A new HSUS undercover investigation reveals the mistreatment of eight tigers featured in Ryan Easley’s ShowMe Tigers act – a traveling circus gig that is contracted out to branded circuses. It’s painful to watch a grown man whipping a majestic tiger as the world’s most powerful predator flinches and cowers in fear. It’s a coercive training technique used to force tigers to perform demeaning and often difficult tricks.
This is the backstory that animal-based circuses don’t want you to see. It’s the reality for tigers and other wild animals trapped in these operations. Our investigator spent three weeks working for Easley, including nine days on the road with the act that has toured with Carden Circus and performed for several Shrine circuses.
As you can see in our undercover video, the tigers endure a great deal of trauma. Even a layperson can recognize the signs of stress, including cringing and bolting from Easley (who uses the stage name Ryan Holder) when he raises his whip and stick. The tigers squint and flatten their ears back, because they’ve felt the lash before. Their shoulders are hunched, defeated. It is simply unethical to force one of the world’s most powerful and extraordinary predators to hop around on her hind legs as a Michael Jackson tune blares over the loudspeakers.
The HSUS has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for potential violations of the Animal Welfare Act, which prohibits the kind of abuse witnessed by our investigator, and is urging the agency to investigate ShowMe Tigers and to take swift enforcement action for violations of federal law.
Increasingly, circuses are recognizing that they have a broken business model that, because of its inherent cruelty, is operating on borrowed time. This week Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus – the political protector of the industry — will perform for the last time. Ringling attributed its decision to declining attendance and stronger regulations that safeguard captive wildlife. But it also recognized how difficult it is to fool the public about what goes on behind the scenes. Abusive circus acts teach nothing about the normal behaviors of these exceptional animals. What they do teach children and others is that cruelty is acceptable, and wild animals can be bullied into doing stunts that are silly and confusing.
At the ShowMe Tigers act, the trainer holds back on obvious abuses during the live performance. It’s out of the circus ring that the more intense punishment occurs. Our investigator videotaped a practice session that showed, among other things, a traumatized tiger being whipped at 31 times in less than two minutes because she refused to get off a pedestal. Whip marks would suddenly appear on a tiger’s fur during both the practice session and live performances, confirming that the whip was making physical contact and not just being used as a threat.
What’s particularly stark for me is the difference between how circuses treat tigers and how legitimate sanctuaries treat captive cats. At The Fund for Animals’ Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, and other sanctuaries accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, tigers rescued from captive situations love to swim and rest on elevated platforms and lie on cool grass. They chase and tear apart enrichment items provided by dedicated caretakers. Staff specialists go to great lengths to ensure that the sanctuary’s tigers stay physically active and mentally stimulated. In contrast, Easley’s tigers go through the same mind-numbing cycle each day: eating, sleeping, pacing, urinating, defecating in the approximately 13 square feet of floor space for each tiger kept in transport cages, and suffering through eight-minute performances up to three times each day. Once the act hits the road, the tigers live exclusively in tiny, barren transport cages. Our investigator observed other forms of neglect, too, such as lack of protection from bitterly cold weather, a nutritionally deficient diet, and failure to provide veterinary care to a tiger with a raw, open wound near her eye.
We’re seeing states as well as small and large communities taking steps to protect wild animals from abuse and suffering at the circus. In some cases, legislators are banning cruel training tools while others are passing outright bans on the use of various species in traveling shows. We are leading efforts in states and cities across the country to end the era of captive wild animal acts. We’re ready to work with anyone interested in pursuing a circus ordinance in their community. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request a circus toolkit.
Hollywood Animals is a Santa Clarita, CA exotic animal rental business which trains big cats and other exotics and then “rents them out” for special events, movies, TV, and advertising. They make the dangerous claim that their big cats are perfectly “safe” working with untrained actors and operate a bogus “Exotic Animal Training School” which promises to turn paying members of the public into animal trainers in just two weeks via reportedly illegal and extremely dangerous hands-on interactions with their adult big cats and bears.
Hollywood Animals was founded in 1984 by Ringling Bros. lion trainer Brian McMillan and is currently owned and operated by Eric and Bettina Weld. They have operated under multiple names, including “Animal Rentals Unlimited, Inc” and “Brian McMillan’s Animal Rentals.” Their USDA license has also covered McMillan and Weld’s fairground shows “Walking With Lions” and “Brian McMillan’s Wild World of Tigers.” McMillan has boasted that one of his lions “could bring in $2,500 per day for filming, while the rare white lion could fetch $10,000 per day.”
Hollywood Animals has been written up by federal inspectors for failure to maintain records on euthanized/transferred big cats, failure to provide animals with potable water, withholding food from animals, and endangering the public by selling hands-on animal encounters with large carnivores in direct defiance of multiple USDA orders. They have also had at least two animals escape from their facility.
“Brian McMillan started his career by apprenticing to numerous circus animal trainers in Europe. He worked for Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus as an animal trainer under the renowned animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams. A few years later [he] was recruited by Africa USA and began working in the film industry as an exotic animal trainer. He worked for Resorts International and was the youngest director of Animal shows at Marine World Africa USA where he performed and trained all the animals for the shows, and supervised their care. He continued his career as an animal trainer, coordinator for live entertainment and for the film industry worldwide from North America, India, Australia to Africa. He transported hundred of exotics animals by air and sea as well as setting up facilities while on location.”
McMillan himself was a lion trainer for Ringling Bros. starting in 1970. His group of 7 lionesses and one male lion were forced to jump through flaming hoops, stand on their hind legs, play “leapfrog,” and dance. McMillan toured with his group of performing lions in Ringling’s Gold Unit in 2010.
McMillan’s 7 lionesses pacing in their tiny transport crate after a 2010 Ringling show.
McMillan’s lion jumping through a flaming hoop at a circus.
One of McMillan’s animal acts at Marine World Africa USA.
Brian McMillan appears to have a cavalier attitude about the danger his big cats pose to himself and others, as evidenced by his willingness to let members of the public interact with his tigers and his reassurances that the cats are “perfectly safe” to use in full-contact scenes with untrained actors. Like so many private owners, he claims that his animals would never hurt anyone because of the “bond” he feels he has with them. This article describes him “playing around with an [adult] white lion named “Lufuno,” pulling on his tail and limbs as the lion playfully bats at him with his huge paws. McMillan said he doesn’t fear being attacked, because of the relationship they have.“We’re like brothers.” McMillan said.” With this attitude, the fact that Hollywood Animals hasn’t had a serious incident speaks more to luck than to “safety.”
This video, uploaded by McMillan to promote Lufuno, reveals that the lion was purchased as a cub from a park in South Africa (which probably told tourists that they were “conserving lions.”) It includes footage of McMillan holding a whip and a wooden rod while working with Lufuno, and an inexplicable scene of one of McMillan’s associates riding on the lion’s back, which can’t possibly be good for the cat’s spine.
Hollywood Animals claims to use the nice-sounding “affection training” to train their big cats.
But this video uploaded by Brian McMillan reveals that “affection training” means ripping newborn cubs from their mothers and bottle raising them in a home so the cubs are forced to “bond” to trainers instead. Eric Weld has continued this practice and has confirmed that cubs are usually purchased from private breeders. McMillan and Weld claim that the unnatural imprinting process creates “a close relationship based on trust and respect,” and that it allows his adult big cats to have full contact with untrained cast and crew “with complete safety,” a dangerous lie.
A baby pacifier is a cruel replacement for this cross-eyed cub’s mother. Photo from McMillan’s Youtube channel.
Although Hollywood Animals advertises “humanely trained animals,” videos taken at their compound routinely show McMillan and Weld training and “working” the big cats with whips, rods, and pointed sticks in hand, just like during McMillan’s circus days.
McMillan at Hollywood Animals, training lions to stand on their hind legs by waving a whip over their heads.
“Records indicate that a juvenile lion died on 8-4-00. There are no records indicating any veterinary problems or disease indications prior to death. Licensee stated animal was euthanized, but no reasons were documented orally or in writing.”
“Lion Romeo is no longer at facility. There are no records indicating disposition of animal.” Note: This is not the same “Romeo” that was beaten by Sid Yost, another Hollywood trainer.
“Interior portion of [lion] enclosures consists of chain link caging, in a barn room. This caging is fastened to the wall only by “plumbers tape” (metal strapping attached by screws). This is not structurally adequate for full size lions.”
“Lion Rafiki shows general lameness when moving, as well as a reluctance to move. Some records are available regarding this condition, but they are not complete. There is no veterinary evaluation of the animals current condition, including a prognosis or treatment plan, if any.”
“Note board in upper compound had a note stating that food was to be withheld on 10-23-02 from a specific animal, as it was working the next day, 10-24-02. Such deprivation of the entire diet for a day does not meet the handling requirement.”
(Note: in a later inspection, an employee claimed that this wasn’t for training and that they simply shifted the animal’s “fast day” so that it wouldn’t conflict with its working day.)
“Enclosure housing 4 tiger cubs has one shelter box. This box would barely accommodate all 4 cubs, and any incompatibility could result in an animal without shelter from cold.”
“Water available to animals was cloudy and did not appear potable.Employee stated water is changed every other day. This schedule does not appear adequate to ensure animals have access to potable water as required.”
An inspector visiting Hollywood Animals’ compound found the gate to the perimeter fence left open and no employees present. She wrote: “Unauthorized persons could clearly have had contact with dangerous animals in the facility. Failure to use the perimeter gates when the facility is unattended could result in injury to the animals or unauthorized persons.”
Tiger enclosure pool water was green, semi-opaque, and the bottom of the pool could not be seen through the water.”
A “behind the scenes” site for a Bollywood film that used Hollywood Animals’ tigers reported that one of the cats had to be exposed to blasting loud rock music “or she wouldn’t perform.” This site also includes pictures of Weld carrying a bamboo rod while working with the tiger on-set.
