Abandoned Exotic Cats Seized by Kansas Authorities
Being Transported to Big Cat Rescue
TAMPA, Fla. - May 5, 2013 - Nine exotic cats and two other wild animals were confiscated from a dilapidated Atchison, Kansas, property yesterday after authorities discovered that the animals had been abandoned in their enclosures without access to food or clean water. The Atchison County Sheriff's Office seized one tiger, two cougars, three bobcats, two lynx, a serval and two skunks under the state's Dangerous Regulated Animals Act and the animal cruelty code. The Humane Society of the United States, Big Cat Rescue, In-Sync Exotics and the Kansas City Zoo removed the animals from the property and transported them to sanctuaries around the country.
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The animals were living in enclosures that were inadequate in size and security. The enclosures were also full of mud and feces, and did not have appropriate enrichment for the animals. The owner of the animals has arrested on the scene and has been cited for 10 violations, including cruelty to animals and violations of the Dangerous Regulated Animals Act.
Big Cat Rescue, the largest accredited sanctuary in the world devoted entirely to rescuing abandoned and abused exotic cats, will provide a permanent home for the three bobcats, two lynx and one serval. A volunteer veterinarian and two staff members from Big Cat Rescue traveled to Kansas last Saturday with a modified tiger transport trailer to assist in rescuing the big cats and bringing them safely back to Tampa for medical evaluation and treatment.
Kansas law currently prohibits the keeping of dangerous regulated animals, including big cats, as pets. However, several provisions render the law virtually ineffective. Specifically, the law allows people who have a U.S. Department of Agriculture license to maintain an inventory of dangerous animals.
“As evidenced in this tragic case, the USDA does not usually remove wild animals even when an owner's license has been revoked or canceled,” said Carole Baskin, Founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue. “Law enforcement, taxpayers and sanctuaries are left to shoulder the financial burden for irresponsible people who acquire these animals and then fail to provide proper care. Sadly, this is a perfect example of why this country cannot regulate its way out of the chronic problem of people owning, abusing and then abandoning dangerous wild cats. Banning the private ownership of big cats as pets is the only answer.”
Private ownership of exotic cats, such as this instance in Kansas, creates an unsafe situation for the community and exposes animals to inhumane conditions. It is often left to local and state authorities to deal with the issue of confiscation and placement when animals are abandoned, neglected, abused, escape, attack, or are kept illegally in once-licensed private menageries.
Midge Grinstead, Kansas state director for The HSUS, said: “It is sad to see these large, wild cats abandoned in flimsy cages that they could have easily escaped from. As we see in this case, when people own dangerous wild animals it creates an unsafe situation for the community and exposes animals to inhumane conditions. Kansas needs stronger laws on the books to ensure that dangerous wild animals with complex needs are kept only at accredited zoos and sanctuaries. We are grateful for the actions of the sheriff’s office and the other organizations involved in this case.”
There are 4 dead servals and a leopard in the garbage pit photos, along with many other dead exotics.
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About Big Cat Rescue: Located in Tampa, Fla., Big Cat Rescue is the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to providing a permanent home to abused and abandoned exotic cats. The sanctuary is home to more than 100 lions, tigers, leopards, bobcats and other species, most of whom have been abandoned, abused, orphaned or retired from performing acts.
The nonprofit organization is accredited by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries, is certified by Independent Charities of America as a “Best in America Charity,” and has received a four-star rating (the highest) from Charity Navigator for sound non-profit fiscal management. For more information, visit bigcatrescue.org.
Susan Bass, Director of Public Relations
HSUS has provided B-roll to the media here:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A tiger and two mountain lions were among a menagerie of wild cats seized from private farmland in rural northeast Kansas, where they lived in inadequate chain-link enclosures and weren't properly fed or watered, authorities said Monday.
Authorities found a tiger; two mountain lions; three bobcats; two lynx; a type of African cat called a serval; and two skunks on the property. They were taken Sunday from the land belonging to a relative of the animals' owner and were turned over to animal sanctuaries in Texas, Florida and Kansas.
Atchison County Sheriff Jack Laurie said the owner became combative during the seizure and authorities found methamphetamine. He was arrested on suspicion of multiple charges, including interference with law enforcement and disorderly conduct. He also faces 10 misdemeanor charges related to the care of the animals.
Laurie said authorities became involved in early March after receiving a complaint. Witnesses reported that the owner previously had better pens but moved the animals to the relative's property about two years ago. The move was supposed to be temporary, but the animals never left, Laurie said.
"It was dirty," he said. "It was gross."
The cages were made of chain link panels wired together with hose clamps. They varied in size, with the tiger's measuring about 20 feet long, 10 feet wide and 7 feet high, Laurie said. The enclosures had mud floors and weren't staked down.
"My dogs would have been out of there the first day you put them in there," Laurie said.
Laurie said authorities weren't immediately able to seize the animals because there was no place to take them. But authorities received permission from the property owner to feed the animals, a Kansas City Zoo veterinarian evaluated them and rescue organizations began lining up new living arrangements.
The owner didn't live on the property, and, after receiving the complaint, authorities saw him tend to the animals only four or five times, Laurie said.
During the seizure, staff with the Humane Society of the United States and the Kansas City Zoo helped sedate the animals and prepare them to be moved. The Humane Society said in a news release that the tiger was shipped to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas; the two cougars to In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center in Wylie, Texas; the bobcats, lynx and serval to Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Fla.; and the skunks to Operation Wildlife in Linwood, Kan.
Laurie said the owner is cooperating with authorities and released all the animals to the rescue organizations. The Humane Society said the animals will be held at the sanctuaries pending the final disposition of the case.
Associated Press/HSUS, Kathy Milani - In this May 5, 2013, photo provided by the Humane Society of the United States staff members of the HSUS and the Kansas City Zoo move a sedated mountain lion from a menagerie …more of wild cats in Atchison, Kan. Authorities said one tiger, two cougars, three bobcats, two lynx, one serval and two skunks, living in inadequate enclosures and were infrequently fed, were seized and a man is in custody. (AP Photo/HSUS, Kathy Milani)
The cats rescued and brought to Big Cat Rescue were: 3 Bobcats, MaryAnn, Thurston and Lovey, 2 Canada Lynx, Skipper and Gilligan and a Serval named Ginger. With names like these we just had to include the Gilligans-Island.