Lamar HQ 365 South Street Morristown, NJ 07960 Telephone: 973/285-0660 or 800/526-0762 Fax: 973/285-9236
Dear Lamar Companies
My name is Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue and I come to you today with a sentiment that is shared by not only our 70,000 supporters, but by most people who know the truth about traveling cat acts.
I understand that your company has enabled (albeit unwittingly) a person who is widely despised, for what most people believe to be animal abuse, to set up shop on your property in Crawfordsville, IN offering photos with an 11 week old cub named Hercules. While this is still legal, it is considered by 85% of the public polled to be inhumane. More than 9,000 of the people polled said they opposed such exhibitions. This reflects badly on the Lamar name. The only kind of uneducated and/or morally bankrupt people that would be attracted by such an exhibit are not the kind of people who could afford your real estate offerings.
There are many sources on the Internet that expose the wrong doings of the people who drag big cats from flea market to parking lot across the country. Of the 1800 such posts, here is the first one: http://www.911animalabuse.com/00abusers/robertpatengesserthezoo.htmWhen people see them at your event and then go to research the abusers, they find out the truth and that ruins your reputation by enabling them as well. My guess is that no one there researched this person, or the nature of the industry, before allowing them to set up camp.
To send them packing would send a strong message to the vast majority of people; people who really love animals. It would tell them that you won’t stand for such abuse.
Just yesterday there was a case where Price Chopper (152 stores) pulled their sponsorship of a fair in NY because it was bringing in a tiger act. The VP, Mona Golub did so after getting just three calls about it from people who were upset that the cats were being exploited that way. http://bit.ly/lk0SP
There is no good way to take big cats and their cubs out for these activities, but I have known the people you have enabled recently for 16 years. This is a story about a lion we rescued from them more than 12 years ago. Little Hercules will suffer an even worse fate because we have learned that it only enables the bad guys if we give them a place to dump their unwanted cats.
Nakoma was purposely starved, deprived of vitamins and calcium, and kept in a small concrete space. Hardly conditions fit for a king.
That’s when Big Cat Rescue stepped in and purchased young Nakoma at a livestock auction. Imagine that, the “king of beasts” being auctioned off . Nakoma was so crippled in the hind legs and so malnourished that no one wanted him and he was sold for only $200.
Only a year earlier this little lion cub was the picture of health and vitality. His owner made money by selling people the opportunity to have their photograph taken with the cute and cuddly lion cub. In the state of Florida, however, it is against the law to allow contact with a big cat over 25 pounds. So Nakoma’s former owner purposely starved him and deprived him of vitamins to keep him under the weight limit. As a result of this deficiency, Nakoma developed paralysis in his hind legs. Crippled, unwanted and abused, he was found with gaping gashes in his body that had become infested with maggots. Yet despite all this, he was still a very lovable, talkative cub.
Big Cat Rescue took Nakoma into their care. But after a year and a half of proper nutrition and supplements, he was still having an increasingly hard time moving his back legs. It took him two hours just to walk across his pen by dragging himself with his front paws. X-rays, a spinal tap and MRI all came out negative, meaning that Nakoma’s paralysis had most likely been caused by the thiamine deficiency he endured.
On July 12, 1998, during his MRI, Nakoma tragically stopped breathing and died. His quiet passing may have been a blessing in disguise since nothing could be done for his crippled body. In fact, the vets said his condition would have continued to deteriorate until he could not move at all.
Today, Nakoma rests in a grave on the site, adorned with his proud picture. This brave little king will never be forgotten and everybody can take solace in that Big Cat Rescue was at least able to make his last years a little better.
It’s not too late. You can help end this kind of abuse by taking a strong stand against it today and letting the world know that you will not enable traveling big cat acts.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue an Educational Sanctuary home to more than 100 big cats 12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625 813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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