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Today at Big Cat Rescue Sept 22

Today at Big Cat Rescue Sept 22

Sky and Zoe from http://wildtrack.org present to Big Cat Rescue staff their FIT system

Sky and Zoe from http://wildtrack.org present to Big Cat Rescue staff their FIT system

Zoe and Sky show Jamie and Gale what they are looking for in tiger tracks

Zoe and Sky show Jamie and Gale what they are looking for in tiger tracks

The tracks are fed into a database that will then be able to discern cats by their tracks

The tracks are fed into a database that will then be able to discern cats by their tracks

BCR will take tracks from all of our clawed tigers but rain is going to cut it short today

BCR will take tracks from all of our clawed tigers but rain is going to cut it short today

Rainy weather is perfect for tigers and ducks but not so much for the keepers

Rainy weather is perfect for tigers and ducks but not so much for the keepers

Alex tiger has been waiting since yesterday to get a chance to make his mark

Alex tiger has been waiting since yesterday to get a chance to make his mark

Foot print and camera traps are a much less invasive way to study big cats

Foot print and camera traps are a much less invasive way to study big cats

The complex data sifting program has better than 90% reliability in telling tigers apart

The complex data sifting program has better than 90% reliability in telling tigers apart

Each month Big Cat Rescue sends out a Volunteer Newsletter that includes a story about some of Big Cat Rescue’s cats. This month was one that I thought everyone here might enjoy.

What most of you probably do know is that PurrFection and PurrSistence the ocelots were litter mates who were born here in 1996.  What you may not know is why.

Back then we believed zoos and breeders who said that ocelots are endangered and should be bred for conservation purposes.  AZA zoos were starting up something called the Brazilian Ocelot Project and member zoos were purportedly paying $3,000 to Brazil for each ocelot they took from the wild there to be part of this breeding program.  Their goal was to breed ocelots in zoos and send some of them to TX to re-establish the populations that had been wiped out by hunters.

We had healthy ocelots already and wanted to do our part to re-establish these lost TX populations and did not want cats to be taken from the wild, so we offered to help.  What was soon discovered by the zoos though is that ocelots have regional instincts.  In Central and South America ocelots eat snakes because most of them are non poisonous.  When these ocelots were released into TX they went after rattlesnakes, and the project was over almost instantly upon release.

That’s why PurrFection and PurrSistence still live here and part of why we quit breeding.  Even with the smaller species of wild cats, there is too much risk in trying to breed for release when the real answer is in protecting habitat and enabling native populations to rebound.  You will hear a lot of nonsense by tiger breeders these days claiming they are breeding for conservation.  Now that the US Fish & Wildlife Service is about to rescind the generic tiger loophole, the bad guys are getting even more outrageous by claiming that they are breeding extinct species of tigers and that their tigers are purebred.  This is not true.  The only purebred tigers who can be used in Species Survival Plans are in AZA accredited zoos but even then, there is no legitimate release program for captive bred big cats.

I thought you might also find interesting some of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes here involving exotic cats that your hard work is helping to save, even though you may never see the cats.

Since the last newsletter there have been several cases where people have reported bobcat and cougar sightings.  One was a mother bobcat trying to get her kitten across a busy 4 lane highway in Lakeland.  We drove out to make sure no one got killed.

Someone in AZ found a baby bobcat who had been left for two days by her mother as the people stayed back and watched for her return.  After a storm nearly drowned her they decided the mother wasn’t coming back, brought her in and began searching for a local rehabber.  No one was calling her back and every where she turned Big Cat Rescue appeared as the authority on rehabbing bobcats so she called us.  We talked her through the emergency care and who to contact at the AZ Dept. of Wildlife to find a rehabber to help make sure this little one ends up back in the wild, where she belongs.

Another bobcat sighting was in the stairwell of an apartment complex in New Port Richey.  Management wanted the cat trapped or killed and by the time we got off the phone with them the bobcat was a minor celebrity there and the manager was planning on a big PR campaign for why having bobcats was much better than having rats.

A cougar report came in from both Riverview and Oldsmar with similar requests and results.  Initially callers just wanted the cats gone, but by the time we got done with them they were organizing neighborhood watch teams to try and gather photos, footprints and evidence to persuade the FWC to declare their area Florida Panther protected habitat.

When the people promoting Florida Panther week said they would have a presentation that let people know what it was like to hold a panther kitten we contacted them to say we would be a major sponsor of the first ever Florida Panther Festival, but only if there were no live displays of wild cats.  They have agreed that no live cats will be used in their event and said it was never their intent.

A concerned citizen in Canada sent us photos of a lion with broken teeth at Gudzoo and asked if exposed roots were always painful. Dr. Wynn replied with a web page reference that indicates that to be the case. This zoo is already in the process of being closed down for a plethora of other violations, but this expert opinion helps make the case for why they should not be allowed to exhibit big cats.

I am sure there were more, but another inquiry came from Sri Lanka about a wild leopard who had an eye injury.  They were asking for expert advice on what could be done for her so we hooked them up with the vet who has helped us with Bagheera, Jefferson and Narla’s eyes, Dr. Tammy Miller Michau Diplomate, American college of veterinary ophthalmologists.  She was able to advise them that the injury did not appear to be causing her pain and was probably best left alone unless she began finding it too hard to hunt.

We have also been working to get more malls and fairs to quit allowing the exhibit of wild cats at their venues.  So far the CatLaws.com letter writing campaigns and the work by Susan Bass to educate the malls and media have been paying off.  At last count the number of comments on rescinding the generic tiger exemption was over 11,000 and appear to be almost entirely in favor of the new rule.  If you haven’t commented yet, please do so now and say, “I am in favor of rescinding the generic tiger exemption.”  That’s all you need to say. http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FWS-R9-IA-2011-0027-0001


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