of countless examples of security measures de-signed to keep staff, visitors and animals safe.

Keepers work in teams whenever handling the Reptile House’s venomous or constricting snakes or alligators, including a 400-pound brute named Oliver who can be moved only with the manhandling of eight staff.

The zoo’s no-nonsense security was on display last month when it relocated Rocky, its resident Siberian tiger, for the first time in nine years. A Cape May County Sheriff’s deputy armed with a shotgun supervised the move of the tranquilized cat so its exhibit could undergo renovations.

Keepers have to be adaptable when handling peripatetic prairie dogs, phobic giraffes or 11 feet of angry gator.

Hot zone

Safety protocols are most obvious at the Reptile House, home to several species of vipers, venomous lizards and pythons.

“Hot,” reads the simple hand-lettered sign on the locked door leading to the back of the exhibits whenever keepers feed the animals. Reptile keepers post the sign to warn other employees who might be leading a group on a behind-the-scenes tour.

Reptile House Director Kevin Wilson always has a co-worker nearby at feeding time. Even the non-venomous but powerful Burmese python can be lethal. At 10 feet long, the snake can strike well beyond its narrow cage.

If bitten, Wilson said a keeper would have to act fast to spray the enormous constrictor with a hot-water hose, a trick known to repel the snakes. Keepers bitten by smaller constrictors can use a credit card to disgorge the sharp rows of teeth one at a time so as not to harm the animal or further injure the victim, Wilson said. But so far, this scenario has been hypothetical.

But Wilson remembers once mistakenly picking up the mildly venomous 6-foot mangrove snake with his 4-foot reptile hook.

“He nearly bit me on the nose,” he said.

One busy morning, a crowd of parents and children gathered around the timber rattlers’ – safely ensconced behind glass – as Wilson prepared to feed the two slithery serpents.

He used long hooks to pick each up gingerly and lower them into a garbage can where they would eat frozen mice warmed to body temperature in a bowl of hot water. The state donated the snakes to the zoo after they wandered too near residential homes, Wilson said.

“People are afraid of snakes in general. But rattlesnakes? Forget it. People get really freaked out,” Wilson said.

Since rattlesnakes give birth to live young – and since baby rattlesnakes are just as deadly as adults – the keepers have a running joke about making sure both of the exhibit’s vipers indeed are girls. (They are.)

Precautionary measures

In a refrigerator where keepers pin pizza menus, Wilson has a pouch with index cards identifying each employee’s allergies and medical history. Beneath the cards are vials of antivenin.

All of the zoo’s venomous snakes boast the same type of venom, treated by a hemotoxic serum made especially for pit vipers.

The vials are expensive at $900 each and expire after a few years. A single bite requires an initial dose of 10 vials, an expense that explains why the zoo does not have cobras or other species of snake that require a different kind of serum.

Area hospitals keep additional doses on hand because rattlesnakes are native to southern New Jersey. They all share serum when necessary.

AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City sent an ambulance to retrieve the zoo’s stockpile of antivenin after a guest of a private snake collector in Egg Harbor Township was bitten by a pygmy rattlesnake, Wilson said.

The zoo kept its snake cages locked down for a few days until it could restock the fridge with serum.

The zoo also has a Mexican beaded lizard capable of inflicting a nasty and mildly venomous bite, treated with antibiotics, Wilson said.

Wilson said the less keepers have to handle another dangerous reptile, the eyelash viper, the better. To that end, they use a simple clear-plastic shield to keep the snake cornered when cleaning its exhibit.

Modern zoos allow far less keeper interaction with the animals than once was common, Wilson said. The big cats are strictly hands-off. The zoo uses food rewards to move the hoofed animals.

Wilson said the zoo considered getting rid of its alligators when he took over as director five years ago because of the risk. Back then, zookeepers would wrangle thrashing gators by jumping right on their backs, much like the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.

“Does it work? Yes. Is it dangerous? Absolutely,” Wilson said. “It’s cowboy stuff.”

But Wilson took an intensive course to learn new ways to work with alligators in confined spaces. Now the zoo uses noose poles like those favored by animal-control officers.

“It’s all about technique – finding a safer way to do the same thing,” he said.

