Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted on Jan 14, 2018 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Jungle Safari AKA The Zoo Pat and Robert Engesser

Jungle Safari AKA The Zoo Pat and Robert Engesser

Jungle Safari AKA The Zoo Pat and Robert Engesser

Jungle Safari (formerly known as Engesser’s Exotic Felines, Luce Enterprises, The Zoo, and Endangered Species, Inc.)  is a privately-owned traveling petting zoo which spends 9 months of the year displaying big cats and their cubs in the parking lots of malls and shopping centers.  Although it occasionally claims to be a “rescue,” owners Pat and Robert Engesser are for-profit big cat breeders who have repeatedly failed to comply with minimal animal care standards established in the federal Animal Welfare Act.

USDA inspectors have cited Jungle Safari numerous times for repeatedly failing to provide animals with appropriate food, water, veterinary care, and enrichment, failing to maintain enclosures and transport trailers, and housing animals in filthy cages. They have also been cited for exhibiting animals with zoonotic (transmissible to humans) diseases, for the death of a tiger cub, and for the injury of a 5-year-old girl who was attacked by a leopard.

In 2016, a Jungle Safari employee was arrested for multiple counts of sexually molesting young girls who visited the exhibit. A lawsuit brought against the petting zoo and the shopping plaza they were set up at alleged that Jungle Safari continued to allow this employee to work with children even after his misconduct was brought to their attention.

Note the first cub is only 6 weeks old and not even old enough for her first inoculations to protect her from disease.  USDA guidelines say she should still be with her mother until she’s four weeks old.  If that had happened she wouldn’t tolerate being touched by humans.  She’s clearly stressed and wants to nurse when the keeper tosses in the furry toy.  The 10 month old is biting her front paws hard and the videographer notes that back claws are visible, but it looks like she’s been declawed on the front, even though that’s been illegal since 2006.  When asked what zoo the cubs are going to the keepers get vague and we are pretty sure it’s because they aren’t proud of the circumstances that await these cubs.

This is what videographers have to say:

Published on Jul 4, 2012 by Sophiaz123

“Tigers need water to cool off in hot weather. This is a horrid Zoo Safari in Hamilton, Ohio in front of Big Lots on Rt. 4, july 4th, the temperature was 100 degrees and VERY humid. Taken at 5pm. Sorry only 9 seconds. Shot a second video but was shakier than this one. I was very upset and trying to hold it together. I am sure the fan on him feels like a hot blow dryers. Disgusting that this Robert Engesser guy calls himself a “traveling zoo” when it’s nothing but Animal Cruelty Galore. From Chiefland, Florida. Google him yourself. Disturbing. He has a camel, monkeys, goats and wild cats. He keeps his cats in cages like this for MINIMUM of 4 weeks. It can NEVER walk around!! Disgraceful. Tigers need to swim to cool off. I saw no water. The police did nothing when I called them. Powerless they said ????”

Tim Harrison of Outreach for Animals filmed this disturbing video at Jungle Safari in 2012. He writes:

“I went there and could not believe what I saw. The big cats, (tigers, a black leopard, and a lion cub) were overheated and panting rapidly. The temperature was 96 degrees (110 heat index) The tigers and black leopard had no comfortable flooring for their small cages. The 8 week old lion cub was being used for photos and passed around to anyone who wanted to touch it. There are too many lions being bred by dealers in the USA just to be used for money making “educational traveling zoos.” Most are destroyed after growing too large. I spoke with the manager of Big Lots where the “zoo” had its tent set up in their parking lot. He said they will not have them back next year. It is up to all of us to stop this cruelty. Please contact the owners of properties where this madness happens and… …ask them to be more humane.”

Animal Cruelty

Jungle Safari exhibits leopards, lions, and other large cats in tiny, hot, barren travel cages for weeks at a time, and constantly breeds tiger and lion cubs in order to sell $15 “photo ops” with little regard for federal laws or animal welfare. When not on the road, the animals are housed in small enclosures on Engesser’s farm in Trenton, Florida.

Jungle Safari has been cited by the USDA for the following violations of the Animal Welfare Act:

USDA License #58-C-0295

It’s impossible to know if there are more recent citations as the USDA is hiding the inspection reports and telling inspectors to “educate” rather than cite violators.

January 5, 2015: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for failure to dispose of expired medication. One of the drugs had expired in December 2009. The inspector noted that “[u]sing expired medication for treatment is not an accepted and appropriate method of veterinary care.”

September 7, 2011: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for putting the public and animals at risk by placing a young lion directly onto the laps of children. The inspector noted that in “all cases,” the zoo attendant had no control over the 11-week-old lion cub and that the practice “could easily result in injury.” Adults were also allowed to hold and handle the cub as well as a kangaroo and a capuchin monkey.

July 12, 2011: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for accumulations of dirt in the food storage and  preparation areas, including under and around the freezers, cooler, table, and food containers.

March 18, 2011: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for using a “highly active” 16-week-old tiger cub in public photo sessions. Engesser said that he would be replacing the tiger with another. He was also cited for causing a primate psychological harm by housing a 12-year-old weeper capuchin monkey alone after her mate died. The inspector noted that the monkey had excessive hair loss and observed her biting her tail. There was no environmental enhancement plan—as required for primates—to address her neurotic and abnormal behavior. Engesser refused to sign the report.

February 13, 2010: A 9.5-foot-long python was “stolen” from Jungle Safari after the snake was left caged in a South Fort Myers, Florida, parking lot overnight.

October 26, 2007: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for improper handling of animals. An unvaccinated 6-week-old lion cub was being used for public photo sessions, putting the cub at risk of contracting contagious diseases.

May 25, 2007: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for failure to maintain acquisition records for a water buffalo obtained from a person who did not have a USDA license.

July 13, 2006: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for an incomplete program of veterinary care, which omitted vaccination information for two juvenile lion cubs, dosages of chemical restraint drugs for adult tigers and leopards, names and dosages of deworming medication for all animals, and any records of care for a young kangaroo. The inspector also noted that the two lion cubs being used in photo shoots would soon be too large to be safely handled during direct public contact.

January 23, 2004: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for failure to have a responsible person available so that an inspection could be performed.

May 29, 2003: A USDA inspector recommended that Jungle Safari implement signage advising visitors to wash their hands after touching the animals and to provide methods for doing so. The inspector wrote, “The farm animals are of particular concern, especially the calf.”

February 27, 2003: A USDA inspector noted that Jungle Safari lacked sufficient environmental enrichment for primates.

March 1, 2002: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for allowing children to come into direct contact with animals without supervision during exhibition. For the third time, the USDA cited the facility for failing to develop and implement an environment enrichment plan for primates. The baboon and a lemur were exhibiting stereotypic behavior.

August 22, 2001: During an inspection, the USDA noted that the baboon’s stereotypic behavior was still not being addressed.

May 24, 2001: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for failing to provide environment enrichment to a baboon housed alone or to the ring-tailed lemurs. The baboon was seen pacing and head-rolling. A lion cub was being fed an inadequate diet of goat milk replacer (“photo prop cubs” are often deliberately malnourished in order to keep them small for as long as possible). Water containers for the camel and llama were covered in algae.

August 17, 2000: Jungle Safari was cited for failing to provide proper veterinary care to a tiger cub suffering from metabolic bone disease due to lack of proper diet and to a leopard with several areas of missing hair.

June 28, 2000: During a complaint- based inspection, the USDA cited Jungle Safari for failing to provide adequate food to animals.

