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Posted on Aug 2, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

A Walk on the Wild Side

A Walk on the Wild Side

A Walk on the Wild Side

What does the media think about a Walk on the Wild Side?  Listen to this:

Recent news about A Walk on the Wild Side

Cub petting Geoffroy's Cat A Walk on the Wild Side 2017(also known as Toucan’s Exotic Animals) is a traveling fairground exhibit and pseudo-sanctuary based in Canby, Oregon. It is owned and operated by Steve Higgs and Cheryl Jones. Although they are licensed as a nonprofit organization, claim to be a “rescue”,  and are legally permitted to house exotic animals confiscated by the state, they have admitted that they are not a sanctuary and do many things that responsible rescues would never do. These include exploiting tiger cubs for $30 photo-ops; breeding and buying animals for display at fairs; threatening and insulting those who criticize them; renting out animals for parties and commercials; and advocating for the “right” of circuses, roadside zoos, and private owners to own, breed, and exploit endangered species.

A Walk on the Wild Side has had multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act, and in 2015 public visits to their facility were shut down by Clackamas County officials who found “too many violations to list” of zoning and building codes. Inspectors found that trailers were being used as “nurseries” for baby animals, that other animal enclosures consisted of small chain-link pens covered with tents, and that the zoning under which the property was registered prohibits the facility from being open to the public. When ordered by county officials to build permanent structures to house their animals, A Walk on the Wild Side claimed that they had “no funding” to do so, even though they lamented to a local news station that they made over $50,000 a month from facility tours alone. The organization also does not own any land and is currently in the process of relocating to an equestrian center in Hillsboro, Oregon, creating an unstable situation for their animals.

fair sign A Walk On The Wild Side

From June  through  September, A Walk on the Wild Side visits fairs and festivals throughout the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California, where they display big cats in chain-link cages and sell $30 photos with tiny cubs. The “sanctuary” is a paying member of the Western Fairs Association and the Oregon Fairs Association, where their listing promises fairs “the ultimate feature attraction, education program and crowd pleaser. Exotic animals from all over the world. Lions & tigers, adults & babies.”

Fair Exhibit A Walk On The Wild Side
A Walk on the Wild Side estimates that over 2 million people visit their exhibit each year, and have no qualms about renting out animals for private parties or displaying them at large festivals featuring fireworks and blaring rock music.  They try to justify this by claiming that their rescued animals are never taken to fairs and that their “ambassador animals” were all hand-raised, but no reputable sanctuary  would subject any big cat to the noise and stress of a county fair, or rescue some animals while exploiting others.

Fair Exhibit A Walk On The Wild Side

bobcat at fair A Walk On The Wild SideSacramento County Fair tiger A Walk On The Wild Side

 

Fairground tiger exhibit A Walk On The Wild Side

The above photos were taken at A Walk on the Wild Side’s fairground exhibit.

Geoffroy Cat A Walk On The Wild Side

This young Geoffrey’s Cat was being displayed at a fair in a baby stroller.

Selling Photos with Cubs:

During the fair season, A Walk on the Wild Side has a seemingly constant supply of baby big cats, to the point that their staff are expected to work “solely with big cats between the ages of six and 16 weeks.” These cubs are used as photo props in A Walk on the Wild Side’s jungle-themed photo booth, which charges fairgoers $30 to pet and take a photo with a baby tiger, lion, cougar, bobcat, serval, or lynx. Cub-petting is an extremely irresponsible and inhumane practice which no true sanctuary condones. 

cub petting ad on website A Walk On The Wild Side

A screenshot from A Walk on the Wild Side’s website. Legitimate sanctuaries do not provide animals for events, breed cubs, or allow the public to handle animals.

In an industry newsletter, A Walk on the Wild Side writes that their exhibit cubs “are usually given anywhere from 10-12 hours of hands-on, daily interaction by our handlers.” That’s virtually constant handling of a baby that needs to rest, roam, and play to develop properly. Pictures taken at their photo booth show cubs with open sores on their noses from rubbing their faces on the bars of  their travel crates, and although the exhibit claims that the cubs “only work when they want to,” a local news segment filmed at the Oregon State Fair shows a growling, squirming 12-week-old tiger cub named  Siri desperately struggling to escape from the arms of a newscaster while Steve Higgs encourages viewers to pay to hold the cub, too.  The cub is so visibly distressed that the news station’s description for the footage admits that “[the] baby tiger wasn’t happy at all about being held.” In 2015, A Walk on the Wild Side encouraged people to visit their farm to pet a tiger cub that was 15 weeks old, past the 12-week age limit established by federal USDA guidelines.

Cub with open sore A Walk On The Wild Side

Photos of A Walk on the Wild Side’s fair exhibit cubs show visible wounds on the animals’ noses.

photo cub with injured nose A Walk On The Wild Side

Photos of A Walk on the Wild Side’s fair exhibit cubs show visible wounds on the animals’ noses.

tiny lynx cub petting A Walk On The Wild Side

A very tiny lynx kitten being exploited by A Walk on the Wild Side at a fair.

Occasionally, baby bobcats, servals, and cougars are also used as photo props.

Occasionally, baby bobcats, servals, and cougars are also used as photo props.

Occasionally, baby bobcats, servals, and cougars are also used as photo props.

Struggling cub on news A Walk On The Wild Side

This extremely stressed tiger cub was filmed at a fair by a local news outlet.

Although A Walk on the Wild Side tells patrons and the media that their cubs were “rescued”,  many are bred on-site (the facility brags about having “breeding programs with other places”) or are purchased from disreputable private breeders and roadside zoos, including Dade City’s Wild Things and Living Treasures Wild Animal Park. And while signs posted at the cub photo booth claim that the money raised by selling photos “benefits the animals”, A Walk on the Wild Side’s promotional video informs fairs that “the point of all this is to have a fun and profitable experience,” and exhibit staff have been caught boasting in profanity-laced Facebook posts about how “exploiting their animals” has made them “so rich” —  even as their facility claims to not have enough money to build permanent enclosures for their animals.

Admitting that exploitation makes them rich A Walk On The Wild Side


Would an employee of a responsible sanctuary ever post something like this?

Once the cubs are too large to use for photo-ops,  A Walk on the Wild Side sometimes sells them to other private owners and backyard zoos. In an industry newsletter, an employee of A Walk on the Wild Side admits: “We often agree to take in cubs, feed, house, love, and raise them temporarily, so that they can properly and safely be placed with another accredited facility to live out their lives.  We have donated many cubs to smaller zoos throughout the Northwest.”  This directly contradicts the feel-good claims made on their website that A Walk on the Wild Side “provides a home for life” for their animals, and perpetuates the cruel cycle of “breed, exploit, and dump” that true sanctuaries are trying to end.

Deliberately misleading “education”:

Like most exhibitors, A Walk on the Wild Side claims that they exist to educate people about wildlife. But instead of teaching patrons about the role that their animals play in the wild, explaining that wild animals make poor pets, or that the private trade in big cats is harmful, they’ve stated that their primary goal is to “educate the public about responsible animal ownership.Their exhibit is designed to “teach” people that their big cats don’t belong in the wild, and that the breeding, exploitation, and trade of endangered animals by private owners is a form of “conservation,” even though virtually all reputable conservation groups warn that it’s not.

Misleading education at cub petting booth A Walk On The Wild Side

At their exhibit, A Walk on the Wild Side displays a large “educational” poster that says “So You Think They Belong in the Wild…” The poster was written by a group which lobbies for the private ownership and trade of big cats, and makes the inaccurate claims that “the wild” no longer exists, that accredited zoos “aren’t doing enough” to save species, and that the only way to save tigers from extinction is with the “help” of private owners, breeders, and exhibitors. Another sign, posted on the cage of what A Walk on the Wild Side claims is a Barbary Lion, includes virtually no information about the species, and instead features a generic message “informing” readers that “legislation trends which threaten to ban private ownership of endangered species” would “speed their extinction.” These claims have been debunked by real conservationists, who warn that the private trade in endangered species is harmful, not helpful.

