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Posted on Sep 18, 2015 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Dade City Wild Things – Kathy Stearns

Dade City Wild Things – Kathy Stearns

USDA Sues Dade City Wild Things

The complaint, linked below states:

DCWTSwimmingCubUkIndependent-tigerswimThe gravity of the violations alleged in this complaint is great, involving multiple failures to handle animals carefully and to provide access for inspection.

February 23, 2012  The Official Warning stated: “After providing you with an opportunity for a hearing, we may impose civil penalties of up to $10,000, or other sanctions, for each violation described in this Official Warning. Although we generally pursue penalties for this type of violation(s ), we have decided not to pursue penalties in this instance so long as you comply, in the future, with laws that APHIS enforces.”

5. Respondent has not shown good faith. Despite having received multiple inspection reports identifying noncompliance with the Regulations and failures to comply with the Standards, and the receipt of an Official Warning, respondent has continued to mishandle animals, particularly infant and juvenile tigers, exposing these animals and the public to injury, disease, and harm.

2015-07-17_USDA AWA Complaint_Stearns Zoological_AWA Docket

2015 August citations against Dade City’s Wild Things for filthy conditions, inadequate shelter, poor vet care, dangerous caging and more.

If you have first hand knowledge of abuse at Dade City Wild Things please contact:

COLLEEN A. CARROLL Attorney for Complainant Office of the General Counsel United States Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W. Room 2343 South Building Washington, D.C. 20250-1400 Telephone (202) 720-6430 Fax (202) 690-4299

News Reports Based on USDA’s Lawsuit Against Kathy Stearns’ Dade City Wild Things

Cast your vote!

Tampa Bay Times

Creative Loafing

My Fox Tampa Bay

ABC Action News

The Mirror

WFLA Channel 8 News

UK Independent


Where do those cute cubs end up?


Kathy Stearns got international attention for her pay to play scheme whereby tiger cubs are pushed into water over their heads so that they will swim to the paying customer and cling for dear life.  The only good to come of this is that it also drew international attention to the fact that USDA and the Florida Wildlife Commission have allowed this kind of cruel treatment.  The outcry has been loud and fierce, and maybe now the government will do their jobs of enforcing animal welfare laws.


The most obvious problem with this activity is that exploiters have to have a constant supply of cubs that are small enough to use for petting, photo and swim with the tigers type commerce.  So where do the cubs end up when they get too big to use?


Here is the story that the news should be researching:  During an inspection in May 2012, the USDA counted 12 tigers. Four months later, in September 2012, the USDA counted 19 tigers. The cubs who were being used in the Good Morning America piece that aired 10/9/12 were Tony, the youngest tiger who was screaming for help during the interview, and Tarzan who was far too big to be used for this sort of activity, but on a leash, in the pool, none the less.


In late 2011 the cubs being used for pay to play and swim with the tigers were name Rauri and Rajha.  On Oct 4, 2010 the 20 lb white tiger cub was named Diamond.  Wondering where they are now?  Probably in these barren, muddy cages at Dade City’s Wild Things:



You can help put a stop to this with a quick and easy letter to lawmakers here:


What Animal Lovers Think About Dade City’s Wild Things

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 9.08.14 AM

Clearly, the public is opposed to this sort of cruel activity.

This unsolicited letter reported conditions that we think are deplorable.  What is most concerning is that USDA has been copied and has yet to do anything about it.

“Last month (June 2015)  I went on a one-day group bus trip to WILD THINGS in Dade City, FL.  We took their “Jungle Safari Ride” and what we saw was enough to make us sick!  The place was nothing like your facility.

There was cage after cage of big cats, mostly Bengal tigers, kept in pathetic condition.  A large Siberian tiger was kept in a cage with no shelter from the searing Florida sun or the torrential afternoon thunderstorms and recent flooding with not even a wooden deck   He was laying in mud!

A surplus of other tigers were in cages on cement slabs with a barrel type shelter that could only hold one animal at a time.  In a cage by itself, a young tiger had access to an in-ground kiddie pool filled with cloudy, green water.

In another area were ponies and a donkey.  Although there was shade, all of these animal’s ribs were visible. Driving on, we saw a rectangular cage housing 4 coyotes.  The cage was set up in the sun on a cement slab.  The cage was divided by a closed fence.  2/3 of the area was occupied by 2 coyotes with no shelter and the other 1/3 was occupied by 2 coyotes and two “dog houses” taking up most of the area.  These poor creatures were forced to run back and forth in their own urine and feces. The odor was horrific and they all seemed to be frantic.


As we moved along we saw two different species of foxes displayed in a cage on the back of a pickup truck.  There was also no water and shelter for only one fox. The trolley then passed a large, fenced area and we were told that it was a sinkhole.  The water in this sinkhole was stagnant with green stuff all over the top and probably breeding millions of mosquitos.  Around the narrow edge of this sinkhole, were two llamas.  Their drinking water was beneath the green stuff. With recent flooding, they probably already drowned. We saw cages of small monkeys and baboons with no enrichments or water.  A lone zebra with an open neck wound was housed in a pen.  Two ring tailed lemurs were kept in a small cage with shelter for only one at a time. We were told at the beginning of our tour that we were not allowed to take pictures.  The guide emphasized


Most of the animals were suffering from cage syndrome, mindlessly pacing back and forth. We didn’t go to the Petting Zoo so I don’t know what conditions prevailed in that area.

I emailed PETA and they replied that they contacted the USDA and advised me to do the same thing, which I did.  I sent a letter to the I Team Investigators at ABC-TV Action News, the Dade City and Pasco County Humane Societies, The St Petersburg Times and the Humane Society of the United States, vets at both Lowry Park Zoo and Busch Gardens without any response to date. Enclosed is the reply from PETA.

I posted a blurb on Travel Advisor and it is there for all to see, along too many others who shared my experience. Can you direct me to somewhere or someone who can bring this blatant abuse to and end now?

I am a Florida resident also and this is happening in our back yard!  Take a ride on the “Jungle Safari Ride” and see for yourself. This place must be shut down and the animals placed in a more humane setting. These regal and innocent animals are languishing in a living hell and if we don’t do something….who will?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to a favorable response.

Very truly yours, ******”

Note: We withheld the name and contact info of this person, but they revealed it to the authorities and have asked the authorities to contact them.

You can help!

Do you remember other names of cubs who were used at Dade City’s Wild Things?  If so, please put the name, tiger or lion, and the year the animal was a cub in the comments section below.


Kathy Stearns Zoo Slapped with Official Warning Letter from USDA

Cited for improper fencing, inadequate veterinary care and improper cub handling among other things.

USDA Official Warning_Stearns Zoo 2012-05-31

Despite warning Dade City’s Wild Things began hyping a new baby tiger and encouraging people to book their Swim with a Tiger exploit between august 30 through September 15. 2012 before the pool water gets too cold.  If you know where she got this cub from, please post in the comments below.

On April 11, 2012 Dade City’s Wild Things was offering pay to play with three female tiger cubs who they said had been born three weeks prior.

On Aug 30, 2012 Dade City’s Wild Things was offering pay to play with a new tiger cub, saying that they could only do so until Sept 2012.

In an effort to catalog all of the cubs they have bred or bought for this purpose, please note in the comments section if you know dates when they had cubs for public contact.


Stearns Zoo


We wouldn't suggest eating there either

We wouldn’t suggest eating there either

DCWT regularly purchases tiger and lion cubs and exploits them to make money.   The cubs are taken from their mothers shortly after birth by the breeders.  This is a torment to both mother and cub, like it would be to any mammal species.  Then, once Stearns gets them, a former volunteer who was charged with walking them reports on what she was told to do as follows:  “The cub was playful.  It wanted to play bite, jump on my leg.  I was told that if it did that I was to grab it by the scruff and toss it to the ground and hold it there.  All training was by punishing physically.”   Stearns makes money from the cubs numerous ways.  She carts them out to fairs or other venues where the cubs are awakened repeatedly for anyone who will pay to pet them or take photos with them.  At her “zoo”, she charges for “encounters”.   One kind of encounter involves forcing the cub into a swimming pool so paying customers can swim with the cub.  Cubs don’t like holding still for petting sessions and photo opportunities.  The swimming solves that problem for Stearns because the cubs has to swim for dear life. And, Stearns can charge much more for this.


Stearns claims it is legal to use the cubs this way until they are 40 pounds.  Under Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission rules, if the employee relinquishes control, i.e. let’s you hold the cub, the legal weight is 25 pounds.    Meantime, Stearns blatantly violates the federal policies established by USDA that cubs cannot be used for petting under 8 weeks old because their immune systems are not sufficiently developed and over 12 weeks old because they are dangerous.  Unfortunately, enforcement of these rules is almost nonexistent.  Stearns was finally cited by USDA for causing stress to cubs during pay to play swimming sessions on p/14/12.   This was a repeat violation for improper animal handling.


In addition to exploiting the animals to make money and then keeping them in miserable conditions, Stearns has consistently demonstrated a lack of financial integrity and responsibility.  She has been arrested for passing bad checks (Sept 7, 2011 Kathy Stearns’ Worthless Check Case) and individuals formerly associated with the facility indicate this has been a recurring practice.   We are told she owes back pay to at least one former employee.   Tax deeds have been issued for her failure to pay tax on the property (Kathryn Stearns Tax Warrant May 2011.  More importantly and significantly for the future of the animals, the zoo property has been in foreclosure for years, with the proceedings delayed by a series of bankruptcy filings by Stearns and other individuals and entities (April 27, 2010 Kathryn P Stearns Foreclosure).


What happens after the cubs are too old to pet?  They end up spending the rest of their lives in misery living in tiny cages.


Below is a video showing the abusive treatment of the cubs and how they live after Stearns can no longer exploit them to make money.




Below is one visitor’s detailed description of the misery they saw at Dade City’s Wild Things


A friend and I recently visited Dade City’s Wild Things.  What we saw was amazing, in this day and age, but certainly NOT in a good way.  Maybe if I recount our trip there, you’ll understand why.

At the converted gift shop, Mr. Stearns loaded up about 20 guests onto their trolley car for transportation to their home and “zoo” a few miles away.  Each guest paid $22.95 for the tour and the majority eagerly paid another $20 for an “animal encounter” with a white tiger cub or a baby snow monkey to be included after the tour.  There are no cameras or video cameras or filming of any kind allowed on the tour.  When asked why, we were told that it’s because of those PETA people.  They said that they have to remain constantly vigilant because those animal activists can always make trouble for them.  I was soon to find out why.

Arriving at their home and surrounding grounds, your first impression is of beautiful rolling hills, towering oak trees hundreds of year’s old, lush, green landscapes.  Then you begin to notice the cages.  Though roosters, chicks, and dogs roam freely throughout their land, the animals that were born to do so have miniscule amounts of territory to call their own.

Kathy Stearns, the proprietor, gave the tour.  Having served as a Florida Fish and Wildlife Technical Advisory Committee member, she believes strongly in private ownership and is against all bans.  As she says on her blog, “I am proud of standing up for all exotic owners’ rights.  (Serving  on this committee) It sparked a great desire to work in spreading legislature(sic) issues because I experienced firsthand on(sic) how quickly our rights can be removed in working with non human primate owners in various other states like Pennsylvania where there is a ban on private ownership of non human primates.”

For a woman with a lifelong passion for wild animals and a beautiful piece of Florida property, we were expecting to see a collection of animals benefitting from both.  How shocking  to see the size of the cages where these animals spend every day of their lives.  The first Old World and New World monkeys she introduced us to, no matter their size, looked like they were living in approx. 10’x10’ cages that many shared with others.  No vegetation, no trees, no heights to climb.  A plastic hanging baby swing was all that 2 monkeys had to play with in their small cage. The 2 baboons we saw much later in the tour looked as if they were living in a cell like we used to see in old, rundown zoos decades ago.  Their human- like faces definitely betrayed the sadness of their captivity.

The hills were dotted with small, minimum size chain link cages.  Two servals were on display in a 6’x12’ cage, most of their space taken up with a makeshift pool.  The roosters and chicks clucked their way happily through the ferns and plants outside the serval cage while the servals couldn’t even be coaxed out to view. Though we were told they could jump 12-14’ in the wild, these 2 were contained in a cage that couldn’t have been 6’ high.  Again, the irony of seeing something so majestic with so much agility in the wilds of Africa yet here contained in one of the smallest cages I’ve seen….but there was more to come.

Ahead and up a hill, we saw a large metal building with many chain link cages attached to it.  We thought that surely these animals must have it better?  They must have indoor AND outdoor facilities?  This is where the big cats are housed. But, we were told that it was a maintenance and equipment building with no access for the animals.  On one side of the building, 2 full grown Florida panthers are housed together in a long, skinny,  dirt floor cage that looked to be about 10’x30’ and was attached to the side of the metal building with a low roof.  There is a mural painted on the side of the building depicting typical Florida life with alligators and marshes.  How I wished that was what life really consisted of for this unfortunate duo.

Around the other side of the building is where the big cats live.  An enormous male lion and a female lioness live in an open-top, chain link fenced cage that had a single hot wire running along top.  When someone commented how huge the animals were, all we could think of was how could they not be with so little room for exercise?  Again, just a dirt floor with little, if anything, to make life interesting for them.  No wonder the lioness bared her teeth at Kathy when she came close to her. Someone asked if the animals were neutered and Kathy said no.  We wondered, is this where the babies for the encounters come from then? But that’s another story.

