Category Archives: Captive Exotic Animals

Big Cat Public Safety Act

A federal bill that aims to end the private possession of big cats such as tigers, lions, leopards, and pumas as pets, as well as to stop cub petting and limit exhibitors to those who do not repeatedly violate the law, has been re-introduced in the United States Senate.
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut supported the re-introduction of the latest version of the Big Cat Public Safety Act HR1818, which was originally introduced to the House in March 2017 by Republican Congressman Jeff Denham of California.

Recent national headlines have documented public outrage at the inhumane display of a tiger at a high school prom in Miami, Florida, alarm as federal agents discovered a tiger cub in a duffel bag at the U.S. Mexico border, and confusion when a young tiger was spotted roaming a Texas neighborhood. Such examples underscore the public’s growing concern about the treatment of big cats­­ and the sponsors of the Big Cat Public Safety Act have made it clear that they are listening.

By reintroducing the BCPSA, senators from six states across the nation are joining more than 130 bipartisan members of the House of Representatives in calling for an end to the unregulated trade and nationwide abuse of captive big cats.

“This common-sense bill is an urgently needed answer to the problem of big cats kept in unsafe and abusive situations around the country,” Prashant Khetan, CEO and general counsel of Born Free USA, one of the numerous animal welfare organizations that are supporting this bill, said in a statement. “Thousands of big cats are currently owned as pets or maintained in ill-equipped roadside zoos and menageries, which pose a severe risk to the safety of people in surrounding communities, as well as the welfare of the cats themselves. It’s about time that we had a federal law that can serve to stop this inhumane practice around the country.”

The bill, if enacted, would keep dangerous big cats out of the hands of private individuals, breeders and exhibitors with egregious, ongoing Animal Welfare Act citations, and unscrupulous menageries that have historically taken advantage of loopholes to circumvent existing restrictions. The BCPSA would close these loopholes while providing exemptions for qualified wildlife sanctuaries and exhibitors licensed by the US Department of Agriculture that meet basic standards intended to protect the public and animals.

“Relying on accredited sanctuaries to take in unwanted and usually neglected big cats is not a viable solution to the big cat crisis in this country,” said Carole Baskin, founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue. “When big cats are wrongly kept as pets or cruelly exploited in entertainment businesses, they often endure tremendous suffering for years in deplorable conditions with inadequate nutrition, and little, if any, veterinary care. Then, when the owners no longer want the cats or they are seized by the authorities, the substantial financial burden to house, feed, and provide long-term vet care for these big cats falls upon sanctuaries. The Big Cat Public Safety Act will finally address the inhumane treatment of the vast majority of big cats in America.” Baskin noted that it costs over $10,000.00 per year for food and vet care for one tiger or lion.

Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
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Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
October 18-28, 2018 | New York, NY
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Facebook Allegedly Making Profit on Wildlife Trafficking of Endangered Species

An Associated Press article indicates that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are making a profit by selling ads on pages that are operated by illegal wildlife traffickers. The pages sell the body parts of endangered animals, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Facebook has allegedly been making money off of the sellers of items like elephant ivory, rhino horns and tiger teeth. The article from the  Associated Press includes a screen grab of a Facebookgroup page displaying buckets full of the teeth. See atop this page.

According to the complaint, Facebook is violating its responsibilities as a publicly-traded company by knowingly profiting from the criminal trafficking of endangered species. The anonymous whistleblower complaint was filed in August 2017 by the law firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto.

Facebook released a statement saying it does not permit the sale of wildlife, endangered species or their parts, and that it removes groups that have been identified as engaging in illegal conduct. However according to the statement from Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, a months-long investigation of various social media platforms by the law firm’s undercover team found “rampant wildlife activity in two places: Facebook and Instagram.”

Read more: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/10/facebook-puts-ads-on-pages-illegally-selling-animal-parts.html

Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Christopher@WCFF.org

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
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End to Dancing Bears

The last two known “dancing bears” in Nepal have been rescued from lives of misery, thanks to World Animal Protection. Two sloth bears, Rangila & Sridev had their teeth removed when they were cubs, then a hot rod pierced their nose so a chain would run through which their captors could control them through fear & pain. These two bears, 19 and 17 years of age have endured a life that few can imagine. This barbaric practice has been outlawed in India, Greece, Nepal but continues in Pakistan.