And what about the cub interactions? A Walk on the Wild Side claims that allowing the public to physically handle an animal increases the public’s knowledge and support of the species. But in a video advertising their cub photo booth, A Walk on the Wild Side mentions that “many people ask us if they can take the tiger home” — not the kind of “educational message”  a sanctuary should be sending.

Animal Welfare Concerns:

When not being exhibited at fairs, A Walk on the Wild Sides’ 174+ exotic animals live at a farm in Canby, Oregon that is being leased from a local concrete company. The big cats appear to be housed in rows of tiny, gravel-floored chain link dog runs with no natural vegetation and poor drainage. In some cases, enclosures are held together with plastic zip-ties and rope. These enclosures are perfectly legal under USDA regulations, which is why having USDA “accreditation” is nothing for a facility to brag about.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side's pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side’s pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side's pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side’s pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side's pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side’s pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side's pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side’s pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side's pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side’s pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side's pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side’s pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

 

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side's pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side’s pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side's pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side’s pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side's pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

Photo taken at A Walk on the Wild Side’s pseudo sanctuary in Canby, Oregon.

 

A Walk on the Wild Side has racked up at least 8 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act since 2009, including failure to provide inspectors with animal transfer records; inexperienced staff; failure to maintain adequate barriers between the public and tigers; and failure to provide animals with adequate veterinary care and housing.

According to USDA inspection records, one of the staff, as of December 2009, only had 3 months of on the job experience working with big cats, and liked to let the cats “comb his hair.”  In 2014, an inspector found that an enclosure holding a pig, a red fox and two young tigers contained excessive water after an overnight rainstorm, leaving the animals without adequate dry space (she noted that plans were in place to remedy the problem later that day). In September of 2012, A Walk on the Wild Side was written up for failing to maintain adequate separation between animals and the public after a spectator at an expo approached a transport cage holding an adult tiger and touched the animal’s face.
Multiple pictures taken behind-the-scenes at the “sanctuary” and posted online show staff members holding metal pipes, wooden canes, and broom handles while “walking” an adolescent tiger on multiple leashes and chains. Another photo, taken from A Walk on the Wild Side’s promotional video, shows an adolescent lion that appears to have an abrasion on its nose being walked on a rope.

Handlers with chain and metal pipe A Walk On The Wild Side

Handlers with chain and metal pipe A Walk On The Wild Side

Cheryl Jones walking tiger A Walk On The Wild Side

Cheryl Jones walking tiger A Walk On The Wild Side

A Walk On The Wild Side Weapons

A Walk On The Wild Side Weapons

injured lion on leash A Walk On The Wild Side

Injured lion on leash A Walk On The Wild Side

A Walk on the Wild Side’s Canby facility was open to the public until county officials closed it in spring 2015 due to multiple code violations. Visitors who went there have left near-unanimous negative reviews, to the point where the organization has only one star on Google. There, reviewers have referred to it as a “roadside circus attraction” and complained that the cats “are kept in cages far too small for the animal in question,” while Yelp reviews of the farm detail horrific neglect, as evidenced by these excerpts:

I felt sorry for these animals and wonder how they got a license to keep them. The animals were dirty and  some had very little shelter from the rain and cold.

There are no words. This place is absolutely disgusting, and I’m not even sure that it’s actually legal. The exotic tigers are in Huge dog kennels, it was really frightening. The poor exotic cats were in smaller dog kennel cages and their cages were filthy!!! The place smelled sooo horrible as well.

[The animals] were in small dirty cages and seemed distressed. One rabbit we saw had a vicious infection in it’s ears. It was quite disturbing. My girlfriend and I were debating making a call to some agency to investigate their operation.

I visited here last October and it made me sick to my stomach. They have a “farm” aka huge amount of animals there being horribly neglected. They have Lions, a Tiger, and a camel, all kept outdoors in Oregon cold and rain. They also have caged housecats, bobcats, and tons of wild animals that… …shouldn’t be living in small chicken wire cages in the rain and cold.

One of the most recent animal welfare complaints against A Walk on the Wild Side comes from a nearby donkey rescue, which in January 2016 received multiple concerned calls about over 25 donkeys (including pregnant females and foals) which were being kept by Steve Higgs out in the winter elements with no shelter and little food and water. When confronted by the sanctuary, Higgs stated that he had “rescued” the donkeys from several surrounding states and planned to use them for breeding and moneymaking schemes. Attempts by the donkey rescue to help the animals by offering water and hay were rejected by Higgs, who insisted that donkeys “do not need shelter” and warned that any further attempts to help his animals would be considered trespassing. When the donkey sanctuary updated their Facebook followers on the situation, A Walk on the Wild Side threatened to sue for “slander.”

Hostility towards critics:

While genuine sanctuaries protect animals from exploitation and welcome questions about their animals, A Walk on the Wild Side advocates for the use of big cats in entertainment and is extremely hostile and rude towards anyone who has concerns about their animals’ welfare. Facebook postings by the “sanctuary” openly support the use of elephants and big cats in circus acts, accuse all responsible sanctuaries and animal welfare groups of being “PETA” and “killing animals,” and mock those who disagree with them, stating that “we welcome positive comments and opinions, not those from uneducated people!This is not the behavior of a professional organization.

Negative comments left on A Walk on the Wild Side’s Facebook page are removed and the original poster blocked, while negative reviews are “responded to” by staff taking a screenshot of the review and posting it on the page with insults. Here are some screenshots from their Facebook page. None of them are things that professional animal rescue organizations would ever post:

Pro Circus A Walk On The Wild Side

facebook3 A Walk On The Wild Side

Here, A Walk on the Wild Side accuses The Elephant Sanctuary, a legitimate, GFAS-accredited sanctuary for retired performing elephants, of being “PETA/HSUS”, even though it has no affiliation with either group. The poster’s suggestion that A Walk on the Wild Side model their responsible behavior by not exploiting animals is dismissed as an “uneducated opinion.

mocking critics online A Walk On The Wild Side

This person posted a link to a news article about A Walk on the Wild Side’s Canby location being shut down due to multiple code violations and urged the Portland Rose Festival to reconsider hosting their exhibit. A Walk on the Wild Side rejected the contents of the article as another “opinion” and mocked the poster, calling her an “uneducated hateful person.

admitting theyre not a sanctuary A Walk On The Wild Side

Here, A Walk on the Wild Side admits that they are not a sanctuary, while shaming and threatening the original reviewer for “online bullying” and leaving a “false review”.

Unfortunately, A Walk on the Wild Side’s online hostility often extends to the real world. There have been multiple reports of A Walk on the Wild Side staff responding to fairgoers’ honest questions and concerns with rude and threatening language that occasionally turns into physical violence. Google reviewers frequently mention that the staff are “mean“, and one mother who visited the exhibit at a festival complained that she was “screamed at by the most repulsive, delusional, and disgusting woman I have ever met.” Another reviewer states that they “happily berate anyone who might disagree or ask a question about the morality of what they do… …they support animals in the circus, and only laugh when you ask about their stance on the abuse those animals go through.” A patron who tried to film the conditions the animals were living in reports being forcibly “escorted out” of the exhibit, and one of A Walk on the Wild Side’s staff recently bragged on Facebook about telling a concerned patron “that he sounds like a PETA freak who needs to be kicked in the nuts!

When a group of animal welfare activists asked Cheryl Jones and Steve Higgs some honest questions about the living conditions of their animals at a 2009 fair, “the only answer they could give was attempting to shout us down and threats of calling 911. Cheryl Jones then struck me and could only respond to us by calling us “PETA lovers” and claiming they were “educating children about animals.When Canby police arrived Cheryl and Steve demanded we be arrested. Canby police politely upheld our first amendment rights.

Connections with roadside zoos and the pet trade:

Responsible sanctuaries do not breed more animals for a lifetime of captivity or support the underregulated private trade which is driving the captive big cat crisis. But in a newsletter published by the deceptively-named Feline Conservation Federation; a  group which advocates for the “right” of private individuals to breed, own, and use exotic cats for entertainment; an employee of Walk on the Wild Side states that their facility’s goal is to “…advocate for private ownership and continue our mission of healthy captive breeding.

