USDA issues warning to Bear Path Acres
Published June 23, 2016
BEAR PATH ACRES ANIMAL EDUCATIONAL CENTER INC
Customer No: 32452
Certificate No: 52-C-0214
Certificate Status: ACTIVE
Status Date: Aug 29, 2008
34574 SMITH FERRY RD
FRANKLIN ,VA 23851
COUNTY: FRANKLIN CITY
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued an official letter of warning to Bear Path Acres Animal Education Center Inc. on May 24, The Tidewater News has learned.
Inspections completed on Feb. 11, Sept. 15 and Nov. 13, 2015, found Bear Path Acres in violation of three statutes of the Animal Welfare Act. Inspectors found that the facility did not provide proper shelter from inclement weather for the animals kept outdoors, and that the outside exhibits were not outfitted with the proper drainage, which left standing water covering most of the animals’ enclosures. Finally, it was suggested that Bear Path Acres had not been attending adequate veterinary care to the animals.
Debbie Jeter, is the founder of Bear Path Acres.
Lewis Crary, spokesperson for PETA, said “We’ve been tracking them for years and they have a very long rap sheet of USDA violations. PETA encourages everyone to steer clear of Bear Path Acres and all other roadside zoos.”
When asked to comment, the USDA provided The Tidewater News with a copy of the latest inspection form, completed on May 4, 2016.
This report stated, “that there were significant amounts of standing water and/or mud in multiple enclosures.”
These housed animals including raccoons, hyenas, lions, pigs, foxes, bears and tigers.
See the multiply violations dating back to 2013. USDA removes these inspections randomly, so we do not have access to their inspection reports from before 2013.
Complaint and photos sent to USDA from a concerned citizen who visited Creation Kingdom Zoo in Virginia in 2015:
My family visited Creation Kingdom Zoo in Gate City, Virginia on Sunday, June 28th, 2015 between the hours of approximately 1:30 – 3:30pm. We would like to express some concerns regarding the animal habitats we observed while here.
Two large tigers were housed in a small, roofless pen without access to any shelter other than a wooden open slatted table and had no visible water source. Access to the small enclosure that might have provided some relief from the heat was inaccessible. I questioned the owner, Marc Allen Bradley, about my observations and he assured me that “people forget that these cats are from India and they like the heat.” When asked about his rumored plans from over a year ago to install a pool into their environment as tigers are well known to love to swim, he responded that “we would have to close down the exhibit for 2 or 3 weeks and, well, we have people that drive a long way just to see the tigers. They’re a main attraction. We may do that in the fall.”
The Sloth bears shook their heads neurotically back and forth in the corner of their pen and also had no visible water source. Most other species has access to some type of shade or shelter, be it a netted tarp above their pen, trees, shrubbery, or an easily accessible roofed unit to the side of their pens. During a quick internet search of this business online, I found that others visitors have made the same complaints regarding these animal environments.
Mr. Bradley’s attempts to keep other pet exotics has made the news on more than one occasion. His background as a convicted felon also calls into question his qualifications to own any exotic animals, much less a facility that promotes them as entertainment and/or education.
The ethical appropriateness of zoos will continue to be in debate. This facility clearly needs to put forth better effort to approximate a comfortable, entertaining, species-appropriate environment for all of these non-native creatures. The habitats that we observed for the big cats and sloth bears in particular were far from that ideal.
tigers seeking only available shade against chainlink
AKA Kevin Antle, Bhagavan Antle, Rare Species Fund, Preservation Station
USDA cites for recurring problems with ringworm on the tiger cubs.
Ringworm is easily spread from infected cubs to those who touch them.
June 2016: Kevin Antle’s pay to play scheme is is involved in a federal investigation. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has conducted 23 inspections at the facility since April 2013. A USDA spokeswoman told WMBF News APHIS typically visits a facility once a year. Businesses are visited more often if there is repeat noncompliance, or if complaints are filed.
The agency said it has 130 inspectors for about 10,000 facilities across the country. It largely relies on people who visit the facilities to point out any issues.
Exploiting tiger cubs. In our opinion, Kevin Antle (who calls himself “Doc” because he supposedly earned a doctor of natural sciences degree from the Chinese Science Foundation according to one report. Note that there does not appear to be a Chinese Science Foundation on the Internet) is one of the most notorious exploiters of tiger cubs in the country. Antle operates two facilities in Myrtle Beach, SC that offer cub handling and photo ops for a fee. One is a retail location called Preservation Station in a tourist area of town near the beach. The other is his zoo or park.
He incessantly breeds tiger cubs to use to make money at these locations. From what we are told by visitors, the cubs are taken to the retail location where they are subjected to being placed with and handled by person after person paying to have their photos taken with the cubs for a number of hours each day. Then the cubs are taken back to the zoo, where they are subjected to more handling and photos. Antle also takes cubs on the road to exhibit far from home at fairs or other venues, forcing the tiny cubs to ride long distances in a truck only to be handled by person after person for hours to make money.
Cubs used by exhibitors to make money from handling are typically torn from their mothers shortly after birth, a torment to both cub and mother. They are deprived of the comfort and nutrition of nursing and grooming by the mothers, subjected to unnatural levels of stress that lower their immune systems, and typically not allowed the natural amount and timing of sleep in order to satisfy customers. For more about cub handling in general see Cub Handling Factsheet
Where do Antle’s cubs end up? USDA guidance states that cubs should not be handled at under 8 weeks of age because their immune systems are not sufficiently developed, and not handled at over 12 weeks because they are classified as “juvenile” and dangerous. This creates a four week “window” during which cubs can be handled if exhibitors comply with the guidance. (NOTE: We and other much larger animal welfare organizations have been urging to USDA to close this 8-12 week “window” by banning cub petting altogether to stop the widespread abuse of cubs used for petting.)
One visitor reported they were told by handlers that Antle starts using the cubs at 3 weeks of age, ignoring USDA guidance designed to protect the health of the cubs. Even so, there is only a brief period during which the cubs can be handled. So, Antle must steadily breed cubs to use in this money generating business. But, according to his USDA census, he only houses 51 tigers at his park.
Where do all these cubs go when they are too old for him to use to make money? There is no way to know how many of these tigers end up living miserable lives in conditions compassionate people who care about animals would consider inhumane. Per the report by TRAFFIC, the worldwide organization that tracks trade in exotic animals, the lack of tracking of tigers in the U.S. means there is also no way to know how many tigers end up being slaughtered for their parts to make “derivatives” like alleged medicines and tiger bone wine.
