I have written on this before, but this atrocity is one that merits attention once again. The Ohio Exotic Ban law is about to go into full effect as of January 1 2014. For the un-informed, one thinks this is a simple case of the closure of “road side zoo’s” and irresponsible owners having to shut down and give their animals up. This is the furthest from the truth as you can get.
On October 18th 2011, Terry Thompson of Zanesville Ohio, was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound to the head. He alledgely CUT all of this exotic animals cages, (mind you he had keys) before shooting himself in the head. Now also remember that all of these vicious, ferocious animals were roaming around and he lived long enough to not only cut all the cages, but to end his own life. All wounds from animals were found to be post mortem. Some reports are that he opened the cage doors and then cut the cages, but this is inconsistent with all the news reports that stated otherwise. No matter who, what, where, when or why, forty nine animals lost their lives. And THAT is only the beginning.
NONE of the animals left the property. The lion that was seen from a neighboring horse farm was merely at the boundary of the two farms. The mountain lion was shot and THEN staggered into a neighboring farm as it lay dying. In all forty nine animals were murdered. One was a tigress and her cubs that WAS STILL IN HER ENCLOSURE. This was executed on the orders from Sheriff Lutz. The only surviving animals were three leopards (by far the most dangerous and were NOT released by Terry Thompson as well as the MOST VALUABLE among the exotics) two rare macaque’s and one bear. Of these five animals only four were returned to his wife, Marian , because the younger male leopard (the son of the two older ones) was killed by the Columbus Zoo when a guillotine door was dropped on it’s back.
Ohio had very lax laws on the ownership of exotic animals. So instead of placing reasonable commonsense regulation, Governor Kaish with the aide of the Humane Society of the United States, Jack Hannah, and Big Cat Rescue shoved into law a death sentence for these animals.
The law was pushed through. The state of Ohio exotic animal owners presented their side to the senate, which fell on deaf ears. In fact, some senators were so rude as to even get up and leave and some chose to not even be bothered to show up. The time clock for execution was already set. They sold this bill of goods as a “public safety issue” . Which is the furthest from the truth. Let me repeat this one more time. This pertains to big cats. THERE HAS NEVER, I REPEAT NEVER, been a case of a big cat escaping, going on a rampage through a neighborhood , and killing people. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Remember the nature of the beast. Big cats are territorial. Their enclosure is “their den”. There is safety in that den. Even if they leave the den, they will return to the area that they feel safe. They may roam. In fact even if they do leave the property, (such as in the case of Steve Sipek and his cat Bobo, the cat was on his way HOME when he was shot and killed) they WILL come home.
What about the tigress at the San Fransico zoo that scaled her wall and attacked two young men, killing one of them, you may ask? Well, my heart goes out to the family of the victims first and foremost. But the tigress never tried to leave the zoo. Later reports state that she had in fact been taunted all day by these two young men, scaled the wall and ran them down. In the process she passed her natural prey, and several visitors. This was a revenge kill. The fact remains that big cats will not stray far from home, nor will they go on a wanton killing spree. This law was not a “public safety issue” If you do not want attacked by a big cat, then it is real simple. Do not place yourself into direct contact with the cat.
The ban law states that current owners “may keep their animals but acquire no new ones”. What they fell to tell you is the fact of all the hoops that these owners must now go through to keep them.
1. Permitting will cost anywhere from $250.00 to $1,000.00 depending upon the number of animals being registered
2. Owners must purchase a liablitly insurance of $1,000,000.00 or $250,000.00 surety bond. Well, that may be all well and good, but understand that there are only a handful of insurance companies that offer this type of coverage, and you have to jump through some MAJOR hoops to get this. Trust me on this as we have to have this same type of coverage. For your average private owner, this will be out of the realm. It costs us almost $4,000.00 a YEAR in insurance alone. And we are not open to the public, so I can only imagine what the zoo’s there must be going through.