Right next door to the lion cage is a duo of tigers.  Kathy said one was a Bengal weighing 1000 lbs.  As we stood so close, I wondered just how strong is that chain link fence between that enormous tiger and me?  He ran around and around in circles while his cage mate chased him.  I held my breath and hoped the cage held tight.  Chain link fences vs. 1000 lb. carnivores, I didn’t want to be anywhere near that competition!

In the background, I couldn’t help but notice a small round cage.  Imagine the shape of a tin can but this is about 12’ in diameter and is barren except in the middle, where 2 wooden boxes are stacked up as den boxes.  This tiny cage also had 2 full grown inhabitants – 2 cougars who I imagine tire of going round and round and round their entire lives with nothing to do, nothing to explore.  It looked like the definition of boredom.

Behind us was another sparse, small, low-roofed cage where 2 magnificent jaguars lived – one golden and another a luxurious, velvety black.  What struck us the most about this cage was how ironic that these tall, majestic oaks towered all around and yet, these 2 jaguars were panting in the hot enclosure with so little shade for them.  If we were drenched in sweat and Kathy was lingering under a water mister to cool off, how hot must that black fur coat be for that jaguar? Though we had heard that Cypress Gardens closed down and their jaguar Sheba was transferred here, we didn’t see her.   We were told she wouldn’t be seen on the tour.  Where is she?  What has happened to her?  That’s all we kept thinking.

We saw a herd of deer that, honestly, had the best enclosure on the property, though it borders the street fence line.  Then we saw the cages that really broke our hearts.  Two beautiful black leopards were caged in a barren, long, narrow cage that had a couple of shelves mounted inside.  One of the leopards was bald around his/her eyes, laid on one of the shelves, never lifted its head or moved, and stared blankly at us.  Another definition for us – misery.  The cage mate stood up and stretched to try to interact with Mr. Stearns.  What baffled us was why weren’t these guests asking many questions, why weren’t they seeing the things we were seeing, or was it just that they were simply anticipating their moments with the babies – that’s all they really came for?

On we went to the baboon “cell” I mentioned before.  They looked so human like, I couldn’t help but identify with them.  I thought about how incredibly sad life would be if I were relegated to a cage like that forever?  My feelings really sunk to a new low when I saw the small cage, behind theirs, that housed 2 extremely large bears.  They were very social bears, coming over to the cage wall, sitting, spending time there while visitors gawked at them. At this point, it was hard not to cry, not to shout out, “doesn’t anyone else see something wrong with all of this?”  But, when a guest asked “What’s your schedule for giving all these animals their baths?” and “How hard is it to bathe them?” and “What kind of animal is this?” (It was a tiger), I realized how little this group of people knew about the life these animals should be living, the space they need, the enrichment they need to stimulate their minds in captivity.  I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is it still just all about the baby encounters coming up?  Is that all they really care about?  These other animals and the way they’re living don’t matter?”

For a minute, Kathy couldn’t remember the names of the next 2 tigers we walked over to see.  I guess that was better than one of the other animals who, when asked what his name was, she said she doesn’t think he even has a name.  I thought, “Not even worth naming?”  At this point, everyone was hot, drained, and the 2 hours of looking at antiquated cages and sad looking animals was more than enough.  But, everyone perked up when it was announced that it was now time for “Animal Encounters.”

The majority of the guests had paid and signed up for this but, even if you hadn’t, you could participate and settle up later at the conclusion of the tour.  The first baby brought out was Jajay, the 7 week old baby snow monkey who was wheeled to us in a stroller wearing diapers.  A very young girl had requested to play with JaJay so he was plunked down on the picnic table on a towel for her to cuddle with and play with and pose for pictures with.  What if she had any respiratory illnesses or anything contagious?  What a vulnerable age for this little monkey.  When she was through with Jajay, and since no one else had booked time with him, he was put back in the stroller, zipped up, rolled behind the Tiki bar and left there alone while Kathy and all the other guests marched off to a small shed labeled “Nursery” for their time with Diamond, the white tiger cub caged inside.  We started hearing squealing and squeaking and looked over to see JaJay very upset, looking abandoned and forgotten back there.  Eventually, Kathy’s adult son came over and wheeled JaJay away. We wondered to where?

For close to half an hour, we waited while others were in the shed having their pictures taken and playing with the white tiger cub.  If you didn’t pay, you didn’t play. Kathy had said Diamond was donated to them by an Oklahoma zoo.  Donated?  We wondered how true could that be?  This was obviously the proverbial cash cow for “Wild Things.”  In reality, it’s what everyone was here for.  Mr. Stearns said that a couple drove all the way down from South Carolina the week before just for the chance to hold that little tiger since you couldn’t do it up there.  How ridiculous that this is what Florida is famous for – allowing people to hold and handle something so small, so precious, a baby who should be spending this time with its mother, not manhandled by the public for profit.

We were so upset, at this point, all we wanted to do was leave but we were trapped there with no transportation of our own.  We couldn’t believe our ears when one of the guests said he was a photographer with TBT (Tampa Bay Times) and he couldn’t wait to let everyone back at the newspaper know what a unique, fantastic place this is.  Of course, he was also one of the guests who couldn’t wait to go hold a tiger cub, an animal whose life, at this point, is spent locked up in a small cage in a shed with people filing in and out twice a day to “play” with her.

When everyone was through with Diamond, they escorted us back to the trolley.  I noticed a medium-sized cat off display pacing back and forth non-stop in what I thought was a transport type cage since it was so small.  Mr. Stearns said that’s the 7 month old panther cub that you can still have interaction with, if you want.  How could that be?  If my housecat can inflict scratches and scars on me, what could a fully clawed panther the size of a small German Shepherd do to me?  And, especially one that is so poorly caged and with nothing interesting to do but pace?

On the trolley back to the gift shop, one of the guests who went inside with Diamond said it was kind of hysterical watching Kathy grab the cub by the tail whenever Diamond tried to get away from the people.  She’d yank her back and plop her back wherever she wanted her.  She explained that it didn’t hurt the cub since her tail is attached to her spine and that’s how it’s done.  I can’t remember ever seeing any wildlife shots of that method.  Scruffing – yes, slinging a cub around by its tail – no.

The guest also mentioned that there were no pictures allowed.  You had to pay for the CD they sell at the end of the tour if you want any pictures.  The CD contains pictures taken by a photographer “Wild Things” has hired to photograph the animals.  This guest was obviously disgruntled about that since she felt she had already paid enough to them for this experience, she wasn’t going to pay more for pictures.  Yet, she never questioned why they don’t allow pictures.  If everything’s on the up and up, why are they afraid of the photos guests will take and possibly share?  Why must all the pictures be staged by them?

After being dropped off at the gift shop, we went to our car totally depressed thinking about how much more could be given to these animals by the Stearns since the property they have is so incredibly picturesque.  There is just no excuse for the small, inadequate cages these animals are housed in. There is plenty of room to give them more space, a better quality of life. Instead, we heard that their plans are to start running a tram service on another part of the property so “the old people who start coming to Florida soon and who can’t walk” will be able to come out and pay to tour the facility.  So, doesn’t that say it all?  Is quality of life for the animals important or boosting attendance?

What’s also demoralizing is everything we saw is perfectly legal in Florida; tiny cages, no quality of life for these various species, “pay to play” operations using baby animals as a source of income, promotion of more and more breeding, a continuous flow of animals who will have no future quality of life, and teaching people by example that animals deserve nothing better than this.  I’ll never get the images of these animals’ faces out of my mind.  They, more than any others, are “poster children” for why there should be a ban on breeding and private exotic animal ownership.

After this visit, it’s obvious that the Stearns have basic philosophical differences with my friend and I.  They see these animals as a treasure chest.  Quite the opposite, we see these animals as something to be treasured.  Sept. 2010

Despite all of their financial woes they continue to add to the problem by buying more and more lion and tiger cubs to use as photo props.  On May 16th, 2012 they announced, “Dade City’s Wild Things has just added another tiger cub to the three that were born six weeks ago. We are doing the full encounter schedule with them…”  Added from where?  Sue Pearce’s Myrtle Island Ranch in Okeechobee or GW Exotic Animal Park perhaps?
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Posted on Sep 15, 2015 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Zion Wildlife Gardens Craig Busch

Zion Wildlife Gardens Craig Busch

There were hopes that the “lion man” was gone for good, but he’s back


Ethan Hughes was three years old when he was attacked during a family visit to Zion Wildlife Park

Ethan Hughes was three years old when he was attacked during a family visit to Zion Wildlife Park

By Amanda Gillies

This week’s inquest into a big cat handler mauled to death by a tiger has brought back painful memories for an Auckland family.

The Hughes family visited the Zion Wildlife Park six years ago. Their trip was organised after their dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and was supposed to be a special time for the family.

Instead they ended up at hospital after their three-year-old was mauled by a lion.

Ethan Hughes is an adventurous boy. He’s into everything and not afraid of much, except lions and tigers.

“I don’t like them,” he says, “because one attacked me.”

In 2006 his dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour and told he had less than a year to live, so he treated the family to a special day at the Zion Wildlife Park.

Ethan’s mum and older brother signed up to pat the lions, filling out a safety waiver.

But then the zoo handler, Dalu Mncube, asked if Ethan wanted to pat a cub. Ethan tried but was scared, and asked his dad to pick him up.

“The cub swung around and grabbed Ethan with his front paws and pulled him to the ground,” says mother Nicola Hughes.

His dad didn’t want to pull back too hard, fearing Ethan would lose his leg, so instead he crouched over his son while Mr Mncube and two co-workers – one armed with a spade – dragged the one-year-old lion away.

“I turned around, dropped everything, dove in and punched this thing in the mouth,” says Ms Hughes. “I got a tooth in my hand. But I just kept punching it.”

Ethan, oozing blood and flesh from his legs, was admitted to hospital and underwent surgery.

“Peter, who had just had a brain operation, was lying on the floor of the hospital beside Ethan’s bed so he could look after him,” says Ms Hughes.

She says the park’s owner at the time, ‘Lion Man’ Craig Busch, was informed but they never heard from him or saw him.

Ms Hughes says that makes her feel “pretty angry”.

“And it has done since the day it happened,” she says.

She wanted to speak out back then but her husband said no. He didn’t want to hurt the popular Lion Man’s image.

Peter Hughes eventually died in May 2009, a day after Mr Mncube was mauled to death by a tiger at the park.

Craig Busch is now back working there, and Ms Hughes says that also makes her angry.

“It angers me knowing that he is back at the park and he’s doing it all again, he just doesn’t care.”

Craig Busch wouldn’t return calls from 3 News about the incident.

But Ms Hughes has kept the blood-stained and torn shorts her son wore on the day he was attacked, and Ethan still has the scars.

Read more:



Craig Busch is back at Kingdom of Zion

for more episodes of “People Being Stupid with Big Cats”

Lion Man


HOME AGAIN: After three years away, Lion Man Craig Busch is back with the lions.

Craig “The Lion Man” Busch has told of his pride and joy in being back with his big cats, at the renamed Kingdom of Zion wildlife park.

Busch is this weekend celebrating the official reopening of the park, on the outskirts of Whangarei.

Yesterday he invited Sunday News into the big cat reserve for a special behind-the-scenes tour.

In between mingling with well-wishers, he said: “To be back here is unreal … it took about a week to actually realise that I am home.

“The minute I did get here, they [big cats] realised dad was home. They must have roared for about two days.

“It is like a lion orchestra … an orchestra that is absolutely beautiful.”

In January, it was confirmed Busch – who set up the park in 2002, handed control to his mother Patricia Busch in 2006, and whose employment there ended two years later – would return to Zion.

His return followed the park’s sale by receivers to new owners.

After being away from the park – and its remaining 35 lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopard and serval – for three years, Craig Busch said there were still moments he pinched himself to reassure him he really was back.

“I live for these animals,” he said. “My whole life is used up on these guys because that is what I believe in.”

Busch’s “lion orchestra” roared with apparent glee during his three-hour escorted tour around the park’s sprawling grounds for Sunday News yesterday.

He also showed his bond with his “best mate”, Zion the lion.

“He is the most special lion here … and the most different,” Busch said.

“He is very protective of his dad. He doesn’t like other people too close to me or any other lion. And no matter where I am, myself and him can feel each other.”

The big cat park’s name has changed from Zion Wildlife Gardens to Kingdom of Zion during his absence.

“I love the name Kingdom of Zion. It suits the park and gives that sort of Disney-kind of feel to the park,” Busch said. “And if you look at some of the cats, they are almost like characters of Disney.

“It is what it means to me … it is a paradise for the cats and the people who come here.”

Busch was committed to continuing the big cats’ welfare, and adding some new features to the park. “It will be a park that will be themed into different settings, from where the animal’s origins is.

“I am one man doing many things. And all the dreams come from my head. Good things take time … it revolves around money and manpower.”

Before his return, Busch spent time in South Africa, including helping promote conservation attempts to save the white rhino from poachers.

He said even while thousands of kilometres away from “home”, Zion’s big cats had been ever in his heart.

“It has been on my mind every second and every minute of every day,” he said.

Busch thanked staunch supporters for helping him return to the park, including 76,000 fans on his official Facebook page.

“They have given a lot of support over the time. There are so many people around the world that actually believe in what I do and love what I do. I am very lucky to have that following and I am very grateful.”


Busch has confirmed he is in talks with prospective broadcasters about an imminent return to reality TV.

Busch found worldwide fame and acclaim as star of The Lion Man television series, which gave big cat fans an insight into his animal handling skills and life behind the scenes at the Zion wildlife park.

While filming ceased on The Lion Man in the mid-2000s, repeats of the show are still being played in more than 100 countries around the world.