Breaking out

Keepers also have to learn how safely to move animals 10 times their size. For years, Wilson worked with the giraffes, animals known to inflict punishing kicks that can kill a lion.

The world’s tallest animal might also be the most neurotic, Wilson said.

“They’re the ‘Monks’ of the animal kingdom,” he said. “They won’t step in rain puddles. One time, I tried to get them out of the barn, but they wouldn’t budge because there was a piece of paper on the ground. They won’t come back in the barn unless the lights are on.”

The zoo has not had any major animal escapes since 1996, when vandals cut locks and released four bison and two elk that were found grazing on front lawns in suburban Cape May Court House one morning.

The animals were herded back to the zoo without incident. The Press of Atlantic City captured the escapade this way: “The elk stayed fairly close to home. Not surprisingly, the buffalo roamed.”

Jackson Township police know what can happen when security measures fail. In 1999, they shot and killed a 431-pound tiger on the prowl.

Efforts to tranquilize the big cat failed when the thick scrub deflected the darts, said Capt. David Newman, who served as deputy incident commander.

With the surveillance aircraft running low on fuel, police decided to take no chances and shoot the tiger, which was believed to have escaped from a private reserve.

“We had no other choice. The tiger was encroaching on residential properties,” Newman said.

The closest Cape May County has come to an animal escape in recent years was when some ingenious prairie dogs made a jailbreak like the penguins in the movie “Madagascar.”

The tunneling rodents had no hope of digging out since the dirt-covered exhibit was encased in poured concrete. Instead, the persistent animals built a dirt ramp to scale the low wall, Wilson said.

The prairie dogs did not go far. An electric fence around the exhibit confounded subsequent escape attempts.

The Middle Township Police Department has a Dangerous Animal Escape Plan with emphasis on the “Code Red” animals: the lion, tiger, black bears, cheetahs, bison, elk, alligators and leopards.

“We don’t use lights and sirens to respond,” police Lt. Christopher Leusner said. “We don’t want to startle the animals.”

The plan calls for establishing a perimeter around the escaped animal and taking direction from zookeepers about the best course of action.

This level of preparedness no doubt comes as a relief to neighbors such as Carole Donohue in suburban Cape May Court House. Donohue, who lives across the street from the zoo, said she has faith in its security measures.

She is reminded daily how close her family lives to deadly predators. She hears Brutu the African lion’s thunderous roar from her backyard swimming pool. It is one of the neighborhood’s simple charms, she said.

“It’s awesome. He does a big roar followed by four bursts,” she said. “I can always tell when it’s feeding time.”

E-mail Michael Miller:


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U.K. project to trace Barbary lions in zoos


By Laura Wileman, Community Newswire
ANIMALS Lions Kent, 12 Mar 2009 – 16:47

A Kent charity is backing an urgent assessment being carried out to discover if a group of lions which have been extinct in the wild for more than half a century could still exist in zoos.

Barbary lions were once valued as royal gifts from North African kings and used for entertainment in the Roman Coliseum and circus acts.

Scientists are now trying to find the lions in the hope of reintroducing the species into a protected area in North Africa.

Pete Thompson of Wildlink International, in Kent, and Professor Helmut Hemmer and Dr Joachim Burger of the University of Mainz are carrying out the assessment, which has just been launched.

The study is being carried out by researchers in Germany, but Wildlink International says the scheme needs support from all over the globe.

Pete said: “If there are any lions left in captivity that can make the case to preserve the subspecies, there is a huge responsibility to find them wherever they might be. Extinction is forever. Captivity with the highest welfare standards for the purpose of conservation can maybe help people understand the difficult choices wildlife supporters have to make to turn things around.”

Philip Huckin, also from the charity, said if the lions do exist in captivity they will have been bred with different species. He said the barbary lion genes will be diluted. “The barbary lions may become more hybridised in our day beacues different species are breeding,” he said.

He said there were reports that barbary lions existed in about 100 different locations across the world. The ultimate aim is to see if, once discovered, the species can be rehomed in West Africa.

“Unless we find out if there is enough DNA soon we will never get the chance to do it again. There are already lion problems in Africa and it seems incredibly wasteful not to see if there’s enough genetic material to eventually add to the lion pool,” he said.


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