Visitors who have tried asking where the tigers end up tell us that they get evasive answers. According to one Animal Welfare Act violation case and “Animal Underworld,” Alan Green’s excellent book exposing the illegal trade in exotic animals, that two of Antle’s tigers ended up in the hands of Mario Tabruae. Tabruae was arrested in the late 80’s for heading a 10 year drug smuggling ring. His Zoological Imports business was featured in Green’s book. Some of Antle’s animals have ended up at GW Park in Oklahoma, another notorious exhibitor of tiger cubs.
Unsafe exhibition of adult tigers – USDA lawsuit. Antle used to make money photographing visitors in close proximity to big cats with no barrier to protect the public. In 2005 the USDA told him he was violating the safety rule that prohibits exhibiting without sufficient distance and/or barriers between the animals and the public. Antle sued USDA claiming his procedures complied with the rules. His case was so lacking in merit that he lost on summary judgment. He then appealed, and lost again. In our opinion, the idea that someone could safely stand within touching distance of an adult big cat is absurd because there is no way any “handler” can restrain a big cat that decides to attack. Antle made his argument despite the fact that, according to reports, in 1991 one if his lions who was posing with a female model bit her head resulting in 50 stitches and a $75,000 civil suit judgment against him.
Investigations, violations and injuries. Antle has a 20+ year history of USDA and/or state agency investigations and/or violations including hitting tigers, injuries, transporting animals without proper health tests and papers and containing them in areas that were too small, unclean, unsound and/or inadequate. A chronology of those violations appears below.
Breeding ligers and tigons and color variations. Antle is known for breeding hybrids between lions and tigers and color variations that do not occur in nature and have no conservation value according to experts. Their only apparent purpose is to draw visitors to see what in our opinion are freaks.
Helping conservation? Antle is a clever marketer who positions himself as making a significant contribution to conservation in the wild. Visitors are given literature that may cause them to think that Antle makes a significant contribution to conservation. Antle claims to have a “nonprofit grassroots organization” called the Rare Species Fund that donates to conservation in the wild. In our search, we were unable to find an entity of this name listed as a nonprofit by the IRS. We were not even able to find an entity with this name in South Carolina Secretary of State records. It appears to be simply a fictional name Antle uses. Antle’s brochure claims RSF is “among the world’s most effective conservation agencies.” The literature says that since the founding of RSF in 1982 it has provided “more than $200,000 to wildlife conservation effort.” This comes to less than $10,000 each year on average. This is likely to be a tiny fraction of the amount Antle makes from his for profit tours and animal handling fees. We are unable to find any financial reporting or disclosure related to this alleged entity. One of the groups Antle’s literature says he works with as part of his alleged conservation work is the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF). This is a group that advocates the private pet ownership of exotic animals that we believe leads to many animals living in what we consider to be miserable conditions and creates danger to the owners and public.
Tiger escape. Antle used to also keep a few tigers and other animals at Jungle Island in Miami. In August 2010 one his tigers escaped, sending visitors scattering. Fortunately the tiger was recaptured without anyone being attacked, although a news report indicated four people were treated for minor injuries. Antle was cited by USDA twice in the months following the escape for continuing to keep tigers in an inadequate enclosure. It appears from our research that by January 2012 he had transferred ownership of the animals to another licensee and did not renew his permits to keep animals in Florida.
Lies regarding critics. Because exploiters of tiger cubs have no true basis for justifying their mistreatment of the animals, they typically try to discredit critics with false statements about the critics. Antle is no exception. Big Cat Rescue in Tampa has made exposing what we view as abuse of tiger cubs a priority. In response, Antle makes false statements and points to websites set up by other exploiters containing false statements about Big Cat Rescue and Founder Carole Baskin. Among his lies have been claims that he is the copyright holder of photos Big Cat Rescue posted to expose his operation. When challenged under the provisions of the Digital Media Copyright Act, Antle was unable to back up his lies and the images were reinstated.
Chronology of Citations/Investigations/Escape/Injuries from news reports and government documents
Nov 16, 2010 cited again for tiger enclosures that were no different from the one that enabled an escape in Aug 2010.
Sept 10, 2010 cited for failing to house the tiger who had previously escaped in a cage that was any different from the one he had escaped from on Aug 28.
Aug 28, 2010 Visitors to Miami’s Jungle Island were treated to a scarily authentic experience when a tiger sprang from its pen at the tropical tourist attraction. Hundreds of terrified guests ran for safety when the big cat, known as Mahesh, broke out of its enclosure. According to MSNBC, the 3-year-old tiger spent an hour enjoying its newfound freedom before being recaptured.
June 8, 2010 failed to have a person of legal age available at Miami’s Jungle Island site to let the USDA inspect the facility.
May 10, 2009 As an example of where Antle’s tigers end up, in AWA Docket No. 09-0085 the judge found that Bhagavan Antle released two tigers to Ray Thunderhawk, who had already lost his USDA license and who had abandoned 75 tigers in Palm Bay, Florida. Thunderhawk ran a “pay to play” operation whereby patrons pay to pet and pose with big cats and he took the two tigers from Antle in S.C. to Boston before taking them to the buyer in Miami. The buyer was Mario S. Tabruae of Zoological Imports 2000 located at 16225 SW 172 Av Miami, FL 33187. Tabruae admitted to falsifying records to make it look as if he had purchased directly from Antle and that Antle had delivered the tigers. Dec 12, 1987 New York Times reports that Mario S.Tabruae was arrested for:
A drug-smuggling ring that killed an informer and cut up his body while trafficking in a half-million pounds of marijuana has been broken, the Federal authorities said today. The ring also bribed police officers to protect their operation, said Richard Gregorie, the chief assistant United States Attorney here. At one time, the indictment charged, members of the ring used Miami police officers to collect, count and disburse drug profits.
The ring operated for at least 10 years, smuggling the marijuana, along with some cocaine, into Louisiana and Florida, Mr. Gregorie said. Six of the seven people indicted in the case were arrested here by a special Federal law-enforcement group combatting drug smuggling. The seventh was in custody in another state. $50,000 Caught by Agent Among those arrested were the men who the authorities said headed the ring, Mario Tabraue and his father, Guillermo. When the men were arrested at their homes in Dade County, Mario Tabraue’s wife tossed a bundle of $50,000 in cash out the back window, said Lloyd E. Dean, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation here. The money was caught by a Federal agent, Mr. Dean said.
December 1994 Antle was fined $1000 for transporting a bull and cow without proper health tests and papers. He was also cited for night boxes that were too small for zebras, wolf hybrids and tigers.
