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Posted on Dec 5, 2016 in Abuse, Browse by Name, Most Wanted | 2 comments

Big Cat Habitat Kay Rosaire Clay Rosaire Circus

Big Cat Habitat Kay Rosaire Clay Rosaire Circus

Five Generations of Circus Acts that Exploit Tigers and Other Big Cats

Rosaire Taunting Tiger with Baton

Rosaire Taunting Tiger with Baton

You can pretty much tell how much a person has to hide by how many names they operate under.  Finding USDA reports on this facility and the Rosaire family has been one of the hardest because they keep changing names, changing locations and changing license numbers.  To further exacerbate the situation Rosaire uses a P.O. Box for her USDA entity that houses the big cats making it hard for the average person to find anything on her without knowing her USDA license number.  The following is just the beginning of an effort to bring all of their past into one time line to the best of our ability given the lack of government oversite and dismal record keeping.

Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of this research has been how the public can pay to see her forcing the cats to perform and then believe her when she claims that her tigers were rescued.  She rescues from herself.  They are tigers bred by her for use as props who are then relegated to tiny, barren cages.  Most of these only have a tarp for shade.  In 2009 she claimed on her USDA renewal to have 18 tigers, 8 lions, 2 leopards, 1 cougar and 1 bobcat as well as an assortment of other exotic animals.  If you go to her facility you will see that all of these animals are crammed into a very small patch of her property.

Her inspector is Richard Botehlo who rarely reports anything wrong at her facility.  See the whistleblower report filed against USDA by Richard Botehlo below and you will begin to understand why inspectors do not report most of the violations they see.

 

Photos by Dee DeSantis

USDA Violations

2009 March 19 Rosaire license 58-C-0908 cited for failure to properly identify the dogs and failure to provide proper storage of their food to keep it free of vermin.  A dog was being housed in 4.8 square feet of space when the USDA minimum for a dog his size was 6.67 square feet.  USDA regulations only require that the animal be able to stand up and turn around in their cages and Rosaire was not meeting even this barest of minimums.

2009 May 19 Pamela and Roger Zoppe have their USDA license 58-C-501 cancelled.  Their DBA and address at the time was Rosaire-Zoppe Chimpanzees 5317 Fruitville Road #175 Sarasota, FL 34232

2009 June 22 Pamela and Roger Zoppe pop back up with a new USDA number at the same name and address 58-C-0936

2009 July 7 Rosaire license  58-C-0387 cited for three violations including a freezer that was not working properly where animal food was stored, bears being separated only by use of hot wire where they could reach through and harm each other and bears being kept in such small cages that they could not get out of their own excrement.

2009 October 13  Rosaire license  58-C-0387 cited that a young bear was being kept in a cage where he could not freely stand up and turn around, which is all that the USDA mandates.

2010 June 19 Rosaire license 58-C-0908 cited for one performing dog having an untreated cut above his eye, and 7 dogs being forced to perform in temperatures above 85 degrees (regulation restriction) where the heat index was 107 and one dog was being kept in a cage that only measured 9.69 sf of floor space with USDA regs require 12.25 sf of space.  The dog was 3 feet long, so even the minimun requirement was only 3 feet by 4 feet.  Rosaire wasn’t even providing the barest minimum of space.

2010 September 25 Rosaire license 58-C-908 cited for a repeat violation of not properly identifying dogs with license tags.  The reason USDA regulates this sort of thing is to prevent “bunchers” from stealing dogs and selling them to labs for experimentation.

UniverSoul Circus does not possess an exhibitor license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The animals are leased from outside companies, including Tarzan Zerbini Circus, Carson & Barnes Circus, Kay Rosaire, Bucky Steele, Rosaire-Zoppe Chimps, and Mitchel Kalmanson, so that the pages and pages of cited violations they have incurred are obscured through multiple owners, names and entities.

Rosaire’s Known Licenses and Aliases

Florida 3092 58-C-0387 Rosaire, David David Rosaire’s Perky Pekes P.O. Box 50094 Sarasota 34232 license issued 6/1998

Florida 2998 58-C-0496 Rosaire, Ross Derrick & Kay Rosaires Bears Po Box 346 Myakka City 34251

Florida 9309 58-C-0769 Rosaire, Wayne Rosaires Royal Racers Po Box 338 Bostwick 32007 this is for 14 racing pigs

Florida 3121 58-C-0367 Rosaire-Mowrey, Kay Rosaire-Mowrey Family P O Box 50217 Sarasota 34232 license issued 10/1990

Florida 6648 58-C-0608 Zoppe, Andrea 3074 Myrtle Sarasota 34234 last inspection was in 2008 for 6 dogs

Florida 13162 58-C-0908 Zoppe, Dallas 3115 44th St Sarasota 34234

Florida 3009 58-C-0501 Zoppe, Pamela & Roger Rosaire-Zoppe Chimpanzees Rosaire-Zoppe Chimpanzees Sarasota 34232

Florida 3009 58-C-0936 Zoppe, Pamela & Roger Rosaire-Zoppe Chimpanzees Rosaire-Zoppe Chimpanzees Sarasota 34232

Florida 3175 58-C-0868 Arneberg, James Arnberg Super Dog Show 7101 Palmer Blvd Sarasota 34234 this is the physical address for the tigers

Florida 32030 58-C-0832 Dymek, Kazinerz Party Animals Petting Zoo Llc 901 East Rd Sarasota 34240 SunBiz registered to Rosaire no inspection since 2009

The following are USDA licensees in Sarasota that may or may not be affiliated with Rosaire. These are still being evaluated.

Florida 1874 58-C-0012 Zerbini, Alain Alain Zerbini Circus Production 3327 51st St. Sarasota 34235
Florida 40523 58-C-0886 Svensson, Carlos 7419 Prospect Rd Sarasota 34243
Florida 7398 58-C-0629 Castano, Raul Swap Shop 151 Verna Road Sarasota 34240
Florida 32762 58-C-0905 Creadon, Peggy Pony Parties Of Sarasota 7034 Westwood Dr Sarasota 34241
Florida 3883 58-C-0788 Donoho, Georgina P. O. Box 1418 Sarasota 34230
Florida 38355 58-C-0878 Esqueda, Alfonso Sulo Esqueda Brother Circus 935 N Beneva Rd S609 #43 Sarasota 34232
Florida 38122 58-C-0876 Fornasari, Tosca 3322 Oak Grove Dr Sarasota 34243
Florida 33721 58-C-0845 Garcia, Katherine Star Family Circus 2621 Ridge Ave Sarasota 34235
Florida 18946 58-C-0753 Juchno, James 745 N Pompano Ave Sarasota 34237
Florida 10034 58-C-0664 Klose, Hans & Adele Adeles Canine Review 4600 Sloan Ave Sarasota 34233
Florida 20089 58-C-0852 Markov, Andrey 5136 Indian Mound St Sarasota 34232
Florida 31471 58-C-0841 Maya Panfilova, Andriy Bilobrov & 2250 Gulf Gate Dr Suite A Sarasota 34231

 

More on Kay Rosaire http://reporter.911animalabuse.com/service/searchEverything.kickAction?keywords=rosaire&includeVideo=on&includeAudio=on&includePhoto=on&includeBlog=on&includeUser=on&includeGroups=on&includeMessages=on&includeSets=on&as=23072&sortType=relevance
Kay Rosaire and her son Clay Rosaire do not rescue cats, but rather are a part of the problem rather than the solution. They do not walk the talk and these pages will tell you more about them:

http://reporter.911animalabuse.com /kickapps/service/searchEverything.kickAction?keyw ords= rosaire&includeVideo=on& amp;includeAudio=on&includePhoto=on&includ eBlog=on&includeUser=on&includeGroups=on&a mp;includeMessages=on&as=23072

 

This is nothing more than an antiquated “carnie” circus.

