Captive Wildlife Laws Rules Florida

Captive Wildlife Laws Rules Florida

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The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is currently reviewing their rules governing captive wild animals and accepting public comment.  We believe that some important changes in the rules could signicantly reduce the misery endured by many of these animals.  Below are the current rules in grey boxes and Big Cat Rescue’s suggested changes bold/red.

Florida Residents you can help!  Please take a minute to send a quick comment to the FWC here about cub petting, the rule change we think can have the most dramatic impact:  http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51389/p/salsa/web/blog/public/?blog_KEY=31

 

2014 FL Statutes Chapter 379

379.303 Classification of wildlife; seizure of captive wildlife.—
(1) The commission shall promulgate rules defining Class I, Class II, and Class III types of wildlife. The commission shall also establish rules and requirements necessary to ensure that permits are granted only to persons qualified to possess and care properly for wildlife and that permitted wildlife possessed as personal pets will be maintained in sanitary surroundings and appropriate neighborhoods.
(2) In instances where wildlife is seized or taken into custody by the commission, said owner or possessor of such wildlife shall be responsible for payment of all expenses relative to the capture, transport, boarding, veterinary care, or other costs associated with or incurred due to seizure or custody of wildlife. Such expenses shall be paid by said owner or possessor upon any conviction or finding of guilt of a criminal or noncriminal violation, regardless of adjudication or plea entered, of any provision of chapter 828 or this chapter, or rule of the commission or if such violation is disposed of under s. 921.187. Failure to pay such expense may be grounds for revocation or denial of permits to such individual to possess wildlife.
History.—s. 1, ch. 74-309; s. 6, ch. 98-333; s. 34, ch. 2002-46; s. 106, ch. 2008-247.
Note.—Former s. 372.922(3), (4).

The above is the current language in Florida’s state law.  Where it fails the citizens of Florida is in the notion that any person can possibly “possess and care properly for wildlife and that permitted wildlife possessed as personal pets”   or that there are “appropriate neighborhoods” for keeping tigers in your back yard.  As ludicrous as it is, that is our current law, so when the Florida Wildlife Commission said they would consider public input on the rules to carry out that law, it is the basis that we have to work from…at this time.

The following are the rules, as they pertain to exotic cats and as they exist in 2014.  Our suggestions for changes are in Red. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hereinafter referred to as the FWC.

Florida Rules for Keeping Wild Cats

Florida divides the cat kingdom into three Classes.  Class I, Class II and Class III.

68A-6.002. Categories of Captive Wildlife

Class I Cats:Cheetahs
Cougars
Jaguars
Leopards
Lions
Snow leopards
Tigers
Class II Cats:African golden cats
Bobcats, Caracals
Clouded leopards
Canadian lynx
Fishing cats
Golden cats
Ocelots, Servals
Class III Cats:Geoffroy Cat
Jungle Cats
Leopard Cats
Sand Cats; all of the other small cat species too, but almost none are in private hands.

The logic for the classifications is the level of damage or injury that a cat can do; but the threat isn’t only to the person who is mauled or killed, but to the environment.  These are all cats and many are capable of cross breeding with domestic feral cats.  The accidental release of such wild cats into Florida’s fragile eco system could have disastrous results.  For that reason,

68A-6.003. Facility and Structural Caging Requirement for Class I, II and III Wildlife

68A-6.003. Facility and Structural Caging Requirement for Class I, II and III Wildlife

Effective on Monday, December 06, 2010

(1) In addition to the standard caging requirements set forth in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., Class I and Class II animals shall be caged in accordance with the following requirements:

(a) All cages or enclosures of Class I and Class II wildlife, and Class III capuchin, spider and woolly monkeys, except paddocks, approved open air habitats, or outdoor reptile enclosures shall be equipped with a safety entrance. A safety entrance is defined as a protected, secure area that can be entered by a keeper that prevents animal escape and safeguards the keeper, or a device that can be activated by a keeper that prevents animal escape and safeguards entry. Such entrances shall include: A double-door mechanism, interconnecting cages, a lock-down area, or other comparable devices, subject to Commission approval, that will prevent escape and safeguard the keeper. Safety entrances shall be constructed of materials that are of equivalent strength as that prescribed for cage construction for that particular species.

(b) All cages or enclosures constructed of chain link or other approved materials shall be well braced and securely anchored at ground level to prevent escape by digging or erosion. Cages shall be constructed using metal clamps, ties or braces of equivalent strength as the material required for cage construction for the particular species. Cages or enclosures using the ground as flooring must meet the following requirements:

1. For enclosures housing wildlife that exhibits a behavior of digging or burrowing:

Enclosures shall have a footer or bottom apron constructed of concrete, chainlink or equivalent strength material as specified in this rule for the housing of such wildlife. The footer must be a depth of 3 feet. In the instance of a bottom apron, the bottom apron must be securely attached to the bottom of the enclosure fencing or wall and extend inward into the enclosure a minimum of 3 feet. The bottom apron must be buried to prevent injury to the captive wildlife in the enclosure.

2. For enclosures affected by erosion:

Measures must be taken to stop the erosion. Such measures may include, but are not limited to, a footer or bottom apron as described above or other measures capable of ensuring the structural integrity of the enclosure and preventing the escape of the captive wildlife.

(2) In order to assure public safety, the facilities for the housing of Class I and Class II wildlife shall meet the requirements of this rule. Compliance with these requirements is a necessary condition for licensure. For the purposes of this rule, a “facility” means the site at which Class I or Class II wildlife are kept or exhibited, except for those locations where the standard caging requirements are exempted under Rules 68A-6.0041 and 68A-6.005, F.A.C. Upon receipt of an initial application regarding Class I or Class II wildlife, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall notify the county or municipality wherein the proposed facility is to be located of a pending application. Current licensees that desire to expand their inventory to include a family of Class I or Class II species not previously authorized at their facility location shall comply with the requirements herein. Requests to upgrade wildlife classification authorizations shall be considered initial applications for license purposes. Applicants shall complete and submit a Facility Location Information form, FWCDLE_616IV (09-10), which is adopted and incorporated herein by reference. Forms may be obtained by submitting a request to: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600, or at www.myfwc.com/permits.

 

(a) Notification of escapes: Any person authorized to possess any Class I wildlife as listed pursuant to Rule 68A-6.002, F.A.C., must report any escapes from the primary caging or enclosures or the approved facility location; or other enclosure, cage, leash or other constraint when wildlife is away from such approved facility location, to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement. Such reporting shall occur immediately upon discovery of the escape. Any person authorized to possess Class I wildlife shall maintain a list of the current contiguous land owners or neighbors in Part B of the Captive Wildlife Critical Incident/Disaster Plan form FWCDLE_619 (06/09), as required in subsection 68A-6.0022(7), F.A.C. Such list shall include the name, address and contact phone number for contiguous land owners or neighbors. For the purposes of this section a “contiguous land owner or neighbor” shall mean the current resident for all properties sharing a common boundary with the facility location. The entire width of a dedicated roadway shall be considered sharing a common boundary in instances of a dedicated roadway between neighboring properties.

This is impossible to enforce in its current language.

Big Cat Rescue suggests the list of contiguous owners be submitted to the FWC with each renewal and if the FWC learns of an escape, they too should be required to contact all contiguous owners and advise them of the escape; even if the animal has been recaptured. 

(b) Not withstanding other requirements of this rule, facilities licensed pursuant to this section may be transferred through will, trust or probate proceedings to a lawful heir and such facilities may remain in the same location. Said heir must be qualified to receive the classifications of wildlife applied for and shall complete applications for licenses to receive same. The transfer shall not occur until a final on-site inspection is conducted by Commission personnel and the license is approved and issued.

(c) Facility requirements:

1. Property ownership/lease:

a. The facility shall be constructed on property owned or leased by the applicant. If leased the lease shall be for a term of not less than one (1) year from date of application. Such lease shall be subject to initial and annual review and approval by the commission as a condition of said lease.

b. If the property is leased, the lessee must have exclusive rights to occupy, possess and use the property with no restrictions that could prevent the lessee from adhering to the eligibility requirements for licensure with no other in holdings or easements.

c. The existence of any such lease restrictions or termination of the lease shall result in the denial or revocation of the license or permit.

2. Land area:

a. Class I wildlife: The facility shall not be constructed on less than five (5) acres.

b. Class II wildlife: The facility shall not be constructed on less than two and one-half (2 1/2) acres.

The lifespans of big cats can be 20 years.  Any lease should be for at least half of the lifespan of the animal, if not the complete lifespan.  A one year lease shows far too little forethought for the well being of the animal and would likely result in caging that is built to be temporary; lacking in size and quality.

Big Cat Rescue suggests a minimum lease period of 10 years, for five acres, for all wild cat species.

c. The total facility shall not be comprised of more than two (2) parcels of land whether leased, owned or a combination of leased or owned parcels. If more than one parcel, the adjacent parcels must have a minimum of 100 feet common linear boundary.

The limitation on the number of parcels is arbitrary.  As a facility grows it is likely to continue to add adjacent parcels.  The reason for a common linear boundary makes sense if the FWC is trying to insure that wild animal owners don’t just create paper leases, that aren’t real, with neighbors in order to meet the minimum size, but penalizes those who are truly trying to build better buffer zones by or leasing land or buying land around them.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that the total land area for the minimum requirement of acreage must be one parcel or a combination of parcels which must have a minimum of 100 feet of common linear boundary.  This land must be zoned appropriately as commercial, industrial or planned unit development for the purpose of housing wild animals.  

3. Buffer zones:

The facility shall contain a “buffer zone” of not less than thirty-five (35) feet between the caged wildlife and the facility property line.

4. Perimeter fencing:

a. Class I wildlife: The cages of the facility shall be bounded by a fence of not less than eight (8) feet high.

b. Class II wildlife: The cages of the facility shall be bounded by a fence of not less than eight (8) feet high, or as an alternative, a fence of not less than six (6) feet high, with a 2-foot, 45 degree, inward angle overhang.

c. All vertical fencing and inward angle overhang fencing of the perimeter fence shall be constructed of 11 1/2 gauge chain link or equivalent.