In 2012, students of Loyola Marymount University were shocked to find a live male lion sweltering in a small cage in the middle of their campus on an 80 degree day. The lion, a 13-year-old male named “Felix,” was hired from Hollywood Animals by a student group as a “special surprise” to represent their university mascot. According to this article,“Weld bought Felix from a breeder in Minnesota when he was 3 months old and trained him like a dog to wear clothes, and work with other animals and people. He has worked in feature films such as Evan Almighty, We Bought A Zoo, and in a Chase Bank Commercial that is currently airing.” Although many students were disgusted by the stunt, the people who rented the lion claimed that becauseFelix is a “movie lion” and not from a zoo, “he’s used to this kind of stuff.”
Here’s a video, uploaded by McMillan himself, of Felix being taken out of his cage by handlers wielding sticks before being dressed up in a demeaning, clown-like party hat, bowtie, and bib for a commercial shoot.
In the mid to late 1990s, several wallaroos escaped Hollywood Animals’ compound, confusing local residents.This article also mentions that although Hollywood Animals is “not technically open to the public they have seminars, private parties, corporate events, and animal training courses and classes. According to their website, the seminars cost $100 per person or $190 per couple and last for about 4 hours. You would be in a group of about 20 to 30 people and get a behind the scene look at the animals.” This is likely a reference to the bogus “animal training seminars” where McMillan allows the general public to pay big bucks for the (illegal) opportunity to pet and pose with his adult big cats and bears, despite repeated USDA orders not to do so.
In this 2011 article, a journalist who visited Hollywood Animals took part in their 16-and-up “trainer for a day” program, overseen by Eric Weld in direct defiance of two USDA orders to cease public contact with dangerous carnivores. In a shocking disregard for public safety, Weld allowed the journalist to enter the enclosure of an unrestrained 350 lb. tiger and give “sit and stay” commands to the cat, before having him feed a 600 lb. grizzly bear named Bam Bam marshmallows and gummy bears out of his mouth (Weld warned “if you pull away at the last second, Bam Bam will claw at the marshmallow — and your mouth”).
An untrained journalist “kisses” a grizzly bear at Eric Weld’s compound. Does this look like a good idea?
In 2009, Hollywood Animals applied for US Fish and Wildlife Service permits to travel overseas with 2 leopards for the purported purpose of “enhancement of the species through conservation education.” The real purpose, of course, was movie filming.
In 1994, Hollywood Animals sold 5 leopards and a tiger to the Animal Actors Agency in London, which billed itself as “Europe’s leading supplier of animals to the television and film industries.”
Around 2007, Brian McMillan loaded eight lions (7 females and 1 male) into a 33 foot long stainless steel travel trailer and took them on the fairground circuit with his “Walking with Lions” show. The show, which is now defunct, dragged the lions across North America to 10-12 performances per season, some as far away as Winnepeg and Hawaii. It was essentially McMillan’s circus act with a thin veneer of “educational” content used to justify the unnatural tricks the cats were being forced to do. The lions jumped through hoops to “demonstrate their agility” and showed “an example of teamwork” by all standing on their hind legs simultaneously as McMillan snapped a whip over their heads. When not performing, the lions were housed in a 48 foot long “display trailer” to be gawked at by fairgoers. According to the official website of the show, McMillan charged over $10,000 to each fair that hosted his lions.
One of the stated purposes of “Walking with Lions” was to show off “interaction between man and lion and the personal relationship the trainers have with each lion.”
In this video of a fairground performance, we see a trainer frequently hugging the adult male lion (when not prodding the cat with a stick to force him to stand on platforms in the noisy arena). Although this show was promoted to fairs as “educational,” the only thing it taught people is that lions, which are threatened in the wild, are nothing more than harmless pets that exist for our entertainment. In the previous video, we overhear audience members saying, “He’s friendly!” as they watched the trainer hug a lion, and children interviewed after the performance explained that the lion “looks so lovable” and that the show “was more fun than a zoo” because “here they were doing tricks, and at the zoo they were just lying down.”
Lufuno, McMillan’s prized white lion, during a fairground performance.
Lionesses were made to “dance” and jump on platforms to “demonstrate the lion’s agility.”
This trick was explained as “a demonstration of lioness teamwork.”
Unhappy lionesses refusing to perform are nudged with pointed sticks and cracking whips, as shown in a promotional video for the show. Ironically, McMillan’s voiceover during this footage explains how his lions “love to perform.”
Hollywood Animals’ cats are routinely portrayed by directors and advertisers as luxury “pets” or props. Not only is this exploitative and disrespectful to the animal, it also promotes the private ownership of big cats and has been scientifically proven to decrease concern for endangered species conservation by distorting the public’s perception of wildlife (see this Harvard study and this scientific journal article). Below are just a few of the ads in Hollywood Animals’ portfolio:
A chained black leopard posing with a model for a Harpers Bazaar photoshoot in 2013.
This live lion (probably Felix) was used as a prop in a Beyonce music video.
One of Hollywood Animals’ tigers in a Nike ad.
Felix again, being treated as a pet in an ad for Ritz-Carlton.
“Nikki,” a black leopard, on set.
Hollywood Animals is based from a rural 8-acre compound in Tick Canyon, Santa Clarita, CA. If these pictures from McMillan’s website and videos are anything to go by, the cats live in fairly barren chain-link enclosures devoid of vegetation.
In this video, you can see leopards pacing in rows of small concrete-floored pens.
An overhead view of Hollywood Animals. Is that a tiger to the left of the red ball in the center pen?
Photos of the public being put at risk by Hollywood Animals’ illegal “trainer for a day” programs, “private animal encounters,” and bogus “seminars,” taken from their archived promotional website. Program participants, some as young as 12 years old, have paid McMillan and Weld anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars for the dangerous privilege of patting and “working with” their large carnivores, despite having had no previous training or experience whatsoever. The experience was advertised as an “animal lover’s dream” and participants were urged to “bring your kids.” Some of these photos were taken as recently as 2007, and Weld mentioned in a 2009 article that “about one to four people a month pay the $600 for a personal animal encounter, usually with bears or tigers.” Profit, not safety, is clearly the motive here, and despite USDA orders to stop endangering the public in this manner, there is evidence that these dangerous encounters are still being sold by Weld “under the table”. What company would want to work with a business that has such clear disregard for human safety?
Also goes by the name Brian McMillan and tours under the name Walking With Lions at fairs.
2015 Update: Brian and Vikki McMillan packed up their lions and moved back to California after being denied permits to continue using the lions for commercial gain in Oregon. The news article did not say where the lions were going. Maybe back to the P.O. Box?
P.O. Box 2088 (really? you keep lions and tigers in a P.O. Box?)
Santa Clarita, CA 91386
Tel: 323-665-9500 Fax: 661-252-4509
1902 Houston Road Phoenix, OR where Brian McMillan has requested that the Jackson County Development Services interpret his breeding and commercialization of wild animals to be permitted under “farm use.” The application says he plans to bring 7 lions and assorted other wild animals from Canyon County, CA to Jackson County, OR. This 41 ac site borders or is within a 1 mile radius of 5,000 approximately residences, businesses and 4 schools.
According to those who live in the area, the real disgrace is that none of the schools, library, the police, the sheriff’s department, fire chief, retailers nor residents were informed that a wild animal attraction was opening in their neighborhood. It has been suggested that the Jackson County Development Services may have tried to block McMillan from bringing the lions under the “farm use” loophole, but that McMillan is stating that USDA gives him the right to have them; so no one can stop him.
This is a common ploy used by those who own exotic cats to circumvent local prohibitions on big cats as pets. A one page application and $40.00 can get them a USDA license, which makes them “an exhibitor” or a “breeder” thus circumventing laws that prevent their “pets.” In 2010 the Office of the Inspector General audited USDA and found that of the licensees, who held four or fewer big cats, 70% were just pet owners who obtained this easy-to-get license in order to get around local bans. This is why we need a federal ban on the private possession of big cats.
Hard to believe anyone could think there would be anything good or redeeming about a place that rents out lions, tigers or any other wild animal.
Nov 13, 2013 PHOENIX, Ore. — Giraffes, zebras, and even some lions, are moving in next door to a Phoenix neighborhood. The owner says the animals will bring big business to the Southern Oregon town, but others have concerns about how close the animals are to people.
A Hollywood animal trainer says he wants to bring the operation to Southern Oregon because he loves the land and loves the climate. The 41 acre property sits near homes, schools and businesses, and Oregon laws about exotic species allow them to be there.
North Houston Road is like many areas in Phoenix, home to scattered neighborhoods, farms, and businesses. Coming next year, that area gets some wild new tenants. Hollywood animal trainer Brian McMillan is moving his operation from Southern California to Phoenix, where he will raise and train several exotic animals, and put on educational programs.
“We will have programs here where we can have school kids in, and also members of the public who are interested in learning about game farming,” says McMillan.
He plans to bring those hoofed animals, and is trying to get approval for seven lions. That came as a surprise to some of its neighbors, including Phoenix High School, which is right next door. Principal Jani Hale says she’s neutral about having the animals next door, but she does worry about loud noises from football games startling the animals.
“That’s the first thing I thought of was out touchdowns. We make a touchdown and we shoot off our pirate cannon, and I thought, ‘OK, do the owners know about our cannon? Someone should tell them.’”
Many neighbors NewsWatch12 spoke to said they’re not worried, and are excited about the program.
“They just seem like very sincere people and I don’t see any threat,” said Monica Jenkins, who lives next door. “I do feel comfortable.”
So how can giraffes, zebras and lions move in next door? In Oregon, animals like zebras and giraffes fall are considered “non-controlled species” by ODFW. No agency inspects them, and there is no minimum fencing requirements, and lions are regulated by the USDA.
In California, laws are getting stricter. In September, West Hollywood banned exotic animal shows. Huntington Beach and Pasadena also have similar bans. McMillan has run his “Walking with Lions” shows for years at parks and circuses, but he says the changing laws are not influencing the move to Southern Oregon.
