I recently encountered a heated discussion on Social Media regarding Fish and Game charging an elderly man for “feeding squirrels”. A sweet gesture by an elderly gentleman, not appreciated evidently by his neighbors. And I get how people feel about wildlife, as I also have a hard time not letting my heart and emotion overcome what in the end is the best for not only that animal, but the entire species as a whole.
It seems often times like Fish and Game makes laws that are cruel and unjust, or are just at the bare minimum, they don’t make sense at all.
I want to share though an insight into why a few of these laws are in place. Most if not all are in place for the preservation of the species. Not just one individual animal. I will list below a few reasons that come to mind (there are so many, please forgive me if I forget a few) as to WHY it is never a good idea to interfere with Nature. Only in extreme situations (such as a rare and critically endangered individual of a species is at risk of imminent death, some orphaned wildlife etc) should man interfere with nature. Interfering, in this blog, is referring to feeding of native wildlife. Nature has managed despite OUR best efforts to correct a lot of wrongs we have done to life on this planet. Some of course WE have to step forward and fix the screwups.. but we did it.. so we MUST fix it! But that does NOT include “feeding” wildlife
Reason number one – Desensitizing the animal to human presence.
You might consider yourself a nature loving person and would NEVER intentionally harm an animal. But can you assure
that the next person will be as sweet? That the next person that encounters them will view them as the beautiful kind
creature that you do? When you feed wildlife, you are telling them that the presence of humans is a wonderful thing! Treats
just literally fall from the sky! And THIS will in fact endanger their very lives
Reason number two – This second one pretty much links into the first reason. Feeding wildlife teaches them to associate humans with food.
Some even become pretty dependent upon that food source. This is in no way shape or form a good thing for that animal.
99.9% of the time, we humans are feeding them a diet that even though you TRY to replicate what they would have if they
hunted for it, will not be the same. Most times we offer foods that are processed (yes, even nuts, berries etc) to be placed
into the human food chain.
Some animals even become extremely aggressive in their demand to be fed. That little cute squirrel or raccoon can deliver
a very nasty bite. And if they encounter a human that is not aware of them being fed by people, enforcement is called
and the animal is labeled as a possibly rabid animal and hunted, due to it’s loss of fear of humans.
Reason number three – This is the last, but not at all the least. In my book, it is the most important to save the entire species, not just
“One individual of that species”
Nature has a process. It is called “Natural Selection” Since the beginning of time, Natural Selection has been in play.
Natural Selection works to assure that she strengthens the species, not weakens it. This assures the survival of that
species as a whole. This sounds horrifically cruel. As I was once told by a good friend. “Nature is not cruel. Just
As discussed in the top two reasons, feeding wildlife actually can and does endanger that particular animal’s life.
It also endangers the species as a whole.
Nature is designed that it is survival of the fittest. The strongest, smartest, fastest etc, live long enough to procreate and
pass those genes on as well as show their offspring the rules of survival.
When you feed wildlife, you are allowing a large amount of individuals that nature would not want in the gene pool to
procreate, thus effectively weakening the entire gene pool. Now also add onto that fact that those that were not meant
to survive in the wild on their own have now became dependent upon man (and let’s face it, not all humans are kind) and
are going to teach their offspring to be dependent.
In closing, I ask that if you TRULY love wildlife, avoid feeding them. You can do many other things that help wildlife survival. Leaving water
down in droughts (remember I stated in extreme circumstances and yes, this is one), hard freezes, wild fires etc. If you have land, leave a portion
of your property that is “wildlife friendly” (trees, grasslands etc). Donate to true conservation efforts, and last but not least, if you find an orphaned or injured wildlife, call a licensed rehabilitator.
We here at the Jungle stand firmly on “If they are born in the wild, they need to stay in the wild”
Mystic Jungle is dedicated to the fight against extinction. We deal in facts, not emotion. Emotion is what drives us to do what we do, but it is the facts that helps us make the most informed decisions in regards to the outcome of the situation. If we are sent something such as an article or photo depicting another facility or private owner in a bad light, we take the time to truly investigate the situation. A video or picture is a capture of that moment in time. What is the story behind the video or picture? Our philosophy is that if we did not see it with our own two eyes, hear it with our own two ears, then we do not let it pass out of our own two lips.
There can be so much more behind the photo/video that is not being told. One case is of a photo that was circulating around with dozens of cats on veterinary hospital surgical tables. The Animal Rights Fanatics took a photo of a mass spaying and neutering of cats and stated “Say no to animal testing” Link to article is here – https://speakingofresearch.com/2014/02/27/fact-into-fiction-why-context-matters-with-animal-images/ . So please investigate facts behind ANY photo or video.
Animal lovers everywhere are under direct attack. Yet most are not even aware of what is going on. But it is the countdown to extinction. Not only of our wildlife, but of domesticated animals.
