Animal Groups Rescue Abandoned Lions and Tigers From Ohio Woman

Animal Groups Rescue Abandoned Lions and Tigers From Ohio Woman


    YARMOUTH PORT, Mass., Oct. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today, three

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 Ohio

shelter. The animals are being relocated to licensed animal sanctuaries in

Florida and Texas. The move highlights the pressing need for reformed U.S.

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

be unnecessary."


    During the relocation, all six big cats will first be transferred to

Big Cat Rescue of Tampa, Florida — where 2 lions and 2 tigers will reside

— while the remaining 2 tigers will continue on to permanent placement at

the Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio, Texas.


    "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 Florida on October 21st and in Texas

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 U.S.

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 U.S. In recent years, captive big cats have

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


    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


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