Thankfully, in this more enlightened age of animal compassion, the market for these animal abusive displays is dwindling. Most people realize that there is nothing “educational” about seeing infant or adultwild animals caged, transported from venue to venue, “tamed” using abusive methods, existing solely as a profit center for a business.They watch Animal Planet, they visit truly accredited rescue sanctuaries, they are more aware of the reality of life for these imprisoned animals. In short, they are more educated and will look at anyone promoting them as irresponsible. (please note below the negative publicity that fairs have received as a result of displaying captive wildlife from leased organizations and the truth behind these displays)

Kay Rosaire ‘s organization is not accredited and has been cited by the government for the abusive conditions in which their animals are kept. At a USDA Big Cat Symposium in Fort Worth, Texas on March 26, 2003, Kay Rosaire made this statement on stage: “To keep a tiger off you, you just poke ’em real hard with a pitchfork a time or two and show ’em who’s boss. Then they’ll get the message.”

These two articles will give you background on what the Rosaire ‘s are really about.

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/ s/0articlesbybcr/2008DyingToBeHeld.htm

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/circus tigers.htm

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/ s/0articlesbybcr/claws_and_effect.htm

The animals have no voice, but you do, and you can still do so much to put an end to their abuse.

 

USDA Whistle Blower Report

January 5, 2005

Richard Botelho Jr, Animal Care Inspector for the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Heath Inspection Service, Animal Care agency, has filed a whistle blower complaint against USDA with the US government “Office of Special Counsel,” dated January 4, 2005.

As an animal care inspector and citizen of the United States, Richard Botelho Jr, believes the public needs to be aware of the prohibited practices by the Animal Care’s management at the eastern regional office. The OSC whistle blower complaint alleges multiple violations of federal regulations and law, gross mismanagement and waste of funds at Animal Care’s eastern regional office in Raleigh, NC.

The Animal Care agency is responsible for enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, which is federal legislation that ensures the humane care and treatment of certain warm blooded and exotic/wild animals. Animal Care conducts routine inspections at facilities that use regulated animals in research, exhibited to the public, sold wholesale and retail and transported. Licensed facilities would include but are not limited to zoos, circuses, wholesale dog / cat breeders, exhibitors, exotic / wild animal dealers and exhibitors to include transporters. Animal Care’s Mission Statement: AC provides leadership in establishing acceptable standards of humane animal care and treatment and to monitor and achieve compliance with the Animal Welfare Act through inspections, education, and cooperative efforts. Unfortunately, records show in the last several years Animal Care in the eastern region has failed to use enforcement to achieve compliance.

This lack of enforcement has caused more prolonged health and welfare problems for animals that AC is required to protect by the federal Animal Welfare Act. The lack of enforcement has also caused more incidents with potentially dangerous animals and the public. Animal Care in the eastern region is failing to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, which is endangering the animals we are responsible to protect to ensure adequate care and treatment. Failing to enforce the minimum standards and regulations of the AWA, has harmful risks to the animals and to the public. Potentially dangerous animal are being allowed to be exhibited to the public without direct control of a handler(s), sufficient distance or barrier between the animals and the public.

The OSC complaint states the Eastern Regional Office allows licensee’s with a history of repeat noncompliance’s to operate without any legal action against such licensees. Evidence shows that Animal Care paid consultation fees to a licensee to consult with a facility which had a history of repeat noncompliance’s. Repeat violators of the AWA are seldom given warnings. When legal action is taken against violators, only a fraction of the proposed fine is given by a stipulation agreement. The licensee does not have to admit to the history of repeated violations when they accept a stipulation agreement.. Even when the investigation shows the licensee has repeatedly violated the AWA, which affected the health and welfare of the animals and or public, Animal Care issues a warning or small stipulation. Facilities often accept these stipulations and continue to violate the AWA minimum standards and regulations year after year, stating it’s just the cost of doing business. Even after facilities pay multiple stipulations they continue to violate the AWA without any further action by Animal Care. USDA licenses are rarely revoked and commonly renewed, even when facilities have a history multiple repeat violations and not in compliance. Research facilities pay thousands of dollars in stipulations which usually cost the taxpayers, because the research with animals is mainly funded by the US government.

Inspectors request warning letters and investigations for repeat violators of the AWA from Animal Care management, never toreceive such requests, and without any reply to the inspector. There are several lawsuits against Animal Care from animal welfare groups for allegedly failing to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, which may cost the taxpayers thousand of dollars in attorney and settlement fees. The eastern regional office has issued far less warning letters and stipulations than the western regional office. Recently there was an audit by USDA, Office of Inspector General of the eastern regional office, due to the lack of enforcement issued to facilities. This audit should now be available by FOIA.

The whistle blower complaint states the eastern regional office superiors hire inspectors in areas which are fully staffed. Inspectors with a lack of facilities and work are often sent to other inspectors facilities and paid for travel and lodging. Yet, other inspectors,with over a hundred facilities more than other inspectors, which have not inspected facilities for several years, are not given additional inspectors for their territories.

The OSC complaint states Inspectors are often approved to visit other cities and states, just to visit relatives or site see, as long as they conduct inspections in that requested territory. These visits are paid by Animal Care, the taxpayers dollars. In most circumstances the inspector assigned to that territory has never requested any additional help from his or her superior.

The whistle blower complaint states the eastern regional office of Animal Care purchases laptop computers, digital cameras, and other equipment when the current inventory are in excellent working condition. Unnecessary purchases are made before the end of the fiscal year to spend what monies are left in Animal Care’s budget.

The OSC complaint states inspectors were verbally reprimanded and their complaints not heard by Animal Care management when they refused to join coworkers at a training course at Plum Island, New York, where animals were given a variety of diseases without pain management before their death. Animal Care enforces pain management at research facilities, however USDA fails to follow such standards during its own training programs.

The whistle blower complaint states an inspector alleges that Animal Care management gave direct orders to an inspector to expunge files which were FOIA from a federal agency due to an investigation of a human death at a research facility. Other requested records from USDA, FOIA, have taken over 2 years and requesters still have not received the FOIA nor the reason for the delay.

Inspector Botelho has been inspecting facilities for nearly 5 years in SW Florida. He has conducted an astounding number of inspection, nearly 1000 inspections which have uncovered over 200 persons operating without a USDA license, some for many years. He has been given all successful evaluations each year, has no prior discipline, and has an exceptional sick leave record.

Unfortunately, since Animal Care inspector Botelho has complained about the gross mismanagement in the last several years and filed numerous complaints against his supervisor and Director of the eastern regional office, he has been retaliated against recently to include one 14 day suspension unpaid for alleged improper conduct.