“There will be another Lion Man show … there will be quite a few,” Busch said.

“I am talking to different ones [broadcasters] around the world and I have not made a decision yet.”

A film crew was on site yesterday, filming Busch’s interaction with his big cats and scores of fans who attended the Kingdom of Zion’s official reopening over Easter weekend. During his three-year absence from the park, Busch also completed some filming in the wild in South Africa.

“I am going to do filming for the rest of my life,” he said.

“I didn’t use to like it when I first started years ago. But now I enjoy it. I think it is a necessary thing to actually help educate and teach people around the world.

“If people can learn from that, that will actually put a smile on my face.”

Asked the secret behind The Lion Man’s success, Busch replied: “It is real … and the realness shows – it shows on screen.”


Craig Busch is a TV personality affiliated with Zion Wildlife Gardens in New Zealand ( Their homepage has a montage of him kissing a white tiger and interacting with other big cats.

Lion and Tiger Kept Frozen so Lion Man Could Use Them for TV Props

BY NEIL REID – Sunday News

Last updated 05:00 24/10/2010


Craig “Lion Man” Busch


Patricia Busch claims former circus lion Samson was kept frozen next to pet food for seven months by her son.

FUR is continuing to fly at Zion Wildlife Gardens with the release of a shocking photograph of a dead male lion lying in a freezer next to racks of meat.

The image was released on Zion’s official website by Patricia Busch, who took over running of the Northland park from her son Craig “Lion Man” Busch in 2006 and dismissed him two years later.

On the website, Patricia claims the dead big cat – former circus lion Samson – was kept frozen next to pet food for seven months by her son, who prevented her arranging a burial.

Patricia further claims Craig also kept the body of young white tiger Khan frozen “for some time”, only to thaw the cat out for a show-stopping burial scene on his hit TV series The Lion Man.

Through a spokeswoman, Craig has rejected the claims made about both Samson and Khan.

The spokeswoman said Samson was “euthanised” on Patricia’s orders when Craig was away from the park, north of Whangarei.

She said Samson stayed in the freezer for the seven months because Patricia had instructed staff “not to work with Craig” and he was not physically able to move the lion’s dead body by himself.

On the Zion website, Patricia said Craig had Khan euthanised because the tiger was deformed from inbreeding.

“He then proceeded to put Khan in the freezer for some time only to thaw him out when The Lion Man commenced as he said the burial would make a good TV story,” Patricia said.

“His actions regarding the postponement of Khan’s funeral affected members of the team.”

But Craig’s spokeswoman said Khan was euthanised “on advice from the park vet”.

“It is correct to say that he had medical issues since birth.

“To say that these arose from inbreeding is not,” the spokeswoman said.

Of Khan’s being kept frozen, she said: “Unfortunately it is fact of life that bodies, animal and human, are kept in refrigeration after death and pending burial.

“Craig wanted to find an appropriate burial site for Khan and he needed time to grieve.

“Since the viewers of The Lion Man had followed the story of Khan, it seemed appropriate to film the burial ceremony so that they might have closure.”

Khan died about a year before Craig was dismissed.

The continued spat between Patricia and her son comes just days before the next court hearing over the fatal mauling of Zion big-cat handler Dalu Mncube.

Mncube was fatally attacked by white tiger Abu on May 26, 2009. The big cat was put down.

The Department of Labour laid a charge against Zion Wildlife Services Ltd for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work.

It has also charged Zion Wildlife Gardens Ltd with a count of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that no hazard that is in the place of work harms people who are lawfully at work as employees of a contractor.

The case will be heard at Whangarei District Court on November 1. If found guilty, Zion could face a fine of up to $250,000 on each charge, including orders to pay reparations to Dalu’s family.

Ten days ago Bengal tiger Sita was killed in a clash with male tiger Jahdu at Zion.


Lion Man Out, MAF [Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry] Investigates Declawing

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Lion Man Craig Busch’s licence to operate Zion Wildlife Gardens has been revoked after his loving mum Patricia (manager of the lion park) told MAF that he was no longer employed by the park. He has been replaced as licensed operator by former Auckland Zoo manager Glen Holland.

Philip Smith from Great Southern Television insists that the cats will be back on our television screens in some shape or form. He told TV3

“The story is always about the preservation and conservation, that’s the story and no man or person is bigger than that story.”

I must have been watching a different show. What I saw was focused around Craig – the way he interacted with the lions, trained the lions, cuddled and played with the lions.

Court Battle Between Craig And His Mum

Next week, Craig and Patricia Busch go head to head in court in a civil claim that Craig has set up a competing website selling Lion Man merchandising and asking for donations to help his conservation
efforts. Lion Man producers Great Southern Television are partnered with Patricia to produce The Lion Man television program and profit from the merchandising. They allege Craig is making false claims that his site is the “official site” of the Lion Man.

Does anyone else find the timing suspicious? Mum is going into court next week claiming that their website is the official one, and what better proof than ousting the man known as “The Lion Man” from his role at the park?

MAF Investigation To Date

TVNZ say that a report from MAF described the arguments between Craig and Patricia as childish and MAF were concerned about the welfare of the big cats after claims that Craig had changes the locks on enclosures and a sick tiger couldn’t be attended to for five days. They also listed several other concerns including insanitary conditions

Neighbours report that the police have been called out on several occasions, including a false alarm last weekend that someone was attempting to remove gates from the wildlife park.

Patricia has also made claims that she was abused by Craig and rumour has it she attempted to take out a restraining order against him.

MAF Investigating De-clawing

Most of the concerns raised by MAF have been remedied, however they are still investigating one matter. According to TVNZ, MAF is investigating de-clawing, which was described in the report as an
unnecessary practice. MAF are investigating both the lion park and the vet that de-clawed the big cats. Ex employees of Zion Wildlife Gardens have confirmed to that many of the cats have been de-clawed.

Park Still Open to Visitors

But there is good news for people hoping to visit the park. New operator Glen Holland told TV3 that he believes the park is in good shape and that he is satisfied with the condition of the animals, the
enclosures and the training the staff have received.

Animal cruelty allegations made against Busch

Published: 6:24PM Sunday May 31, 2009

Serious allegations, including claims of animal cruelty, have been made against TV’s world famous Lion Man.

ONE News has obtained documents, and spoken to workers at the Zion Wildlife Gardens, about occasions when big cats were hurt and people put at risk over a period of five years.

The allegations surfaced after Craig Busch publicly criticised safety standards at Zion, following the fatal mauling of a keeper last week.

ONE News has spoken to staff who claim Busch cruelly killed unwanted cubs.

One worker claims he saw Busch put a cub down using a rock the size of a softball.

“He lay the cub on the ground…he was in a standing position and he threw the rock down on the ground onto the cub. It took three or four times before he was satisfied it was dead, cause he actually… semi missed&he clipped it cause I remember seeing the thing bounce with the impact of the rock,” alleges one anonymous worker.

ONE News put these specific allegations to Busch. He declined to appear on camera, but through a spokesperson says he denies he has ever mistreated any animals.

Earlier in the week at a press conference Busch was adamant the welfare of the cats was a top priority.

“There is no way I am going to allow those tigers or any cat there get put down, no way,” he says.

Busch also claimed safety standards at Zion Wildlife Gardens have slipped since he was sacked last year.

“They need to pull their socks up.”

However some staff allege last October it was Busch who put lives at risk insisting two keepers run alongside a tiger on a lead as part of training.

Staff spoken to by ONE News say running with a cat can incite it to attack. In one case a tiger did just that, biting a worker.

“The tiger jumped him down on the first run and went over to grab him by the throat, lucky I was there and I hit the tiger a few times,” says the worker.

A third park worker alleges he saw Busch beat two of the cats with a short wooden handle.

“He laid into it and laid into and laid into.. the male lion come and laid on top of her to guard her cause she was whimpering … and he said ‘you want some too’ and gave him a couple of blows too.”

Staff spoken to by ONE News say they didn’t speak up at the time because they were scared to do so.


Handler tried to fight tiger as mate mauled to death


A big-cat handler has told a coroner how he tried to fight off a tiger with his fists and a stick before using a fire extinguisher as his colleague was being mauled to death at Whangarei’s Zion Wildlife Park.

Handler Martin Ferreira described how he heard a male tiger named Abu crush the head of his colleague, Dalu MnCube, after the pair had entered its enclosure to clean it on May 27, 2009. He also revealed that Abu had attacked another man a month or so before the fatal attack.

Mr MnCube’s death is being investigated by Northland Coroner Brandt Shortland this week, with Mr Ferreira the first to give evidence after the hearing started yesterday.

Mr Ferreira said he and Mr MnCube had that day given tourists a chance to interact with a young big cat, then went to clean the enclosure where male tiger Abu and a female, Rewa, were living.

He said as the pair entered, Mr MnCube said “Hello Abu” and when the tiger came out of its den it went towards Mr MnCube and grabbed him by the leg.

Mr Ferreira said Abu had been de-clawed, but it had got Mr MnCube by its mouth and was holding on.

“He said ‘Mate help me’ so I hit Abu in the head and nose with my fists. I was screaming at Abu to let him go,” he said.

Another staffer was showing the tourists around the park, so Mr Ferreira used a stick to try to get the tiger to release Mr MnCube, then used a fire extinguisher.

In the meantime the tiger continued to maul Mr MnCube.

“He [Dalu] again said ‘Please help me, this is serious’ and Abu was trying to drag him into his den … He was dragging [Dalu] around and the other tiger started coming towards him as well.

“I yelled at her to move away and continued to hit Abu. Abu put him down, then dragged him by the shoulder, then Abu grabbed him by the head. Abu’s whole mouth covered his head, his fangs were on his neck. While Abu had him by the head, he was biting down on it. I could hear Abu crushing his head.”

Another staff member came with a cattle prod and eventually the tiger let go and walked off to sit by his pool, covered in Mr MnCube’s blood.

Mr MnCube was put into the back of a ute and taken to the park’s front gates, where an ambulance had arrived, but he could not be saved. Abu was then shot.

Mr Ferreira said Abu had attacked and injured another man at the park a month or so earlier. Mr MnCube had saved the man’s life on that occasion. After that, Abu had not seemed as friendly.

Mr Ferreira, who came to New Zealand from South Africa, where he also worked in big-cat parks, said that with experience one could tell if a big cat was happy or not.

He said he and other staff were told by the park’s operator at the time, Patricia Busch, that they should not be seen cleaning the animals’ enclosure when the park was being visited by MAF officials.

Mr Ferreira said that in the days before the tragedy, Lionman Craig Busch, who was in a dispute with his mother Patricia over control of the park, had threatened to expose Mr MnCube to Immigration, claiming the handler should not be in the country.

Mr Ferreira said this seemed to unsettle Mr MnCube and the park’s staff were later told Dalu could be deported.

The inquest is set down for up to five days.

– Northern Advocate staff  10/4/12

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Posted on Sep 15, 2015 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Tiger Temple

Tiger Temple

Student, 19, mauled by 400lb tiger at Tiger Temple

  • Isabelle Brennan was knocked to the ground and attacked at the Tiger Temple sanctuary
  • Sister and friend dragged her to safety
  • Left with four inch wound and is scarred for life
  • She still struggles to walk unaided eight weeks on


PUBLISHED: 15:59 EST, 30 August 2013 | UPDATED: 17:15 EST, 30 August 2013

Enjoying the trip of a lifetime to Thailand, university student Isabelle Brennan strokes a young tiger at a popular tourist attraction – one of the few places in the world where you can pet the deadly animals while they sleep.

But just minutes after this photo was taken, another 400lb tiger leapt into the frame, knocking the 19-year-old to the ground with its paw and sinking its teeth into her thigh.

She was saved when keepers at the Tiger Temple sanctuary in West Thailand jumped between her and the animal, while her sister and travelling companion Georgie, 21, dragged her to safety.

Calm before the storm: Isabelle Brennan, pictured stroking a tiger - she would later be attacked by one of the big catsCalm before the storm: Isabelle Brennan, pictured stroking a tiger – she would later be attacked by one of the big cats


In hospital: Following the attack, Ms Brennan was told she would have scarring for lifeIn hospital: Following the attack, Ms Brennan was told she would have scarring for life


Eight weeks on, Miss Brennan is recovering at home in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, but cannot walk unaided, while doctors said the four-inch wound will leave her scarred for life.

The University College London student wants to warn others of the dangers of approaching the orphaned tigers, which are hand-reared by Buddhist monks at the controversial sanctuary.


Reliving the nightmare she said last night: ‘I feel lucky to be alive. Everything happened so fast. One minute I was petting a tiger’s back, the next it turned its head and knocked me to the ground with its paw.

‘As it lunged with its teeth I felt an agonising pain on the inside of my left thigh above my knee. What happened next is a blur.  But a keeper jumped in between myself and the tiger. Then, while the keepers pulled the tiger to stop it attacking me further, my older sister Georgie dragged me under my arms to safety.’

Wound: Ms Brennan was bitten by a 400lb tigerWound: Ms Brennan was bitten by a 400lb tiger

The stunned teenager added: ’When I looked down at my leg it was terrifying. All I could see was blood.’

Two friends in their group immediately tied a tourniquet round Miss Brennan’s leg to stop it bleeding.

Meanwhile, the Human Sciences student who is studying for a degree at University College London was rushed to Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Memorial Hospital where she needed ‘tens of stitches’ to repair the four-inch wound.

She then had to remain in hospital for a fortnight after contracting an infection and high fever.
Her sister, 21, was forced to make the call to parents Margaret and Nick Brennan, 56, an architect.