There are places in Florida, housing tigers and bears and other dangerous wild animals who have mis-applied the intent of this rule, but meet the letter of the law by having strands of wire, a foot or more apart, strung around their property and serving as their perimeter fence.  Any wild cat could easily slip through the wire strands and any child or native wildlife or pets could enter as well.  In many cases chain link fencing is used, but creates an attractive nuisance, to those who see wild animals from outside and can easily climb the fence to harass or kill the captive animals.  There is no 8 foot, chain link, or wire mesh fence that a big cat can’t climb.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that all new perimeter fencing be 8 feet high with no ability to see through the material of the fence.  All existing perimeter fence should, at the very least, be improved to be constructed of the same materials as the materials used to contain the animals, and at least 8 feet high.  

(d) Exemptions:

The following Class I and Class II wildlife are exempt from the facility requirements of subparagraphs (2)(c)1.-4., as listed above:

1. Permits authorizing possession of infants only including:

a. Class I or Class II carnivores until they reach 25 pounds or six (6) months of age, which ever comes first, provided written documentation is available to verify the age of the animal, the animal is marked or otherwise identifiable, and the animal is provided space for exercise on a daily basis:

b. Class I and II primates until they reach the age of twelve (12) months, provided written documentation is available to verify the age of the animal, the animal is marked or otherwise identifiable, and the animal is provided space for exercise on a daily basis.

2. Crocodilians four (4) feet in length or less.

3. Cats: Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), Servals (Leptailurus serval), Caracals (Caracal caracal), Bobcats (Lynx rufus), African golden cats (Profelis aurata), Temminck’s golden cats (Profelis temmincki), and Fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrina).

4. Non-human primates: Uakaris (genus Cacajao), Sakis (genus Chiropotes and Pithecea), and Guenons (genus Ceropithecus) not including Patas monkeys (genus Erythrocebus), De Brazza’s monkey (Cercopithecus neglectus), Blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis), Preuss’s monkey (Cercopithecus preussi) or any other non-human primate of the genus Cercopithecus which exceeds the normal adult weight of fourteen (14) pounds.

(e) Any Class I or Class II wildlife exempt from meeting the facility requirements of subparagraphs (2)(c)1.-4., of this rule must meet the following:

1. Class I wildlife shall not be possessed in any multi-unit dwellings or on any premises consisting of less than one quarter acre of land area.

2. Class II wildlife shall not be possessed in multi-unit dwellings unless the dwelling in which they are housed is equipped with private entrance, exit and yard area.

3. A fence sufficient to deter entry by the public, which shall be a minimum of five (5) feet in height, shall be present around the premises wherein Class I or Class II animals are housed or exercised outdoors.

(f) The above facility requirements relating to land area, buffer zones, and perimeter fencing, shall be effective January 1, 2008, but shall not apply to those facilities licensed to possess captive wildlife species prior to that date. After January 1, 2008, those licensees that desire to expand their inventory to include a family of Class I or Class II species not previously authorized at their facility location shall comply with the requirements herein. Requests to upgrade wildlife classification authorizations shall be considered new applications for license purposes.

There should be no exemptions.  There is no way to enforce the current language and no reason to allow people to keep the animals mentioned in the paragraph above in less space, or with fewer safeguards than what the animal will require as an adult.  Unless they manage to kill the animals from ignorance in the first few months, it will grow up and owners should be prepared.  In the past it was a common practice to farm out baby tigers, baby lions and baby primates for hand rearing so they could be used as pay to play props but that’s the very first thing the FWC needs to end.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that there be no exemptions and that paragraphs (d) and (f) be stricken.  Any existing lesser cats in private possession should be grandfathered in, but the owners should not be allow to breed, buy or acquire more without meeting the full requirements of a new licensee.

(3) Additional requirements for specific species shall be as follows:

(a) Group I – Chimpanzees (over 50 pounds), gorillas, orangutans.

1. Outdoor facilities – Cage construction materials shall consist of steel bars, two-inch galvanized pipe, masonry block or their strength equivalent.

2. Indoor facilities – Potential escape routes shall be equipped with steel bars, two-inch galvanized pipe or equivalent in rooms where the wildlife is maintained.

(b) Group II – Chimpanzees (up to 50 pounds), drills, mandrills, baboons, snow leopards, jaguars, tigers, lions, bears.

1. Outdoor facilities – Cage construction materials shall consist of not less than nine-gauge chain link or equivalent.

2. Indoor facilities – Potential escape routes shall be equipped with wire or grating of not less than nine-gauge or equivalent.

(c) Group III – Rhinoceros, elephants, hippopotamus, cape buffalos, gaur.

Indoor and outdoor facilities – Construction materials shall consist of steel bars, masonry block or equivalent.

(d) Group IV – Crocodiles, gavials, alligators, caimans, komodo dragons.

Outdoor facilities – Bounded by a fence at least five feet in height of not less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or equivalent.

(e) Group V – Gibbons, siamangs, patas monkeys, howler monkeys, uakaris, mangabeys, guenons, sakis, guereza monkeys, celebes black apes, indris, macaques, langurs, proboscis monkeys, spider monkeys, woolly monkeys, and capuchin monkeys, leopards, cougars, clouded leopards, cheetahs, ocelots, servals, lynx, bobcats, caracals, African golden cats, Temminck’s golden cats, fishing cats, wolves, coyotes, jackals, Indian dholes, African hunting dogs, aardwolves, binturongs, and Old World badgers.

1. Outdoor facilities – Construction material shall consist of not less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or equivalent.

2. Indoor facilities – Potential escape routes shall be equipped with wire or grating not less than 11 1/2 gauge or equivalent.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.3761, 379.3762 FS. History–New 8-1-79, Amended 6-21-82, Formerly 39-6.03, Amended 6-1-86, 7-1-90, 7-1-92, 2-1-98, Formerly 39-6.003, Amended 1-1-08, 1-8-08, 8-27-09, 11-8-10, 12-6-10.

 

68A-6.0041. Exceptions to Standard Caging Requirements for Captive Wildlife

Effective on Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wildlife may be temporarily housed in cages or enclosures smaller than the sizes set forth in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., only under the following circumstances:

(1) For transport and for performing and non-performing animals as specified in Rule 68A-6.005, F.A.C.

(2) Wildlife being held for sale by those persons properly licensed pursuant to Section 379.3761 or 379.3711, F.S., or for veterinary care, or quarantine may be temporarily housed or caged in smaller cages or enclosures for a period not to exceed 60 days. With written notification to the Commission, this period may be extended in circumstances where a licensed veterinarian has certified that a longer holding period is medically necessary in the interests of the health, safety and welfare of the subject animals or the public. Medical records concerning all animals for which an extension of the 60-day period is obtained shall be maintained at the facility and shall be made available for inspection, upon request, by Commission personnel. The caging or enclosure of all wildlife temporarily held under this section shall not be smaller than that required for the caged animal to stand up, lie down, and turn around without touching the sides of the enclosure or another animal. All wildlife thus caged or housed shall be permanently marked or their enclosures shall be permanently marked, so as to be traceable to written records indicating the date the wildlife was placed in temporary holding. Such records shall be maintained and made available for inspection by Commission personnel. Commission personnel shall direct dealers to mark wildlife temporarily if, upon inspection, there is no record indicating the date the wildlife was placed in temporary holding.

The existing cage sizes in Florida are already so inhumanely small there should be no exemption to the cages size except for veterinary care.  The FWC typically only inspects once or twice a year, so there is no way to enforce the time restrictions in the current language.  Nearly 40 countries have banned circus acts that use wild animals and there is no reason to allow such barbaric displays.

Big Cat Rescue suggests the only exemption be for veterinary care, or quarantine when wildlife may be temporarily housed or caged in smaller cages or enclosures for a period not to exceed 60 days. With written notification to the Commission, this period may be extended in circumstances where a licensed veterinarian has certified that a longer holding period is medically necessary in the interests of the health, safety and welfare of the subject animals or the public. Medical records concerning all animals for which an extension of the 60-day period is obtained shall be maintained at the facility and shall be made available for inspection, upon request, by Commission personnel. The caging or enclosure of all wildlife temporarily held under this section shall not be smaller than that required for the caged animal to stand up, lie down, and turn around without touching the sides of the enclosure or another animal. All veterinary enclosures shall be permanently marked, so as to be traceable to written records indicating the date the wildlife was placed in temporary holding. Such records shall be maintained and made available for inspection by Commission personnel.

(3) The standard caging requirements, as defined in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., except for the fencing requirements, shall not apply to facilities possessing ratites (ostriches, rheas, emus, and cassowaries) for propagation purposes only and not for public exhibition or as personal pets. Facilities possessing bison for propagation purposes only and not for public exhibition or as personal pets are exempt from the standard caging requirements, as defined in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C.

(4) Newborn and juvenile mammals may be temporarily kept in enclosures below the standard caging requirements and are exempted from the facility requirements of subparagraphs 68A-6.003(2)(e)1.-2., F.A.C., and structural strength requirements, Rule 68A-6.003, F.A.C., as follows:

(a) Newborn mammals may be kept in incubation and rearing facilities. Nursing young may be maintained with their parents with no increase in required cage size for the adult animal for up to twelve weeks, provided that documentation is available to show the age of the young. Such time may be extended with a veterinarian’s statement, showing that such size cage is required for the continued health and welfare of the animals until a certain date.

(b) Juvenile mammals may be kept in enclosures that meet or exceed the size specification in subsection (2) of this section provided that:

1. Written documentation is available to verify the age of the animal.

2. The animal is marked or otherwise identifiable.

3. The animal shall be provided space for exercise on a daily basis.

4. Cages that meet the standard caging requirements shall be provided for Class I and Class II carnivores when they reach 25 pounds or six months of age, whichever comes first. Class III carnivores shall be provided cages that meet the standard caging requirements at six months of age. Class I, II, and III primates shall be provided cages that meet standard caging requirements at twelve (12) months of age.

Other than to provide wild animal cubs to pay to play schemes, it is almost never really necessary to remove babies from their mothers.  There is no way to enforce the provisions that juvenile animals be given space outside of such cages for exercise.  In practice the language just makes it easier for exhibitors to make money using baby wild animals for display, photo ops and petting, and to keep them in cages that are far too small. It is necessary to protect baby wild animals from hurting themselves by climbing and falling though.

Big Cat Rescue suggests the rule require that baby wild animals shall require the same floor space as an adult wild animal, but that adaptations should be made to the enclosure to prevent them from climbing too high and falling.  

