Big Cat Exhibition
Animal Abuser Check Point
Type in a name in the box below to see if there are any online reports at 911AnimalAbuse.com which is a community effort to expose animal abuse. If you have facts, photos or video that expose animal abuse you can post them there anonymously and for free. Although we find this to be a valuable resource, Big Cat Rescue is not responsible for other’s collaborative efforts at 911 Animal Abuse. If you know of abuse, you should post it there and contact the proper authorities here:
Educators or Exploiters?
ABC did an undercover investigation, with help from Big Cat Rescue, that you can watch online HERE. Be sure to watch all of the clips listed there. They start out the same but are very different. What they do share in common is the grim truth that some people are using animals in ways that put the public in deadly contact with dangerous animals.
Big cats deserve better than a life of exploitation on display in cages. Big cats are not designed to live in captivity. This was provent in recent scientific research on the subject of the effects of captivity on wild animals in University of Oxford’s Clubb & Mason 2003 paper, “Animal Welfare: Captivity effects on wide-ranging carnivores, ” Nature 425, 473-474 (2 October 2003)]. The authors state: “Our findings indicate that the keeping of naturally wide-ranging carnivores should be either fundamentally improved or phased out.” The minor enhancements of adding faux rock, or moats instead of bars, are clearly insufficient.
There are too many people who are making their living carting exotic big cats around in circus cages. They call themselves educators. They claim to be exhibiting and breeding these unfortunate animals to save them from extinction and raise public awareness. They often claim non-profit status to avoid paying taxes on the money they gouge by deceiving the public.
More often than not, the facts of the situation are far from the illusion represented. On display, the cats are in cramped, barren cages. They may be exposed to severe heat with minimal or no protection. An observant person can see clearly that they are dejected, and often in substandard physical condition. These so called “educators” usually will not allow you to see where the animals live when not being exhibited, because if the public was aware of the miserable conditions they would not support these people. Nor will they tell you that every six months when those adorable cubs outgrow their usefulness they are discarded, either by sale to private owners ill prepared to care for these dangerous animals, or they are shot in “canned hunts” or destroyed and sold for parts to the lucrative Asian medicine trade. Currently the United States is the top supplier of tiger parts to this market. While China is the top consumer of these products, it may surprise you that the US comes in second.
There is no valid reason to breed exotic cats for life in a cage. There is not one program in existence today that is breeding cats for return to the wild. NO ONE who is operating some road side (non accredited) zoo, pseudo sanctuary or “educational” outfit is participating in the sanctioned Species Survival Plan (SSP). Display of big cats in circus cages does not educate the public about their plight, nor does it assist in conserving their habitat in the wild. The only quasi-valid breeding programs are administered by the American Zoologic Association as the Species Survival Plan with the participation of accredited zoos. In the SSP animals have documented blood lines to protect the health of the individual and the long term viability of the gene pool. Only those species that can benefit are chosen for breeding.
“When the Park was proclaimed by President Paul Kruger (many years before this writing), attitudes toward animals were based on a very literal interpretation of the biblical injunction that God had given Man dominion over the birds of the air and the fishes of the sea. By the time the pioneers (i.e. founders of the Kruger National Park in South Africa) bowed out the world was coming to realize that such dominion meant not the conferral of a license to plunder but the assumption of a great and noble responsibility.”A Game Ranger Remembers by Bruce Bryden.
See an interactive online map of exotic cat owners. See people being stupid with big cats, endangering themselves and others HERE. See the awful conditions these captive cats endure HERE.
See how you can investigate and expose abusers. Be a Saber Tooth Sleuth
Can I Have a Big Cat at My Party?
Most people who ask this really love animals and just don’t know how abusive it is to the cat nor how dangerous it is to the public. USDA prohibits public contact with big cat babies under the age of 8 weeks and over the age of 12 weeks. If you see someone using a cub who is too young or too old, please photograph the event and report the exhibitor’s name, location and what you saw to stop this abuse. There is only a one month window in which exhibitors are allowed to use the cubs. There is a pending bill to ban all contact with big cats and their babies. Before you pay to have your photo made with a big cat, check with your regional USDA office to make sure you are not breaking the Federal laws. This is an important law that will protect big cats from being bred for this purpose. More…
Did You Know?
That just in the state of Florida there are 3,837 people with commercial permits to own wild animals. Of that number 389 facilities are permitted to own tigers, gorillas and other Class I & Class II dangerous animals, but only 21 are accredited zoos and only 3 are accredited rescue facilities. 0.0002 of FL’s populations owns exotic animals and yet all of us pay the price in safety and damage to the environment when no-longer-novel pets are turned loose.
Florida also has 262 USDA licensed exhibitors with big cats, more than any other state. Keep in mind that USDA licensing requires only minimal standards, such as a cage large enough to stand up and turn around in. This minimal type of licensing versus AZA (American Zoologic Association) or GFAS (The Global Federation of Sanctuaries) accreditation are worlds apart in providing for the real well being of the animals.
