Government, experts question tiger breeder’s practices

Government, experts question tiger breeder’s practices


Photo  Courtesy: Clint Austin, Duluth News Tribune



Marcus Cook, the man who brought a pregnant white tiger to Duluth with a traveling carnival, said it was sad but natural when the tiger’s four cubs died two days after they were born.


He vowed his own veterinarians would look into the case.


"Our team is absolutely explicit," he said Thursday, the day the cubs died.


Cook, an exotic-animal breeder from Texas, said three veterinarians who work for his company, Zoo Dynamics, "will leave no stone unturned."


The U.S. Department of Agriculture is launching its own investigation into the deaths. And this isn’t the first one.


Just two months ago the USDA issued a complaint against Cook for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act.


The department said, in the complaint, there are "repeated instances" of Cook’s failure to provide "adequate veterinary care, food, water, or housing to animals."


The complaint went on to say those failures "have resulted in injuries to animals and to the public."


Ron Tilson, a tiger expert at the Minnesota Zoo who advises all accredited zoos in North America, is one of Cook’s many critics.


"It’s immoral, it’s unethical," Tilson said of Cook’s breeding practices. "Certainly the animal rights and humane societies have come out and said it’s a form of animal abuse, therefore it’s cruel to animals."


Tilson said he agreed with that assessment and that the mere breeding of white tigers is not natural.


To maintain that color, Tilson said, the cubs have to be inbred, which means they lose genetic protection against a number of diseases.


"And there are many other things, including cleft palates, and crossed eyes, and curved spines, and shortened feet, and all of those things would put a wild tiger at a disadvantage, so it wouldn’t live," he said.


Tislson said the last white tiger born in the wild was observed in 1951.


In the case of the four dead cubs in Duluth, Cook said Thursday it wasn’t his fault.


"We know that it is not anything that has to do with animal care, or keeper error, or facility structure, anything of that nature," he said.


Cook didn’t return KARE11’s call Friday.


Cook’s company is based near Dallas.


He also has been sued by the Texas attorney general, and Cook was ordered to stop operating as a nonprofit.


The Texas attorney general called Cook’s business practices "deceptive."


Scott Goldberg Kare 11 News


More about Marcus Cook here:


Carole’s Letter to Scott Goldberg:


Dear Scott,


Death is never pretty but four baby white tigers who were born and died the same day in a traveling carnival have more in common with soldiers dieing every week in Iraq than one might immediately comprehend.  There is a common cause in both tragedies that stems from greed, apathy and selfishness and the root of these reprehensible traits comes from a sense of separateness.


Some people want to control the oil fields of Iraq to maintain their lifestyle and do so at the cost of human lives and their international reputation.  Some people want to see a baby tiger and even though, they know that it isn’t right to inbreed an animal just to make it an unusual color and even thought they know that it is wrong to take the cubs away from their mother and treat them like props to be handled today and discarded a month from now, they still pay their $20.00 to have their picture made holding that baby tiger. 


In both cases the people who are taking at face value the claims, made by those who continue to wage war or those who claim that your support of their big cat traveling act is conserving nature, are doing so because they don’t want to admit their own culpability in the situation.  Better to believe a lie than to have to act upon your convictions, seems to be mantra of those who choose to believe that we are all separate. 


But we aren’t separate and in our hearts we KNOW it.  Every day more and more of us are finding it impossible to ignore the nagging little voice inside our heads that tells us we have to take responsibility for the world we live in.

According to the Internet dictionary, the definition of Critical Mass is:  1.  The minimum quantity of fissile material required for a nuclear chain reaction.  2. The minimum amount of people with shared understanding to tip the balance and instigate change.


When a proportionately small fraction of electrons line up in an atom it creates an invisible force that causes all of the other electrons to snap into the same line.  When enough people begin to think in certain ways, and reach a critical mass, then all of a sudden all of society begins to align that way.  Changes that happen in one place begin to happen all over the world at the same time.  Slavery began to be stopped in England in 1807 and around the middle of the 19th century, not only here, but in Asia, Africa and Indonesia because the belief emerged that this was no longer something we could tolerate.  It started because one man, William Wilberforce, began to change the way the English viewed slavery and the rest of the world snapped into alignment.


Quantum Physics is not only stranger than you think it is, but it is stranger than you can think. It shatters the illusion of our separateness. If enough of us believe that something is intolerable we all begin to act that way. 

The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind. The state of the world is nothing more than a collective state of mind. 


The mass of changes that have taken place over just the past few years illustrate this, such as the falling of dictatorships in the Philippines, Nicaragua, Romania and Bulgaria, and the falling of the Berlin wall.  These crises were all resolved with hardly a bullet being shot.  It wasn’t as if the people in power all got together and said we shouldn’t be treating people this way.  The new consciousness came about because enough of us began to align ourselves and out of that alignment came new leaders.


If you saw the recent movie called Amazing Grace, you may remember that in 1824 William Wilberforce started the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  It was the beginning of a change in consciousness toward animals.  Up until 1920 women weren’t allowed to vote because they were thought to be irrational creatures and not as intelligent as men.  The movement for female equality began in the 1500’s, but it wasn’t until 400 years later that it became law.  We are seeing the same changes in attitudes toward the animals.


Big Cats have had big wins in the past couple of years.  It began in 2003 with a law to ban the sale of big cats across state lines as pets.  Since then eight states, including AR, IA, IN, KY, LA, MD, NY and WA have banned the keeping of big cats as pets.  Three countries including Africa, Australia and Ireland and 12 communities in Canada have banned the keeping of big cats as pets.  Five countries, including Brazil, Croatia, India, Scotland, the UK and 20 communities in Canada have banned circuses that use big cats in their performances.  Five states, including AL, IN, MT, OR and WA have banned killing exotic animals in canned hunts and 28 states, including AK, AL, CA, IA, IL, KY, LA, MD, MS, NH, NJ, NM, OR, RI, SC, TX, WI & WY have banned killing animals over the Internet.  Scores of cities and counties have also enacted similar protective measures for the cats and many more have bills that are currently pending. 


These animal protection measures have been made possible by people who were willing to take responsibility for their actions and who are demanding the same of their governmental representatives.  Please take a minute to send a letter today.  We do not sell or trade your information, so please visit today and support Haley’s Act, which is a bill that would end the use of baby big cats in photo booths and petting sessions.  These cubs can only be used for a couple of months and then are discarded.  You can help save them from lives of suffering with just a few mouse clicks at  and while you are there, you can tell your lawmakers how you feel about the war in Iraq.





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 to protect tigers here:



Get 7 Free Lessons from the Teachers of "The Secret" here: 


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