Wednesday, February 20, 2008 2:06 AM MST
POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — A Nevada man who keeps tigers and other endangered large cats is challenging in court a decision by the Idaho Department of Agriculture that prevents him from moving his operation into the state.
Peter Renzo is a licensed big cats trainer and president of the Siberian’s Are Becoming Rapidly Extinct Foundation, or S.A.B.R.E. Foundation, based in Carson City, Nev., and dedicated to saving endangered big cats. He started the foundation in 2001.
He owns five Siberian tigers and a black leopard, and said he expects to have two more white Bengal tigers at the end of this month.
In October, he announced plans to move his nonprofit operation to eastern Idaho, where he said he wants to breed the cats and perform live shows.
But the state Department of Agriculture barred the move.
Greg Ledbetter, administrator and state veterinarian of the Division of Animal Industries, recently wrote Renzo a letter explaining the decision.
The letter said the department had questions about Renzo’s qualifications, and that any such move would require all the cats be spayed or neutered before entering Idaho.
Renzo said he’s been licensed to exhibit big cats for more than 30 years, and cited the endangered status of his tigers and black leopard as why he will not spay or neuter the animals.
He filed a request for a judicial review of the agency’s decision with 7th District Judge Darren B. Simpson. That review is scheduled for April 21.
“Basically, I don’t understand the other side of the story,” Renzo said. “Who the hell wants to castrate an endangered animal?”
Ledbetter did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Renzo said that if a resolution isn’t reached at the April 21 review, he will continue with legal action against the department. He said he has the same rights as other zoos in the state.
“We want to save all the cats,” he told the Idaho State Journal. “If we can save a cat, we’re going to save it. There’s also not that many Siberians left worldwide, and it’s hard to keep count because they’re so elusive and stay in forested areas. We need to keep a viable population of them because we’re losing them.”
Renzo said that if the judicial review goes his way, he will open the “Tiger Pavilion” sometime this summer. He said a location hasn’t been selected, but it will likely be between Idaho Falls and Blackfoot.
“It’s a beautiful area,” he said.
Note from Dee: I did post a comment to this story, but I have not seen it posted on their site yet. Here is a copy of my comment:
The Siberian or Amur Tiger is endangered, but to breed them for a life in captivity, and to have them perform in live shows is wrong. A true sanctuary does not breed or exploit its animals.
The Siberian Tiger is bred within the Survival Species Plan and there is no reason why this animal should be bred by sanctuaries or be bred and kept by private owners.
“The captive program for Amur tigers is the largest and longest managed program for any of the subspecies. The Amur tiger served as one of the models for the creation of scientifically managed programs for species in captivity in zoos and aquariums worldwide. According to the 1997 International Tiger Studbook there are about 501 Amur tigers managed in zoos. This captive population is descended from 83 wild-caught founders. For the most part, the Amur tiger is considered secure in captivity, with a large, genetically diverse and stable population.”
“The Amur tiger global captive population is divided primarily into two well-managed regional populations, the North American Species Survival Plan population of about 150 tigers and the European Breeding Program population of about 225 tigers. Another 90 or so Amur tigers are maintained in zoos in Japan, but the level of captive management of this population is undetermined. Tigers are exchanged between the North American Species Survival Plan population and the European Breeding Program to maximize gene diversity in the two populations.”
As to the white tigers referred to in this article, they are the result of severe inbreeding, that is, mother to son, father to daughter and sister to brother. Most of the cubs produced are born with profound birth defects, such as immune deficiency, scoliosis of the spine (distorted spine), cleft palates, mental impairments and grotesquely crossed eyes.
Please visit this link for more information about white tigers: http://bigcatrescue.org/cats/wild/white_tigers.htm
There are reputable sanctuaries that care for unwanted, neglected and abused big cats. They do not breed them to bring more cats into a life of captivity or exploit them in shows; they provide the care, safety and respect these cats deserve. Unfortunately there are also the “so-called” sanctuaries and organizations that try to pass themselves off as reputable ? if they breed and show their animals, they do not have the cats’ well-being at heart.
For The TIGER
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