(5) Hatchling/fledgling birds and newborn reptiles and amphibians may be held in enclosures that allow for normal postural movements and social adjustments that ensure the health and sanitary needs of the animals.

(6) Birds held temporarily for exhibit only and not for sale may be kept in show cages or enclosures for a maximum of three (3) days, provided that, such birds have sufficient space for perching without touching the sides, top, or bottom of the cage and the health and sanitary needs of the birds are met. Water shall be available in the show cages at all times.

(7) Reptiles and amphibians held temporarily for herptile shows, expositions, and exhibits may be kept for a maximum of three (3) days in enclosures that allow for normal postural movements and social adjustments and that ensure the health and sanitary needs of the animals.

(8) Cages or enclosures for mobility-impaired animals shall meet standard caging requirements, unless it can be demonstrated that such cage or enclosure, or its required accessories, are detrimental to the health or welfare of the animal. In such cases, written documentation by a veterinarian confirming the need for such exemption shall be maintained by the permittee and made available to Commission employees upon request.

(9) For animals held at exotic animal auctions, flea markets, and animal swap meets, said animals may be kept in enclosures that meet the size requirements of subsection (2) provided that such wildlife is maintained in accordance with paragraphs (9)(a)-(g) below. The owner of said wildlife shall be responsible for the welfare of such animals, unless such wildlife is consigned to an auctioneer or other sales representative, at which time the consignee shall be responsible.

(a) Wildlife shall be transported and held in non-injurious enclosures, under conditions that provide fresh air without injurious drafts, and shall be provided protection from the elements.

(b) Wildlife shall be protected from temperature extremes that could be detrimental to the health and welfare of the animals.

(c) Birds and mammals shall be watered at least twice during each twelve hour period.

(d) Fecal and food waste shall be removed from the wildlife’s enclosures daily.

(e) Wildlife held in the same enclosures shall be kept in compatible groups.

(f) Wildlife cages/enclosures shall not be stacked over other cages/enclosures unless excreta is prevented from entering lower cages/enclosures.

(g) Sick or injured wildlife shall be afforded prompt veterinary treatment.

The owner of said wildlife shall be responsible for the welfare of such animals, unless such wildlife is consigned to an auctioneer or other sales representative, at which time the consignee shall be responsible.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.302, 379.303, 379.3711FS. History–New 7-1-90, Amended 7-1-92, 2-1-98, Formerly 39-6.0041, Amended 8-27-09.

Big Cat Rescue does not believe that wild cats of any kind should be held at “exotic animal auctions, flea markets, and animal swap meets” under any conditions.

68A-6.005. Transportation Requirements for Wildlife; Caging Requirements for Performing and Non-Performing Animals

Effective on Monday, June 07, 2010

(1) No person shall import, export, transport, ship or deliver in interstate or intrastate commerce any container or package containing any live wildlife unless each container or package bears, in a conspicuous place on the outside, a tag with both the name and address of the shipper and consignee and the exact contents of the package. The exact content of the package shall include an accurate and legible list by species scientific name, common name and number of each species included in the entire shipment.

(2) General requirements for transporting wildlife in vehicles. This rule subsection applies to all Class I, all Class II and all Class III animals except those listed in subsection 68A-6.0022(2), F.A.C. No vehicle shall be used in transporting any wildlife except as follows:

(a) Vehicles shall be equipped to provide fresh air without injurious drafts and adequate protection from the elements to all animals.

(b) The animal traveling area shall be free of engine exhaust fumes.

(c) Fecal and food wastes shall be removed from the animal quarters daily.

(d) Animal cages shall have openings for emergency removal of wildlife.

(e) Wildlife in transport shall be protected from extremes in temperature that could be detrimental to the health and welfare of the animal.

(f) Wildlife transported in the same cage area shall be in compatible groups.

(g) Wildlife must be transported in a cage or enclosure. The cage or enclosure must be labeled “Live Animal” and list the number of specimens and common and scientific name of the wildlife. For wildlife that is transported in a trailer or compartment of a trailer, a label stating “Live Animal” must be affixed to the trailer access or loading door and the list containing the number of specimens and common and scientific name of the wildlife must be maintained in the vehicle. The animal’s cage or enclosure shall be as follows:

1. Be of sufficient strength and security to prevent escape.

2. Large enough to ensure that each specimen has sufficient space to turn, stand erect, and lie naturally. Provided, however that certain species may be restricted in their movements according to professionally acceptable standards when such freedom of movement would constitute a danger to the animals, their handlers, or other persons. Elephants shall be tethered during transport (except nursing young).

(h) Wildlife shall not be placed in enclosures over other specimens unless each enclosure is fitted with floor which prevents excreta from entering lower enclosures.

(i) Wildlife shall be watered twice daily and fed daily.

(3) Mobile Exhibits – Performing Animals. No mobile exhibit shall utilize the performing animal caging dimensions prior to approval by the Commission. To obtain such approval, the permittee shall provide written schedules to the Commission of wildlife exercise intervals and scheduled performances. The exercise intervals shall be of such frequency, intensity and duration as to provide for the health and welfare of the animal over an extended period, provided that the animals shall not be caged without exercise or performances for more than a 72-hour period. Performing and exercise information shall be verifiable by Commission personnel through inspections. Performing animals used in mobile exhibits shall not be confined in any cage or enclosure that is smaller in dimension; or is not equipped as follows:

(a) Class I and Class II Carnivores (i.e., lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, pumas, bears, hyenas, wolves).

For a single animal, a cage which shall permit the animal to turn or stand on all fours with head clearance, and confined in such a manner so that no animal can injure another. For Class I animals, cages shall be constructed of steel, case hardened aluminum, alloy, or strength equivalent material. If bars are used, bars shall be spaced no more than 2 inches apart. For Class II animals, cage construction shall not be less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or strength equivalent material. Cages of Class I and Class II animals that the public can access, shall be equipped with a physical barrier, which is made of a material to prevent the public from coming in contact with the animals. All cages shall have secure locking devices.

(b) Primates, Class I and Class II. For a single animal, a cage which shall permit the animal to turn and stand erect with head clearance, confined in such a manner so that no animal can injure another. For Class I animals, cages shall be constructed of steel, case hardened aluminum, alloy or strength equivalent material. If bars are used, bars shall be spaced no more than 2 inches apart. For Class II animals, cage construction shall not be less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or strength equivalent material. Cages of Class I and Class II animals that the public can access, shall be equipped with a physical barrier, which is made of a material to prevent the public from coming in contact with the animals. All cages shall have secure locking devices.

(c) Elephants. When not performing or being exercised, elephants shall either be:

1. Securely tethered.

2. Enclosed by an electric fence, under the supervision of at least one qualified handler in accordance with paragraph 68A-6.0042(2)(c), F.A.C., and in an area not accessible to the public.

(d) Class III Animals. For a single animal, a cage which shall permit the animal to turn and stand on all fours, or stand erect, with head clearance, confined in such a manner so that no animal can injure another.

(e) Time limitation on smaller travel caging allowed for housing performing animals. For performing wildlife possessed by traveling zoos and other traveling acts, wildlife shall be housed in cages or enclosures that meet or exceed the specifications as provided in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., whenever such wildlife is housed in such travel cages or enclosures for more than 90 days. Performing wildlife shall not be kept in cages or enclosures below the size required by the standard caging requirements for more than a total of 90 days out of each 120 day period. Such mobile exhibits shall provide an itinerary of planned exhibition times and locations with annual renewal applications.

(4) Mobile Exhibits – Non-Performing Animals. Non-performing wildlife in mobile exhibits shall not be confined in any cage or enclosure that is smaller in dimension or is not equipped as follows:

(a) Class I and Class II Carnivores (i.e., lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, pumas, bears, hyenas, wolves).

For a single animal, the cage length shall be double the body length (excluding tail), with a width that is equal to the body length, and a height that permits the animal to stand on all fours with head clearance. For two or more animals kept together, add one-third more cage length for each additional animal. For Class I animals, cages shall be constructed of steel, case hardened aluminum, alloy or strength equivalent material. If bars are used, bars shall be spaced no more than 2 inches apart. For Class II animals, cage construction shall not be less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or strength equivalent material. Cages of Class I and Class II animals that the public can access, shall be equipped with a physical barrier, which is made of a material to prevent the public from coming in contact with the animals. All cages shall have secure locking devices.

(b) Primates. All cages shall be well ventilated and shall have secure locking devices. Each cage shall have an overhead pull bar and a seat. For two or more animals kept together, add one-third more cage length for each additional animal. For Class I animals, cages shall be constructed of steel, case hardened aluminum, alloy or strength equivalent material. If bars are used, bars shall be spaced no more than 2 inches apart. For Class II animals, cage construction shall not be less than 11 1/2 gauge chain link or strength equivalent material. Cages of Class I and Class II animals that the public can access, shall be equipped with a physical barrier, which is made of a material to prevent the public from coming in contact with the animals.

1. Gorillas. For a single animal, a cage 8 feet by 8 feet, with a height at least 2 feet over the standing height of the animal.

2. Orangutan. For a single animal, a cage 7 feet by 7 feet, with a height at least two feet over standing height of the animal.

3. Adult chimpanzee. For a single animal, a cage 6 1/2 feet by 6 1/2 feet, with a height at least two feet over standing height of the animal.

4. Chimpanzees up to 50 pounds and macaques. For a single animal, a cage 5 feet by 5 feet, with a height at least two feet over standing height of the animal.

(c) Elephants. For one animal in a non-performing capacity, a paddock that is double the body length in length and equal to the body length in width. For two or more animals kept together, increase square footage by one third for each additional animal. Other than for exercise periods, elephants not kept in a paddock shall either be:

1. Securely tethered.

2. Enclosed by an electric fence under the direct, on-site supervision of a least one qualified handler in accordance with paragraph 68A-6.0042(2)(c), F.A.C., and in an area not accessible to the public.

(d) Class III animals (except reptiles). For a single animal, the cage length shall be double the body length (excluding tail), with a width that is equal to the body length, and a height that will permit the animal to stand on all fours, or stand erect, with head clearance. For two or more animals kept together, add one third more cage length for each additional animal.

