Keepers shoot escaped lion at Australian zoo

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21 hours ago

SYDNEY (AFP) — A lioness was shot dead after escaping from its enclosure at an Australian zoo, forcing dozens of visitors to hide inside buildings, a zoo spokesman said Wednesday.

The nine-year-old big cat, called Jamelia, broke out of its habitat at Mogo Zoo south of Sydney on Tuesday morning as visitors were walking around.

“She never reached a public area but there was a concern she may have,” zoo spokesman John Appleby said.

“All our team members and visitors were taken into safe houses.”

He said Jamelia, who was raised from birth at the privately-owned zoo some 300 kilometres (185 miles) south of Sydney, was shot dead by a marksman.

“She was moving quite slowly toward a public area, but under the circumstances a decision was made to put her down,” he told Australian Associated Press.

“It’s an absolute loss, the team are still quite upset,” he added. “She was a very important animal and loved by the entire team.”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iCIp47yScK52t06Bo0iuqX2l_g_A

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

Florida man gives up "pet" cougars

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Wonder Gardens takes in two mountain lions

By AARON HALE (Contact)
Originally published 4:37 p.m., Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Updated 5:27 p.m., Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The love of animals has always been a driving factor behind David and Dawn Piper’s work with the Everglades Wonder Gardens.

That compassion was tested last week when they were asked to rescue two mountain lions from a home in Lehigh Acres.

David Piper says he received a call from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Investigator Lar Gregory on March 11, asking him if he would rescue and rehabilitate two female mountain lions being kept as pets at a home in Lehigh Acres.

Gregory said the home did not meet spacing requirements for keeping large cats.

For cats such as panthers and mountain lions, owners must have at least two-and-half acres of property separating the cats from other residences.

“It’s for safety of neighbors and for the benefit for the animal,” says Gregory.

The owner of the cats, John Wein, says he’s always had a fascination with large cats.

He bought the mountain lions from a supplier when they were still kittens.

He named them Cherokee and Scout.

He had them spayed and declawed as if they were house cats; he even trained them with a litter box.

When they were small, he kept them in his house. But as they got bigger, they had to be caged outside.

He says he was affectionate and caring towards the cats, and they were to him as well.

“They’d kiss and hug me,” Wein says. “But that was with me. With other people, they’d get a little skiddish.”

Though he adored his cats, he admitted that owning mountain lions is a tough hobby.

“It’s a life change. You can’t go on vacation. There are a lot of regulations. You always have to watch your back. You can’t let people come over. We spent a hundreds of dollars on food.”

And cleaning up the kitty litter?

“You use a big shovel. But that’s part of the job.”

Wein explained that he used to live in a house with a larger lot, but eventually ended up in his current residence in a typical Lehigh neighborhood. That’s when he ran into problems with state regulations.

He had the proper permits and training to keep the cats, but the acreage of his property and the size of the backyard cage were not large enough for state requirements.

Gregory told him he would have to surrender the cats.

“I felt that it was unfair,” Wein says, arguing he was perfectly capable of caring for the cats, even in their smaller space.

“They were my life for many years,” he says. “But sometimes you just can’t fight city hall.”

Before agreeing to take the cats in, David and Dawn Piper and long-time Wonder Gardens employee Jason Miller went to see the cats.

David Piper says he found the cats in unfit condition. Cherokee had an injury to her palm that had become infected. The bite had come from one of Wein’s dogs. The other, Scout, was very thin and apparently malnourished.

Piper says Wein clearly loved the cats, but didn’t really know how to care them.

“He did the best he could with the space they had,” Piper says.

After visiting Cherokee and Scout, the Pipers had to decide whether to take the cats back to the Wonder Gardens for good.

The Piper family, which has run the Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita for more than 70 years, has a tradition of rescuing and rehabilitating injured Florida wildlife. Animals that cannot be released back into the wild remain on exhibit as a tourist attraction at their site on Old 41 Road.

The Wonder Gardens was built from Everglades wildlife that Lester Piper and his brother, Bill, rehabilitated in the mid-1900s – animals like bears, birds, alligators and other reptiles – all native to Florida.

:I was torn because the mountain lions don’t really go with the Everglades theme,” David Piper says.

Mountain lions, though they are part of the same species as Florida panthers, are not native to Florida.

Dawn Piper convinced her husband to take in the cats, arguing they had the best place to keep and rehabilitate the animals.

“It might not fit exactly what we do. But it’s a heartbreaking situation,” David Piper says.

Miller and the Pipers returned to retrieve the cats on March 12.

Piper says Wein was emotional as the cats were leaving, but was helpful and compliant.

Cherokee, the more aggressive cat, had to be darted with tranquilizers in order to be moved.

The Pipers left an open invitation for Wein to visit the cats at the Wonder Gardens.

To treat the cats, Piper called David Randall, a veterinarian at Big Cypress Animal Hospital in Naples who has worked with large cats before.

Upon examining the cats Randall said Cherokee could quickly recover from her paw injuries, but Scout would require a great deal of rehab with her condition.

“It appears to be from parasites,” he says of her malnourished condition.

