Animal Groups Rescue Abandoned Lions and Tigers From
animal welfare organizations: IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare),
Big Cat Rescue, and The Wild Animal Orphanage announced they have rescued 6
abandoned big cats — 2 lions and 4 tigers — from an unsanctioned
shelter. The animals are being relocated to licensed animal sanctuaries in
laws covering exotic pets and has been lauded by animal advocates
The animal rescue groups are taking the big cats under the jurisdiction
of a court order. The cats were formerly owned by Diana McCourt until the
USDA revoked her license and fined her. The facility lost its license, in
part, from allowing dangerous photo opportunities between big cats and the
public and violating existing USDA regulations. McCourt was subsequently
evicted from her property and abandoned the cats. Local authorities were
forced to take possession of the animals. Now the cats will be moving to
permanent sanctuaries where they will receive much better care.
"IFAW is pleased to step in and be part of this extraordinary effort,"
explained IFAW D.C. Director Jeffrey Flocken. "We are advocating for
stricter regulations preventing potentially dangerous or inhumane ‘big cat’
ownership and look forward to the day these types of rescue measures will
During the relocation, all six big cats will first be transferred to
Big Cat Rescue of
— while the remaining 2 tigers will continue on to permanent placement at
the Wild Animal Orphanage in
"People need to understand the tremendous responsibility involved with
taking on the care of these exotic animals," said Carol Asvestas, Wild
Animal Orphanage Director. "These animals require a lifetime commitment
that can be very costly and, at times, dangerous. What’s made this move
easier for us is the overwhelming unity of participating organizations.
It’s been wonderful."
The six big cats being relocated are:
— 1 Tiger born April 24, 2000 named Ekaterina
— 1 White Tiger born March 3, 2000 named Sierra
— 1 Tiger born August 20, 1995 named Nikita
— 1 Tiger born June 8, 1994 named Simba
— 1 Lion born August 19, 1998 named Joseph
— 1 Lion born May 12, 1994 named Sasha
The cats are expected to arrive in
on October 23.
IFAW is currently championing bipartisan legislation, H.R 1947, in the
110th Congress that would protect the public from attacks by captive big
cats, such as lions and tigers, at facilities licensed by the
Department of Agriculture. Also known as Haley’s Act, the bill is named in
memory of Haley Hilderbrand, a 17-year-old high school student who was
killed at a USDA-licensed facility by a 550-pound Siberian tiger while
being photographed for her senior picture. Haley’s Act would amend the
Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to prohibit direct contact between the general
public and big cats of any age or weight, including lions, tigers,
leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, cougars and hybrids.
"While we are happy to be able to rescue four of these cats, we are so
thankful to IFAW for arranging the transport of them and for enabling the
rescue of the remaining two tigers. Once IFAW’s federal bill, Haley’s Act,
becomes law it will be illegal to abuse big cats as photo props and
horrific situations like this will cease to exist," said Carole Baskin,
Founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue.
There are currently more than 10,000 captive big cats, such as tigers
and lions, held captive in the
killed more than a dozen people and injured more than 50 people. Many big
cats are owned by individuals or organizations that have been licensed by
the USDA to exhibit, breed, or sell these dangerous wild animals.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW works around the globe to protect animals and
habitats promoting practical solutions for animals and people. To learn how
you can help, please visit http://www.ifaw.org.
About Wild Animal Orphanage
We are dedicated to providing a permanent home for and lifetime care to
hundreds of formerly unwanted, neglected or abused animals. Learn more at
About Big Cat Rescue
We provide the best home possible for the 140+ exotic cats in our care
and are reducing the number of big cats that suffer the fate of abuse,
abandonment & extinction. Find out how at https://bigcatrescue.org.
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