Santuario Mexicano de Grandes Felinos
This section will be for gathering assets to be translated into Spanish for use in creating sanctuaries for big cats in Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries.
Esta sección será para la recopilación de los activos para ser traducido al español para su uso en la creación de santuarios para grandes felinos en México y otros países de habla hispana. Algunos de los artículos son un poco anticuado, pero estoy vinculándolos aquí para actualizar y traducir.
What Happens to All the Circus Animals?
Banning the cruel use of wild animals in circus acts is happening all around the world. At those bans begin to be enforced there is concern that the circuses will let the animals starve to death. Governments and animal rescue groups are working together to provide humane solutions that will enable the animals to live out the rest of their lives in sanctuaries. A well run sanctuary can provide the best possible animal care and can support itself, if careful planning goes into the creation and running of the refuge.
Big Cat Rescue has been around since 1992 but it didn't get the fundraising part right until 2003. Now we generate about half a million dollars over our expenses annually that we put into major improvements of the grounds and into an endowment fund to insure the long term care of our cats. Some of the following are the tips we have learned to being financially successful.
Do it right.
If you do it right the first time, you save money and time. Whether it is building the cages, or the infrastructure, or training the staff and volunteers, or doing the fundraising, it will always work out better in the end if you do it right from the beginning. You only get one chance to to make a good impression. Your reputation will be the most important factor in the success of the endeavor and it only takes one bad act to lose respect.
The very first thing that should be done is to neuter all of the males and implant females to prevent further adding to the number of lions and tigers in cages. None of these privately held animals serve any conservation purpose and should never be bred for life in a cage. In the case of Mexico's ban on the use of wild animals in circus acts, it would immensely help limit the future costs if the government were to seize the animals in place, to neuter and implant them, before actual confiscation. This would limit the sales of these animals into inappropriate situations and would help stop the cub handling industry.
Even if you are doing everything right, you need to be transparent, so that your supporters know. Some ways to be transparent are to be open to the public so they can see everything that happens. Other ways are to share the animal care via photos and videos online or web cams.
Your finances should be just as open to the public. People want to know where and how their donations or tax dollars are being spent and being open about it encourages more public support and limits corruption. Having outside auditors come in, at least once a year to inspect finances and animal care, lets the public know they can trust you.
Build it right.
This video shows how we build our 2.5 acre vacation rotation enclosure, the feeding lockouts, bowl holders, guillotine doors, the safety entrances and our roofed cages. We have a lot of species of wild cats, so most of our cages have roofs, but if you are only housing lions and tigers, you can build them with no roof using the instructions in the video below:
Big cats will be much more relaxed and easier to deal with if they have a lot of space. We have found the MINIMUM amount of space for each cat should be about 1200 square feet (112 square meters).
Cats are solitary and even though they may be forced to live in groups where they are currently, they will fight, steal food from each other and cause medical emergencies. Unless the cats REALLY love each other, they should be housed separately. Even if they do love each other, there must be a way to separate them at feeding time.
Shared walls are just asking for trouble because anything that fits through can get chewed off, like ears, tails and paws. It is also an invitation to fight, so we never have shared walls. We use 4 inch by 4 inch welded wire fence panels that are 5 feet tall and 15 feet long. They are double galvanized to prevent rust. Most of our sanctuary was built with single galvanized panels, which were cheaper but require painting every 6 years or so with Rustoleum.
Tigers and neutered / spayed lions don't dig, so there is no reason to put a floor in the cage if it is at least 1200 square feet per cat. They prefer the soft earth, grass and bushes to concrete or rocks; which can be debilitating for their joints.
Each cage should have a feeding lockout for each cat in the cage. The feeding lockout only needs to be big enough for the cat to walk in and turn around and only slightly taller than the cat. The feeding lockout should be attached to the cage with a guillotine door. The guillotine door should be shut before feeding so the keeper can safely put the food in, then open the door. The guillotine doors should be shut when keepers are cleaning the lockout and water bowls so the cats can't sneak up on them. Making this space small makes it easier for the vet to assess a cat, to administer shots and conditions the cat for easy transport.
A 1200 square foot cage costs us about $7500 to build (115019 pesos)
All of the lions and tigers should be tested for contagious diseases upon arrival and vaccinate. They should be kept separate and not use the shared rotation area, for the first 30 days to insure there is no disease transmission.