The animal rights agenda (remember the difference between animal rights and animal welfare – Animal Rights is driven on emotion, and NOT fact. Animal Rights believes better off dead than under human care. “They should all be free in the wild”. Animal WELFARE believes in the animal/human relationship and the part they play in our lives today from companionship, to service animals for the blind, paralyzed, or mental disorders etc)
Animal Rights has one mission. To eliminate ALL human and animal contact. PERIOD. And they are doing it one step at a time as those that either do not care because they do not think it will effect them or simply because they are not aware. The war is real now. And closing in fast.
Lies told by AR –
The big cats under human care today, are most likely the last generation in both captivity and in the wild. Many subspecies such as the Malayan Tiger are critically endangered with numbers such as 250 to 350 animals. When a population drops to less than 250 it is virtually extinct for all practical purposes. Genetic bottle-necking occurs. With that comes birth defects, low sperm count, high infant mortality and shortened life spans.
So how does a sub species develop? By DNA assignment. Animals that have the right attributes to survive long enough to procreate in a certain environment will pass these attributes on to their descendants. Attributes such as shorter coats with less stripes to deal with the heat and sparse vegetation. This allows for better hunting, thus the ability to survive and mate. Animals that lack these qualities will of course not survive. This is called natural selection.
So how is a genetically bottle-necked subspecies saved from extinction?
Exactly like they did the Florida Panther and Yellowstone Wolves. Because the wild population numbers were so low, they brought in both captive and wild populations of other subspecies to add GENETIC DIVERSITY. Then the process of natural selection begins again. After many generations the sub – species will again gain a strong foot hold as long as mankind can stop interfering.
In closing, we ask that for the animals sake, no matter if domesticated or not, PLEASE do your due diligence and research that new petition, photo or video that you have been sent. Do not become part of the mob scene attacking others on social media. Become educated by researching scientific fact. Be aware of where you gain any facts (ie – some “fact giving sites are driven by parties with an agenda) Gain your facts from legit data sources.
In closing, an eye opening book for me was “Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators” by William Stolzenburg
It has been a REALLY long time since I have written. For that my friends I apologize. This year has been a rough year. Starting in January, at a big cat continuing education seminar, we had the main facility truck stolen. While it was recovered a week later, it spent three weeks in the shop. This in turn caused the co founder to not be able to leave and finish contracts.. thus we lost them. The loss that was suffered was well over $60,000.00. But that was just the beginnning.
I get back only to find that our tiger, Spike, has been not really eating. The vet was called and nothing was really found. We had the healthiest sick tiger the vet had ever seen. From there, things went from bad to worse. He crashed and we had to take him to the specialist in Ocala. Full diagnostics were ran inclusive of radiographs, barium series, fecal exams, CBC, Chemistry profiles, urinalysis, ultrasound and finally exploratory surgery. With nothing out of the normal. Although he was sick and not eating, after the surgery he seemed to recover and began eating again.
Then in February, Bobby, our rehomed Bobcat hailing all the way from Arkansas, had an ear infection that needed to be taken care of, so he was taken to the vet where he was sedated and treated.
March brought the tragic loss of Katara. Also a rehomed bobcat. She arrived with her sister Abira from Gatorland. Gatorland had rescued them from a closed facility in mid central Florida that had closed. They had isolated and recovered them until they were able to deliver them to us here at the Jungle.
All was going well until that fateful morning that I walked out and found Katara dead in the enclosure. I was devastated. We had never had a cat pass here at the jungle. I took her straight to the vets for a necropsy. The necropsy revealed she passed due to liver disease.
In August we noted that Shrek seemed to be acting “odd” .. so he was closely monitored. He then began to show signs of neurological deficits. He was rushed to the vet. All blood work and fecal exams were normal EXCEPT there was an elevation in the eosinophils. That can be indicitive of a parasitic infestation. Although the fecals were negative, sometimes either no eggs were captured in that particular sample or it could be that it is a parasite that is notorious for not having the eggs show up in a fecal exam..
Parasites can deplete the B vitamins in not only humans but animals. This effects the CNS and would account for the ataxia, seizures, odd posturing etc. So he was placed on B complex extensively as well as prophylactic de wormings.
Then lo and behold, in June, Spike crashed again. This time he was rushed in critical condition straight to Ocala. Emergency stabilization was administered as well as more diagnostics. Skull and dental radiographs were done, fecal exams, blood cultures, CBC, Chemistry panels, H pylori testing, and finally an endoscopy. Again.. nothing was found amiss. Yet we had a cat that was dying.
In November, we noticed that Fred, our 31 year old Java Macaque was acting lethargic and had some weight loss. Again off to the vet we go.. only to find out he had cancer. We euthanized him without waking him up from the anesthesia for the exam.