3. Microchipping. Well, as your dog and cat owner is probably fully aware of, this is a pretty simple procedure. After all, you just pop Fido or Kitty into the crate, off to the vet you go, and a simple injection and you are done. NOW think about what this entails with ANY exotic. The needle is about a 12 gauge. (the smaller the guage number is the bigger the barrel of the needle) . Most exotic animal hide is tough (especially on intact male animals. This is a survival trait as males fight over territory and mates) and sedation is necessary, so that no one is injured. Just the trauma of trying to sedate the animal can be risking the animals life. The stress of the capture (if this is an animal that is an exhibit animal) can kill them right off the bat. With stress the heart rate and the adrenaline shoots up. This can lead to using more sedative. The animal will be wound up, then when the sedative finally does take effect, you most often lose them. The state of Ohio is giving no exceptions regardless of level of handling or age. (in other words an older 18 year old tiger has to have it done the same as a young cub)
4. Must have all male animals sterilized. Unless deemed unfit for surgery by a vet. Seems simple enough right? Well neutering in big cats has been undergoing a study where it is indicitive of aiding in the progression of arthritis (due to the laxicity of the back muscles with the lack of testosterone) as well as weight gain.
5. Must be a member of the AZA or ZAA. Both organizations are private clubs. They do have wonderful guidelines. but they have no governing powers to punish nor seize animals.Not to mention that the accreditation process can take up to TWO years as well as THOUSANDS of dollars to the owner! And to force owners to not only pay all these fees as above stated then have to PAY yet another private entity is at the very least unconstitutional. Then you have the exemption of being a sanctuary that is GFAS (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries which is bed mates with Big Cat Rescue and the Humane Society of the United States) and where one of the recent big cat fatalities on a keeper occured. Just because you have a tax status does not make you a big cat expert, nor does it change the residents within the facility
6. Must be 18 years of age (this I do not disagree with )
7. No public contact – What about cub, kittens etc?
8. Must have no less than one acre of land (again, here I cannot argue with)
9. Must have a program of veterinary care ( I agree)
10. Must have emergency plans (again I agree)
In writing this law the legislators KNEW the owners could not comply beyond the first three or four! So they built a prison to the tune of 2.9 MILLION dollars at the tax payers expense. Animals that had once known the caress of the hand of their owners, seen the light of day, knew what it was like to bath in love and fresh air, will now be SEIZED as of January 1st, 2014 and placed in this death camp. There they will never again see the light of day “for safety reasons”. All concrete and steel. And PETA thinks the law is not strict enough. SAY WHAT? So instead of having regulations that private owners and private zoo’s could comply with they went overboard to extinguish ALL exotic animal ownership. http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/06/30/nobody-home.html
Look at the faces. Learn them. The faces of people that did not listen, nor did they seem to care. http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/06/06/kasich-signs-ohios-first-exotic-animal-regulations.html
We are on our way to the extinction of many rare and endangered species. Remember AZA zoo’s only have so many cage spaces alloted to breeding certain approved species COLLECTIVELY (which means that only 10 breeding pairs of say Snow leopards are allowed throughout the US, then another zoo has a pair that they want to breed, THEY CANNOT) and by their OWN admission have had to make life and death choices on which species to save. http://www.care2.com/causes/zoos-make-hard-choices-to-protect-endangered-species.html
With this in mind, remember we have the Humane Society of the United States, Born Free, IFAW and Big Cat Rescue trying to put the pressure on your representatives to BAN all big cats. It is called the “Big Cat Public Safety Act” and the title itself is misleading. Remember, the ONLY persons that have been involved in big cat incidents were those that willingly placed themself into direct contact with the cat. This is about control. Remember when you BAN ANYTHING you create the black market element that can actually harm those species IN THE WILD! Say NO to big cat ban laws if you want these animals to be around for your children to see!
We all watched in horror, as it unfolded on October 18th, 2011, as exotic animals were shown on the news roaming around. We, as exotic owners knew the horror way before it actually happened, of what WOULD happen to these loose animals, even without the events fully played out.
Terry Thompson allegedly released 56 animals from his facility. CUTTING through the cages (he had keys) and surviving long enough with all these “wild dangerous animals” to pull down his pants and shoot himself in the head. And of these “wild dangerous animals” none inflicted mortal wounds upon Terry. None roamed off the property, but merely by a neighbors yard out of curiosity. (Note: In the history of the United States and the keeping of big cats in captivity there has NEVER, I repeat NEVER been a case where a big cat has escaped, LEFT THE PROPERTY of which it resides, to go on a rampage killing people. NEVER HAPPENED. )The only people that have been seriously hurt or killed involving big cats are people that willingly placed themselves into that cats environment.
This case set the legislators into panic mode, with the Humane Society of the United States, Born Free, IFAW and Big Cat Rescue at the helm, to ban ALL exotics. Even at the hearings it was obvious that it was already a done deal, because no one would listen to any of the opposition to the bill, and in fact the opposition outweighed the proponents. But in this case it did not matter. The killing machine was set into motion.
