"Variety" profiles animated film featuring Iberian lynx

Case Study: Missing Lynx
Kandor Moon produces eco-themed toon
Posted: Fri., May 15, 2009, 12:56pm PT

A $6 million animated feature, “Missing Lynx” is the first movie produced by Kandor Moon, a joint venture created in 2007 by Antonio Banderas’ Malaga-based shingle Green Moon and Granada’s studio Kandor Graphics.

“Missing Lynx” tells the story of a rambunctious bevy of animals fleeing a madcap millionaire’s Noah’s Ark. It was co-directed by Kandor partners Manuel Sicilia and Raul Garcia, a former animator for Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks. Co-producers include Enrique Posner’s YaYa! Films and Manuel Cristobal’s Perro Verde.

The feature represents the fruit of an initiative by Andalusia’s Environment Dept., which wanted film and TV content to transmit eco values to young film audiences.

“We suggested a humorous adventure film for children in which the environment and wildlife were at the forefront, but avoiding an over-explicit moralizing style,” Sicilia says.

The Environment Dept. put up $1.16 million on the condition that 20% of film profits go toward environmental causes. Andalusia’s Culture Dept. put up another $373,000.

Regional TV station Canal Sur, one of Spain’s pubcasters most involved in toon financing, inked free-to-air rights to all of Spain for $932,400.

Alliance Films’ Aurum Prods. took Spanish theatrical and DVD rights, advancing $799,200 for P&A. Disney committed $33,300 for pay TV rights through its Disney Cinemagic channel.

International sales, handled by 6 Sales, brought in $666,000 with “Lynx” preselling or licensing to 44-plus countries, including Australia, Benelux, China, Middle East and South Africa. Key territories — Germany, the U.K. — are still available.

Financing was rounded up by subsidy coin from Spain’s ICAA film institute ($932,400) and private sponsorship ($266,400).

“Missing Lynx” bowed at Christmas in Spanish theaters, taking in a solid $1.5 million.

For Kandor Moon, “Lynx” is just the beginning. The company aims to produce five animated pics over 10 years, and its next toon feature is already in the works: a 3-D film production budgeted north of $20 million, entitled “Goleor, the Spade and the Sword” and slated for release in 2011.


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

Legislation to protect big cats in the wild advances

The Great Cats and Rare Canids Act gets overwhelming approval in House of Representatives.

Posted: April 24, 2009, 3 a.m. EDT

Wildlife advocates are praising the recent passage of an act that seeks greater protections for endangered and iconic cat and dog species, including leopards, cheetahs and African wild dogs.

The Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, introduced by Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., garnered overwhelming approval by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 21. Passage of the act supports conservation programs, educational resources and increased monitoring and law-enforcement measures to prevent poaching and illegal trafficking.

The legislation would provide financial resources to restore populations of rare wild cat and canine species and protect their habitats. The bill was approved by a vote of 290-118.
The bill defines “rare felid” to: (1) mean any of the felid species lion, leopard, jaguar, snow leopard, clouded leopard, cheetah, Iberian lynx, and Borneo bay cat, including any subspecies or population of such a species; and (2) exclude any species, subspecies or population that is native to the United States and any tiger.

The act, HR 411, builds upon an existing program, the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, which provides funds to benefit tigers and other wild animals.

This new legislation expands that program to provide funds for additional wild cats, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

“Wild and rare cat and dog species are some of the most iconic animals on the planet,” said Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf, managing director of species conservation at World Wildlife Fund. “The bipartisan bill that passed the House will help ensure these majestic creatures continue to roam the wild for generations to come.”

Supporters said that the passage marks an important stride in the battle to save great cats from the loss of habitat and food sources. A vote in the Senate is pending.


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

Pa.: Judge halts Genesis Wildlife Center moves and euthanizing

Published: Friday, April 10, 2009
Updated: Friday, April 10, 2009 6:54 AM EDT

A county judge issued court orders on Thursday temporarily blocking Genesis Wildlife Center from transferring, selling or euthanizing any of its animals and directing the facility to get back a lynx and two foxes it had transferred to an exotic animal breeder this week.

