Cat Chat

This post is a first for me, and a little different from others that I have done, as the roles have been reversed. Instead of being the interviewer, I have become the interviewee! I was asked by Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue, who I met at the Jackson Hole Conservation Summit, to participate in their Cat Chat series. Carole and I chat about my blog, wild cats, some of the issues facing the species, how to cope when faced with negative or overwhelming news and much more. Please feel free to leave comments below!

Big Cat Rescue, located in Tampa Florida, is one of the largest accredited sanctuaries in the world dedicated to abused and abandoned big cats. Their mission is to provide the best home they can for the cats they care for, to end abuse of big cats in captivity and prevent extinction of big cats in the wild. They are the home to about 80 plus cats including lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and more.

One of their main goals is to work towards ending the abuse of wild cats by ending the private possession and trade in exotic cats through legislation and education.

If you are a U.S. resident one of the most important things you can do currently is support the The Big Cat Public Safety Act HR1818 which is a is a federal bill that would end the private possession of big cats as pets, end cub petting, and limit exhibitors to those who do not repeatedly violate the law. It bans private ownership and breeding of big cats with limited exemptions. You can make sure this law gets passed by contacting your members of Congress and asking them to champion the bill.

Advertisements

The Not So Magic Kingdom

“Woman Denied Entry At Disney’s Magic Kingdom For Trying To Bring In Baby Bengal Tiger.”

Walt Disney World, Disney World, Florida, Tigers, Baby Tigers, Baby Bengal Tiger, Bengal Tiger cub, private ownership of big  cats, Tigers are not pets, Ban private ownership of big cats, USA, Big Cat Rescue, illegal wildlife trade, Women denied entry into disney world for trying to bring in baby bengal tiger

The not so Magic Kingdom?

Once the shock wore off, the sadness and frustration set in. The headline was attention grabbing and got a reaction, from myself and many others, but that’s whats headlines are for right? As soon as I could I looked up the story which came from the Inquisitor online.  According to the article a guest, who remains unidentified, tried to bring her “pet” baby Bengal Tiger into the theme park on Monday and was turned away by staff. While Disney World does allow entry for service animals Bengal Tigers of any size, do not qualify.

The article then goes on to say that  “After a bit or arguing, the Central Florida Zoo was called to retrieve the baby Bengal Tiger until the end of the woman’s vacation…After a long time period of speaking about the Tiger and reassuring her that the animal would be well treated and taken care of during her time in Walt Disney World, the woman did agree to let the animal caretakers from the Central Florida Zoo care for it.

Walt Disney World, Disney World, Florida, Tigers, Baby Tigers, Baby Bengal Tiger, Bengal Tiger cub, private ownership of big cats, Tigers are not pets, Ban private ownership of big cats, USA, Big Cat Rescue, illegal wildlife trade, Women denied entry into disney world for trying to bring in baby bengal tiger, Hoax, Bengal kitten, Disney World cat not a Tiger, Actually a bengal cat, Central Florida Zoo

Tiger cubs are not pets. They grow up and become displaced, unwanted and abused with nowhere to go, if they are lucky they will make it to a reputable sanctuary like Big Cat Rescue – Image Wikipedia

It was reported in the article that the cub was in the care of the Central Florida Zoo and that Disney would not comment any further. Many people were in an uproar and rightfully so, private ownership of big cats, especially in the US is a big problem. It is currently estimated that up to 10,000 big cats like tigers, lions and cougars are kept captive in the US by private owners in backyards and roadside zoos.

People are often not able to manage these wild animals once they’re fully grown. Consequently, the animals are poorly fed, and left to spend their entire lives in cages with barely enough room to move. Not only is this inhumane, it also is a great threat to public safety.” – IFAW

A case of mistaken Identity? Now this is where the story gets a little spotted – literally. Upon further reading I noticed what was not mentioned when the story first started making the rounds. Here the Inquisitor says “While Cast Members at Disney did originally say that it was a “baby Bengal tiger,” the Central Florida Zoo let it be known that it was actually a “baby Bengal cat” which was being cared for by the guest looking to enter Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney World, Disney World, Florida, Tigers, Baby Tigers, Baby Bengal Tiger, Bengal Tiger cub, private ownership of big cats, Tigers are not pets, Ban private ownership of big cats, USA, Big Cat Rescue, illegal wildlife trade, Women denied entry into disney world for trying to bring in baby bengal tiger, Hoax, Bengal kitten, Disney World cat not a Tiger, Actually a bengal cat, Central Florida Zoo

Spotted! It’s a Bengal…cat…kitten…not a Bengal Tiger – Image Wikipedia

I came across a thread in the online forum WDWMagic.com where someone got to the bottom of this mystery. Post #64 on the page is by a person who works at the Orlando news station WKMG Local 6. They reached out to both Disney PR, who hadn’t heard about the incident, and the Central Florida Zoo who confirmed “The animal is not a Bengal tiger; it is a ten-day old Bengal cat, which is basically a domestic species…the Disney guests who brought it with them on vacation are hand-rearing the animal at present. The animal will be returned to them tomorrow.