July 6, 1994 US Department of Agriculture investigation for failing to supply proper travel papers in Kodak, TN in Sevier County. Antle was also associated with a second investigation into the legality of whether interstate transportation and exchange of baby tiger cubs. Antle was also under investigation because one of his tigers bit a trainer who was visiting Antle’s Buckingham Zoological Park in Virginia.
Dec 1993 transporting a bull and cow without proper health tests/papers in Kodak, TN in Sevier County
May 1992 Sharp wire was at the top of the zebra fence.
Nov 1991 An electric cord from a space heater dangled within reach of an elephant.
Oct 11, 1991 charged with hitting his tigers in Carver, MA in Plymouth County. Antle and his handlers were seen hitting wild cats at a fair according to the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Antle stated he hit the tigers when they became too aggressive.
Another investigation found that Antle allowed people to have their pictures taken with the animals, failed to list a cougar among the animals he brought to the state and had overstayed his permit according to Tom French, assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Wildlife. Antle at that point was asked to leave Carver, MA within 24 hours.
According to one report, Antle returned to Massachusetts without the knowledge of wildlife officials under the guise of other company names, and at the time that led the Massachusetts wildlife department to declare that it would not issue any more permits to Antle. However, they apparently have, since he reportedly has been performing at a fair there for decades.
Oct 9, 1991 lion named Arthur bit a model during a photo shoot requiring 50 stitches in Manchester, NH in Hillsborough County. Antle allowed a Konica lion named Arthur to pose for pictures with a Bedford, NH model. Shannon Audley, 23, of Bedford, NH was injured when the 6-year-old lion opened its mouth and clamped down on one side of her head. Audley’s head was cut, and she was admitted to Catholic Medical Center where she needed more than 50 stitches to close the wounds to her head and was hospitalized for about 5 days. Audley also had to undergo a series of rabies shots because Antle left the state with the lion and it couldn’t be determined if the lion had received a rabies vaccination.
Audley was awarded $75,000 in her lawsuit against Antle, under a default judgment. A default judgment is entered when a defendant takes no action to contest a claim against him. Audley was seeking $250,000. Audley also filed a suit against Bill Melton, the Manchester, NH photographer, but the court dismissed that action. Antle claimed the model was cut falling off a platform.
Sept 1991 The pit of a young zebra was called inadequate and exposed nails were found in animal enclosures in at least 2 inspections.
Aug 21, 1991 Antle was assessed a $3500 penalty to avoid litigation over 7 alleged violations, including animal enclosures that were unclean and structurally unsound and supplying incomplete travel and identification records. He did not have to admit innocence or guilt as a result of the order. Kodak, TN in Sevier County As of July 14, 1994 the penalty has not been paid.
July 1991 Antle was cited for unclean and unsound animal enclosures, incomplete travel and ID records. Monkeys were kept too close to coyotes and a baboon across from a jaguar. An exhibit site for an elephant had no way of preventing the animal from entering a highway if it got away from the trainer. Kodak, TN in Sevier County
1991 Antle came home from his tiger roadshow to an outstanding misdemeanor warrant issued by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. It charges him of letting a tiger come in contact with the general public at a 1990 bodybuilding contest in Sevierville. It was served on him and carries a $50 fine if he’s convicted.
December 1989 Federal inspectors find zoo vacated with deer and peacocks left behind in Buckingham, VA
Antle Tiger Escape at Jungle Island August 2010
August 29, 2010 Miami, FL: Visitors to Miami’s Jungle Island stampeded over each other to avoid an escaped, 3 yr old, 500 lb. tiger named Mahesh. A monkey escaped while being transported through the zoo and 500 lb. Mahesh bounded over the 14-foot fence into the public area according to the Miami Herald. The attraction’s three big cats — which include a liger and a white tiger — have been confined to a “night kennel,” while the park investigates. “We were really scared. There were people crying,” Miami mom Dorothy Evans told the Herald, adding that people knocked each other down as they sprinted toward the shelter. “People were running for their lives,” Larry Rhodes, 46, of Pompano Beach, told the Sun Sentinel. Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Ignatius Carroll told the Herald that several people were injured while running, including a mother who fell on top of her 15-month old baby. Another guest was taken to a Miami hospital after suffering a panic attack. Bhagavan (Kevin) Antle, who also owns T.I.G.E.R.S. in Myrtle Beach, SC and who is the owner of Mahesh, was charged with one count of maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition, resulting in threats to public safety. Park owner Bern M. Levine was charged with two second-degree misdemeanors for conditions resulting in the animals’ escape. The charges for both men have a maximum penalty of $500, FWC officer Pino said. Source Time and others.
About Antle in the book Animal Underworld
Page 35 of Alan Green’s book Animal Underworld: “An animal handler who has claimed to also own an Exxon tiger is Bhagavan Kevin Antle, who was an assistant to Jack Hanna during his appearances on Good Morning America and Late Night With David Letterman. Known alternatively as Kevin Bhagavan, Kevin Antle, Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle, Ghagavan Antle, and Dr. Kevin Antle (he supposedly earned a doctor of natural sciences degree from the Chinese Science Foundation), Antle also claimed to own the MGM lion, even though Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. sent him a cease-and-desist letter, and he implied in his literature an affiliation with Greenpeace, until he was told to cease and desist. Antle is a self-described big-cat conservationist who presides over The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS), which operates a mobile petting zoo, leases tigers for TV commercials, and charges people at shopping malls and festivals to have their pictures taken with an animal. Antle hauls around a crossbred lion and tiger to such places as casinos in Biloxi, Mississippi. He is also known for owning a lion that, in 1991, had to be pulled off a terrified model during a photo shoot in Manchester, New Hampshire. That same year, the federal government charged Antle with repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including substandard housing for big cats, and to settle the charges he agreed to pay a $3,5000 fine. He was also cited in Massachusetts that year for illegally displaying his cats, and he was threatened with arrest and confiscation of the animals if he didn’t immediately leave the state. What’s more, Antle was the target of an unsuccessful 1991 Tennessee lawsuit regarding his alleged beating of a Bengal tiger with a wooden shaft.”
Antle Claiming to be an M.D.
In an article he wrote for the Phoenix Exotic Wildlife Association in 2005 Antle claimed to be a medical doctor saying, “I still think this is your right to have your own tiger and to be killed by your own tiger. Just keep it in a cage forever and don’t let anyone else near you or watch you have it happen. I know this rambled on a bit but I was trying to make several points that are hard to explain. I often say that as an MD., I can talk you trough [sic] taking out someone’s kidney, but I can not talk you through tiger training. You have to live it to understand it. Dr. Bhagavan Antle”
1991 News Article
Antle, 34 and his high-profile business are in the middle of an ongoing animal-rights debate.