Randall explained that while it’s not uncommon for wild cats to get worms, if a cat is left in the same small space exposed to remnants of its own waste, it’s hard for the cat to get better.

Randall says he expects it will take months for Scout to recover from the parasite, and get back to full strength.

Though he doesn’t doubt the good intentions of exotic pet owners, Randall contends that these kinds of animals shouldn’t be kept at private residences.

“It’s a shame that those animals end up in people’s back yard. It’s unnatural for the animals to be kept in that type of environment,” he says. “It’s like putting that kind of animal in solitary confinement.”

Recovering from their respective conditions, Cherokee and Scout now lounge in the same enclosure in the back corner at the Everglades Wonder Gardens.

As a tour group comes by, the guide introduces the cats. He explains that Cherokee and Scout are not native animals, but have been rescued and are in the process of rehabilitating.

Piper says the explanation was inserted in the tour on the advice from the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

“We don’t want people to see how skinny they are and think they that we were mistreating the animals,” Piper says.

The cats now stay in a much larger cage. Their food has improved from a diet of raw chicken parts to beef supplemented with vitamins and calcium.

Piper says he’s glad he did the right thing and rescued the cats, but he admits that the costs to do so have been large.

“Just the antibiotic shots alone were $250,” he says.

He estimates that it’s costing him a few thousand dollars to rehabilitate the cats.

To offset the costs, tour guides ask for a one dollar donation from guests to help pay for their medical costs.

Dawn Piper says the contributions will help with an expense that hadn’t been budgeted.

The rest of the expenses, the Pipers will just have to manage.

“When you care about the animals,” David Piper says. “It doesn’t matter if it works in your plan.”

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2009/mar/18/wonder-gardens-takes-two-mountain-lions/

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

B.C. bans private ownership of exotic pets like tigers, pythons, alligators

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VANCOUVER, B.C. — The tragic death two years ago of a woman killed by a caged tiger as children looked on helped spur the British Columbia government to implement new rules to ban dangerous pets that could harm the public, says Environment Minister Barry Penner.

Penner said Tuesday that the new Controlled Alien Species Regulation, which came into effect this week, identifies 1,256 species that pose a serious threat to public safety.

The list includes black panthers, lions, tigers, boa constrictors, pythons, some poisonous frogs, monkeys, chimpanzees and caimans.

“We are determined to do something to improve public safety while also protecting these species from improperly being brought into British Columbia,” said Penner.

He recounted the horrific incident in 2007 in Bridge Lake, B.C., when Tanya Dumstrey-Soos, 32, was clawed by a Siberian tiger owned by her boyfriend and bled to death.

“Despite that animal being inside a cage it was able to get its claws get through the cage and sever an artery in the back of her leg,” he said.

“Tragically her death took place in the full view of her children.”

He called her death “needless and unnecessary” and suggested it was the impetus “for the need to take steps in British Columbia.”

The new regulations mean pet owners can no longer own several types of foreign mammals, amphibians or reptiles unless the animal was in B.C. prior to March 16 of this year.

People who already own a foreign pet who came into the province before that date may be able to keep the animal, if they are granted a permit from the Environment Ministry. Owners are also prohibited from breeding or releasing the animals.

Penner made the announcement at the Vancouver Aquarium, to a backdrop of several of the newly regulated species.

The minister and a representative from the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said there are many hundreds of people in B.C. who are in possession of exotic pets.

“We know that an increasing number of individuals are choosing to obtain these types of animals and keep them as pets or as attractions in communities around the province,” Penner told reporters.

Craig Daniel, head of the provincial SPCA, said the organization’s cruelty investigators are too often called upon “to investigate private individuals who own dangerous wildlife and are unable to meet the needs of these unique animals.”

They not only put public safety at risk, but also the safety of the SPCA staff, he said.

Many exotic pet owners are also ill-equipped to own such animals.

“Owners of exotic animals often do not know how to meet the physical and psychological needs of these animals,” Daniel said.

“The only effective way to prevent this abuse and neglect is through the introduction of regulations.”

Accredited zoos and research or educational institutions can continue breeding the regulated animals but must apply for a permit for each animal beginning in November.

The film industry will also be required to get a permit for temporarily bringing controlled animals into B.C. and must remove the animals from the province when the film shoot has been completed.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5gqsCUwR1xGMCge1JwpF0mMq7J1yw

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

B.C. bans private ownership of exotic pets like tigers, pythons, alligators

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VANCOUVER, B.C. — The tragic death two years ago of a woman killed by a caged tiger as children looked on helped spur the British Columbia government to implement new rules to ban dangerous pets that could harm the public, says Environment Minister Barry Penner.

Penner said Tuesday that the new Controlled Alien Species Regulation, which came into effect this week, identifies 1,256 species that pose a serious threat to public safety.

The list includes black panthers, lions, tigers, boa constrictors, pythons, some poisonous frogs, monkeys, chimpanzees and caimans.

“We are determined to do something to improve public safety while also protecting these species from improperly being brought into British Columbia,” said Penner.

He recounted the horrific incident in 2007 in Bridge Lake, B.C., when Tanya Dumstrey-Soos, 32, was clawed by a Siberian tiger owned by her boyfriend and bled to death.