Five days after serving his first suspension, he was issued a proposed 14 day suspension unpaid for alleged improper conduct. The improper conduct Director for investigations division for RMSES, stated inspector Botelho used profanity during a telephone conversation. The telephone conversation was a complaint by inspector Botelho due to RMSES investigators calling his home during late hours, harassing his family and waking his children.. Inspector Botelho’s first suspension states that he had 5 complaints against him for alleged inappropriate conduct from USDA licensees who have repeatedly violated the Animal Welfare Act and was issued either warning or stipulations. It appears that 5 complaints, which were here say, out of 1000 inspections is a very high percentage by Animal Care standards.

The eastern regional office Director has not disciplined inspectors with greater number of complaints initiated against them, to include Ethics violations (conflict of interest accepting gifts from licensees) AC management does not support their inspectors, but supports high profile licensees when complaints are initiated against them, especially if such facilities threaten lawsuits against the agency. There is a complaint procedure for licensees, however none for inspectors who often learn of complaints during an internal investigations or suspensions.

Management has unlimited funds for legal fees. Yes, their USDA attorney is provided free of charge for their gross mismanagement at the cost of the tax payers. There is seldom any accountability when government superiors are found guilty of discrimination or retaliation, except for future promotions. There is a free in-house grievance procedure for Animal Care employees, but it is evident that the decision would not be UN-bias, due to being made by the USDA administrator. Inspector Botleho has hired an out of state employment attorney in the last several months, which he has since paid over thousands of dollars in legal funds. It has been over two years since inspector Botelho filed initial complaints against USDA, APHIS, Animal Care. The US government being back logged with complaints and lack of staff has yet to set a hearing with a federal judge at the EEOC.

Congress needs to help federal employees do their job with dignity and respect, allowing them to file complaints in a timely and cost effective manner. Help is greatly needed for employees who file complaints against their superiors, due to the cost and time it takes for employees to receive their justice. Federal managers are allowed to issue discipline without pay and state that employees are guilty before employees can prove their innocence, costing thousands of dollars to them and their families. Most employees in inspector Botelho’s situation give into management and drop their complaint because of retaliation and the lack of funds for legal representation. Since inspectors fear complaints against them and do not get support from the management, most end up picking their battles at certain facilities, turning their heads from citing enforcement resulting in poor work ethics. Other federal employees are given ultimatums to resign or be fired. Federal managers need to be accountable for their gross mismanagement. History shows that employees who file whistle blowers eventually will be wrongfully terminated, hopefully history don’t repeat itself for inspector Botelho and congress will make some serious much needed changes in current federal regulations and laws.

Before Inspector Botelho filed this whistle blower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, he has recently forwarded such similar complaints to his chain of command to include: Deputy Administrator, Dr. Chester Gipson, APHIS Administrator, Dr. Ron Dehaven, Ann Venneman, USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Agriculture Committee, Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush and President George Bush.

Hopefully his concerns and complaints will be heard by all animal lovers worldwide for the health and welfare of the animals regulated by USDA, APHIS, Animal Care. Animal Care inspectors need to be supported to enforce the Animal Welfare Act. Repeat violators of the AWA need to be issued the appropriate legal action by Animal Care management.

Inspector Botelho can be reached by e-mail at: critermanfl40@wmconnect.com .

 

Kay Rosaire takes her circus act to Bermuda and the cats on barges

Animals from non-profit sanctuary (read pseudo sanctuary)

By  Ruth O Kelly-Lynch

Tigers and bears from a non-profit sanctuary will arrive on the Island for the Animal Extravaganza shows which begin on May 26.

The animals are coming  from Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Florida. DNA Entertainment  spokesman Ray Hollis said the company would be bringing six tigers and five  bears. The sanctuary, run by Kay Rosaire, has been rescuing exotic animals from  unhealthy environments since 1987.

Approximately 57 large cats call the  sanctuary home at the moment. They live on three large indoor/outdoor complexes  with swimming pools, toys and trees. The brochure says the activities provide  emotional enrichment that maintains optimal mental and physical health.

Ms  Rosaire and her son hold educational shows and demonstrations in order to raise  funds for the habitat. Their brochure touts them as gentle caregivers:
Their  unique style of gentle handling, praise and treats encourage the natural  behaviours of big cats on cue and in a sequence of their choice. Clayton is one  of the few men in the world who can put his head in a lions  mouth. Semi-retired from the entertainment industry, Kay dedicates herself  full time to the rescue of big cats and other animals in need of a safe,  permanent home, and continues to the educate visitors at the Big Cat Habitat and  Gulf Coast Sanctuary as to the plight of these magnificent animals in the wild, addressing subjects such as conservation and habitat preservation. Kay has  spoken at two big cat symposiums for the United States Department of Agriculture and is a recognised expert in animal husbandry pertaining to lions and tigers.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is currently investigating the group to ensure that it treats the animals well. Teresa Ince,  Shelter Manager, said the Society still has concerns about the event.

We are  still not endorsing the event because we are concerned about the transport of  the animals, the veterinary care and the housing of the animals while they are  in Bermuda and their safety, she said.

Mr. Hollis said he was aware that  the SPCA would probably not be endorsing his event, though he said he has not  made any contact with them recently. Even if you have the best trainers and  safety in place it will not change their stance, he said. They do not want  them in cages so what can you do? That is their opinion.

He said that the  SPCAs concerns have not hurt ticket sales to the event, they have already sold  out of all $25 tickets to the four shows. There are still $35 and $40 tickets to  the shows which will be held May 26-28.

The public seems to realise that  with any animal you have to transport them in a cage, he said.

The animals  will arrive on the Island on May 21 via a freight ship. He is currently in  discussions over where to keep them while they are on the Island. A spokesman  from the Environment Ministry said it had not granted DNA Entertainment  permission to import the animals and the Ministry is still actively reviewing  the case.

Mr. Hollis said it is not customary to apply for permission until  ten days before the event and added that he is in constant touch with the  Ministry. He also said his company has not been affected by North Rock  Communications pulling its sponsorship from the event.

I respect their  decision, he said.

He added that he is looking to include local animal acts  into the Animal Extravaganza as well as the big cats from the sanctuary.

http://www.theroyalgazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060504/NEWS/105040119

MONTGOMERY COUNTY NOT FAIR TO LIONS AND TIGERS

Fund for Animals Condemns Agricultural Fair for Hosting Big Cat Encounter

SILVER SPRING, MD (August 14, 2003)

 

The Fund for Animals is condemning the organizers of the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair for allowing the exhibit of lions and tigers by Rosaires Big Cat Encounter. Five lions and three tigers confined to small cages are on display at the fair this week.

 

The fair is taking a huge risk by promoting captive wild animal shows such as this, said Andi Bernat, Program Coordinator for The Fund for Animals. People unfortunately trust that these exotic animals can be domesticated when in fact, the animals often retain their wild instincts. According to the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, captive wild cats exhibited to the public have been responsible for 8 deaths and over 60 injuries. Bernat also pointed out that people who are in the business of displaying captive wild animals often end up selling or trading their animals to circuses, roadside petting zoos, and trophy hunting ranches.

 

In fact, Kay Rosaire , one of the Big Cat Encounter owners, was an exhibitor for UniverSoul Circus, which has been cited for a number of infractions including Animal Welfare Act violations, said Bernat. In 1999, the Big Cat Encounter was cited by the USDA for failure to provide proper veterinary care and for cages that did not meet minimal size requirements.