Feed them well.
Feeding a good diet and being safe at feeding time is important.
We prefer to feed our cats an expensive prepared diet made in Colorado by Triple A Brand but most facilities feed the Wal-Mart Diet. Wal-Mart offers sanctuaries their expired meats for free. In the U.S. this is managed by Quest Recycling. The down side of using this meat is that it is not a balanced diet and those who do use it report that about 80% of what they get is too bad to feed, so there is some cost in disposing of the bad meat and wrapping.
Keep it clean.
Taking care of one lion or tiger is hard work, but when there are 100-300 of them, it is a job for a team of well trained individuals. There is no reason to spend donor dollars nor tax dollars on salaries for keepers because people love working with big cats so much they will do it for free. The only paid positions should be those that volunteers don't like to do, like managing the volunteers, keeping the records, doing the fundraising, taking care of the website and social sites and outreach educational programs.
The key to making sure the lions and tigers get the very best care is training the volunteers how to do things right and be safe while doing it. Big Cat Rescue has an annual budget of 2.7 million dollars and only 14 paid staff. None of the paid staff do animal care work. Even our vets donate their services. We have about 100 large exotic cats and 88 volunteers and 12-22 interns at any given time. They do all of the cleaning, feeding, medicating, and much of the grounds work and maintenance. They also guide all of the tours.
We always have more applicants for our intern program than we have space. If you can provide housing and food for interns, you can keep full time help on site at all times. Our interns work 5-6 days a week and volunteers must donate at least 4 hours of time each week to stay in the program.
Engage the public.
When laying out the facility, consider public viewing as well, so that you have plenty of room for paths to get trucks to each enclosure, walkways for groups of 20 people at a time to walk, and at least 5 feet from the side walls of the cages to a 4 foot high barricade. The barricade should not obstruct the visitor's view, but should keep them from going over or under it to get too close to the lions and tigers.
We only allow guided tours of Big Cat Rescue, in groups of up to 20 at a time, but if you can completely cage in the public, like a cage wire tunnel, then you could allow people to roam at their own pace as long as you have sufficient security to keep them from harassing the animals or throwing anything in the cages that might be dangerous if eaten.
We offer high price specialty tours and find that we have to raise our prices for all of our tours every couple of years because we want to maintain the peace and tranquility of our sanctuary. As of 2015 these are the prices we charge for our tours, and we use an outside agency to sell the tickets, answer all the questions callers have and make the reservations. They send us an email 2 hours before each tour that tells us how many people are coming so that we have enough tour guides.
We are able to charge these kinds of prices because we are only 15 minutes from Tampa International Airport. Acreage here costs $100,000 an acre (3,796,120 pesos) but it is because of our close proximity to the city and airport that we have so many visitors. The videos below were from 6 years ago, but show you what a visitor sees on a feeding tour and a keeper tour.
Good walls make good neighbors. The entire facility should be enclosed by a wall. We prefer a wall that you cannot see through, so that there is less chance of someone shooting at the cats, but whatever it is made of, it should be sufficient to keep vandals and other wildlife out.
Natural shade is much better than man made shade, so if possible the cages should be built in areas with lots of trees or trees should be planted now. They grow quickly and will provide much better cooling for the cats. Lions and tigers are not good climbers, so if they are fed every day, they rarely have a reason to climb, but trees should be positioned in such a way that cats cannot use them to escape. In some places that don't have enough trees, road culverts can be buried in earth to create a cool place for the cats.
Keep good records and make sure your staff are informed.
Archivos: http://bigcatrescue.org/records/ Mantener un buen registro es importante para la buena salud de los animales. Utilizamos los sitios de Google creado con la plantilla de Santuario que hicimos al alcance de todos en la sección Temas más cuando se va a crear un sitio . Este tema tiene todas las herramientas de gestión de voluntarios y de formación que utilizamos , así como las formas y gráficos que utilizamos para alimentar a los gatos , reportando su comida dejó más o heces y observaciones acerca de su condición médica. Usted puede crear un sitio web gratuito con este tema para rastrear todo su cuidado de los animales y la capacitación del personal. Debe tener una cuenta de Google para usarlo. https://sites.google.com/site/santuariomexicano/