The bill became law, and the exotic animal killing house was erected to the tune of $2.9 million of tax payer money. This is where they will seize owners property and take them if they do not comply with the new law. The new law requires licensing fees of 250.00 to 1,000.00, a surety bond of 200,000 to 2 million dollars, and demand that owners get the animals microchipped. If the owners do not or cannot comply then it is off to the killing house. All concrete and steel. Ripped away from homes that know and love them. Gone forever to that animal the familiar faces and scents. But after all, this is what is best for everyone, right?
Some might state, well at least they get to keep their animals. Imagine that you have complied with all that they ask in order to get “grandfathered in” (because after that animal dies you may not replace it) and now you must microchip the animal. For small animal owners you probably are familiar with the process. But it is indeed more involved for the exotics. And for big cat owners nearly impossible to accomplish without sedation.
We have discussed sedation before and each time an animal is sedated there is a risk that they will not recover. More so in an exotic because of the level of stress on the animal involved. So now you are risking that animals life to implant a microchip. There was already a primate lost due to the owner trying to comply with testing etc in the very beginning. Her baby was sedated and never woke up. It is my guess there will be many more deaths to follow.
The Ohio Association of Animal Owners has been fighting for the rights of the owners since the onset. With Polly Britton leading the charge she has never wavered in her resolution to fix this grave injustice to the animals and the people that love them.
And now, imagine my horror and disbelief that Ohio could get any worse. Ohio now has published under the FOIA a website that is quite user friendly to locate the NAMES AND ADDRESSES of ALL EXOTIC OWNERS that have complied and registered their animals!! HOW CAN THIS BE LEGAL?!! But it IS! To us, these animals are like our children, but to those not in the industry, they are “wild dangerous animals” (which Ohio keeps repeating in almost every article they write pertaining to these actions) and this just invites unstable people to try and release them to “be free” or to terrorize the owners for keeping them as “slaves”. I can just envision what catastrophes this is inviting to happen. Check it out here: http://www.zanesvilletimesrecorder.com/interactive/article/99999999/DATABASES/121105001/Data-Center-Registered-exotic-animals-Ohio?nclick_check=1
I am praying for a favorable outcome in the Supreme Court. The OAAO has it’s case coming up to be heard. Let us pray that this killing law will be repealed.
“What man does not understand, he fears. What he fears, he destroys”
Mystic Jungle Educational Facility, is not only an educational facility focused on the conservation of many endangered species, especially the Asian/Indian Leopard, but we are also wildlife rescue and rehabilitator’s. And while I will NEVER call myself an expert in ANYTHING, as that is in my opinion to pompous and self righteous (we are learning each and every day, so to think you know everything is just arrogant) I do know a few things that are just common sense.
One misconception is that wildlife rehabbers are funded by the state in which the do the rehabilitation in. This is a fallacy. At least in the state of Florida we run it off of our own dime. And here, we cannot refuse any animal brought to us. We can re-direct them if possible for the reasons of not enough space at our facility, or not a species that we are comfortable with taking, or one that we are not licensed to handle (such as to take in bobcats you must have a class II felidae license such as us otherwise you cannot take a bobcat kitten in or if you do you must call FFWC to send it to a facility that DOES have the license.
The easy part of rehabilitation is actually getting them to survive. The hard and ETHICAL part is to NOT ALLOW THEM TO IMPRINT on humans! And I see time and time again, pictures on the web, Facebook, etc where you see people handling these babies, holding them, touching them, hand feeding them etc for photos, and taking “selfies”. Well, in this person’s opinion that is just selfish.
An older rehabbing animal is easy. They have a natural fear of people, such as the bobcat we just released yesterday and we reinforced that fact by talking and making him as uncomfortable (without really stressing him out, but enough that he has been left with a memory that people are BAD) as possible. He was caught in a live trap after having wiped out an entire flock of ducks as well as starting to work on the man’s chickens. He had no fear of the human scent or being in close proximity of humans. Upon his release, he hauled his hiney off in a hurry! We know that the memory of being trapped, the hauling away and then his release will remain with him, and he will have a healthy fear of humans. We WANT THAT. I LOVE bobcats! Enough so, that I want them to be free if they were born to be free!