A few lessons here: don’t bring your pets to a theme park, you can’t always believe things you read on the internet, and when in doubt do your research.

All kidding aside, what good can come out of this? A lot of people were shocked and angered by the very idea that a random person could own a Bengal Tiger and, if that helps open up a greater dialogue on the very real crisis surrounding private ownership of big cats, then maybe this is still a story worth sharing.

For further reading on private ownership of big cats and how to help check out:

Draw My Life – Tiger Edition

Tony the Tiger explains to viewers what life is like for captive bred tigers and other big cats in this informative and creative video by Big Cat Rescue

Big Cat Rescueis the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats. They are home to about 100 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species most of whom have been abandoned, abused, orphaned, saved from being turned into fur coats, or retired from performing acts. The sanctuary is working to END the trade in wild cats.”

TIgers, TIgers in Captivity, Tony The Truck Stop Tiger,  Louisiana, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Big Cat Rescue, Free Tony the Tiger, Ban ownership of Big Cats, prohibits private possession of dangerous and exotic large cats, Cub petting, Photo opportunities with big cats, Big Cats are not pets, Roadside Zoos,

A truck stop is no place for a tiger – Tony the Tigerphoto source Animal Legal Defense Fund

Tony’s Story – “Tony is a 14-year old Siberian/Bengal tiger used as a roadside attraction at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete Louisiana. Tony is an example of the serious problem of privately owned tigers in the United States whose numbers exceed tigers left in the wild. Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, has bought, sold, bred, and exhibited tigers for over 20 years.” – Free Tony the Tiger

The Animal Legal Defense Fund continues to work on having Tony freed and sent to a reputable sanctuary like Big Cat Rescue where he can live out his remaining days with the proper care he needs in a peaceful and natural environment away from noise, fumes, concrete and exploitation for profit. To date Tony still resides at the truck stop.

There are only about 3,000 wild tigers left and according to Big Cat Rescue there  are between 5,000 to 10,000 tigers, lions, leopards and more in US cages. The majority of these cats live in miserable roadside zoos, backyard breeder facilities, circus wagons and pet homes. Some will even be sold into the canned hunting industry where wealthy hunters pay to shoot them in a confined space.

What does the US and Global laws on private ownership of big cats look like?

Stop the cycle

Tigers, TIgers in Captivity, Tony The Truck Stop Tiger, Louisiana, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Big Cat Rescue, Free Tony the Tiger, Ban ownership of Big Cats, prohibits private possession of dangerous and exotic large cats, Cub petting, Photo opportunities with big cats, Big Cats are not pets, Roadside Zoos, Exotic pets, private ownership of exotic cats, Private Possesion of Wild animals and Big cats world wide, No Cub Petting, Ban Cub Petting, Ban Tiger Selfies

You have the choice NOT to participate in this abusive cycle

  • Never pay to touch or have your photo taken with a tiger or lion cub
  • Don’t attend circuses, fairs, or attractions that feature wild animal shows
  • Don’t purchase items made from wild animals, such as furs and rugs
  • Don’t partake in local “delicacies” made from wild animals, such as tiger bone wine
  • Only visit sanctuaries that are accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries

A crucial step in preventing wild animals like Tony from being exploited is getting laws enacted to ban private ownership of exotic cats.

Looking Purr Love

Valentines Day for humans means chocolates, flowers and dinner, but how about cats? The famous cartoon feline, Simon’s Cat shows us that he might be looking purr love in all the wrong places.

Maybe Simon should take a cue from some big cats and use a box in a slightly different way.

Jade and Armani, two rescued leopards from Big Cat Rescue check out a Valentine’s Day themed kissing booth for the first time.

Simon's Cat, Happy Valentines Day, Cats, Valentines Day, Looking Purr Love, Cat Cartoons, Famous Cat Cartoons, Feline love, How do cats celebrate valentines day,