(e) Time limitation on smaller travel caging allowed for housing non-performing animals. For non-performing wildlife possessed by traveling zoos and other traveling acts, wildlife shall be housed in standard cage specifications as provided in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., whenever such wildlife is present in such travel cages or enclosures for more than 45 days. Non-performing wildlife shall not be kept in cages or enclosures below the size required by the standard caging requirements for more than a total of 45 days out of each 90 day period. Such mobile exhibits shall provide an itinerary of planned exhibition times and locations with annual renewal applications.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.303, 379.304 FS. History–New 8-1-79, Amended 6-22-80, 6-4-81, Formerly 39-9.03, Amended 6-21-82, Formerly 39-6.05, Amended 5-10-87, 2-1-98, Formerly 39-6.005, Amended 8-27-09, 6-7-10.

There is no way in our opinion that keeping a “performing animal” in a space where all it can do is stand up and turn around, or a nonperforming animal do little more than that, is humane.  The idea that requiring that the animal either perform or be let out for exercise once every three days, so it is kept in this tiny box for three full days, is cruel.  Further, there is no way for FWC to monitor if the animal actually is let out every three days except to ask to see a log book that is easily filled with false entries.

Big Cat Rescue philosophically does not believe animals should be in traveling exhibits.  But if they are, they space they spend 95+% of their time in should be large enough from them to at least walk around in, not just stand up and turn around.  Five times their body length should be a bare minimum.

68A-6.004. Standard Caging Requirements for Captive Wildlife

Effective on Thursday, August 27, 2009

(1) No captive wildlife shall be confined in any cage or other enclosure which contains more individual animals, or is smaller in dimension than as specified in this section, or is not equipped as specified in this section, except as defined in Rule 68A-6.0041, F.A.C., or as authorized in accordance with the following:

Requests for deviations from standard caging or enclosure requirements may be granted to allow for different size configuration (length, width and height) if the required square footage is adequate and if the locomotory needs of the animal(s) are not compromised. Wet or dry moats may be substituted for the required fencing for retaining some species of wildlife. Any proposed deviations from the standard caging or enclosure requirements, or proposals to use wet or dry moats to substitute for fencing, or proposals to use open air habitats except as provided herein, must be approved in writing by the Commission prior to the use of the cage or enclosure for housing animals.

Wet or dry moats are not the only variations to caging that can be safe, and the current rule language does not give FWC the flexibility to approve other designs they feel would contain the animals in a secure manner.

Big Cat Rescue requests that the second sentence above should read, “Wet or dry moats, or other cage designs approved in writing by the FWC, may be substituted for the required fencing for retaining some species of wildlife.”

(2) Definitions: Where specified in this section, wildlife cages and enclosures shall be equipped to provide for the protection and welfare of the animals. Such equipment includes, but is not limited to:

(a) Shelter, nest box or den: A structure that protects captive wildlife from the elements (weather conditions). Such structures may vary in size depending on the security and biological needs of the species. They are particularly described as follows:

1. Shelter: A structure which shall provide protection from the elements and from extremes in temperature that are detrimental to the health and welfare of the animal. When vegetation and landscaping is available to serve as protection from the elements, access to a shelter shall also be provided during inclement weather conditions. Such shelter shall be attached to or adjacent to the paddock, habitat, or enclosure.

2. Nest box or den: An enclosed shelter that provides a retreat area within, attached to, or adjacent to a cage or enclosure of specified size, which shall provide protection from the elements and from extremes in temperature that are detrimental to the health and welfare of the animal.

(b) Elevated platform or perching area: A surface or structure, either natural or manmade, positioned above the floor, or above the grade level of the cage or enclosure, that will provide a resting area for the animal(s).

(c) Original floor area: The total square footage required for the initial number of animals specified. For example, this is calculated by finding the new total area required for 4 squirrel monkeys when the original floor area equals 20′ for 1 or 2 animals (4′ x 5′ x 5′ high). For each additional animal, there is an increase in cage or enclosure size by 25 percent of original floor area. For two additional monkeys: 25% x 20′ x 2 animals = 10′; add 10′ to 20′ = 30 total square feet of floor area required for 4 monkeys. New cages or enclosures can be 6′ x 5′ x 5′ high, or any width/length dimension that equals or exceeds the increased cage or enclosure space.

Cats housed together may get along for periods of time and not get along at other times.  Even where our cats get along most of the time, we still sometimes have to separate them when food is involved.  If exotic cats are to be kept together, then there should be double the space for two, triple for three, etc. and the ability to separate them easily into their own space if needed.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that all exotic cat species require at least the minimum space prescribed for each individual so that 2 cats in a cage have twice and much space, three cats have three times the minimum, etc.  Cages should be constructed so that if there is conflict or the need to segragate the animals for medical treatment or other reasons, the cage holding multiple animals can be quickly divided into one space for each cat with each space meeting the minimum size requirement. 

Primate section removed…

(4) Carnivores and Certain Omnivores with Similar Requirements:

(a) Wild felines.

In addition to requirements of this section, each cage or enclosure shall be equipped with a shelter(s)/nest box(es) large enough to accommodate all the animals in the enclosure simultaneously. Each enclosure shall have an accessible device to provide physical stimulation or manipulation compatible with the species. Such device shall be noninjurious, and may include, but is not limited to, boxes, balls, bones, barrels, drums, rawhide, pools, etc.

1. African and Asian lions; tigers.

a. For one or two animals, a cage 24 feet by 10 feet, 8 feet high. For each additional animal, increase cage size by 25 percent of original floor area.

b. Each cage shall have an elevated platform(s) that shall accommodate all animal(s) simultaneously. Each cage shall have a claw log, unless the animal(s) front claws have been removed.

The notion of keeping the “king of beasts” in a cage that measures 240 square feet is heart breaking.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that all Class I cat enclosures be a minimum of 1,200 square feet.  This is the standard established by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries for accreditation as the minimum.  This is a practical standard that balances animal welfare against what is affordable for nonprofit sanctuaries.  If an exhibitor cannot “afford” to meet this minimal standard, they have no business owning the animals.

c. Outdoor cages over 1,000 square feet (uncovered) shall have vertical jump walls at least 10 feet high, with a 2-foot, 45 degree, inward angle overhang, or jump walls at least 12 feet high, without an overhang. The inward angle fencing shall be made of the same material as the vertical fencing. Wet or dry moats may be substituted for the required fencing provided prior Commission written approval has been obtained.

2. Jaguars, leopards, and cougars

a. For one or two animals, a cage 20 feet by 10 feet, 8 feet high. For each additional animal, increase cage size by 25 percent of original floor area.

b. Each cage shall have an elevated platform(s) that shall accommodate all animals in the enclosure simultaneously. Each cage shall have a claw log, unless the animal(s) front claws have been removed.

c. Outdoor cages over 1,000 square feet (uncovered) for cougars shall have vertical jump walls at least 10 feet high, with a 4-foot, 45 degree, inward angle overhang. Leopards and jaguars shall not be kept in uncovered enclosures except in facilities with wet or dry moats, which have been previously approved in writing by the Commission.

Wet or dry moats are not the only variations to caging that can be safe.  Cougars, leopards and jaguars are all agile climbers.  There is no evidence we know of that leopards and jaguars are better climbers than cougars, and without such evidence we see no basis for allowing open topped cages for cougars but not for leopards and jaguars.  Further, the language here is interpreted by FWC as depriving them of granting deviations for designs for open topped cages for leopards that FWC determines are safe.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that the language be amended to either allow leopards and jaguars to be kept in the same enclosures permitted for cougars by deleting the prohibition against open topped cages for leopards and jaguars, or be amended to allow FWC to approve other designs in addition to moats as follows: “Leopards and jaguars shall not be kept in uncovered enclosures except in facilities with wet or dry moats, OR OTHER CAGE DESIGNS which have been previously approved in writing by the Commission.”

3. Lesser cats (e.g., bobcats, lynx, ocelots, caracal, serval, margay, fishing cats, jungle cats, Teminick’s cats, golden cats)

a. For one or two animals, a cage 12 feet by 6 feet, 6 feet high. For each additional animal, increase cage size by 25 percent of original floor area.

b. Each cage shall have an elevated platform(s) that shall accommodate all animals in the enclosure simultaneously. Each cage shall have a claw log, unless the animal(s) front claws have been removed.

4. Small cats (e.g., Geoffroy’s cats, jaguarundis, leopard cats, wildcats (Felis silvestris), mountain cats, pampas cats, marbled cats, pallas’ cats, sand cats, oncilla/tiger cats, black-footed cats, flat-headed cats, kodkods, rusty-spotted cats)

a. For one or two animals, a cage 6 feet by 6 feet, 6 feet high. For each additional animal, increase cage size by 25 percent of original floor area.

b. Each cage shall have an elevated platform(s) that shall accommodate all animals in the enclosure simultaneously. Each cage shall have a claw log, unless the animal(s) front claws have been removed.

5. Cheetahs

a. For one or two animals, a cage 40 feet by 20 feet, 8 feet high. For each additional animal, increase cage size by 25 percent of original floor area.

b. Each cage shall have an elevated platform(s) that shall accommodate all animals in the enclosure simultaneously.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that the cage sizes set by GFAS (600 sf for small cats and 900 sf for medium size cats) as the minimum humane size be adopted by FWC.  Having a bobcat spend its entire life is a 6 x 12 cage, i.e. 72 sf, is simply not humane.

68A-6.0022. Possession of Class I, II, or III Wildlife in Captivity; Permit Requirements

Effective on Thursday, July 08, 2010

(1) Permits to possess wildlife in captivity, issued pursuant to Section 379.3761 or 379.3762, F.S., and the provisions of this chapter, shall authorize the keeping of captive wildlife, of the type and number specified in applications approved by the Commission, in accordance with law and Commission rules. Captive wildlife maintained under permit shall, unless otherwise authorized, be maintained only at the facility specified in the permit application and approved by the Commission.

(4) No permit shall be issued to any person to possess Class III wildlife for exhibition, sale or personal use unless such person can meet the following requirements:

(a) Be 16 years of age or older.

Children are not allowed to drink or vote.  They should not be allowed to keep wild animals as pets.  They lack the maturity and financial responsibility necessary.

Big Cat Rescue believes the age should be raised to the legal age of 18.

(b) Application for permits to possess Class III wildlife for personal use shall include the satisfactory completion of a questionnaire developed by the Commission that assesses the applicant’s knowledge of general husbandry, nutritional, and behavioral characteristics. Such information shall be documented on the Personal Use Application and Questionnaire form FWCDLE_621 (01/07), which is adopted and incorporated herein by reference.  Forms may be obtained by submitting a request to: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600, or at www.myfwc.com/permits.