“We looked basically all over the United States,” McMillan says. “We love this area. As soon as we came here, we felt like we were home.”
McMillan also says he follows federal fencing and safety guidelines, to make sure nothing gets out.
“We have an impeccable safety record. We’ve never had an accident, never had an incident.”
McMillan says after seeing so much support from neighbors, it’s a project he hopes other Phoenix residents will approve of.
“We really do want the community to get behind this,” he said.
The USDA does routine inspections on lions. They issued a reports in 2008 and 2009 saying McMillan was allowing the public to get too close to the big cats. They said the issue was corrected, and McMillan has had no violations for the past two years.
McMillan says there’s still work to be done rebuilding homes and clearing land on the property. He says the animals won’t be brought in until sometime in the middle of next year. http://www.kdrv.com/wild-animal-trainer-moves-in/
West Hollywood joins other California cities, including Huntington Beach and Pasadena, in banning commercial exotic animal displays. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-west-hollywood-bans-commercial-animal-displays-20130917,0,4376637.story
Although this ban doesn’t directly effect Brian McMillan, it is obvious that Californians are becoming more aware of animal sentience and less tolerant of animal exploiters.
October 05, 2013 By Mark Freeman Mail Tribune
PHOENIX — A Hollywood trainer of lions and other exotic animals says he plans to open a satellite operation near Phoenix to serve as a home base for his Oregon filming and as an education center.
Lions, giraffes, zebras and a host of African antelope could be living a year from now in new facilities that trainer Brian McMillan plans for his property along Houston Road adjacent to Phoenix city limits.
McMillan and his wife, Victoria, in August bought a 41-acre parcel of farmland and are now renovating the century-old farmhouse on the property — the first phase of his planned operation.
“It’s going to be a year or so from now,” McMillan said in a Tuesday interview from his current operation in Canyon Country, Calif. “Right now we’re just trying to get our house built.”
McMillan has been an animal trainer for more than 30 years, according to his website. His credits include television shows such as “CSI: NY” and “Monk” and films such as “Into the Wild,” as well as an array of talk shows and television commercials.
McMillan said his “Hollywood Animals” and “Walking with Lions” operations already do filming in Oregon, primarily in the Portland area, and he wants to expand that work in Oregon and Northern California.
The couple settled on the Phoenix property as a base for filming here because they prefer the climate and the community, he said, but that they plan to keep his Southern California operation as well.
Eventually, he plans to add pens and other facilities on the property before shipping seven lions, three giraffes, three zebras, two camels, two ostriches and six antelope north, according to his county planning application.
“It’s a nice, big, beautiful piece of property with lots of space,” he said. “And we’ve always liked Oregon.”
Before purchasing the land, which is zoned exclusively for farm use, McMillan asked the Jackson County Planning Department whether these exotic animals would fall under the land-use definition of “farm use.”
The lions fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and would need a permit from that agency to be housed on the property, said Bruce Pokarney, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture.
The ostriches and camels already are exempt from wildlife laws because they are considered domesticated animals, said Rick Boatner, who handles exotic species issues for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The giraffes, zebras and the antelopes — kudus, blackbucks and impalas — are listed by the ODFW as “non-controlled animals” that can be kept, bred or sold here under limited restrictions, Boatner said.
There are not even fencing requirements such as those for keeping bears or cougars, Boatner said.
“Just humane conditions, that’s it,” he said. “But if they escape, you have some different rules to deal with.”
Under state statutes, any escaped exotics must be reported to the ODFW within 24 hours, and the owners have 48 hours to capture them, Boatner said. After that, any police officer or ODFW biologist can capture, seize or kill the escaped animal, he said.
“They can do whatever they think is best,” Boatner said.
All the animals must get an ODA health certificate before they can enter Oregon, Boatner said.
“It’s very rare, outside of zoos, to bring these animals in,” he said.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at email@example.com.
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.
What is it like to work at T.I.G.E.R.S.?
Barbara Fisher spent 8 years in the cultish compound and says, “So why didn’t I just leave? Why don’t the suicide bombers quit before they are forced to kill themselves? It’s not like they are forcing them to stay; they choose to, right? Well, this is very easy to say but very hard to do in real life. When so much of an individual’s identity is invested in an extremist group, leaving can mean losing everything: property, people, identity, accomplishment, and years and years of work.” Read the rest of her story here: http://iowainformer.com/commentary/2017/03/bhagavan-doc-antle-rolling-stone-tigers/
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
Five Generations of Circus Acts that Exploit Tigers and Other Big Cats
Rosaire Taunting Tiger with Baton
You can pretty much tell how much a person has to hide by how many names they operate under. Finding USDA reports on this facility and the Rosaire family has been one of the hardest because they keep changing names, changing locations and changing license numbers. To further exacerbate the situation Rosaire uses a P.O. Box for her USDA entity that houses the big cats making it hard for the average person to find anything on her without knowing her USDA license number. The following is just the beginning of an effort to bring all of their past into one time line to the best of our ability given the lack of government oversite and dismal record keeping.
Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of this research has been how the public can pay to see her forcing the cats to perform and then believe her when she claims that her tigers were rescued. She rescues from herself. They are tigers bred by her for use as props who are then relegated to tiny, barren cages. Most of these only have a tarp for shade. In 2009 she claimed on her USDA renewal to have 18 tigers, 8 lions, 2 leopards, 1 cougar and 1 bobcat as well as an assortment of other exotic animals. If you go to her facility you will see that all of these animals are crammed into a very small patch of her property.
Her inspector is Richard Botehlo who rarely reports anything wrong at her facility. See the whistleblower report filed against USDA by Richard Botehlo below and you will begin to understand why inspectors do not report most of the violations they see.
Photos by Dee DeSantis
2009 March 19 Rosaire license 58-C-0908 cited for failure to properly identify the dogs and failure to provide proper storage of their food to keep it free of vermin. A dog was being housed in 4.8 square feet of space when the USDA minimum for a dog his size was 6.67 square feet. USDA regulations only require that the animal be able to stand up and turn around in their cages and Rosaire was not meeting even this barest of minimums.
2009 May 19 Pamela and Roger Zoppe have their USDA license 58-C-501 cancelled. Their DBA and address at the time was Rosaire-Zoppe Chimpanzees 5317 Fruitville Road #175 Sarasota, FL 34232
2009 June 22 Pamela and Roger Zoppe pop back up with a new USDA number at the same name and address 58-C-0936
2009 July 7 Rosaire license 58-C-0387 cited for three violations including a freezer that was not working properly where animal food was stored, bears being separated only by use of hot wire where they could reach through and harm each other and bears being kept in such small cages that they could not get out of their own excrement.
2009 October 13 Rosaire license 58-C-0387 cited that a young bear was being kept in a cage where he could not freely stand up and turn around, which is all that the USDA mandates.
2010 June 19 Rosaire license 58-C-0908 cited for one performing dog having an untreated cut above his eye, and 7 dogs being forced to perform in temperatures above 85 degrees (regulation restriction) where the heat index was 107 and one dog was being kept in a cage that only measured 9.69 sf of floor space with USDA regs require 12.25 sf of space. The dog was 3 feet long, so even the minimun requirement was only 3 feet by 4 feet. Rosaire wasn’t even providing the barest minimum of space.
2010 September 25 Rosaire license 58-C-908 cited for a repeat violation of not properly identifying dogs with license tags. The reason USDA regulates this sort of thing is to prevent “bunchers” from stealing dogs and selling them to labs for experimentation.
UniverSoul Circus does not possess an exhibitor license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The animals are leased from outside companies, including Tarzan Zerbini Circus, Carson & Barnes Circus, Kay Rosaire, Bucky Steele, Rosaire-Zoppe Chimps, and Mitchel Kalmanson, so that the pages and pages of cited violations they have incurred are obscured through multiple owners, names and entities.
Rosaire’s Known Licenses and Aliases
Florida 3092 58-C-0387 Rosaire, David David Rosaire’s Perky Pekes P.O. Box 50094 Sarasota 34232 license issued 6/1998
Florida 2998 58-C-0496 Rosaire, Ross Derrick & Kay Rosaires Bears Po Box 346 Myakka City 34251
Florida 9309 58-C-0769 Rosaire, Wayne Rosaires Royal Racers Po Box 338 Bostwick 32007 this is for 14 racing pigs
Florida 3121 58-C-0367 Rosaire-Mowrey, Kay Rosaire-Mowrey Family P O Box 50217 Sarasota 34232 license issued 10/1990
Florida 6648 58-C-0608 Zoppe, Andrea 3074 Myrtle Sarasota 34234 last inspection was in 2008 for 6 dogs
Florida 13162 58-C-0908 Zoppe, Dallas 3115 44th St Sarasota 34234
Florida 3175 58-C-0868 Arneberg, James Arnberg Super Dog Show 7101 Palmer Blvd Sarasota 34234 this is the physical address for the tigers
Florida 32030 58-C-0832 Dymek, Kazinerz Party Animals Petting Zoo Llc 901 East Rd Sarasota 34240 SunBiz registered to Rosaire no inspection since 2009
The following are USDA licensees in Sarasota that may or may not be affiliated with Rosaire. These are still being evaluated.