I also took in a baby skunk. During the time of his rehabilitation, I fed him, with gloves on and never let him see my face, skin etc. I never spoke a word, nor did I offer any affection. Do I sound cold? YES. To HIM I was and it was NOT because I did not care. I DO care! And that is why I wanted him to FEAR PEOPLE. I wanted him to run the other way! I want him to SURVIVE!
While that photo holding that baby animal up close to the face of the human may look cute, it can easily lead if it has not already to the animal associating people with safety, care and dependency upon humans for food. This will NOT help ensure their survival.
So here at the jungle you may see the intake picture of the rescued wild life (we are one of maybe FIVE in the state of Florida that is licensed to post pictures on the web or other media websites of animals in rehabilitation status as it requires a separate license to do this) and maybe even some during the rehab process, and of course the release. But you will NEVER see us playing with, or taking selfies with them. It is not in their best interest.
We are licensed by the state of Florida to rehabilitate and release native wildlife, as well as one of the few facilities that can post pictures of animals in rehab, as we have a special license to do so.
We received a call regarding a bobcat that had been trapped in a live trap. The farm owner had trapped this bobcat after he had wiped out the man’s entire duck flock and was working on his chickens. He could have done what a lot of folks have done, and killed him. But instead, he gave us a call and asked for him to be re located.
We have 250 acres with a lot of it in dense wooded areas. We allow NO HUNTING. The place is alive with pheasants, quail, dove, turkeys, deer, you name it… and this is where we chose to release this poor guy.
Picked up on Monday, November 18th, we held him over night so I could document his intake, and assess him to be assured there were no obvious signs of injury that would jeopardize his release. He passed this all with flying colors, so he was set for release on Tuesday November 19th.
Enjoy the video of his release
I don’t want to have to ever utter those words. But with the way things are heading it is a real possibility. Everyone wants to jump on the BANwagon. Case after case of an exotic animal being sensationalized by the press (after all using the words, clawed, bit or chewed is not effective at all. It must be savagely MAULED for ratings)
The cries from the unknowing public is BAN THEM and RETURN THEM TO THE WILD or SEND THEM TO SANCTUARY!
And that is what I am about to inform you about. Facts and strictly the facts.
This year alone there have been three attacks involving big cats. Two were fatalities, one was not with the worker returning to work within weeks. This has been far more in this year alone than over the previous twenty years where the average was less than one.
Two were at private facilities that I personally know as professional parks that follow safety to a tee. And in all three instances, the victim broke protocol. Rules are there for a reason. The latest one was at a “sanctuary” That was accredited by two national accreditation organizations for sanctuaries.
My point is, that no matter the name and function of a big cat facility, it does not change the residents. The big cats are big cats. Sending an animal from one place that knows the animal, has housed that animal and has a bond with that animal, and thrusting them into an unknown place to that animal (that are often ran as non profits, so are asking for donations all the time) and unfamiliar people is akin to creating the perfect storm. So how is that better? Or even SAFER for all involved? Simple answer. IT ISN’T.
When you uproot an animal from what or all it has ever known, you change that animals whole world. And in this person’s honest opinion, if that animal was used to being doted on, loved on, then thrown into a situation where they are treated as a “wild animal” you will be changing that animals whole being. I have seen situations where even placid animals, at their original home, have turned either depressed, (which can sometimes lead to systemic problems with the overall health of the animal) to where the animal turns out down right vicious. What other way do they have to communicate their feelings?
Also let me clarify that the definition of a non profit organization is simply a tax status. Plain and simple. To be a non profit 501(c)3 one does NOT have to prove knowledge of what field one is entering into. In other words, if you fill out the paperwork properly, show the IRS that there is a need for your organization, no matter your experience in that field (such as the care and upkeep of big cats) then you can get your tax exemption. So how does a sanctuary qualify as a better home than a private home or facility? Again, simple answer. IT DOES NOT.
Lastly, let me hit upon the fact that to the unknowing public big cats belong in the wild and the should be returned there.
Well, in a perfect world that would be WONDERFUL! That is our dream here at Mystic Jungle. But we try to educate people that there are these important facts that the public does not know nor understand.
1. The big cats in captivity today, in private facilities, and yes zoo’s are the direct result of over fifteen generations of captive breeding programs. The cats in captivity here today have not seen the wild, nor have their parents, nor their parents parents etc.