Antle, whose full name is Mahamayavia Bhagavan Antle though he has gone by the name Kevin, is an animal trainer who supplies trained animals for advertising, commercials, film work and shows.
He opened the park on Bryan Road within site of Interstate 40 in late May. It is open to the public. It houses dozens of animals ranging from tigers to lions, to wolf hybrids, an elephant, primates and some deer. Antle said he also has some animals in Korea, where he has been working on a show involving trained animals for a resort.
Animal-rights advocates say he routinely doesn’t follow federal animal welfare regulations.
Among the charges leveled by regulators and animal-right groups are that Antle doesn’t provide proper shelter for the animals, doesn’t give them enough access to water, gives incomplete records to federal and state officials and allows the public to come in contact with the dangerous animals.
Animal-rights activists said Antle cares little about the animals or the public. They believe Antle beats, mistreats and drugs the animals to make them act domesticated for commercials, television, movies and his shows.
“He’s out there to make money and that’s all he’s out there for” said Sue Pressman, a West Virginia zoo consultant who helped write the Animal Welfare Act and who gave a critical inspection report of T.I.G.E.R.S in August 1991. “He needs to go to jail” stated Pressman.
“It’s a lie the United States Department of Agriculture comes here all the time to inspect us,” Antle said. “The USDA’s sole purpose in life is sanitation.”
But Sue Pressman, a consultant for P.A.W.S., the Performing Animal Welfare Society who toured T.I.G.E.R.S. on Aug. 3, said it was rife with violations of the Federal Animal Welfare Act.
“We went through and there were lots of problems,” said Don Elroy, co-director of the Tennessee Network for Animals, which invited Pressman to the area. She is a former longtime director of Captive Wildlife for the Humane Society of the United States.
Among the problems Pressman said she found were a host of sanitary (violations, a dangerously low perimeter fence that might allow animals to escape, a fence enclosing tigers that is configured in a way that could allow the cats to climb out and an elephant chained without shade and water.
Elroy said there are also questions the group has about the registration of some of Antle’s animals. He said a lot of the problems are already laid out in previous USDA inspection reports of the facility.
“We want to see some demonstration of compliance,” Elroy said. “He’s not trying to improve the facility.” Elroy also questioned how the USDA could give Antle a license until he was in full compliance with all regulations.
Antle, however, countered that T.I.G.E.R.S. was licensed by the USDA in May and that USDA veterinarians were back inspecting the facility only a few days before Pressman was there.
He said that groups like P.A.W.S. are against him no matter what. “No matter what our facility looked like, the lady would have complained,” Antle said. He also displayed the USDA exhibitor license for T.I.G.E.R.S. and copies of USDA inspection reports on May 21, 1991, and July 16, 1991.
“A few days before that lady was here, they (USDA) made an inspection, and nothing was said about sanitation,” Antle said. “And these men were experts.”
The USDA issues the permits for parks like T.I.G.E.R.S. “The USDA says we pass unequivocally,” Antle said. “They said they want us to fix water bowls. They said our weeds were higher than they wanted.”
The USDA inspection report on July 16, which Antle provided to a reporter, lists two pages of handwritten recommendations of corrections. Inspection reports dating back to 1988 for Antle-owned facilities – he also owned Buckingham Zoological Park in Buckingham, Va. – have similar lists.
Despite all of this Antle has never lost his license to exhibit animals.
The Knoxville News-Sentinel
The Union Leader
Tribune News Service
The best article so far to debunk BJWT as a sanctuary is at the link below and says, in part, “BJWT may appear to many to be a sanctuary, but its apparent methods of utilizing its animals for donation mongering and notoriety all but nullify its status as anything other than a playground for the rich, famous and ignorant.”
We get a lot of questions about Black Jaguar White Tiger, asking if it is a legitimate sanctuary. We don’t think so for the reasons listed below.
Sadly, it’s starting to become popular among animal lovers, despite their extremely unprofessional practices. Like not knowing how to bottle feed a cub and having her blow milk out her nose, which leads to pneumonia:
Black Jaguar White Tiger is a newly-founded private “rescue” for big cats, which started about a year or so ago in a wealthy area of Mexico City. It’s owned and operated by a Mr. Eduardo Serio. While he seems to have good intentions, they are paired with some very questionable practices.
Serio appears to “rescue” his animals by buying them from circuses and private zoos, usually as young cubs. Very young cubs. Cubs that still have a lot of lucrative weeks left in them for the abusers. This, of course, is a counterproductive strategy in the long run, because it only encourages the bad breeders to keep breeding. He claims to have “saved” over 30 cats in his first year of operation, which is scary. I know he probably wants to “save them all”, but at that rate, things are going to get out of hand very quickly. Unless he has a lot of resources or learns to say “no”, I’m worried it’s going to turn into a hoarding situation. Serio supposedly has 100 acres of land, but the enclosures are already starting to look pretty crowded, if this video is anything to go by.
Serio states that he does not spay or neuter his animals. My best guess for the reason, given his other opinions, is that he probably believes that it is “cruel” to do so because it would deny them the “natural life” he’s trying to provide (some domestic pet owners still believe this). Unsurprisingly, his cats appear to be breeding like rabbits. On July 16, he posted a video on Facebook of a new litter of lion cubs. In response Serio has said that someday he will use contraceptives, but there are no safe contraceptives for use in big cats. Any zoo can tell you horror stories (if they are honest with you) about the cancers and other health issues that are caused by using pharmaceutical solutions to over breeding.
If you are running a sanctuary and want the cats to not breed and live long happy, healthy lives, then you spay and neuter. Doing it when they are younger increases the cat’s ability to survive the procedure and recover, so there is no excuse not to do it, especially if you have males and females living together.
And in this video, a poor lion can’t even eat without having 3 young tigers trying to steal his food (although I don’t know the origin of the tigers – they may have been “rescued” (i.e. bought). Unlike other breeders, however, Serio does not sell cubs because he firmly believes that nobody should “own” an animal. Nobody except him, of course, because he “loves” them. So all of the cubs are just piling up at his ranch and causing serious overcrowding issues. While he does occasionally invite people (especially famous people) to pet them, he hasn’t turned it into a business… yet. He really seems to hate the people who breed cubs for photo props, having “rescued” several malnourished cubs from photo displays. However, his site does mention that he is planning a “volunteer” program, which conjures up images of those places in South Africa where people essentially pay to play with big cats.