Florida 1874 58-C-0012 Zerbini, Alain Alain Zerbini Circus Production 3327 51st St. Sarasota 34235
Florida 40523 58-C-0886 Svensson, Carlos 7419 Prospect Rd Sarasota 34243
Florida 7398 58-C-0629 Castano, Raul Swap Shop 151 Verna Road Sarasota 34240
Florida 32762 58-C-0905 Creadon, Peggy Pony Parties Of Sarasota 7034 Westwood Dr Sarasota 34241
Florida 3883 58-C-0788 Donoho, Georgina P. O. Box 1418 Sarasota 34230
Florida 38355 58-C-0878 Esqueda, Alfonso Sulo Esqueda Brother Circus 935 N Beneva Rd S609 #43 Sarasota 34232
Florida 38122 58-C-0876 Fornasari, Tosca 3322 Oak Grove Dr Sarasota 34243
Florida 33721 58-C-0845 Garcia, Katherine Star Family Circus 2621 Ridge Ave Sarasota 34235
Florida 18946 58-C-0753 Juchno, James 745 N Pompano Ave Sarasota 34237
Florida 10034 58-C-0664 Klose, Hans & Adele Adeles Canine Review 4600 Sloan Ave Sarasota 34233
Florida 20089 58-C-0852 Markov, Andrey 5136 Indian Mound St Sarasota 34232
Florida 31471 58-C-0841 Maya Panfilova, Andriy Bilobrov & 2250 Gulf Gate Dr Suite A Sarasota 34231
More on Kay Rosaire http://reporter.911animalabuse.com/service/searchEverything.kickAction?keywords=rosaire&includeVideo=on&includeAudio=on&includePhoto=on&includeBlog=on&includeUser=on&includeGroups=on&includeMessages=on&includeSets=on&as=23072&sortType=relevance
Kay Rosaire and her son Clay Rosaire do not rescue cats, but rather are a part of the problem rather than the solution. They do not walk the talk and these pages will tell you more about them:
This is nothing more than an antiquated “carnie” circus.
Thankfully, in this more enlightened age of animal compassion, the market for these animal abusive displays is dwindling. Most people realize that there is nothing “educational” about seeing infant or adultwild animals caged, transported from venue to venue, “tamed” using abusive methods, existing solely as a profit center for a business.They watch Animal Planet, they visit truly accredited rescue sanctuaries, they are more aware of the reality of life for these imprisoned animals. In short, they are more educated and will look at anyone promoting them as irresponsible. (please note below the negative publicity that fairs have received as a result of displaying captive wildlife from leased organizations and the truth behind these displays)
Kay Rosaire ‘s organization is not accredited and has been cited by the government for the abusive conditions in which their animals are kept. At a USDA Big Cat Symposium in Fort Worth, Texas on March 26, 2003, Kay Rosaire made this statement on stage: “To keep a tiger off you, you just poke ’em real hard with a pitchfork a time or two and show ’em who’s boss. Then they’ll get the message.”
These two articles will give you background on what the Rosaire ‘s are really about.
The animals have no voice, but you do, and you can still do so much to put an end to their abuse.
USDA Whistle Blower Report
January 5, 2005
Richard Botelho Jr, Animal Care Inspector for the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Heath Inspection Service, Animal Care agency, has filed a whistle blower complaint against USDA with the US government “Office of Special Counsel,” dated January 4, 2005.
As an animal care inspector and citizen of the United States, Richard Botelho Jr, believes the public needs to be aware of the prohibited practices by the Animal Care’s management at the eastern regional office. The OSC whistle blower complaint alleges multiple violations of federal regulations and law, gross mismanagement and waste of funds at Animal Care’s eastern regional office in Raleigh, NC.
The Animal Care agency is responsible for enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, which is federal legislation that ensures the humane care and treatment of certain warm blooded and exotic/wild animals. Animal Care conducts routine inspections at facilities that use regulated animals in research, exhibited to the public, sold wholesale and retail and transported. Licensed facilities would include but are not limited to zoos, circuses, wholesale dog / cat breeders, exhibitors, exotic / wild animal dealers and exhibitors to include transporters. Animal Care’s Mission Statement: AC provides leadership in establishing acceptable standards of humane animal care and treatment and to monitor and achieve compliance with the Animal Welfare Act through inspections, education, and cooperative efforts. Unfortunately, records show in the last several years Animal Care in the eastern region has failed to use enforcement to achieve compliance.
This lack of enforcement has caused more prolonged health and welfare problems for animals that AC is required to protect by the federal Animal Welfare Act. The lack of enforcement has also caused more incidents with potentially dangerous animals and the public. Animal Care in the eastern region is failing to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, which is endangering the animals we are responsible to protect to ensure adequate care and treatment. Failing to enforce the minimum standards and regulations of the AWA, has harmful risks to the animals and to the public. Potentially dangerous animal are being allowed to be exhibited to the public without direct control of a handler(s), sufficient distance or barrier between the animals and the public.
The OSC complaint states the Eastern Regional Office allows licensee’s with a history of repeat noncompliance’s to operate without any legal action against such licensees. Evidence shows that Animal Care paid consultation fees to a licensee to consult with a facility which had a history of repeat noncompliance’s. Repeat violators of the AWA are seldom given warnings. When legal action is taken against violators, only a fraction of the proposed fine is given by a stipulation agreement. The licensee does not have to admit to the history of repeated violations when they accept a stipulation agreement.. Even when the investigation shows the licensee has repeatedly violated the AWA, which affected the health and welfare of the animals and or public, Animal Care issues a warning or small stipulation. Facilities often accept these stipulations and continue to violate the AWA minimum standards and regulations year after year, stating it’s just the cost of doing business. Even after facilities pay multiple stipulations they continue to violate the AWA without any further action by Animal Care. USDA licenses are rarely revoked and commonly renewed, even when facilities have a history multiple repeat violations and not in compliance. Research facilities pay thousands of dollars in stipulations which usually cost the taxpayers, because the research with animals is mainly funded by the US government.
Inspectors request warning letters and investigations for repeat violators of the AWA from Animal Care management, never toreceive such requests, and without any reply to the inspector. There are several lawsuits against Animal Care from animal welfare groups for allegedly failing to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, which may cost the taxpayers thousand of dollars in attorney and settlement fees. The eastern regional office has issued far less warning letters and stipulations than the western regional office. Recently there was an audit by USDA, Office of Inspector General of the eastern regional office, due to the lack of enforcement issued to facilities. This audit should now be available by FOIA.
The whistle blower complaint states the eastern regional office superiors hire inspectors in areas which are fully staffed. Inspectors with a lack of facilities and work are often sent to other inspectors facilities and paid for travel and lodging. Yet, other inspectors,with over a hundred facilities more than other inspectors, which have not inspected facilities for several years, are not given additional inspectors for their territories.
The OSC complaint states Inspectors are often approved to visit other cities and states, just to visit relatives or site see, as long as they conduct inspections in that requested territory. These visits are paid by Animal Care, the taxpayers dollars. In most circumstances the inspector assigned to that territory has never requested any additional help from his or her superior.
The whistle blower complaint states the eastern regional office of Animal Care purchases laptop computers, digital cameras, and other equipment when the current inventory are in excellent working condition. Unnecessary purchases are made before the end of the fiscal year to spend what monies are left in Animal Care’s budget.
The OSC complaint states inspectors were verbally reprimanded and their complaints not heard by Animal Care management when they refused to join coworkers at a training course at Plum Island, New York, where animals were given a variety of diseases without pain management before their death. Animal Care enforces pain management at research facilities, however USDA fails to follow such standards during its own training programs.
The whistle blower complaint states an inspector alleges that Animal Care management gave direct orders to an inspector to expunge files which were FOIA from a federal agency due to an investigation of a human death at a research facility. Other requested records from USDA, FOIA, have taken over 2 years and requesters still have not received the FOIA nor the reason for the delay.
Inspector Botelho has been inspecting facilities for nearly 5 years in SW Florida. He has conducted an astounding number of inspection, nearly 1000 inspections which have uncovered over 200 persons operating without a USDA license, some for many years. He has been given all successful evaluations each year, has no prior discipline, and has an exceptional sick leave record.
Unfortunately, since Animal Care inspector Botelho has complained about the gross mismanagement in the last several years and filed numerous complaints against his supervisor and Director of the eastern regional office, he has been retaliated against recently to include one 14 day suspension unpaid for alleged improper conduct.
Five days after serving his first suspension, he was issued a proposed 14 day suspension unpaid for alleged improper conduct. The improper conduct Director for investigations division for RMSES, stated inspector Botelho used profanity during a telephone conversation. The telephone conversation was a complaint by inspector Botelho due to RMSES investigators calling his home during late hours, harassing his family and waking his children.. Inspector Botelho’s first suspension states that he had 5 complaints against him for alleged inappropriate conduct from USDA licensees who have repeatedly violated the Animal Welfare Act and was issued either warning or stipulations. It appears that 5 complaints, which were here say, out of 1000 inspections is a very high percentage by Animal Care standards.
The eastern regional office Director has not disciplined inspectors with greater number of complaints initiated against them, to include Ethics violations (conflict of interest accepting gifts from licensees) AC management does not support their inspectors, but supports high profile licensees when complaints are initiated against them, especially if such facilities threaten lawsuits against the agency. There is a complaint procedure for licensees, however none for inspectors who often learn of complaints during an internal investigations or suspensions.
Management has unlimited funds for legal fees. Yes, their USDA attorney is provided free of charge for their gross mismanagement at the cost of the tax payers. There is seldom any accountability when government superiors are found guilty of discrimination or retaliation, except for future promotions. There is a free in-house grievance procedure for Animal Care employees, but it is evident that the decision would not be UN-bias, due to being made by the USDA administrator. Inspector Botleho has hired an out of state employment attorney in the last several months, which he has since paid over thousands of dollars in legal funds. It has been over two years since inspector Botelho filed initial complaints against USDA, APHIS, Animal Care. The US government being back logged with complaints and lack of staff has yet to set a hearing with a federal judge at the EEOC.