November 4, 1999: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for failing to store food to protect against deterioration, mold, or contamination by vermin.

April 30, 1999: Jungle Safari was cited for keeping a tiger cub in a cage in which he was unable to turn about freely and make normal postural adjustments. The exhibit was again cited for failing to maintain proper veterinary records to document that an underweight elephant was receiving proper medical attention.

January 28, 1999: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for failing to provide an inclusive program of veterinary care, including measures to prevent zoonosis. A lion cub transmitted ringworm to other animals and a caretaker. The facility was also cited for failing to keep enclosures and food storage areas in good repair. A dead tiger cub was found in the freezer, having died of an unknown (“probably infectious”) respiratory illness.

July 24, 1998: During a complaint- based inspection, the USDA cited Jungle Safari for failing to maintain enclosures adequate to prevent animals from escaping. The exhibitor was also cited for lack of a proper program of veterinary care.

April 24, 1996: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for failing to maintain transport enclosures in good repair.

November 7, 1995: Jungle Safari was cited for improper storage of supplies, for failing to maintain enclosures in good repair, and for a lack of proper water sources for three leopards.

May 20, 1995: In a letter to the owners of Jungle Safari, the attending veterinarian noted observations that the big cats were overweight and stated that a leopard’s tail had to be amputated.

May 15, 1995: Jungle Safari was cited for failing to maintain enclosures in order to prevent injury to animals.

March 2, 1995: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for housing goats, sheep, and llamas in enclosures in which they could not make normal postural adjustments. It was again cited for failing to provide enrichment to a baboon who was constantly pacing and picking at her skin—a sign of zoochosis. There was also no record of veterinary care, and an elephant was observed to be thin.

October 12, 1994: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for failing to store food in order to prevent contamination and to maintain transport containers in good repair.

June 10, 1994: Jungle Safari was cited for failing to store food properly to prevent contamination. The baboon was exhibiting stereotypic behavior indicative of zoochosis.

March 8-11, 1994: During this inspection, the USDA cited Jungle Safari for failing to maintain enclosures in good repair and for failing to store bedding to prevent contamination. A male tiger was noted as underweight and suffering from a lame paw. Jungle Safari staff was not able to provide records to account for the whereabouts of all animals. Enclosures and perimeter fencing were noted to be inadequate to safely contain animals. The camel’s water source was found to be filled with algae and silt.

February 11, 1994: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for failing to implement an environment enrichment program for primates, and the lemurs did not have access to a den to which they could retreat from the public. Food was noted to be stored in a manner in which it could become contaminated, and enclosures were noted to be in disrepair.

May 11, 1993: The USDA cited Jungle Safari for housing lemurs, lions, and tigers in transport containers.

August 9, 1990: According to the Rapid City Journal, a leopard attacked and mauled a 5-year-old girl while on display at the Black Hills Motor Classic in South Dakota. Reportedly, the leopard, who was restrained with a small chain fastened to a box, leaped on the girl’s back as she walked past him.

Cub Abuse

Robert Engesser Jungle Safari Zoo Abuse Jungle Safari makes tens of thousands of dollars in profit by selling photos of guests holding a tiger or lion cub. But since USDA recommends that cubs only be handled by the public between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks, Jungle Safari must constantly breed, exploit, and dump cubs in order to continue selling photos. Pictures posted online by Engesser and his employees show a constant stream of injured, inbred, and sick cubs on display at Jungle Safari. Shortly after birth, staff remove baby lions and tigers from their mothers and place them in dog crates, where the tiny cubs rub their noses raw and bloody on the bars in a frantic attempt to escape.

Robert Engesser Jungle Safari Zoo Abuse

On exhibit, the cubs are used as photo props, constantly handled by the public, and placed in the laps of children, even when they are too exhausted to hold their heads up.

Because Jungle Safari uses inbreeding in an attempt to create white tigers, many of the cubs are born with genetic deformities such as crossed eyes. These animals are sometimes kept as “breeders,” resulting in generation after generation of damaged cubs.

Robert Engesser Jungle Safari Zoo AbuseOccasionally, Jungle Safari buys newborn cubs from breeders in other states. In June 2017, a certificate of veterinary inspection issued to the notoriously abusive G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma revealed that Jungle Safari arranged for the interstate transfer of a 4-week-old tiger cub, who was forcibly and prematurely separated from her mother, in apparent violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act. USDA policy acknowledges that neonatal cubs (4 weeks of age or younger) are not able to regulate their body temperatures and have an underdeveloped immune system, placing them at risk of disease and infection.

In 2017, Jungle Safari brought this tiny lion cub to a local radio station. Not only should this cub still be with his mother, he appears to be thin with a scruffy coat.

Where do the cubs go?

Once cubs are too large for the public to handle, Jungle Safari sells them and replaces them with new cubs. Nobody knows where the majority of these cubs end up, but it is known that the owners of Jungle Safari have known connections with notoriously abusive private zoos and circus trainers, including Joe Schreibvogel Maldonado Passage, Vincent Von Duke, Kathy Stearns, Brian Staples, Josip Marcan, “doc” Antle, Lynn Culver, and Felicia Frisco.

In January 2005, the owners of Jungle Safari advertised lion cubs for sale in Animal Finders’ Guide, a (now defunct) trade publication for private exotic animal breeders and dealers. Later that year, a Hernando Today article interviewed Pat Engesser at an exotic-animal auction in Florida. Engesser, described as a big cat breeder for 30 years, said that she attended the auction with the hope of selling lion cubs to other breeders. Animals sold at such auctions often end up at canned hunts, in the “pet” trade, or at poorly run roadside zoos.

Jungle Safari is known to have sold cubs to the notorious “Hovatter’s Wildlife Zoo“, a roadside menagerie in West Virginia that has shown repeated contempt for federal regulations.

These lion cubs were sold by Jungle Safari to the notoriously abusive DEW Haven, where they were kept in the living room of a house.

Robert Engesser Jungle Safari Zoo Abuse

Around 2015, this lion cub with a severe case of ringworm was sold by Jungle Safari to an undisclosed buyer.

RingwormRobert Engesser Jungle Safari Zoo Abuse

A History of Abuse

The company that would become Jungle Safari was founded in 1968 by Roxy (Luce) Engesser, a circus trainer who decided to make a living breeding exotic cats for zoos and traveling the country to sell photos with the cubs. By 1984, “Engesser’s Exotic Felines” had a whopping 286 breeding big cats on lease to other private exhibitors nationwide, according to an Ocala Star-Banner report about Engesser’s plans to build a “retirement home” for her animals in a residential Levy County subdivision. In the article, Mrs. Engesser made the dangerous (and false) claim that “these aren’t wild cats, they’ve been hand raised. After about 10 generations in captivity, these animals even lose the instinct to kill their prey.” When Roxy passed away, the family big cat business was left in the hands of her son, Robert, and his wife, Pat.

Two Cats Who Were Abused and Abandoned by Roxy Engesser

Snorkle Tiger

Snorkle Tiger

Snorkel Tiger was bred in 1996 by Roxy Engesser, the same abuser who bred Nakoma the lion. She breeds lions and tigers and uses them to make money by selling you a photo of you holding a cute little cub. Typically these cubs are starved, deprived of bone building calcium and even poisoned to give them constant diarrhea so that they cannot gain weight. They do this because the cubs are only profitable while they are small. Once they reach 45 pounds they cannot be touched by the public, according to FL state law, and then they are discarded.