Going through all of this, we have learned to appreciate the little things. Spike is now eating well and playing. He is still on Prilosec, and it works great. Shrek has absolved all neurological symptoms and is back to his old “I am sweet, wait, NO I am an OGRE” attitude.. and it seems we have gotten our Christmans gifts early this year.
But this has put a hard drain on Mystic Jungles fundings. With all the emergency vet visits it drained us financially to the tune of well over $12,000.00 on Spike alone! And with all the intensive care that Spike and Shrek needed… it drained us emotionally. But we are still here. And if it is in the grand scheme of the Maker’s then we will continue on.. but we need your help now more than ever. Even five dollars will help as it all adds up! And we are a 501(c)3 with all donations being tax deductible. Please consider a donation today!
As many know I have had a life time in veterinary medicine, as well as the animal industry as a whole. I have worked some small farm town community clinics up to the Mayo type hospital of veterinary medicine. With all this vast experience of seeing a lot of unusual cases, I tend to think “outside the box”. In fact at my last position as Head Technician, to quote my doctor “When people hear hoof beats, they look for horses, Vera on the other hand looks for Zebra’s”
Well, sometimes that is not a bad thing. Sometimes things can be very obvious and clear cut, while others are more evasive on finding that golden answer.
Spike is one such case. What is even harder is Spike is a resident here at the jungle as well as one I raised from a young cub of four months old. A veterinary technician can remain calm, cool and collected when the patient is anyone else’s but their own.
Shortly after I left to go to a big cat husbandry course out of town, Spike became critically ill in January of 2014. He underwent a CBC, Chemistry panel, urinalyis, blood tests for specific infections (Salmonella being one of them) fecal analysis, fecal cultures, Felu/FIV testing, ultrasound, radiographs, barium series, and finally an abdominal exploratory surgery with cytology’s and biopsy’s. All of these tests and/or procedures were either within normal limits or negative. Despite no real answers he came home and quickly gained weight and strength. Our fear though was that because we did not know what had caused this, then how could we possibly prevent it from happeing again?
Barely six months later, I leave to go to another Feline Conservation Federation convention for continuing education, and he became ill. He was rushed to Ocala for emergency supportive care as well as more diagnostics. He had more blood work, fecal cultures (testing for H-pylori) fecal analysis, skull radiographs, dental radiographs, and an endoscopy. Again, all tests and procedures revealed either negative or within normal limits. Still no answers. While there though, at the clinic, he did begin to eat again.
This was also short lived, because after arriving home, he crashed three more times. I had to give him an anti emetic each time (the cost of this medication was $167.00 a bottle my cost, and even more for the one while he was at the clinic in Ocala) . We were beginning to lose all hope that Spike would make it.
We reached out to our fellow big cat owners. For the most part, they were supportive. Then we had a few that stated they had indeed saw cases such as this, and the people had spent a ton of money, only to end up with a dead cat. At this point we are at over twelve thousand with Spike. But who can put money value on an animal that is a part of your heart?
Then, as often times it does, it came to me in my sleep. I awoke with a start and shouted “ULCERS!” This was the only thing that made sense! So I began my research. The only thing missing from his symptoms in this was the “acid reflux”. And then as if on demand, the very next day he had an incident of it.
We began a routine of lean meat, famotidine, and carafate. This was working “ok”. Then I got an email from a colleague informing me that her tiger had ulcers and recommended omeprazole. What a world of difference. So we began to wean him off the others, until finally we were just down to the omeprazole.
As of Monday, September 21, he has been off of all medication. So far, there has been no signs of nausea or vomiting. We continue to cut all fat from his meat, to make sure that his suspected ulcer(s) have time to heal. Hopefully in time he will go back to a more normal diet.
One question I have been asked though is the fact that “Do tigers in the wild get ulcers?” You bet your sweet bippy they do! And in fact WE HUMANS gave them to them! Ulcers are caused 98% of the time by a bacteria called H-pylori. Tigers used to prey on man (and some still do) and by eating us, they acquired the bacteria. This bacteria can also be transferred by contaminated water sources, food sources, saliva etc. So a mother can give it to her cubs and pass it on from generation to generation.
What is now believed, is that this has been Spike’s issue for some time. With my leaving town he stressed. Stress raises the cortisol levels, therefore lowering the body’s immune system, making him susceptable to the bacteria.
This has been a long tough road, but not one that we will give up, unless of course Spike says it is time to give up!
Enjoy the video!
We live in an era where information is at our fingertips. It is up to US, the intelligent persons that we are to research everything we see or hear. Today I will touch base on not only sanctuaries and private zoos in the US but on conservation. Both can co -exist in perfect harmony and compliment each other, irregardless of prior belief.
There are many roads on the path to conservation. Some are out there in the trenches, in the homelands of the vanishing species, pulling the survivors from the brink of extinction, into captive breeding programs, balancing the act of genetic diversity with a limited amount of breeding individuals, and preparing the survivors to some how at a later date, to be released to the wild. This is the picture that most have in their minds of true conservation.