Congress needs to help federal employees do their job with dignity and respect, allowing them to file complaints in a timely and cost effective manner. Help is greatly needed for employees who file complaints against their superiors, due to the cost and time it takes for employees to receive their justice. Federal managers are allowed to issue discipline without pay and state that employees are guilty before employees can prove their innocence, costing thousands of dollars to them and their families. Most employees in inspector Botelho’s situation give into management and drop their complaint because of retaliation and the lack of funds for legal representation. Since inspectors fear complaints against them and do not get support from the management, most end up picking their battles at certain facilities, turning their heads from citing enforcement resulting in poor work ethics. Other federal employees are given ultimatums to resign or be fired. Federal managers need to be accountable for their gross mismanagement. History shows that employees who file whistle blowers eventually will be wrongfully terminated, hopefully history don’t repeat itself for inspector Botelho and congress will make some serious much needed changes in current federal regulations and laws.
Before Inspector Botelho filed this whistle blower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, he has recently forwarded such similar complaints to his chain of command to include: Deputy Administrator, Dr. Chester Gipson, APHIS Administrator, Dr. Ron Dehaven, Ann Venneman, USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Agriculture Committee, Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush and President George Bush.
Hopefully his concerns and complaints will be heard by all animal lovers worldwide for the health and welfare of the animals regulated by USDA, APHIS, Animal Care. Animal Care inspectors need to be supported to enforce the Animal Welfare Act. Repeat violators of the AWA need to be issued the appropriate legal action by Animal Care management.
Inspector Botelho can be reached by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Kay Rosaire takes her circus act to Bermuda and the cats on barges
Animals from non-profit sanctuary (read pseudo sanctuary)
By Ruth O Kelly-Lynch
Tigers and bears from a non-profit sanctuary will arrive on the Island for the Animal Extravaganza shows which begin on May 26.
The animals are coming from Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Florida. DNA Entertainment spokesman Ray Hollis said the company would be bringing six tigers and five bears. The sanctuary, run by Kay Rosaire, has been rescuing exotic animals from unhealthy environments since 1987.
Approximately 57 large cats call the sanctuary home at the moment. They live on three large indoor/outdoor complexes with swimming pools, toys and trees. The brochure says the activities provide emotional enrichment that maintains optimal mental and physical health.
Ms Rosaire and her son hold educational shows and demonstrations in order to raise funds for the habitat. Their brochure touts them as gentle caregivers:
Their unique style of gentle handling, praise and treats encourage the natural behaviours of big cats on cue and in a sequence of their choice. Clayton is one of the few men in the world who can put his head in a lions mouth. Semi-retired from the entertainment industry, Kay dedicates herself full time to the rescue of big cats and other animals in need of a safe, permanent home, and continues to the educate visitors at the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary as to the plight of these magnificent animals in the wild, addressing subjects such as conservation and habitat preservation. Kay has spoken at two big cat symposiums for the United States Department of Agriculture and is a recognised expert in animal husbandry pertaining to lions and tigers.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is currently investigating the group to ensure that it treats the animals well. Teresa Ince, Shelter Manager, said the Society still has concerns about the event.
We are still not endorsing the event because we are concerned about the transport of the animals, the veterinary care and the housing of the animals while they are in Bermuda and their safety, she said.
Mr. Hollis said he was aware that the SPCA would probably not be endorsing his event, though he said he has not made any contact with them recently. Even if you have the best trainers and safety in place it will not change their stance, he said. They do not want them in cages so what can you do? That is their opinion.
He said that the SPCAs concerns have not hurt ticket sales to the event, they have already sold out of all $25 tickets to the four shows. There are still $35 and $40 tickets to the shows which will be held May 26-28.
The public seems to realise that with any animal you have to transport them in a cage, he said.
The animals will arrive on the Island on May 21 via a freight ship. He is currently in discussions over where to keep them while they are on the Island. A spokesman from the Environment Ministry said it had not granted DNA Entertainment permission to import the animals and the Ministry is still actively reviewing the case.
Mr. Hollis said it is not customary to apply for permission until ten days before the event and added that he is in constant touch with the Ministry. He also said his company has not been affected by North Rock Communications pulling its sponsorship from the event.
I respect their decision, he said.
He added that he is looking to include local animal acts into the Animal Extravaganza as well as the big cats from the sanctuary.
Fund for Animals Condemns Agricultural Fair for Hosting Big Cat Encounter
SILVER SPRING, MD (August 14, 2003)
The Fund for Animals is condemning the organizers of the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair for allowing the exhibit of lions and tigers by Rosaires Big Cat Encounter. Five lions and three tigers confined to small cages are on display at the fair this week.
The fair is taking a huge risk by promoting captive wild animal shows such as this, said Andi Bernat, Program Coordinator for The Fund for Animals. People unfortunately trust that these exotic animals can be domesticated when in fact, the animals often retain their wild instincts. According to the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, captive wild cats exhibited to the public have been responsible for 8 deaths and over 60 injuries. Bernat also pointed out that people who are in the business of displaying captive wild animals often end up selling or trading their animals to circuses, roadside petting zoos, and trophy hunting ranches.
In fact, Kay Rosaire , one of the Big Cat Encounter owners, was an exhibitor for UniverSoul Circus, which has been cited for a number of infractions including Animal Welfare Act violations, said Bernat. In 1999, the Big Cat Encounter was cited by the USDA for failure to provide proper veterinary care and for cages that did not meet minimal size requirements.
Captive wild animals deserve to be treated as animals, not as stage props, said Bernat. Having lions and tigers at a county fair is not only inhumane to the animals, but also poses a danger to citizens and could make the county and the fair organizers liable for injuries ordeaths.
In March of 2012 the Rosaire Circus dragged their cats up to the IX Indoor Amusement Park in Cleveland, OH for the third year in a row.
FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE ALLOWING WILD ANIMAL DISPLAYS
In an attempt to clean up the sleazy image long associated with roadside zoos, operators of these facilities now declare themselves “conservationists.” They in fact do nothing to protect wildlife or preserve habitat, and they breed animals indiscriminately, without regard for genetic diversity and with nowhere suitable for them to go. What people learn from these exhibitors is how animals act in captivity and that it is acceptable to cause wild animals to be bored, cramped, lonely, and kept far from their natural homes.
Profit-hungry operators perpetually breed animals so that they will have an endless supply of “cute babies” in order to draw crowds. The older, unmanageable animals are left to languish in small cages or disposed of when they have exhausted their “usefulness.” Exotic animal auctions, frequented by unscrupulous dealers, are a popular method of discarding unwanted “display” animals, who ultimately end up in the pet trade, on breeding farms, killed for their skins and other organs, or used for canned hunts. Some animals, such as tigers, lions, and bears—both cubs and adults—are worth more dead than alive. Hides alone can fetch $2,000 to $20,000 or more. Entire families are slaughtered and stuffed for mounts that sell for $10,000. To avoid damaging pelts, animals are killed by the most gruesome methods imaginable, such as shoving ice picks through their ears and into their brains, suffocating them by wrapping plastic bags around their heads, and drowning.
Wildlife exhibitors mislead the public with impressive-sounding but meaningless credentials, such as “federally licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of the Interior.” Federal permits to exhibit, breed, or sell regulated animals are required and issued to nearly anyone who fills out an application and sends in a fee. The USDA exhibitor application is a 3/4-page-long form that asks for a person’s name, address, and animal inventory but nothing that pertains to qualifications. The Animal Welfare Act, which the USDA enforces, sets only minimum standards of care and rarely addresses an animal’s psychological needs. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), the branch of the Department of the Interior that issues permits to buy and sell threatened and endangered species, considers non-native wildlife a low priority. Breeding mills have so saturated the market with “generic tigers” of unknown lineage that USFWS exempts these animals from full regulation. Some exhibitors even retain their licenses despite incidents of deadly animal attacks, dangerous animal escapes, serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act, and illegal wildlife trafficking.
Circuses: Clean Family Fun Or Havens Of Cruelty?
This video is 23 minutes long, so it takes a few minutes to load.
If this video makes you mad, then DO SOMETHING about it!
Send a letter to your legislator with our quick & easy form at www.CatLaws.com
The Best Response to Circuses Ever Written
By Kerry Ashmore , The Northeaster
Numerous thorny issues cloud the debate over how humans treat animals. One issue coming quickly to Minneapolis, however, has a clear and easy correct answer. We urge Minneapolis City Council members to ban wild animal circus performances in the city.
This will not require all of us to become vegetarians. It won’t ban laboratory research. It won’t be a death sentence for any animal that bites a human. Minneapolis taxpayers would simply be refusing to allow people to make money in the city through capturing and training wild animals, and would be foregoing any money the city and local businesses might make if the circus came to town.
This issue is similar to some other thorny issues, however, in that many people will oppose the ban because they don’t want to believe that circuses are necessarily cruel to animals. To support the ban, they would have to admit that the whole concept of capturing and
training wild animals for human entertainment and enrichment is, and always has been, wrong; and that they have been wrong for not doing everything they could to ban the practice decades ago. Who wants to admit to something like that?
Our advice to them: Deal with it.
Yes, we humans have been wrong all along, and this is a baby step toward making things right.
Those who don’t want the ban will be quick to point to violent and illegal acts people have committed in the name of ending animal cruelty, and suggest that seeking to end animal cruelty somehow indicates that one condones such acts. That simply doesn’t pass the common sense test, and those who bring such incidents into the discussion are essentially admitting that they can’t come up with a reasonable defense for the way animals are treated in a circus setting. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because there is no reasonable defense for it.
Some local people will lose some money if the ban is passed. Circus people stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants and spend money in local stores. Our wise and resourceful officials can replace the circus with other events that don’t cause us to support unconscionable acts toward beings who, because of human intervention, are no longer able to defend themselves.
Humans, with complete freedom of movement and superior reasoning capability, grow weary of “life on the road,” and with good reason. Circus animals are caged and moved from town to town, forced to perform unnatural acts and then caged and moved to yet another town for yet another performance. The best efforts of the most kind- hearted people in the world cannot make this process humane. It is
cruel by its nature.
It’s unlikely that the circus people think that what they’re doing is inhumane. It’s only when city after city after city closes its doors that they will ask, “Why?” and perhaps begin to have second thoughts about the way animals have to be treated if they are to provide money- making entertainment to humans.