2. The HSUS, Born Free, IFAW and PETA etal all love and back this statement. “There are more tigers in captivity here in the US than there is in the wild. ” Leading YOU the general public to believe that we are ripping these cats from their natural habitats, robbing them from their mothers. FALSE. Again, refer to statement one. The cats here today are the direct result of over fifteen generations of captive breeding programs. In fact, the HSUS and IFAW have a petition on causes, stating that we are ripping them from their habitats, and from their mothers and asking the general public to support the petition against us handling the cubs/kittens before natural weaning age (which for a leopard is 18-24 months. THIS presents a danger in handling for transport, veterinary care etc for the keepers at a facility with an unhandled big cat!)
3. There has been no importation/exportation of rare and endangered species from the wild since the induction of CITES ( Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species) in July of 1975. This is great except that we also cannot ship out of the US to other countries at this point. But hopefully one day, we will be able to. So what wild are people talking about? Where are we ripping them from their homes? Again, the answer is simple. We are not.
We as keepers, facility owners know the inherent risks involved while working with these cats. We chose this path to help preserve, conserve a species and above all educate the masses at the very real possibility of their permanent loss to the world. No one is asking the average person to walk in our shoes. But, please, if you do not understand the elements involved in a industry, ASK QUESTIONS. PLEASE.
I have personally seen the ramifications of ban laws and in fact, the very laws that were placed to protect the animals resulted in their deaths. Ohio is a prime example. They have a prison there built in anticipation of the animals that they will seize, due their unreasonable laws they put down. And just what do people think will happen to these animals once they are within these walls? Concrete and steel. Not outdoor enclosures, no familiar face that the cat can chuff, purr, saw or roar at.. just cold steel and concrete.
They did not out right ban. They made it impossible for a lot of people to comply. Separating families, and killing animals. Shame shame on Ohio.
Before jumping on the BANwagon, investigate. Ask questions. GO VISIT facilities that you may have questions about. Although we are not open to the public, we are open, honest and do provide free, guided tours by appointment based on availability. We are a sanctuary in the aspect that we provide forever homes to the animals that arrive here through no fault of their own and 99% of the time, no fault of the owner. In fact, a lot of our animals arrived here due to ever changing law forcing owners to give up their beloved family member and they chose us because we do NOT release the names of the prior owners, nor do we bash the prior owner. Our focus is the animal and if we bash owners, then the next one in a bind, may hesitate to come to us for help until it is too late. How is that helping?
Why are we not self titled as a sanctuary? Because we have and would do so again if given the opportunity bred the Asian/Indian leopard and true sanctuaries do NOT breed.
And in closing I have to add, that sanctuaries here in the US, (none to my knowledge) do not contribute to conservation. We here, are trying to preserve the precious DNA of the leopard, in the hopes that maybe, one day, their children will have a chance in their native land.
Almost every month you will pick up a paper, or read an article on line about a animal handler or caregiver being hurt while tending to the animal(s) in their care. But the media can and is our worst enemy at times. They will sensationalize any incident to the point where it can and does cause mass hysteria.
Watch the wording. Usage of words such as “savaged”, “mauled” , “ripped” etc are words that bring horror images to one’s mind of a blood bath. While I am quite sure there was blood involved on a lot of cases, it is for sure 95% of these so called “mauling’s” are simply the animal grabbed hold of the keeper/caregiver and there was no viciousness in the attack. In fact, to be honest, a lot of times, especially in big cats, the “attack” is not an attack at all, but merely the big cat’s attempt to play. This is one reason we do not have full contact with our Siberian Tiger “Spike” is because even though he is as loving as the day is long, he is also VERY playful. And let’s face it. Dead is dead, no matter on accident or on purpose. And I for one, do not want to be responsible for the death of my cat, nor to be responsible for the ramifications from the incident that will be felt around the world. Because ANY TIME there is a big cat incident, you can be sure that HSUS, PETA, Born Free, IFAW and Big Cat Rescue will be right there going “See!?”
What can you do as either a private citizen or exotic cat owner? Or for that matter ANY EXOTIC ANIMAL OWNER? First off, if you were NOT there at the time of an incident, do NOT make any comments. PERIOD. If you did not see it with your own two eyes, hear it with your own two ears, then do NOT repeat it with your ONE mouth. Remember the game telephone as a child? Well, adults still play that game, and in this day and age, the game can have deadly consequences for the animals involved.
If you are an owner of a facility that an event happens. My personal opinion is to take care of yourself, the staff and the animals FIRST. Comments if any to the media, should be well written out, short and sweet. Personally, I am NOT a fan of the media as I have YET to see one article that was not slanted to make the facility or facility owner look bad when an event happens. We ALL know what risks there are in working with these animals. It is one that I know and accept, as I am sure my fellow exotic animal owners/lovers do also. Do I fear them? NO. Do I respect them? YES.
