Carole’s letter to reporter about Big Cat Sanctuary

Carole’s letter to reporter about Big Cat Sanctuary

Dear Billy,

Thank you for posting both sides of the story.  I would like to point you to a page on our site that keeps statistics on how many of the cats used this way end up killing and being killed.  The USDA inspectors do not keep such stats and typically only visit a facility once a year, if that, so they have no idea how much abuse goes on.  The same is true of the FL Fish and Wildlife Commission.  Most of the horrific situations that eventually make the news when they are found out by the public are places that are in “good standing” with USDA and the state agencies.  

We do a lot of operant conditioning with our 146 cats in order to give them something to do and to make medical care easier on them and our vet, but can assure you that this sort of reward training could never produce a show where big cats always hit their marks, as you describe.  You don’t get that kind of obedience from being nice.  Circus performers always have the whips and bullhooks and other torture methods in plain site of the performing animals, if not in the plain site of the people ignorant enough to be enjoying such demeaning displays.  

The following is a partial listing (531) of incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990. The U.S. incidents have resulted in the deaths of 20 humans, 15 adults and 5 children, the additional mauling of 174 more adults and children, 143 escapes, the killing of 84 big cats, and 113 confiscations.  There have also been 151 big cat incidents outside the U.S. that have resulted in the deaths of 57 humans and the mauling of 85 humans by captive big cats.  These figures only represent the headlines that Big Cat Rescue has been able to track.  Because there is no reporting agency that keeps such records the actual numbers are certainly much higher.

To see a video of the mauling of a zoo keeper in 2006 go to

The Journal of Internal Medicine in 2006 estimated that 50 million people worldwide have been infected with zoonotic diseases since 2000 and as many as 78,000 have died. Read more about zoonotic diseases here:

To see the number of exotic cats abandoned each year go to

To view a trend chart that shows the alarming escalation of big cat incidents here:

The U.S. represents less than 5% of the entire global population, but up through 2006 79% of ALL captive cat incidents occurred in the U.S.  (Now that the US is clamping down on the exotic pet trade, the reports in 2007 show a decline in U.S. incidents compared to the rest of the world)  Likewise, Florida represents less than 6% of the U.S. population while 11% of all U.S. incidents occur in Florida.  Florida boasts the most comprehensive sets of regulations allowing private ownership of exotic cats while ranking #1 in the highest numbers of big cat killings, maulings and escapes. To view photos of fatal injuries from cases reported in the American Journal of Forensic Medicine click 

This video shows facilities that are currently licensed and approved by the USDA and the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission that have been operating at this level or worse for more than 10 years and yet are still open to the public.  These images are typical of those who allow cameras in but there are many worse ones who do not.   This shows precisely why we need to ban private possession of exotic cats.

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

Sign our petition here:

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