But that is merely one road. What good does it do to save a species, that you are about to release into their homeland, if you do not educate the human population enough to protect them? How do you stop the greedy from poaching them for their body parts, or the mere sport of killing them? Ban laws obviously only works to keep the people that want to obey the law in check.. it does nothing for those that have one thing and one thing only in mind. MONEY. And that thought process is not only in poaching, but be aware that it also occurs in a sanctuary type environment.
The animals in your AZA, ZAA, USZA, FCF and private facility’s are all areas to look for your ambassadors for threatened species. Even though many of the individuals may never contribute their DNA to the wild gene pool, they do so much for conservation! They make the general public aware of that species, their status in the wild and what if anything can be done for their recovery. It is human nature to have to be able to see, smell and yes TOUCH in order to recognize that something is REAL. It stimulates the brain and peaks the concern and interest.
There are 37 species of wild cats in the world, yet few know of only the big five, Cheetah, Leopard, Lion, Tiger, Cougar. These get a lot of attention, and most know of them or of their plights. Yet, all it takes is a click of a link to see how many species and what their status is ( http://dialspace.dial.pipex.com/agarman/bco/species.htm) and even this is not updated as a new species of cat has just been discovered. The Tigrina ( http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-12/01/tigrina ) was just recently discovered last year.
Without private facilites breeding these in captivity, a lot of DNA would be lost. Major zoo’s do not have the space nor the money that the population of the world’s individual’s do. A private facility concentrates on the animals while a zoo must concentrate on a lot more…. they must also concentrate on the landscaping, the concessions, etc. And through their own admission, cannot save them all!! ( http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/28/science/zoos-bitter-choice-to-save-some-species-letting-others-die.html?_r=0 ) AZA zoo’s do a LOT for conservation but they are not the ONLY answer.
You will hear many battle cries that cats especially in private zoo’s do nothing for conservation. Again, let me reiterate the fact that although they may not at this time contribute their DNA to the wild population, they help raise awareness. They endear the public to that particular animal. And as I tell our guests here, a tiger is a tiger is a tiger. All are Panthera tigris, then they splinter into sub species, that nature has morphed the DNA to adapt them to the environment that they are surviving in (for example, a Siberian Tiger is not designed to survive the climate of say India, nor is the prey of enough size to not require the cat to have to use more calories than it gains on a hunt) Nature can and does take care of her own. So even a “mutt” tiger could theoretically be released into the wild and through the process of natural selection ( only the ones that are fit to survive that particular climate will survive long enough to procreate) over generations, the DNA will change within to make sure that only the ones that are fit to survive will be propagated.
Think again about this.. it is not that bad to have a “mixed species” released to the wild. Even government officials have done it here in the US. Thus is the case of the Florida Panther that their re-introduction project included the crossing of the Florida Panther ( Puma concolor coryi) and a cougar (Puma concolor couguar).
So please keep this in mind. Crossing of sub species a lot of times CAN BE A GOOD THING. It creates a genetic diversity for a species that is about to suffer a genetic bottleneck and/or be totally annilihated.
My message to all my readers… before you jump on that “ban wagon” such as the breeding of tigers or lions and yes leopards in the US by private facilities, think about the long term effect. The very species that you so adamently want to protect, you could very well be aiding in their demise by the simple stroke of a pen.
For several years now I have watched a drama unfold. I have seen a man and his tiger be the target of animal rights extremists, with a gang type mob mentality. At the helm, a sanctuary, that did indeed start taking in donations for when they had the cat seized. They did that at the start of the fight. Cats are often sent there because this sanctuary is in fact in coherts with the Humane Society of the United States.
Yes, I am referring to Tony the Truck Stop Tiger in Grosse Tete Louisiana.
It is now beyond the point of simply “confused” or uneducated animal loving people… it is now the concentrated effort of domestic terrorist, whipping the public into a feeding frenzy. Fed by nothing but lies, the un educated public thinks this tiger “needs to be saved”. What they do not realize is that this tiger has it better than he would in the “sanctuary” that is pushing to get him. This “sanctuary” places the big cats in round cages. Why you may ask? Well, even if the cat starts to develop stereo typical behavior from the stress of being gawked at by people being fed sob story after sob story for donations, or not ever having contact or seeing their prior owner that they are bonded to, and they begin to pace, …. who can tell? The cat is forced to walk in a circle instead.