 

Captive wild animals deserve to be treated as animals, not as stage props, said Bernat. Having lions and tigers at a county fair is not only inhumane to the animals, but also poses a danger to citizens and could make the county and the fair organizers liable for injuries ordeaths.

 

In March of 2012 the Rosaire Circus dragged their cats up to the IX Indoor Amusement Park in Cleveland, OH for the third year in a row.

 

FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE ALLOWING WILD ANIMAL DISPLAYS

 

 

In an attempt to clean up the sleazy image long associated with roadside zoos, operators of these facilities now declare themselves “conservationists.” They in fact do nothing to protect wildlife or preserve habitat, and they breed animals indiscriminately, without regard for genetic diversity and with nowhere suitable for them to go. What people learn from these exhibitors is how animals act in captivity and that it is acceptable to cause wild animals to be bored, cramped, lonely, and kept far from their natural homes.

 

Profit-hungry operators perpetually breed animals so that they will have an endless supply of “cute babies” in order to draw crowds. The older, unmanageable animals are left to languish in small cages or disposed of when they have exhausted their “usefulness.” Exotic animal auctions, frequented by unscrupulous dealers, are a popular method of discarding unwanted “display” animals, who ultimately end up in the pet trade, on breeding farms, killed for their skins and other organs, or used for canned hunts. Some animals, such as tigers, lions, and bears—both cubs and adults—are worth more dead than alive. Hides alone can fetch $2,000 to $20,000 or more. Entire families are slaughtered and stuffed for mounts that sell for $10,000. To avoid damaging pelts, animals are killed by the most gruesome methods imaginable, such as shoving ice picks through their ears and into their brains, suffocating them by wrapping plastic bags around their heads, and drowning.

 

 

 

Wildlife exhibitors mislead the public with impressive-sounding but meaningless credentials, such as “federally licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of the Interior.” Federal permits to exhibit, breed, or sell regulated animals are required and issued to nearly anyone who fills out an application and sends in a fee. The USDA exhibitor application is a 3/4-page-long form that asks for a person’s name, address, and animal inventory but nothing that pertains to qualifications. The Animal Welfare Act, which the USDA enforces, sets only minimum standards of care and rarely addresses an animal’s psychological needs. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), the branch of the Department of the Interior that issues permits to buy and sell threatened and endangered species, considers non-native wildlife a low priority. Breeding mills have so saturated the market with “generic tigers” of unknown lineage that USFWS exempts these animals from full regulation. Some exhibitors even retain their licenses despite incidents of deadly animal attacks, dangerous animal escapes, serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act, and illegal wildlife trafficking.

Circuses: Clean Family Fun Or Havens Of Cruelty?

This video is 23 minutes long, so it takes a few minutes to load.

If this video makes you mad, then DO SOMETHING about it!

Send a letter to your legislator with our quick & easy form at www.CatLaws.com

The Best Response to Circuses Ever Written

By Kerry Ashmore , The Northeaster

Numerous thorny issues cloud the debate over how humans treat animals. One issue coming quickly to Minneapolis, however, has a clear and easy correct answer. We urge Minneapolis City Council members to ban wild animal circus performances in the city.

This will not require all of us to become vegetarians. It won’t ban laboratory research. It won’t be a death sentence for any animal that bites a human. Minneapolis taxpayers would simply be refusing to allow people to make money in the city through capturing and training wild animals, and would be foregoing any money the city and local businesses might make if the circus came to town.

This issue is similar to some other thorny issues, however, in that many people will oppose the ban because they don’t want to believe that circuses are necessarily cruel to animals. To support the ban, they would have to admit that the whole concept of capturing and
training wild animals for human entertainment and enrichment is, and always has been, wrong; and that they have been wrong for not doing everything they could to ban the practice decades ago. Who wants to admit to something like that?

Our advice to them: Deal with it.

Yes, we humans have been wrong all along, and this is a baby step toward making things right.

Those who don’t want the ban will be quick to point to violent and illegal acts people have committed in the name of ending animal cruelty, and suggest that seeking to end animal cruelty somehow indicates that one condones such acts. That simply doesn’t pass the common sense test, and those who bring such incidents into the discussion are essentially admitting that they can’t come up with a reasonable defense for the way animals are treated in a circus setting. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because there is no reasonable defense for it.

Some local people will lose some money if the ban is passed. Circus people stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants and spend money in local stores. Our wise and resourceful officials can replace the circus with other events that don’t cause us to support unconscionable acts toward beings who, because of human intervention, are no longer able to defend themselves.

Humans, with complete freedom of movement and superior reasoning capability, grow weary of “life on the road,” and with good reason. Circus animals are caged and moved from town to town, forced to perform unnatural acts and then caged and moved to yet another town for yet another performance. The best efforts of the most kind- hearted people in the world cannot make this process humane. It is
cruel by its nature.

It’s unlikely that the circus people think that what they’re doing is inhumane. It’s only when city after city after city closes its doors that they will ask, “Why?” and perhaps begin to have second thoughts about the way animals have to be treated if they are to provide money- making entertainment to humans.

When and if our society becomes truly civilized, such entertainment will be banned entirely. Those animal-protection laws don’t exist now, and there isn’t a legal way to stop circus use of animals.

Minneapolis, however, has a chance to take one simple, straightforward action, and become the 29th American city to close its doors to wild animal circuses. It’s an action Minneapolis council members should take without delay, without regret and without dissent.

Posted: Wed, 08/01/2007

http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/node/5895

For the love of animals, avoid the circus

By DUNCAN STRAUSS
Special to The Post

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On Wednesday, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus lumbers into the South Florida Fairgrounds Expo Center in Palm Beach County for 12 performances. To those considering stepping into the big top to attend one of these shows, I offer this polite request:

Please don’t.

Who am I – some animal-hating killjoy out to spoil your fun? Far from it. I’m a father, a pretty passionate animal lover and, not coincidentally, I host a radio program about animals that airs on Tampa National Public Radio affiliate WMNF.

I do not claim to be a renowned animal expert. But over the years, I’ve done a great deal of research into an array of animal matters. In hosting the show, I’ve had the good fortune to interview a number of renowned animal experts, experiences that have yielded one indisputable conclusion:

Animals in circuses endure a relentlessly awful life, marked by constant travel in cramped quarters, where access to food and water and proper veterinary care can’t always be counted on, but punishment, pain, cruelty and, sometimes, premature death can be.

Hyperbole? Hardly. Any unit of Ringling Bros. is on the road for six to 11 months at a time, typically traveling in small train cars or trucks that are often poorly ventilated and/or lack basic creature comforts.

But the travails of transportation practically seem glorious alongside the covert and overt cruelty of the training that prepares – if that’s the right word – these animals to perform in “the greatest show on Earth.” Allow me to pose two related rhetorical questions:

Do you think that tigers – who, like most animals, are deathly afraid of fire – would be naturally inclined to jump through a ring of fire?

Do you think that elephants would be naturally inclined to balance on a colorful perch, stand on their hind legs or heads, or dance?

The answer, of course, is a resounding “No.” So, to achieve the sort of unnatural and physically challenging behaviors described above and others, the training is fear-driven, revolving around punishing and hurting the animals: whipping them, beating them with rods, etc.

