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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Comments 13

  1. While on vacation we went to a Marina in Cabo San Lucas Mexico On July 7th 2011 in the afternoon, I witnessed 2 young lion cubs being Exploited. The temperature was approx. 95 degrees and the poor lions were sweating and not given adequate ventilation or fresh cold water. Directly next to the make shift wooden hut they were enclosed inside of, there was major construction happening where workers were jack hammering concrete at the strip mall of shops & restaurants. I truly feel that the lions are not part of any Good Will Foundation “Cub Paradise for Help”. They did not hand out any Foundation Literature nor speak to anyone regarding the plight of lions. One of the cubs sitting on the Woman’s lap kept rubbing it’s eye repeatedly. They have people pay them money to take photographs holding the helpless lion cubs. I do have photos. Please help & Thank You for all you do for the animals! PS I have been a member of Big Cat Rescue
    Sincerely, Eileen Cronin Kanevsky

    • BCR says:

      Thank you for reprting this abuse. Could you send the photos to MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org for our files? This isn’t illegal, but it is immoral and would stop if people would quit paying to touch cubs.

    • wfreeman says:

      I saw the same display in Costa Maya, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Mexico. there were two lion cubs, 1 month and three months, they said, and they were taking pics with the tourists for $25 each. My wife paid and we made the attached picture. The people in charge said the fund they represented, “Cub Paradise for Help”, was to help care for animals in the Mexico City Zoo- There was no literature available. The cats looked OK to me- one was quick enough to almost catch a parrot who tried to get to his water. They were shaded and watered.

  2. Can or will the Big Cat Rescue do ANYTHING to stop the practices of "Cub Paradise 4 Help?" Two years ago I saw this surprising cub display at the Ensenada port while I was traveling on a Carnival ship. I questioned the "staff," who took pictures of travelers holding a lion cub, about their relevance to animal rescue. They obviously lied about being a part of a rescue group. Recently (March 30, 2013), I resently came upon another "Cub Paradise 4 Help" in Caba San Lucas; same displays, same info, different cub with different "staff." However, the Carnival Miracle warned passeengers of the dishonest and cruel practices of "Cub Paradise 4 Help" before the ship was docked. We were informed that this group was a business owned by a man who had become rich through the deceptive practice of keeping cubs drugged while photographing them being held by tourists. We were also told the cubs were not cared for properly and were kept in different homes throughout Mexico. My question is, "Why hasn't any big cat rescue group or internationally well-known rescue group stepped in to stop this exploitation of cubs in Mexico?" How are these cubs secured by this "businessman?" Where do they go when they are not cubs anymore?

    • BCR says:

      I am greatly encouraged to hear that Carnival is warning their passengers because these photo ops are always cruel and done under the guise of education and conservation when they are really about exploitation and monetary gain for their owners. Big Cat Rescue is working with IFAW, HSUS, Born Free and the WWF to try and end cub petting, pay for play situations in the U.S. We have been working on a 3 prong approach that includes having the USFWS rescind their “generic tiger” exemption that allows breeders to breed tigers who are inbred, cross bred, white or ligers AND we have filed a 60 page petition with USDA to have them ban public contact with cubs AND we have been promoting a federal bill to ban the private possession of big cats. Be sure to send your letter at CatLaws.com and you will be alerted as we ask for your help in passing these laws. We can’t do anything about Mexico until we clean up America. We know that some of the cubs bred in the U.S. are smuggled into Mexico and Canada for these kinds of activities. Catching the criminals is much harder than banning them because as long as there are laws that allow private possession it will be impossible for authorities to tell “legal” tigers from “illegal” tigers.

  3. I was on a Norweigen Cruise ship and we stopped in Costa Maya. There were people there selling pictures with a baby lion cub, just 12 weeks old. I am a huge animal lover and I felt so sorry for the little cub as he was not getting any rest! They said the money went to an Animal Rescue, but my daughter said the money probally went into there pockets. I worry about little Sembad,, what happens when he is to big to use for pictures? Why can't anyone help these poor animals? I know monkeys are outlawed in Mexico why don't they outlaw these big cats?

  4. I do not see how people can be so crule to big cats and not care for the animals at all but just care about a damn money.

    animal activist.

  5. cub paradise 4 help & mexican jungle is not real here more information

  6. please help help & paradise 4 cup mexican jungle exploits animals, and if we do not stop this soon plow owners call the park kararis park to make more money and become rich is no reserve on this web business actually happens we say and photos owners and where they buy and where Join and help us not continue to support this company exploding animals

  7. Susi Heinz says:

    I also was there, just a few days ago! I belived what they said and paid more money as they wanted as I believed in what they told! I am so upset now! I should have known it better! I will write to priness cruises that they should warn their passagiers accordingly.

  8. Lisa Alexander says:

    Hi Susie, We too were taken in by this and have been devastated since, we also have informed Princess Cruises to advise their passengers and trying sign petitions. Your heart was in the right place and now you are telling everyone and doing what you can so be comforted by that. 🙂

  9. Sam Jensen says:

    I'm outraged that the GW Exotic zoo has been running for so long. I contacted several organizations months ago and it seems that everyone feels powerless. There's illegal breeding and some organizations believe their license to be fraud, but the FDA doesn't have enough resources to look into it? Am I the only one who's frustrated at this?
    There are two male tigers per what looks like a 4' by 6' by 10' cage and do NOT get rotated. They breed "ligers", so they stock up on tigers and lions for the breeding. They were not well fed, they were hot, filthy, diseased…The "zoo" has been caught spraying the tigers with hoses to break up fights. They breed horses across from the zoo (which also are severely emaciated) to slaughter and feed to the tigers, which some won't even eat. And this "Joe Exotic" brings baby ligers to malls and whatnot, in which several have died from stress. PETA has been campaigning but it's not enough. Help?

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