Mother Margaret Brennan, 52 a former nurse who now runs her own business, said: ‘When Georgie rang the first thing she said was ‘firstly Isabelle’s ok’ but I was very upset. I couldn’t believe it when she said Isabelle had been bitten by a tiger.’

But finally after a gruelling two weeks in hospital – when she was pumped with strong antiobotics – she was well enough to fly back to the UK.

However, Miss Brennan was to spend a month in a wheelchair and on crutches. She is now learning how to walk again.

Eight weeks since the attack, she is still limping and doctors have told her she will have a permanent scar.

Miss Brennan and her sister from Harrogate were in the first week of their trip of a lifetime in Thailand, which they had spent six months saving for, when they visited Tiger Temple.

‘I was nervous about going into the Temple,’ says Miss Brennan, ‘however, I was reassured by the staff that as the tigers had been hand reared, they were so used to humans they were completely tame.

Reminder of horror: The wound after being stitchedReminder of horror: The wound after being stitched


Struggling: Isabelle Brennan still cannot walk without helpStruggling: Isabelle Brennan still cannot walk without help


‘They were also tethered by chains and the staff told me no-one had ever been seriously injured.’
After petting some tigers in an enclosure, Miss Brennan – who followed all the Temple rules such as not wearing bright clothes to excite the tigers – decided to go into a special area where she could wash the tigers.

‘We were given a talk beforehand and told not to touch the tiger’s head and to remove dangly jewellery. We were then shown how to wash a tiger’s back.’

It was while Miss Brennan was washing one tiger’s back, it turned round and mauled her.

She says: ‘In hindsight I had an incredibly lucky escape. I could have lost my leg or worse. The Tiger Temple staff were very upset. They paid for all my treatment in hospital and visited every day. They explained the tiger was just being playful. However, I want to warn others going to Tiger Temple that the animals might not be as docile as they first appear.’

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June 20, 2008 Thailand’s Tiger Temple: In a report on the Tiger Temple released today is documented and account of a Thai woman who came with her partner to help raise funds for the Temple, put her hand into the tiger, Dao Ruang’s, cage to pet her. Dao took hold of the woman’s hand with her mouth. When the frightened woman tried to pull her hand away, Dao Ruang bit through it and held on. The woman’s partner came over and hit Dao Ruang over the head. The woman’s hand was badly torn between her 3rd and 4th fingers and required numerous stitches to close the wound.

On other occasions, investigators observed tigers attacking staff and volunteers. One resulted in an injured finger, which needing suturing, another a French volunteer whose shirt was ripped, narrowly missing her neck and another a Danish volunteer who was tackled to the ground by and bitten on the leg. The resulting injury got infected and the volunteer need medical treatment at a hospital. During an interview with a journalist in January 2008, the Abbot was asked why the tigers do not bite. The Abbot said, “They want to bite and one day they will bite.” Meanwhile the Monks spray tiger urine in the cats’ faces to subdue them.

Read the entire report HERE.

See a slide show of people being stupid with tigers and contributing to the abuse of tigers at the Tiger Temple by paying to have their photos made with the big cats HERE.

PDF with photos

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Posted on Sep 15, 2015 in Browse by Name | 0 comments

Tigers of India Josip Marcan

Tigers of India Josip Marcan

Josip Marcan, is the owner of Adriatic Animal Attractions and Tigers of India and probably Bengal Tiger Encounter

It looks like the Bengal Tiger Encounter is just another alias for Josip Marcan who also travels under the name Tigers of India and Adriatic Animal Attractions.  Josip Marcan claims to be a veterinarian but he can not be found as licensed here


Those who have been rescuing tigers from Marcan since the 90’s will tell you that he is a prolific breeder but he only has kept under a dozen of the tigers he has bred, at his “preserve.”  It is not open to public scrutiny, but those who have worked there in the past have been quoted as saying the cats are kept in small cages and sometimes rotated through an exercise pen.  This is not a true sanctuary.


Legal Name (DBA):
Customer No: 3207
Certificate No: 58-C-0270
Certificate Status: ACTIVE
Status Date: Apr 6, 1990

I cannot find a business registered in FL by that name. Some similar, but not exact.

I cannot find a charity listed with the state as approved to solicit funds in FL by that name.

There are only three USDA facilities in N. Ft. Myers and none have cats according to USDA’s 2011 records:

Linda Cardinale, Peggy Mendez and the Nature Park at the Shell Factory

I can’t find any USDA facility on the USDA site by that name or in N. Ft. Myers.

The tabby tigers are most often in Josip Marcan’s acts and the guy looks like one of the Marcan trainers.  They are in N. FL and go by the names Tigers of India and Adriatic Animal Attractions.   He has 10 tigers, but no elephant.

This link makes the connection between Capitol Intl and Marcan so I am pretty sure he is the one.

At the Salem fair the photo looks exactly like the Marcan transport vehicle that was at MOSI.

This same outfit was in GA in July 2011

Same group here in May 2010

In their 2009 promo video they show the same trailer as Marcan and the woman in the act says the trainer’s name is Terry and that he has been working with Dumbo their female elephant for his entire adult life.


This tip came in to facebook in 2011:

Gulf Shores in Alabama, back at the end of January 2011, we visited the Gulf Coast Zoo and they had a baby white tiger cub named Sita that was born at the Marcan Tiger Preserve on Nov 7, 2010. They were charging $50 for a 30 minute encounter with her. The story they were pitching was that she was born to a new mother, her sibling had died at birth and the mother was not wanting to take care of her so the Gulf Coast Zoo was asked to take her and raise her until she was big enough to go back to the preserve.


From the PeTA files:

01-13-2009, 3:02 PM

Tiger in cage

What might have been just another story of shoddy circus animal handling came to a karmic conclusion last week when a tiger trainer, Josip Marcan, agreed to pay nearly 1 million bucks to settle a lawsuit resulting from a huge traffic accident. The accident was apparently caused when one of Marcan’s tigers escaped into the wilds of NYC—in this case, the Jackie Robinson Parkway—while traveling with the Cole Bros. Circus.

Demonstrating the spirit that has made the business of using and abusing animals in circuses the very definition of heartlessness, Marcan blamed everyone but his own whiny self. He called the injured drivers “reckless” and slammed the NYPD officers on the scene, saying “they just wanted to shoot the tiger.”

Unfortunately, there was no happy ending for the tiger, Apollo, who was captured and returned to circus life.

Written by Jeff Mackey

Tiger owner has to cough up 935G in scratch


Wednesday, January 7th 2009, 12:43 AM

The owner of a 450-pound tiger that caused traffic mayhem on the Jackie Robinson Parkway after bolting from a circus is coughing up a lot more than fur balls these days.

Josip Marcan has agreed to pay $935,500 to two drivers who were seriously injured after his cat Apollo got loose in 2004, according to a filing this week in Brooklyn Federal Court.

The settlement ends a nasty legal fight in which Marcan blamed everyone but Apollo for a five-car pileup that ensued on July 31, 2004, as startled motorists slammed on their brakes at the sight of the white tiger.

“A reckless driver, careless and reckless, blaming her recklessness on the poor tiger that was not even close to the highway,” Marcan said, according to a transcript of his deposition. “Trying to blame a tiger to get some kind of money from that.”

Apollo slipped out of his cage in Forest Park and was on the loose for 30 minutes before he was captured by circus handlers.

Marcan even trashed brave NYPD cops who held their fire.

“I don’t know where the New York police got the training on catching a tiger, but they just wanted to shoot the tiger,” Marcan, 70, ranted. “Just so some police comes home and say, ‘Ah, what I did today, I shot a tiger, you know. I’m a hero.'”

The victims, Maureen O’Malley – an off-duty cop forced to retire due to her injuries – and Wanda Colon will split the six-figure lump sum, and also receive $75,000 from the circus and a motorist, under the terms of the settlement.

Marcan’s attorney, Kathi Peisner, hotly disputed claims that Apollo was in the roadway and had leaped over the highway divider like some “old, dopey deer.”

Read more:


FL:Tiger bites man said to be drunk (Josip Marcan’s tiger) USDA 58-C-0270

Article published Mar 20, 2006
Tiger bites man said to be drunk

The trucker who pulled a caged tiger to the Putnam County Fair left in a helicopter with a bitten arm early Sunday morning.

Jason Wayne Hardin, 25, of Westville, was attacked after he stuck his arm into the sleeping tiger’s cage about 2:25 a.m., said Major Keith Riddick of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

Riddick said Hardin’s sister, Heather Bass, alerted a deputy working at the fair that she needed help transporting her injured brother, who she said was very drunk.

Hardin was taken to the Putnam County Hospital and then flown to Shands at the University of Florida, where he was treated and released for severed tendons in his forearm, said Kat Kelley, a public information officer for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

She said a deputy spotted Hardin stumbling down a flight of stairs earlier that night and told him to go sleep it off. On his way to his trailer, Hardin either brushed the cage or put his hand in the cage, and Kelley said she suspects the tiger was frightened by him. She said the animal has no record of problems at public events.

“This was strictly human error and poor judgment,” she said. “These are wild animals, and no matter how tame they are, they’re still animals.”

Kelley said Hardin was visibly traumatized and had several punctures in his arm. When she talked to him at the hospital Sunday afternoon, he told her he remembered brushing against the cage, but he thought the tiger pulled his arm in with its claw before biting him. But a witness told her otherwise.

“We may never know whether he put his arm in or whether it was pulled in,” she said.

The tiger could be seen playing with other tigers on display at the fair Sunday after Florida Wildlife Lt. Rick Brown inspected the exhibit and ruled it safe. The fair officially opens to visitors today.

Under state safety requirements, there must be a certain distance between the animals’ cages and a perimeter fence around them, and it was set up correctly, Kelley said.

She said Hardin’s trailer was inside the perimeter fence, which is why he was able to access the tiger. The tiger’s owner, Josip Marcan of Adriatic Animal Attractions, recently hired Hardin to transport the animal and put up the fencing, but he was directed not to bother the tiger, Kelley said.

Hardin’s wounds aren’t life threatening but a 15-year tiger stuntman who has nursed several tiger bites of his own said there’s a high risk of infection when a tiger punctures someone’s skin.

If the tiger recently ate and had food particles in its mouth, the risk runs even higher, Randy Miller said.

He should know. Miller owns several tigers, and he’s president of the stunt company Predators in Action, which has reenacted tiger, lion and bear attacks for countless television networks.

A tiger similarly punctured Miller’s forearm while he staged a stunt for the movie, “The Gladiator.” He said doctors typically prescribe heavy antibiotics for such wounds, and often stitches are required.

The stuntman hears of at least one serious tiger biting incident each year. He said he thinks the tiger attack on Roy Horn of famed entertainers Siegfried and Roy – which he has reenacted several times – made tiger attacks seem more common than they are.

“There’s tens of thousands of tigers in captivity. For the amount of exposure there is in zoos, parks, the film industry and private owners, I think that’s a pretty low (injury) ratio from an animal that’s potentially deadly,” he said.

Miller said professional handlers can work with animals that know them, but strangers shouldn’t tamper even with the tamest of tigers.

“Some people misread the animals and think they appear to be affectionate and friendly, and then they stick their arm in and get bit. It’s hard to say why the cat bit the guy, but it’s just bad practice to try to play with the tiger,” he said.

Tiffany Pakkala can be reached at 338-3111 or Drinking and tigers don’t mixThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

FL: Tiger Bites Worker at Putnam County Fair

Tiger Bites Worker at Putnam County Fair   Start Video

By Grayson Kamm
First Coast News

PALATKA, FL — The Putnam County Fair will still open Monday even though a fair worker was bitten by a tiger in an exhibit there the day before.

Investigators say the man stuck his hand into a white Bengal tiger’s cage.

Deputies say Jason Hardin was so drunk early Sunday morning, they threatened to arrest him if he didn’t go to bed. According to officers, Hardin agreed to head back to his trailer and walked off.

But instead of going to bed, deputies say Hardin climbed over a four-foot-high security fence, walked through a grassy area, and stuck his hand into the locked cage of a four-year-old tiger.

Hardin is not one of the people approved to work with the animals.

He was treated for bite wounds to his forearm and hand and later released from Shands Gainesville.

“As soon as the owner came out of the trailer, the tiger released its grasp of him — so it’s probably about a thirty second event,” said Putnam County Sheriff Dean Kelly.

“A foolish thing, and I’m sure the subject — if he had to do it all over again — wouldn’t stick his hand inside the tiger cage,” Kelly said.

The state says the cat involved has no past problems.

“Wild animals — when provoked — are going to do what wild animals do, and that’s protect themselves and their territory,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Kat Kelley explained.

The state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission inspects every traveling exotic exhibit like this one. This particular show passed a state review just two weeks ago, Officer Kelley said.

“It [also] passed the inspection this morning. They’ve done everything right, they’ve got the correct safety barriers, the cage is locked, everything is in order. This was simply a matter of an error in judgment,” Officer Kelley said.

“There’s no fault of the owner here at all. So it’s, again, a safe event for the citizens to come here and enjoy the fair,” Sheriff Kelly added.

