Meet Sundari Leopard
Sundari was born here back in 1996 before we learned that no privately held exotic cats serve any sort of conservation purpose.
Back then, in the pre-Internet era of the ’90s, the only people we could turn to for advice were breeders and dealers who lied to us about the necessity of breeding exotic cats to save them.
As soon as we learned better we stopped breeding and began campaigning to end the abuse of breeding wild cats for life in cages.
There is no reason to breed tigers (or any other big cat) for lives of confinement and deprivation.
The only sanctioned international breeding plans for exotic cats are called Species Survival Plans (SSP) and they are only carried out in accredited zoos.
None of the captive breeding of exotic cats is doing anything to save them in the wild.
The wild cats in private hands mostly came as zoo surplus and were sold out the back door with no records or pedigrees.
Unfortunately, It still happens today.
Those animals were then bred, and many purposely inbred for traits such as white coats, tiny size, and docile (read retarded) temperament.
None of the exotic cats in wild hands can be traced back to the wild, other than local cats, cougars, and bobcats, who may have been snatched from the wild in the U.S.
For that reason, they can never be bred for introduction back to the wild.
First, no such programs exist and even if by some act of God all human settlements were wiped out of some vast area and it became suitable for wildlife again, these captive-bred cats could never survive.
There are other reasons, in the real world, why it doesn’t work, which includes the fact that human-big cat conflict is one of the main reasons cats are wiped out of areas.
Captive breeding not only selectively chooses animals that are least fit for the wild but also conditions the cats to not fear humans.
That increases the conflict and the result is that not only would the offending cat be killed, but likely any wild cat seen in the area would be hunted down and killed in a case of mistaken identity.
That escalates the extinction of cats in the wild.
Last, but maybe most important is, if you can pay to see wild cats on your terms, cheaply, in a cage, or being forced to let you touch them and have your photo with them or they're young, then you aren’t learning anything about who these animals really are.
You aren’t learning about how they fit into a complex environment when they are housed in a situation that does not duplicate all of the web of life that they are a part of in the wild.
All wild cats roam territories that are calculated in miles, not square feet. To know anything about them, you have to see who they are in their real environment.
Conservation is a very complex issue and captive settings cannot duplicate it, so the important work of saving entire ecosystems is not taught and not done in a captive setting.
What’s worse is that lip service is paid to these worthy objectives and when you pay to see captive wildlife you walk away thinking you did something good when in fact you contributed to the problem.
You paid to see a cat in a cage. You made sure that the industry continues to breed and exploit more cats.
You did not pay to save the wild and all of the wondrous and magnificent creatures who call it home.
You put another nail in the coffin for the planet.
Sundari demonstrates, better than most, the fact that you may be able to take the animal out of the wild but you will never take the wild out of the animal.
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