Remember you might be saying the same thing over and over again, but to that one person/audience it may be their first time hearing it. So this is where “Patience is a virtue” comes into play. Getting nasty with people does NOT help the situation. Also remember that to the outside world, our world looks foreign and they have no understanding. How can we expect the public to know, understand, and come to love the animals we love, if we do not share the facts with them? One part of my educational tour is informing people that the captive big cats of today are NOT “ripped” from the wild, but rather are the result of over fifteen generations or MORE of captive breeding programs. You would be astounded at how many people did not know this! I utilize this to inform people of the deceptive campaign of IFAW and Born Free, stating that “There are more tigers in captivity in the United States, than in the wild”, and how that is not exactly a “lie” but an open ended statement, left that way to mislead people into ASSUMING that we are taking these animals from the wild, and it does accomplish the task in deception. Education is the key.
To all of our supporters out there, thank you for your continued support. To all my fellow exotic owners, keep up the good fight.
No matter if it is an AZA accredited facility, a sanctuary or a privately owner facility or owner, there is an inherent risk when you are working with ANY animal, either exotic, or domesticated. In fact, there are TWICE as many incidents at AZA facilities than there are in the private sector. http://www.rexano.org/Statistics/Captive_big_cat_fatality.pdf
It is up to us. The exotic owners, exotic handlers/care givers and the loyal supporters that have found out the truth, to get the truth out there. These animal’s very LIVES depend on it.
If I have seen it once, I have seen it at least THOUSANDS of times. Someone sees a picture of a big cat in captivity, and they begin the chant of “They belong in the wild”, or “Let them be free”.
I have tried to be nice, but now the gloves are off. I am beginning to find out that the nice and polite way of trying to tell people the truth is not working. I have to now cut through the chase, and shoot straight from the hip. So how does one educate a population that is so far removed from reality? A generation that relies on what they see in the movies or read on line in forums and driven by passion, not facts? A generation that has never worked hand in hand with nature, or on a farm. They live in apartments, or suburbia. They romanticize the idea that they can stop the evils of the world at the switch of a button by clicking that on line petition. And if someone says they are an expert and talks a good talk, well, they believe them. This is a tough nut to crack indeed. And for those of us that HAVE done our homework (researched scientific papers, studied traffic reports, census reports, etc) it is EXTREMELY frustrating.
The people chanting this, have not taken the time to do any of their own homework. They relied on others to do it for them and we all know how that can work out. The worst offenders of mis information is the news media. (Oh say it isn’t so!)
In a recent report, on Yahoo news a reporter cited that there were over 10,000 tigers in Texas? WHAT? http://news.yahoo.com/uruguays-montevideo-zoo-giving-away-big-cats-173048553.html And this is cited by someone in another country, and supposedly that used to work for a group that has actual figures… IN POACHING NUMBERS (remember poaching means the harvesting of BODY PARTS) And let us not forget the fact, that we here in the world of big cats know that you do not pay those kind of prices for tigers. Other big cats, yes. Tigers NO. So if the quotation of the costs of tigers is incorrect, and the figures that the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) has given these people is incorrect, what else is?
Think about this folks. That would mean that there are almost 1/10th as many tigers as horses in Texas! And just where are these tigers? And where did they get these figures? Who did that census? You see, most times you can de bunk a news article by simply looking and asking for citations. A good article will tell you where they got their FACTUAL information. A good reporter also does not let you know through their writings what side of that proverbial fence they are on (un like me as I am not a reporter, but a writer simply trying to get the truth out there) . A good thing to utilize also in getting through these often biased reports, is to use common sense and math, as well as IF a source has been cited on the report, is that source from a biased organization such as an organization trying to end all privately owned facilities? If so, you can bet the numbers are pulled from thin air. You want to look for references such as scientific papers and/or census bureaus. Stick to facts not emotions.
Now onto the “Let them be free” or “They Belong in the Wild” rhetoric. These people have not researched the fact that at a very rapid rate, the land is being decimated and habitats are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Factors such as soil degradation http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/land_deg/land_deg.html , deforestation, farming etc all play key roles in the elimination of these big predators. Remember if there is no area to graze for their prey, then there is no life base for the predator. Then you have the poaching. And as much as I hate to say it, in areas that legal hunting is allowed, these big cats are holding their own. But in areas that they are supposedly protected they are being wiped out at an alarming rate. This only lends me to once again believe that when something is banned, it makes it all that more valuable on the black market, and in the end, what was meant to be protected, could end up exterminated.