When and if our society becomes truly civilized, such entertainment will be banned entirely. Those animal-protection laws don’t exist now, and there isn’t a legal way to stop circus use of animals.
Minneapolis, however, has a chance to take one simple, straightforward action, and become the 29th American city to close its doors to wild animal circuses. It’s an action Minneapolis council members should take without delay, without regret and without dissent.
Posted: Wed, 08/01/2007
For the love of animals, avoid the circus
By DUNCAN STRAUSS
Special to The Post
Sunday, December 23, 2007
On Wednesday, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus lumbers into the South Florida Fairgrounds Expo Center in Palm Beach County for 12 performances. To those considering stepping into the big top to attend one of these shows, I offer this polite request:
Who am I – some animal-hating killjoy out to spoil your fun? Far from it. I’m a father, a pretty passionate animal lover and, not coincidentally, I host a radio program about animals that airs on Tampa National Public Radio affiliate WMNF.
I do not claim to be a renowned animal expert. But over the years, I’ve done a great deal of research into an array of animal matters. In hosting the show, I’ve had the good fortune to interview a number of renowned animal experts, experiences that have yielded one indisputable conclusion:
Animals in circuses endure a relentlessly awful life, marked by constant travel in cramped quarters, where access to food and water and proper veterinary care can’t always be counted on, but punishment, pain, cruelty and, sometimes, premature death can be.
Hyperbole? Hardly. Any unit of Ringling Bros. is on the road for six to 11 months at a time, typically traveling in small train cars or trucks that are often poorly ventilated and/or lack basic creature comforts.
But the travails of transportation practically seem glorious alongside the covert and overt cruelty of the training that prepares – if that’s the right word – these animals to perform in “the greatest show on Earth.” Allow me to pose two related rhetorical questions:
Do you think that tigers – who, like most animals, are deathly afraid of fire – would be naturally inclined to jump through a ring of fire?
Do you think that elephants would be naturally inclined to balance on a colorful perch, stand on their hind legs or heads, or dance?
The answer, of course, is a resounding “No.” So, to achieve the sort of unnatural and physically challenging behaviors described above and others, the training is fear-driven, revolving around punishing and hurting the animals: whipping them, beating them with rods, etc.
Elephants often are restrained, then beaten until they understand not to fight back. The chief tool of the elephant training trade is the bull hook, or ankus, which is heavy and clublike and has a pointy, sharp tip. Imagine a heavy and sharp fireplace poker. The trainers hit the elephants with the bull hook in various parts of their body, so that they comply – “learn.”
Sounds too horrendous to believe, doesn’t it? But there is plenty of testimony by former Ringling employees that says as much, and lots of video that shows as much – some of it as new as this year. To see an extensive array of germane video footage in less than eight minutes, you could hardly do better than watching the award-winning piece on Ringling and its abuse of Asian elephants by television journalist Leslie Griffith, who has won nine local Emmys and two Edward R. Murrow Awards, It’s at www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3rQzLOLR4M.
Keen observers of Ms. Griffith’s work will notice that it’s from 2004, and might reasonably wonder whether Ringling has improved its treatment of animals. Nope. In October 2006, Robert Tom, a former animal keeper who worked for Ringling for nearly two years (his wife, Margaret, also was employed by the circus) issued a notarized declaration – six pages of hair-raising accounts of animal neglect, abuse and cruelty in and around the big top.
Mr. Tom’s experiences echo those of Archele Faye Hundley, a young mother of five, who worked as part of the animal crew. Her lengthy September 2006 notarized declaration, notes: “I quit the circus because the animal abuse was too upsetting. The abuse was not once in awhile, it occurred every day.”
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, along with three other not-for-profit animal welfare organizations – The Fund For Animals, Animal Welfare Institute and Animal Protection Institute – are in the midst of litigation, under the Federal Endangered Species Act, against Ringling. The allegations detail the routine abuse and neglect of Asian elephants. The groups are joined in the lawsuit by a former Ringling employee, Tom Rider, who worked as a barn man for the elephants for 21/2 years, and is featured in the Griffith piece.
I digress here briefly for a prediction: Ringling owner Kenneth Feld surely will dispatch someone to respond to this piece – could be an official employee or maybe someone in the guise of a Ringling fan writing a letter to the editor – to dismiss these contentions as the ravings of a misinformed loon.
There will be rosy scenarios offered about their training, about their “conservation efforts” (their Center for Elephant Conservation is little more than a facility to restock the touring units with fresh pachyderms), about how great their animals are treated, etc. There are millions of dollars at stake, and elephants are the prime drawing cards, so when someone is critical of the operation, Mr. Feld and his fellow Ringling panjandrums typically mobilize quickly. And they’ll say anything
Nonetheless, let’s just say, for the sake of ludicrous argument, that nothing untoward is visited on elephants in the course of their big top training. They’re still forced to travel in those train cars or trucks to perform up to three shows a day and to spend most of their non-performance time anchored by leg chains.
Let me hasten to add that I’m not at all universally opposed to circuses, just those that use animals. There are numerous animal-free circuses – perhaps the most famous is Cirque du Soleil, but the last list I saw featured more than 20 such outfits.
If your family has a hankering to see a circus, go to one of those. But attending a Ringling performance is tantamount to endorsing animal abuse.
Read it online HERE
Nov 18, 2011 News Reports Woman Posing and Petting Over Age Cub at Big Cat Habitat in Sarasota owned by Kay Rosaire:
September 13, 2011: Wonderful but sad … my last hugs and kisses with Ghandi today. She’s now 4 months old and weighs about 30 pounds; her teeth and claws are razor sharp, and now that she’s at the Habitat, her natural instincts will take over and she’ll learn to get along with the “big cats” and become one herself. In a year’s time she’ll weigh about 400 pounds. My consolation – she’ll have a wonderful life thanks to YOU and your donations to the Habitat. Ghandi and the rest of the cats, bears, lions, ligers, wallabies, monkeys and emus need you to visit them and help Kay Rosaire and her staff take care of them. So thanks for the kisses today, Ghandi … and here’s to the next cub I get to cuddle!
(CN) – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has set its sights on a private Florida zoo that allows visitors personal interaction with cute and cuddly tiger cubs.
In a federal lawsuit filed in Tampa, PETA claims Dade City’s Wild Things and its owners are violating the Endangered Species Act.
The complaint, peppered with eyewitness accounts and references to previous federal violations, takes aim at the zoo’s programs that allow patrons to handle, pet and swim with tiger cubs. Read PeTA vs Dade City Wild Things
Dade City’s Wild Things holds more than 200 animals, including primates and reptiles, on 22 acres of land in Pasco County, Florida.
Among its draws are opportunities for up-close interactions with tiger cubs, baby alligators and monkeys, including a chance to swim with them.
Under Florida law, patrons can only have contact with tigers under 25 pounds.
The zoo’s owners — Kathryn Stearns and her son, Randall Stearns — are also named as defendants.
According to the lawsuit, Dade City’s Wild Things staff forced cubs to interact with patrons by forcibly grabbing the animals and not allowing them to escape.
PETA also claims the cubs are prematurely separated from their mothers and suffer under bad conditions.
“The Endangered Species Act prohibits harming and harassing tigers,” said Brittany Peet, PETA’s director of captive animal law enforcement. “They are putting profit over the animals’ lives.”
By separating the cubs from mothers — as early as three weeks, according to the complaint — the zoo is setting the tigers up for a “lifetime of cruelty,” Peet said.
Once the cubs are too large to play with, she added, they are relegated to tiny enclosures or sold to other “roadside attractions.”
“As a result there are untold thousands — some put the number at 10,000 — of grown tigers in the U.S. completely unregulated,” Peet said. “Meanwhile, tigers are endangered in the wild.”
Since 2010, the U.S. Agriculture Department has issued several official warnings to the zoo for alleged violations ranging from inadequate shelter and veterinary care to mishandling of the tigers.
In these warnings federal regulators detailed several instances of alleged mistreatment of the tiger cubs, including the painting of their fur. On one occasion, Stearns pulled a tiger’s tail and held him up by his neck, the department said.
After learning of this last incident, the Agriculture Department filed an administrative complaint against the zoo under the Animal Welfare Act, the complaint says.
“Despite having received multiple inspection reports identifying noncompliance with the regulations and failures to comply with the standards, and the receipt of an official warning, respondent has continued to mishandle animals, particularly infant and juvenile tigers, exposing these animals and the public to injury, disease, and harm,” the government says.
That litigation (see below) is still pending.
In addition to the extensive regulatory record, PETA also cites eyewitness accounts, including one from a former employee, of alleged abuse at the attraction.
End the abuse by ending private ownership of big cats at BigCatAct.com
“Over many months, witnesses observed Dade City’s Wild Things staff repeatedly holding onto and pulling the tiger cubs by the cubs’ tails; grabbing the cubs by the skin on the back of their necks; pulling them by the front feet; pinching their ears and nose; and even slamming their bodies to the ground,” the complaint says.
The gravity of the violations alleged in this complaint is great, involving multiple failures to handle animals carefully and to provide access for inspection.
February 23, 2012 The Official Warning stated: “After providing you with an opportunity for a hearing, we may impose civil penalties of up to $10,000, or other sanctions, for each violation described in this Official Warning. Although we generally pursue penalties for this type of violation(s ), we have decided not to pursue penalties in this instance so long as you comply, in the future, with laws that APHIS enforces.”
5. Respondent has not shown good faith. Despite having received multiple inspection reports identifying noncompliance with the Regulations and failures to comply with the Standards, and the receipt of an Official Warning, respondent has continued to mishandle animals, particularly infant and juvenile tigers, exposing these animals and the public to injury, disease, and harm.