Snorkel was given to a small family operated circus when he exceeded 45 pounds at the age of 6 months but because he had been so deprived of nutrition he was very tiny and stands on little stunted legs. The other bigger circus tigers beat him up and one bit him across the nose so severely that when he chuffs it sounds like he is drowning, thus his name. He has never had soft grass to roll in nor a pool or mountain cave to call his own before going to Big Cat Rescue.

Nakoma Lion was used as a photo prop by the owners of Jungle Safari. He was purposely starved, deprived of vitamins and calcium, and kept in a small concrete space. Hardly conditions fit for a king.

Nakoma Lion

Nakoma Lion

That’s when Big Cat Rescue stepped in and purchased young Nakoma at a livestock auction. Imagine that, the “king of beasts” being auctioned off. Nakoma was so crippled in the hind legs and so malnourished that no one wanted him and he was sold for only $200.  (Big Cat Rescue stopped paying to rescue animals in the ’90s)

Only a year earlier this little lion cub was being pimped out as a photo prop. His owner (Engesser) made money by selling people the opportunity to have their photograph taken with the cute and cuddly lion cub. In the state of Florida, however, it is against the law to allow contact with a big cat over 45 pounds. So Engesser purposely starved him and deprived him of vitamins to keep him under the weight limit. As a result of this deficiency, Nakoma developed paralysis in his hind legs. Crippled, unwanted and abused, he was found with gaping gashes in his body that had become infested with maggots. Yet despite all this, he was still a very lovable, talkative cub.

Big Cat Rescue took Nakoma into their care. But after a year and a half of proper nutrition and supplements, he was still having an increasingly hard time moving his back legs. It took him two hours just to walk across his pen by dragging himself with his front paws. X-rays, a spinal tap and MRI all came out negative, meaning that Nakoma’s paralysis had most likely been caused by the thiamine deficiency he endured.

On July 12, 1998, during his MRI, Nakoma tragically stopped breathing and died. His quiet passing may have been a blessing in disguise since nothing could be done for his crippled body. In fact, the vets said his condition would have continued to deteriorate until he could not move at all.

Today, Nakoma rests in a grave on the site, adorned with his proud picture. This brave little king will never be forgotten and everybody can take solace in that Big Cat Rescue was at least able to make his last years a little better.

News Coverage

Roadside zoo sparks protests, second thoughts

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Posted Jan 19, 2007 at 3:24 AM


I saw the tent being pitched and anxiously waited to see the wonderful animals that would soon be on display in South Venice.

Traveling zoos remind me of being a youngster and visiting the zoo with my parents and siblings. It was a day trip that we always looked forward to as children. Later, when I had my own children, I made sure we took similar trips at least once a year to see the animals and give my kids the same experience.

So when the Jungle Safari pulled into town, I was ready to relive the fond memories I had of those days. What I saw instead on repeated visits saddened me.

Maybe I was seeing with different eyes, but the wonderment of it all was gone.

A realization hit me that a traveling zoo is not the same as a zoo at all.

I saw large animals that were unable to run, raise their heads up and in one case, unable to turn around at all in their cages.

Some were standing in their own feces because they had nowhere else to go.

I saw a tiger cub repeatedly return to an empty water dish while several other cages had no water dish at all.

When David Hadley, 44, saw the roadside traveling zoo at the Venice Village Shoppes at U.S. 41 and Jacaranda Boulevard, he traded in his beach and house-hunting time for some protest time.

Creating a makeshift sign out of foam board, the Army veteran stood at the roadside garnering support from fellow animal lovers.

Among the honks of approval, however, were shouts of profanity and displays of obscene gestures. Hadley, a former airborne combat medic in the Army, stood firm.

“I have a right to protest, it’s a freedom of speech and I earned that right,” said Hadley, who suffers from a painful hip. With his walking cane and Luna, his rescued border collie mix, Hadley remained undaunted.

The Jungle Safari traveling zoo is owned and operated by Robert Engesser.

“It was my parents’ zoo, and now it is mine,” said Engesser, referring to the original owners as the Luce family.

Soon Hadley was joined by Englewood sisters Nicole Miers, 17, and Tiffany Miers-Pandolfi, 21.

Later, Venice MCC student Monica Moore, 18, joined the group with her own homemade sign.

“I’m a big animal lover and I don’t like to see animals trapped unfairly. They deserve a chance to be in their own habitat and have a happy life,” Moore said.

A state wildlife inspector visited the setup in South Venice and found no violations.

For nearly 11 months out of the year, the animals travel from parking lot to parking lot throughout the South.

A typical day requires them to stand from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in small cages directly on pavement.

Engesser acknowledged that the protesters had a right to share their feelings but defended the zoo’s ability to expose kids to exotic creatures.

“I believe that the protesters are entitled to their opinion. But it’s a chance for kids to see animals they wouldn’t otherwise see. It’s a family thing. The protesters just don’t like to see animals in cages and they don’t like to see them spend their lives like that,” Engesser said.

Well, maybe.

But not so for North Port protester Holly Carver, who also joined the group objecting to the roadside menagerie.

“I do support zoos, but this is a whole different thing. I don’t believe it’s right for animals to be traveling in small environments. They can’t move around. It’s not much of a life for them,” Carver said sadly.

In his defense, Engesser added, “We are taking and raising these animals from babies, and they are used to captivity. They are used to it and comfortable with it. It’s not like we are taking them from the wild and putting them in captivity. They don’t have that stress factor.”

Maybe not, except for one small cub who had a noticeable mark on his forehead. A caretaker said the cub had been banging its head against its cage again and again.

“I’m here as a moral decision to stop the cruelty that the animals are subjected to. In 2007, it’s just unacceptable in our society,” said Hadley.

Pony ride worker accused of inappropriately touching children

By Tom Smith

Senior Staff Writer, Florence Times-Daily

Apr 30, 2016

Daryl V Raymond Jr., of Stockholm, MaineFLORENCE — A man working at a traveling petting zoo with the pony ride has been arrested and charged after police said he inappropriately was touching little girls who were riding the animals.

Police Sgt. Brad Holmes said Daryl V Raymond Jr., 48, of Stockholm, Maine, has been charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a child under 12.

Holmes said police were notified of the allegations Friday while detectives were investigating a homicide.

Reports indicate while the sexual abuse case was under investigation, a second victim came forward.

Police said Raymond was taken into custody Saturday morning at the petting zoo, which had set up operations in the Big Lots Shopping Center on Darby Drive.

Authorities said Raymond was picked up without incident, interviewed, then arrested and charged.

Police Detective Keith Johnson said Raymond was an employee of Jungle Safari, which is based in Chiefland, Florida.

He said after the investigation and arrest of Raymond, the owner of the petting zoo was closing his operation and leaving the area.

According to reports, since Raymond’s arrest, three more reports of similar incidents have been made to police.

Police said two of the incidents are supposed to have happened Thursday and three Friday. The victims are all young girls between the ages of 3 and 5.

Investigators said Raymond was working the pony ride and, according to allegations, he would have his left hand on the pole that guided the pony and his right hand on the saddle horn where the victims were sitting. During the ride, while he was walking with the pony, he would inappropriately touch the girls, police said.

Johnson said the first incident was reported Friday after a young girl told her family what happened and the police were notified.

Authorities said after reporting the incident, a family member put a post on social media about what had happened, and other incidents started being reported.

Raymond has denied the allegations.

More charges are pending as the case continues.

Sexual abuse of a child under 12 is a Class B felony, which is punishable by 2-20 years in prison.

Raymond is being held in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on bond of $100,000.

