I have done a lot of research. You have a lot of misinformation out there that is actually garnering animosity towards anyone that is working and striving for that ultimate goal of replenishing the native lands of these big cats with some of the gene pool from here in the United States.
I will address each issue individually.
“Captive breeding in private facilities is not true conservation” – I have heard this time and time again. While I will agree that there are some facilities that are out there that SAY they are doing it in the name of conservation, all they are doing is breeding a cat to a cat with no regard to the known parentage of those cats and taking care to lower the risk of inbreeding. There is always a few bad apples in EVERY industry, cause, or concern. One should NOT lump all facilities in one barrel. Here at the Jungle we KNOW where our leopards came from, what the parentage is and have successful matings with dynamic looking cats resulting. HEALTHY, genetic flaw FREE. These cats carry with them the genes of healthy Asian Leopards that WHEN (not if!) the Asian Leopard becomes extinct, we will STILL have this magnificent animal on this planet.
“Breeding of big cats in facilities in other than AZA zoo’s will result in inbreeding and is not true conservation.” I do believe I just addressed that one..
”You can not trace their linage to the wild” – WHAT A JOKE!!! THEY ALL CAME FROM THE WILD IN THE BEGINNING!!
“The big cats here are not pure sub species” – What they are stating is that most are mixed like a Siberian with a Bengal, a Sumatran etc. What they FAIL to tell you is the fact that our OWN government that stands behind these ludicrous statements have done the EXACT SAME THING in order to save a species!! You heard that right folks! The wolf native to Yellowstone was the Canis Lupus irremotus. They brought in the subspecies of wolf known as the Canis Lupus Lycaon, Then you have the Florida Panther project. The Florida Panther is a sub species known as Puma Concolor Coryi and was facing extinction. So the state of Florida approved a project of bringing in a male cougar from out in the other side of the nation. This most likely was the Puma Concolor Couguar. Now how is it ok for the to mix subspecies in the name of conservation, but not OK for private facilities? Understand private breeding facilities all have the same goal. The ONLY difference is that WE ARE WAGING A WAR across the GLOBE on our species of choice and it is hard to fight the politics, culture and poaching from here to there. WE try to do what we can though for the preservation of the species.
I LOVE this one! “They belong in the wild” – This is usually the battle cry of people that only know what they have followed on a twitter account, an email or a webpage. They have taken NO TIME to research the facts for themselves and often that same battle cry is followed by them berating someone that they should “release them” Ok.. captive breeding programs final goal IS THE RELEASE of these jewels of valuable DNA to THEIR NATIVE LANDS, but there are several factors that will not allow that right now. One of them being that there IS NO WILD LEFT that the animal can claim as it’s own safely and the other is that the big cats of today are from over FIFTEEN generations of captive breds! People that sound that battle cry are very uninformed and under the belief that your private facilities are taking them from the wild. Private facilities have NOT taken them from the wild since the induction of CITES in July of 1975. This restricts the importation/exportation of rare and endangered species! When you hear the statement that there are more tigers in the US than in the wild, yes, feel sad… but then rejoice that we have the genetic diversity to replenish what is left of the wild should man ever come to an agreement that this planet can be shared.
“The gene pool here in the US is too close” – Well that part may be on the true side. BUT all big cats are suffering a genetic bottle neck because of teetering so long on the brink of extinction. When the numbers are decreased in the wild do you think they walk up to each other and go “Oh, I can’t mate with you because you are my sister?” I think not. And even so, the Leopard suffered a genetic bottle neck thousands of years ago. The cause was unknown but they did come back and flourish. The Cheetah, that currently is under MAJOR conservation efforts has a SEVERE genetic bottle neck. One so bad that a lot of the males sperm is deformed thus low conception rates. Does this mean we should just throw our hands up and give up? HECK NO!! We keep trying!! One must never give up!
”Only AZA facilities should have and breed these big cats” – Did you know that the AZA is merely an accreditation organization? Although they do keep GREAT records on the animals they have bred, they also do not have all that many zoo’s that are accredited thus will not have enough of these species to re populate the wild. Remember these member zoo’s of the AZA can only breed and display what the AZA says and they allow only so many breedings of a species to be divided among their member zoo COLLECTIVELY. They are also the ones that created the SSP (Species Survival Program) that by their own admission, they have to decide from time to time what is worth saving more on a species. Meaning.. “Should we promote the breeding of the Snow Leopard or the Bengal Tiger?” The Bengal Tiger lost and they have stopped breeding the Bengal. WHY should this choice have to be made? BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE THE SPACE, the POWER OF NUMBERS to accomplish this alone. They also can NOT enforce any laws. So when you see ban laws on these big cats that state must be a member of the AZA or GFAS (AZA is a zoo accreditation and the GFAS is a sanctuary accreditation NOT GOVERNING BODIES WITH THE POWER TO PUNISH other than by taking away the accreditation!)
In the end, the SSP is NOT the final answer on this years old debate.. WE are. WE THE PEOPLE, A NATION, can save these cats.. simply by learning the TRUTH!
“What man does not understand, he fears. What he fears , he destroys”