Tony’s enclosure is HUGE. But activist will await until he is in his lockout while they clean the main enclosure area to take photos. They take shots of him laying on the top of his den, like he has no where else to go, or the empty pool during the time they drain the pool for cleaning. They claim that his life is in danger because he is next to a highway and the fuel pumps and has to inhale fuel fumes. Umm, the sanctuary that is trying to steal him is actually by a major road. So what is the difference in either place? One would charge (the “sanctuary”) to see Tony, while his true owner does not. The other place would put him in a round cage while his true owner has him in a safe secure huge ENCLOSURE. Oh.. wait.. I know. The sanctuary stands to gain a LOT of money from donations, then when he dies (and he will if they succeed and manage to have him sent there) he will be offered up to the public as being sponsored “In Loving Memory of” and Michael of course will “be the evil man” that did this all to him.
Michael Sandlin is a far better person than I am. He has endured all these years of being a target. Death threats, harrassment, attacks on his personal life, and yet he has perservered. If this was all about his ego or the money, then I cannot fathom spending as much money as he has to keep Tony with him. Yet look at how much money the ALDF(Animal Legal Defense Fund) has spent trying to have him seized and sent to that sanctuary. How many animals could they have saved… after all.. that is what they are supposed to be doing right? Fighting for the ones that are abused, neglected, abandoned?
Tony the Truck Stop Tiger is an American icon to every private owner or private facility out there. If they manage to convince Governor Jindal to veto the bill that legislation passed, allowing Tony to stay where he belongs, this will set the precedence that private property is up for grabs to the biggest bully with the most money. The animals life, nor the persons life mean nothing.
No matter your preference in exotic animals, this should concern you. If a extreme person or group gets you in their sights, you are fair game, and stand to lose everything you own and have worked for. They stand to take away the living breathing beings that you most likely have bottle raised, slept with, prayed for in times of illness, and have stroked that fur or scale or feather and shared your deepest secrets with. There is a reason the animals are viewed as property. That is not as bad as it is being made up to be. Being property means that we have rights as American citizens, to KEEP our property. That is what this country was supposed to be all about. But there is hope. With the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) having to ante up to Field Entertainment (Ringling Brothers Circus) for false accusations and years of coming after them in court.. maybe for once the good guys are winning.
If you are really involved in the animal industry, you know what both the HSUS and USDA initials stand for. The HSUS is Humane Society of the United States, and USDA is United States Department of Agriculture. I am about to present to you documented facts. That of which is up to you to form your own informed idea of what has been transpiring.
I want to also acknowledge that the USDA does have a very needed function in the animal industry. It is needed. But I got a real hard look into the USDA because of what I do.
Whenever you have a law enforcement agency that governs the people and their property(ies) they must remain unbiased and the law is the law. There is no grey zone. Or at least there should not be.
Delving deep (really not at all that hard, just taking the time to research) I found that Sarah Conant has been appointed as the Director of Enforcement of the USDA. So what, you may ask? Well it means a lot. Since Sarah Conant was also the Humane Society of the United States own litigation attorney at one time. So? Well, a leopard never changes their spots.
The HSUS gives less than 1% of any and all donations given to them by donors on actual animal care and shelter. In fact a lot of people are surprised to find out that when they give that donation that it is NOT helping their local Humane Society. AT ALL. They have just now put on their TV ads that they are not affiliated with your local Humane Society after a lot of media attention brought it to light.
Instead, your donation dollars is actually spent on lobbyist. ‘Well for better anti cruelty laws right?” Well, you would think. But, instead they are pushing for more and more banning on industries that few people are involved with or understand. “The low hanging fruit” so to speak. Examples as follows
Not everyone can have a horse, nor do they understand the complexity of taking care of them, and that horses do indeed “Need a job”. Otherwise you can create horses that develop life threatening behavior, such as wind sucking, stall weaving etc. Where does this all come in at? The HSUS is at the helm of trying to ban carriage horses in New York. Those horses are treated better than most people treat their children. Yet with the ban, what can and will incur will be horses that will be sold and sent to God only knows where, and people who have had a job are now jobless. How is that helping the people or the animals?
Now let us talk my industry. The exotic animal industry. This is where the HSUS has grabbed the helm and blasted full speed ahead. Few people understand wild cats, wild canines or anything of that nature. They have had cats, dogs, fish, or maybe even a hamster or two. But truth be known, you at one time or other in your life has owned and shared your life with an “exotic pet”. (citation from Wikipedia-) exotic” refers to a species which is not native or indigenous to the owner’s locale; and “pet” is a companion animal living with people. However, many misuse the term to include native species as well”
USDA is a regulating force that sets rules and regulations for usage of animals in the commercial industry. Circus’s, petting zoo’s, zoo’s, sanctuaries etc. And for the most part USDA regulations can be a good thing. They set common sense rules in the care and husbandry of all almost all animals. But they also forget to include the human/animal bond.
Currently, the HSUS, Born Free, Big Cat Rescue and a myriad of others lead the charge to get the USDA to change the regulations on handling big cats. To make it where the breeders/owners could not have contact with the cubs/kittens until they were of “weaning age’. The wording is very loose. In most people’s mind, an animals “weaning age” is 8 weeks, right? Well the true weaning age of a big cat is actually in the wild 18 months – 2 years.
