50 times or more a year Big Cat Rescue is contacted by someone trying to unload a tiger, lion, bobcat, serval or some other exotic cat who has outlived his usefulness. In most cases the people calling are those who have used the animals to support themselves, or to make themselves more popular, and now the cat no longer serves their needs. Then the cat has to go.
But there is no good place for these cats to go. The good sanctuaries are always full and over flowing and most other places will continue to abuse the animals by using them to breed more babies to sell or use. Big Cat Rescue can only take in a limited number of big cats each year because each cat is a 10-20 year commitment.
Most of the cases do not meet Big Cat Rescue’s criteria for accepting a cat as they will not assist these irresponsible owners in continuing to breed and use animals by being a dumping ground for last year’s babies.
This case at Savage Kingdom was different. Robert Baudy was world renown for producing what are commonly referred to as “throw away tigers” because they are so often lame and cross eyed from the inbreeding that goes into producing the white tigers that will fetch a big price. When USDA finally shut down the 84 year olds’ breeding activities in August of 2006 an era of abuse came much closer to an end.
A friend of Baudy’s had managed to place all but four tigers by May 14, 2007 when she first spoke with Big Cat Rescue founder, Carole Baskin. If she could not find a home for these last four tigers she was going to have them euthanized on May 18th because she could no longer drive 35 miles, two or three times a week to feed and water the cats. She was out of money and the time away from her own plant nursery was putting her in the poor house.
She didn’t want to see the cats die, in fact, she says she loved these cats the most, but she was out of options. No one wanted these last four tigers. They weren’t white. TJ, Bella, Bodnick and Truushia were just plain, ordinary tigers and they were getting too old to breed. TJ and Bella share a small concrete cell with only a bed pan for water and no shelter. Bella just stares off into space, oblivious to food and water even after days of not having any. If Big Cat Rescue couldn’t take these tigers they would die there, in the ruins of what was once a roadside tourist trap, and be forever forgotten.
Big Cat Rescue is answering the call to save these tigers, but we need your help. Donate HERE to help us give them a permanent home.
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Update: May 19, 2007 Thanks to many of our supporters who stepped up to help we were able to raise $27,000.00 of the $35,000.00 needed to rescue the cats. Taking a leap of faith that the rest will come, Big Cat Rescuers and Fox 13 arrived at Savage Kingdom on the deadline of May 18th. After a long day of loading, traveling and unloading the four tigers are now laying in the soft grass of Big Cat Rescue. If you are one of our supporters, these forgotten tigers have you to thank for their second chance at life.
Help us stop the exploitation of big cats. This quote from their former owner, Robert Baudy, that day says it all, “I know some of my cats went to bad places, but what could I do when they weren’t making money for me anymore?” Haley’s Act will ban the use of the babies that causes so many unwanted adults and you can help us pass that bill at www.CatLaws.com
In July 2006 the USDA finally revoked the license permanently for Robert Baudy and Savage Kingdom. See the 67 page USDA report here: http://www.usda.gov/da/oaljdecisions/060706_AWA_02-0003.pdf
If this link doesn’t work, use this one HERE
Check for yourself to see if they meet the sanctuary standards for an accredited animal refuge.
Below are some of the headlines over the years about Savage Kingdom’s escapes, maulings and deaths.
PETA seeks inquiry into cougar’s strangulation
Sumter facility not cited — human error blamed
Martin E. Comas | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted January 27, 2006
CENTER HILL — A cougar strangled itself with a rope at Savage Kingdom after workers lassoed the thrashing animal to keep it from escaping the breeding facility, state wildlife officials said.
The Jan. 10 incident came to light Thursday when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent letters to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging an investigation into whether the Sumter County facility broke state and national standards in keeping exotic animals.
“Strangulation is a miserable way to die,” said Lisa Wathne of PETA. “Any time you have an animal that is strangled, you need to investigate it. It should never have gotten to that point.”
But Joy Hill, Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman, said a commission investigation Jan. 11 determined that the cougar’s death was a result of human error rather than any policy violation, and Savage Kingdom was not cited.
“It’s unfortunate when something like this happens,” Hill said. “Things sometimes do go wrong when you keep big animals, and that’s sad.”
In 2001, a 550-pound tiger burst through a rusted chain-link fence at Savage Kingdom and killed an animal trainer. A Fish and Wildlife investigation later cleared owner Robert Baudy of any criminal wrongdoing leading to the death. Instead it stated that the trainer made several errors leading to the attack.