Despite Florida’s outright ban on owning tigers as personal pets, there has been a 50% increase in the captive tiger population in the past 15 months. According to the Palm Beach Post there are now 1455 tigers in Florida, second only to Texas. There are more tiger breeders in Florida than in any other state. Numerous incidents are reported throughout the country with wild cats posing a threat to the public, generally resulting in the death of the cat. As recently as February 2006 tigers and pet cougars have been found wandering loose in neighborhoods where children play. They escaped or were turned loose when no longer wanted by their owners.
This has to stop. We need better laws and regulations that ban the breeding, selling, and exploiting of exotic cats. It is cruel for the cats, and dangerous to the community. Do not support the roadside exhibitors of wild cats, or the businesses that hire these people for commercial purposes. Write your legislators and tell them you want to protect the cats and the public. Sign our petition HERE.
The tiger in this photo belongs to a USDA regulated person in Florida who takes the cat with him as shown here or in the back of a pickup truck. He charges to bring cats to schools and events. By walking them on leashes and letting them ride in the front of his pick up truck, regardless what he says about whether they make good pets, by his example he gives people the impression that they are manageable and can make good pets. The USDA’s own internal audit shows that they are not effectively enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, especially in the Eastern Region of the U.S. Read it HERE
Big Cat Rescue recognizes the individual needs of the exotic cat and believes that there is NO reason to breed exotic cats for life in a cage. There is not one program today in which exotic cats are being bred for release back to the wild. Exotic cats do not belong in cages and were not meant to be used for our entertainment. Displaying big cats in un natural situations, such as in circus acts, on leashes (which is illegal now) or in un natural cages does not educate the public about the plight of the cat and does nothing to conserve habitat for them in the wild. No one who pays $20.00 to have their picture taken with a cub is doing anything to help the species.
On the contrary, they are helping to fuel the second largest illegal market (only behind illegal drugs) which is the 20 billion dollar trade in exotic animals. USDA does not allow contact with big cat cubs who are less than 8 weeks old, or more than 12 weeks old. That means they can only be used for photo and petting sessions for one month, thus every month that cute little cub outgrows his usefulness, so he is discarded and more are bred. The cats are often sold to canned hunts, private owners who breed and sell more or are used to supply the Asian “medicinal” trade. The US is the number one supplier of tiger parts and the second largest consumer of them.
Please Help Stop This Sort of Abuse
In this video clip (lower file size version of video clip) and the photos below you can see the shameful activities that are still occurring and will continue until you speak up for the animals.
Click on pictures to see them larger.
What should be the philosophy of venues like fairs about display of big cats? We think the letter below from Get Rescued in Gulfport founder and coordinator captures it very well and sets a great example:
“I will never have a wild animal at one of my festivals. You can rest assured that I don’t consider caging and parading wild animals in hot weather with thousands of dogs and all the other loud noises to be humane. I am also not afraid to challenge anyone who breaks my rules.”
Sincerely, Lynda Shehan
Get Rescued…….In Gulfport
Founder and Coordinator
If you see something like this going on, let us know and with your help we will try to stop it. In many cases it is not against the law but it is easy to see that it should be. For now all we can do is contact the property owners and let them know that it isn’t good for the animals, it is dangerous for the community and it makes us all look bad to have this sort of activity taking place in our town. When you contact us please have the name of the exhibitor, the street address or location where they are set up and the property owners name if you can find that out. Many of these people claim to have insurance coverage, but most are million dollar policies and some animal caused injuries have resulted in 30 million dollar law suits. If the property owners had all the facts they probably would not welcome these “educators” onto their property.
You can file a federal complaint with appropriate regional office of USDA. You can find the right office in your state to complain at a state level. In many cases these outfits are not listed in Florida as a non profit and are not registered with the state to solicit contributions. This is punishable by fines of $1000.00 per violation. You can research any Florida charity: Prospective donors should contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Florida only toll-free hotline at —————————— to verify registration and financial information. Send photos if you can and copy Big Cat Rescue with your complaints and photos so that we can help put pressure on these regulating bodies to do their jobs.
You can write to the property owners where these people set up and tell them that you do not condone this sort of practice and that it makes them look bad in the eyes of the community to be profiteering from the misery of the animals.
Help Big Cat Rescue get better laws passed to protect these great cats from such exploitation. Don’t support people who drag big cats out in public to “educate” or entertain.
If you see this sort of abuse going on please report it to Carole Baskin CEO of Big Cat Rescue at MakeADifference@bigcatrescue.org or write us at 12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625.
Please include dates, times and photos and complete contact information on you so that we can verify the situation. In some cases what these people do is not illegal, but with your help we can often persuade the community to protest the activity.
Your tax deductible donation helps us fight the injustice to exotic cats.