It is a proven fact that hand reared big cat has less stress in captivity than one that has never been handled. Well, then they should not be in captivity right? Well, in a perfect world that would not be necessary. But it is. When you hear the phrase “There are more tigers in captivity, than in the wild” it leads you, the reader, listener, to believe, that we, the big cat people are going over there to their native countries, thumping the mother’s in the head, and taking the babies. Please read carefully.
Big cats that are hand reared have proven time and time again, to live longer in captivity, than one that has not been hand reared. They do not stress over being transported, being around a lot of people (such as in the case of Spike when he was in the hospital) and there was no need to continually sedate him and further increase anesthetic death. The hand raised theory has proven itself to me personally twice! Both in Rosie and Spike. Had they not been hand reared, the outcome could have been very much a deadly one.
There has been NO, I repeat NO importation of rare and endangered species since CITES in July of 1975. CITES will allow exceptions to AZA/EAZA or university’s. It is NOT your private zoo’s/owners and facilities that are taking these animals from the wild. Zoo’s MUST in order to keep their own genetic gene pool from becoming bottle necked. But so far, that has not been a common thing to do.
Now take the word poached. People do not realize that with big cats, the word poached, means they were killed for BODY PARTS.
So let us reflect on this new-found knowledge. The big cats of today in private facilities are the result of over fifteen generations of captive breeding programs. So where are did these big cats come from in the beginning, to get into the private sector? Hmmmm….. let us think for a moment. Well I am sure, that decades ago it was a lot easier to smuggle a big cat cub into the US. But today? Not so much. Where then? My theory and from what I have found is that big zoo’s themselves were either selling or giving away the ones they had no room for out the back gates of the zoos.
So now, where am I heading with this? Take the efforts of the HSUS, that has infiltrated the USDA by placing key players into positions of power (inclusive of our tax system-which I will save that blog for another day) and BINGO. Total annihilation of the private sector of big cats. So you may ask… is this a bad thing?
YES! The private sector has nothing to do with the destruction of big cats in the wild. NOTHING! In fact, they may very well HELP their wild relatives by raising awareness to their cause! It allows me to educate them on the truth. It allows me to also tell them that the tiger is not the only cat in trouble. There are 37 species of wild cat in the world, of which over HALF are on the verge of extinction.
And finally, let us touch upon human nature. Do I think just ANYONE should have a big cat? ABSOLUTELY NOT! There are indeed bad big cat owners. No doubt. But then again, there are people out there that need to be spayed and that should never have had children. From my research, and looking upon history, knowing human nature, when you ban something, whether it be by out right bans, or making laws so ridiculous no one can comply, you will drive good people underground, or the bad ones will still operate outside the system. Either way, it creates a criminal element and jeopardizes the animal’s life itself. Do you really think if they are driven under ground that they will seek medical care when needed?
And remember, a tiger is a tiger is a tiger. There are sub species of tigers. How sub species become sub species is deviation in DNA to generate physical characteristics so that the animal may better survive and live to procreate in the environment that it is in.
November brought in the normal fall weather. Plans were in the making for the expansion of exhibits, building Spikes new enclosure and so much more. Little did we know what life had planned for us in the upcoming weeks.
The holidays came and went, and with them came the arrival of our newest member. Solomon. An engaging, energetic, and sometimes down right rotten, Bengal Tiger cub. Plans were made for one more enclosure and life was looking great. Everyone healthy and happy. That was until the final tour of the season.
On this last tour, I did notice at the time that Spike was not as engaging with the audience. His usual behavior is one of a show off, often jumping in and out of his pool, and playing with his bubbles! Yet this day, he just sat and observed everyone. I fluffed it off to this was a larger crowd than normal, one that we had to bring in extra help to guide our friends along the paths. This was on December 22.
Christmas came and went. And Spike was doing ok, other than he was doing things that now as I reflect, I am almost ashamed of myself for not picking up on them. He was not playing in his pool anymore. He was not dragging around his tire, he was not sunning himself in his normal spot. Things that when you are in such close contact with these amazing animals, you know their every day habits. His eating habits were as always, most of the time he would eat all of his meal, but some days, he would leave a few pieces. Nothing really to panic about.
The staff and I were all excited in January as I am a proud member of the Feline Conservation Federation, and the were having a Wild Cat Weekend in Sarasota Florida. I was thrilled , that accompanying me was our intern, Amanda, to this. We both were going for our CE hours in Wild Cat Husbandry. We strive here to be educated on was and methods to improve the health and lives of our residents.
The day before we were due to leave, January, 8 2014, Spike did not eat. I was concerned, but he has done this before. We press on with the plans and packing. On January 9th, the excitement was electrifying. We were so ecstatic to be on the road and get to meet like minded folks as well as geared to learn some new and exciting things!