These people also believe that the people that have the cats in captivity have “stolen them from the wild”. They have not bothered to investigate ANY facts on big cats in captivity. Such as the fact that the big cats here today in the US are the direct result of over 15 generations or MORE of captive breeding programs. Nor the fact that CITES, that was implemented in July of 1975 does not allow for the importation/exportation of rare and endangered species except to some universities and accredited zoo’s.
Nor have they researched the facts of what is left of the wild. About the only real wild left is in Africa and even it is in patched out parcels.
So how do we, as wildlife educators, combat against such out right lies? This is a tough one, as you are not only battling with emotion with these people, but cultural upbringing. Remember I stated that today’s generation has removed themselves from the reality of wildlife, or heck for that matter, agriculture all together. They live a life, where if they want something, they go to the supermarket and get it. They romanticize the thought of Born Free. For that matter, we all do. But there are those of us out there, in the front lines, taking the heat, trying to get the message out, that if we do not have these cats in captivity, the reality is… they will become extinct in less than a decade. The Asian/Indian Leopard will become extinct in less. In fact, people do not realize that there are THIRTY SIX species of wild cats and that HALF of them are in danger of extinction! Why? Because they are not as romanticized as much as the big cats.
We don’t put ourselves out there with a big bull’s eye on our foreheads for the fun of it, trust me. Do people really think we do this for our egos? That I love to get on line and see someone begging a facility to “Let them be free” or Tell them “They belong in the wild” and as moral consciousness dictates for me, I must combat the statement with facts, causing me more stress? That I like working 24/7/365 in the rain, heat, cold, freeze, sick or healthy, no matter what they must be taken care of? I don’t like it, I do it because I LOVE the animals and because it is necessary to save not only these cats, but future generations. People that quote “Conservation means that you are rearing them in captivity to release in the wild” only see what is in front of them. The right here and now. What we see is an animal that through it’s entire make up courses the valuable DNA that someday, not them, but their offspring, will be free… and all through captive breeding programs.
So to my fellow educators, DO NOT GIVE UP. Repetition, repetition repetition. To those that are reading this that did not know, thank you for taking the time to perhaps expand your knowledge before you get online or in a real life conversation quoting mis information. The future of these cats begins with YOU
“What man does not understand, he fears. What he fears, he destroys”
I feel no one has really thought through what will happen if an all out ban on exotics were to pass. I mean, really, seriously think about it.
I know people LOVE to think they are “helping” by signing that petition, or letter to your state legislator. After all, you can only go by what you have been told. Right? WRONG. In order to be able to form a justifiable opinion, one must indeed research the facts.
Ohio, has went to the extreme on this. They have banned numerous exotic animals. Instead of actually sensibly regulating, they have put into place laws that make it IMPOSSIBLE for even the most responsible exotic owner to comply. Sensible regulations should have been in place to begin with.
All this was in a knee jerk fashion, after Terry Thompson of Zanesville, Ohio, allegedly opened over fifty some odd cages by cutting them open (all the time having the keys) and lived long enough to kill himself by gunshot, while these so called “dangerous animals” were loose.
Ohio, now has a concentration camp designed and built to house the captive exotics that they know will be taken from people. http://www.toledoblade.com/Courts/2013/07/05/Ohio-exotic-animal-facility-prepares-for-new-state-law-Copy.html . This building was built on Ohio taxpayer’s dime. And just exactly what do people think will happen to these animals there? I guess the ones pushing for this ban thought that all these animals could be “returned to the wild ” (from which they never came) or live out their days in sanctuaries that are ready to take them (fact- Sanctuaries are funded often on the owners own dime, and do not have un limited funds. Oftentimes, the case is that the animals are crammed into smaller environments than they came from) while all the while the sanctuaries are crying they do not have the money nor the room. So what is the outcome of this awful backdoor ban? DEATH.
With comments from AR Extremist (Animal Rights) such as “There are more tigers in captivity than in the wild” with nothing to explain, people are left to believe that these tigers are being taken from their native lands. There has been no importation/exportation of rare and endangered species since the induction of CITES in July of 1975. Why I tell you this is because this is a key component. These cats and many other endangered species WILL BECOME EXTINCT should a FEDERAL BAN become effective.
