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.”

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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

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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.

Don’t Pet The Cat

While volunteering in South Africa many years back I had the chance encounter to hear Chris Mercer of the Campaign Against Canned Hunting speak. I was aware of Trophy Hunting, but what Chris spoke about was almost to terrible to be real, it was the dark world of Canned Hunting.

A huge part of the industry is where the volunteers come in. Lions are bred, the cubs taken from their mothers and sent to facilities where volunteers pay to bottle feed, pet, play and interact with them. For some, an opportunity to do all of the above under the guise of volunteering and conservation may be tempting, however what most don’t realize is once the cubs are too big for volunteers they end up in canned hunting facilities.

Volunteering  –  it’s not about “you” it’s about “them”

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The end result for these cubs is ultimately death, at the hands of hunters. Volunteers play a key role in the fate of these animals.

Facebook group Volunteers in Africa Beware has formed to expose the places and organizations that support canned hunting and Lion breeding facilities. It is an excellent resource for anyone who is thinking of volunteering with animals in South Africa. They have compiled a list what to ask and do before you commit to a placement.

– Do they have cubs regularly?
– Are volunteers allowed to pet and raise the cubs?
– Where is the cub’s mother?
– Why is the cub not being raised by its mother?
– What happens to the cubs when they grow up?
– Do they keep all the animals and cubs forever?
– Do they sell or trade lions? If so, with whom?
– Do they release animals back into the wild? If so, ask for proof that shows when and where these releases have happened and that they follow an ethical release process. (Note, lions are never released back into the wild!)
– Do they allow interaction between the animals and the public/volunteers? Why?
– Are they part of a breeding program? For what purpose?
– If they breed tigers, are they part of the International Tiger Stud books? Ask to see proof.
– What happens to the animals they can’t keep?
– How is the project contributing towards education and conservation?
– Are they a not for profit organization? If so, ask for their NPO number!

– Captive-bred lions serve absolutely no conservation purpose. So do not believe it if you are told they are breeding to safe-guard the future of wild lions or to ensure good genetics. It’s simply not true.
– NO genuine conservation project allows cub petting or walking with lions or swimming with tigers. EVER!
– No genuine conservation project breeds captive lions. Their lions are on contraception or de-sexed to prevent breeding. There are already too many captive-bred lions!
– Do not believe it if they tell you lions are being released back into the wild. They are not. Ever.
– Just because it is called a “sanctuary” or “rehabilitation centre” or “reserve” does not mean they actually are these things. Sanctuaries keep all their animals forever. Rehabilitation centres rescue injured animals and release them back into the wild. And reserve doesn’t mean much… There are hunting “reserves” out there too…
– Many unethical projects hide behind “research”. Ask what exactly is this research? Which institutions support this research? Ask to see recent published articles and findings from the research. Most of them will not be able to provide this. Be very careful of lion breeders using research as a defense!
– There are lots of tiger breeding facilities in South Africa. Almost none of them are using genuine pure-bred tigers which means those tigers serve no conservation purpose. Only pure-bred tigers are listed in the International Tiger Studbooks and are part of official tiger breeding programs.
– If they say they trade with other reserves, sell to reserves only or only to “people with valid permits”. Ask which reserves. Do the animals stay at these reserves forever or are they traded on again from there? Remember many of these places sell to the canned hunting industry and the canned hunters and buyers have “valid legal permits”. So don’t be fooled by this. It’s a way breeders mask that their lions are sold to hunters because they don’t sell directly to them. Rather they sell to someone else and then that place might sell to hunting outfits. Ask for specific details!
– Lion breeders do not want you to know the truth: the vast majority of those cubs and lions end up as hunting trophies and they breed those cubs so volunteers will pay to raise them. Their bottom line is profit, not conservation. They will lie or ignore questions they don’t like you asking and they are very good at this!

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ASK QUESTIONS, DO RESEARCH and COMPARE PROJECTS BEFORE YOU GO! And if you are still in doubt, check the good, bad and ugly list of projects or contact them.

Wisdom Wednesday Quote

One of my favorite quotes came to mind after reading an article that the South African Government released a statement saying Canned Lion Hunting is “legitimate” and that we should “set aside the emotion” and reconsider it. If you aren’t familiar with the practice of Canned Lion Hunting check out my post on the Global March For Lions which was a world-wide initiative to raise awareness of this practice.

 “Whenever people say “We mustn’t be sentimental,” you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add “We must be realistic,” they mean they are going to make money out of it.” – Brigid Brophy Lions, Global March For Lions, Campaing Against Canned Hunting, Ban Canned Hunting, ban trophy hunting, bigcats, South Africa, save lions

 For more information on the practice of Canned Hunting, how you can get involved and help please visit Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH)


African Lions – The US And Canada

20 years ago I wouldn’t have imagined that the African Lion would be on the verge of extinction or that people the world over would gather to bring awareness to the practice of Canned Lion Hunting in South Africa – an industry that is directly linked to Trophy Hunting.

The US imports 55% of African Lion Trophies making it the biggest player on the field and the pro-hunting lobby believe that the African Lion does not require protection nor is it endangered. They want the right to hunt and kill them no matter what the facts are, never mind morals or ethics.