Arriving the evening of January 9th, I pulled in and we checked in at the Americinn in Sarasota. After checkin we were told to move the truck to the back. Ok.. so we did. Little did we know the chain of events what that little directive would set off.
After a great buffet, we quickl settled in for the night in anticipation of the following morning. Excited to awake and go to Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, where the classes were being held. After enjoying a leisure breakfast, Amanda and I strolled to through the lobby to the back parking lot. As we walked out, I was a bit confused for a moment. Both of looking back and forth as if we had came out of the wrong exit.
There, at the space where my truck USED to be, stood Amanda and I. Both looking in every direction, hoping against hope that this was some reality TV show and a host would jump out and go “You’ve been punked!” or even a faint whisper in my ear that perhaps my husband had sought out a twisted joke and traveled up here to move the truck on his. But no. It was gone. A 1999, Ford F 350 diesel dually just evaporated from a parking space. Surrounded by newer trucks loaded with construction equipment, the theives had chosen the main vehicle of the jungle. The truck that hauls cats, horses, picks up meat, veggies and just about anything needed for the jungle.Like in the movie gone in 60 seconds… not so much as a speck of glass to even show evidence that a truck was there.
Not to be disuaded, we contacted our head FCF member and they arranged for a cab to come get us. Throughout the entire class, I was receiving calls from family, the insurance company and the police department (who I might add did not show up for a full hour and a half after I called to report the theft and well after I had left the hotel. Stolen vehicles are not a priority) , I still managed to pass the class with a 95%. Thank God for practical knowledge.
During this time, I was getting reports of Spike still not really eating. Worried sick I was anxious to get home. The drive in the rental car was a solemn one.
Arriving home on the afternoon of the 12th, it became apparent, that Spike was not at all his normal self. Through coaxing we did get a small amount into him. Concern grew. I made a resolution that if he was no better or worse, then a vet visit was in order. The next day he had a small amount (the 13th) then nothing at all on the 14th and 15th. We called our vet out to sedate, examine and do labs. The sedation alone was a scary prospect as Spike had exhibited sensitivity to sedation on a prior sedation. Thank God, Dr. Addison listened and only gave him half the dose. He still took over 6 hours to recover.
All labs, fecals and physical were within normal limits. The vet though suspected a possible infection. Bacterial or viral.. no idea. So we started a course of antibiotics. The day after the vet visit we finally catch a break! Sarasota police department had found my truck! Totally intact except the door lock and ignition had been punched out. A keen eyed sheriff in Manatee County ran a license plate check on a truck that was stowed in a marina as this had been a den of stolen boats. Pure luck and the grace of God, brought the truck home (with an polished dashboard, new ball for my bumper hitch, as mine was a smaller ball for pulling the little trailer with the meat bins, and I had parked the truck at the hotel with an almost empty tank, with the forethought to get fuel in the am.. the theives were kind enough to fuel it up for me and give me a full tank!) Evidently, my truck was being used to steal boats!
The antibiotics were started, and usually if you are going to see an improvement on antibiotics, you will see it within the first 48-72 hours. Instead, Spike got worse. I began to see him fade away. I was desperate. I then started a very controverial antibiotic. A high risk antibiotic, but at this point, it was that or watch him die.
As the days went by, he began to show small signs of improvement and began to eat again, small amounts. The one side effect though of this antibiotic was nausea.So he ate well in the morning, but nothing in the afternoon, after his injection. We thought we had it beat though.. he was coming around. Until February 2. He started acting as if his stomach hurt him again, the on February 3rd, he vomited bile. Yellow bile.
That was it. I had been hesitate about re sedating him due to almost losing him the last go round, but we had no choice. Either get him to the vet and allow a full work up, or watch him die. So off we went on that Tuesday, February 4th.
Dr. Billiar met us at the double doors, and unlike the university allowed us to stay with him to comfort him until he was sedated. With us staying with him, he was a lot less stressed, as well as she listened as well on the sedation and was extremely careful as to how much and how it was given.
He received a full blood work up, fecal analysis, urinalysis, radiographs, barium series, and an ultrasound. Nothing was really jumping out at anyone, so exploratory laparotomy was elected.
Surgery revealed no abnormalties other than an enlarged lymph node that was biopsied and cytology was sent off for interpetation. He recovered well from the surgery but was extremely depressed. Arrangements were made to bring him home on antibiotics. We had to keep him in his transport trailer for two weeks to prevent him from running, jumping, getting the incision dirty or wet. Fun fun.
Finally on the Saturday after his release (February 8th) we were allowed to feed him and he ate with gusto! The progress he has made has been nothing short of amazing. He is now eating twice as much as he ever ate, but we do not begrudge this at all.. we celebrate it.