Now let us take a look at when something is outlawed and banned. Human nature is one of greed. When something is made scarce or forbidden, financially it is a boon to the criminal world. This WILL INCREASE the incidents of trafficking in illegal pet trade, as well as underground canned hunts, body parts etc. The black Rhino, which is protected is the greatest example of how banning works (not) , as well as the Asian/Indian Leopard (which is protected, yet exceeding the race to extinction faster than any other big cat, running neck and neck with the Cheetah) as well.. need I say more than prohibition. That was the highlight of the criminal money making venture.
Financially- This will place a monopoly into the hands of facilities that belong to a club. The AZA does do a great job, but understand AZA (Association of Zoo’s and Aquariums) is a member club that dictates what their member zoo’s can and cannot exhibit and breed. Which means that MANY SPECIES will be lost. FOREVER. And AZA also has FACTUALLY been known to place animals that are less than perfect (by their guidelines, non perfect animals cannot be displayed) into non AZA facilities. Where will these animals go? You got it.. DEATH.
By the AZA’s own admission they have to make the decision on which species to save all the time. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/28/science/zoos-bitter-choice-to-save-some-species-letting-others-die.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 .
Many agencies, such as HSUS, Born Free, IFAW , Tippi Hedren, and Big Cat Rescue like to paint a picture that these animals are all killers. It is a FACT that no big cat has EVER escaped it’s property and went on a rampage attacking and killing people. AND there has been only 21 deaths in 22 years related to big cats! If this is such a dangerous profession, they why are these statistics lower than say.. sky diving? http://www.rexano.org/Statistics/Captive_big_cat_fatality.pdf Add to the fact that the only incidents also involved people that knowingly came into contact with the cats.
I want a world, where these animals can roam free, without human interference. Until such time as this is possible, I, along with other responsible owners/facilities, want the right to help preserve these animals for our children to see.. and not on google or in a book. Your private facilities, give a lot to their community and the animals. Do I believe that anybody and everybody should own a big cat? NO. But if you have the finances, the land and the knowledge.. then yes.
When things are on paper, it might look great. But one must look at the entire big picture. Remember that the next time you sign a petition of any kind. You may very well be signing the death warrant of an entire species
We are pleased to announce the arrival of two beautiful bobcat girls here at the Jungle. We are currently playing the name game to select a fitting name for each of these beauties. They once were residents at Everglades Wonder Gardens, a landmark and family owned facility that had over a seventy-seven year run. Failing health of the owner was the reason for closing. And with this came the task of re-homing the residents there. http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2013/apr/21/visitors-pay-respects-to-everglades-wonder-on/
Fast forward to the day that Gatorland was alerted to this issue. This wonderful facility stepped to the plate and took in a lot of the animals. Remember, that with ever-changing laws not only here, but all over the United States, the options dwindle on re-homing these animals. Yet Gatorland stepped to the plate and took the chance to help them. Kudos Gatorland! They took these animals in, housed them for sixty days to assure they were healthy, and then those that they needed to find homes for they actively began to look for them homes.
And here is where Mystic Jungle had the opportunity to help with this re-homing effort. We were contacted by a chief staff and animal care giver, to inquire if we had the room. At this time we did. Arrangements were made, giving us two weeks to put up a temporary enclosure, complete with logs to climb on, go under and dig around, as well as a den that would house both these sisters. You see, they are four years old, sisters and have been together their entire life. So common sense dictated the design of not only the enclosure, but their housing as well. We could build two dens but are certain that they will only use one. And that is exactly what they do. You will find them in the early morning, both in the den peering out together.
We are honored that Gatorland chose us. This shows that we are not only respected, but entrusted with the care of animals that have had a jaunt in their life and need a bit of help. We like to think of it as a huge compliment. And in the words of one of our colleagues, we were told that “Most places tend to shrink the size of their cages as you gain more residents” . ” You are one of the few doing the exact opposite” “As your population grows you are turning the cages into enclosures, enlarging them” and that my friends is the highest compliment on both counts. When a respected facility trusts you with the care of animals that they have taken in to help, and your colleagues, recognize the work you have put into it. They KNOW what it takes. It takes a life time commitment. And we are in it for the lifetime commitment.
Would you like to sponsor a cat? Help build an enclosure for future cats in need? You can do so at our site here http://mysticjungle.org/donate-online/ we are a 501(c)3 non-profit and our charity registration is CH36432
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