Learn more about wildlife conservation and the protection of global biodiversity through the power of film. Join us for our eight year anniversary in New York, NY, October 18-28, 2018. Ten days of film screenings, panel discussions, receptions, field trips, networking events, virtual reality programs and more.

Contact: info@wcff.org to join the planning committee Sponsor the film festival, advertise on the big screen during the outdoor summer series, the October festival or take a page in the full color program distributed in New York and China.

Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Christopher@WCFF.org

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
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The show sadly goes on for ex-Ringling big cats in Europe.

Though Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus closed last spring after its by holding its final performance, the big cats did not get to retire along with many of the “animal performers”.

The big cats, lions and tigers are owned by Alexander Lacey, and he has moved them to Europe to perform in circuses their and spend their remaining lives in misery.

Read more:  http://www.ad-international.org/media_centre/go.php?id=4461&si=12

Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
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Christopher@WCFF.org

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
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Death of 17-Year-Old Endangered Gorilla Sparks Debate About Zoo Killings

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Many took to social media in protest after learning of the death of a beloved western lowland gorilla, one of a gorilla subspecies labelled “critically endangered” by the World Wildlife Fund. The 400-pound male, Harambe, was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo Saturday, May 28, when a four-year-old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure. After the gorilla dragged the boy through a moat as a crowd of tourists watched in horror, the zoo’s response team felt that the toddler was in “life-threatening” danger and shot the gorilla with a rifle.

However, upon seeing video footage of the incident, some observers believe the gorilla was merely trying to protect the child from perceived danger upon hearing the screams of surrounding tourists, and #JusticeForHarambe began trending online in response. In the clip, Harambe appears to be shielding the boy from the panicked cries around them, and does not seem ready to lunge at or attack the child. More than 70,000 protesters have petitioned on Change.org for the child’s parents to be examined for signs of child neglect, claiming that Harambe’s death could easily have been prevented had they been actively watching their son.

Western lowland gorillas remain the most widespread gorilla subspecies, according to the WWF, but face significant threats from deforestation, as well as from poaching and diseases that have reduced the most recent generation’s population by more than 60%. Aside from being totally extinct or extinct in the wild, being critically endangered is the most dire label an animal population can receive.

Saturday’s event brings to mind a 1986 occurrence that took place on the UK-dependent island of Jersey, in which silverback gorilla Jambo famously stood guard over a five-year-old boy who fell into a gorilla enclosure, rubbing the child’s back and protecting him from other gorillas, until keepers were able to extricate the child. However, unlike Harambe, Jambo was left unharmed and made into a local hero, featuring in a life-sized statue and even on Jersey stamps.

Coupled with a similarly-fatal incident last week, in which two lions were killed at a Santiago, Chile zoo when a man attempted suicide by climbing into their cage, Harambe’s death has led many to question the standard emergency procedures zoos currently have in place for unexpected encounters between animals and humans. For instance, some are questioning why zoo staff don’t carry tranquilizers that could be used in such incidents to incapacitate rather than kill animals who are in close and potentially deadly contact with visitors. The Cincinnati zoo staff responded by noting that tranquilizers take a much longer time to kick in, and that the boy’s life would have remained in danger until further action was taken.

As for 74-year-old trainer Jerry Stones, who raised Harambe from birth and described him as a “gentle giant,” the gorilla’s death is especially painful. “He was a special guy in my life. Harambe was my heart. It’s like losing a member of the family.”

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Sources: Gladu, Alex. “How endangered are western lowland gorillas like the one at the Cincinnati Zoo?” Bustle. 29 May 2016.

BBC News. “Gorilla killing: Harambe’s death at zoo prompts backlash.” 30 May 2016.

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Wildlife Trade on Facebook

Illegally-imported orang-utan Cambodia

Social media’s ability to put illegal wildlife traffickers in touch with many potential buyers quickly, cheaply and anonymously is of great concern for threatened wildlife and enforcement agencies

From the Malayan sun bear to a blood python, Malaysians seem to have found a booming marketplace for wild animals on Facebook for primarily the illegal pet trade of protected species. Much of this online trade is carried out in closed Facebook groups, and involves live, high-profile and threatened species for which trade is strictly prohibited in Peninsular Malaysia.