If you have first hand knowledge of abuse at Dade City Wild Things please contact:
COLLEEN A. CARROLL Attorney for Complainant Office of the General Counsel United States Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W. Room 2343 South Building Washington, D.C. 20250-1400 Telephone (202) 720-6430 Fax (202) 690-4299 email@example.com
The vet for Dade City’s Wild Things, who defended her at trial, is Dr. Don Woodman of Safety Harbor.
News Reports Based on USDA’s Lawsuit Against Kathy Stearns’ Dade City Wild Things
Kathy Stearns got international attention for her pay to play scheme whereby tiger cubs are pushed into water over their heads so that they will swim to the paying customer and cling for dear life. The only good to come of this is that it also drew international attention to the fact that USDA and the Florida Wildlife Commission have allowed this kind of cruel treatment. The outcry has been loud and fierce, and maybe now the government will do their jobs of enforcing animal welfare laws.
The most obvious problem with this activity is that exploiters have to have a constant supply of cubs that are small enough to use for petting, photo and swim with the tigers type commerce. So where do the cubs end up when they get too big to use?
Here is the story that the news should be researching: During an inspection in May 2012, the USDA counted 12 tigers. Four months later, in September 2012, the USDA counted 19 tigers. The cubs who were being used in the Good Morning America piece that aired 10/9/12 were Tony, the youngest tiger who was screaming for help during the interview, and Tarzan who was far too big to be used for this sort of activity, but on a leash, in the pool, none the less.
In late 2011 the cubs being used for pay to play and swim with the tigers were name Rauri and Rajha. On Oct 4, 2010 the 20 lb white tiger cub was named Diamond. Wondering where they are now? Probably in these barren, muddy cages at Dade City’s Wild Things:
We wouldn’t suggest eating there either
End the abuse by ending private ownership of big cats at BigCatAct.com
This unsolicited letter reported conditions that we think are deplorable. What is most concerning is that USDA has been copied and has yet to do anything about it.
“Last month (June 2015) I went on a one-day group bus trip to WILD THINGS in Dade City, FL. We took their “Jungle Safari Ride” and what we saw was enough to make us sick! The place was nothing like your facility.
There was cage after cage of big cats, mostly Bengal tigers, kept in pathetic condition. A large Siberian tiger was kept in a cage with no shelter from the searing Florida sun or the torrential afternoon thunderstorms and recent flooding with not even a wooden deck He was laying in mud!
A surplus of other tigers were in cages on cement slabs with a barrel type shelter that could only hold one animal at a time. In a cage by itself, a young tiger had access to an in-ground kiddie pool filled with cloudy, green water.
In another area were ponies and a donkey. Although there was shade, all of these animal’s ribs were visible. Driving on, we saw a rectangular cage housing 4 coyotes. The cage was set up in the sun on a cement slab. The cage was divided by a closed fence. 2/3 of the area was occupied by 2 coyotes with no shelter and the other 1/3 was occupied by 2 coyotes and two “dog houses” taking up most of the area. These poor creatures were forced to run back and forth in their own urine and feces. The odor was horrific and they all seemed to be frantic.
NONE OF THE ANIMALS ABOVE HAD WATER IN THEIR CAGES!!!
As we moved along we saw two different species of foxes displayed in a cage on the back of a pickup truck. There was also no water and shelter for only one fox. The trolley then passed a large, fenced area and we were told that it was a sinkhole. The water in this sinkhole was stagnant with green stuff all over the top and probably breeding millions of mosquitos. Around the narrow edge of this sinkhole, were two llamas. Their drinking water was beneath the green stuff. With recent flooding, they probably already drowned. We saw cages of small monkeys and baboons with no enrichments or water. A lone zebra with an open neck wound was housed in a pen. Two ring tailed lemurs were kept in a small cage with shelter for only one at a time. We were told at the beginning of our tour that we were not allowed to take pictures. The guide emphasized
NO PHOTOS OR YOU WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE!
Most of the animals were suffering from cage syndrome, mindlessly pacing back and forth. We didn’t go to the Petting Zoo so I don’t know what conditions prevailed in that area.
I emailed PETA and they replied that they contacted the USDA and advised me to do the same thing, which I did. I sent a letter to the I Team Investigators at ABC-TV Action News, the Dade City and Pasco County Humane Societies, The St Petersburg Times and the Humane Society of the United States, vets at both Lowry Park Zoo and Busch Gardens without any response to date. Enclosed is the reply from PETA.
I posted a blurb on Travel Advisor and it is there for all to see, along too many others who shared my experience. Can you direct me to somewhere or someone who can bring this blatant abuse to and end now?
I am a Florida resident also and this is happening in our back yard! Take a ride on the “Jungle Safari Ride” and see for yourself. This place must be shut down and the animals placed in a more humane setting. These regal and innocent animals are languishing in a living hell and if we don’t do something….who will?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to a favorable response.
Very truly yours, ******”
Note: We withheld the name and contact info of this person, but they revealed it to the authorities and have asked the authorities to contact them.
You can help!
Do you remember other names of cubs who were used at Dade City’s Wild Things? If so, please put the name, tiger or lion, and the year the animal was a cub in the comments section below.
Kathy Stearns Zoo Slapped with Official Warning Letter from USDA
Cited for improper fencing, inadequate veterinary care and improper cub handling among other things.
Despite warning Dade City’s Wild Things began hyping a new baby tiger and encouraging people to book their Swim with a Tiger exploit between august 30 through September 15. 2012 before the pool water gets too cold. If you know where she got this cub from, please post in the comments below.
On April 11, 2012 Dade City’s Wild Things was offering pay to play with three female tiger cubs who they said had been born three weeks prior.
On Aug 30, 2012 Dade City’s Wild Things was offering pay to play with a new tiger cub, saying that they could only do so until Sept 2012.
In an effort to catalog all of the cubs they have bred or bought for this purpose, please note in the comments section if you know dates when they had cubs for public contact.
We wouldn’t suggest eating there either
DCWT regularly purchases tiger and lion cubs and exploits them to make money. The cubs are taken from their mothers shortly after birth by the breeders. This is a torment to both mother and cub, like it would be to any mammal species. Then, once Stearns gets them, a former volunteer who was charged with walking them reports on what she was told to do as follows: “The cub was playful. It wanted to play bite, jump on my leg. I was told that if it did that I was to grab it by the scruff and toss it to the ground and hold it there. All training was by punishing physically.” Stearns makes money from the cubs numerous ways. She carts them out to fairs or other venues where the cubs are awakened repeatedly for anyone who will pay to pet them or take photos with them. At her “zoo”, she charges for “encounters”. One kind of encounter involves forcing the cub into a swimming pool so paying customers can swim with the cub. Cubs don’t like holding still for petting sessions and photo opportunities. The swimming solves that problem for Stearns because the cubs has to swim for dear life. And, Stearns can charge much more for this.
Stearns claims it is legal to use the cubs this way until they are 40 pounds. Under Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission rules, if the employee relinquishes control, i.e. let’s you hold the cub, the legal weight is 25 pounds. Meantime, Stearns blatantly violates the federal policies established by USDA that cubs cannot be used for petting under 8 weeks old because their immune systems are not sufficiently developed and over 12 weeks old because they are dangerous. Unfortunately, enforcement of these rules is almost nonexistent. Stearns was finally cited by USDA for causing stress to cubs during pay to play swimming sessions on p/14/12. This was a repeat violation for improper animal handling.
In addition to exploiting the animals to make money and then keeping them in miserable conditions, Stearns has consistently demonstrated a lack of financial integrity and responsibility. She has been arrested for passing bad checks (Sept 7, 2011 Kathy Stearns’ Worthless Check Case) and individuals formerly associated with the facility indicate this has been a recurring practice. We are told she owes back pay to at least one former employee. Tax deeds have been issued for her failure to pay tax on the property (Kathryn Stearns Tax Warrant May 2011. More importantly and significantly for the future of the animals, the zoo property has been in foreclosure for years, with the proceedings delayed by a series of bankruptcy filings by Stearns and other individuals and entities (April 27, 2010 Kathryn P Stearns Foreclosure).
What happens after the cubs are too old to pet? They end up spending the rest of their lives in misery living in tiny cages.
Below is a video showing the abusive treatment of the cubs and how they live after Stearns can no longer exploit them to make money.
Below is one visitor’s detailed description of the misery they saw at Dade City’s Wild Things
A friend and I recently visited Dade City’s Wild Things. What we saw was amazing, in this day and age, but certainly NOT in a good way. Maybe if I recount our trip there, you’ll understand why.
At the converted gift shop, Mr. Stearns loaded up about 20 guests onto their trolley car for transportation to their home and “zoo” a few miles away. Each guest paid $22.95 for the tour and the majority eagerly paid another $20 for an “animal encounter” with a white tiger cub or a baby snow monkey to be included after the tour. There are no cameras or video cameras or filming of any kind allowed on the tour. When asked why, we were told that it’s because of those PETA people. They said that they have to remain constantly vigilant because those animal activists can always make trouble for them. I was soon to find out why.
Arriving at their home and surrounding grounds, your first impression is of beautiful rolling hills, towering oak trees hundreds of year’s old, lush, green landscapes. Then you begin to notice the cages. Though roosters, chicks, and dogs roam freely throughout their land, the animals that were born to do so have miniscule amounts of territory to call their own.
Kathy Stearns, the proprietor, gave the tour. Having served as a Florida Fish and Wildlife Technical Advisory Committee member, she believes strongly in private ownership and is against all bans. As she says on her blog, “I am proud of standing up for all exotic owners’ rights. (Serving on this committee) It sparked a great desire to work in spreading legislature(sic) issues because I experienced firsthand on(sic) how quickly our rights can be removed in working with non human primate owners in various other states like Pennsylvania where there is a ban on private ownership of non human primates.”