(c) Applicants for permits to possess capuchin, spider, or woolly monkeys shall meet the age, experience and examination requirements for authorization to possess Class II wildlife.

(d) Be able to provide satisfactory caging facilities as required in the standard caging requirements, Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C., within 30 days of notification of tentative approval for a permit.

(e) Ensure that the conditions under which the wildlife will be held shall not constitute a threat to the public or to the animal.

(5) Qualification requirements for a permit to possess Class I or Class II wildlife:

All applicants shall qualify for permits as follows:

(a) Age Requirement: Applicants to possess Class I or Class II wildlife shall be at least 18 years of age.

(b) Applicants shall not have been convicted of any violation of captive wildlife regulations or venomous reptile or reptile of concern regulations involving unsafe housing of wildlife or that could potentially endanger the public; any violation involving the illegal commercialization of wildlife; any violation involving cruelty to animals; or any violation involving importation of wildlife within three (3) years of the date of application.

Prosecuting wildlife crimes is practically non existent.

Big Cat Rescue suggests applicants should not have been convicted of any felony, cruelty to animals, violent crime nor have been convicted of any violation of captive wildlife regulations or venomous reptile or reptile of concern regulations.

(c) Experience Requirement for Class I permits:

1. Applicants shall demonstrate no less than one (1) year of substantial practical experience (to consist of no less than 1000 hours) in the care, feeding, handling and husbandry of the species for which the permit is sought, or other species, within the same biological family (except crocodilians which shall be in the same biological order; ratites which shall be in the same biological sub-order; and cougars, panthers or cheetahs which shall remain at the genus level), which are substantially similar in size, characteristics, behavior, habits, care and nutritional requirements to the species for which the permit is sought.

2. For purposes of demonstrating compliance, applicants shall submit documentation of such experience, including:

a. A description of the specific experience acquired.

b. The dates and times the experience was obtained and the specific location(s) where acquired.

c. References of no less than two (2) individuals, no more than one of which may be a relative of the applicant, having personal knowledge of the applicant’s stated experience. One of these references must be licensed by the commission for wildlife of the same family and the same or higher class for which the applicant is seeking authorization or a representative of a professional organization or governmental institution. Examples of such organizations or institutions include, but are not limited to, universities, public service agencies, zoological associations, herpetological societies and veterinarians.

d. Additional documentation may include records of prior permits for the keeping of captive wildlife, employment records, and any other competent documentation of the requisite experience.

3. Documented educational experience in zoology or other relevant biological sciences, obtained at the college or technical school level or above, may substitute for up to six months or 500 hours of the required experience.

4.  Providing false information to document the applicant’s experience, by the applicant or any reference, is prohibited as provided in Sections 837.012 and 837.06, F.S.

(d) Experience and examination requirements for Class II permits:

1. Applicants may qualify for a permit for Class II wildlife by documenting one year of experience (to consist of no less than 1000 hours) as defined in subparagraphs 68A-6.0022(5)(c)1.-4., F.A.C., above. If the applicant is unable to document such experience, as an alternative, the applicant may take a written examination. The successful completion of a written examination for the particular species or family, administered by the Division of Law Enforcement, together with the documentation of not less than 500 hours of substantial practical experience (with documentation and compliance procedures as noted in subparagraphs 68A-6.0022(5)(c)1.-4., F.A.C., above) in the care, feeding, handling and husbandry of the species or family for which the permit is sought may be substituted for the one-year/1,000-hour requirement. Upon receipt of an application, the Commission shall notify the applicant of the time and place of the next examination. Applicant scoring at least 80 percent correct on the examination shall be deemed as meeting the examination requirement for the particular species or family.

2. The above requirements shall not apply to applicants for permits to possess ostriches, rheas, emus, cassowaries or coyotes when possessed for purposes other than public exhibition or personal use.

3. The above requirements shall not apply to applicants for permits to possess American alligators in accordance with Section 379.3751, F.S.

4. The above requirements shall not apply to applicants for permits to possess species of the family Bovidae in accordance with Sections 379.3711 and 379.3712, F.S.

Given the fact that there is no way for the FWC to actually verify that the applicant had any experience, and the belief that there are licensees in Florida who paid bribes to other licensees for such falsified paperwork, there should be no documentation accepted on face value.  If an applicant wishes to apply for a Class I or Class II license, the FWC should be notified when the training begins, the regular schedule they will be working and where, and the FWC should be required to do spot checks once a month to verify that such training is taking place.  There is no reason to promote the private possession of wild animals, but if the FWC wants to do that, they should be responsible for taking at least minimal effort to insure adequate training, not rely on a piece of paper that can easily be a total fabication.  A licensee who attests fraudulently to the training hours of an applicant should face loss of their license and should be held liable for damages caused by the applicant’s future use of wild animals.  That would curtail much of the fraud we believe is common in licensees attesting to applicant training.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that the FWC should be notified when the training begins, the regular schedule they will be working and where, and the FWC should be required to do spot checks once a month to verify that such training is taking place.  A licensee who attests fraudulently to the training hours of an applicant should face loss of their license and should be held liable for damages caused by the applicant’s future use of wild animals.

(e) Any licensed corporation applying for a permit or authorized to possess Class I or Class II wildlife must have qualified personnel responsible for the care of such wildlife. The corporation must provide documentation of experience for at least one person.  Such person shall comply with the requirements defined in subparagraphs 68A-6.0022(5)(c)1.-4. and (d)1., F.A.C., above. Such documentation of experience shall be submitted to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, and subject to approval upon initial application and upon each instance of change in qualified person.

(f) Any person authorized pursuant to Section 379.3761, F.S., to exhibit or sell Class I wildlife shall obtain and maintain a current and valid USDA license, where applicable, pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations of Title 9 CFR. Such USDA license shall be obtained within 180 days of initial licensing by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Failure to obtain and maintain a current and valid USDA license may result in denial or revocation of any Class I authorizations issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

USDA typically only revokes a license if a licensee has been cited repeatedly for years for serious violations. I.e. only the worst of the worst exhibitors lose their USDA license.  If a license if revoked and a person cannot exhibit without violating Federal law, why should the language but that they “may” lose their Florida license?  Does it really make sense for Florida to consider them an exhibitor when exhibiting would violate Federal law?

Big Cat Rescue suggests that “…may result in denial or revocation…” be changed to “… will immediately result in denial or revocation…”

(6) Except as otherwise provided, applicants for permits to possess wildlife in captivity shall specify the location of the facility at which the wildlife shall be kept or possessed. Prior to the issuance of a permit for Class I, Class II, or Class III capuchin, spider or woolly monkeys such facility shall be inspected and approved by Commission personnel prior to the issuance of the permit.

(7) Disaster and Critical Incident Plans: Applicants for permits to possess wildlife in captivity as authorized pursuant to Sections 379.3761 or 379.303, F.S., or the provisions of this chapter shall document in writing a course of action to be taken in preparation for disasters or critical incidents. Such course of action shall be documented on the Captive Wildlife Critical Incident/Disaster Plan form FWCDLE_619 (06/09), which is adopted and incorporated herein by reference. Forms may be obtained by submitting a request to: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600, or at www.myfwc.com/permits. This form shall consist of two parts. Part A of form FWCDLE_619 shall be submitted at the time of initial application or renewal; and Part B shall be retained in the permittee’s files at the facility location and be made available for inspection upon request of Commission personnel and the director of the local emergency management agency for the county where the facility is located.

(a) Provisions of this subsection shall apply to permittees maintaining captive wildlife in Florida.

(b) For permittees where the facility is located out of state, the provisions of this subsection shall apply when such permittee is in travel status with Class I or Class II wildlife. In this instance Part B must accompany the Class I or Class II wildlife while in travel status in Florida and shall describe the course of action to be taken in the event of a critical incident or natural disaster in Florida.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.3761, 379.3762 FS. History–New 7-1-90, Amended 7-1-90, 7-1-91, 2-1-98, Formerly 39-6.0022, Amended 4-30-00, 1-1-08, 8-27-09, 7-8-10.

If the public had any idea how minimal the requirements for safety in a disaster are, they would insist that the private possession of wild animals be banned.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that both Part A and Part B be submitted to the FWC and be publicly accessible online for both residents and non residents traveling with wild animals.

68A-6.0023. General Regulations Governing Possession of Captive Wildlife; Public Contact; Transfer of Wildlife and Record Keeping Requirements

Effective on Thursday, August 27, 2009

(1) No person shall maintain captive wildlife in any unsafe or unsanitary condition, or in a manner which results in threats to the public safety, or the maltreatment or neglect of such wildlife.

Taking cubs from their mothers to be used as pay to play props, and cubs who are forced into pools to swim with paying customers exemplify the meaning of “maltreatment” of wildlife.  These practices should be discontinued immediately.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that maltreatment of wildlife includes taking cubs from their mothers to use in handling sessions, pay to play sessions, as photo props and in schemes such as “swimming with tigers.” 

(2) Caging Requirements:

(a) All wildlife possessed in captivity shall, except when supervised and controlled in accordance with subsection (3) hereof, be maintained in cages or enclosures constructed and maintained in compliance with the provisions of Rules 68A-6.003, 68A-6.004 and 68A-6.007, F.A.C.

(b) Cages or enclosures housing captive wildlife shall be sufficiently strong to prevent escape and to protect the caged animal from injury, and shall be equipped with structural safety barriers to prevent any physical contact with the caged animal by the public, except for contacts as authorized under subsection (3) of this rule. Structural barriers may be constructed from materials such as fencing, moats, landscaping, or close-mesh wire, provided that materials used are safe and effective in preventing public contact.

There is no situation in which the public can have contact with wild cats or their cubs that isn’t either dangerous to the person or cruel to the animals.  There is no situation in which a wild cat should be outside of his primary enclosure without being confined to a transport cage of the same strength.  To be clear; there is no situation in which it is appropriate to walk a tiger, lion, cougar, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard or cheetah on a leash.

Big Cat Rescue suggests the phrase “except when supervised and controlled in accordance with subsection (3) hereof,” be eliminated from (2) (a) above.

Big Cat Rescue suggests the phrase “except for contacts as authorized under subsection (3) of this rule.” be eliminated from (2) (b) above.