Petting zoo employee now has 5 child sex abuse charges in Alabama

Posted May 2, 2016

By Jonathan Grass,

A man already accused of sexually abusing two children who visited the traveling petting zoo where he works now faces additional charges.

Daryl V. Raymond Jr., 48, of Stockholm, Maine was arrested in Florence on Saturday.

He worked for Jungle Safari, a Florida-based petting zoo that travels to malls, fairs and festivals across the country, according to its website.

He was originally charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12. Police say two children who visited the petting zoo came forward with accusations.

On Monday, Raymond was charged with three additional counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12. He is in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on bonds totaling $250,000.

Five victims have come forward so far, and additional charges are pending, Sgt. Brad Holmes said.

Jungle Safari’s owner told Florence police that he planned to move the petting zoo to another city ahead of schedule. Holmes said the owner has cooperated fully throughout the investigation, which is ongoing.

Traveling zoos, carnivals only need business license

By Jennifer Edwards, Florence Times-Daily

May 3, 2016

FLORENCE — A simple business license is the only permission a traveling show needs in three of the four Shoals cities, but Florence officials are reviewing their process in the wake of a child sexual abuse case.

Obtaining a business license is the only requirement Jungle Safari had to meet before setting up a free petting zoo in a Darby Drive parking lot. An employee of that outfit, Daryl V. Raymond Jr., was arrested Saturday and charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a child under 12.

Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler wants to take another look at the business license requirement.

“When I talked to (Florence Mayor Mickey Haddock) Saturday to inform him about what was going on, he said then that, at the first opportunity, to get with the city attorney and look at making changes to the ordinance that governs those businesses,” Tyler said Monday.

“We want to look at the cost of temporary business licenses — businesses that are not going to make a permanent home here.”

Tyler said city officials would not prohibit temporary business license issuance to companies that come into Florence to do fundraisers for Shoals-based agencies or groups. He said scrutiny would be especially close on businesses such as the petting zoo traveling show.

“These companies are coming in with employees who may or may not have had background checks,” he said. “That is up to the employer.”

Raymond, 48, of Stockholm, Maine, is accused of inappropriately touching young girls while he was operating the pony ride at Jungle Safari. Chief Assistant District Attorney Will Powell said at Raymond’s initial court appearance Monday more charges are likely after three additional complaints were made. Raymond has been detained without bond in the Lauderdale County Detention Center pending a bond hearing scheduled for Friday.

“As a result to what happened Saturday, we are going to do some research into other cities as to how they handle temporary business licenses and see what we can do to strengthen some of the protection for our citizens,” Tyler said. “You just can’t have unknown people coming in with unknown backgrounds.”

Florence spokesman Phil Stevenson said if a vendor does not require a utility connection, the only permit necessary is a business license. The city’s simple business license is $75. Vendors selling wares pay a business license fee in proportion to anticipated sales.

Tyler said there is a reason authorities acted quickly Saturday when the allegations surfaced.

“We knew the petting zoo was not going to be here long and once he was gone, he would be gone,” Tyler said. “Hopefully this will never happen again. We’re trying to make sure it never does.”

Jungle Safari closed and left Florence on Saturday.

The latest United States Department of Agriculture inspection report shows Zoo/Jungle Safari is based in Chiefland, Florida, and is operated by Robert Engesser. A USDA inspection, performed March 17, 2016, when the traveling show was set up in Graceville, Florida, shows Jungle Safari had exotic animals including tigers, a camel, a kangaroo and several primates, goats, llamas and a cow or ox.

Obtaining a license for traveling vendors is fairly routine. In Florence, if a utility connection is required to operate lights, signs or rides, the city inspects the connection to ensure the work was done properly and safely, Stevenson said.

Tuscumbia requires a business license and requires fire-rated tents be used, according to city Building Official Luster Echols.

Sheffield requires a $100 flat fee for its privilege license, which is good for 10 days. In the case of a carnival, if there are peripheral vendors not associated with the carnival itself, each one would pay $10 a day to the city. The $100 flat fee is waived if it’s a nonprofit. Sheffield issues one privilege license every 120 days for the same vendor.

Muscle Shoals is the strictest among the four Shoals cities and imposes regulations on temporary vendors that go beyond a simple business license. Revenue Clerk Rebecca Barnett said a business license is required for anyone setting up in Muscle Shoals, but to obtain one the vendor must rent a suite or storefront at the location, have utility service turned on using the name of the operator, and have functioning restrooms.

Barnett said carnivals previously have set up in shopping center parking lots, but could not recall one recently.

Tyler said he is meeting with the Florence city attorney this week to discuss the ordinance governing temporary businesses.

“We can’t tolerate, never again, someone endangering our children,” he said.

Lawsuit filed in Lauderdale County against petting zoo & employee accused of sexual assault

Posted 2:52 pm, December 5, 2016, by Carter Watkins, WHNT19 News

FLORENCE, Ala. – A civil lawsuit has been filed against the owners of a petting zoo, who employed a man accused of inappropriately touching several small children. The lawsuit has been filed in Lauderdale County Circuit Court.

The 10-page complaint was filed on behalf of three sets of parents, whose children were allegedly touched by Daryl Raymond while he was working for Jungle Safari.

The complaint names Engesser’s Exotics, the parent company of Jungle Safari, the Florence Plaza, and Daryl Raymond as defendants.

The Florence Plaza is named as a defendant because according to the suit, they used the petting zoo as a promotion to get more shoppers to visit.

The plaintiffs state Jungle Safari and Florence Plaza should have known Raymond’s history and practice of assault, and in particular, sexual assault of minor children.

The suit claims Raymond touched three children on the dates of April 28th and 29th.

According to Florence Police, Raymond was working on a pony ride at Jungle Safari at that time.

In August, a Lauderdale County grand jury indicted Raymond on six counts of unlawful sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12.

The lawsuit goes on to say, Jungle Safari continued to allow Raymond to operate the pony ride after a complaint was brought to their attention on the 28th. The suit said two more victims were sexually assaulted on April 29th.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages to be determined by a jury.

According to Florence Police, there were a total of six victims Raymond is accused of touching.

Raymond is set to stand trial on criminal charges next spring.  Dates for the civil suit to be heard have not been set. Raymond remains in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on bail totaling $300,000.

Traveling exhibit of exotic animals stops in Bryan

By Brooke West, The Bryan Eagle

Dec 1, 2012


It’s a zoo in Bryan this week.

Jungle Safari, a free exotic animal exhibit, set up in the 3700 block of Texas Avenue on Wednesday and will stay until Sunday at 5 p.m.

Mathilda, a four-year-old kangaroo, shoved her nose through a wire square, giving passersby a curious sniff. Empress the three-year-old Bengal tiger — all 425 pounds of her — slept soundly in her cage. A tiny but busy Zeus, a 9-week-old Bengal tiger cub, circled behind a fence, purring and nuzzling against the warm hands of caretakers who reached in to pet his fuzzy head.

The owner and manager of Jungle Safari, Robert Engesser, said he’s glad to be in Bryan for the first time.

“This enables us to share these guys with the public,” Engesser said, gesturing toward the monkeys, lemurs, goats, ponies, and the camel on display.

Engesser said the traveling zoo provides a chance for people in areas that don’t have permanent exhibits to see, learn and interact with the animals.

Engesser has been showing his variety of animals across the United States for 31 years, he said. He and his crew of handlers and caretakers are on the road for nine and a half months out of the year. The other two and a half months are spent on his land in Chiefland, Fla.