For a woman with a lifelong passion for wild animals and a beautiful piece of Florida property, we were expecting to see a collection of animals benefitting from both. How shocking to see the size of the cages where these animals spend every day of their lives. The first Old World and New World monkeys she introduced us to, no matter their size, looked like they were living in approx. 10’x10’ cages that many shared with others. No vegetation, no trees, no heights to climb. A plastic hanging baby swing was all that 2 monkeys had to play with in their small cage. The 2 baboons we saw much later in the tour looked as if they were living in a cell like we used to see in old, rundown zoos decades ago. Their human- like faces definitely betrayed the sadness of their captivity.
The hills were dotted with small, minimum size chain link cages. Two servals were on display in a 6’x12’ cage, most of their space taken up with a makeshift pool. The roosters and chicks clucked their way happily through the ferns and plants outside the serval cage while the servals couldn’t even be coaxed out to view. Though we were told they could jump 12-14’ in the wild, these 2 were contained in a cage that couldn’t have been 6’ high. Again, the irony of seeing something so majestic with so much agility in the wilds of Africa yet here contained in one of the smallest cages I’ve seen….but there was more to come.
Ahead and up a hill, we saw a large metal building with many chain link cages attached to it. We thought that surely these animals must have it better? They must have indoor AND outdoor facilities? This is where the big cats are housed. But, we were told that it was a maintenance and equipment building with no access for the animals. On one side of the building, 2 full grown Florida panthers are housed together in a long, skinny, dirt floor cage that looked to be about 10’x30’ and was attached to the side of the metal building with a low roof. There is a mural painted on the side of the building depicting typical Florida life with alligators and marshes. How I wished that was what life really consisted of for this unfortunate duo.
Around the other side of the building is where the big cats live. An enormous male lion and a female lioness live in an open-top, chain link fenced cage that had a single hot wire running along top. When someone commented how huge the animals were, all we could think of was how could they not be with so little room for exercise? Again, just a dirt floor with little, if anything, to make life interesting for them. No wonder the lioness bared her teeth at Kathy when she came close to her. Someone asked if the animals were neutered and Kathy said no. We wondered, is this where the babies for the encounters come from then? But that’s another story.
Right next door to the lion cage is a duo of tigers. Kathy said one was a Bengal weighing 1000 lbs. As we stood so close, I wondered just how strong is that chain link fence between that enormous tiger and me? He ran around and around in circles while his cage mate chased him. I held my breath and hoped the cage held tight. Chain link fences vs. 1000 lb. carnivores, I didn’t want to be anywhere near that competition!
In the background, I couldn’t help but notice a small round cage. Imagine the shape of a tin can but this is about 12’ in diameter and is barren except in the middle, where 2 wooden boxes are stacked up as den boxes. This tiny cage also had 2 full grown inhabitants – 2 cougars who I imagine tire of going round and round and round their entire lives with nothing to do, nothing to explore. It looked like the definition of boredom.
Behind us was another sparse, small, low-roofed cage where 2 magnificent jaguars lived – one golden and another a luxurious, velvety black. What struck us the most about this cage was how ironic that these tall, majestic oaks towered all around and yet, these 2 jaguars were panting in the hot enclosure with so little shade for them. If we were drenched in sweat and Kathy was lingering under a water mister to cool off, how hot must that black fur coat be for that jaguar? Though we had heard that Cypress Gardens closed down and their jaguar Sheba was transferred here, we didn’t see her. We were told she wouldn’t be seen on the tour. Where is she? What has happened to her? That’s all we kept thinking.
We saw a herd of deer that, honestly, had the best enclosure on the property, though it borders the street fence line. Then we saw the cages that really broke our hearts. Two beautiful black leopards were caged in a barren, long, narrow cage that had a couple of shelves mounted inside. One of the leopards was bald around his/her eyes, laid on one of the shelves, never lifted its head or moved, and stared blankly at us. Another definition for us – misery. The cage mate stood up and stretched to try to interact with Mr. Stearns. What baffled us was why weren’t these guests asking many questions, why weren’t they seeing the things we were seeing, or was it just that they were simply anticipating their moments with the babies – that’s all they really came for?
On we went to the baboon “cell” I mentioned before. They looked so human like, I couldn’t help but identify with them. I thought about how incredibly sad life would be if I were relegated to a cage like that forever? My feelings really sunk to a new low when I saw the small cage, behind theirs, that housed 2 extremely large bears. They were very social bears, coming over to the cage wall, sitting, spending time there while visitors gawked at them. At this point, it was hard not to cry, not to shout out, “doesn’t anyone else see something wrong with all of this?” But, when a guest asked “What’s your schedule for giving all these animals their baths?” and “How hard is it to bathe them?” and “What kind of animal is this?” (It was a tiger), I realized how little this group of people knew about the life these animals should be living, the space they need, the enrichment they need to stimulate their minds in captivity. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is it still just all about the baby encounters coming up? Is that all they really care about? These other animals and the way they’re living don’t matter?”
For a minute, Kathy couldn’t remember the names of the next 2 tigers we walked over to see. I guess that was better than one of the other animals who, when asked what his name was, she said she doesn’t think he even has a name. I thought, “Not even worth naming?” At this point, everyone was hot, drained, and the 2 hours of looking at antiquated cages and sad looking animals was more than enough. But, everyone perked up when it was announced that it was now time for “Animal Encounters.”
The majority of the guests had paid and signed up for this but, even if you hadn’t, you could participate and settle up later at the conclusion of the tour. The first baby brought out was Jajay, the 7 week old baby snow monkey who was wheeled to us in a stroller wearing diapers. A very young girl had requested to play with JaJay so he was plunked down on the picnic table on a towel for her to cuddle with and play with and pose for pictures with. What if she had any respiratory illnesses or anything contagious? What a vulnerable age for this little monkey. When she was through with Jajay, and since no one else had booked time with him, he was put back in the stroller, zipped up, rolled behind the Tiki bar and left there alone while Kathy and all the other guests marched off to a small shed labeled “Nursery” for their time with Diamond, the white tiger cub caged inside. We started hearing squealing and squeaking and looked over to see JaJay very upset, looking abandoned and forgotten back there. Eventually, Kathy’s adult son came over and wheeled JaJay away. We wondered to where?
For close to half an hour, we waited while others were in the shed having their pictures taken and playing with the white tiger cub. If you didn’t pay, you didn’t play. Kathy had said Diamond was donated to them by an Oklahoma zoo. Donated? We wondered how true could that be? This was obviously the proverbial cash cow for “Wild Things.” In reality, it’s what everyone was here for. Mr. Stearns said that a couple drove all the way down from South Carolina the week before just for the chance to hold that little tiger since you couldn’t do it up there. How ridiculous that this is what Florida is famous for – allowing people to hold and handle something so small, so precious, a baby who should be spending this time with its mother, not manhandled by the public for profit.
We were so upset, at this point, all we wanted to do was leave but we were trapped there with no transportation of our own. We couldn’t believe our ears when one of the guests said he was a photographer with TBT (Tampa Bay Times) and he couldn’t wait to let everyone back at the newspaper know what a unique, fantastic place this is. Of course, he was also one of the guests who couldn’t wait to go hold a tiger cub, an animal whose life, at this point, is spent locked up in a small cage in a shed with people filing in and out twice a day to “play” with her.
When everyone was through with Diamond, they escorted us back to the trolley. I noticed a medium-sized cat off display pacing back and forth non-stop in what I thought was a transport type cage since it was so small. Mr. Stearns said that’s the 7 month old panther cub that you can still have interaction with, if you want. How could that be? If my housecat can inflict scratches and scars on me, what could a fully clawed panther the size of a small German Shepherd do to me? And, especially one that is so poorly caged and with nothing interesting to do but pace?
On the trolley back to the gift shop, one of the guests who went inside with Diamond said it was kind of hysterical watching Kathy grab the cub by the tail whenever Diamond tried to get away from the people. She’d yank her back and plop her back wherever she wanted her. She explained that it didn’t hurt the cub since her tail is attached to her spine and that’s how it’s done. I can’t remember ever seeing any wildlife shots of that method. Scruffing – yes, slinging a cub around by its tail – no.
The guest also mentioned that there were no pictures allowed. You had to pay for the CD they sell at the end of the tour if you want any pictures. The CD contains pictures taken by a photographer “Wild Things” has hired to photograph the animals. This guest was obviously disgruntled about that since she felt she had already paid enough to them for this experience, she wasn’t going to pay more for pictures. Yet, she never questioned why they don’t allow pictures. If everything’s on the up and up, why are they afraid of the photos guests will take and possibly share? Why must all the pictures be staged by them?
After being dropped off at the gift shop, we went to our car totally depressed thinking about how much more could be given to these animals by the Stearns since the property they have is so incredibly picturesque. There is just no excuse for the small, inadequate cages these animals are housed in. There is plenty of room to give them more space, a better quality of life. Instead, we heard that their plans are to start running a tram service on another part of the property so “the old people who start coming to Florida soon and who can’t walk” will be able to come out and pay to tour the facility. So, doesn’t that say it all? Is quality of life for the animals important or boosting attendance?
What’s also demoralizing is everything we saw is perfectly legal in Florida; tiny cages, no quality of life for these various species, “pay to play” operations using baby animals as a source of income, promotion of more and more breeding, a continuous flow of animals who will have no future quality of life, and teaching people by example that animals deserve nothing better than this. I’ll never get the images of these animals’ faces out of my mind. They, more than any others, are “poster children” for why there should be a ban on breeding and private exotic animal ownership.
After this visit, it’s obvious that the Stearns have basic philosophical differences with my friend and I. They see these animals as a treasure chest. Quite the opposite, we see these animals as something to be treasured. Sept. 2010
Despite all of their financial woes they continue to add to the problem by buying more and more lion and tiger cubs to use as photo props. On May 16th, 2012 they announced, “Dade City’s Wild Things has just added another tiger cub to the three that were born six weeks ago. We are doing the full encounter schedule with them…” Added from where? Sue Pearce’s Myrtle Island Ranch in Okeechobee or GW Exotic Animal Park perhaps?