According to reports regarding this month’s incident, Terri Weaver, an animal keeper at Savage Kingdom , was cleaning out a feeding station when Mickey, the male cougar, slipped out of an adjacent stall through a divider door that had not been properly secured.
Mickey and the other exotic cats were already agitated by the loud chain saws being used by nearby tree trimmers at the time, workers told investigators.
When Weaver noticed the cat had escaped and was heading toward an open field, she tried to lasso it with a rope.
Mickey chewed on the rope and then bit Weaver on her lower leg, causing a minor injury. She then called for the nearby tree trimmers and another facility worker to help her capture the cougar.
The men managed to get two ropes around the cat’s neck.
But the animal then started to spin angrily on the ground, tightening the ropes around its neck, according to reports.
Baudy arrived on the scene with a rifle, ready to shoot the animal. The cat then suffocated, according to reports.
Hill said according to state policy standards, Baudy could have shot the animal.
“If there’s any danger whatsoever that one of these animals will get off the property, they’re going to kill that animal,” she said. “That’s standard procedure.”
The cougar’s body was then taken to a taxidermist in Bushnell, where it was skinned and its head was frozen.
Wathne said the facility should have shot the cougar with a tranquilizer.
Savage Kingdom officials could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
Hill said Fish and Wildlife officials have already forwarded a copy of their report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Martin E. Comas can be reached at 352-742-5927 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Escaped Big Cat Reportedly Strangled to Death
For Immediate Release:
January 26, 2006
Lisa Wathne 757-622-7382
This morning, PETA sent an urgent letter to Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer, Eastern regional director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) animal care division, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) urging them to immediately launch an investigation into the reported strangulation death of a cougar who escaped from a cage at Savage Kingdom, an exotic-animal breeding facility located in Center Hill. According to a whistleblower who contacted PETA, the big cat escaped from the enclosure and bit a landscaper who was working on the property. In an attempt to return the cougar to the cage, a rope was placed around the cougar’s neck and the animal was strangled to death while being dragged along the ground.
Because of Savage Kingdom’s long history of big-cat escapes and attacks that have resulted in injuries and deaths for both humans and cats-as well as owner Robert Baudy’s August 2004 indictment on charges of illegal trafficking in wildlife stemming from the sale of a tiger-PETA is asking the USDA and the FFWCC to revoke the menagerie’s licenses.
A tiger mauled and killed a man making cage repairs at the facility in July 2001, and a tiger mangled the leg of a worker in 1997. Both the USDA and FFWCC have previously charged Savage Kingdom with numerous violations.
Since 1990, there have been at least 196 dangerous incidents involving big cats in 39 states. Four children have lost their lives, and more than 50 others have lost limbs or suffered other injuries. Twelve adults have been killed, and scores have been mauled. The animals involved are victims, too-70 big cats have been killed because of these incidents.
“Keeping animals in cramped, substandard conditions isn’t just inhumane, it’s downright dangerous,” says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. “The best way to put an end to public endangerment is to shut down exotic-animal facilities like these.”
PETA is calling on zoo employees to report abuse through PETA’s new “whistleblower” Web site, ZooInsiders.com, or by calling 1-866-ZOO-TIPS.
For more information, please visit PETA’s Web site WildlifePimps.com.
PETA’s letter to the USDA follows; PETA’s letter to the FFWCC is available upon request.
January 26, 2006
Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer, Regional Director
USDA, APHIS, AC
920 Main Campus Dr., Ste. 200
Raleigh , NC 27606
Dear Dr. Goldentyer:
Please consider this letter an official request for the USDA to investigate the following incident at Savage Kingdom in Center Hill , Fla. , license #58-A-0106.
PETA has been notified that sometime within the past three weeks, a cougar escaped from a cage at Savage Kingdom and bit a landscape worker who was working on the property. A rope was placed around the cougar’s neck in the process of attempting to return the animal to the cage, and then the animal was reportedly dragged and ultimately strangled to death. This incident clearly endangered people and the animal and appears to have violated the minimum standards of the Animal Welfare Act, specifically the following:
§2.131 Handling of Animals. (a)(1): “Handling of all animals shall be done as expeditiously and carefully as possible in a manner that does not cause trauma, overheating, excessive cooling, behavioral stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort.”
§3.125 Facilities, General. (a) Structural Strength: “The facility must be constructed of such material and of such strength as appropriate for the animals involved. The indoor and outdoor housing facilities shall be structurally sound and shall be maintained in good repair to protect the animals from injury and to contain the animals.”