By far, the biggest problem I have with Serio’s new “Foundation” is that it’s constantly churning out photos and videos on Instagram and Facebook. I’m sure you’re well aware of this, but these photos show Serio patting adult lions on the head, “play-wrestling” with tigers, pushing jaguars around in wheelbarrows, hugging lionesses, and other inappropriate (and unsafe) behaviors. He even has videos of exotic cats living peacefully in his house like a pet, which only encourages the pet trade. Serio (and his followers) often refer to the cats as “kids”, and visitors to the ranch are invited to “play” with 500-lb. adult lions – not a good idea.
Serio claims on his website that the reason his cats don’t attack people (and I’m not making this up) is “the bond of pure and innocent love that keeps us living harmoniously among one another”. It’s the very same fantasy that has doomed so many big cats to life as “pets” – people so desperately want to believe that as long as they have “love”, everything will be OK.
Hundreds of the people who have been mauled and killed by captive big cats thought they were special too and thought that their love for their big cat “friends” was all they needed. http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-attacks/
Of course, gaggles of well-meaning animal lovers (the same kind who would fall for cub-petting schemes) have nothing but praise for Serio and his “amazing bond.” They think that this is the way a real sanctuary is run, to say nothing of the hundreds who express their wishes for their very own pet big cat, or at least the chance to touch one. An ironic message for Serio to be sending, since he says he doesn’t believe that animals should be property.
We reached out to Serio a year or more before this post, because we thought he was doing himself a huge disservice by posing with cubs. We told him that no animal protection group would accept him or even think him a good person unless he stopped acting in such a hypocritical way. We tried to reason with him and didn’t expose him for a long time because we thought he was just foolish and not trying to be cruel. We could not continue to ignore him though when he began trotting celebrities through and having them pose with cubs because people will stupidly mimic celebrities without thinking about the consequences for the cats. We really tried to be nice and still want him to do the right thing.
Overall, I’d say that Black Jaguar White Tiger is nothing more than an ego project from a well-meaning, but seemingly delusional man. He often posts about the “horrible conditions” his cats came from and about how “happy” they are to live with him – and his followers eat it up, calling him an “angel” and praising him profusely for “saving” the animals. And of course, the celebrity snapshots and cute cub pictures have made him a rising star on Instagram. But I don’t think he’s only in it for the glory – he genuinely seems to think he’s “saving the world” by “rescuing” every circus cub in Mexico.
Sadly, like so many animal hoarders, he can’t see the harm he’s doing. This situation is only going to get worse, I’m afraid, especially with the lack of laws in Mexico regarding exotic animals as pets.
When Big Cat Rescue’s founder and CEO was in Mexico in 2015, Eduardo refused to speak to her or allow her to step foot on the property, because he knows that we do not condone posing with big cats. What else does he have to hide?
Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari (also called Wild Wilderness Safari, Gentry Safari, or the Gentry Zoo) is an unaccredited, family-owned zoo in Gentry, Arkansas. Although many visitors to the zoo claim that the animals “look happy” and well-cared for, Wild Wilderness Safari has been fined nearly $20,000 by the USDA for many severe, repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act, such as failure to provide animals with clean food, water, and veterinary care, failure to provide animals with shelter from the elements, and having inadequate barriers and enclosures, resulting in animal escapes and serious human injuries. They also do things that no reputable zoo would do, like breeding white tigers, selling exotic animals as “pets”, and allowing young children to interact with large, unrestrained big cat cubs which are sold into the wildlife trade once they become too large to handle.
In 2002, Freddy Wilmoth, an operator of Wild Wilderness, plead guilty to “aiding and abetting” an illegal exotic animal killing ring by selling four of the park’s tigers to be butchered for their skin, meat, and body parts. Wilmoth was charged with a misdemeanor violation of the Endangered Species Act, sentenced with 6 months house arrest & 3 years probation, and ordered to pay $10,000 restitution to the US Fish and Wildlife Services’ “Save The Tiger” Fund. His arrest was part of “Operation Snow Plow,” a sting operation by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on the illegal trafficking and slaughter of privately-owned big cats in the United States.
Wild Wilderness Safari also operates one of the more dangerous big cat cub “petting zoos” we’ve ever seen. Groups of customers, including very small children and infants, are let into a pen and encouraged to “play” with large, completely unrestrained big cat cubs, which are capable of causing serious injuries. These cubs are usually 8 to 12 weeks old, but as recently as 2013, the park was allowing guests to interact with 15-week-old lion cubs, far past the maximum age permitted by federal regulations.
The poor tiger cub in this video is trying to sleep, only to have a family with young children lean over him and grab at his paws and ears. The tired cub swats at the boy’s legs with his paws, and could have easily bitten/scratched the children while trying to defend himself. There’s also the risk that children could potentially harm the cubs by falling or stepping on them. Unsurprisingly, multiple guests have been injured by these cubs over the years.
In 2015, Wild Wilderness was cited by the USDA after a visitor was bitten by a lion cub and ordered to exhibit cubs more safely. The report noted that “attendants do not maintain any form of physical control over the cubs. Big cat cubs of this age are able to move quickly and can inflict harm on nearby persons.” According to an Incident Report filed by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, the cub in this incident was 14 weeks old. The USDA bans public contact with cubs older than 12 weeks of age.
Despite the citations, Wild Wilderness continues to exhibit cubs in this dangerous manner. In May 2016, this woman posted photos of the bruises and bite marks she received from a tiger cub on Facebook:
In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied Wild Wilderness Safari a Captive Bred Wildlife Permit (CBW), which facilities are required to have in order to engage in interstate trade of captive-bred endangered species for conservation purposes. In their denial of the permit, the USFWS cited the zoo’s large number of chronic, “serious” Animal Welfare Act deficiencies, stating:
“In order to meet the issuance criteria, the applicant must have adequate facilities and show responsibility. Inspection records from the USDA… …indicate that you have had a large number of uncorrected, noncompliant items at your facility over the past two years. This is an indication that you are unable to maintain compliance with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. Since a number of the non-compliant items for animal care and housing are serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act, we are unable to find that you meet the issuance requirement of having adequate expertise, facilities, and resources to conduct your intended purpose under the CBW registration.”
The following is a partial list of Animal Welfare Act violations discovered at Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari by USDA inspectors:
April 8, 2015: Wild Wilderness was cited for allowing the public to play with unrestrained, 12 week old lion cubs after a visitor was bitten.