Over the past 50 years Africa’s lion populations have plummeted from over 200,000 individuals back in the 1960’s to fewer than 25,000 today… by far the greatest number of remaining lion populations are small, scattered, and highly vulnerable… In fact the rate of decline in lion numbers is accelerating.” source LionAid

While there are many factors contributing to the decline of Lions, removing trophy hunting from the equation means one less pressure the already dwindling lion populations will have to deal with. The  decision on whether or not the African Lion will be listed as Endangered is still pending but if it happens it would make it illegal for hunters to import Lion Trophies into the US (it would be less appealing to hunt an animal that you can’t bring home).

Lion, Lioness, Big Cats, Save Lions, Ban trophy Hunting, Lions are Endangered, Ban Canned HuntingSo what about Canada?

I feel it’s important to be aware of what goes on in your own backyard and while the number of African Lion Trophies coming in to Canada is small, any impact on this species is clearly detrimental. Here are the stats as provided by The Canadian Wildlife Services Branch via Environment  Canada:

  • Since 2007, there have been 29 captive bred sourced African Lion trophies brought into Canada, 27 of which were from South Africa
  • Since 2007, there have been 5 wild sourced African Lion trophies brought into Canada, 4 of which were from South Africa

Hunters no matter what country they are from, are not part of the solution for wildlife conservation so please continue to be a voice for Lions by contacting the US Congress, the US Fish and Wildlife Service via email, phone or Twitter and by joining the Global March For Lions group on Facebook.


April Fools Day

The African Lion is heading for extinction. Sadly this is NO April Fools joke. The Global March For Lions on March 15, 2014 called on the South African Government to ban Canned Hunting, and now we are waiting on a decision from my neighbors to the south.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to make an announcement on whether or not they will list the African Lion as “Endangered” and ban importation of Lion Trophies into the US, which accounts for about 55% of all of the South African Lion Trophies. The US therefore plays a key role in the fate of these animals.

USA Trophy Hunters in Africa – Monsters of Death and Destruction  by Chris Mercer is a highly recommend read. It is an insight into trophy and canned hunting, the regulations of the industry, propaganda and the connection to the Lion bone trade. It is also a plea to the US to step up and help save Lions.

Lions, Africa, canned hunting, Endangered, US Fish and WIldlife Service, trophy hunting, South AfricaHere is how you can speak up for Lions today – Get Tweeting and ask the US to help protect them!  Just copy, paste and Tweet away!

  1. From 1999 – 2008 Americans imported 4021 lion trophies to USA. That’s >400 Lions Killed Per Year! @USFWSInternatl ‪#‎LionsWaitingToDie‬
  2. The Fate of #Lions #LionsWaitingToDie Ban Canned Hunting @USFWSInternatl @USFWSHQ @cannedlion @GlobalMarchLion pic.twitter.com/kc8vhY9lsz
  3. USA: Make Canned Hunting illegal! #LionsWaitingToDie pic.twitter.com/Vr3pBacnBQ @USFWSInternatl
  4. USA largest importer of lion parts, despite lions facing extinction in wild @USFWSInternatl List As Endangered in ESA. #LionsWaitingToDie
  5. @USFWSInternatl @USFWSHQ PLS list ‪#‎lions‬ as endangered on Endangered Species Act. BAN CANNED HUNTING @GlobalMarchLion #LionsWaitingToDie
  6. African Lion meets the statutory criteria to be listed an endangered under the ESA @USFWSInternatl DO IT! #LionsWaitingToDie
  7. @USFWSInternatl USA: make canned hunting illegal! #LionsWaitingToDie pic.twitter.com/Vr3pBacnBQ
  8. Listing lion endangered will benefit iconic animal & prohibit import to USA. DO IT! @USFWSInternatl #LionsWaitingToDie
  9. Canned Hunting-American Atrocity: Hunters pay 2 kill hand-raised,bottle-fed lions @USFWSInternatl http://www.christinabush.com/cannedhunting.html #LionsWaitingToDie



Help needed for the SanWild Lion Prides

A Sanctuary where some of the Lions rescued from the Canned Hunting industry find peace. The SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa. They are in need of funds to support their work. Please help if you can.

After The Global March For Lions, The Fight Continues…

GMFL BD pic 4Thanks to all the people who came out on March 15th braving the cold Toronto weather. It was an amazing evening of education, awareness and community all coming together to help support Lions. Together we gave out hundreds of flyers, talked to lots of people and obtained 287 signatures on our petition that will be sent to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the South African Government and the Canadian representative responsible for issuing permits for hunting Trophies coming into Canada to ask them to protect lions.

We helped bring awareness to Canned Lion Hunting in South Africa, a deplorable practice that has gone on long enough. The world has spoken, people everywhere united to make a stand, we are demanding an end to it.

However, this is only the beginning of the battle. We cannot walk away from this event without realizing that it will require more work on our part, continuing education of potential tourists, volunteers and emails and letters to the decision makers who will ultimately decide the fate of these Lions.

Next steps?

  • Keep in touch with the Global March For Lions Toronto Facebook Event page
  • Write the South African Government asking them to ban Canned Lion Hunting
  • Contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service to ask them to ban the importation of Lion Trophies and to list the Lion as Endangered. (From what I understand the final decision on this matter is still pending?!)
  • Follow Canned Lion for detailed info on the issue
  • Sign petitions like the one by Avaaz to end the export of Lion parts and educate, educate, educate!

We have to be more persistent than those who want Canned Lion Hunting to continue as it’s going to be key in winning this battle…stay tuned for more.