Admission to the exhibit — equipped with eight goats, one cow, two llamas, one camel, three ponies, one spotted mule, two monkeys, two lemurs, and two tigers — is free. There is a cost, however, to ride the camel or ponies, feed the animals or take pictures with them. There is also a white tiger and black leopard on display for a $1 charge.

Engesser said the free admission is “doing it the old-fashioned way.” He said the profits made through pictures, feeding and rides pays all of the employees and allows them to keep the exhibit on the move.

Dealing with large exotic animals safely, Engesser said, is a matter of their weight.

“You have to know what you are doing,” he said. “Size dictates how they should be handled. We want to protect the public from the animal and the animal from the public. These are still wild animals.”

The full-grown Bengal tiger was raised in captivity, Engesser said, and has grown up “socialized.”

“Anytime an animal is on display and confined, there is not a stress factor,” Engesser said. “Inevitably you will have the extreme view. There are a number of ways to be raised healthily in captivity.”

Engesser said his grandparents and parents were operating the traveling zoo before him.

Growing up, he hated it, he said. So he decided to be a mechanic instead.

“I wanted to get away from it so bad,” Engesser laughed. “Then I found out that’s work, too. I figured I might as well come back to what I love if I was gonna have to work anyway.”

In order to operate such a business, Jungle Safari must have an exhibitor license through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Engesser also had to acquire a special event permit from the city of Bryan.

Dave Sacks, spokeswoman for the USDA, said the goal of licenses is to enforce the Animal Wellness Act.

“The act is a federal set of care standards that must be met for facilities with certain types of animals,” Sacks said. “We put them on unannounced inspections to see how they are treating their animals.”

Sacks said that anything not in compliance with general USDA guidelines is cited, and the operator is given a timeframe in which to correct the problem.

“It can be anything from a hole in the hippo’s cage, to a giraffe with a broken leg,” Sacks said. “It can really run the gamut.”

Regulations set by the organization are not specific, Sacks said. For instance, cage size standards are not determined for each animal, but should be large enough for the animal to move about freely.

“The bottom line is ensuring the welfare of these animals,” Sacks said. “The responsibility falls to them. These folks do what they need to do, and we do what we need to do to ensure the animals are healthy.”

Sacks said Jungle Safari’s last 11 inspections were “pretty clean.”

According to the USDA, the zoo was issued a warning letter on March 8, 1994, and a civil penalty of $250 on May 24, 1999.

Sacks could not detail the nature of the penalties because the cases are outdated.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has several citations to Jungle Safari listed on their website, but Sacks did not confirm that they are consistent with USDA records.

According to PETA, the March 8, 1994 infraction was for failure to maintain enclosures and failure to store bedding to prevent contamination.

There was not an entry in PETA’s records for the May 24, 1999 civil penalty.

Engesser said he thinks Jungle Safari has a “decent record” in all its 31 years.

He said there was an infraction in the past for improper food care for the animals, but the organization was in the process of building a new food housing system at the time.

“[The USDA] wants to oversee the animals’ health and welfare, Engesser said. “I think we’ve done a good job of that.”

When the animals aren’t on the road, he said, they have open spaces to roam back home in Florida.

He said he has a close relationship with two vets he consults with often to ensure the health of the animals.

A pair of sisters, 11-year-old Caitlyn and 8-year-old Ashlyn Seal, lit up as they stopped to gaze at each animal.

“It’s pretty cool,” Caitlyn said. “When we went to feed the goats we put the money in [the machine] and they all came right to it!”

Ashlyn said her favorite part was riding the 2,000 pound camel.

Their mom, Julie Seal, said she wanted to bring her daughters after hearing about the exhibit on the radio. She was especially excited about them getting to ride the camel.

“I remember riding one at a circus when I was little, so I wanted them to do it,” Julie said. “I do feel bad that the animals are kind of in cages but they’re so cute. It’s hard not to want to look at them.”

Engesser said there will be a public feeding Saturday at 7:30 p.m., where anyone is welcome to watch the exotic animals be fed. There will also be a lecture about the animals, he said.

2011 Fox News Charlotte Report on USDA Violations

MONROE, N.C. – From the tame and the typical to totally wild. The traveling petting zoo called Jungle Safari has a little bit of everything, all in the parking lot of Monroe Crossing mall. A mom of two boys says, “I think it’s cool, we were just driving by and like, free admission, why not?” And 11-year-old Zack Weilage says, “Animals are amazing!”

There are tigers, there are camels, there are lemurs and there is a USDA inspection report from March. It levels two concerns, first: a 16-week-old “highly active” tiger cub used for pictures with the public. “‘Too rambunctious’ is actually what she (the inspector) said,” says the zoo owner Robert Engesser.

The inspector noted her concern that the cub couldn’t be controlled in a way that would keep him and the public safe. Engesser replaced the cub with a nine and a half week old lion.

The other issue: a capuchin monkey. The report lists hair loss and tail biting; signs of psychological distress. The zoo had not documented the steps it was taking to address the monkey’s neurotic behavior, often caused by a lack of interaction. The report says her mate died two months ago. Engesser says, “There’s quite a bit of interaction.”

Engesser has owned the traveling zoo for about 13 years. He appealed the March inspection, was denied, and says he will appeal again. He says, “I don’t feel in that situation they were correct, but they’re entitled to their opinion just like I am mine.”

Engesser says he has 30 big cats at his permanent facility in Florida. He rotates which ones are on tour. The two-year -old female tiger currently with him will stay inside her cage for four weeks before returning to Florida.

“It seems fun and it seems great for the kids, but in reality, it’s not, especially not for the poor animals in there,” says Monroe resident Felicia Kiker. She didn’t like what she saw at the petting zoo. “The animals are all in little cages, animals which are supposed to be in the wild,” says Kiker.

Engesser expects between five and six thousand visitors through the weekend. He insists all of the animals are well taken care of and that public safety is his priority. He says, “If we feel it’s a danger to the animal as well as the public, we’re not gonna use it.”

The USDA has inspected the zoo eight times in the last three years. The March report is the only one with citations. Mall management wasn’t aware of the March inspection until FOX Charlotte brought it to their attention. They tell us, “Jungle Safari approached us about operating at Monroe Crossing and we offered them the space free of charge because we knew it would be a great attraction for the community.”

Note: Thankfully the belief that such abuse is good for business is an outdated opinion.


Read More

Posted on Dec 29, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Stephanie Taunton Hesperia Zoo

Stephanie Taunton Hesperia Zoo

Stephanie Taunton Hesperia Zoo

Hesperia-Zoo-abuse-white-tigerDecember 2017.  Hesperia Zoo has repeatedly and continually shown contempt for the law, animal welfare, and public safety, to the point that the federal government seems to be trying to shut them down.

Like many facilities that exploit wild cats, Stephanie Taunton’s Hesperia Zoo has changed its name, which is why it can be difficult to find information about them. Before 2007, they were called the Cinema Safari Zoo, and Taunton still rents out its exotic animals for movies and photo shoots under the name “Bow Wow Productions” or “All Animal Productions.”

In 2006, a 500-lb. tiger escaped from its enclosure at the Hesperia Zoo when employees failed to lock the cage during cleaning. Because the zoo did not have the proper equipment on hand to tranquilize a tiger, the animal was on the loose for hours, during which time he attacked a donkey. The zoo’s owners repeatedly refused to comment on the incident, stating that the zoo is “private property and the media is not welcome.”