A Walk on the Wild Side is very connected with private breeders and roadside zoos, including the notorious Joe Schreibvogel, and have bragged about their “breeding program” with unspecified overseas facilities. Its staff  have directed  prospective “pet” owners looking for a specific cat to their network of wild and exotic animal breeders, and A Walk on the Wild Side’s Facebook page has encouraged people to visit disreputable private zoos such as the Zoological Wildlife Foundation and Dade City Wild Things, calling them “great facilities.” Criticism of any of these “friends” is not tolerated. When a family member of A Walk on the Wild Side employee posted a Facebook comment concerned about screaming tiger cubs being forced to “swim” with tourists at Dade City Wild Things, the employee explained that the abusive attraction “is a friend” of their facility and responded with this rant:
Do you support our allowing the public to get a picture with a lion/tiger cub? And these people paying? And often [our cubs] cry…it’s not “crying” it’s literally the form of communication.  And have you not seen the “negative” comments our fB page had received lately? Lots of negatives. And no they don’t list themselves as “PETA” but clearly they are uneducated individuals who are following along like sheep. Leaving bogus, false, comments/accusations on individuals Business pages, should be illegal! FYI I picked up Kira [a tiger cub], at the age of 4 weeks [from Dade City’s Wild Things]. Along with her sibling who went to West Coast Game Park. If your post such comments on my page, about fellow animal facilities that we support then I’m deleting you. Cause frankly, Cheryl would not approve of such things being posted either. You saying/posting what you are makes us look bad as well. And FYI we ourselves plan (in the future) tiger swims. I hope you or none of your family ask for one, as I will remind you of your comments.”

To sum it up, this “sanctuary” openly advocates for the private breeding and exploitation of exotic animals, houses them in substandard conditions, and bullies anyone who questions their practices or their industry. Events that host them are supporting the private ownership and trade of endangered big cats, and NOT a responsible rescue.

 

A Walk on the Wild Side in the News

A Defiant Couple Is Caging Big Cats in the Portland Suburbs. Should Anybody Stop Them?
The animal lovers behind this nonprofit say they are farmers. What kind of farmers? Tiger farmers.

Customers, like these Jackson County fairgoers, can pay $30 to pose for photos holding tiger cub Zarah. Higgs says the photo ops help condition the cat to enjoy interacting with humans, and they help pay for the cub’s expensive formula. (Shelby Snow)

By Katie Shepherd |
Published July 26 at 5:34 AM  Updated July 26 at 5:34 AM

http://www.wweek.com/news/business/2017/07/26/a-defiant-couple-is-caging-big-cats-in-the-portland-suburbs-should-anybody-stop-them/

What is Cheryl Jones hiding?

Two months ago, Jones and her partner, Steve Higgs, moved much of their family business to an old horse farm outside Hillsboro. Parts of the 80-acre property can be seen just south of Highway 26, but most of the land is tucked behind the tree line.

“No Trespassing” signs line the half-mile gravel driveway. A metal security gate flanked by two stone lions blocks visitors from the farmhouse where Jones and Higgs have set up shop.

Jones and Higgs run one of Oregon’s odder nonprofits: A Walk on the Wild Side, a charity whose purpose, according to tax forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service, is “educational.” Its mission: to house exotic animals and transport them in a fifth-wheeler up and down the West Coast to county fairs and birthday parties. Higgs manages the business of the nonprofit. Jones is the self-taught animal handler.

Since their move to Hillsboro in May, Jones and Higgs have stirred up the largely rural neighborhood. A Walk on the Wild Side’s new home sits among properties that are typically more than 80 acres in size, and are home to blueberry fields and horse stables. But it’s also less than a four-minute drive to a McDonald’s and a Subway. In other words, it sits at the edge of regional planning agency Metro’s urban growth boundary.

A number of neighbors say Jones is a menace. Former neighbors say she keeps her animals in cages too small. Washington County planning officers say she’s flouting regulations. Her landlord, on the other hand, calls her a freedom fighter.

Jones herself? She says she and her husband are misunderstood. “Come and see us at a fair,” she says. “Come and talk to us. Don’t just think that we’re the most terrible people who walk this earth.”

Just don’t ask to visit their new home.

This much is certain: At dusk in Washington County, the roar of lions can be heard from more than a mile away.

KEEP OUT: No one is allowed to visit A Walk on the Wild Side’s property – making it difficult to know exactly what the nonprofit is keeping in its chainlink cages. (Daniel Stindt)
KEEP OUT: No one is allowed to visit A Walk on the Wild Side’s property – making it difficult to know exactly what the nonprofit is keeping in its chainlink cages. (Daniel Stindt)

That’s because Jones and Higgs are assembling one of the largest collections of big cats in the state. Their farm, a 30-minute drive from downtown Portland, holds nearly twice as many lions and tigers as the Oregon Zoo.

No government official has inspected the property since they moved the cats in. Jones and Higgs declined to allow WW to see the animals, saying the publicity could embolden regulators trying to shut them down.

For two decades, allegations of animal neglect and insufficient safeguards have dogged the couple—part of the reason they left their previous location, in Canby, 26 miles south of Portland along 1-5. But those complaints, often filed by neighbors, have almost never been substantiated. In fact, the couple have only once been cited for criminal animal neglect, in 2002, and the charges were later dropped.

Yet their new home could be short-lived, for reasons that stem not from animal welfare protections but land-use laws. In June, Washington County officials sent Jones and Higgs notice that the property they are now renting for A Walk on the Wild Side isn’t zoned for exotic animal exhibits. It can only be used as a farm.

Jones and Higgs, who have several decades’ experience dealing with adversaries, say—with completely straight faces—that’s exactly what it is. A farm.

And what are they farming? Tiger poop.

SORE SPOT: Zarah, a 3-month-old Bengal tiger, rubbed her face raw before the Jackson County Fair this month. “They rub,” says Cheryl Jones. “Some cats more so than others because they want to be out with you.” (Paul Steele)
SORE SPOT: Zarah, a 3-month-old Bengal tiger, rubbed her face raw before the Jackson County Fair this month. “They rub,” says Cheryl Jones. “Some cats more so than others because they want to be out with you.” (Paul Steele)

Zarah, a 3-month-old Bengal tiger cub, has spent most of her short life on the road: the Stockton County Fair in California, the Jackson County Fair in Southern Oregon, and Portland’s own Rose Festival.

Because she’s still so small—45 pounds, about twice the size of a housecat—she gets to sit in the cab of Jones and Higgs’ van and sleep with them in hotel rooms. Jones feeds her formula from a bottle.

At each stop, A Walk on the Wild Side charges fairgoers $30 to pick Zarah up from behind and hoist her into the air, like Simba being offered to the sun in The Lion King.

Jones and Higgs also take cubs to birthday parties and other private events, charging $200 to add a tiger to elaborate photo ops with partygoers dressed as Aladdin and Jasmine.

On occasion, they waive the fee. Mindy Hegstad’s son Jay is terminally ill with a rare genetic condition. Hegstad, who lives in Longview, Wash., called Higgs recently and asked if he would bring one of his big cats to Jay’s 11th birthday party on July 1. Higgs brought Zarah for free.

“This birthday was a miracle. We didn’t think he was going to make it,” Hegstad says. “Jay got to hold the tiger and feed the tiger its bottle. The tiger was just freaking adorable and so well-behaved.”

ANIMAL LOVER: Cheryl Jones has been in love with wild animals since she saved a seagull with a hook its beak at age 12. (A Walk on the Wild Side)
ANIMAL LOVER: Cheryl Jones has been in love with wild animals since she saved a seagull with a hook its beak at age 12. (A Walk on the Wild Side)

Cheryl Jones rescued her first animal when she was 12 years old and living on a Portland houseboat with her family, which had moved there from Pasadena, Calif. It was a seagull with a fishhook in its beak.

Ever since then, she’s been in love with wild animals.

Jones and Higgs look as if they could be twins: straw blond-haired, tanned and clad in matching black polo shirts with a lion and tiger embroidered on the breast pocket.

The pair met 37 years ago at a Portland riding stable. She had worked as an operations manager at horse and greyhound racetracks. He had studied to become a physician’s assistant but dropped out of school to take care of his kids when his first marriage fell apart.

When they moved in together in Sandy, people started bringing them farm animals. At first, it was donkeys, horses and goats that had been abandoned by their owners.