Elephants often are restrained, then beaten until they understand not to fight back. The chief tool of the elephant training trade is the bull hook, or ankus, which is heavy and clublike and has a pointy, sharp tip. Imagine a heavy and sharp fireplace poker. The trainers hit the elephants with the bull hook in various parts of their body, so that they comply – “learn.”

Sounds too horrendous to believe, doesn’t it? But there is plenty of testimony by former Ringling employees that says as much, and lots of video that shows as much – some of it as new as this year. To see an extensive array of germane video footage in less than eight minutes, you could hardly do better than watching the award-winning piece on Ringling and its abuse of Asian elephants by television journalist Leslie Griffith, who has won nine local Emmys and two Edward R. Murrow Awards, It’s at www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3rQzLOLR4M.

Keen observers of Ms. Griffith’s work will notice that it’s from 2004, and might reasonably wonder whether Ringling has improved its treatment of animals. Nope. In October 2006, Robert Tom, a former animal keeper who worked for Ringling for nearly two years (his wife, Margaret, also was employed by the circus) issued a notarized declaration – six pages of hair-raising accounts of animal neglect, abuse and cruelty in and around the big top.

Mr. Tom’s experiences echo those of Archele Faye Hundley, a young mother of five, who worked as part of the animal crew. Her lengthy September 2006 notarized declaration, notes: “I quit the circus because the animal abuse was too upsetting. The abuse was not once in awhile, it occurred every day.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, along with three other not-for-profit animal welfare organizations – The Fund For Animals, Animal Welfare Institute and Animal Protection Institute – are in the midst of litigation, under the Federal Endangered Species Act, against Ringling. The allegations detail the routine abuse and neglect of Asian elephants. The groups are joined in the lawsuit by a former Ringling employee, Tom Rider, who worked as a barn man for the elephants for 21/2 years, and is featured in the Griffith piece.

I digress here briefly for a prediction: Ringling owner Kenneth Feld surely will dispatch someone to respond to this piece – could be an official employee or maybe someone in the guise of a Ringling fan writing a letter to the editor – to dismiss these contentions as the ravings of a misinformed loon.

There will be rosy scenarios offered about their training, about their “conservation efforts” (their Center for Elephant Conservation is little more than a facility to restock the touring units with fresh pachyderms), about how great their animals are treated, etc. There are millions of dollars at stake, and elephants are the prime drawing cards, so when someone is critical of the operation, Mr. Feld and his fellow Ringling panjandrums typically mobilize quickly. And they’ll say anything

Nonetheless, let’s just say, for the sake of ludicrous argument, that nothing untoward is visited on elephants in the course of their big top training. They’re still forced to travel in those train cars or trucks to perform up to three shows a day and to spend most of their non-performance time anchored by leg chains.

Let me hasten to add that I’m not at all universally opposed to circuses, just those that use animals. There are numerous animal-free circuses – perhaps the most famous is Cirque du Soleil, but the last list I saw featured more than 20 such outfits.

If your family has a hankering to see a circus, go to one of those. But attending a Ringling performance is tantamount to endorsing animal abuse.

Read it online HERE

Nov 18, 2011 News Reports Woman Posing and Petting Over Age Cub at Big Cat Habitat in Sarasota owned by Kay Rosaire:

 

Watching Ghandis progress
By: CliffRoles  http://spotted.heraldtribune.com/photos/index.php?id=2465158
September 13, 2011: Wonderful but sad … my last hugs and kisses with Ghandi today. She’s now 4 months old and weighs about 30 pounds; her teeth and claws are razor sharp, and now that she’s at the Habitat, her natural instincts will take over and she’ll learn to get along with the “big cats” and become one herself. In a year’s time she’ll weigh about 400 pounds. My consolation – she’ll have a wonderful life thanks to YOU and your donations to the Habitat. Ghandi and the rest of the cats, bears, lions, ligers, wallabies, monkeys and emus need you to visit them and help Kay Rosaire and her staff take care of them. So thanks for the kisses today, Ghandi … and here’s to the next cub I get to cuddle!
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Posted on Nov 29, 2016 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

I’ve tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, but Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Florida just keeps coming up on my radar as dealing in wild animals under the guise of being a rehab center.

1/14/08 a caracal named Leah died at the age of 9 at Big Cats of Serenity Springs. She had been sent by Busch Wildlife Sanctuary of Jupiter, FL on 6/7/06 to BCSS at the age of 7. David Hitzig, the Executive Director of Busch Wildlife Sanctuary said the caracal doesn’t fit in with their theme of native cats and that they’ve been holding this cat for a pet owner who lives in an apartment and is having trouble getting her license. The letter ends with a plea for Big Cats of Serenity Springs (in Colorado) to send them some bobcat kittens if they find any.  That’s not how rehab works.

12/5/2012 The Jay Leno’s show featured a tiny lion cub (Julie Scardina’s Animals, Part 1 on Jay Leno 12/05/12): http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/video/clip/1426173/

Viewers were told by Julie Scardina, SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Animal Ambassador that “This baby lion cub was bought online by a young person with no knowledge of animals or reality the cub is going to grow into a 300 lb lethal Lion. It is an ongoing investigation, the parents came home and went what the? and you know realized she was confiscated and in the middle of a court case. Sold online by an Exotic Breeder”

The female lion cub ‘LC’ was born in at Animal Adventures, Inc in Okeechobee, FL which is owned by Sue Pearce.

Scardina apparently teamed up with Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, to provide her with some of the animals for her public appearances: http://www.moultrienews.com/news/Julie-Scardina-and-Busch-Wildlife-Team-Up-for-SEWE-2013

It appears the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is compensated for their public appearances: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/lifestyles/pets/busch-wildlife-brood-booked-for-today-show-david-l/nLq7P/

At the time of Jay Leno’s December 5th show, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary had no lion cub available, so it appears they rented one from Animal Adventures, Inc.  The cub was accompanied to the show by Animal Adventures’ volunteer Sherry Cox DeWald.

David Hitzig, Executive Director of the Busch Wildlife sanctuary seems to be the one who originally arranged for the use of the cub and told the story of LC the lion cub being sold to a girl online.  He appears to be a friend of Jack Hanna who is also known for renting and borrowing wild animal cubs for use on television shows like Leno, Carson and others.

 

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Posted on Nov 29, 2016 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Sue Pearce Animal Adventures

Sue Pearce Animal Adventures

Sue Pearce Animal Adventures

Rumor has it that Sue Pearce was shut down by USDA on 11/28/2016 and the animals are being confiscated and sent to better, albeit not much better homes.

Sue Pearce is the owner of Animal Adventures in Okeechobee, FL.  She at one time volunteered for Jeffrey and Barbara Harrod of Vanishing Species and took in their animals when USDA took away their license. Prior to that she took in animals from  Joe Schreibvogel who is the one of the most notorious exploiters of tiger cubs.  She has sold big cat cubs, including one cub to Kathy Stearns of Dade City Wild Things, another exploiter of cubs used to make money from petting.

filthytigerpool

Pearce has had numerous USDA citations in 2011-12, including 12 on just one report in 2011.

tigermudsuepearceaAn individual we know has indicated that Pearce is working to separate tigers to avoid breeding, but to the best of our current knowledge Pearce continues to believe some big cats should be bred at her facility, which we oppose.

