Our website was quoted in this story even though they did not mention us by name. Log into the story to see an amazing photo of a cougar with a deer up a tree.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Don’t underestimate cougars’ strength
It is our understanding that the Huntsville Town council has made a recent decision not to allow an exemption to their new exotic animal bylaw, regarding the keeping of cougars in town by a private citizen.
As professionals in the field of captive wildlife management, we thought it might be valuable to weigh in on this issue. With a combined 35-plus years experience, at seven different wildlife facilities across Canada, we have personally raised and/or cared for over 30 cougars along with many other species of large felines (including lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, etc).
While we are sympathetic to Mr. Chapman’s emotional attachment to these beautiful animals, we cannot stress enough how inappropriate it is to keep this kind of animal as a pet. Despite his claims that his cougars are domestic animals, they are not, as it takes thousands of years to domesticate a species.
Even domestic cats, which have been pets for thousands of years, kill for fun and bring home little presents like birds and mice when they are allowed to roam. Imagine what an escaped cougar would bring home… perhaps your next door neighbour.
Sadly, there have been many documented escapes and attacks by pet large cats in Ontario, Canada and North America in recent years and it is a growing trend. A quick search on the Internet brought up an alarming number of news stories on this issue. One site alone listed 795 incidents involving captive big cats since 1990. The incidents that were listed “resulted in the killing or deaths of 234 big cats, 68 human deaths, more than 243 human maulings, 214 escapes and 363 confiscations.”
Statistically, your risk of being injured or killed by a pet large cat is very low (compared to a car accident, for example) only because few people have them as pets. However, if you are unlucky enough to be around one or you are keeping one yourself, the risk is very high.
Our organization has been involved in the confiscation of countless exotic animals, including large cats found in cruel and inappropriate conditions. In our experience, large cats being kept as pets never have all of their needs met. Housing is rarely large enough or safe enough and dietary, health and behavioural needs are usually not adequately fulfilled.
People make the common mistake of underestimating the physical potential of a large cat, as it is easy to compare them to a dog of like size. A full-grown cougar is capable of killing a 1,600-pound (727-kg) moose and is strong enough to carry a full-size white-tail deer up a tree with its teeth (see photo). Unlike a comparably sized dog, a person cannot safely restrain an adult cougar when it really wants to go somewhere.
Although Mr. Chapman believes he understands what he is dealing with, it should be noted that his oldest cougar has not yet even met its mental maturity or full physical potential.
We applaud the Town’s insight and decision in this case and we would be happy to lend our professional assistance in helping Mr. Chapman find an appropriate home for the cougars at a qualified zoological facility or wildlife centre.
BY DALE AND JODY GIENOW
Directors of the Muskoka Wildlife Centre.
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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