The Timeline of the Big Cat Crisis in America



Big cats don’t belong in cages.  Whenever you see lions, tigers or other big cats on exhibit, take a moment to think about what it means to the cat.  Big cats are hard wired to roam hundreds of miles and to be at the top of the food chain.  It is cruel to confine them for the purpose of charging people to see an animal up close that would never allow you to get near them in the wild.

These cats have been bred just for the purpose of earning money for their keepers. The keepers have to sell you on a lie in order to part you from your money.  That lie is usually to say that you are helping to save big cats in the wild, or that the cub was orphaned, or that the cub was rejected by his mother, or that the cats were bred to preserve the species.

The people who breed and use big cats this way can usually only use them while they are young.  When they become too hard to handle, they are discarded or relegated into tiny cages for the rest of their 20-year lives.

Whenever people pay to support facilities or industries that make a living off captive cats, it diverts money from real conservation efforts.  Big cats breed quite well. All they need are protected places in the wild and their numbers will rebound.  The dollars spent to see big cats on exhibit would go a very long way to protect wild places in their native lands.

When someone suggests that you go see a big cat exhibit, just Say NO and you will be helping big cats.

Television ads featuring cute chimpanzees wearing human clothes are likely to distort the public’s perception of the endangered animals and hinder conservation efforts, according to a team of primatologists and a marketing professor at Duke University.  Read more about why seeing wild animals displayed causes people to want them as pets.

At a 2002 meeting of the Tiger Species Survival Plan members it was decided that, “A second concern is the relationship between the Tiger SSP and the private sector, where many tigers (mostly of unknown origin) are kept.  During the 2002 Tiger SSP master plan meeting in Portland there was a discussion of the appropriateness of handling tigers in public places by AZA zoos. There was complete consensus of all members in attendance that such actions place the viewing public at risk of injury or death, that there is no education message of value being delivered, that such actions promote private ownership and a false sense of safe handling of exotic big cats, and that the animal itself loses its dignity as an ambassador from the wild.  As a result, the committee resolved such actions were inappropriate for AZA-accredited zoos, and that the AZA accreditation committee should make compliance of this restriction part of its accreditation process.  This opinion statement was conveyed to the executive committee of the Felid TAG for comments and action.”


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