Created: 3/19/2006 8:29:57 PM

The fact that Florida’s Wildlife Conservation Commission permits and defends this sort of reckless behavior is an embarrassment to Floridians.  This story was picked up by Associated Press and run all over the globe.  These are just a few of the places that aired the story:

Worker is bitten by tiger at fair
Palatka Daily News – Palatka,FL,USA
EAST PALATKA — A 4-year-old Bengal tiger bit the hand of an exhibit employee who, for unknown reasons, stuck his arm in the cage Sunday morning, according to

Man bitten by tiger at county fair
St. Augustine Record – St. Augustine,FL,USA
A 25-year-old man was bitten by a Bengal tiger at the Putnam County Fair when he stuck his arm into the tiger’s cage while he was intoxicated, according to

Tiger bites man at county fair in Florida – IL, USA
March 20, 2006 (GAINESVILLE, Fla.) – Authorities say a trucker who transported a tiger to a county fair in Florida was treated at a hospital after the animal

Tiger bites man at Putnam County Fair
Miami Herald – FL,USA
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A trucker who transported a tiger to the Putnam County Fair was treated at a hospital after the animal bit his arm, authorities said.

Tiger bites man at county fair in Florida
Seattle Post Intelligencer – USA
— A trucker who transported a tiger to the Putnam County Fair was bit in the arm after he apparently stuck his arm in the big cat’s cage, officials said.
See all stories on this topic

Tiger bites big cat hauler at Fla. fair
Florida Today – Melbourne,FL,USA
“This was strictly human error and poor judgment,” she said. “These are wild animals, and no matter how tame they are, they’re still animals.”.

Tiger bites man at Putnam County Fair
Gainesville Sun – Gainesville,FL,USA
trucker who transported a tiger to the Putnam County Fair was treated at a hospital after the animal bit his arm, authorities said.

Animal Worker At Putnam County Fair Bitten By Tiger – Jacksonville,FL,USA
PALATKA, Fla. — A 25-year-old employee of the tiger exhibit at the Putnam County Fair was bitten by one of the tiger early Sunday morning.

Tiger Bites Worker at Putnam County Fair
First Coast News – Jacksonville,FL,USA
PALATKA, FL — The Putnam County Fair will still open Monday even though a fair worker was bitten by a tiger in an exhibit there the day before.

white tigers
All Headline News – 52 minutes ago
Gainesville, FL (AHN) – A Central Florida man who transported a tiger to the Putnam County Fair was treated after authorities say he used “poor judgment

Tiger bites man at county fair in Florida
KESQ, CA – 4 hours ago
GAINESVILLE, Fla. Authorities say a trucker who transported a tiger to a county fair in Florida was treated at a hospital after the animal bit his arm.

Tiger Bites Man at County Fair in Florida
ABC News – 2 hours ago
GAINESVILLE, Fla. Mar 20, 2006 (AP)— A trucker who transported a tiger to the Putnam County Fair was bit in the arm after he apparently
Tiger Bites Man at County Fair in Florida
Forbes – 4 hours ago
A trucker who transported a tiger to the Putnam County Fair was bit in the arm after he apparently stuck his arm in the big cat’s cage, officials said.
Tiger Bites Man at County Fair in Florida
Newsday, NY – 4 hours ago
By Associated Press. GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A trucker who transported a tiger to the Putnam County Fair was bit in the arm after he
Tiger bites man at Putnam County Fair, FL – 1 hour ago
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A trucker who transported a tiger to the Putnam County Fair was treated at a hospital after the animal
Tiger bites man at county fair in Florida,  USA – 1 hour ago
March 20, 2006 (GAINESVILLE, Fla.) – Authorities say a trucker who transported a tiger to a county fair in Florida was treated at a hospital after the animal
Drinking and tigers don’t mix
Tampa Bay’s 10, FL – 1 hour ago
Putnam County ,Florida – Authorities say a trucker who transported a tiger to the grounds of the Putnam County Fair was treated at a hospital after the animal
Tiger bites drunk man at county fair in Florida
WIS, SC – 2 hours ago
(Gainesville, Florida-AP) March 20, 2006 – Authorities say a trucker who transported a tiger to a county fair in Florida was treated at a hospital after the
Tiger bites drunk man at Fla. county fair
The News-Press, FL – 2 hours ago
By The Associated Press. GAINESVILLE — A trucker who transported a tiger to the Putnam County Fair was treated at a hospital after
Tiger Bites Man At Floria County Fair
WCSH-TV, ME – 3 hours ago
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office says 25-year-old Jason Hardin of Westville apparently stuck his arm
Tiger bites man at county fair in Florida
News & Observer, NC – 4 hours ago
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – A trucker who transported a tiger to the Putnam County Fair was bit in the arm

Police: Tiger Bites Drunken Fair Worker Trying To ‘Communicate’ – Orlando,FL,USA
— A Florida fair worker was hospitalized Sunday after he put his hand into a tiger cage at The white tiger bit the man and severed a tendon in Hardin’s arm.

Tiger Bites Worker At Putnam Co. Fair – Winter Park,FL,USA
PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — A drunken man learned a tough lesson Saturday after being bitten by a tiger. The tiger severed a tendon in Hardin’s arm.

Tiger Bites Man At County Fair In Florida
NBC – Philadelphia,PA,USA
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Authorities said a trucker who transported a tiger to a county fair in Florida was treated at a hospital after the animal bit his arm.

Drunken driver bitten by tiger
United Press International – USA
Jason Wayne Hardin had been hired to drive a tiger to the Putnam County Fair and to put up fencing around the tiger’s cage, the Gainesville Sun reported.

Tiger bites man at county fair in Fla.
Chicago Sun-Times – United States
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A trucker who transported a tiger to the Putnam County Fair was bitten after he apparently stuck his arm in the big cat’s cage.

Tiger Bites Worker at Fair – Regensburg,Germany
Early Sunday morning, while drunk, he stuck his hand into the cage of a four-year-old white Bengal tiger. Hardin had bite wounds on his forearm and hand.

USDA twice cited event for violations

By Lisa Wolverton
Ka Leo Copy Editor
June 03, 2004

Lisa Wolverton * Ka Leo O Hawai’i
An investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture found that tigers from Adriatic Animal Attractions were being mistreated. Animal Rights Hawai’i now wants to boycott the show.

Animal rights activists gathered outside Aloha Stadium’s 50th State Fair last Sunday, in order to protest the Bengal tiger show.

Members of Animal Rights Hawai`i, a local nonprofit animal anti-cruelty organization, encouraged fair patrons to boycott the tiger show. They distributed bright yellow flyers, which revealed the animal cruelty citations against the tigers’ owner.

“The whole traveling animal act business is wrong for the animals,” said Cathy Goeggel, founding member and president of Animal Rights Hawai`i. “The lives these animals live is pretty terrible”.

The traveling tiger show is comprised of seven adult tigers and two cubs. It is sponsored by Adriatic Animal Attractions, which is based in Florida. The adults perform three 20-minute shows each day. The cubs are kept in a small pen for patrons to watch as they play with plastic balls and interact with their handlers.

According to a United States Department of Agriculture investigation report, Josip Marcan, owner of Adriatic Animal Attractions, was cited in 2000 and 2001 for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The investigations found unsanitary food preparation and storage, inadequate ventilation and water supply, and failure by handlers to make regular checks on the tigers. The report was obtained by Goeggel from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the world’s largest animal rights organization.

“The violation write-ups were intentional”, said Mike Inks, a tiger handler for Marcan’s show.

Inks said that after a group of tigers was contracted out to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Marcan was told the animals must travel by train. A train does not allow for a proper watering system or allow the handlers to give the tigers the attention they require. Because of this, Marcan chose to report the situation to the USDA, realizing the negative publicity, in order to allow the tigers to travel by semi trailer.

“‘If this is the only way I can get them off the train, I’m going to do it,'” Inks said, quoting Marcan.

Inks said the tigers were transported to Hawai`i via container ship. The voyage took four days.

The fair will host the tiger show through the month of June. Because the tigers only perform on weekends, they spend most of their days sleeping in open metal cages on a flatbed truck or on wood shavings in the performing arena.

“Tigers naturally sleep for 15 to 20 hours a day,” Inks said, adding that when the tigers return home to the 80-acre Marcan Tiger Preserve in Florida, they usually spend their time sleeping, despite having more than enough room to roam and run.

According to Inks, there are 30 tigers in Marcan’s breeding program but only 7 adults are in the traveling act. Some are out on loan and the rest stay home due to their varying inabilities to perform.

“We pick the animals that thrive in this kind of atmosphere,” Inks said of the animals on tour. “The performing tigers are usually on the road for a couple of months then home for a month”, Inks said. All were born into Marcan’s breeding program.

Marice Horiuchi attended the show but was not aware of Animal Rights Hawaii’s flyers.

“They demonstrated their natural behavior. I don’t think they exploited them,” Horiuchi said about the act.

Although the fair usually hosts an animal act every year, this is the first year for the tiger show.

Goeggel said Animal Rights Hawai`i has been protesting animal acts at the fair for the past 10 years, which include a high diving mule, alligator wrestler and a chimpanzee show.

Goeggel said about 300 flyers were handed out, and the group plans to hand out more in the coming weekends in hopes of persuading patrons to boycott the show.

Goeggel concluded, “It’s a bad life for the animals and it does nothing to enhance people’s appreciation for their beauty.”
© 2004 Ka Leo O Hawaii



On March 8, 2006 while Josip Marcan’s Tigers of India show was in Tampa we interviewed his keeper Andy about the life these 9 tigers have on the road and what life is like at their facility in the panhandle. Andy said that Josip was a vet in Germany and we did a search on him under the name Josip Marcan and can find no professional license in that name. He said he was involved in a circus act and then bought some tigers and started breeding them. He said there are more than 30 tigers now and the nine we saw were on the road most of the time; sometimes for three months at a time. He claimed the tigers liked to travel because they were so bored at home.

He described home as being in the panhandle on 80 acres but said that only a small portion of the land was being used. He said the tigers live in a barn that is much like the trailer they live in on the road that opens up on one side to a small cage and on the other side to a cage about 60 x 100. He said as long as the tigers are getting along, they can all share the same space, but if they fight, as they do when the females are in heat, then some of them have to be locked up. He said they are not open to the public and that no one can come in and see how the cats live when we pressed him to let us visit. Andy said that they are starting a 501 c 3 charity so that they can ask for donations to support them since he said they can’t make much money doing these traveling shows. He acknowledged that the cost of setting up at one of these shows costs about what they make from it.

He said that Josip breeds and sells tigers but he didn’t know for how much and couldn’t name anyone who had bought a tiger.  He said, “Places like Busch Gardens” but when we asked if Busch Gardens had actually gotten any cats from Marcan he didn’t know.  Andy seemed to believe that the SSP wouldn’t include Marcan tigers because they didn’t have any pure Bengal tigers for breeding, but that makes one wonder why an ex-circus performer would have pure bred Bengals when no zoo in America does.  More curious is why one would intentionally breed for characteristics, such as white coats, that cannot survive in the wild when the supposed reason for breeding is conservation.

Andy volunteered that the cats get stir crazy with nothing to do, but that the cats at home never get a break from the boredom because they do not get to travel.  He said the oldest cat was 18 and that most of them were around 7 years of age.  He said that during shows he walks around with the 9 unrestrained cats and “loves all over them to show people how nice they are.”  In a country where almost anyone can go out and buy one as a pet, this is particularly disturbing “education.”

Seeing an air conditioner on the human portion of the travel trailer, I asked if the cats had air conditioning.  He said that to have air conditioning would be worse for them than the heat.  He said the metal trailer, with metal doors that fold in to make it totally enclosed for travel, had fans but I couldn’t see them.  There were small vents at the top of the trailer about 6 inches high by 12 inches long that slide half open to allow air into the trailer while it is in motion.  How many times have you been stuck in traffic where there was motion to create any breeze?

In a state where temperatures are often up into the 90’s and traffic is always a problem, imagine being one of nine 500 pound, fully furred cats locked inside a metal trailer atop a virtual parking lot of asphalt.  When you visit the Renaissance Festival or a Fairground is this the sort of thing that you want your ticket to be paying for?

Andy said that Josip is working on legislation that will allow him to exchange breeders with pure bloodlines from India.  Currently CITES does not allow tigers to be taken from the wild and bred for circus acts or the pet trade.  Andy really seems to believe that what he is doing is good for the cats and he was not trying to disparage Josip Marcan in his candid answers.  It is this abject ignorance of the big picture and all that is wrong with breeding a big cat for a life of confinement and boredom that is most disturbing.

Check for yourself to see if they meet the sanctuary standards for an accredited animal refuge.   He claims to be breeding white tigers and tabby tigers for conservation purposes, but his tigers are not part of the only internationally sanctioned Species Survival Plan. Given the amount of inbreeding necessary to create a white tiger or a tabby tiger (a color that sometimes appears when trying to breed the recessive white mutation) it is understandable why no real conservation program would include his stock.



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Posted on Sep 15, 2015 in Abuse, Browse by Name, Fakers and Haters, Most Wanted | 1 comment

G.W. Exotics Animal Foundation Joe Schreibvogel


If Joe Schreibvogel has contacted you with slanderous allegations against Big Cat Rescue, check out this million dollar settlement Joe Schreibvogel consented to in favor of Big Cat Rescue.

Researched and written by Howard Baskin JD, MBA, Advisory Board Chairman of Big Cat Rescue

Joe Schreibvogel says that he and his parents started G.W. Exotic Memorial Animal Park in memory of a brother who loved animals.

On December 10, 2010 Joe wrote on Facebook

“…another employee quit today without so much as a phone call.  …all I get is a text message that reads… My brother (g.w.) would be ashamed of what I have become”

If Joe’s brother was indeed a lover of animals, this is likely to be an understatement.

As detailed below, Joe has become one of the most notorious breeders and exploiters of tiger cubs in the world.

