At Big Cat Rescue we don’t believe that any exotic cat should be bred for life in a cage. Zoos that are accredited by the American Zoological Association (AZA) have done a good job of convincing the public that they are the arks of the future and they manage their captive populations through a breeding program called the Species Survival Plan or (SSP.) They only breed animals that can be pedigreed back to the wild and keep a shared database so that they do not accidentally inbreed animals.
Most “roadside” zoos are not accredited by AZA and are not participants in the SSPs. They tell you that they are “breeding for conservation,” but that is a lie. The only reason they breed big cats is because people will pay to see big cats. Even most AZA zoos only make token donations to protecting exotic cats in the wild and almost none of the non-accredited zoos send any of the money they make to protecting habitat.
No one keeps track of how many big cats are in these private facilities. USDA did a one-time census in 2004 and discovered that there were around 5,000 tigers in places that either exhibit or breed them, but only 200 of those are AZA zoos and less than a dozen were accredited sanctuaries. Even AZA zoos have been caught selling last year’s babies out the back door to brokers who sell them as pets and props. Sometimes they even end up in canned hunts or being sold on the black market for their teeth, claws, bones, hides and meat.
The only way to be sure you aren’t adding to the abuse is to just Say NO to zoos.
Even though this image and the horrible video below were not filmed in the U.S., it is typical of the miserable life led by captive big cats in non accredited zoos and pseudo sanctuaries. What most people do not ever see are the night houses and off exhibit cages where big cats are kept. Almost all zoos confine the big cats to night houses when visiting hours at the zoo are over. This means the cats spend most of their waking hours confined to small concrete indoor cells. They are often treated as badly as what you will see below, but because it is only the cat and the perpetrator, the world never sees the abuse.
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These stories are straight from the headlines and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Big Cat Rescue.