But in 1987, they took in a cougar from the litter of a friend’s cat.
“A friend of ours asked us if we would bottle-raise one of her cougars,” Higgs recalls. “It took off from there.”

A Walk on the Wild Side displayed a cougar at the Jackson County Fair this month. (Paul Steele)
A Walk on the Wild Side displayed a cougar at the Jackson County Fair this month. (Paul Steele)

Keeping a big cat is perfectly legal.

There are more tigers in American backyards than in the jungles of Asia. The U.S. Department of Agriculture licenses about 2,600 animal exhibitors nationally, including roadside zoos, circuses and private rescue organizations. A Walk on the Wild Side is one of them—and has been since the early 1990s.

In 2011, Oregon lawmakers stopped issuing permits to people who wanted to own exotic animals as pets, after a number of high-profile escapes and maulings nationwide. But because Jones and Higgs were already licensed by the USDA, they were grandfathered in. Not only could they keep their animals, they could take in new ones.

By then, Jones and Higgs had settled in Canby, on 72 leased acres. They began taking in strays in earnest—both animals and people.

Jennifer McCall Ricke, a Clackamas County medical assistant, volunteered at A Walk on the Wild Side when she was a teenager in the early 2000s. She says Jones and Higgs would often provide lodging for their volunteers, many of whom were otherwise homeless.

“They’re good people,” she says. “Some people think that they’re not because of what they do, but you just have to get to know them.”

In 2002, Jones and Higgs brought home their first tiger, Shere Khan. And in 2009, A Walk on the Wild Side registered as a nonprofit. According to the nonprofit’s tax returns, no one takes a salary or stipend from the organization’s revenues, including Jones and Higgs.

HAVE TIGER, WILL TRAVEL: A Walk on the Wild Side advertises its many entertainment offerings on the side of a trailer it uses to haul aninflatable slide and other equipment. (Clackamas County photo.)
HAVE TIGER, WILL TRAVEL: A Walk on the Wild Side advertises its many entertainment offerings on the side of a trailer it uses to haul aninflatable slide and other equipment. (Clackamas County photo.)

The money that A Walk on the Wild Side brings in from fairs, parties and photo ops—between $250,000 and $350,000 a year in recent years—helps pay for care of the animals, Higgs says.

“These animals are like our kids,” says Higgs, who manages the nonprofit’s business side. “We’re not making money off these guys. All the money that we earn, that’s keeping these guys alive.”

Anna Frostic, an attorney for the Humane Society of the United States, questions whether A Walk on the Wild Side is a charity or just a hobby.

Frostic helped author a 2012 petition to the USDA asking for tighter restrictions on who may own exotic animals. She says A Walk on the Wild Side was mentioned twice in that petition for allowing thousands of strangers to hold, bottle-feed and pose for photos with baby tigers.

Frostic says A Walk on the Wild Side’s justifications—that it is educating the public and training cubs to embrace human interaction—was “a common song we hear from unaccredited roadside zoos across the country.”

Since 2009, Higgs and Jones have been dogged by complaint calls, often from neighbors going to the Clackamas County sheriff about undernourished horses and dirty cages. The sheriff’s office and Canby police say they have responded to 83 calls regarding the property during the past nine years.

“It is an unusually high number of calls for a single property,” says Deputy Brian Jensen.

In August 2009, Joanna Derungs, who lived nearby, called to report eight horses that looked too thin.

“I drove by there every day and saw the horses’ health deteriorate,” Derungs recalls. “I finally decided to do something about it. This was so obvious because the horses were getting sick and laying down and probably dying.”

Jones acknowledges that inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture came out to look at their horses several times after calls like that—but she was never cited for neglect. (She says sometimes she’d take in sick, undernourished horses to treat and fatten them up.)

SQUASHED: A Walk on the Wild Side’s tigers played with fruit fromthe pumpkin patch that Steve Higgs and Cheryl Jones opened each Octoberin Canby. (A Walk on the Wild Side)
SQUASHED: A Walk on the Wild Side’s tigers played with fruit fromthe pumpkin patch that Steve Higgs and Cheryl Jones opened each Octoberin Canby. (A Walk on the Wild Side)

In fact, records show Jones and Higgs have actually been cited only a handful of times by the USDA, for insufficient fencing, dirty cages and improper paperwork. Jones says all of those problems were minor and fixed.

By 2012, Jones and Higgs had accumulated several lions and tigers, letting the public come and view the animals in their cages for $5 per person. Many of their early visitors also came for an annual pumpkin patch.

One of those visitors was John Robinson, who came to the property in October 2013. He told WW he was so shocked by the conditions he witnessed—specifically, small, filthy cages—that he called the sheriff. So did another visitor, Christine Smith.

“The last Halloween trip we took the kids there, it wasn’t very clean,” Smith says. “There was a lion, I think, or a cougar, a bunch of different rodent-type things, birds, chickens, skunks, different types of wild animals. They were stinky and nasty-looking. I’m never going back there again.”

Clackamas County never found much to support the claims of animal neglect. But officials did start bugging Jones and Higgs about code violations.

In 2014, Andrea Hall and Kim Priest, code enforcement coordinators for Clackamas County, inspected the property. She found piles of garbage leaning against animal cages. The fencing around the bear’s cage had been built without a permit. A barn had been converted into a reptile house, but the electrical work for lamps that kept the cold-blooded animals alive was installed without a permit, had not been inspected and left wires exposed. People were living in two unlicensed RVs that the county deemed illegally occupied.

“I don’t think I’ve run into a case with such a variety of animals,” Hall now says.

Clackamas County officials captured shots of a tiger pacing up and down its cage during a 2014 site visit to A Walk on the Wild Side’s Canby property. (Clackamas County)
Clackamas County officials captured shots of a tiger pacing up and down its cage during a 2014 site visit to A Walk on the Wild Side’s Canby property. (Clackamas County)

Higgs says the violations were nitpicky and designed to unfairly target A Walk on the Wild Side. “She was just like a pit bull going after us,” he says. “If one thing didn’t work, then she would just come up with another thing.”

For more than a year, Clackamas County sent letters to Jones and Higgs about the zoning violations, which were upheld. By November 2014, the couple decided to shut down their public zoo and started traveling more often to county fairs, typically bringing tiger cubs and cougars.

About a year later, the Canby property they were renting was sold to a new owner. Fortunately, a wealthy patron had already invited them to Hillsboro.

LEASE ON LIFE: Clackamas tycoon Terry Emmert has become a landlord for A Walk on the Wild Side. “I think that organizations that help rescue animals are a plus to our society,” he says, “not a minus.”
LEASE ON LIFE: Clackamas tycoon Terry Emmert has become a landlord for A Walk on the Wild Side. “I think that organizations that help rescue animals are a plus to our society,” he says, “not a minus.”

He met Jones and Higgs at a local fair. When he heard they needed to move, he offered them a lease. And he says their battles with regulators in Canby motivated him to help.

“No matter what you’re trying to do, whether you’re trying to help kids or help animals, there’s always someone who is going to try to stop you these days,” Emmert says, sitting behind a conference table at his Clackamas hauling company, Emmert International. “No man’s life, property or liberty is safe while we have unrealistic regulations.”

MYSTERY FARM: From above, you can see the four houses and other structures on the old McKay Creek horse farm. But the tenants won’t permit visitors.(Google Maps)
MYSTERY FARM: From above, you can see the four houses and other structures on the old McKay Creek horse farm. But the tenants won’t permit visitors.(Google Maps)

In March 2015, a full year before Higgs and Jones began their move, Washington County officials say they informed their real estate agent that the land wasn’t zoned for wild animals—it could only be used as a farm.

Rita Howard, who has lived nearby on her family farm in rural Hillsboro since 1966, was aware of the restriction. Which is why she was surprised in May when she heard lions roaring.

“It almost sounded like a cow calling its calf,” Howard recalls, “but no, that’s not a cow.”

Standing on a neighbor’s truck bed, she realized it was the sound of big cats. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, are you kidding me?'” Howard says. “They were told they couldn’t move in there. How could that be?”