Joe Schreibvogel is also known individually as:


 Joe Exotic

Aarron Alex

Cody Ryan


And doing business as:


5 Continent Productions

Garold Wayne Interactive Zoo

G.W. Exotic Animal Foundation

G.W. Exotic Animal Park

G.W. Exotic Memorial Animal Foundation

G.W. Exotic Memorial Animal Park

Alex Productions

Awakening Productions

Awakening Rescue

Big Cat Rescue Entertainment Group

Corley’s Exotics

Mystical Magic of the Endangered

Tigers in Need

Welch’s Entertainment Group

Welch’s Tiger Experience

Welch’s Great Cat Adventure

World Magic

and others.




Joe Schreibvogel operates a roadside zoo in Oklahoma with 1400 animals, including over 150 tigers, on sixteen acres, that has a history of serious animal abuse (see below).  He generates revenue by constantly breeding tiger cubs, ripping them from their mothers shortly after birth, and abusing them by carting them around from mall to mall charging people to pet them alongside a magic show he performs.  USDA rules prohibit using the cubs for this purpose after they reach 12 weeks old.  When he can no longer use them to make money, he “donates” (or by some reports sells) them, or brings to his zoo.  In most cases these animals will at best spend their entire lives in small, prison-like cells.  Current USDA regulations permit keeping an adult tiger in a cage smaller than a parking spot. Many of his cats are sent to places with a history of animal abuse violations.


What is life like for these poor cubs dragged around from mall to mall for the early weeks of their lives?  Videos of the mall exhibit reveal what they endure.


In the video below, you can see that the cub has diarrhea.  Witnesses report this was true of at least three of the cubs.  Instead of taking the cubs off display, the attendant follows the cub with a rag.  First Beth Corley wipes the floor, then she wipes the cub’s bottom with the same rag.  The cub’s bottom is likely raw and sore from the diarrhea.  You can hear the cub scream.  You can see the video under “Sick Cubs at Mall” below.


Malls who allow Joe to exhibit are supporting this abuse.  If venues would not allow acts like this, the breeding and suffering would stop.  Fortunately, more and more responsible venues are making the right decision.  For instance, after a cub display at one of their stores, Petsmart recently issued a policy that there would be no exotic animal displays at their U.S. and Canada stores.  In doing so they showed that they truly care about animals.


Joe claims that he has to breed cubs and take them out on the traveling show in order to support the animals at his zoo.   He acknowledges that this is wrong when he says in a Facebook post that he does not want to do this but is “forced to” in order to make money to support the animals at the zoo.  Joe is only forced to do this as a result of his own bad decisions and lack of caring for animals.


Joe’s latest argument to justify his rampant breeding (which he calls “selective”) is that he is doing a public service because by supplying a cub to every zoo and exhibitor who wants a tiger, he is putting out of business the “back yard breeders.”  This is a little bit like John Dillinger claiming he was doing public service by putting other bank robbers out of business because he had robbed all the banks.  It does not matter who is breeding tigers to make money from cubs and then discarding them to a life of misery.  It is just wrong.


The fact is that real sanctuaries all around the country are able to support their rescue and animal care work without adding to the problem by breeding and without abusing animals to make money.  They do that by operating facilities that have excellent animal care that donors appreciate and want to support.  They also do that by being financially responsible and not taking in more animals than they can support.


The fact that true sanctuaries all of over the country do support their animals without tormenting innocent cubs proves that it can be done.  If Joe cannot do the right thing for the animals, he should not be collecting them. If real sanctuaries around the county are capable of doing this, why can’t Joe?


Joe’s website says his zoo was started in 1999 as a way to honor his deceased brother, who reportedly loved animals.  Joe could have done exactly that.  He could have built a real sanctuary by taking in animals and giving them the kind of care that would have touched the hearts of donors who would have supported him like other real sanctuaries have done.  He says on his website that in 2005 he “grew away from the word ‘Sanctuary’ … because everyone wanted to dictate how you run a business as a sanctuary, but no one wanted to help pay the bills.”


Regarding having others “dictate”, yes, to be a real sanctuary, you have to meet certain standards of animal care. The animal abuse documented in USDA violations from 2000 to 2004, discussed below, shows he never was a sanctuary.  He could have invested time in learning the skills needed to run a true sanctuary, including how to run the financial side of a nonprofit.  He could have built a place that would have been a true tribute to a deceased animal lover.  He did not.

Young Children Bitten at GW Park

Before going into the details about Joe’s exploitation and lies, below are three videos taken in September 2011 by visitors to GW Park.  According to a USDA Fact Sheet, cubs under 8 weeks old should not be petted because their immune systems have not sufficiently developed to prevent disease.  Separately, USDA guidance forbids petting cubs over 12 weeks of age because they are dangerous.  (See 2010 in the Palazzo case upholding USDA position established in 2004).

In these three short videos you see GWPark employees blatantly violating these USDA policies and endangering the cubs and the public.  In the videos the handlers acknowledge that the cubs are 14, 15, 16, 19 or 20 weeks old.  In one video you hear the handlers laughing about a child being bitten by one of the overage cubs and being taken in to see under age cubs to appease the family.  Remarkably, just one week later, with a handler lying by saying “we have never had an incident,”  the video shows a young child jumped on and bitten by a 20 week old cub.  After that, even though in both videos the handlers talk about the smaller cubs having weak immune systems which makes public contact dangerous for them, the park manager brings out a tiny two week old cub to appease the crowd.  He allows two and three people to grope at the cub at a time.  He only stops when the poor cub, who is so young that its eyes are not even open yet, starts squealing loudly and desperately tries to climb away to avoid the petting.

As a practical matter, USDA inspectors are never going to see the animals mistreated or see animals that are too young or too old being used this way.  The inspectors do not do undercover work, they announce themselves on arrival.  An individual who worked at GW Park tells us that when the inspector arrives, someone at the park announces “USDA on the property” and some individuals are assigned to delay the inspectors while others run around filling water bowls and stop any behavior that could result in citation.  As you watch the tiny cub squealing in discomfort and fear in the third video, knowing that each of the hands you see groping at him is a threat to his infant weak immune system, and as you hear the handlers in the first video chuckle about a child being bitten, and as you see Schreibvogel in the video at the top of this page strike a tiny cub with a pole and say “just pop ’em in the ass,” ask yourself if you think Joe Schreibvogel is someone who loves animals.  Does someone who loves animals torment tiny cubs to make money?   And if you are a venue that permits his traveling exhibit to set up in your mall or fair, aside from the potential liability, is this kind of treatment of animals what you want to support?

Underage Cubs Used to Appease Crowd After Child Bitten


Sick Cubs at Mall





Joe Schreibvogel Exposed by Inside Edition







Instead of creating a sanctuary, Joe created a facility that in its early years, 2000 – 2004, was cited repeatedly by USDA for serious violations of the minimum standards of the Animal Welfare Act.  USDA has limited enforcement resources.  They can only take a few animal abusers to court, so they reserve that for only the most blatant cases.  Typically they will issue citations for years, giving the licensee every opportunity to correct the out of compliance conditions before they consider filing a lawsuit. After years of citations they finally sued Joe.  In April 2005 the agency filed a 20-page complaint against Joe with numerous charges, including the following:

* Failure to provide adequate veterinary care
* Failure to handle animals so that there was minimal risk of harm to the animal and to the public
* An incident in which a tiger escaped from his enclosure and attacked and seriously wounded a camel
* Transportation of 15 tigers and lions in a manner that allowed urine, feces, or both to contaminate the animals caged below
* Lack of potable water for 18 lions, 23 tigers, 15 bears, 20 cougars, three leopards, and a pig
* Lack of employees present to provide care to 80 large, dangerous cats
* Lack of knowledge by employees about how often the animals were fed
* Filthy, wet, unsafe, and dilapidated enclosures
* Failure to handle animals in a manner that does not cause trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort
* Failure to provide animals with minimum space

In January 2006 he consented to a $25,000 fine and a probation period. Based on inspections since, hopefully conditions have improved.  But, for over five years before USDA forced changes, the animals Joe “rescued” were subjected to the horrible conditions USDA cited.

In September 2009 USDA issued a warning notice for alleged violations of the AWA handling requirements stemming from separate incidents that occurred in 2007 and 2008, one involving a customer injured by a lion cub.

On September 13, 2011 Schreibvogel was cited by USDA for failing to provide veterinary care to two animals.

On December 1, 2011 Schreibvogel was cited by USDA for improper handling related to an incident in September 2011 at GW Park where young boy was injured by a tiger cub.


Schreibvogel is currently under investigation by USDA for the deaths of 23 tiger cubs and separately for other possible violations of the AWA.  The cubs died between April 2009 and May 2010 according to what Joe’s people reported to the FDA.  Any responsible facility would have done necropsies on the  initial deaths.  Joe finally did necropsies on one or two of the last cubs to die and called in FDA to test the formula.  The necropsies indicated curdled milk formula in the stomachs of the cubs.  So, Joe insists that the cubs were killed by “bad formula.”  But, the FDA testing of the samples Joe provided and of samples from the manufacturer found nothing wrong with the formula.  This formula must be stored, handled, mixed and administered properly.  Since FDA found nothing wrong with the formula itself, if the cubs did die from the formula, the most logical conclusion is that it was because Joe’s staff did not do one or more of these activities properly.



Between February and June 2006, a PETA investigator working at GW Exotics kept a log documenting a pattern of abuse.  These included animals seriously injured from fighting, food dishes teeming with maggots, hungry animals who went without food, animals who were abused and beaten by staff.  For instance, here are two examples from



On his first day on the job, PETA’s investigator met Julie, a three-legged lioness, who had a bloody, raw, and gaping hole where her right front leg used to be. Julie had been attacked by two tigers who literally chewed and tore her leg off and then ate it. The remaining stump of her leg had to be amputated and when she pulled out the stitches, Julie’s open wound went untreated.Though she moaned and whimpered for days, she was given nothing for pain. Julie languished in a small and barren indoor cage on a concrete floor with nothing more than a small towel for comfort. Although she was bred and born at the zoo, [J1] tells people that he “rescued” Julie and that she was injured before coming to the zoo.



GW’s Holiday 2005 newsletter reported that the Fercos Bros., a Siegfried & Roy wannabe magic act in Las Vegas, gave the park two male tigers who had “outgrown” the stage. Two days after PETA’s investigator started working at the park, the “Vegas tigers,” as they were called, were killed by lethal injection because staff decided they were “mean.”

Reportedly, the tigers’ teeth were cut out, and one was decapitated and his head given to the veterinarian’s husband to be mounted. When the Fercos came to visit the tigers in June, they were told that the cats were killed when lightning struck their cage during a storm.

Below is a video by the investigator showing a dying horse left suffering, workers beating animals with tools, and a worker explaining how they forge the feeding log to say animals were fed that were not because USDA had no way to prove otherwise.

According to one report “PETA activists took their recordings to law enforcement, but no charges were filed after authorities said no criminal activity occurred in the videos they viewed. Federal agents inspected the park twice after the videos were released and found no violations. Schreibvogel claimed the PETA videos took out of context what was going on, but did admit he had fired four of the employees featured in the investigation.” Although authorities decided not to file criminal charges, it is hard to imagine the behavior in this video not being animal abuse no matter what the “context.”

For more on PeTA’s investigation visit



Allowing animals to suffer horrible conditions for years until USDA forced him to correct them clearly contradicts Joe’s claim to be a lover of animals. His current argument that he should be allowed to abuse cubs and subject a steady stream of them to lifelong misery in order to support those he has collected raises further doubts. He accepts animals from places known for animal abuse without regard for the fact that these places continue to operate and abuse more animals. Is that a rescuer, or someone just building the “world’s largest” big cat zoo to satisfy his ego?




To get an insight into Joe’s character, let’s look at a few examples of his behavior.

Photos of PETA and BCR effigies being killed. One of his responses to criticism from PETA and BIG CAT RESCUE was to post photos on his Facebook page showing figures labeled PETA and BCR with guns to their heads, hangman’s nooses around their necks, and a bow and arrow pointed at them.

If you are a manager of a mall reading this, is this the kind of person you want to be associated with?

Photo shooting polar bear cub. One mall executive found out how professional Joe is when his company decided they did not want to be associated with Joe’s abuse. Joe, using one of his “stage names” Aarron Alex, accused the management company online of “supporting the killing of animals” and posted a photo with his proposed boycott of their properties showing a polar bear plush toy with a handgun to its head and the title “If Mama Don’t Want It Don’t Nobody Want It.”

If you were a mall owner or manager, is this the kind of vendor you want?

Registering URLs in Name of Dead Person. Another rather bizarre behavior is that in recent years Joe has been in the habit of registering new internet URL’s using the name Brian Rhyne, who the GW website said died in 2001. What kind of person uses a dead man’s name to register their websites? Recently Joe has been changing some of these, perhaps as a result of this strange behavior being commented upon online.

Crude, sexually oriented comments and lies.  Joe and a small band of cronies, most of whom are people who support subjecting exotic animals to the unsuitable condition of being pets, constantly post blatant lies, sometimes sexually oriented, about his critics.  Some of the Facebook identities making these comments are fake identities set up by Joe or this group.  For instance, it is hard to imagine that his Facebook supporter “Carole Backsins” is anything more than a shallow and childish alteration of the name of Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue.




What about all those company names listed at the top of this page? One of the most basic principles in marketing is to develop a consistent brand image. The problem for Joe is that his brand is tainted by his animal abuse, so he keeps making up new names. He really went to town in 2010 adding at least four of the names listed above.

