During that whole week we were interviewed by a ton of local and international radio and television media that broadcasted to over 117 networks nation wide, including Japan. Our message was very simple, after seeing first hand what was happening there, the care of the cats, and most importantly the public’s perception, since I knew the AR and NC Zoo would use this situation to their liking.
To make a long story short, the state of NC and its “people” really do not want a ban, nor are they as “torqued up” as the AR folks would want us to believe. Heck, the animal control officer themselves wanted to adopt the cats, and were quoted saying the “only reason he does not do so is because of the feeding cost”. Now remember, this is coming from a person(s) that actually enforce and regulate animal welfare and such in that county.
This was an unfortunate situation, no doubt. However, with what I was espoused to, first hand, and in talking with several that were involved in this process, I truly do not believe that these animals were abandoned,...not for one second. I have been blessed to have been handling big cats for around 18 years, and those were some of the best cared for cats I have seen, their collars were still on them, and they were completely leash trained,...and I mean completely. Those of my fellow tiger owns, know just how much work goes into making a big cat completely comfortable with a leash and collar. Well,...these were almost perfect.
Someone cared for these little guys a bunch and spent a ton of time with them. The main problem was getting the immediate care and diet for the cats seen too. The diet the officers were attempting to feed, (hot dogs, etc,.) is not the way to go with these guys, plus the fact they were incorrectly sexed, and their weight projections were off by 30%. We were there, and with two fully capable big cat transport and support units, offered to assist in anyway we could, up to and including taking the animals. Well, needless to say once the NC Zoo got word of that, all of a sudden the animals got moved to the zoo within 24 hours, along with the announcement that they would be there “temporally” for about 60 days, then go to a private “sanctuary” in NC. Gee, I wonder what the rush was? .
THE BASICS: I found that the NC “powers” that are wanting a ban, are going to have a much tougher time than they think, due to a lack of support and reasoning I was able to detect from the public. When the AR people started their PR crap about the same ol stuff,..i.e. “Look how dangerous these animals are”,......the most dangerous event of this entire situation was that it was a miracle that no one from all the public that was “assisting” in the capture was injured with all the vehicle traffic,....agghhh,..what a mess that was. Not to mention all of the dozens of people, including the media that handled the animals at the shelter, and even the authorities themselves wanted to adopt the animals if not for the expense.
And not a single person was injured, and that was a ton of public contact for these cats. And of course, Ms. Amy Rhodes from PETA released a press release offering a $2500 reward for anyone who would come forth and identify the owners. Gee,..what a great move you idiot! That’s just what we need, to scare private owners, who truly want to do the right thing in the care for an animal that they “may” have gotten in over their head with,...instead of reaching out to them and saying,..”hey,...we are here to help you,...don’t be afraid to ask for the help”
Those animals were in great appearance, and attitude, and someone really was caring for them,..and I believe that it was just a case of an unfortunate escape. I did think it was interesting to see that Ms. Rhodes, from PETA who used to refer to herself as the self-titled “Animals in Entertainment Specialist”, now referring to herself as “Animals in Entertainment Supervisor”. When I called to ask what the difference was, and why the change,...I got hung up on,.... go figure.
I don’t believe that NC will see a ban anytime soon, but we SHOULD NOT LET OUR GUARD DOWN,..and we should stay on top of the issues in that state, and be ready should the “ban monster” shows its ugly, and very untruthful head again. Keep up the good fight!
Many thanks to Marcus Cook for allowing the use of this article on ExoticCatz.com.com in cooperation with the Feline Conservation Federation. This article is copyrighted 2005 by Marcus Cook, and originally appeared in the FCF Newsletter. All rights are reserved. FCF members receive a bi-monthly newsletter containing a wealth of articles like this one, and I highly recommend becoming an FCF member to learn more about exotic felines.