Lackawanna County Judge Carmen Minora granted the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction sought by Beatrice Heveran, a lawyer and vocal critic of the center. A hearing on the orders is scheduled for Tuesday.

The orders came after Margaret Miller, the director of Genesis Wildlife Center and the animals’ owner, told city council on Tuesday that all of the animals would have to be euthanized if the center were forced to close — a possibility since Mayor Chris Doherty told the center he could no longer guarantee city funding. A center spokesman later said that four or five primates, not all of the animals, would have to be euthanized.

Efforts to reach representatives of Genesis Wildlife Center for comment on Thursday were not successful.

The injunction calls for Genesis to get back a Siberian lynx and two desert foxes that were transferred this week to Keystone Exotics, a Sunbury breeder and dealer of dogs and exotic animals that plans to house but not breed the animals. Mike Berrigan, the owner of Keystone Exotics, has said the animals from Genesis cannot be bred because the lynx is spayed and the foxes are too old.

The restraining order bars Genesis from moving any living animal currently housed at the center unless it is to turn the animals over to Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Kendalia, Texas, or Performing Animal Welfare Society in Galt, Calif., both of which are nationally recognized animal sanctuaries.

Ms. Heveran said she has received commitments from both sanctuaries that they are willing to provide or find permanent housing for the animals.

Lynn Cuny, founder and executive director of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, told The Times-Tribune on Tuesday that she could house some of the animals at her 187-acre facility and would work with a network of “legitimate sanctuaries” to provide housing for the others.

Contact the writer: llegere@timesshamrock.com



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

Nevada sanctuary marks 28th anniversay

April 1, 2009

Animal Ark marks 28th anniversary

By Bonney Brown
Special to the Reno Gazette-Journal

Moving a 500-pound bear into his new home, planning exercise time for cheetahs so they can run at 60 mph, coping with 7 feet of snow while caring for 40 large wild animals — it might seem impossible to us, but it’s all in a day’s work for Diana and Aaron Hiibel, founders of Animal Ark, and their staff and volunteers.

On Saturday, Animal Ark celebrates 28 years as a wildlife sanctuary and nature center, and the owners invite the public to share in the festivities. This 38-acre sanctuary, located northwest of Reno, gives lifelong care to wild animals who cannot be released back into their natural environment.

“Years ago when we started out working with wildlife, it was for all the wrong reasons. We purchased a monkey, two wolves and a mountain lion as pets,” said Aaron Hiibel, executive director of Animal Ark. “However, we quickly learned that wild animals do not make good pets, and, if at all possible, belong in the wild. Now, we share our experiences with animals by offering our visitors a wild educational experience with nature.”

A young mountain lion named Milagro came to Animal Ark last year after an encounter with an automobile left him with serious hip and leg fractures. Because he could not be reunited with his mother to learn the ways of mountain lion life, he became a lifelong resident of Animal Ark, where he is an ambassador for his species. Visitors can meet Milagro (which means miracle in Spanish) up close while observing his daily activities through a glass viewing area.

Other Animal Ark residents include Morgan the barn owl; desert tortoises Jonni and Peabody and a variety of fox species, including an arctic fox named Effie. While all the animals are available for viewing on most days, special event days give visitors different views of the animals.

On May 3, tigers Shere Kahn and Taja and black bears Yogi, Gracie and Amy will be breaking open their own piñatas. In June, wolves Rayna, Raven and Nischa will display their howling techniques. And several times a year, cheetahs Zulu, Moyo and Jamar display their top running speed for visitors.

Animal Ark’s staff members have developed enrichment programs with toys and stimulating activities to keep the animals’ minds and bodies fit. Food is hidden in the bears’ habitats rather than just placed into a bowl in the same place for every meal.

Simple items such as cardboard boxes and plastic balls provide safe amusement and many of the animals enjoy pumpkins and piñatas too.