In 2008, the zoo was fined $30,000 by the federal government for “willful violations” of the Animal Welfare Act and was temporarily disqualified from obtaining a USDA license. Note that this is almost unheard of, and only happens to the absolute worst of the worst facilities. The USDA docket for this ordered Taunton to immediately cease and desist from the following violations (among others):

  • operating as an exhibitor without a valid license from the Secretary of Agriculture;
  • failing to make animals, facilities, and records available to USDA officials for inspection;
  • failing, during public exhibition, to handle animals with sufficient distance and/or barriers between the animals and the general viewing public so as to assure the safety of the animals and the public;
  • failing to provide dogs with minimally-adequate floor space or shelter from the elements;
  • failing to construct housing facilities so that they are structurally sound, protect the animals from injury, and contain the animals;
  • failing to provide animals with shelter; and
  • failing to remove feces from enclosures.

Hesperia-Zoo-abuse-tiger-0In 2014, Taunton was served with a lengthy formal complaint by the USDA for deliberately ignoring the cease and desist order, continuing to block inspectors from viewing the facility, continuing to house animals in dangerous or filthy enclosures, and failing to provide animals with veterinary care. In this document, the USDA threatens to permanently revoke Taunton’s exhibitors license, stating that “the gravity of the violations herein is great, and includes repeated noncompliance with the access, records, and identification Regulations, and failure to meet the minimum standards for veterinary care, housing, and husbandry. Respondent has not shown good faith.”

According to yet another docket, Taunton has ignored this complaint and as of last year is still trying to fight the USDA in court. Refusing to keep records of animals is a huge red flag for animal trafficking.

It’s also worth noting that Taunton’s legal troubles aren’t just with government inspectors — in 2011, she was served with a restraining order after making a “credible threat of violence” against Kele Young, the owner of another questionable private big cat zoo in Palm Springs. According to court documents,

“Young and Taunton were present at a hearing on September 2, 2011. Young stated Taunton called her and said, “Well, you fucked with the wrong people. You pissed off the wrong people.’ . . . `You think you’ve never had any problems out at your facility? Well, you wait and see what’s going to happen to you now, and you fucking wait and see what’s going to happen to all those fucking animals.” Taunton said she called Young and asked her why she was distributing the USDA’s inspection reports [on the Hesperia Zoo] to newspapers and colleagues. The trial court, Judge Steve Malone, concluded there was a credible threat of violence and issued a temporary order prohibiting Taunton from harassing, contacting, or coming within 100 yards of Young, her home, place of employment, vehicle, and the wildlife preserve.

On September 22, 2011, Commissioner Robert Fowler dismissed the matter without prejudice concluding Taunton had not been served. That same day, Young re-filed a request for an order to stop harassment. In her request, Young stated that on August 31, 2011, and September 20, 2011, Taunton and her associates made credible threats of violence via telephone and text message against her and the animals at her wildlife preserve. She also stated rattlesnakes had been set free on her property.” 

Sounds like someone who really cares about animals, right? Needless to say, stay far away from this place. I know it’s tempting to want to interact with big cats, but it’s my belief that if you wouldn’t pay to abuse or kill a tiger, don’t pay to interact with one at a private facility like this — because that’s exactly what you’re supporting.

Below are some photos taken by tourists at Hesperia Zoo:

Hesperia-Zoo-abuse-bear Hesperia-Zoo-abuse-lion Hesperia-Zoo-abuse-tiger-2 Hesperia-Zoo-abuse-tiger

Read More

Posted on Dec 6, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 16 comments

Black Jaguar White Tiger

Black Jaguar White Tiger

Dec 6, 2017 Instagram begins to flag animal abuse hashtags.  Now, if you search for cruel acts to do, such as #TigerSelfie Instagram pops up a notice saying “Protect Wildlife on Instagram  Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on Instagram.  You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment.”  If you type in #blackjaguarwhitetiger you get that warning now.

Hopefully this will put an end to the abusive practice of speed breeding big cats to pull their cubs for pay to play schemes and as ego props in photos and videos posted online.

Nov 14, 2017 Watchdog BJWT posted the following opinion piece and we agree that people need to just stop and think a minute, before they share those cub images, because even a few moments of thought should make people wonder why so many tiny cubs and where are they now?

A Facebook Page going by the name of “Action” posted a video of Serio with the title “This man has rescued over 300 big cats. ” This video was shared over 100,000 times. I’ve had a long think about how I’m going to address these grievous actions and I’ve come to the conclusion that I will stick to the facts and omit my more profanity filled opinions about this arsehole. Those are for another day. Let me educate you all:

This cub could aspirate on the milk in this position which could end in pneumonia or death.

1. There is no legal definition of a “sanctuary” in Mexico. There are only “private collectors” of big cats and Zoological Parks.

2. Black Jaguar White Tiger is registered as a “Zoological Entertainment Facility.” Therefore, and make no mistake about this, his facility is NOT a “sanctuary,” it is a ZOO.

3. Eduardo Serio is an ex LA Socialite who spent his years growing up in Hollywood rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. He had shares in a company by the name of Social Reality Inc, a company worth over US$300million. Social Reality Inc is an Internet advertising and technology company. It specializes in developing tools that automate online advertising and digital marketing activities. Serio, according to Serio, sold his share portfolio to fund his Zoo. He is first and foremost, a savvy business man. He has NO knowledge or education or science background in animal husbandry, or big cat behavior and ecology. Nada.

4. He started as a “private collector” of big cats. First with a Jaguar, Cielo, then a lion, Karma and a tiger, Tieris. He shared his house in Monterrey with his three pets together with his co founder of the foundation and now ex girlfriend Rachel Brandt.

5. At that time, his social media accounts were private. His Instagram account consisted of cute videos of his three pets frolicking in swimming pools, playing in his house, with his friends, suckling pacifiers like babies, and chewing on inappropriate items which resulted in the death of Karma.

6. He hit upon the idea of making his Instagram public. Once he pushed that button, Black Jaguar White Tiger was thrust into cyberspace resulting in hundreds of thousands of followers in just a few days. The draw card being the “cutesy” videos of big cat cubs kept as pets in a mansion.

6. When he realized he was sitting on a “fame” goldmine, he upped the videos and started using the word “rescue.” You see, up until that point, he was using the word “adopt.” It just didn’t have the same impact, nor did it pull on the heartstrings of the public in the same way the word “rescue” did. Of course, as the sun rises and sets, his Instagram exploded to what it is today. Over 7 million followers, nearly all of them clueless and ignorant about the ethical management of captive wildlife. Black Jaguar White Tiger has turned into a cub petting empire.

7. PROFEPA and SEMARNAT have given him rescued circus cats. That is true, as there are NO other facilities available to house them other than zoos which are already filled to capacity. The officials were quite impressed with his fame and social media standing. Both government agencies have no idea about the ethical keeping of apex predators and have positioned Serio as Mexico’s foremost expert of big cats. Think about that. A man with no background, education or science.

8. Once BJWT was established, Serio began bringing in more and more cubs. ALWAYS small, nursing cubs. Even with the ban on circus animals, the number one cat “rescued” at BJWT is nursing cubs. If you all go far enough back in his Instagram feed, you’ll find numerous cubs, newborns still with their umbilical cords attached, accompanied with Serio’s bizarre reasons why he has “rescued” them. “The mothers abandoned them, the mothers can’t nurse them, they are runts, they are inbred and have problems.” This list of make believe reasons is regurgitated numerous times when new cubs appear. Same old story, different days. In essence, Serio is a private pet owner, who “claims” to have “rescued” dozens and dozens of big cat cubs, whom he has then used to induce people to follow his social media sites. Without these nursing cubs, Serio’s powerful presence on social media would not be what it is today. How is it that new born cubs magically appear, like clock work, when the previous batch has reached a certain age and can no longer be housed in the mansion? Please use your cognitive thinking when trying to search for an answer. Think about that.