During a four month period,  TRAFFIC’s team monitored the activity of 14 groups on Facebook. They found that more than 300 individual animals, belonging to 80 different species, were for sale in the “private/closed”groups.

tiger cubs caged

Most of the 14 Facebook Groups involved in the illegal trade of wild animals were “Closed Groups”, according to the report, and needed membership to view or trade within the group. These groups had close to 68,000 members

What was also found, 93% of the species that were put for sale on Facebook, have legal protection in Peninsular Malaysia.

Mark! FACEBOOK needs to put a STOP to this IMMEDIATELY.

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Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
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Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
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Frightened Baby Tiger Caged at Football Game

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The dumbing of  America is never more present when “traditions” at High school football game in Ohio wheeled a baby tiger in a cage to thousands of screaming fans.

For 44 years, ignorance and stupidity have been the norm at Massillon Washington High School. The new “Obie,” a baby tiger is kept in a cage and wheeled around a loud stadium. He is the latest victim of a cruel tradition that violates animal cruelty and ethics. The cub stands up and puts his paws on the bars of his enclosure as ignorant people scream, shout and take pictures.

Every year Massillon Washington High School acquires a new tiger cubs and has been accused multiple times of discarding the tiger cubs after the season is over.  It is believed that after the football season is over, these “Obie” tigers are sold to private owners, wind up as caged roadside attraction, become breeding animals, pets or sold to canned hunting operations. Animal conservationists have questioned about the legal loophole for educational institutions that allows them to have exotic animals, and a number of petitions protested the tradition.

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Despite this, the Massillon Tiger Football Booster Club unveiled a new cub mascot, called an “Obie”and is keeping facts about this recent appearance private, they refuse to disclose where the tiger comes from. IS THIS LEGAL?

One fans interviewed at the football game stated “We’re really glad he’s here. He’s been around forever,” (Perhaps too stupid to comprehend that each Obie has been a different tiger cub). “For people that live and breathe football, he’s a huge deal.”

Matt Keller, president of the booster club, told the CantonRep.com. “It’s a tradition we were able to continue, even if just for one game.

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There is an estimated 5,000 tigers are held in captivity throughout the United States; 95% of these animals are privately owned.

* To stop this act of animal cruelty, sign the petition to end the cruel “Obie” Cycle. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/807/480/353/stop-the-yearly-tiger-cub-purchase-by-ohios-massillon-washington-high-school/

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Rescued Bears Roam Free

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Fours bears were forced to perform tricks and kept in tiny cages at a roadside zoo in Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years.  Even when the zoo was shut down in 1995 because of violations of the Animal Welfare Act, Fifi, Bruno, Pocahontas and Marsha were never allowed to leave their enclosures, not even for humiliating bicycle-riding for small crowds. The bears paced restlessly in their cages, had nowhere to hibernate, suffered from severe arthritis and another of other medical conditions.

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Thanks to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), all four of these bears got a new lease on life in 2014. The  bears have been brought to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado. There they will recover from their plight, learn how to be wild and live their remaindering days in dignity. The fours bears now live in two vast 15-acre permanent habitats. They can now ample space to climb and roam and bathe in pools. They can even hibernate in underground dens.

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Bruno in his new home, living a life with dignity.

PETA has now rescued 41 bears from roadside zoos and backyards across the country. I commend PETA for taking this action and rescuing these animals from a life of misery.

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Tigers forced to Perform at State Fair

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A “show”, called the Amazing Rainforest Experience, is run by Robert Mullen of the Orlando, Florida–based PM Productions Entertainment Inc., a production group that features traveling shows with a host of exotic animals.

Hundreds of visitors have complained the tigers appear severely emaciated, with prominent spines and hip bones. The cats also appeared lethargic, or even drugged. One described them as “skeletons.”

Julie Hanan, of the Minnesota-based Wildcat Sanctuary, told The Dodo that her group has been flooded with “desperate pleas” from people who’ve visited the fair and were shocked by the state of the animals.

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Abbie Knudsen, a biologist with Missouri’s National Tiger Sanctuary, has heard similar concerns from the public. “I have heard tons of accounts from people that have seen the animals, and visited the animals firsthand, that they do not look in good body condition,” she said.