SUE PEARCE (ANIMAL ADVENTURES) Certificate No: 58-C-1011

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USDA-2011-FailureToProvideVetCarePlus11RepeatViolations

USDA-2011-FailureToProvideVetCarePlus11Violations

USDA-2011-LionsTigersStandingMud

USDA-2011-SpoiledMeatDangerousCages

USDA-2012-FecesChewedCagesDeadLemurs

USDA-2012-FecesSplinteredCatShelves

 

12/5/2012 The Jay Leno’s show featured a tiny lion cub (Julie Scardina’s Animals, Part 1 on Jay Leno 12/05/12): http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/video/clip/1426173/

Viewers were told by Julie Scardina, SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Animal Ambassador that “This baby lion cub was bought online by a young person with no knowledge of animals or reality the cub is going to grow into a 300 lb lethal Lion. It is an ongoing investigation, the parents came home and went what the? and you know realized she was confiscated and in the middle of a court case. Sold online by an Exotic Breeder”

The female lion cub ‘LC’ was born in at Animal Adventures, Inc in Okeechobee, FL which is owned by Sue Pearce.  Where is LC now?

 

Big Cat Abuse is Impossible to Regulate

This is why it should be banned entirely.  You can help do that at BigCatAct.com

This letter to USDA shows that there are many other places as bad as this one, but year after year, despite being in non compliance with the laws, they are automatically renewed by USDA:  http://www2.nycbar.org/pdf/report/uploads/20072948-USDAAWAEnforcementAnimalReportFINAL7.31.15.pdf

 

 

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Posted on Nov 18, 2016 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Mobile Zoo

The Mobile Zoo

 

The Mobile Zoo USDA sues Mobile Zoo and John Hightower in 2015  and USDA sues Mobile Zoo and John Hightower in 2015 count 2

UPDATE: 43 Violations in a Year and a Half at Mobile Zoo http://www.peta.org/blog/whistleblower-says-mobile-zoo-filthy-decaying-dump/

Nov 2016 USDA revokes license and closes Mobile Zoo.  http://wkrg.com/2016/11/17/usda-closes-mobile-zoo-for-good/

The Mobile Zoo, located in Wilmer, Alabama, has been closed by the United States Department of Agriculture.

In a press release, the USDA says numerous complaints from PETA lead to the zoo’s license being revoked after nearly two decades of being in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. In the most recent inspection report from September 2016, the inspector says there are not enough employees to keep the zoo compliant with their standards. According to the report, there is one full-time employee and one full-time volunteer.  The inspection notes several cages with dried feces, an accumulation of pests in the enclosures, unstable den enclosure conditions, and said some of the ice that had accumulated around the walls of the freezer “had red coloring that appeared to be blood”.

The license revocation means neither the zoo nor its owner will ever be able to legally  exhibit warm-blooded animals. It is up to the zoo as to what will happen to the animals now. The Administrative Law Judge is allowing a one-time exemption for the facility to sell the animals.

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Posted on Nov 9, 2016 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Lagoon Amusement Park Utah

Lagoon Amusement Park Utah

Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington, Utah has been intensely criticized for decades because of its dismal “Wild Kingdom Train” ride. The attraction, which Lagoon promotes as the “second-largest zoo in Utah”, features a miniature steam locomotive that runs past a collection of over 60 live exotic animals, including lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, and bears.

lagoon-park-abuse-lionsLittle has changed about the ride since 1967, when it was first installed. Big cats are housed in barren, concrete-floored cages with no natural vegetation and very little stimulation or enrichment. These enclosures do not meet the bare minimum standards of accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). No educational information is provided other than small signs outside each cage displaying the name of each species. Children on the train frequently roar, scream, or throw things at the animals, and there are rumors of deliberate animal abuse by park employees. In one of these alleged incidents, a disgruntled train conductor deliberately blew hot steam into the face of a brown bear named Tippy, resulting in second degree facial burns.

Like many unregulated private zoos, Lagoon’s menagerie is inconsistent. Animals are both bred on-site and bought, sold, and traded with other private zoos and breeders (Lagoon claims that this is “rescuing animals”). This means that the origins and ultimate destination of the animals at Lagoon are unknown and untraceable. In the past, Lagoon has been cited by the USDA for disposing of unwanted animals by selling them to slaughter and for failing to maintain acquisition/disposition records.

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Riders view Siberian Tigers on the Wild Kingdom Train ride at Lagoon Amusement Park, Saturday, June 2 2012 in Layton. Protesters lined Lagoon Drive in Layton to protest Lagoon's treatment of animals in the park as seen from the Wild Kingdom Train ride that circles a zoo where big cats, zebras, and other animals are confined to small enclosures.

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune
Riders view Siberian Tigers on the Wild Kingdom Train ride at Lagoon Amusement Park, Saturday, June 2 2012 in Layton. Protesters lined Lagoon Drive in Layton to protest Lagoon’s treatment of animals in the park as seen from the Wild Kingdom Train ride that circles a zoo where big cats, zebras, and other animals are confined to small enclosures.

Many visitors to Lagoon are unaware that the park houses live animals because much of the zoo is only visible from on board the train. Those who choose to visit the attraction are becoming increasingly upset about the outdated, prison-like environment that the animals are forced to live in, and there have been many petitions and protests attempting to convince the park to retire its animals to sanctuaries. The editorial board of the Standard-Examiner, Utah’s 3rd-largest newspaper, urged shutting down the zoo in a 2016 editorial, writing: “This is not 1967. We know better now — or at least we should.” The park continues to ignore these complaints by claiming that their zoo is “accredited” by the state and federal government; that “whether cages are too small is a subjective opinion;” and that their enclosures exceed USDA regulations. This is nothing to brag about, as the USDA only requires that enclosures provide enough space for the animal to stand up and turn around in.

The USDA has repeatedly cited Lagoon for failure to comply with the federal Animal Welfare Act. Recurrent problems found by inspectors included filthy enclosures, inadequately trained employees, failure to provide sick and dying animals with veterinary care, and repeat animal deaths. A summary of these citations is as follows:

August 18, 2013: An animal keeper was hospitalized in serious condition after being gored in the leg by a wildebeest. Lagoon claimed to have “no information” regarding the incident.  http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=26536598

July 10, 2012: According to the (Ogden, Utah) Standard-Examiner, the USDA cited Lagoon for having water bowls inside an elk pen that were encrusted with dirt and algae.

September 27, 2011: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to provide two leopards with adequate veterinary care. In contradiction to its parasite-control program, the facility failed to retest the cats for parasitic infection after they tested positive for parasitic nematode worms and were given treatment.

September 27, 2006: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to provide kangaroos with adequate veterinary care. The inspector wrote that “information on the health problem which led to the euthanasia of the adult female kangaroo on 7-22-06 has still not been conveyed to the kangaroo’s attending veterinarian.” The investigator added that such information was necessary to “ensure that the remaining kangaroos receive adequate care including any possible measures to prevent a reoccurrence.”