9. Everyone must use an objective gaze when looking at conservation, and apply it here. What functional impact on the protection of wild jaguars does a video of a man pushing a jaguar cub around in a child’s push-car toy have? Nothing. That video is a video of a man playing with his pet. It has, literally, no effect on, or connection to, the protection of existing wild species. But Serio uses the hashtag #protectjaguars and claims that his video of himself playing with his pet somehow promotes “conservation”. This is his gimmick, his schtick. He claims to “raise awareness” via his social media, and yet the only awareness he raises is for his own interactions with his animals.

10. In the public eye BJWT and Serio are the “new face” of conservation, which consists of giving cats a home once they’ve been rescued, but to those of us actively working in conservation–and trying desperately to get the public to care about WILD big cats currently living in wild habitats–Serio is nothing more than false advertising. Nothing he does, or says, helps WILD populations, and all the attention he gets comes from captive bred animals, which were captivity bred just so he could use them to get attention. He is literally actively ADDING to the problem of native big cats, while claiming to solve problems in the wild.

11. There is a long laundry list of questionable methods and practices at BJWT. The mixing of big cat species takes top spot. Here is a fantastic article describing this flawed practice Serio forces on his cats. Please educate yourselves:

12. Cub-petting is, by definition, something done for, and benefiting only to, the humans who are doing the petting. A big cat literally has no need to ever be held by human hands. This is the sort of objective gaze with which conservation must be viewed, with the questions of “How does this animal, and future wild populations benefit from what’s going on?” and “Is this being done for the animal alone?” always in the back of your mind. When you apply those questions to situations like very small cubs being used for photo props, or in situations where customers can pay to hold and play with them, the the fact that those cubs are being bred and produced solely to be used to make money through charging customers a price to play with them is obvious. In the case of BJWT, his celebrity friends are pushing the idea that handling big cats is a “normal” practice and does have conservation value. IT DOES NOT. BJWT HAS NO CONSERVATION VALUE WHATSOEVER.

13. Serio has inspired other foundations which are being actively established, such as Malkia Park in Slovakia, which interact with their cats just like Serio does, and whom Serio supports. But again, these places are breeding cats, and allowing the public to interact with them in order to make money, and they have, literally no impact on actual conservation, aside from the fact that they’re changing the public’s perception of it. People are now coming to think that to go to these parks, and play with the animals is supporting conservation of wild species. And just like the Tiger Temple in Thailand, which commodified their animals, together with other facilities which engage in these same practices, are damaging conservation efforts world wide. The greatest damage being done to wild animals today is the commodification of conservation.

THANK YOU.  by Watchdog BJWT

How can anyone be a follower of Eddie Serio when they see him kick a small cat and mock the cat’s worried owner in this video?

Here is a great article from 2016

This is another excellent article about Black Jaguar White Tiger.

Where do celebrities go to pet cubs?  There are a few backyard breeders in the U.S. but the place that attracts the most, and ignorant celebrities is Black Jaguar White Tiger in Mexico.

You know the public opposes cub breeding and handling when Gizmodo goes after the perpetrators of such cub petting schemes with a vengeance like this article.

This is another well considered article that exposes the lies:

Yahoo Celebrity News understands why it’s wrong:

And bloggers speak out against using cub petting as a way to end cub petting. #BJWT (we had to remove the link to this article because she said she was being threatened and harassed by the BJWT gang.

Artemis Grey calls out Eddie Serio when he tries to act like he’s answering the questions people have, but really isn’t

Black Jaguar White Tiger

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.

Abuse-MinneapolisZoo_TigerCubsBy 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.

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?

Here is a good list of articles about #BJWT

Read More

Posted on Oct 17, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Nergers Splendid Tigers

Nergers Splendid Tigers

After the tigers were forced to perform in the Nerger’s circus act, this white tiger was confined to a tiny cage so guests could take photos. How in the world is taking a photo in front of a caged white tiger educational for these children?

“Nerger’s Splendid Tigers” is an old-school circus act that’s billed as the largest traveling tiger show in the United States. The Nerger Show features one dozen tigers which are forced to jump through flaming hoops, form pyramids, play leapfrog, and “dance.” The act is run by Judit and Juergen Nerger, a pair of German tiger trainers who have worked in circuses throughout eastern Europe for nearly 30 years before coming to the United States. Over the years, the Nergers and their tiger show have worked at the infamous Cole Bros. Circus, the Tarzan Zerbini/Royal Canadian Circus, and many small “shrine circuses” across the country. They also perform at fairs and festivals.

The Nergers are currently employed by John Cuneo’s notorious Hawthorn Corporation, a shadowy group with a history of severe animal abuse that leases exotic animal acts to traveling circuses. Hawthorn has racked up over $272,000 in federal fines and had their USDA license suspended twice for over 100 Animal Welfare Act violations. These including failure to provide veterinary care to sick animals, housing pairs of tigers in 6 foot long travel cages for weeks at a time, attacks by tigers on staff (one of which allegedly involved a tiger being beaten with baseball bats), providing the head and skin of a white tiger to an individual who wanted to make a rug out of the parts, and using nothing but a single thin rope as a Nergers Splendid Tigers“barrier” between the public and adult tigers. Although the Nergers themselves have their own USDA exhibitor’s license (#33-C-0452), their tigers are owned by the Hawthorn Corporation, and are housed at Hawthorn’s Illinois facility when not on the road, raising serious concerns about the conditions the animals live in when not performing.


The Nerger tigers were trained in 2002-3 at the Hawthorn facility by Luis and Marcia Palacio, a team of Mexican trainers who traveled the world in the 1980s with a “mixed act” featuring tigers, lions, leopards, and hyenas. Once the cats were suitably trained, Wade Burck (a circus trainer who once admitted to whacking animals with 2x4s because “they aren’t capable of thinking like I do”) mentored the Nergers in their “presentation methods” and accompanied them to their first few shows.

In this video of the performance, the body language of the cats (ears pinned back, leaning away from the whips) clearly indicates that they are fearful and stressed. Despite the persistent myth that a large animal “can’t be forced to do something it doesn’t want to do”, the motto of the circus is “the show must go on.” In a 2011 interview for a local newspaper, the Nergers admitted that their tigers are naturally solitary creatures and only appear to “get along” while in the ring “because they know we are there”. They also stated that every tiger is made to participate in every performance, even if it is in a “bad mood” that day.

Nergers Tiger Show

More about the Nerger’s

Cubs too small to perform being housed in the back lot of a 2009 Maine circus.

2009 article on a supermarket chain dropping their sponsorship of Nerger’s act after learning about what they were supporting.

Interview with the Nergers from the Sherando Times

22 years with really big cats

A trainer opens up about tigers, PETA and constant danger

by Dan McDermott

April 27, 2011

Juergen Nerger and his wife Judit have been working with big cats for more than twenty years. They headline this year’s Cole Bros. Circus.

For more than 30 years, Juergen and  Judit  Nerger  have  thrilled audiences with their big cat (and occasionally bear) shows. This year, the Nergers and their tiger act will be headlining the Cole Brothers Circus in Winchester during  the 2011 Apple Blossom Festival.