Cheryl Jones says the big cats are kept in smaller cages when visitors come to the property—for safety. (Clackamas County)
Cheryl Jones says the big cats are kept in smaller cages when visitors come to the property—for safety. (Clackamas County)

In early June, Tom Harry, a code enforcer for Washington County, got the first call about lions roaring nightly. He sent a cease-and-desist letter June 23 informing A Walk on the Wild Side that it could not keep wild animals.

Jones and Higgs’ attorney, Geordie Duckler, doesn’t dispute that the couple is keeping exotic animals in Hillsboro. But he argued to Washington County in a June 28 letter that the nonprofit may keep big cats on the property because A Walk on the Wild Side meets the legal definition of a farm.

“They’ve got livestock,” Duckler tells WW. “They’re raising poultry. They’re selling other animal products. They’re not operating like an attraction.”

To be considered a farm under Oregon law, A Walk on the Wild Side must produce an agricultural product. Duckler and his clients say they have one: tiger and lion dung.

A Walk on the Wild Side’s front entrance in Hillsboro. (Daniel Stindt)
A Walk on the Wild Side’s front entrance in Hillsboro. (Daniel Stindt)

“By raising these tigers, they of course have poop that [we] extract,” Higgs says. “That is being used by farmers to keep the coyotes out and the cougars out. They smell that scent, and they don’t want anything to do with a tiger.”

Higgs says he has a dozen clients buying tiger dung. Among them are cattle and sheep ranchers—but he says the biggest market is cannabis growers who want to keep pests out of their crop.

Steve Pedery, who studies native predators as conservation director for the environmental nonprofit Oregon Wild, doesn’t think tiger poop would help ranchers much. “I am dubious that exotic cat dung would do much to deter wolves or coyotes,” he wrote in an email. “In the case of wolves, I’d fear it might actually serve as an attractant.”

Washington County officials don’t have a ready answer for Jones and Higgs’ argument.

“This is the first we’ve heard about them selling manure,” says county land-use spokeswoman Melissa DeLyser. She says the county’s lawyer “would have to do some legal research to determine whether manure from an exotic animal is a farm use.”

In 2013, Jones told Clackamas County officials that A Walk on the Wild Side owned sheep, goats, miniature cows, alpacas, pigs, horses, donkeys, rabbits, cavies (a large rodent), birds, kinkajous, lemurs, monkeys, bobcats, servals, caracals, a lynx, a fox, tigers, lions, a leopard, and hundreds of reptiles.

Jones and Higgs tells WW that most of these animals have been moved to Hillsboro—including the big cats: seven tigers and five lions. (The Oregon Zoo has six lions and one tiger.)

They are seeking more.

Jones claims to have one of the world’s few purebred Barbary lionesses and and has partnered her with a mate, hoping for cubs. She says she’s talking with zoos that aim to preserve the species, including the San Diego Zoo. (Neither the San Diego Zoo nor the Association of Zoos and Aquariums had any recollection of Jones.)

Jones also says she is successfully breeding smaller cats like servals and Canada lynx, and other animals like cavies and wallabies.

“Sometimes we feel like, ‘God, we’re the only ones out there trying to do anything and help with this,'” Higgs says. “We’re working hard to make sure that our children’s children’s children are going to be able to see these cats.”

FAT CAT: A Walk on the Wild Side provided photographs of its animals, like Leo the lion. Cheryl Jones says Leo loves to play in old McDonald’s PlayPlace tubing. (A Walk on the Wild Side)
FAT CAT: A Walk on the Wild Side provided photographs of its animals, like Leo the lion. Cheryl Jones says Leo loves to play in old McDonald’s PlayPlace tubing. (A Walk on the Wild Side)

The couple is adamant that they are an open book. For almost two weeks, Higgs told WW that a reporter would be welcome to tour the farm, to see how carefully it’s being run. But last week, Duckler said abruptly that WW would not be allowed on the property.

When WW traveled to Jones and Higgs’ property this week to ask follow-up questions, a reporter was not allowed to view the animals.

Jones says that’s because they’re gearing up for a battle with Washington County and don’t want to give their opponents any ammunition.

“We’d love to have you,” she says. “I have nothing whatsoever to hide, but we’ve kind of got a gun to our head.”

Howard, their Hillsboro neighbor, remains worried.

“I’m an animal lover,” she says. “I’m just opposed to the sneakiness. To me, that means they’re hiding something.”

A Canada lynx at the Jackson County Fair. (Paul Steele)
A Canada lynx at the Jackson County Fair. (Paul Steele)

Jones and Higgs laugh at the idea that neighbors should be alarmed at the prospect of their tigers escaping.

“If they got out, they’re not going to go far,” Jones says. “They’re going to come to us. Tigers are the biggest chicken animals you’ve ever seen in your life.”

“We have Chihuahuas that will chase our tigers away,” Higgs adds.

A Walk on the Wild Side’s next exhibit starts July 26 at the Hood River County Fair. Next month, it’ll be a featured attraction at the Clark County Fair in Ridgefield, Wash.

Washington County planning officials say they still don’t know their next move.

This story is published in the July 26 print edition of WW with the headline, “The Tiger Farmer.”

(Joanna Gorham)
(Joanna Gorham)
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Posted on Sep 13, 2015 in Abuse, Browse by Name, Fakers and Haters | 0 comments

Juan Garcia

Juan Garcia

A person using the name Juan Garcia spends enormous amounts of time and energy building and maintaining websites and blogs devoted to bashing Big Cat Rescue and its Founder and making negative comments online wherever he can. In many cases he simply repeats the nonsense published by those exploiters who are threatened by Big Cat Rescue’s advocacy to end private ownership and abuse of big cats. In other cases he makes up his own nonsense.

After his repeated negative posts in the comments section of an online article in September 2015, someone asked him why he keeps making these negative posts and what was his agenda. First he claimed he was a “supporter” of Big Cat Rescue for two years but stopped being one when he concluded that there was a statement in a video about the history of one of the cats that was not true.

a former supporter

a just supported two years

When called out on never having donated to BCR, he then claimed he was “going to” but didn’t.

a not a donor was going to

In September 2015 he claimed to have made a trip to visit Big Cat Rescue and some of the worst exploiters. These included one of the most notorious breeders and exploiters of tiger cubs, Kevin Antle’s T.I.G.E.R.S. in Myrtle Beach, the circus family operators of Big Cat Habitat in Sarasota, and Dade City Wild Things who were recently sued by USDA for mistreatment of tiger cubs. He says he talked to the owners of the other facilities, but of course made no effort to talk to BCR management. Presumably he thinks someone will listen to and believe his glowing reports of visiting the exploiters and repeating their lies.

 

Let’s assume for a minute he actually was a supporter who had a concern. Did he contact BCR directly to voice his concern before deciding to devote HUGE amounts to time to creating websites attacking BCR and making negative comments online at every opportunity he can find? No. Instead, he seems to have devoted his life to attacking Big Cat Rescue and now to touting the kind of exploitation we are a leading voice in opposing.  This is not the behavior of a disillusioned “former supporter.” It is clear that he lied about having no agenda and is simply a voice of the people who want to inappropriately own and exploit big cats.

And just like he lies about having no agenda, the material he posts is full of lies. Much of it relates to Big Cat Rescue’s early history in the 1990’s that is transparently addressed on our website.

The people who want to own and exploit big cats have no arguments that resonate with the public to justify their selfish behavior.  So their only defense to BCR’s efforts to end private possession and breeding are to create distraction by attacking BCR and its Founder personally.

It is unclear whether he is a real person named Juan Garcia or simply someone using that name.  Either way, his lies online simply show the lack of character of those who support mistreatment of these majestic animals who deserve so much better.

To supporters who see his comments online we suggest not engaging in dialog with this person.  It serves no purpose except to give him the attention he apparently craves. The best thing to do is just ignore his nonsense.

 

Garcia and animal exploiters point to the same lies over and over.  Here are links that dispute their ridiculous claims:

http://bigcatrescue.org/carole-baskin-takes-on-big-cat-fight-with-exotic-pet-owners/

http://bigcatrescue.org/channel-10-repeats-big-cat-abusers-lies/

http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-rescue-watch/  Clearly shows that abusers post lies even when they have access to the truth at the time of posting.