But there is always a bad side to something great. We never did find out what this was. And as such we have no idea on how to prevent it from happening again. In the veterinary field I have seen this case scenario many times. The animal is sick, testing shows nothing so we open them up, and they miraculously heal. We call it by two phrases “Letting the bad air out” or “Exorcising the demons within”
We also know that without Spike being hand raised, being a photo cub, all this handling and injections would have stressed him. In a lot of cases, this could have been enough to kill him. Because of his hand rearing, we were able to have him sedated only for procedures. Lessening the risk of losing him under sedation, that he was already severely sensitive to. Lessening the stress of daily injections. Lessening the risk of having to take him to the vet. All
He has been doing wonderful, and in the middle of this the compressor on the walk in cooler went out. But in the broad scheme of the past events, that was nothing. We are just happy and blessed that Spike, the heartbeat of the Jungle, is around to thrill his visitors for many more years!
If you would like to contribute to Spikes medical fund you may do so via paypal at firstname.lastname@example.org
As some of us welcome in the new year, our fellow Americans in Ohio that own exotics face a grim reality. One that no animal lover ANYWHERE wants to even imagine facing.
For those that have followed my articles, Ohio just went over the top with their regulations against the ownership of exotic animals. Requiring them to build more extensive caging, get insurance (trust me the insurance is enough to choke a horse. We have to have it here) microchipping, neutering, (For line by line details on this please read my article “The Day the Animals Cried” ) etc. Seem simple enough right? WRONG.
Now you take the fact that exotic animals stress VERY easily. They bond with their owners hard. So a LOT of the requirements such as microchipping, neutering etc, require anesthesia. With dogs and cats, microchipping is as easy as one two three done. Not so with a big cat or even a small monkey. They have to be sedated. Neutering of course not only requires anesthesia, but the older the animal the more at risk from complications from the surgery itself as well as the fact that there is now a leading study out that suggests that neutering big cats can lead to premature arthritis due to the laxity in the muscles from lack of testosterone (as well as hip dysplasia)
The state of Ohio promised “breeding permits” Well there is no breeding permit except if you are an AZA zoo or affiliate and USDA. AZA does not encompass ALL rare and endangered species. They cannot. They share collectively what species to save and as stated in my previous article have to make choices on WHAT species to save. AND when a zoo states an animal is of unknown lineage is why they cannot breed it, it mostly refers to species such as tigers for the most part. Stating that because many tigers today are mixed sub species. But your standard leopard such as the Asian or African, are the same sub species. And most if not all exotic animal breeders keep personal records on who the parents are, and the parents parents etc. So in effect they have “stud books” So this “propagation permit” is a joke. A back door ban on breeding.
I am also getting first hand information on the ones that are stuck in Ohio. Two weeks before this law took effect, the ones that were told they WOULD be exempt, were notified that they ARE NOT.
The state of Ohio also has not issued ANY permits to the ones that have managed to complied as of YET!
The state of Ohio issued executive orders that NO VETERINARIAN can issue health certificates to any of the animals listed on this new law. Effectively locking the animals IN the state of Ohio for execution.
Wow.. execution. Pretty powerful word eh? Well, think about this. The facility that was built to the tune of 2.9 million dollars only houses THIRTY animals. There are literally thousands of exotics that they have locked inside the state (and yes, they are LOCKED because if they try to cross the state line without a health certificate the animal can and will be seized and if they make it out upon entry to another state they can and will be seized) the state of Ohio. The only EXEMPTED sanctuaries are GFAS (another PRIVATE entity) and they are claiming FULL. So what do YOU think will happen with no place to go. This in effect is what a back door ban does. They slide around the words BAN to make you THINK it is all well and good. Regulation can be a good thing right? But with regulations that are so difficult that they are impossible to comply with, and there is double speak in the law.. it is a BACK DOOR BAN PERIOD.
As my colleague put it so well. They had them build all these new cagings. They (Big Cat Rescue, Humane Society of the United States, Jack Hannah, Born Free et al) claim it is in the name of public safety. Well just look at Zanesville they cry! Well, the end story is those animals at Zanesville were RELEASED. You can build a multi million dollar facility, but it is all for naught if someone releases the residents. Those animals did NOT ESCAPE.
So now, Ohio legislators, I, as well as THOUSANDS of citizens and animal lovers are watching. Was the blood of those forty-nine Thompson animals not enough for you? We are watching.. in fact THE WORLD is watching. Show us you have the capacity to reason and act with logic. Leave these animals with their owners.. the only homes they ever knew. Repeal this ridiculous, murderous law before it is too late and you have more blood on your hands.
Mystic Jungle Educational Facility Inc. is a non profit 501(c)3 facility. Here we focus on conservation, education of the public on exotic animals.
To educate young and old on the importance of conservation and preservation of all native and exotic species.
Mystic Jungle Educational Facility Inc. is a non profit 501(c)3 facility
13429 US Hwy 129
Live Oak, FL 32060