Savage Kingdom has a history of dangerous incidents and questionable animal care. In July 2001, a tiger mauled and killed a man making cage repairs at the facility, and in 1997, a tiger mangled the leg of a worker. In 2001, the USDA charged Savage Kingdom with violations of the Animal Welfare Act including failure to provide veterinary care, adequate animal husbandry, and safe animal handling.
Given the facility’s history and this most recent incident, revocation of Savage Kingdom ‘s USDA license is justified.
Please investigate this matter and advise us of the USDA’s actions. I can be reached at 757-622-7382. Thank you for your time.
Captive Exotic Animal Specialist
01/06/06 Center Hill, FL: Girl mauled when cougar escapes at Robert Baudy’s Savage Kingdom. A volunteer was severly mauled by a mountain lion when he escaped. It is alleged that alchohol and drug abuse is to blame for the continuing decline of Savage Kingdom and that the facility’s owner tried to keep the press and authorities from knowing about the incident by treating the mauled woman with expired antibiotics. A tree worker managed to get ropes around the escaped cat’s throat and he was strangled to death. The woman ended up in the hospital and Florida’s Wildlife Conservation Commission investigated the matter.
Savage Kingdom death
Tiger Fatally Mauls Worker at Animal Park
Tuesday, July 31, 2001
CENTER HILL, Fla. – A tiger broke through its cage at an exotic animal park in northern Florida on Tuesday and fatally mauled a worker.
The 49-year-old man had entered a cage at Savage Kingdom to make repairs when the 500-pound, mixed-breed Siberian in an adjoining cage broke through
the wires and pounced.
“For lack of a better word, it busted through,” Sumter County Sheriff’s Lieut. Gary Brannen said.
The tiger was shot by the park’s operator, big cat expert Robert Baudy, so rescue crews could get inside. Paramedics said the man suffered a fatal bite
to his neck and severe injuries to his head, arm and ribs.
Savage Kingdom breeds exotic animals for zoos and attractions throughout the world. Siberian tigers can grow to more than 600 pounds and 7 feet long.
In March 1997, a Siberian tiger escaped from the park and seriously injured a worker before it was killed by sheriff’s deputies.
Baudy, 79, was well-known during the early 1950s, when his animal acts were regularly featured on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Center Hill is about 40 miles west of Orlando .
Tiger Kills Trainer At Savage Kingdom
Investigators Inspect The Exotic Animal Farm
CENTER HILL , Fla. , 9:37 p.m. EDT July 31, 2001 — A tiger and its trainer were killed Tuesday at Savage Kingdom , an exotic animal farm in Center Hill.
While the trainer was making repairs to a cage, the 6-year-old, 515-pound, Siberian tiger attacked him.
Police said that the tiger apparently entered the trainers’ cage through some fencing that separated the two. A women who was in the area ran to the owner of the property for help. The owner, Robert Baudy, who is well-known in the circus and exotic animal word, responded to the attack with a rifle and was forced to shoot the tiger.
“Mr. Baudy’s facility will be inspected just like it was after the last incident. Just like it was done in 1999. At the moment there (isn’t) any danger to the public in the incident today, because all the perimeter fencing is well within the requirements,” Fish and Wildlife commission member Joy Hill said.
“The gentleman was in one of the holding pens and the tiger was in the adjacent holding pen. He (the tiger) got rambunctious in there and evidently started bouncing against the wire and the wire lost its integrity at one point and the tiger pushed through it and there is a hole in the wire now,” Hill said.
“Under the state law a trainer has to have one year of training before you get close to a tiger. At Tigers Eye Productions, you can’t be close to a tiger without two years of training. That’s how dangerous these animals are,” David McMillan of Tigers Eye Productions said.
McMillan also said that tigers in captivity are more dangerous then those in the wild. They are bigger, stronger and healthier and they are never hungry or thirsty. They are not afraid of people and they have lost their fear and smell of man.
The tiger will be taken to the medical examiners office.
The handler reportedly suffered massive head and neck injuries, and wounds to the left arm. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The tiger was shot after the animal attacked the trainer.
Savage Kingdom is located on County Road 708 in Beville’s Corner. A similar incident happened at the same location in 1997.
Tiger Mauls, Kills Man At Animal Park
Animal Shot, Killed By Workers
CENTER HILL , Fla. , 7:28 a.m. EDT August 1, 2001– A 500-pound Siberian tiger mauled and killed a man at an animal park in Sumter County Tuesday afternoon.
The incident occurred at Savage Kingdom , an exotic animal park in Center Hill. The tiger was shot and killed by park workers.