(c) All cages or enclosures less than 1,000 square feet shall be covered at the top to prevent escape (except paddocks, reptile enclosures and habitats specified below). Class I or Class II wildlife shall not be kept in uncovered enclosures that are less than 1,000 square feet, except as specified in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C. All outdoor enclosures for non-native venomous reptile species and reptiles of concern shall be topped with close-meshed wire or an equivalent barrier to provide additional security as specified in Rule68A-6.007, F.A.C. For the purpose of this section, the following definitions apply:

1. Paddocks: Areas enclosed by fencing, railing or other Commission-approved structures which allow animals to graze or browse.

2. Reptile enclosures: Areas encompassed by smooth walls or other Commission-approved materials which provide safe keeping of venomous and non-venomous snakes, crocodilians and other reptiles.

3. Open air habitats or moated areas: Areas enclosed by Commission-approved fences, walls, or moats which provide safe keeping of species specified in Rule 68A-6.004, F.A.C.

(d) Caging considered unsafe or otherwise not in compliance herewith shall be reconstructed or repaired within 30 days after notification of such condition. In the event such condition results in a threat to human safety or the safety of the wildlife maintained therein, the wildlife maintained therein shall, at the direction of the Commission, be immediately placed in an approved facility, at the expense of the permittee, owner, or possessor, until such time as the unsafe condition is remedied. In instances where wildlife is seized or taken into custody by the Commission, said permittee, owner, or possessor of such wildlife shall be responsible for payment of all expenses relative to the animal’s capture, transport, boarding, veterinary care, or other costs associated with or incurred due to such seizures or custody. Such expenses shall be paid by said permittee, owner, or possessor upon any conviction or finding of guilt of a criminal or noncriminal violation, regardless of adjudication or plea entered, of any provision of Chapter 379 or 828, F.S., or rules of the Commission, or if such violation is disposed of under Section 921.187, F.S. Failure to pay such expenses shall be grounds for revocation or denial of permits to such individuals to possess wildlife.

(3) Unconfined captive wildlife shall be maintained under rigid supervision and control, so as to prevent injuries to members of the public. No captive wildlife shall be tethered outdoors unsupervised. To provide for public safety, all wildlife shall be tethered or controlled in such a manner as to prevent physical contact with the public and a structural safety barrier, as provided in paragraph (2)(b) above, must be present to prevent physical contact with unconfined Class I or Class II wildlife except in instances where public contact is allowed in paragraph (3)(a) below.

There is no situation in which the public can have contact with wild cats or their cubs that isn’t either dangerous to the person or cruel to the animals.  There is no situation in which a wild cat should be outside of his primary enclosure without being confined to a transport cage of the same strength.  To be clear; there is no situation in which it is appropriate to walk a tiger, lion, cougar, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard or cheetah on a leash.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that paragraph (3) above be eliminated.  

(a) Public contact and exhibition.

1. General: All Class I, II or III wildlife that will be used for contact with the public shall have been evaluated by the exhibitor to insure compatibility with the uses intended. All wildlife shall be exhibited in a manner that prevents injuries to the public and the wildlife. The exhibitor shall take reasonable sanitary precautions to minimize the possibility of disease or parasite transmission which could adversely affect the health or welfare of citizens or wildlife. When any conditions exists that results in a threat to human safety, or the welfare of the wildlife, the animal(s) shall, at the direction of a Commission officer, be immediately removed from public contact for an interval necessary to correct the unsafe or deficient condition.

2. Class I wildlife shall only be permitted to come into physical contact with the public in accordance with the following:

a. Full contact: For the purpose of this section, full contact is defined as situations in which an exhibitor or employee handler maintains proximate control and supervision, while temporarily surrendering physical possession or custody of the animal to another. Full contact with Class I wildlife is authorized only as follows:

I. Class I cats (Felidae only) that weigh not more than twenty-five (25) pounds;

II. Chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas that are not less than six (6) months of age and weigh not more than twenty-five pounds;

III. Gibbons and siamangs not less than four (4) months of age and not more than two (2) years of age;

IV. Elephants as approved in Rule 68A-6.0042, F.A.C.

b. Incidental contact: For the purpose of this section, incidental contact is defined as situations in which an exhibitor or employee handler maintains control, possession and supervision of the animal while permitting the public to come into contact with it. Incidental contact with Class I wildlife is authorized only as follows:

I. Class I carnivores except cheetahs and cougars that weigh not more than 40 pounds;

II. Chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas that are not less than six (6) months of age and weigh not more than 40 pounds;

III. Gibbons and siamangs that are not less than four (4) months of age: no maximum poundage or age limit;

IV. Elephants;

V. Incidental contact with other Class I wildlife must be approved in writing by the Commission prior to the use of the wildlife for incidental contact with the public. Factors to be considered when approving such contact are found in subparagraph (3)(a)1.

3. Public contact or handling intervals for Class I wildlife shall be limited as to frequency, intensity, and duration so that such handling will not adversely affect the health, welfare, or safety of the animals, nor expose the public to injury.

There is no situation in which the public should have contact with Class I animals of any age or any exotic cat species.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that all public contact be eliminated and all of the language, except that regarding display only, be eliminated down to paragraph 3. above.  

(4) Any condition which results in wildlife escaping from its enclosure, cage, leash, or other constraint, or which results in injury to any person, shall be considered a violation of subsection 68A-6.0023(1), F.A.C., hereof.

(5) Sanitation and Nutritional Requirements:

(a) Sanitation, water disposal, and waste disposal shall be in accordance with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations.

(b) Water: Clean drinking water shall be provided daily. Any water containers used shall be clean. Reptiles and amphibians that do not drink water from containers and those in an inactive season or period shall be provided water in a manner and at such intervals as to ensure their health and welfare. All pools, tanks, water areas and water containers provided for swimming, wading or drinking shall be clean. Enclosures shall provide drainage for surface water and runoff.

(c) Food: Food shall be of a type and quantity that meets the nutritional requirements for the particular species, and shall be provided in an unspoiled and uncontaminated condition. Clean containers shall be used for feeding.

Unfortunately many captive wild cats are fed a diet of road kill, Wal-Mart’s expired meats, and downer cattle, which are animals who have died from unknown illnesses.  It’s a cheap way to feed a growing population of big cats in America, caused by the over breeding for pay to play schemes.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that road kill, expired meats and downer cattle NOT be considered appropriate food for exotic cats.

(d) Waste: Fecal and food waste shall be removed daily from inside, under, and around cages and stored or disposed of in a manner which prevents noxious odors or pests. Cages and enclosures shall be ventilated to prevent noxious odors.

(e) Cleaning and maintenance: Hard floors within cages or enclosures shall be cleaned a minimum of once weekly. Walls of cages and enclosures shall be spot cleaned daily. The surfaces of housing facilities, including perches, shelves and any furniture-type fixtures within the facility, shall be cleaned weekly, and shall be constructed in a manner and made of materials that permits thorough cleaning. Cages or enclosures with dirt floors shall be raked a minimum of once every three days and all waste material shall be removed. Any surface of cages or enclosures that may come into contact with animal(s) shall be free of excessive rust that prevents the required cleaning or that affects the structural strength. Any painted surface that may come into contact with wildlife shall be free of peeling or flaking paint.

(6) No person shall possess any wildlife requiring a permit for personal use, or any wildlife for sale or exhibition, without documentation of the source and supplier of such wildlife. Possessors of such wildlife must maintain an accurate record of changes in inventory including acquisitions and sales or transfers of all wildlife. Possessors of Class I or Class II wildlife must also maintain an accurate record of all births and deaths. Such records shall be open to inspection upon request by commission personnel.

(a) Records of births or deaths must include the date of the birth or death and the quantity and species of each birth or death. For the purposes of this section “birth” shall be defined as the initial hatch or live birth date for the clutch or litter.

(b) Records of acquisition must include the date of acquisition; quantity and species of wildlife acquired; name and complete address of the supplier and permit or license identification number of the supplier where applicable.

(7) It shall be unlawful for any person to buy, sell, or transfer any wildlife to or from an unpermitted entity within Florida. No person shall sell or transfer wildlife without documenting such sale or transfer. The record of sale or transfer must be entered in the transferor’s records and made available for inspection upon request of Commission personnel for a period of  three years after the sale or transfer.

(a) Records of sale or transfer shall include the date of sale or transfer; quantity and species of wildlife sold or transferred; name and complete address of the recipient; and permit or license identification number of the recipient where applicable.

(b) Records of sale or transfer are not required for wildlife that may be possessed for personal use without a permit as specified in paragraphs 68A-6.0022(2)(a)-(v), F.A.C., unless such record keeping requirements are otherwise regulated by other rules of the Commission.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV. Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.1025, 379.303, 379.304 FS. History–New 7-1-90, Amended 2-1-98, Formerly39-6.0023, Amended 8-27-09.

All records should be required to be made public records because there is no way the FWC can monitor the trade in wildlife species. Watchdog groups will do that for free and will alert the FWC and public to improprieties.  There is no situation involving the trade in wildlife species that deserves protection from the public who are put in peril by being forced to live in close proximity to these animals.  There are no trade secrets or legitimate reasons for hiding who is buying, selling and adding to the burgeoning problem of the legal and illegal captive wildlife trade.  With the ability we have today to easily upload documents digitally this does not create a burden for licensees.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that all acquisition and disposition records be made public record and that all transactions must be posted online, in full detail, within 10 days of the activity.

68A-6.0024. Commercialization of Wildlife; Bonding or Financial Responsibility Guarantee

Effective on Monday, December 06, 2010

(1) Because the possession of wildlife in accordance with Section 379.3761, F.S., is commercial in nature any person permitted to possess wildlife per Section 379.3761, F.S., except hobbyist possessors of Class III wildlife, shall demonstrate consistent and sustained commercial activity in the form of exhibition or sale of such authorized wildlife. For the purposes of this section a “hobbyist” is defined as one whose primary purpose for possession of such Class III wildlife is personal enjoyment but may occasionally exhibit or sell such wildlife. Consistent and sustained commercial activity may be demonstrated by the following examples of business procedures including, but not limited to:

(a) A regular media advertising campaign, or Internet Web site;

(b) Signs, billboards or flyers advertising commercial wildlife services or operations;

(c) Regular business hours during which the premises is open for commercial activity.