 

Find out why it is so cruel to use cubs in pay to play schemes like the ones Juan Garcia defends. 

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Posted on Nov 15, 2014 in Abuse, Shut Down | 0 comments

Animal House Zoo Carolyn Atchison

Animal House Zoo Carolyn Atchison

Animal House Zoo Carolyn Atchison

Leopard-Leg-Mauled-107

Timeline of Abuse

2006:  Animal House loses USDA license after egregious violations of the Animal Welfare Act.  See court order. 2012 or before: 18 year old Leopard allegedly injured by a doberman at Carolyn Atchison’s “Animal House” in Moulton, AL.

Leopard-Leg-Mauled-1046/10/13  Domestic pet rescuers see the injured leopard and take photos and videos and contact Big Cat Rescue and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

6/11/13  Big Cat Rescue offers to take leopard is seized and get the cat to a vet and then provide lifetime care.

6/21/13  Big Cat Rescue obtains an import permit from the Florida Wildlife Commission to rescue the leopard.

6/21/13  Ethan Eddy, a trial attorney for the U.S. Dept. of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Div. Wildlife and Marine Resources Section sends an agent for USFWS named John Rawls to the facility to see if they can persuade the owner to abandon the leopard to them.

6/24/13 USFWS’ John Rawls drives 3 hours to the Animal House.  He says he will have an outside vet examine the leopard.  It is unknown if he did, or if he accepted the word of the unlicensed, former vet that is allegedly Carolyn Atchison’s boyfriend. USFWS does not confiscate the leopard. A month goes by with no word from USFWS so Big Cat Rescue contacts USDA to find out what is going on.

7/22/13  USDA says out of their jurisdiction and up to USFWS if anything is going to be done.

7/23/13  Big Cat Rescue contacts the media to see if they can do anything for this poor cat.   Animal House nor Carolyn Atchison can be found in USDA’s database any longer here:  http://acissearch.aphis.usda.gov/LPASearch/faces/CustomerSearch.jspx

Based on the suspension she got in 2006, it looks like she never had a license again to buy and sell exotic animals.  She had 29 tigers in 2004, so no telling where they all ended up.  Back in 2004, USDA only counted tigers and not other species, but in the 90s she had ligers, lions, leopards and all manner of exotic cats.  The thing I remember most, as she was showing me around was that every time a worker came up to her she screamed, “What’s dead now?”

Witness Reports

The following are details that were gathered second hand and may not be entirely accurate.  The photos, however, tell the grisly truth. Leopard-Leg-Mauled-3The owner, Carolyn Atchison, previously had a contract with Lawrence county to be their holding facility for unwanted pets.  Witnesses have reported that she was feeding the domestic animals to her wild animals (thus the Doberman / Leopard fight.)  

The county revoked her contract and domestic rescue groups were picking up the domestic animals on June 10 when they saw the gut wrenching condition that this leopard was in.  They contacted the local authorities, who did nothing, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund to see what could be done to rescue this leopard.

Ethan Eddy is a trial attorney for the U.S. Dept. of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Div. Wildlife and Marine Resources Section.  He is sending an agent for USFWS named John Rawls to the facility to see if they can persuade the owner to abandon the leopard to them.  If so they will be expecting Big Cat Rescue to be there within 10-12 hours to pick up the cat.  

June 10, 2013 a letter from a concerned citizen: Leopard-Leg-Mauled-103We have a big problem with an exotic zoo … in Alabama…There is a leopard with a huge open injury from his paw to his shoulder, please help… The owner has agreed to allow for the removal of the domestic animals, however the owner is opting to keep the exotic animals…there is an injured exotic big cat that looks like a jaguar or leopard.

They are trying to locate an exotic veterinarian that will donate their services to amputate the left front leg, no questions asked, as the owner shut everything down and the animal will be hard to access to help. There are NO laws on the books to protect from private ownership in the state of Alabama.  There is a gaping wound with massive muscle and tissue loss. This is an emergency. Please contact me to help.  

June 10, 2013 a letter from another concerned citizen: Filthy-Water-91…As of last night we sent all photos and video to ALDF and also filed a complaint with the USDA. We are keeping this very HUSH as she has multiple prior violations. She also is well connected in the Zoo circuit. It is my understanding that she has sent exotics off to others zoo’s but these are the ones that are either too old or her personal “pets”. I’ve attached a couple pictures of the injured cat, please keep that low profile for now, we have jumped past trying to get a vet in as we were able to remove all but two of the dogs yesterday, well before we actually expected to be able to!

We are hoping to hear back today as to what ALDF will be bale to assist with, there are no state agencies that will be able to handle this, nor do i think they would even care.  I also included a video of the Cat that a volunteer was able to get while they were distracted loading dogs. There is MUCH more to the story and many exotics there. She has only two employees and was being contracted as local animal control for years, hardly enough of a team to keep the facility clean much less the animals safe. We were given a story that the Cat had an altercation with  Doberman and the dog “lost”. Feel free to call me if you can offer any assistance, but at this point we feel it imperative that something be done on a larger level than just getting a vet in. there are injured Owls and other animals that need medical attention.

…she has multiple violations through 2004-08 and a mere 3500 fine for it all! I am now being told that her “vet” lives on this 100 acre property and is her boyfriend, but that could all be a big story to keep the heat off. What do you suggest we do? Feel free to call me if you think you can offer any guidance or help. Below is the link to the USDA complaint from the time period I mentioned. Everything in there is so familiar as to what is occurring now too! http://www.dm.usda.gov/oaljdecisions/AWA_05-0015_052206.pdf

Tiger-Dead-Raccoon-126She has a lovely house and looks like a ton of plastic surgery too, but the animals go without! There are rotting corpses on the property, I’ve attached a few more photos and videos. It’s a hellhole. there is a video somewhere from 2002 as well that shows half eaten dogs and cats trying to escape from a tiger pen, but i cannot get my hands on it! Upon leaving yesterday after we delivered hundreds of pounds of dog and cat food, she said to a volunteer “don’t say anything bad about us and pray for us”

The lies just don’t add up, the animals there suffering should be enough for the USDA to act however they only gave a 3500 fine the first time, but this goes far beyond exotic ownership it’s a 100 acre hell hole filled with rotting carcasses and unsanitary conditions. The workers mentioned trying to Quit 3 to 4 times over the last 13 years and have gone back “as they knew she would mistreat the animals”

I believe with applied pressure they will, speak out. There is also rumor that the Vet lives in a 3 story mansion on this property. If that is the case, he should be prosecuted as well! Also that there are more exotic cats behind his “house”, but it’s a huge property and we were only able to get access to the certain areas she allowed. We have many accounts of live domestics being fed to the exotics, but no solid proof that I know of. For now all we have is what I sent, which we are all hoping will be enough.

…we do have volunteers who are willing to testify to the pic and videos they took and what they saw and heard, i also have the personal cell numbers of the two workers. We have gotten all but two dogs out aside from the ones she claims to be her personal pets. i feel if we wait she will be able to get rid of key evidence. …PS no vaccinations are given to the domestic animals for those diseases, so those exotics ARE in fact in grave danger of contracting any number of those, we are rampant with parvo here in the South and even speculate at a new strain that may be partially resistant to the vaccinations. have not contacted ANY local agencies, I am terrified they will potentially be someone who will protect her, we have even gotten accounts that a close by AC facility director has been also protecting her over the years, this runs deep!

I don’t know a lot about the care of exotic animals, I am a dog rescuer and animal advocate. what i do know is very little if any precautions were taken to separate the ” Animal Control Facility” from the exotic pens and enclosures. I cannot tell you how many rotting corpses are present as there is just no way to tell without being able to really get in there. I work with some amazing ladies who went up there at thr risk on endangering their own lives to save the domestics, however we all agree that we would be just as bad if not worse than she to turn a blind eye to this, do you hear my friend … telling the Cat how sorry she is, it’s just ripped my heart out and brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

We are just a group of people that love animals enough to speak and act for them, what good we will be to ensure the safety of these exotics, i just don’t know, but i am a fighter and i will see this through to an end that will help them. I am lost here, i just know i see animals that need us to speak for them as no one else has been willing to, people seem to be afraid of her, I AM NOT, WE ARE NOT! Whatever you can offer to help would be greatly appreciated. I know not much can be done locally nor do i think they will act… I didn’t sleep at all last night, i just couldn’t get this cat and the others out of my head, i already don’t think that the laws protect them at ALL, so i have very little faith in govt agencies and even less in those that are local, from personal experience!