May 4, 2004: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting a previously identified violation for failure to provide adequate veterinary care. The inspector determined that animal “[h]ealth problems are not being detected, diagnosed and treated” and cited several examples. Both of a peccary’s eyes were “encrusted with amber colored material.” At various times, a camel was observed to have a lump on his face and an abscess and a lump on his lip, and there was no evidence that he had received treatment. Numerous animals were in need of hoof trimming, including a fallow deer whose hooves were “at least 4 inches long” and a peccary who had “overgrown front claws bilaterally that turned up on the tips.” A cougar, a camel, a fallow deer, and a peccary were observed limping. The inspector also wrote that health records were missing vital information. For example, there was no record of the dosage of a medication for an unidentified animal. Lagoon was also cited for failure to maintain facilities—the fencing for 12 bison was noted to contain protruding wires near ground level, one of which was approximately 10 inches long and formed a loop. The inspector expressed concern that the bison could “get a leg caught in loops of wire and potentially break a leg or injure themselves.” Lagoon was also cited for failure to provide a sufficient number of adequately trained employees.

The inspector wrote, “It is evident that the facility lacks employees and a supervisor who are adequately trained to maintain the professionally acceptable level of husbandry practices.” The inspector also wrote that despite being told by two USDA veterinarians that several animals’ hooves needed immediate attention, the supervisor didn’t agree that hoof care was needed. The inspector observed, “It appears that the facility does not understand the importance of proper hoof care in preventing lameness.” The inspector also noted, “The facility needs to evaluate whether they have appropriate facilities to provide safe handling conditions for the fallow deer when they provide the needed hoof trimming. … There have been anesthetic deaths and injuries (a fractured tibia and a ruptured tendon) from darting in the past when the fallow deer were worked without appropriate facilities.”

March 19, 2004: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting a previously identified violation for failure to provide adequate veterinary care. The zoo couldn’t produce documentation that the attending veterinarian had visited the site every two weeks, as prescribed by the program of veterinary care. It also couldn’t provide documentation of applicable and complete deworming treatments for hoofstock. Lagoon was also cited for failure to provide adequate drainage in a muntjac deer enclosure. It was observed to be covered in “muck ranging from 2 to 5 inches deep which exudes a strong excreta odor,” and the animals were forced to stand in the muck in order to reach the feeder in the enclosure. The inspector also wrote that Lagoon failed to provide 10 bison with water. The inspector also noted that the somewhat overgrown front toe of a fallow deer had been pointed out to a facility representative.

October 4, 2002: A USDA inspector noted that the evaluation of the deaths of a young zebra, a muntjac deer, and three Corsican sheep who died in late 2001 had not yet been completed and that two elk, four Corsican sheep, and one fallow deer would need more shelter space in the next two to three weeks.

July 6, 2001: In a letter to Lagoon, the USDA warned the facility that keepers must carefully observe newborns to ensure that they nurse. Lagoon was encouraged to develop a more effective husbandry program for neonatal animals following the deaths of a newborn elk calf and a fallow deer fawn.

April 19, 2001: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting a previously identified violation for failure to maintain records of acquisition and disposition. There were no disposition records for 11 fallow deer who were no longer at Lagoon and two buffalo who were sold to an individual for slaughter, as well as other animal transactions. The USDA also cited Lagoon for failure to provide elk with shelter from direct sunlight and inclement weather.

August 28, 2000: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to maintain records of acquisition and disposition for animals who died or were born during the year.

July 20, 2000: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to provide adequate veterinary care. A buffalo cow underwent surgery on May 2, 2000, to remove a rubber band which had been embedded around a toe. The animal didn’t receive sufficient follow-up care and developed an infection which resulted in the animal being euthanized. The inspector also found outdated medication and dirty needles used for injections. Lagoon was also cited for improper animal handling. The public had access to animals without the presence of a trained employee. The inspector also noted that necropsy reports for a fallow deer who had died and a stillborn elk were not available.

March 30, 2000: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to comply with its veterinary-care program—a peccary hadn’t received testing or treatment for parasites. Lagoon was also cited for failure to provide complete information for two recently purchased camels. The inspector noted that a camel died on March 5, 2000, from peritonitis associated with a perforated ulcer and that the facility hadn’t provided its employees with outside training.

September 16, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to provide the inspector with documentation addressing the problem of inadequately trained employees.

August 2, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting previously identified violations for failure to provide adequate veterinary care and employing inadequately trained staff. A camel exhibiting sweatiness and labored breathing was down for 12 hours and never received veterinary care. The animal died of peritonitis subsequent to a perforation in the digestive tract. The inspector also wrote that several elk remained thin, with protruding ribs. Nutritional supplements prescribed by the veterinarian weren’t being fed to the animals.

June 29 and 30, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting previously identified violations for failure to provide adequate veterinary care, for filthy enclosures, and for inadequately trained employees. A newborn fallow deer was never observed nursing and died 37 to 38 hours after birth. Several elk remained thin, with protruding ribs and hair loss. There was no record of deworming, routine tests for intestinal parasites, or vaccinations for the elk. The sheep enclosure had a high concentration of feces. The inspector directed Lagoon to conduct necropsies on any subsequent deaths to “facilitate herd health management and to assure adequate veterinary care.”

May 12, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting a previously identified violation for failure to provide adequate veterinary care. The male lion, Rhondo, died on April 18, 1999. A necropsy found complete bowel blockage. He had suffered from vomiting, weakness, shallow breathing, sticky feces, nasal discharge, a dry and matted coat, and thick, dry lips. He also couldn’t swallow medications. Employees failed to recognize the severity of his condition or accurately communicate his symptoms to the veterinarian.

April 8, 1999: The male lion identified as needing veterinary care during an April 2, 1999, inspection was suffering from anemia, arthritis, and abnormal kidney function. Lagoon was cited for repeatedly failing to develop a veterinary-care plan to address deficient capture and anesthesia procedures and the poor health of elk.

April 2, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for not correcting previously identified violations for improper feeding, filthy enclosures, and failure to provide adequate veterinary care. Lagoon failed to develop a veterinary-care plan to address deficient capture and anesthesia procedures and the poor health of elk. Lagoon was cited for failure to provide a lion with veterinary care. The inspector wrote that Rhondo “was thin to the point that the ribs and hip bones were prominent. He was weak and had difficulty walking or even standing. … He was observed retching for a period of time and then vomited at least a cup of yellow-green fluid .… His tongue appeared pale …. There were no [records] … indicating that the animal’s deteriorating condition has been noticed.” The inspector also noted that dead-animal disposal must comply with all applicable regulations.

February 8, 1999: The USDA cited Lagoon for failure to provide adequate veterinary care after four fallow deer died because of anesthetics or poor darting techniques employed during tranquilizer use. The facility also had outdated medication, and seven elk in “a very small pen” appeared thin and had rough hair coats. The inspector recommended routine necropsies because of a high death rate and unexplained deaths. Lagoon was also cited for feeding moldy hay, which can contain toxins, to camels, sheep, and deer and placing a mineral block on the ground where there was fecal contamination. Lagoon was again cited for failure to provide seven elk with sufficient space. A zebra and her 7-month-old baby as well as 16 Corsican sheep also weren’t provided with adequate space. Lagoon was cited a sixth time for filthy enclosures. The inspector wrote, “Excessively soiled bedding has been a chronic problem at this facility.”

October 16, 1997: The USDA cited Lagoon for inadequate drainage that caused elk to “stand in the muck” while eating, enclosures that were filthy with an excessive accumulation of waste, and failure to record the death of a cougar in its disposition records.