The Sherando Times spoke with Judit Nerger about how she got into such  an  unusual  and  dangerous line of work. Nerger told us about her  life  with  her  feline  colleagues, dealing  with  PETA  and  what  goes through  her  mind  when  she  hears about  a  trainer  getting  mauled, sometimes fatally, while doing what she and her husband do every day.

The  Sherando  Times:  How  did  you  get  interested  and  involved  in  performing with big cats?

Judit  Nerger:  Oh,  that’s  a  long  story from a long time ago. For me it just happened. My husband was working on it and we are originally from East Germany. It was different there and he was the lucky one who got picked out and got in to perform with big cats and train them.

Times: How long have you been performing in front of crowds?

Nerger: Oh gosh, I have to think about it. It’s 22 years for me and for my husband it’s already 25 years.

Times:  Do you own these tigers and do you always perform with the same group?

Nerger: No, we don’t own them. The owner is somebody else. We are just always around them, taking care of them, training, performing, etc.

Times: Typically, would you have to start when they are babies?

Nerger: Not really. It is just always nice if they are at a very young age but like with these cats, they were already 3 or 4 years old when we got them.  So somebody else got them and started, training them. Most of the time, they are 1-1/2 or 2 years old.

Times: So definitely  you  start them young.

Nerger: Yes, we start them young but sometimes you start with older ones if you don’t have any other choice. You can start with them at a very young age, even if they don’t understand what you want, but it’s all just playing around and making them understand this is where you are able to perform, finding out what they like to do which makes the training much easier because each cat has its own personality – they  just have talent on specific things, you know?

Times: So really the cat dictates the show, to a degree because you discover what they like to do? Because obviously you can’t force a tiger to do something it doesn’t want to do?

Nerger: No, it’s kind of pointless to do something which he really cannot.

Times: Do you work exclusively with tigers or also lions?

Nerger: Well, we used to have a lion but we lost him a couple months ago and we are still looking around for a new one to replace him. In the past, before we came over to the United States, we worked with bears too, brown bears.

Times: I noticed that when the circus travels and you see them, the elephants will typically be put in one pen but the tigers and lions they will segregate. Is that because they don’t get along as well as some other animal species?

Nerger: Well, see a tiger in Mother Nature is always single. But lions are a different story. If you have an act with lions you can have all of them together. But with tigers, if you’re lucky you can have 4 or 5 together. But in most cases it’s like 2 by 2. That works out pretty good.

Times: Now they get along during the show. Is that because they are accustomed to each other?

Nerger: Yeah because we are always in there watching them, really not because they like each other, even if they sit right next to each other you never know. It’s just they know we are inside and they don’t have a chance to go at each other. So we have to be on top of it. We are the police in there.

Times: That’s an interesting analogy. Like you said, they have different personalities and just like people they have good days and bad days. Are there some days when one is in a bad mood and you don’t bring that tiger out that day?

Nerger: No, we take them all the time. We just go with the tiger then because before we line them up we can tell, okay this guy is in a bad mood. This female is in a bad mood or she just kind of doesn’t want to do it today. You really put your feelings in there and just keep an eye on that tiger or do this or this today because there is something going on but we aren’t leaving out any cats at any time unless they are sick.

Times: It was interesting when I saw an act 2 or 3 times. I was taking pictures of the circus and I noticed it was a very different show each day. One day they might be really active and energetic and then another day one of them might be having a lazy day but it was a very different show each time.

Nerger: Yeah, a show is never the same. Each show is different because you never know. They have moods like humans. Of course they have moods. Humans have moods and say, ‘I don’t want to do this.” It’s the same with big cats. I think with any animal it is the same because they have moods.

Times: One thing you have to ask when you talk to someone in your line of work because your line of work is potentially very dangerous and we hear stories every few years. The last one is what happened with the Siegfried and Roy show, a horrible accident. What goes through your mind when you hear something like that and what mistakes may have been made? I guess when something like that happens you learn from it?

Nerger: Yes, we do and each time something like that happens we always get a wake up call. We feel bad about what happened to the person but, I tell you what, most of the time it’s really because the trainer did a mistake. So each mistake you do [the cats] want to take advantage of it. So many, many, many times we get a wake up call and say, hey, never let it be us and then for the next couple days we’re going to be more … It’s just a weird feeling. You think you know it but sometimes it is feels like you are getting into a routine and you really shouldn’t because that’s going to cost you your life. So more, more, more attention!

Times: I remember even when [Roy] was injured, he was down and he said, ‘Don’t hurt the cat!’

Nerger: Yeah, yeah, because it’s not the cat’s fault. They are just taking advantage of it because that’s their nature. So we are saying always, the tiger is just sleeping, even if they are trained. Many people are getting it wrong. Many people think they are tame. They think they are pets and they are really not. They are just trained and the trainer has to always be on top of it. You cannot do any mistakes because the worst is going to happen.

Times: I know that the elephant folks are in a constant battle with PETA and other groups but I don’t hear too much about the other animals. Is that something you have to deal with all the time or do they leave you alone?

Nerger: Well we have to deal with it, not all the time. And you know we even have a website for that reason because I don’t want to get bothered by those people and once in a while you have people in front of the circus – they have demonstrations. Over the years you just get so used to it and it just doesn’t bother you anymore. So we aren’t even going into any arguments or discussions about it because it’s pointless. They don’t know what they are talking about. They have no idea. They don’t understand so therefore we are pretty cool about it. It’s not nice to get bothered by it but I can’t change it. They have their mind. I have my mind and that’s it. And actually with the large cats it’s not so bad as with the elephants.

Times: Yeah I was just reading that at one point there were some elephants in the Cole Bros. Circus I guess last season, and they were calling ahead to each town the circus was in to talk to the local authorities and it was just this ongoing hassle that resulted in eventually losing the elephants.

Nerger: Yeah, I know. Sometimes it’s really bad and some areas are really bad and sometimes you don’t have anything like this so it just depends. It’s very bad.

Times: Now you said you’re from East Germany. I know that the circus, it’s pretty much a novelty in The United States. A lot of kids grow up and they don’t ever get a chance to see a circus except on television. It’s a lot more popular and a bigger deal in Europe isn’t it?

Nerger: Yeah, it’s a big deal; but over the years it’s just business is not too good. To be honest, we have way too many circuses in Germany right now and people will go to circuses they know – they always have good business. But [with] small circuses or family circuses they may have had a bad experience so they aren’t going too often. It used to be a big thing, especially in East Germany because we had no entertainment really. We didn’t have all those cool movie theaters and stuff at the time so it was a big thing.

Times: It was definitely a big difference before the wall fell. A big, big difference between East Germany and what they had.

Nerger: I have a feeling that the circus business here in the U.S. is going way better than in Europe.

Times: Have you performed before in The United States?

Nerger: We have been traveling here for over 8 years now.

Times: How do you like it?

Nerger: Uh, yeah! We like it!





Read More

Posted on Sep 22, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent UK

Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent, UK

It’s not cute to breed big cats for life in prison!  Taking them out to news stations just sends the worst possible message.  They are not here for our amusement.


Read More

Posted on Sep 16, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Brunon Blaszak Circus

Brunon Blaszak Circus

Brags about 8 generations of tigers being bred in his back yard in Florida.  Appears to con the audience by saying that circus acts are protecting tigers from extinction.  None of the tigers in private possession, like his, do anything for conservation.  In fact, it hurts conservation because when people see them being used this way, they believe that tigers must not be in any danger of extinction, or it wouldn’t be allowed.

Read More