Additional links:

decaturdaily/news/070823/tiger.shtml

http://animallawcoalition.com/if-theres-no-suffering-why-do-you-need-a-soundproof-room/

http://decaturdaily.com/stories/Moulton-Rescue-owner-Lawrence-shelter-at-odds,69602

http://www.wildcatsanctuary.com.org/alabama-is-still-one-of-7-states-with-no-exotic-animal-ownership-laws-video-report/

http://www.waff.com/story/22535379/lawrence-co-closing-animal-shelter

http://books.google.com/books?id=qzkLDyISV7gC&pg=PA50&lpg=PA50&dq=carolyn+Atchison+moulton,+al&source=bl&ots=g_TCfU20Os&sig=kF5DLM3U-LZDR3MAvUkJuZCqUqM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5Va3Ucn5IIvu9ASHkIHADA&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBDgU#v=onepage&q=carolyn%20Atchison%20moulton%2C%20al&f=false

http://www.myfoxal.com/story/15735246/alabama-exotic-animal-owners-react-to-ohio-incident

http://www.waaytv.com/news/local/lawrence-county-animal-shelter-closing/article_fd78dc8c-cf17-11e2-925f-001a4bcf6878.html

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1817&dat=19990613&id=1DwdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NKYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6869,2330318

Alabama Regs on Keeping Big Cats

Alabama Category: N Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 64 N Union St.Montgomery, AL 36104 (334) 242-3465 State Web Site Department Web Site Possession of Wildlife for Public Exhibition Purposes Bobcats and mountain lions are not allowed to be imported into the state, transported within the state (except for licensed game breeders), and future possession permits to keep these species will not be issued (as of March, 2003).

Accredited educational facilities, research facilities, and permitted rehabilitation facilities shall be exempt from this regulation through the written permission of the Director of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries or his designee. Previous owners that already have permits will be grand fathered, but breeding is prohibited.

Also issues permits for the public exhibition of wildlife. Carnivals, zoos, circuses, and other like shows and exhibits where ample provision is made so the birds, animals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish will not escape or be released in this state are permitted.

Applications require statement regarding person education and experience, description of facilities, number of species desired, and signed agreement that recommended standards for wildlife exhibition will be adhered to.

Section 3-8-1 Rabies vaccine required for any canidae or felidae; applicability. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, it shall be illegal to own, maintain, sell, or trade any canidae or felidae for which there is no USDA licensed rabies vaccine. Anyone currently owning or maintaining such animal may keep the animal for the length of the animal’s life providing the animal is spayed or neutered and is registered with the Department of Agriculture and Industries.

This section does not apply to any zoological parks, circuses, colleges, and universities, animal refuges approved by the Department of Agriculture and Industries, county or municipal humane shelters, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, or veterinary clinics.(Acts 1994, No. 94-322, p. 562, §8.) http://wwwlegislature.state.al.us/CodeofAlabama/1975/3-8-1.htm http://www.911animalabuse.com/USDAViolations/2005AnimalHouseCarolynAtchison.pdf

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Posted on Jul 21, 2014 in Abuse, News Feed | 0 comments

Claws N Paws

I just found you on facebook and I am very excited that someone is actually trying to do something for animals who are being over breed in so call zoos then sold to dealers / brokers. I am trying to help this little baby tiger name Orion that is in the same situation. He was born at the Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium in Litchfield Park, AZ who sell animals to dealers that supply hunting ranches, animal brokers, or anyone they want a baby tiger. Orion ended up in horrific road side zoo called Claws N Paws. That zoo closes at the end of September and it is unclear where he will end up. I have contacted the USDA and they tell me this is all legal. I have sent over 20 letters trying to help this little guy but all I get is “this is legal activity” and there is nothing you can do. Any suggestions as to organizations that can help Orion get out of a bad situation?

 

Updated: Tuesday, 08 Nov 2011, 2:43 PM MST
Published : Monday, 07 Nov 2011, 11:02 PM MST

  • By STEVE KRAFFT
    FOX 10 News

PHOENIX – He was at one time the star at the Wildlife World Zoo in the west valley.

Orion the tiger cub, like other cubs born there, received his fair share of the spotlight.

But now FOX 10 investigates and sheds light on what happens to tiger cubs like Orion once the cameras go away. Surprisingly, many don’t remain at the zoo and where they end up has many worried about the future of the species.

This is a story about Orion.

“It takes about two and a half years to reach maturity,” said Wildlife World Zoo’s Dr. Grey Stafford.

Orion was cute enough to make three appearances on FOX 10 Arizona Morning.

“He’s already 20 pounds and he’s fully clawed and toothed and strong,” said Stafford.

“The first time I ever saw Orion was on FOX 10 Arizona,” said Carol Urban.

This is also a story about someone who stood up for Orion.

Urban is an engineer by trade, but her passion is photography.

“I ended up going to World Wildlife Zoo and I am an amateur photographer and I decided I wanted to take his photos,” she said. “Shots of him playing and shots of him sleeping.”

The tiger cub was born in April at the Wildlife World Zoo — not an unusual event. In fact, 13 tiger cubs have been born there snce 2007.

“Well, let’s be clear, we don’t breed tigers for the sake of breeding tigers,” said Stafford.

While trying to hold on to a five foot alligator, we met with Wildlife World Zoo’s Director of Conservation, Dr. Grey Stafford and owner Mickey OIson.

“Our mission here is to create a family environment that’s friendly and a place where children, parents and grandparents can learn about animals and learn to appreciate them,” said Stafford.

Not all of the tigers born at the Wildlife World Zoo stay there. After his last appearance on FOX 10 in June, Orion hit the road.

He was a featured guest on a talk show in Los Angeles. Then he was given a small zoo in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania called Claws and Paws.

Urban watched a video of him playing in his enclosure last August.

“It has one little ball to play with..he has no water. Tigers love to climb and play in water and I don’t see any water for him” she said.

Kerrie Kerns with One World Conservation says, “The exhibits are inappropriate and do not meet his needs as a species.”

The video was shot by an investigator for one world conservation after Urban called, looking for help. She didn’t think Orion was in a good home.

“One World Conservation has built a campaign around Orion,” she said.

“We would like to have Orion confiscated..this is to us sort of an upscale petting zoo,” said Kerns.

Neither Olson or Stafford viewed the video from Claws and Paws. Olso said he’d been there.

“I’ve personally visited Claws and Paws facility three years ago and I thought their facility was adequate,” said Olson.

Adequate doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement.

We also asked, is Wildlife World Zoo responsible for animals they give away? Not exactly, according to Stafford.

“We have to put our faith into our regulating body which is the USDA and actually the process works because trust me, if someone has a complaint, the USDA responds in a timely fashion.

The United State Department of Agriculture does regulate zoos, including small, road side zoos like Claws and Paws.

When they find something wrong, the USDA writes a citation.

“The ones that they did have had to do primarily with being a zoo in the forest..they had a well forested site and there were a few fences damaged by a tree limb that had come down in a wind storm,” said Olson.

There is a USDA complaint about a downed tree trunk at Claws and Paws, but we also found this about expired medication: “The use of expired medical material on regulated animals is not considered to be acceptable.”

Another report for the petting zoo — it found “Numerous holes in the wood on the back outer wall exposing nail heads and pieces of jagged wood.”

This one for a sick beaver and capybara. The notice says the animals “need
to be brought to the attention of the attending veterinarian to provide adequate veterinary care.”

“They do a good job educating the public in the Scranton area,” said Olson.

Maybe so — most zoos are educational, but what about this?

A warning notice from the USDA to Vincent Hall, the owner of Claws of Paws, for quote, “Failure to construct facility of such material and such strength as appropriate for the animals involved.”

“What really concerns me is I look at this cage and think that’s the size of my garage,” said Urban.

Besides appealing for Orion’s removal, One World Conservation just filed complaints about a camel with a nasty looking knee and a leopard with what appears to be some sort of skin disease.