He says he uses different names to avoid the “animal activists.” Joe is not fooling any of the people who fight to protect animals and want him to stop abusing the cubs. They find him no matter what entity name he uses. The only people he can fool this way are the members of the public. One individual, Aaron Wissner, whose posts indicate he simply was concerned at what he saw at a mall and wanted to find out who “Tigers in Need” was, spent what had to be hours researching. Some of his information came from prior versions of this page, but much he obtained elsewhere. A URL to his research appears at the bottom of this page.

Joe’s Names. In addition to using his own name, Joe has performed his magic act using Joe Exotic, Aarron Alex, and Cody Ryan. Cody Ryan frequently performs as a duo with a man named Aaron Stone. Joe posts disparaging remarks about his critics under both his own name and Aarron Alex, and Aaron Stone has shown up with similar comments as a “volunteer” on at least one post.

Joe’s Accomplices. Joe has two accomplices in the subterfuge of his entity “name game.” One is Beth Corley. Joe has one USDA license. Beth Corley has her own license, registered at the same address as Joe’s, i.e. the G.W. Animal Park address. The other accomplice is Vicky Welch, spelled with a “y” in news reports, but with an “i” when Joe uses her name to register URL’s for the new names he makes up for the magic act and cub display. She travels with the show and has been referred to in the press as “road manager and animal caretaker” for Awakening Productions.

Are they all interconnected? It would take too long to give details on each here. We have built an excel spreadsheet sorting out his maze. Some names are registered as Trade Names of G.W. Exotics. Others are separate corporations. And still others are not registered at all with the Oklahoma Secretary of State nor show up on the site as nonprofits even though they claim to be.

Just for example, let’s look at one person and one entity.

Beth Corley. As mentioned, Beth has a USDA license registered at Joe’s address. Beth is referred to in an online news story posted by Joe as “Director” of Big Cat Rescue Entertainment. She is referred to by a reporter for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, IN as “Beth Corley, a worker with Big Cat Rescue” (failing to include the “Entertainment”). A report in The Telegraph on the exhibit at the Alton Square Mall in Alton, IL in July 2010 refers to “Beth Corley, co-founder of Welch’s Entertainment.” The Fremont Tribune from Fremont, NE on 1-28-10 refers to “Corley’s Exotics, run by Beth Corley of G.W. Exotic Animal Park.”

Tigers In Need. Now, let’s take one entity, or one name since it does not actually appear to be an entity, “Tigers In Need”. As of this writing, we could not find it registered as a Trade Name nor as a separate Corporation, so it appears to be just a made up name. One advantage, assuming that is intentional, is that it is difficult to know who “owns” it. Below is a list of some of the ways in which Tiger In Need is connected to the other entities and accomplice names:

1) The URL was registered 1/30/10. Before 7/29/10 the WHOIS report showed Registrant Name was “Tigers in need” and Registrant Email was On 7-29-10 the registration was changed to show Registrant Name as Vicki Welch and Registrant Email left blank.

2) The website has a description that clearly is GW Park. It refers to being started in 1999 in Southern Oklahoma and having over 150 big cats. It says “Please note that we are a non-profit organization and are not affiliated with any other company”, when it clearly is the same facility as the GW Exotic zoo.

3) The “Contact Us” link at brings up “Florida Office 813-361-9611”, the same phone being used by Big Cat Rescue Entertainment.

4) The “Guestbook” link at contains comments from visitors to the Alton Mall in July. The Alton, IL newspaper, The Telegraph, reporting on the show at the mall, refers to the cats being “just a few of the 150 or so from the Tigers In Need refuge in Wynnewood, Okla. Welch’s Entertainment holds the tours…to raise money for Tigers In Need.” It quotes “Beth Corley, co-founder of Welch’s Entertainment.”

5) The Davis County Clipper 7-27-10 in Bountiful, UT refers to Welch’s Tiger Experience also being called Tigers in Need.

6) An event notice on the East Town Mall website was titled Tigers in Need formally (sic – formerly) Awakening Productions.

What kind of person creates a maze of entities like this, and for what legitimate purpose?




Joe and his employee Bobbi Corona have a total disregard for the truth that is remarkable. He says and writes whatever nonsense he decides to make up. PeTA identified statements about his breeding and selling that they show to be false at

Here are some examples where Joe misleads or issues totally false statements:

Tigers In Need Nonprofit and Not Affiliated. His many names and entities and the deception that they foist on the public are discussed above. A number of his entities, like Tigers In Need, have claimed on their websites, literature and press reports to be “nonprofit.” They do not show up as registered trade names of a nonprofit, nor on the IRS site under their own names. G.W. Exotic Animal Park is a nonprofit, so maybe Joe thinks that any name he wants to call it by becomes a nonprofit, even when he is denying that the name is associated with GW. The other deception is the idea that these are not related. Tigers In Need, which clearly is just another name for the GW Animal Park, has on its website at this writing “we… are not affiliated with any other company”, an obviously false statement.  Then, in his depositions in our lawsuit, he did an about face and says that G.W. Exotic Animal Park, Tigers in Need and Big Cat Rescue Entertainment are all the same.  He claims he never intended to file Big Cat Rescue Entertainment as a separate company, it should have been a d/b/a.  This is in spite of the fact that he first registered it as a d/b/a, then redrew that registration and filed it as a separate corporation.

Howard Baskin cub display video. Howard Baskin, husband of Carole Baskin from Big Cat Rescue, went undercover at a tiger cub exhibit to get video showing the cubs’ distress and the exhibitor’s lies. He then made a video explaining in detail why these exhibits are abusive and provided details about the particular exhibitor involved and the poor conditions at her facility. The video included the video clip at the top of this page showing Joe’s cubs with diarrhea. You can see the 6 minute video at

What did Joe do? He issued a “press release” on PRLog claiming that Carole does not know that “her husband has been going behind her back to either pet or play with a baby tiger cub.” He quoted the owner of the exhibit, someone who says Joe “donated” a cub to her, as saying “Maybe this is how he gets his kicks since he cant (sic) get them at home…” So, Joe, Howard Baskin goes behind his wife’s back to pet tiger cubs, then makes a video and has her post it on the Big Cat Rescue website. Pretty darn sneaky of him. Surely she will never know. Does a truthful person of character post a press release like this?

Joe claims he is no longer the one displaying the cubs. This one is a gem. Joe recently started saying that people concerned about the abuse in the cub exhibit should leave him alone and are lying if they associate him with it because the cub exhibit is under the USDA license of another person. In a Facebook post 11/4/10 Joe says “I DON’T USE CUBS (his caps) anylonger (sic), all I do is Magic shows.”

Let’s think about that one. The USDA licensee is now not Joe. It is Beth Corley. But her license is registered at the same address as his and she has historically travelled with the show. Her connections to his various entities are detailed above. The proceeds of the show are still advertised as going to Tigers In Need, basically just another made up name for Joe’s GW Exotics Animal Park as shown above. So the show still benefits Joe’s zoo. But since the cubs are technically registered under his co-worker’s license Joe has nothing to do with the cubs show? Sure, Joe.

Breeding “A Select Few”. Joe says he breeds “a select few.” Were the 23 cubs that died mid 2010 a select few? He is constantly breeding to supply his road show. He can be heard in the PeTA video yelling at the cats to breed because he needed cubs for the road show.

Laws restricting private ownership cause abandonment. The GW Exotic website “About” page claims the laws banning private exotic animal ownership are the cause of the abandonment of exotics that Joe has to rescue. This is utter nonsense. New bans typically grandfather in private owners. But more importantly, it is private ownership that causes the abandonment. If private ownership were banned nationwide, which it should be like it is in many states and many other nations, there would be NO abandonment because no private owners would have them!

The steady increase in legislation banning private ownership represents recognition by our society that private ownership leads to massive abuse. Social values evolve. It took decades to ban slavery in England and for women to win the right to vote in America. Those ideas started out as “radical”, held by a small minority. Gradually more and more people understood and agreed until they became a part of our value system that we take for granted today. The same trend is happening with private ownership of exotics. Gradually more and more people are realizing that this simply leads to widespread abuse of these animals. The best evidence of this is the accelerating trend in state laws. Just since 2005 eight more states have passed some level of ban.

GW Exotic is “Accredited”. Joe says he is “accredited”.  He is accredited by United States Zoological Association. Tis is an organization Joe himself created in August 2008. The Registered Agent for USZA in the Oklahoma Secretary of State records is Joe Schreibogel.  When he set up the website, he used his email address, but listed the Registered Agent as Brian Rhyne, a man who Joe’s own website said died in 2001.  In one fax Joe claims USZA has “nearly 2 million supporters,” another blatant lie.

What kind of organization is it? The USZA website has a page where people can list exotic animals they want to give away, sell or buy. On 11/7/10 the section listing cats for sale offered “baby white tigers” with the notation “great breed stock”. The sellers are only listed by a code. This code for this seller was “600 OK”. As in Oklahoma. Most likely Joe.

Joe refers to his park as a zoo.  The recognized accrediting body in the zoo industry is the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Joe is not accredited by AZA.  Being accredited implies having been reviewed by some independent organization and found to have met certain standards.   Forming your own entity to accredit yourself does not qualify as “accredited.”

People Magazine cover.  On his Facebook page for “Joe Exotic” Joe shows “Cody Ryan” ( aka Joe) and Aaron Stone on the cover of People Magazine for “September 2010”, giving the impression they were actually on that cover. They were not.

Joe is Police Chief. On Joe says he “is a former police chief of the Colony Tx…”.

The Colony website contains the list of past and present police chiefs below. The policeman we spoke with by phone at The Colony police department advised that Joe Schreibvogel was never an officer there.

Since The Colony was formed, it has had 6 Chiefs of Police:
Jim Beltran August 1977 to May 1978
John Steinseck July 1978 to September 1979
Nick Ristagno Jan 1980 to April 1990
Ted Gibson December 1990 to February 1992
Bruce Stewart December 1992 to September 1995
Joe Clark April 1996 to Present

Other places Joe mentions being an officer, then Chief, of Eastvale, TX, a small town of about 500 people that years later merged into The Colony.

Disparagement of Big Cat Rescue. Joe has become almost obsessed with disparaging Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue. He set up a website for this purpose. The “About” section contains the obvious lie that the site is written by “a group of independent reporters.” Sure, Joe.

In March 2010 he visited Big Cat Rescue as a tour guest, took photos, then captioned them with ridiculous lies. In September 2010 he visited again, this time taking a video of the tour. He made nonsensical comments into the microphone during the tour, including childish insults about the hard working volunteers he saw, then added captions with false statements like he did with his photos. He then flew low over the sanctuary for an extended period of time in a helicopter stressing the cats (not the act of someone who loves animals.)

A few examples of his false statements:

1) He questions the guide’s reference to Big Cat Rescue being accredited with a caption asking by whom. As he knows, the accreditation is by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries whose board is composed of members to the largest animal protection organizations.

2) He claims Carole is getting rich from the sanctuary. Carole has worked for 17 years without any salary or other compensation. In fact she donated the land, some investment properties, and made substantial cash donations. After 9/11 when tourism stopped and donations diminished she was selling her car and personal household belongings to pay for food for the cats.

3) He makes sarcastic, ridiculous comments about cage sizes and cleanliness that anyone who visits would realize are total nonsense. For instance, he shows a small portion of a cage and presents it as the entire cage. Or, he shows a structure made of small logs we built just for the cat’s entertainment and claims it is the den and the cat does not have proper shelter, when in fact the real den is nearby and Joe knows it.

Joe, using his alias Aarron Alex, misused the Care2 Petition site to post his photos and start a petition. Martha Hoffman, a person who had visited Big Cat Rescue a number of times, took the time to write to Care2 documenting the false statements. The last sentence of her first paragraph pretty much says it all:

“I am writing in regard to the BCR sanctuary and the accusations lodged by Aarron Alex. My husband and I are residents of Florida, living on the east coast. We have on numerous occasions visited the BCR participating in the different tours offered. Therefore we have walked the premises at different hours and NEVER have we seen anything in the context of what Mr. Aarron Alex has presented. He purposely distorts every single picture.”

To read the full text of her post where she explains the distortions in detail click here.

Finally, one of Joe’s more absurd posts implies that USDA does not do anything about his bogus complaints because “word has it that she (Carole) has a USDA person living on her property.” Sure Joe – and do Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa share a house with the mysterious “USDA person?”

Joe clearly does not have the slightest concern about whether what he says or writes is true. He makes up whatever he thinks will serve his purpose. The strange part is that he makes statements that are so obviously and outrageously not true. He does not even TRY to keep within the bounds of something that would make sense and be believable, except perhaps to his exotic animal owner following.




Credible nonprofits display their financials to proudly show that they are good shepherds of their donors’ contributions. At this writing, none of Joe’s related entities have financial information on their websites. Some of the entities were formed too recently to have filed the required nonprofit IRS form 990, and the G.W. Exotics 990 for 2009 does not yet appear on Guidestar, so the only financial information available is GW Exotic’s 2008 Form 990.

For revenue, the 2008 Form 990 shows $501k in donations and $9k in sales of inventory. Expenses were $447k, with only $3k in salaries and only $48k in animal feed. If food was donated, it is supposed to be recorded as a “noncash” donation and included in the contribution number. So they spent $34/year per animal for food. This is not possible. And salaries of only $3k? Something does not add up. Meantime, Beth Corley is quoted in the press as saying it takes $60k/month to care for their 156 tigers, or $720k/year. They may have had fewer tigers in 2008, but what about the 1200+ other animals?

The 990 shows G.W. Exotic owning about $400k in Land, Buildings, and Equipment. But, this does not include the 16 acres the park sits on. According to county records, Joe owns that personally.