“Despite that animal being inside a cage it was able to get its claws get through the cage and sever an artery in the back of her leg,” he said.

“Tragically her death took place in the full view of her children.”

He called her death “needless and unnecessary” and suggested it was the impetus “for the need to take steps in British Columbia.”

The new regulations mean pet owners can no longer own several types of foreign mammals, amphibians or reptiles unless the animal was in B.C. prior to March 16 of this year.

People who already own a foreign pet who came into the province before that date may be able to keep the animal, if they are granted a permit from the Environment Ministry. Owners are also prohibited from breeding or releasing the animals.

Penner made the announcement at the Vancouver Aquarium, to a backdrop of several of the newly regulated species.

The minister and a representative from the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said there are many hundreds of people in B.C. who are in possession of exotic pets.

“We know that an increasing number of individuals are choosing to obtain these types of animals and keep them as pets or as attractions in communities around the province,” Penner told reporters.

Craig Daniel, head of the provincial SPCA, said the organization’s cruelty investigators are too often called upon “to investigate private individuals who own dangerous wildlife and are unable to meet the needs of these unique animals.”

They not only put public safety at risk, but also the safety of the SPCA staff, he said.

Many exotic pet owners are also ill-equipped to own such animals.

“Owners of exotic animals often do not know how to meet the physical and psychological needs of these animals,” Daniel said.

“The only effective way to prevent this abuse and neglect is through the introduction of regulations.”

Accredited zoos and research or educational institutions can continue breeding the regulated animals but must apply for a permit for each animal beginning in November.

The film industry will also be required to get a permit for temporarily bringing controlled animals into B.C. and must remove the animals from the province when the film shoot has been completed.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5gqsCUwR1xGMCge1JwpF0mMq7J1yw

———

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

Florida: Safari-themed retreat working to get after-the-fact approval

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Safari-themed retreat working to get Collier approval after the fact

By ERIC STAATS
Sunday, March 8, 2009

NAPLES — The menagerie of animals at a safari-themed retreat in rural Collier County runs the gamut from tarantulas to white rhinos.

Besides its furry, finned and feathered collection, Ngala (prounounced En-ya-la) is home to a long-running zoning debacle that is working its way to a potential resolution later this year.

The county’s Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) already has voted unanimously to recommend approval of a petition to allow aquaculture, exotic animal breeding and an agri-tourism attraction at the Golden Gate Estates business more formally known as Close-Up Creatures.

The petition is scheduled for review March 19 by the Planning Commission and would go to Collier County commissioners for a final decision May 12.

The vote would cap a controversy that has been brewing since 2002, when county code inspectors slapped Ngala with citations alleging that the business expanded without the proper building permits and environmental reviews.

In 2003, the county agreed to drop the code cases if Close-Up Creatures would apply for after-the-fact zoning approvals, called conditional uses.

That is where the controversy has stalled out while county planners and Ngala’s representatives have sorted out just how the business fits into the county’s codes.

“I think it’s pretty simple and straightforward,” Ngala planning consultant Bob Mulhere told the EAC in February. “It just took a long time for us to get here.”

Ngala sits on about 20 mostly wooded acres on Inez Road in North Belle Meade and includes the owner’s home, a large tent for catered events, parking areas, restrooms and pens or cages for dozens of exotic animals.

The list of Ngala residents reads like the cast of the Jungle Book, including leopards, lemurs, a giraffe, camel, elephant, small buffalo called an enoa and a red-striped antelope called a bongo.

The business isn’t quite a zoo, owners say. Ngala is not open to drive-up visitors but for group appointments only. Animals are not on display except during the pre-arranged events — ranging from school field trips to elegant safari-themed parties.

Ngala also breeds koi and African cichlids and goats but plans to broaden its work to breeding rare wild animals, owner Donavan Smith said.

“We’re getting involved in a bigger picture,” he told the EAC.

The EAC’s recommendation of approval came with conditions that Ngala provide a preserve management plan that would include removal of non-native vegetation and plans to protect Florida black bears and Big Cypress fox squirrels.

Ngala also must get a wetlands permit from the South Florida Water Management District and compensate for any impacts to Florida panther habitat as determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to county reports.

As Ngala — Swahili for “place of the lion” — wends its way through the county review process, what had been a roar of discontent about the operations has quieted to a whimper.

Collier County came under fire in the summer of 2002 for using tourist tax money to help pay for a party at Ngala to sell Naples to about 150 meeting planners from across the country.

A former EAC member quit the county board over what he said was the county’s lax enforcement of its codes.

An environmental advocate tried but failed to convince state growth regulators to step in on the grounds that Ngala violated the provisions of an interim rural growth plan.

Florida Wildlife Federation field representative Nancy Payton said last week that Ngala still is in the wrong place because it is a commercial operation on land designated for preservation under the new growth plan.

Payton said, though, that the new Ngala reviews are a step in the right direction.

“They weren’t following any rules, so I guess we’re a step ahead if they follow some rules,” she said.

http://m.naplesnews.com/news/2009/mar/08/safari-themed-retreat-working-get-collier-approval/

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