Vincent Lowe, 49, was an employee at the park. He was making repairs on the cage when the tiger broke through a wirer barrier and attacked him.
Authorities said that Lowe was carrying a weapon when the attack occurred.
“(Lowe) did have a .357-caliber pistol on him, and he did have time to get it out. But he didn’t have time to shoot,” Joy Hill of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission said.
Paramedics said that Lowe suffered a fatal bite to his neck as well as severe injuries to his head, arm and ribs.
“If you make a mistake with one of these (animals), that’s the last mistake you’re going to make. These aren’t pets. These are exotic animals, and you just got to watch what you’re doing all the time,” Chris Brittingham, a former employee at Savage Kingdom , said.
Savage Kingdom is operated by internationally famed cat expert Robert Baudy. Baudy, 79, was well-known during the early 1950s, when his animal acts were regularly featured on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Center Hill is about 40 miles west of Orlando .
A similar, non-fatal attack happened at the park four years ago, according to WKMG News.
Stay with myCFnow.com and WKMG News for more details.
The Federal Wildlife Officer
Nine Individuals Indicted on Wildlife Related Charges
Minneapolis – In a 55-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury, a Racine, MN, couple faces additional charges related to their operation of an animal park and animal brokerage business. In addition to the charges against Kenneth G. Kraft and his wife, Nancy L. Kraft, seven others were charged with various wildlife related charges.
The grand jury charged the Krafts will conspiring to violate a number of laws including the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act. The Endangered Species Act generally makes it unlawful to buy/sell in interstate commerce animals that have been designated as either endangered or threatened. The Lacey Act generally prohibits the interstate sale or purchase of endangered or threatened animals with a market value in excess of $350, and it also makes it unlawful to make and/or submit a false record or label for any endangered or threatened animals in interstate commerce from 1999 to 2003.
The other individuals charged by the grand jury on wildlife-related charges were: Robert E. Baudy, age 80, from Bevilles Corner, FL; Marcus Cook, from Dallas, TX, and the operator of Zoocats, Inc.; Troy Allen Hyde, from Bozeman, MT, the operator of Animals of Montana, Inc.; Hans Jakob Lueck, age 50, from Shoreline, WA, the operator of Wild Eyes Animal Adventure and Photography in Montana; Merle Multhauf, age 50, from Emerald, WI, Craig Perry, from Center Point, IA, the operator of Perry’s Wilderness Ranch & Zoo; and James F. Rienow, age 55, from Suamico, WI, an animal broker and taxidermist.
According to the indictment, the Krafts advertised their interest in buying, selling, and trading exotic wildlife, including endangered and threatened animals through several means, including the Internet and a national exotic animal publication “Animal Finders’ Guide”. The Krafts bought and sold numerous protected animals, including tigers, grizzly bears, and leopards. They had sources and customers around the country, including, but not necessarily limited to: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The indictment alleges that at the same time the Krafts were illegally buying and selling protected wildlife from their property in Racine, MN, under a number of different names, they also operated an animal park called BEARCAT Hollow. BEARCAT Hollow stands for Beautiful Endangered and Rare, Conservation and Therapy. The Krafts solicited donations, memberships, and other forms of sponsorships for BEARCAT Hollow by representing that the funds raised would go to feed and otherwise support the animals of BEARCAT Hollow, but they failed to disclose that the animals at the Racine, MN, property were regularly bought and sold as inventory of Kraft Game Farms or Kraft’s Animal Escapades.
Because protected wildlife may not generally be offered for sale, bought, sold, or transported in interstate commerce, the Krafts allegedly made false records and false identifications of the wildlife involved in the transaction on forms of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to the indictment, Nancy Kraft told at least one person that, for instance, the Krafts would make an illegal sale of a protected grizzly bear appear lawful by declaring the animal to be a “Syrian grizzly,” believed by the Krafts not to be protected, on the federal APHIS Form 7020. The Krafts are also alleged to have falsified records in order to hide their illegal activity by claiming the transactions were a “donation” or “breeding loan” instead of the sale or transfer of animals.
The indictment also charges Kenneth Kraft with witness tampering for allegedly instructing a person to lie to federal officials and maintain that animals he bought from Kenneth Kraft had been illegally donated rather than illegally purchased.
If convicted on the conspiracy or wildlife-related charges, the Krafts and the other defendants face a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. If convicted of tampering with a witness, Kenneth Kraft could face a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. Any sentences would be determined by a judge based on the federal sentencing guidelines.
The case is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Koch is prosecuting the case. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.