Joe says he displays the cubs to make money to support the park. He recently reported making a record $23,697 in five days. Imagine how many people had to handle these poor cubs in those five days to generate that. Think about how you would feel if that were a human baby. Is it really so much different for a tiger cub that at that age should be spending long hours sleeping just like a human baby?




Others have either done homework on Joe or posted comments that provide additional information.

PeTA. PeTA’s webite is referenced above. It mentions documents in which Joe has made false statements. It also provides a list of the other disreputable exotic animal breeders, exhibitors, etc. with whom Joe deals in his rescuing and placing of animals. See  Joe repeatedly refers to this undercover work as “faked” or a “frame job,” which is absolutely absurd.




Joe Schreibvogel is one of the best examples in the nation of why private ownership of big cats should be banned. He has a history of abuse, breeds big cats adding to the number that live a miserable life in small cages, breeds and takes in more than he can financially support, and justifies the current abuse by saying he needs to do it to make money to support the other animals. He shows himself to be totally devoid of integrity and professionalism with his inappropriate photos depicting violence against his critics and by constantly posting material online that he knows is devoid of any semblance of truth.

Venues who host exhibits like this and the public who “pay to play” don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. We hope the information on this page helps. The best way to stop this form of abuse is to have venues and the public understand what really happens to these animals and choose not to support the misery Joe and those like him create.

Joe prefers to be a zoo rather than a sanctuary. Two individuals who say they know Joe say he has told them his goal is to be the “world’s largest” animal facility. But he could make a different choice. If Joe took all the time he spends online ranting untruths about those who object to his abuse of these cubs and devoted it to trying to learn the skills necessary to operate a real sanctuary, and if he focused on having a number of animals that he could reasonably support instead of being “the world’s largest”, he might be able to support his animals without having to abuse some to do it. No one who runs a real sanctuary will tell you it is easy, and Joe might not be able to do it. But that is not a reason to let him continue to breed and abuse generation after generation of innocent cubs.



Marsha Hoffman letter to Care2 re Aarron Alex Petition disparaging Big Cat Rescue

TO: Care2

I am writing in regard to the BCR sanctuary and the accusations lodged by Aarron Alex.My husband and I are residents of Florida, living on the east coast. We have on numerous occasions visited the BCR participating in the different tours offered. Therefore we have walked the premises at different hours and NEVER have we seen anything in the context of what Mr. Aarron Alex has presented. He purposely distorts every single picture.

First, I would like to address the various tours / money making claim. To the credit of the BCR their tours are considerably smaller than those of other sanctuaries we have visited. Total number of people for day tours is 20 people. This is done so as not to upset the animals. The price of their tours are very much in line with other sanctuaries .. in some cases less. Public is NOT permitted to wander around outside of the tour as in other sanctuaries. While the tours do provide income, that money is used for the benefit of the inhabitants and the wonderful education provided by BCR in regard to exotic animals. I don’t understand this complaint. Seems to me they are just reaching for something that isn’t there to try to discredit this sanctuary especially because they charge for their zoo. BCR, like every other sanctuary, need income to provide for the care of the animals. He complains that Carole Baskin did not do the tour – as they are done by volunteers. Ms. Baskin has a sanctuary to run that is why she has volunteers do the tours.

Further Ms.Baskin’s only concern/interest is that of the welfare of the animals. The BCR is a true sanctuary. Animals are not exploited, do not do tricks, are not handled by the public etc .. which is in complete contrast to the “sanctuary” zoo Mr. Aarron Alex is associated with. See - – BCR on the other hand, is a quiet, peaceful place for animals to live out their lives as close to their natural habitats as possible.

As far as the pictures go I am appalled at the distortions. Pictures were taken of the animals close up and do not show full enclosures. Yes, several of the enclosures are round, but what Alex neglected to say is how large they are .. ranging from actually one full acre to smaller ones for smaller cats. Pictures of cats resting on rocks, or sitting in a hut/cave are close ups and do not show the background.

Examples of distortion and lies ..

1 – Cat sitting in small cage with water dish … This is the feeding cage. Every animal has it’s own cage to go to when their food is distributed. As a matter of fact, if one is at the BCR a half hour or so, before feeding, due to the schedule one would see animals sitting patiently in their feeding cage waiting for the feeding. Animals are given any necessary medications and carefully observed while in these small cages. Also it is at this time that keepers clean out the enclosures.

2 – Wild feral cats roaming around. This is absolutely not true. The domestic cats are all friendly felines who come up to people during tours for belly rubs, ears to be scratched and the treats the various volunteers/staff carry with them. I have never seen a feral cat in the area. If you look at the cat Alex has taken a picture of, you will see a very healthy animal, well groomed and certainly well fed. All domestic cats are taken for their shots and cared for/loved every bit as well as the big cats.

3 – Dead trees …. each year different organizations/stores donate unsold Christmas trees – this is simply to add variety to the enclosures and make them more jungle like. These trees bring new smells for the animals and offer something new to investigate.

4 – Poop in enclosures. We have never ever seen unclean enclosures. The staff is constantly cleaning and maintaining the enclosures. Again a factor for the small feeding cages. These cages lock while the animal is feeding and gives the staff ample time to maintain healthy clean enclosures. See point #1.

5 – There is a picture of a tiger lying by the side of the enclosure, but if you look closely, you will see green grass in the background and a pond. This is the “round” enclosure Alex speaks about ………however, he neglects to say it is one acre in size and has a pond for the tigers to swim in.

6 – Black big cat on a rock …. this is where the animal goes to sun himself – the entire rest of the enclosure is conveniently cut out of the picture. There are trees to climb, grass to roll in and a den to hide in ……..not in the picture though.

7 – He portrays huts/dens as horrible small caves where the animals huddle in. These dens or huts are usually in the middle of an enclosure and true to natural habitats of cats where they sleep, have their cubs and spend a good deal of their time. Once again he has conveniently eliminated the large area that house these huts/dens.

8 – There is a tiger lying down on it’s back, with all four legs in the air and belly exposed. What Alex evidently does not understand is that cats, wild or domestic will only take this position if they are truly secure and content. This position makes a cat very vulnerable to attack from a predator. Obviously this tiger is full of trust and totally comfortable in its surroundings.

9 – Three legged Serval. Desiree was rescued from the side of a road in AZ that way. Aarron Alex tries to make the reader believe that this happened to the Serval while it was at BCR ……..a bold faced lie!

I would like to invite you to visit and view the various videos they have about their sanctuary. You will see how it disputes everything presented by this man. Then go to … Quite a contrast. In Aarron Alex’s write up which accompanies the petition he has the audacity to accuse the BCR of exploiting animals for money when his so called “sanctuary” does exactly that. BCR is not a show place – instead it is a true sanctuary for animals to live out their lives in dignity and peace. Enclosures are not done in glittering, elaborate circus like manner – instead they are done in a calm, tranquil, soothing way to exemplify the natural habitat of each animal.

I respectfully request that you remove this petition due to the untruths, deceptions and blatant distortions. Mr. Aarron Alex obviously went to there for the sole purpose of causing trouble. He knew exactly what he was doing and wanted to accomplish. Please don’t be a party to this sort of dishonesty.

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Posted on Sep 14, 2015 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Woody’s Menagerie Exploiting Ligers

Woody’s Menagerie Exploiting Ligers

USDA Sues Gregg Woody

“They acquire a lot of animals from other exhibitors and apparently slaughter some of those animals presumably for the meat trade,” she states. “So there are numerous references within the USDA files of Woody slaughtering bears and African lions.” – See more at:

Download USDA vs Woody




2012 Aug 18 & 19 Woody’s Menagerie hauls wild animals to the Kenai Peninsula State Fair, held in Ninilchik, Alaska under the name “Lions, Lemurs and Bears, Oh My,” from the Lower 48.


2011 July 19 Woody’s Menagerie Animal Show returns this year with something new: a full slate of barnyard races. Watch speedy pigs, goats and sheep as they vie for the title of fastest animal at the fair on Monday through Thursday, July 25-28. Woody’s will also present its newest menagerie addition, a large cat display featuring an adult liger (lion/tiger hybrid), white tiger, golden tiger, adult male lion and baby male lion that people can view and photograph up close.


Mulberry Grove, IL 62262
ph: 618-406-3342

No decent facility breeds ligers or takes big cats out to fairs.












Woody’s Menagerie Animal Show brings exotic animals to Boone County Fair

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 | 10:55 p.m. CDT; updated 12:01 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tank, one of the show’s two ligers, checks out the crowd during the Woody’s Menagerie Animal Show on Wednesday at the Boone County Fair. Two ligers, a lion, a tiger, a grizzly bear cub and a monkey were among the animals in the show.     Allison Pasek
BY Laura Heck

COLUMBIA – Lions, and tigers, and bears — and ligers.

That’s right. Ligers, a combination of a tiger and a lion, are real animals and were the centerpiece of Woody’s Menagerie Animal Show at the Boone County Fair.

  • PHOTO GALLERY: Wednesday at the Boone County Fair
  • PHOTO GALLERY: Woody’s Menagerie Animal Show features exotic creatures up close

The show has all of the above, plus a macaque monkey, a skunk, an armadillo and more.

Gregg and Karen Woody own and raise exotic and farm animals at their 42-acre home in Mulberry Grove, Ill. The Woodys contract out their personal menagerie as a means to pay for the upkeep of the animals.

“We are a nonprofit but not on purpose,” Gregg Woody joked.

Woody’s Menagerie has traveled to 14 fairs this summer with four more still to go.

Woody’s Menagerie Animal Show

At the Boone County Fair, the exotic animal show, usually led by Gregg, runs through Thursday night. Gregg announces the animals and tells the audience a little about each of them as they are brought out.

Gregg said they rotate the animals based on each animal’s attitude, the heat and Gregg’s mood each show.

Most of the animals wait in cages in an air-conditioned trailer between shows. The big cats are left in wire cages under a tent, with cooling fans pointed in their direction.

For some, the heat might raise concern for the animals, but Karen said she is not worried.

“They’re doing better than the rest of us,” she said. “They’ve got shade, fans and all the water they want to drink.”

On Wednesday night, Karen led the show. Here are some of the animals she featured:

  • Speedy, a three-banded armadillo. Speedy curled into a ball until he was placed on the dusty ground, at which point he took off, almost making it under the fence, and the audience could see how he got his name.
  • Denny, a type of monkey called a Japanese snow macaque. Karen described Denny as “our 2-year-old child for the rest of our lives.” She said that in the wild, Denny would store bananas and other food in his cheeks to chew hours later. She called it “feast or famine.”
  • A skunk named Flower Junior. “They say skunks are the best pets you could ever have,” Karen said. Skunks, she said, are trainable and loveable.
  • Cody the 6-month-old grizzly bear. When Cody was born, he weighed 6 ounces, but now he weighs almost 100 pounds. Each morning, Cody must be walked. Once, a man drove himself into a ditch as he did a double take when he saw a bear on a leash, Karen said.

Then ligers came out to play.

First came Tabitha, who was born in December and is still fed a bottle twice daily.

Tabitha still has all of her distinctive stripes, but as she gets older, most of those will fade. She will eventually grow to be 700 to 800 pounds, Karen said.

Then her 3-year-old big brothers, Tank and Charlie, made their impressive appearance.

Both males are a muted tan color, with faint stripes and spots. They eat about 20 pounds of meat a day.

These animals currently weigh about 750 pounds each and still have two years of growing before they reach full maturity. They could end up weighing around 1,100 pounds.

Tank and Charlie lazed around the enclosure, playing with a ball or licking their paws. On occasion, someone in the crowd would catch their eye, and they would playfully pretend to be stalking prey from behind the fence.

The brothers were also featured at the Boone County Fair in 2009 when they were about 6 months old.

The Woodys also brought along a Tabby Tiger, a lion named Mikey and two 9-week-old lion cubs.

Colin Lea, 4, watched the show with his parents and younger brother, Quentin. He said the ligers were the best part and thought they were really big.

“Would they bite if we touch them?” he asked his mother, Liz.

Raising ligers

Ligers are undoubtedly rare creatures.

“We have a very unique show,” Gregg said. “Nobody else has ligers like these.”

Tank, Charlie and Tabitha were bred in the menagerie from a tigress and male lion that were in the show 12 years ago, Gregg said.

“We put them together and thought, if it happens it happens,” he said. The pair was together for eight years before they produced their first litter.

Tank and Charlie are the first males born to the pair.

Gregg said that to his knowledge, all ligers in the United States under 8 years of age came from his cats.

The business of a menagerie

“In this business, if you screw up and you’re lucky, you get to do it again,” Gregg said.

Gregg started out with wildlife about 30 years ago and got his first big cat more than 20 years ago.

The Woodys also offer an extensive petting zoo, barnyard racing, a reptile exhibit and camel rides.

Gregg described the various workers at each show as “friends, families and a few volunteers.” Some volunteers travel with the show; others are picked up at each location.

The cages, especially with the big cats, are guarded 24 hours a day.

Gregg said in the 20-something years he has exhibited big cats, he has never had an accident involving the public. At each location, Gregg estimates that hundreds of people ask to get closer to the animals, but contact is not allowed.

He said the animals are not necessarily trained, but they are raised from birth to participate in the shows.

“You teach them right from wrong when they are younger,” he said.

A traveling menagerie is time-consuming and expensive. Karen and Gregg have been married for 20 years and have had one four-day vacation in that time.

“You don’t get into this for the money,” Gregg said. “We enjoy working with these animals — we enjoy what we do.”

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