Despite concern from both the public and big cat conservation groups the Missouri State Fair said that the tigers were being regularly inspected, implying that the animals were in satisfactory condition: “In accordance with the State Fair’s Animal Care policy, all animals and livestock shown, housed or displayed, shall receive care that is healthful and consistent with accepted husbandry practices and the rules and regulations set forth by the Missouri State Fair. This policy applies to animals in entertainment acts, such as the Amazing Rainforest Experience, as well. The Missouri Department of Agriculture state veterinarians monitor the tigers twice per day. These practices reflect the care and concern that Missourians have for livestock, poultry, companion animals and wildlife. ”

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The state of the tigers raises concerns about food deprivation, a common method used by trainers at circuses to keep animals in line. “Of course we can’t speak to the exact issue with this exhibitor, but we have seen in the past that they will tend to keep cats hungry to perform,” Hanan said.

In an interview with a local outlet, Mullen said that he fed the tigers 13 to 14 pounds of chicken daily. Both Bass and Hanan said if this is all the tigers are getting, the diet is insufficient: They would need more food, as well as red meat, bones and organs, to thrive.

Whatever the reason, it’s evident from the photos that the animals aren’t healthy. In one photo that shows a tiger on his hind legs, the ratio between the animal’s waist and his hips is disturbing.

This mistreatment by the “Amazing Rainforest Experience”,  is not new. A 2013 video released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare appears to feature the same company and shows several disturbing interactions between a trainer and the cats.

When a tiger initially tries to exit the stage, the trainer deters him and the animal listlessly makes his way through his routine. When the trainer later tries to shut a door on him, the tiger takes a swipe at him.

YouTube/IFAW – International Fund for Animal Welfare

Another scene features a severely underweight cougar, his hip bones standing out like blades. When he’s reluctant to leave the stage, the trainer grabs him by his collar and literally drags him out as he resists.

YouTube/IFAW – International Fund for Animal Welfare

If you find these picture and video disturbing and you want to help, you can let the Missouri State Fair know how you feel, click here: https://www.facebook.com/MissouriStateFair?fref=ts

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Injured Captive Orcas

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Recently a wildlife veterinarian, Heather Rally, who works for PETA recently visited SeaWorld’s San Antonio park. She was there to take a look at its orcas and saw severe dental trauma in the cetaceans and sea lions at risk of blindness.

One big issue was the terrible state of the orcas’ teeth. Captive orcas are already at risk for dental trauma — bored and stressed, they often begin gnawing on the edges of their tanks — but Rally said she was alarmed by the frequency and severity of the dental trauma she witnessed.

“Every single orca that I observed had significant wearing on their teeth, specifically on the lower mandible. They start chewing on their tanks, as a result and stress … as soon as they start doing that they start to traumatize their teeth.”

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The damage is much more than cosmetic. When the orcas, bored by captivity, begin to chew on the hard parts of their tanks, they fracture their teeth. The fractures expose the dental pulp, the living tissue within their teeth. Not only is this painful, but the fractures act as a “direct portal” for bacteria to enter the bloodstream — and can lead to heart problems, pneumonia, sepsis and death.

As a result, SeaWorld vets perform a “root canal” of sorts to clean out the pulp of the tooth. For the rest of their lives, the orcas have to undergo daily cleanings to keep their teeth fit, Rally said. “It’s not a pleasant experience,” she explained. “It takes a lot of time to train these animals to endure something like this.” Severe dental trauma is very rare in the wild

The cramped tanks also lead to in-fighting between whales, and sometimes gruesome injuries. In the wild, such encounters are very rare because the submissive animal can just swim away. But because SeaWorld houses its orcas in such unnaturally small quarters, tensions can quickly turn violent when they wouldn’t in the wild — leaving the whales at risk.

SeaWorld orca, Nakai with injury on chin area.
                                                SeaWorld orca, Nakai with injury on chin area.

Some of these injuries have been dire, such as in 2012 when a male named Nakai had his entire lower jaw torn off during a fight with another whale. In 1989, a female named Kandu broke her own jaw and severed an artery when she attacked another whale — she bled to death as her panicked infant calf swam circles around her.

SeaWorld drugs its whales with benzodiazepines to alleviate aggressive behavior, but the aggression does not stop. Former trainers have revealed that the park uses food deprivation to make whales perform, separates infants from mothers and pumps them full of drugs. Orcas also live shorter life spans in captivity than they do in the wild

The DODO: For the Love of Animals is an online news journal