(d) Written business is conducted on printed letterhead, indicating the name of the company or business;

(e) Documented exhibition of wildlife to the public, with or without a charge;

(f) Sale of wildlife including any lesser acts thereof as defined in Rule 68A-1.004, F.A.C.

(2) It is unlawful to exhibit venomous reptiles to the public without having posted a performance bond as listed below.

(a) A valid performance bond payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall be submitted at the time of initial license application and upon renewal. The licensee shall notify the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in writing within 5 calendar days if the performance bond expires, is cancelled or revoked, or for any other reason becomes invalid. The notification in writing may be delivered by fax at (850) 414-8212, or by mail or hand delivery to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Office of Licensing and Permitting, 2590 Executive Center Circle, Suite 200-Berkley Building, Tallahassee, Florida 32301. The terms of the performance bond shall include the following:

1. The exhibitor shall indemnify and save harmless the injured party if an injury occurs or other damage results from exhibited reptiles.

2. The exhibitor shall fully comply with all laws of the state and rules of the commission governing the capturing, keeping, possessing or exhibiting of venomous reptiles.

3. The performance bond shall be for the duration of not less than the duration of the licensing period.

(b) In lieu of a surety bond, a person may submit a cash bond to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to satisfy the performance bond requirement. Such payment shall be in the sum of $10,000 and may be in the form of cash, cashier’s check, or certified check. In the instance of a check, such instrument shall be made payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Such cash bond shall be refunded to the exhibitor in instances of non-issuance or denial of the initial license application; or the exhibitor has submitted a request for refund to include a notarized statement that they no longer exhibit venomous reptiles.

(c) The performance bond will be forfeited to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission if:

1. An injury occurs or other damage results from exhibited reptiles and the exhibitor fails to indemnify and save harmless the injured party; or

2. The exhibitor fails to fully comply with all laws of the state and rules of the commission governing the capturing, keeping, possessing or exhibiting of venomous reptiles.

(d) The exhibition of venomous reptiles in the absence of a current and valid performance bond, payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in the sum of $10,000 is prohibited.

(3) It is unlawful to possess Class I wildlife without having guaranteed financial responsibility. The following methods of payment will satisfy the financial responsibility requirement:

(a) A valid performance bond payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the sum of $10,000, in compliance with and as noted in paragraph 68A-6.0024(1)(a), F.A.C., above. The terms of the performance bond shall include the following:

1. The possessor shall indemnify and save harmless the injured party if an injury to the public occurs, including accidental death, or other property damage occurs from the Class I wildlife.

2. The possessor shall indemnify and save harmless the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for payment of all expenses relative to the capture, transport, boarding, veterinary care, or other costs associated with or incurred due to seizure or custody of Class I wildlife.

3. The performance bond shall be for the duration of not less than the duration of the licensing period.

(b) Cash, cashier’s check, or certified check in the sum of $10,000. In the instance of a check such instrument shall be made payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Such cash bond shall be refunded to the possessor of Class I wildlife in instances of non-issuance or denial of the initial license application; or the possessor has submitted a request for refund to include a notarized statement that they no longer possess Class I wildlife.

(c) Irrevocable letter of credit issued by a bank, savings and loan, credit union or other similar state or federally chartered financial institution, payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the sum of $10,000.

(d) In lieu of the $10,000 financial responsibility guarantee any person possessing Class I wildlife may maintain comprehensive general liability insurance with minimum limits of $2 million per occurrence and $2 million annual aggregate as shall protect the possessor of Class I wildlife from claims for damage for personal injury, including accidental death, as well as claims for property damage which may arise. The insurance policy shall be for a duration of not less than the duration of the licensing period. A current Certificate of Insurance evidencing proof of insurance maintained by the possessor of Class I wildlife in such amounts as required by this section, including terms, coverage and expiration date, shall be submitted at the time of initial application and upon renewal. The licensee shall notify the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in writing within 5 calendar days if the insurance policy expires, is cancelled or revoked, or for any other reason becomes invalid. The notification in writing may be delivered by fax at (850) 414-8212, or by mail or hand delivery to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Office of Licensing and Permitting, 2590 Executive Center Circle, Suite 200-Berkley Building, Tallahassee, Florida 32301.

(e) The performance bond or financial responsibility guarantee in the sum of $10,000, or any portion thereof, will be forfeited to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission if:

1. An injury to the public, including accidental death, or other property damage results from Class I wildlife and the possessor of such Class I wildlife fails to indemnify and save harmless the injured party; or

2. Class I wildlife is taken into custody or seized by commission personnel. In instances where Class I wildlife is seized or taken into custody by the Commission the permittee shall be responsible for payment of all expenses relative to the capture, transport, boarding, veterinary care, or other costs associated with or incurred due to seizure or custody of the wildlife.

(f) The possession of Class I wildlife in the absence of a current and valid performance bond, payable to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in the sum of $10,000, or a financial responsibility guarantee in the sum of $10,000, or a current and valid comprehensive general liability insurance with minimum limits of $2 million per occurrence and $2 million annual aggregate is prohibited.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 379.303, 379.304, 379.305, 379.373, 379.374 FS. History–New 2-1-08, Amended 8-27-09, 6-7-10, 12-6-10.

For years, Big Cat Rescue has requested a list of those complying with the bond and those failing to do so.  Requesting the list often takes months and sometimes it never comes.  When it has there have always been those in possession of Class I animals who were not in compliance, however they were still being allowed to operate.  The “hobbyist” exemption with its subjective test creates confusion about who must possess the bond and its subjectivity makes it difficult to enforce the requirement.  But most important, why should ANYONE who insists on owning a dangerous animal not be required to incurr the minimal cost of a $10,000 bond to provide a small amount of protection to someone who is injured by that animal?  That is like saying people who only drive to the supermarket and back should not have to have car insurance.

Big Cat Rescue suggests that their be no exeptions to the bond requirement – anyone who possesses a wild animals should be required to have the bond.  We also suggest that a reat time list of which exhibitors have a valid in force bond or the required insurance be maintained online and available to the public so neighbors can see if an owner hear them has a bond.  This would require nothing more than a one minute simple entry each time a FWC received a bond or insurance renewal.  This would require much less effort that apparently is currently required to create a current list manually upon request.

68A-6.0025. Sanctuaries; Retired Performing Wildlife and Identification

Effective on Monday, December 06, 2010

(1) Only a corporation that is licensed in accordance with Section 379.3761, F.S., and exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and described in sections 501 (c)(3) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of such code, may operate a wildlife sanctuary for captive wildlife.  For the purposes of this section a “wildlife sanctuary for captive wildlife” is defined as a facility established for the sole purpose of providing lifetime care for unwanted or infirmed captive wildlife.  Such wildlife sanctuary for captive wildlife shall be operated in compliance with the provisions of Chapter 68A-6, F.A.C., and this section.

(a) Each wildlife sanctuary for captive wildlife must maintain and have available for inspection proof of current status as a Florida registered not-for-profit corporation and proof of current exemption from taxation under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and described in sections 501 (c)(3) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of such code.

(b) Acts which perpetuate the commercial trade in wildlife, including the trade, sale, offering for trade or sale, breeding except as authorized herein, or buying of captive wildlife or parts thereof, by any such wildlife sanctuary for captive wildlife are prohibited.

(c) Full or incidental contact between the public and such captive wildlife as defined in subparagraphs 68A-6.0023(3)(a)2.-3., F.A.C., is prohibited.

(d) All wildlife maintained by such sanctuary for captive wildlife shall be permanently identified by means of tattoo, brand, passive integrated transponder (PIT tag), photographic identification, or other method that clearly and permanently identifies that particular specimen so as to be distinguished from other specimens of the same species.

1. For photographic identification the photograph of the specimen must include sufficient distinguishing characteristics (marks, scars, and patterns, etc.) to enable that particular specimen to be distinguished from other specimens of the same species.

2. Record of identification including PIT tag numbers where applicable, along with information about the specimen being identified (species, method of identification, specimen name or number, gender and age) must be maintained in the possessors records for as long as the specimen is possessed. Such records shall be made available for inspection, upon request, of commission personnel. A copy of such record shall be provided to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, upon annual renewal of the license issued in accordance with Section 379.3761, F.S., and authorizing possession of such wildlife.

(e) Rare, endangered or otherwise protected specimens of wildlife may be transferred for breeding purposes in instances where such breeding program clearly enhances the survival potential of the species.

(f) Any sanctuary possessing Class I wildlife as listed in Rule 68A-6.002, F.A.C., must meet the bonding or financial responsibility guarantee requirements of paragraphs68A-6.0024(3)(a)-(f), F.A.C.

(2) Any person licensed in accordance with Section 379.3761, F.S., who possesses performing wildlife that due to its age or physical condition may no longer perform, may retain such retired performing wildlife for the purposes of providing lifetime care for said wildlife. Such retired performing wildlife shall be permanently identified and records maintained and submitted as prescribed in subparagraphs (1)(d)1.-2., above.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV. Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., 372.921 FS. History–New 8-27-09, Amended 12-6-10.

There are a number of issues with this section.  First, subsection (e) “Rare, endangered or otherwise protected specimens of wildlife may be transferred for breeding purposes in instances where such breeding program clearly enhances the survival potential of the species” is totally inconsistent with the concept of “sanctuary” since true sanctuaries never participate in or promote breeding of wild animals for life in cages and no captive breeding of exotic cats helps the survival of cats in the wild.  Second, Florida law prohibits owning big cats as pets.  A pet owner can evade the prohibition by meeting the requirements and calling themselves a sanctuary.  Third, at least when animals are exhibited the public gets to see the conditions they are in when shown.  This provision allows an exhibitor to set up a separate entity that qualifies as a sanctuary, put animals there as they choose, avoid USDA inspection because USDA only licenses exhibitors, and keep the public from seeing the conditions the animals are kept in.

Big Cat Rescue suggests this section be removed entirely.

 

Florida Residents!  Please help by sending a quick comment to the FWC here:  http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51389/p/salsa/web/blog/public/?blog_KEY=31

Flavio-2013-Vacation-Rotation

Cat Chat 34

Cat Chat 34

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Robin Greenwood, President of Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary joins Carole Baskin on Cat Chat 34 today.  Robin is both the Founder of the sanctuary and the President and talks with us today about how Elmira’s was started, their evolution and their future plans.