January 27, 2014: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to provide animals with adequate housing, veterinary care, and shelter from the cold. Two bobcats were housed in an insecure enclosure made of wire fencing and black plastic. There was an “excessive” amount of fecal material and rotten meat in this enclosure, and the water receptacle for the bobcats contained “brown-colored ice with fecal material and meat on top of the ice.” A piece of meat in the caracal enclosure was covered with “ice, straw, and dirt.” Multiple tropical primates were being housed outdoors in 24-degree temperatures and snow. The inspector noted that several animals were crouched down and huddled together and that many were currently under treatment after losing the tips of their digits to frostbite. A spider monkey had exposed bone visible on the tips of its toes, and several baboons were suffering from lesions. Ring-tailed lemurs were found outside of their enclosure chewing on a live electrical wire.
January 8, 2014: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care and shelter from the cold. A spider monkey was missing the tips of most of his fingers, the skin was red and swollen around the remainder of the fingers, and bone appeared to be exposed on one remaining digit. A baboon chewed off the end of its injured tail in front of the inspector, who noted that the part that fell off “looked like a piece of dried meat.” Leon Wilmoth, current owner of Wild Wilderness, stated that the animals had suffered from frostbite and that he had not observed the injuries.
Note: Leon Wilmoth, the current owner of the zoo, has dismissed the severity of these reports by claiming that the injured primates constituted only a “small number” of animals living at the park. In 2015, he told a local news station, “If you had 4,000 dogs, would all the dogs be healthy and perfect at the same time, or would there be a minute number that had a medical problem?”
March 7, 2013: A 7 month old lion cub was found dead in his cage after being strangled by the dog collar he was wearing. The inspector wrote:
“A juvenile male lion, approximately seven months old, was found dead in an enclosure by a facility representative approximately one and a half weeks prior to this inspection. The facility representative stated that he had placed a collar on the animal for the purpose of leading the animal. He also stated that he was doing this for enrichment purposes. He left the animal in the enclosure, returned a short time later, and the animal was dead. He stated it looked like the animal was strangled by the collar. No necropsy was performed. All animals must be handled in a manner that does not cause any harm to the animal.”
Wild Wilderness was also cited for unsanitary conditions in areas where animal food was stored, and for failure to have adequate barriers and staff to prevent zoo guests from coming into unsupervised contact with animals.
January 23, 2012: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to provide animals with sufficient enclosures. The enclosure for servals had rotted resting boards, leaving broken areas and jagged points. Five enclosures had an excessive accumulation of waste, and four enclosures contained dirty water receptacles. A rhesus macaque was running free in the drive-through area. The licensee said that three primates were loose at that time.
September 1, 2010: The zoo was cited for failing to provide sufficient barriers in four areas of the drive-through portion, including the enclosure housing clouded leopards. An excessive number of flies were in six enclosures that had food scraps on the floor. Food in the food-storage areas wasn’t properly protected, and food requiring refrigeration wasn’t stored appropriately.
February 12, 2008: The USDA issued repeat citations to Wild Wilderness for continuing to fail to provide clean drinking water to animals. It was also cited for housing two juvenile lions in shelters that were not large enough for the cats to stand or turn around in. At the time of the inspection, it was 26 degrees and there was no bedding in the shelters for the lions.
September 7, 2007: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to provide enclosures with sufficient barriers. The enclosure housing big cats didn’t have a barrier to prevent cars from driving next to it on one side. The enclosure housing black bears wasn’t sufficient to contain the bear cub, whom the exhibitor admitted had climbed up and over the fencing. Four enclosures housing cougars or leopards had shelters too small for the animals to stand up in. The enclosure with two bobcats didn’t have an enclosure big enough for both animals, and the food receptacle for the cats “contained a liquid and solid mixture with numerous fly larvae and emitted an unpleasant odor.” There were multiple dirty water receptacles, and at least four had a green discoloration on the surface.
May 4, 2007: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to provide a bobcat, who was circling when walking and bumping into support posts, with veterinary care.
October 24, 2006: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to provide animals with adequate shelter. The big cats were given blue barrels for shelter with one end completely open, which were not large enough for the animals to turn around in.
November 6, 2004: Two visitors to Wild Wilderness stopped their vehicle at the tiger cages and climbed out of the car to pet an adult tiger through a cage. The tiger bit the middle finger of one of the visitors, stripping the flesh from her finger. The owners of the safari refused to comment on the woman’s injury or provide safety tips for visitors attending the park.
October 9, 2004: A woman being paid to feed animals at Wild Wilderness had her arm pulled into a chimpanzee enclosure, and the chimpanzee “bit off much of her hand, including two fingers.” She filed a lawsuit against the park, and the case was later settled for an undisclosed amount.
April 6, 2004: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to have sufficient public barriers around an enclosure with two large black bears and around the enclosure for the Arctic foxes, failing to have sufficient, safe shelter for two black bears whose shelter was rusted and falling apart, and for failing to provide the rhesus macaques with a sufficient enclosure, as several were running free in the drive-through area. The zoo was also cited for failing to provide animals with clean water.
April 11, 2003:. Wild Wilderness was cited for failing to provide secure enclosures for big cats. The enclosure for bobcats had a rusted vertical support pole, and a wooden den box was unstable and in disrepair. The compound for lions and tigers had a gap under the enclosure fence, and the perimeter fence in the back portion of the park had a large gap between the ground and the fence.
January 14, 2003: The USDA issued repeat citations to Wild Wilderness for failing to have sufficient barriers to keep the public at a distance from the animals and failing to provide safe and sufficient enclosures. Several rhesus macaques were running free in the drive-through area, the enclosure for tigers had sharp edges from a torn tin roof, and the chain-link fence was loose in two places in the enclosure for the spotted leopards.
June 20, 2002: Ross Wilmoth agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to the USDA to settle charges of Animal Welfare Act violations, including providing animals with inadequate care, having inadequate barriers, having cages in disrepair, and having cages that were too small.
June 5, 2002: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to have a complete program of veterinary care. The facility was also issued repeat citations for failing to have sufficient barriers to keep the public at a distance from the animals and failing to provide safe and sufficient housing. The enclosures for leopards had wire extending into the cages and rusted support poles, several rhesus macaques were running free in the drive-through area, and the enclosure for cougars had a broken support pole.
February 25, 2002: According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, following a U.S. Fish & Wildlife investigation Wild Wilderness operator Freddy Wilmoth plead guilty to the illegal transport of four adult tigers after selling the big cats to a facility in Missouri where they were shot inside a trailer. The new owners had intended to sell the hides, which could be worth up to $20,000 each.