“In addition to providing permanent housing and care to disadvantaged wildlife, sharing information about their habitats, and providing awareness regarding the problems they face, our vision is to promote global conservation and encourage the use of ‘green’ resources,” Hiibel said. “Animal Ark has been off the commercial power grid for all of its 28-year existence.”

Animal Ark does not engage in captive breeding for the purpose of selling or trading animals, and they are accredited by the American Sanctuary Association.

As a nonprofit organization, Animal Ark relies upon donations, volunteers and visitors to make its work possible.

“When I witness our visitors hearing the howl of a wolf or the purr of a big cat, observing a cheetah at 60 mph, or seeing the face of a mountain lion through glass from five feet away, I know that we are making a difference in the hearts and minds of the people who visit the animals here,” Hiibel said.

Details: www.animalark.org

Bonney Brown is executive director of the Nevada Humane Society.

Additional Facts
Animal Ark

What: Wildlife sanctuary opens for season.
When: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sunday, beginning April 2.
Where: 1265 Deerlodge Road. From Reno, travel north on U.S. 395 to Red Rock Road, (exit 78) turn right, drive 11.5 miles, turn right on Deerlodge.
Cost: $8 adults; $6 seniors; $6 ages 3-12; free 2 and younger.
Details: www.animalark.org or 775-970-3111.
Special events
Saturday: Birthday Bash
April 26: Cheetah dash
May 3: Piñatas and predators



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

Big Cat Rescue partners with local schools

Published: April 1, 2009

TAMPA – Your grocery bill might be $250 a day, too, if you towered over a 6-foot man and had paws the size of dinner plates.

Flavio, a 20-year-old retired circus tiger, showed off his bulk Monday night when he leapt onto his hind legs to snag a quarter of a chicken that Scott Lope held over his head.

Lope, the operations director at Big Cat Rescue, was feeding the lions and tigers in front of a tour group of Hillsborough County educators who hope to raise money for the cats.

About 40 teachers and administrators visited Big Cat Rescue this week to learn about the nonprofit organization’s mission and how donations from local schools could benefit it.

Now, they are taking the message back to their schools and trying to raise $250, which covers the cost of feeding the lions and tigers for a day, from each school this month.

The local chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, a professional educators association, is coordinating the charity drive.

Bonnie Kirstein, a student intervention specialist and one of the fundraiser’s organizers, said many of the children she works with at Davidsen Middle School feel frustrated because they see their parents having a hard time economically. Raising money for Big Cat can show them they can still make a difference, she said.

For Big Cat, which cares for 140 exotic felines that have been abused, abandoned or neglected, the effort exposes more students to its mission. Volunteer Denny Mitchell said he enjoys giving children tours and helping them understand why the cats should be protected.

“I like to bring kids because it’s a great place to start with the message of conservation,” Mitchell said.

Dana Clements, a third-grade teacher at Westchase Elementary, brought two of her students with her to the tour Monday. They had studied lions and tigers in class and attended a field trip to the 45-acre sanctuary in Citrus Park, where they were able to encounter the animals in a way they can’t through books or television.

“There’s no fluff,” Clements said. “There’s no cartoon animals.”

Instead, her students learn about the dangers of adopting exotic animals at home and disappearing wildlife.

Grayson Leal, 9, said he could see the appeal of smaller cats, such as a bobcat or a lynx, but wouldn’t want one.

“They look really cute, but Big Cat Rescue told us that wasn’t the right thing,” Grayson said. “They get too powerful or are mistreated.”

Cameron Wiebe, 8, said the rescue was a cool place for children to learn about wild cats. He discovered a surprise namesake on his trip, too.

“When I saw one of the lions named Cameron? I thought that was very interesting.”

Students at the schools taking part in the fundraiser will have a chance to do a podcast with Big Cat Rescue and attend a field trip where they can watch the lions and tigers getting fed.

The teacher, principal and area director of the class that raises the most will receive a three-day weekend in a Jaguar and a two-night stay in St. Pete Beach, thanks to corporate sponsors.

Organizers don’t yet know how many schools will take part in the fundraising effort.

Reporter Courtney Cairns Pastor can be reached at (813) 865-1503.



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