 

 

Playlist of Cat Chat Show videos

Find the Cat Chat Show in iTunes

Find the Cat Chat Show on Libsyn

 

Elmiras Aerial View

Elmiras Big Cat Play Area

108_0442 ????????

108_0792108_0854CatChat34RobinGreenwoodCat on fence post

Born to be Wild and Free

Born to be Wild and Free

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Born to be Wild and Free

By Ira Fischer

 

There is a large and rapidly growing American subculture characterized by individuals raising some of the world’s most dangerous animals as pets. Remarkably, there are more tigers privately held in the U.S. than found in the wild. These “pets”, which are typically kept in small cages in backyards, garages or basements of homes, oftentimes suffer from severe health defects due to their captivity.

Captive big cats are particularly vulnerable to inhumane treatment and these magnificent creatures are caught in a cycle of misery. It begins with captive breeding by dealers, who strip the infant cubs from their mothers. The all too common scenario is that the owners discard these wildcats when they become too big, too aggressive, or too expensive to keep, or as the novelty wears-off. The cycle often ends with these once-beloved pets living in pseudo-sanctuaries, such as unaccredited traveling zoo exhibits or wildlife parks, since overburdened accredited sanctuaries (Accredited sanctuaries, such as Big Cat Rescue, are IRS tax exempt and do not permit commercial trade, propagation or direct contact between the public and the wildlife) seldom have the financial means to provide lifetime care. Others are shipped off to hunting ranches to be shot for trophies, while many are killed for their remains (primarily fur, food or traditional Asian medicine). Such is the fate of many privately owned exotic cats that in some ancient cultures were revered as though they were gods.

 

Zanesville Massacre 18 tigers 17 lions 3 cougars gunned down

Zanesville Massacre 18 tigers 17 lions 3 cougars gunned down

Keeping wildcats as pets also poses a danger to people. Last year, in Zanesville, Ohio, exotic animals were released from their cages before their owner committed suicide. Fortunately, no people were killed or injured in that incident. The animals were not so fortunate, as 49 lions, tigers, bears and other exotics were killed by law enforcement officials to protect public safety. Since 1990, numerous dangerous incidents involving big cats have occurred the U.S., including 21 human deaths, 246 maulings and 143 wildcat deaths.

 

Commercial entities that keep wildcats captive also demonstrate that tragedies inevitably occur when unqualified individuals possess these animals. Recently, the Humane Society of the United States released the results of an investigation into GW Exotic Animal Park, where multiple dangerous incidents were recorded involving children and adults resulting from allowing patrons to interact with wild predators. An alarming number of tiger cub deaths at GW are also under investigation.

 

There exists a patchwork of state laws governing the harboring of exotic animals which make it difficult to ensure public safety and the welfare of these animals. Common sense suggests that a uniform federal ban is needed to address this nationwide problem.

 

The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (H.R. 4122) would ensure that lions, tigers and other dangerous big cats do not threaten public safety or end up living in horrible conditions. As noted by the Bill’s sponsor, Representative Buck McKeon, “No matter how many times people try to do it, wildcats such as lions, tigers, panthers and cheetahs are impossible to domesticate”. The Bill would prohibit private possession of big cats except at qualified facilities like accredited zoos and wildlife sanctuaries.

 

Repeated tragedies between humans and big cats underscore the need for passage of this legislation. The Bill would also help to ensure that exotic cats, particularly tigers, cannot filter into the illegal international trade for their parts, which fuels poaching and threatens the survival of wild populations. The Bill, if made into law, would be a win-win for both public safety and the welfare of the wildcats that are victimized by being held captive as pets. The time is long past due to protect public safety and to put an end to the suffering and abuse endured by these majestic animals and to respect their birthright to be wild and free.

 

http://irafischer.com/bigcats.html

 

Ira FisherIra Fischer is an attorney-at-law living in Delray Beach.

He devotes his retirement to the cause of animal welfare through advocacy.

The mission of the writer’s website [www.irafischer.com] is:

 

Kindness and Compassion for Animals

The writer is a proud supporter of Big Cat Rescue and is a member of its Legacy Society.

 

 

Beautiful, Wild and Free

 

 

Ligers, Sand Cats, Tigers, Lions, Leopards, Cougars, Lynx, Bobcats…..Big Cat Rescue’s Theme Song is Beautiful, Wild and Free.

Terez Hartmann, is a seasoned entertainer, speaker, forward-thinking pioneer, entrepreneur and business professional with a background in marketing and psychology.

Because she was so deeply touched by her experience with the magnificent cats of Big Cat Rescue, she chose to write a song to honor these amazing creatures AND for a limited time, offer a portion of the proceeds of this download purchase to benefit the cats!

 

 

Most Indian circuses disregard ban on using big cats

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This circus still has a tusk force

Express Features
First Published : 22 Dec 2009 07:33:58 AM IST
Last Updated : 22 Dec 2009 10:33:12 AM IST

BANGALORE: Your ‘favourite’ (or so they claim) Gemini Circus is back in the city.

And so are the elephants.

Wondering what happened to the recent notification according to which the elephants cannot be kept in zoos? Mind you, the definition of zoos includes circus also in the Wildlife Protection Act.

What about Bollywood bimbette Celina Jaitley’s sincere attempts to save these elephants in captivity? “After coming to Mumbai and visiting other parts of India, I have seen so many elephants who are kept in such bad conditions in captivity. I think PETA has taken a very good step, and I am proud to be associated with this cause,” she made a serious comment.

Obviously, it’s then surprising to see these elphants dancing to the tunes of its trainer in the city circus.

An insider, not wanting to be quoted for obvious reasons, said, “It’s only in India that this kind of tamasha happens. You go to any part of the world and will find all kinds of animals in circuses.” When asked about the legal angle to his side of the story, the man, sounding really angry, said, “They’ve taken all other animals — tigers, lions, cheetah and monkeys — we’ve still not got any official notice about the use of elephants.” “The Performing Animals Rules prohibit the use of few animals in circus. According to the rule, lions, tigers, monkey and panthers should not be used in the circus, however, elephants are not included in the rules,” Brinda Nanda, the Animal Rights Advocate.

The recent notification regarding prohibition of keeping animals in zoos did not come into force because the Centre has yet to make rules regarding proper accommodation of the elephants, added Brinda.

Till then, it’s still not such a ‘big’ issue for circus owners, as someone closely watching this circus (pun intended) from inside pointed it out: “Of course, our business will suffer if we have to give away these elephants but there’s nothing much we can do about it. We take care of these animals like no one else and deserve them more than anyone else.” What do you have to say? YOUR ‘favourite’ (or so they claim) Gemini Circus is back in the city.

And so are the elephants.

Wondering what happened to the recent notification according to which the elephants cannot be kept in zoos? Mind you, the definition of zoos includes circus also in the Wildlife Protection Act.

What about Bollywood bimbette Celina Jaitley’s sincere attempts to save these elephants in captivity? “After coming to Mumbai and visiting other parts of India, I have seen so many elephants who are kept in such bad conditions in captivity. I think PETA has taken a very good step, and I am proud to be associated with this cause,” she made a serious comment.

Obviously, it’s then surprising to see these elphants dancing to the tunes of its trainer in the city circus.

An insider, not wanting to be quoted for obvious reasons, said, “It’s only in India that this kind of tamasha happens. You go to any part of the world and will find all kinds of animals in circuses.” When asked about the legal angle to his side of the story, the man, sounding really angry, said, “They’ve taken all other animals — tigers, lions, cheetah and monkeys — we’ve still not got any official notice about the use of elephants.” “The Performing Animals Rules prohibit the use of few animals in circus. According to the rule, lions, tigers, monkey and panthers should not be used in the circus, however, elephants are not included in the rules,” Brinda Nanda, the Animal Rights Advocate.

The recent notification regarding prohibition of keeping animals in zoos did not come into force because the Centre has yet to make rules regarding proper accommodation of the elephants, added Brinda.

Till then, it’s still not such a ‘big’ issue for circus owners, as someone closely watching this circus (pun intended) from inside pointed it out: “Of course, our business will suffer if we have to give away these elephants but there’s nothing much we can do about it. We take care of these animals like no one else and deserve them more than anyone else.” What do you have to say?

PLAYING THE WILD CARD

* There are laws designed to protect animals in circuses. They include

* The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 (PCA Act)

* The Performing Animals (Registration) Rules of 2001 under the PCA Act

* The Wild Life Protection Act of 1972 (WLPA) (as amended in 1991)

* The International C.I.T.E.S. (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) treaty that protects endangered animals and provisions under the Indian constitution.

* But the laws are rarely enforced. Officials look the other way when circuses come to town.

* The former union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Maneka Gandhi, banned the use of bears, monkeys, tigers, lions and panthers in circuses in October 1998.

* Still, most circuses in India disregard this law. Some circuses refuse to give up the banned animals and demand financial compensation even though they are breaking the law.

Source: www.petaindia.com

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=This+circus+still+has+a+tusk+force&artid=xumP2tQi%7CP0=&SectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&MainSectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&SEO=&SectionName=UOaHCPTTmuP3XGzZRCAUTQ==

——

Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

Information Resource on Big Cats

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The citations in this bibliography pertain to the health, care and housing of big cats. This information will be of use to research facilities, zoos, circuses and conservation programs to assist them in the care, breeding, husbandry and conservation of these beautiful animals. It may also be of interest to those who would like additional information on the care and preservation of these seven big cats.

The Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulates the care, housing and treatment of warm blooded animals used for research, public exhibition, transportation in commerce, or sold in wholesale pet trade. Big cats are exhibited in zoos and circuses, used in some areas of research, used in conservation projects, and occasionally sold or transported in commerce and thus fall under the AWA. USDA, APHIS, Animal Care provides answers to Commonly Asked Big Cat Questions as well as a position statement entitled Large Wild and Exotic Cats Make Dangerous Pets on its website.

For this document, the compiler searched for citations from multiple sources published between the years 1958 to 2008. The sources of information include peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, theses, annual reports, dissertations, books, monographs, and reviews. Some URLs are provided for documents available as eDocuments. The searches provide information in 14 different subject areas from anatomy to veterinary medicine, including information on conservation programs. Readers are cautioned as to the dynamic nature of the internet and the fact that Web addresses and content are subject to change. All sites are current as of November 2009.

Source: National Agricultural Library (USDA)

http://www.resourceshelf.com/2009/12/23/information-resource-on-big-cats/

————

Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org