January 22, 2002: Two workers at Wild Wilderness were mauled by cougars as they were trying to transfer them to a larger cage. One worker sustained multiple bites to an arm and a leg and was airlifted to a hospital. The other worker was bitten in the face and transported to the local hospital.
October 30, 2001: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to provide a public barrier around the enclosure for lion cubs. Pens in the drive-through area had no supervision to stop the public from having direct contact with the animals.
November 2, 2000: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to provide a barrier between the public and the primary enclosure holding lemurs. Members of the public were observed entering one enclosure without an attendant supervising. It was also cited for failing to provide adequate primary enclosures. During the inspection, a ruffed lemur was loose with the public after she was let out of the enclosure by a member of the public. The zoo was also cited for having unsafe enclosures for the black jaguars, lion, and tiger.
May 6, 1999: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to provide sick animals with adequate veterinary care, and for failing to correct several noncompliant items found during previous inspections.
January 27, 1999: A USDA news release announced that Wild Wilderness had agreed to a consent decision and order regarding past violations of the AWA and agreed to pay a civil penalty of $8,000 and to hire an additional employee as well as correcting deficiencies in its acquisition records.
September 15, 1998: Ross Wilmoth paid a $4,000 fine to the USDA to settle citations, including for having inadequate shelter, piles of animal waste, an ineffective pest-control program, and dirty bowls, food, and cages.
July 16, 1996: The USDA cited Wild Wilderness for failing to keep accurate records of animal inventory. It was also cited for housing three young tigers in a pen with a fence that was only 6 feet tall and lacked a roof.
1992: Ross Wilmoth, owner of Wild Wilderness, was fined $300 by USDA $300 for housing animals in improper cages.
1988: The USDA issued a warning to Ross Wilmoth for selling a cougar cub who had ringworm.
Don’t forget the heartbreaking story of Samantha the cougar, who was born at Wild Wilderness in 1992 and used as a petting zoo cub before being sold for $400 to a family of zoo visitors, who felt sorry for her and thought they could raise her as a “pet.” After several months of heartbreak, Samantha’s owners fortunately agreed to surrender her to the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s PAWS sanctuary, where she was rehabilitated and lived a long, happy life until passing away at the ripe old age of 22. Wild Wilderness is clearly still breeding cats and are certainly still selling them, but I don’t think it’s as “open” as it was in the 1990s.
Suit settled over chimpanzee bite (Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 2005) Note how the safari claims that their chimp “is not a wild animal.” There are multiple photos taken by zoo visitors of the public, including children, petting and feeding wolves through the enclosure fence because they’re “friendly.”
Sybelle Foxcroft from Cee4life (Conservation and Environmental Education 4 Life) shares the following:
After Tiger Temple announced 2 days ago that they have obtained another zoo licence, it was gut wrenching, however not surprising.
As you know, Cee4life investigated the Tiger Temple for many years and collected further evidence proving the wildlife trafficking, yet again at tiger temple. This evidence consisted of CCTV, video interviews, audio recordings and other documentation. The evidence is without a doubt, however, once again the Tiger Temple has gotten away with its crimes.
From previous experience, we knew that the Tiger Temple was probably going to wiggle its way out of this, so we continued to investigate evidence that we had prior to the release of the report.
We now have evidence and proof of illegal sales and international transport relating to the tigers of tiger temple.
The official plan for the zoo on 4 hectares of land, with in the centre a show area for people to watch tricks with the tigers.
The above plan for the tigers is not viable. 4 hectares for 150 tigers is highly unethical. Performing tricks? I can only imagine that they are also trying to pass the 10+ tigers slammed into a cage together and continue with the rotation of the tigers into the grassed areas, the same as they do now.
The reason I would like you to view and understand this report is so you are armed with the details and understanding of what the evidences actually are, so when further action occurs to stop this wildlife trafficking operation, you have full knowledge of the evidences and can support this action. The action will probably be legal.
The Tiger Temple Report is based on motive, means, intent, and opportunity, meaning
1. the ability to commit the crime,
2. the reason the crime was committed, and
3. the chance to commit the crime.
Links to the core elements evidence are as follows:
Tiger Temple including Monks placed at the seen of the crimes on the 20th and 25th/26th (they came back twice for 2 tigers taking them into the earlier hours of 26th Dec) Dec 2014 –
Evidence 1 & 2 – Opportunity
Please note that these video’s are shortened versions. The long versions go for about 3 hours.
Evidence 3 – Means
Interview with long term Senior Tiger Temple staff member, Kasaem Pholchai, who has worked at the Tiger Temple since early 2000s. He is interviewed in Dec 2014 by senior temple legal advisor and admits to being ordered by “Luang Phor” (‘meaning venerable father’ –The Abbot Wisuthisarathera of Tiger Temple, to open the gates on the 20th and 25th/26th of December 2014 to participate and allow the tiger trades of the tigers
Evidence 4 – Intent
On the 31st of December 2014 , The head Abbot of Tiger Temple Phra Acharn, in conversation with ex Vet Dr Somachai and a high ranking advisor discuss the wildlife trafficking of the Tiger Temple Tigers. It is revealed that the Tiger Temple Tigers that are trafficked at killed on site at Tiger Temple with the Abbot additionally stating “It is our policy” It also reveals that the Tiger Temple trafficked the 3 missing tigers from December 2014 through the Singha District Forestry Dept. This clip is in Thai and has been shortened for ease of understanding (or it would have been 3 hours long) Department of National Parks, Wildife and Plant Conservation Thailand, and Royal Thai Police have full version and all evidence. The conversation is in Thai but has been translated into english in the Tiger Temple Report on pages 18 – 20
Evidence 5 – Motive
Conversations with the Tiger Temple staff on the mornings after the 3 tigers went missing. They confirm that they all know, confirm that they were ordered to stay quiet, and confirmed the tigers were taken because they were to be swapped for one white tiger. Additionally, we have since obtained an eye witness that confirmed that 10 tigers were originally supposed to be swapped for the white tiger. Evidence 5 – pages 21 – 23 of the Tiger Temple Report
There are another 11 evidences to show that this wildlife trafficking has been going since conception of the idea of Tiger Temple within the Tiger Temple Report.
This new evidence that I will be presenting next week (2016) is of the selling, gifting of tiger temple tiger body parts and transporting of tiger body parts across international borders, and this has also been going on for years. The evidence includes photographic evidence, witness statements, and the stopping of these body parts entering Australia at the border control checkpoint, that occurred a couple of weeks ago. These are breaches against Thai law, CITES, and every country where these body parts have been transported and brought into.
The Tiger Temple is the epitome of long term criminal behaviour. It has been admitted by its staff and hierarchy, and it will continue.