“There was a black female leopard..six to eight weeks in age and her condition was pretty horrendous, she needs immediate vet care,” said Kerns.

“If we were to find that a facility was chronically not meeting up to its obligations, not just to us, but to the animals themselves, we will take corrective action,” said Stafford.

Hall had no response to our questions about the USDA reports and he declined any comment on camera.

“With Orion being so young and at this time of year, he’s going to be exposed to extreme temperatures..we are concerned about the shelter and him bin exposed to those temperatures,” said Kerns.

It does tend to get a bit cold and snowy in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania this time of year. Because of that, Claws and Paws is now closed, but the animals are still there.

The owner’s son sent us a photo of two white tigers blending in well with recent snows. He said off camera that his tigers enjoy the snowfall and these tigers, now adults, were also donated by the Wildlife World Zoo as cubs. The zoo says they’re doing just fine and that their staff is fully trained to make sure night house heaters work.

“Orion has no one to speak for him and for some reason Orion chose me,” said Urban.

Apparently, someone was listening. Just days ago, Claws and Paws and Wildlife World Zoo had a change of heart, deciding to return Orion to Wildlife World Zoo. He’s there now, under quarantine while his new habitat is readied. Hopefully, he’ll have more than a garbage can to play with.

“I’m glad to see that he is still playing and still being Orion,” said Urban.

The Wildlife World Zoo and Claws and Paws maintain they’ve done nothing wrong, that their critics are overzealous animal rights activists, misguided people who don’t know the facts about animal care.

It’s not for us to decide, it’s up to you. Maybe you should do your own fact finding. Check on Orion later this year. We will. Welcome back Orion.

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Posted on Jul 21, 2011 in Browse by Name | 0 comments

Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium

I just found you on facebook and I am very excited that someone is actually trying to do something for animals who are being over breed in so call zoos then sold to dealers / brokers. I am trying to help this little baby tiger name Orion that is in the same situation. He was born at the Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium in Litchfield Park, AZ who sell animals to dealers that supply hunting ranches, animal brokers, or anyone they want a baby tiger. Orion ended up in horrific road side zoo called Claws N Paws. That zoo closes at the end of September and it is unclear where he will end up. I have contacted the USDA and they tell me this is all legal. I have sent over 20 letters trying to help this little guy but all I get is “this is legal activity” and there is nothing you can do. Any suggestions as to organizations that can help Orion get out of a bad situation?

Updated: Tuesday, 08 Nov 2011, 2:43 PM MST
Published : Monday, 07 Nov 2011, 11:02 PM MST

  • By STEVE KRAFFT
    FOX 10 News

PHOENIX – He was at one time the star at the Wildlife World Zoo in the west valley.

Orion the tiger cub, like other cubs born there, received his fair share of the spotlight.

But now FOX 10 investigates and sheds light on what happens to tiger cubs like Orion once the cameras go away. Surprisingly, many don’t remain at the zoo and where they end up has many worried about the future of the species.

This is a story about Orion.

“It takes about two and a half years to reach maturity,” said Wildlife World Zoo’s Dr. Grey Stafford.

Orion was cute enough to make three appearances on FOX 10 Arizona Morning.

“He’s already 20 pounds and he’s fully clawed and toothed and strong,” said Stafford.

“The first time I ever saw Orion was on FOX 10 Arizona,” said Carol Urban.

This is also a story about someone who stood up for Orion.

Urban is an engineer by trade, but her passion is photography.

“I ended up going to World Wildlife Zoo and I am an amateur photographer and I decided I wanted to take his photos,” she said. “Shots of him playing and shots of him sleeping.”

The tiger cub was born in April at the Wildlife World Zoo — not an unusual event. In fact, 13 tiger cubs have been born there snce 2007.

“Well, let’s be clear, we don’t breed tigers for the sake of breeding tigers,” said Stafford.

While trying to hold on to a five foot alligator, we met with Wildlife World Zoo’s Director of Conservation, Dr. Grey Stafford and owner Mickey OIson.

“Our mission here is to create a family environment that’s friendly and a place where children, parents and grandparents can learn about animals and learn to appreciate them,” said Stafford.

Not all of the tigers born at the Wildlife World Zoo stay there. After his last appearance on FOX 10 in June, Orion hit the road.

He was a featured guest on a talk show in Los Angeles. Then he was given a small zoo in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania called Claws and Paws.

Urban watched a video of him playing in his enclosure last August.

“It has one little ball to play with..he has no water. Tigers love to climb and play in water and I don’t see any water for him” she said.

Kerrie Kerns with One World Conservation says, “The exhibits are inappropriate and do not meet his needs as a species.”

The video was shot by an investigator for one world conservation after Urban called, looking for help. She didn’t think Orion was in a good home.

“One World Conservation has built a campaign around Orion,” she said.

“We would like to have Orion confiscated..this is to us sort of an upscale petting zoo,” said Kerns.

Neither Olson or Stafford viewed the video from Claws and Paws. Olso said he’d been there.

“I’ve personally visited Claws and Paws facility three years ago and I thought their facility was adequate,” said Olson.

Adequate doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement.

We also asked, is Wildlife World Zoo responsible for animals they give away? Not exactly, according to Stafford.

“We have to put our faith into our regulating body which is the USDA and actually the process works because trust me, if someone has a complaint, the USDA responds in a timely fashion.

The United State Department of Agriculture does regulate zoos, including small, road side zoos like Claws and Paws.

When they find something wrong, the USDA writes a citation.

“The ones that they did have had to do primarily with being a zoo in the forest..they had a well forested site and there were a few fences damaged by a tree limb that had come down in a wind storm,” said Olson.

There is a USDA complaint about a downed tree trunk at Claws and Paws, but we also found this about expired medication: “The use of expired medical material on regulated animals is not considered to be acceptable.”

Another report for the petting zoo — it found “Numerous holes in the wood on the back outer wall exposing nail heads and pieces of jagged wood.”

This one for a sick beaver and capybara. The notice says the animals “need
to be brought to the attention of the attending veterinarian to provide adequate veterinary care.”

“They do a good job educating the public in the Scranton area,” said Olson.

Maybe so — most zoos are educational, but what about this?

A warning notice from the USDA to Vincent Hall, the owner of Claws of Paws, for quote, “Failure to construct facility of such material and such strength as appropriate for the animals involved.”

“What really concerns me is I look at this cage and think that’s the size of my garage,” said Urban.

Besides appealing for Orion’s removal, One World Conservation just filed complaints about a camel with a nasty looking knee and a leopard with what appears to be some sort of skin disease.

“There was a black female leopard..six to eight weeks in age and her condition was pretty horrendous, she needs immediate vet care,” said Kerns.

“If we were to find that a facility was chronically not meeting up to its obligations, not just to us, but to the animals themselves, we will take corrective action,” said Stafford.

Hall had no response to our questions about the USDA reports and he declined any comment on camera.

“With Orion being so young and at this time of year, he’s going to be exposed to extreme temperatures..we are concerned about the shelter and him bin exposed to those temperatures,” said Kerns.

It does tend to get a bit cold and snowy in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania this time of year. Because of that, Claws and Paws is now closed, but the animals are still there.

The owner’s son sent us a photo of two white tigers blending in well with recent snows. He said off camera that his tigers enjoy the snowfall and these tigers, now adults, were also donated by the Wildlife World Zoo as cubs. The zoo says they’re doing just fine and that their staff is fully trained to make sure night house heaters work.

“Orion has no one to speak for him and for some reason Orion chose me,” said Urban.

Apparently, someone was listening. Just days ago, Claws and Paws and Wildlife World Zoo had a change of heart, deciding to return Orion to Wildlife World Zoo. He’s there now, under quarantine while his new habitat is readied. Hopefully, he’ll have more than a garbage can to play with.

“I’m glad to see that he is still playing and still being Orion,” said Urban.

The Wildlife World Zoo and Claws and Paws maintain they’ve done nothing wrong, that their critics are overzealous animal rights activists, misguided people who don’t know the facts about animal care.

It’s not for us to decide, it’s up to you. Maybe you should do your own fact finding. Check on Orion later this year. We will. Welcome back Orion.

Read More