March 3, 2017 2:35PM Corrina Hetrick Dankert, daughter of Kenny Hetrick tried to sneak onto our 3PM tour using Tammy Lopez as the ticket buyer and driver. Corrina Hetrick Dankert tried to hide her true identity by using the fake name of Peggy Schroyer on her ticket and the liability release form.
When they arrived, Tammy Lopez spoke to our Operations Manager at the gate. Gale noticed the passenger (Corrina Hetrick Dankert) had her hair up under a baseball cap, dark sunglasses and was trying to hide her face.
Gale alerted the Gift Shop staff who noticed that every time one of our senior staff walked near Corrina, she would duck her head away and move away from them. Big Cat Rescue staff called me (Carole Baskin) to come see what was going on.
I walked up to her, introduced myself and just waited to see what she would say next. I just stood there, looking into her sunglasses, and waited…and waited. Tammy Lopez sidled up alongside her, sensing the jig was up.
Most people just can’t stand a long pause and finally, the next words out of Corrina Hetrick Dankert’s mouth were: “I’m Corrina.”
She went on to say that she just wanted to visit me in person, as a courtesy, to let me know that everything I’ve heard about her was wrong.
I told her and her friend they had to leave.
She argued a bit, saying that she just came out of respect to introduce herself to me and show me what a good person she is. This, of course was a ridiculous lie given her having tried to hide her identity to get on the tour.
I countered that lying about who she was on the release form, and hiding behind her hat and glasses, and ducking away from my staff told me all I needed to know about her. Besides, you can judge a person by the company they keep. Here are just a few of her Facebook friends:
Her friend Tammy Lopez asked why they couldn’t go on the tour and I told her it was because I don’t believe their heart to be in the right place, that I believe them to be litigious, and that it’s my right to refuse service to anyone, so I was refusing it to them.
My reason for denying them service goes a lot further than just my disdain for the small, shoddy, barren, backyard cages the Hetricks kept lions, tigers and leopards in before the cats were seized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. It is because she is so deeply entangled in the network of big cat breeders, dealers and cub pimps that I do not trust her anywhere near our cats, our staff, our volunteers or our family. When it comes to exotic cats, there are two camps:
Our side, which consists of animal protection groups, true sanctuaries and people who believe that wild cats belong in the wild and not in prison cells. We are working together for laws that ban the private possession and exploitation of big cats.
Their side, which consists of people who make a living from, or have their egos stroked, by buying, breeding, selling and allowing public contact with big cats. They are working together to thwart efforts to protect big cats and some of them, including the Hetricks, openly thumb their noses at the laws that have been implemented. Off the top of my head I have a Top 10 list of people who I think are the worst contributors to the problem of big cats in backyards and basements across America.
In order of most harm done to least:
- Joe “Exotic” Schreibvogel Maldonado
- Kevin Bhagavan “doc” Antle
- Eddie Serio
- Kathy & Randy Stearns
- Mario Tabraue
- Karl & Kayla Mitchell
- Pat & Ron Engessor
- Bill Meadows
- Tim Stark
- Michael Sandlin
In a second tier would be Nick Sculac and Julie Walker (now catless), Felicia Frisco, Sue Pearce and the Mogensen family of roadside zoos. Notice how many of these are on Corrina Hetrick Dankert’s Facebook friend list.
Right when Corrina Hetrick Dankert was posting photos of herself in a nearby hotel, there was a discussion going on between some of the people above and their minions about how to infiltrate Big Cat Rescue. Everyone knows that the only way to visit the cats is on a guided tour, which is led by a Tour Guide and a person we call a “Back-up”. The tours are kept to groups of 22 or less. As the guests are escorted around the sanctuary, the Tour Guide tells the stories of the cats and why they don’t belong in cages. The Back-up makes sure everyone stays together, and that they don’t reach across the barriers. Our facility is also known for our extensive training and our shirt color levels based on experience.
In the animal exploiters chat group they were telling each other that the way to get behind the barriers to get to the cats would be to wear our tee shirt colors, underneath a long sleeve shirt or jacket. When one person distracted the Tour Guide then the other could slip away from the tour group, shed the covering clothing and appear to be one of our own volunteers out amongst the cats. It’s a dumb plan, worthy of the minds that were sharing it, because there is never a way to slip away from the Back-up, who is there exactly to prevent that sort of nonsense. Getting over or under the barriers would be noticed for sure and we have cameras everywhere. But the troubling part of reading this exchange is that it makes clear these people are looking for a way to break our safety rules and either harm the cats of cause trouble in some way.
There is no legitimate reason to try and escape the tour and get on the other side of the barricade unless they are planning to poison a cat, set one loose (they’d need bolt cutters under that tee shirt too) or to get themselves injured in the hopes of getting a big settlement. The only less horrid reason would be for the selfie opportunity to say that they broke the rules, which is applauded by their ilk. No doubt, all of the brochures, magazines and leaflets that Tammy Lopez and Corrina Hetrick Dankert scarfed up, while in our Gift Shop, were for the sole purpose of being props in their upcoming, nose thumbing posts about how they got inside Big Cat Rescue. Clearly they were not taken for the purpose intended, which is to educate people about why they shouldn’t try to make pets of exotic cats. These people already have their minds made up on that topic.
Some of the people in Corrina Hetrick Dankert’s circle of friends have openly threatened my life. One made a video of himself shooting blow up doll, dressed to look like me. The people who breed and deal in wild cats are a small network of 25-30 backyard breeders and most seem to know each other. One of the people in that small network threatened to kill me because we had provided sanctuary to a tiger he bred named Shere Khan and because we were working on laws to ban such breeding. Others have tried to physically attack me and our company vehicles have been vandalized to cause blowouts at high speeds. All because we are successfully changing hearts, minds and laws about how wild cats are kept in captivity.
Karl Mitchell, who lost his USDA license to exhibit in 2001 still openly defies the feds by allowing public contact with big cats. You may remember Shaquille the black leopard who he sent to us back in the 90’s. Shaquille’s face was so badly beaten we called to alert him and he allegedly told my late husband that he had beaten the leopard with a bat. The cougar he sent at the same time died later from her brain injuries from the beating she endured. Karl Mitchell appears to be someone who continues to encourage the Hetrick’s in their efforts to overturn the ODA’s seizure of their animals.
The Hetrick’s attorney, Kim Novak, tried to bully her client’s way onto our property. I told her and the ODA that I’d need to see some evidence that their local Ohio county order has any validity in Tampa, FL. None was forthcoming.
No good could come of the Hetrick’s stepping foot on our grounds. I believe the Hetricks just love the attention they used to get by having cages full of wild animals. Now the only attention they get is from continuing their court case against the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
When Corrina was confronted with her presence here, did she say she wanted to see how her cats were or even ask how they were? No. All Corrina wanted to talk about was how she felt she was being misrepresented in all of this. It was all about her. Well, it’s not about her. It’s not about any of these private owners of big cats.
It’s about the cats and the cats in question are in the best situation possible for wild cats who had the misfortune to be bred for life in prison.
I walked Tammy Lopez and Corrina Hetrick Dankert to their car at 2:51 PM and told them I’d refund their tickets online, which we did after they left. We refunded the tickets to Tammy Lopez driving Grey Kia Optima Lic# GVI G19
All of the above is my own personal experience and belief. Carole Baskin