To let you know how serious this is, just one of the concerning factors that occurred not long after the Tiger Temple Report was released, was that there was an attempted cover up/ mock up of fake documents to make the disappearance of the 3 tigers in Dec 2014 seem legal. This was addressed, and nothing more was heard about it, up until now. Tiger Temple has stated the disappearance of the 3 tigers was legal. There was nothing legal about it.
So as you can see, this is an extremely sordid and dark case, that is ongoing.
It requires a very big effort in order to protect these tigers as there is zero faith that Tiger Temple will stop what they have been doing for years. This effort must probably come in the form of legal action against this current decision to allow them to keep the tigers under a zoo licence. If this licence is granted, there is no doubt that tigers will continue to vanish along with other endangered and protected species.
Thailand is one of the biggest wildlife trafficking hubs and Tiger Temple is only just one situation of this illegal trade going on. As this case is already very well known, we have a good chance to address this further legally. It will take guts to do it, but it would be a magnificent feat to truly protect these tigers forever and send a message that this practice will not be tolerated by the conservation and animal organisations within Thailand and from around the world.
I look forward to your thoughts.
Conservation and Environmental Education 4 Life
Student, 19, mauled by 400lb tiger at Tiger Temple
Isabelle Brennan was knocked to the ground and attacked at the Tiger Temple sanctuary
Sister and friend dragged her to safety
Left with four inch wound and is scarred for life
She still struggles to walk unaided eight weeks on
PUBLISHED: 15:59 EST, 30 August 2013 | UPDATED: 17:15 EST, 30 August 2013
Enjoying the trip of a lifetime to Thailand, university student Isabelle Brennan strokes a young tiger at a popular tourist attraction – one of the few places in the world where you can pet the deadly animals while they sleep.
But just minutes after this photo was taken, another 400lb tiger leapt into the frame, knocking the 19-year-old to the ground with its paw and sinking its teeth into her thigh.
She was saved when keepers at the Tiger Temple sanctuary in West Thailand jumped between her and the animal, while her sister and travelling companion Georgie, 21, dragged her to safety.
Calm before the storm: Isabelle Brennan, pictured stroking a tiger – she would later be attacked by one of the big cats
In hospital: Following the attack, Ms Brennan was told she would have scarring for life
Eight weeks on, Miss Brennan is recovering at home in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, but cannot walk unaided, while doctors said the four-inch wound will leave her scarred for life.
The University College London student wants to warn others of the dangers of approaching the orphaned tigers, which are hand-reared by Buddhist monks at the controversial sanctuary.
Reliving the nightmare she said last night: ‘I feel lucky to be alive. Everything happened so fast. One minute I was petting a tiger’s back, the next it turned its head and knocked me to the ground with its paw.
‘As it lunged with its teeth I felt an agonising pain on the inside of my left thigh above my knee. What happened next is a blur. But a keeper jumped in between myself and the tiger. Then, while the keepers pulled the tiger to stop it attacking me further, my older sister Georgie dragged me under my arms to safety.’
Wound: Ms Brennan was bitten by a 400lb tiger
The stunned teenager added: ’When I looked down at my leg it was terrifying. All I could see was blood.’
Two friends in their group immediately tied a tourniquet round Miss Brennan’s leg to stop it bleeding.
Meanwhile, the Human Sciences student who is studying for a degree at University College London was rushed to Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Memorial Hospital where she needed ‘tens of stitches’ to repair the four-inch wound.
She then had to remain in hospital for a fortnight after contracting an infection and high fever.
Her sister, 21, was forced to make the call to parents Margaret and Nick Brennan, 56, an architect.
Mother Margaret Brennan, 52 a former nurse who now runs her own business, said: ‘When Georgie rang the first thing she said was ‘firstly Isabelle’s ok’ but I was very upset. I couldn’t believe it when she said Isabelle had been bitten by a tiger.’
But finally after a gruelling two weeks in hospital – when she was pumped with strong antiobotics – she was well enough to fly back to the UK.
However, Miss Brennan was to spend a month in a wheelchair and on crutches. She is now learning how to walk again.
Eight weeks since the attack, she is still limping and doctors have told her she will have a permanent scar.
Miss Brennan and her sister from Harrogate were in the first week of their trip of a lifetime in Thailand, which they had spent six months saving for, when they visited Tiger Temple.
‘I was nervous about going into the Temple,’ says Miss Brennan, ‘however, I was reassured by the staff that as the tigers had been hand reared, they were so used to humans they were completely tame.
Reminder of horror: The wound after being stitched
Struggling: Isabelle Brennan still cannot walk without help
‘They were also tethered by chains and the staff told me no-one had ever been seriously injured.’
After petting some tigers in an enclosure, Miss Brennan – who followed all the Temple rules such as not wearing bright clothes to excite the tigers – decided to go into a special area where she could wash the tigers.
‘We were given a talk beforehand and told not to touch the tiger’s head and to remove dangly jewellery. We were then shown how to wash a tiger’s back.’
It was while Miss Brennan was washing one tiger’s back, it turned round and mauled her.
She says: ‘In hindsight I had an incredibly lucky escape. I could have lost my leg or worse. The Tiger Temple staff were very upset. They paid for all my treatment in hospital and visited every day. They explained the tiger was just being playful. However, I want to warn others going to Tiger Temple that the animals might not be as docile as they first appear.’
June 20, 2008 Thailand’s Tiger Temple: In a report on the Tiger Temple released today is documented and account of a Thai woman who came with her partner to help raise funds for the Temple, put her hand into the tiger, Dao Ruang’s, cage to pet her. Dao took hold of the woman’s hand with her mouth. When the frightened woman tried to pull her hand away, Dao Ruang bit through it and held on. The woman’s partner came over and hit Dao Ruang over the head. The woman’s hand was badly torn between her 3rd and 4th fingers and required numerous stitches to close the wound.
On other occasions, investigators observed tigers attacking staff and volunteers. One resulted in an injured finger, which needing suturing, another a French volunteer whose shirt was ripped, narrowly missing her neck and another a Danish volunteer who was tackled to the ground by and bitten on the leg. The resulting injury got infected and the volunteer need medical treatment at a hospital. During an interview with a journalist in January 2008, the Abbot was asked why the tigers do not bite. The Abbot said, “They want to bite and one day they will bite.” Meanwhile the Monks spray tiger urine in the cats’ faces to subdue them.
Read the entire report HERE.
See a slide show of people being stupid with tigers and contributing to the abuse of tigers at the Tiger Temple by paying to have their photos made with the big cats HERE.