Other incidents not recorded by the USDA include:

In 2002, a young elk died from a strangulated hernia five days after being gored by a large bull elk that was in the same pen. Before the incident, visitors had warned park staff that the bull was acting aggressively, but no action was taken to separate the animals.  http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/elk-death-at-lagoon-s-zoo-prompts-criticism/article_9df51128-fb14-575e-9166-7ecb01c23ba3.html

In August 1996, a 16-year-old girl who was working as a ticket-taker at the train ride was bitten by a cougar named Kumba after she stuck her arm inside the cage to pet him. The cougar clamped his jaws down on her forearm until a park security officer arrived and sprayed the cat with pepper spray. Per Utah state law, Kumba was later euthanized to test for rabies. No changes were made to the park’s caging and the employee was not fired as a result of the incident.  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/506235/COUGAR-THAT-BIT-WORKER-AT-LAGOON-IS-EUTHANIZED.html
Here’s some media and articles that might be useful to archive on the site.

Lagoon Park Videos:

A video of the ride.

A good video made by an activist in 2012 that sums up concerns about the zoo.

Articles:

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah Protestors Want Lagoon to Close Animal Exhibits:  http://archive.sltrib.com/story.php?ref=/sltrib/home3/54230919-200/lagoon-park-animal-andrew.html

Standard Examiner: It’s time for Lagoon to stop caging wild animals:  http://www.standard.net/Our-View/2016/05/08/lagoon-cages-lions-tigers-amusementpark-wildlife-editorial

Utah teens upset with treatment of animals at Lagoon start petition:  https://www.ksl.com/?sid=40861354&nid=148

Lagoon denies complaints of animal abuse:  http://davisclipper.com/bookmark/23158806-Lagoon-denies-complaints-of-animal-abuse

Deseret News: Group protests at Lagoon:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/771926/Group-protests-at-Lagoon.html

Lagoon gets plea to give wild animals more space:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/944551/Lagoon-gets-plea-to-give-wild-animals-more-space.html

USDA files regarding Lagoon

lagoon-park-abuse-1997-971016lagoon-park-abuse-lions-2

lagoon-park-abuse-1999-990208

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lagoon-park-abuse-2001-010419

lagoon-park-abuse-2001-010706

lagoon-park-abuse-2002-020703

lagoon-park-abuse-corporation-pdf

Photos of Conditions at Lagoon Park

lagoon-park-abuse-lion-enclosure lagoon-park-abuse-lion-cage lagoon-park-abuse-lioness   lagoon-park-abuse-sad-lion lagoon-park-abuse-sad-tiger lagoon-park-abuse-tiger lagoon-park-abuse-tiger2

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune A Siberian Tiger as seen from the Wild Kingdom Train ride at Lagoon Amusement Park, Saturday, June 2 2012 in Layton. Protesters lined Lagoon Drive in Layton to protest Lagoon's treatment of animals in the park as seen from the Wild Kingdom Train ride that circles a zoo where big cats, zebras, and other animals are confined to small enclosures.

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune
A Siberian Tiger as seen from the Wild Kingdom Train ride at Lagoon Amusement Park, Saturday, June 2 2012 in Layton. Protesters lined Lagoon Drive in Layton to protest Lagoon’s treatment of animals in the park as seen from the Wild Kingdom Train ride that circles a zoo where big cats, zebras, and other animals are confined to small enclosures.

lagoon-park-abuse-white-tiger-2

lagoon-park-abuse-white-tiger lagoon-park-abuse-white3

 

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Posted on Nov 1, 2016 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Dade City Wild Things – Kathy Stearns

Dade City Wild Things – Kathy Stearns

PeTA Sues Dade City Wild Things

(CN) – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has set its sights on a private Florida zoo that allows visitors personal interaction with cute and cuddly tiger cubs.

In a federal lawsuit filed in Tampa, PETA claims Dade City’s Wild Things and its owners are violating the Endangered Species Act.

The complaint, peppered with eyewitness accounts and references to previous federal violations, takes aim at the zoo’s programs that allow patrons to handle, pet and swim with tiger cubs.   Read PeTA vs Dade City Wild Things

Dade City’s Wild Things holds more than 200 animals, including primates and reptiles, on 22 acres of land in Pasco County, Florida.

Among its draws are opportunities for up-close interactions with tiger cubs, baby alligators and monkeys, including a chance to swim with them.

Under Florida law, patrons can only have contact with tigers under 25 pounds.

The zoo’s owners — Kathryn Stearns and her son, Randall Stearns — are also named as defendants.

According to the lawsuit, Dade City’s Wild Things staff forced cubs to interact with patrons by forcibly grabbing the animals and not allowing them to escape.

PETA also claims the cubs are prematurely separated from their mothers and suffer under bad conditions.

“The Endangered Species Act prohibits harming and harassing tigers,” said Brittany Peet, PETA’s director of captive animal law enforcement. “They are putting profit over the animals’ lives.”

By separating the cubs from mothers — as early as three weeks, according to the complaint — the zoo is setting the tigers up for a “lifetime of cruelty,” Peet said.

Once the cubs are too large to play with, she added, they are relegated to tiny enclosures or sold to other “roadside attractions.”

“As a result there are untold thousands — some put the number at 10,000 — of grown tigers in the U.S. completely unregulated,” Peet said. “Meanwhile, tigers are endangered in the wild.”

Since 2010, the U.S. Agriculture Department has issued several official warnings to the zoo for alleged violations ranging from inadequate shelter and veterinary care to mishandling of the tigers.

In these warnings federal regulators detailed several instances of alleged mistreatment of the tiger cubs, including the painting of their fur. On one occasion, Stearns pulled a tiger’s tail and held him up by his neck, the department said.

After learning of this last incident, the Agriculture Department filed an administrative complaint against the zoo under the Animal Welfare Act, the complaint says.

“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,” the government says.

That litigation (see below) is still pending.

In addition to the extensive regulatory record, PETA also cites eyewitness accounts, including one from a former employee, of alleged abuse at the attraction.

End the abuse by ending private ownership of big cats at BigCatAct.com

End the abuse by ending private ownership of big cats at BigCatAct.com

“Over many months, witnesses observed Dade City’s Wild Things staff repeatedly holding onto and pulling the tiger cubs by the cubs’ tails; grabbing the cubs by the skin on the back of their necks; pulling them by the front feet; pinching their ears and nose; and even slamming their bodies to the ground,” the complaint says.

PETA seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.

By ALEX PICKETT Read more at  http://www.courthousenews.com/2016/10/14/peta-says-florida-zoo-abuses-baby-tigers.htm

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 colleen.carroll@ogc.usda.gov

The vet for Dade City’s Wild Things, who defended her at trial, is Dr. Don Woodman of Safety Harbor.

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

TBO.com

UK Independent

Terrific article with lots of photos of what we think to be cub abuse and eye witness reports at https://www.thedodo.com/dade-city-wild-things-tigers-2074576624.html

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:  http://www.CatLaws.com

 

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.  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/815/305/050/ban-activity-allowing-visitors-to-swim-with-baby-animals/

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.

NONE OF THE ANIMALS ABOVE HAD WATER IN THEIR CAGES!!!

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

NO PHOTOS OR YOU WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE!

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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