Recent attacks on humans by captive tigers in India, China, Australia and Singapore have shined an international spotlight on the danger and cruelty of keeping one of the planet’s top predators in captivity. In the United States, captive tigers and other big cats have, in the past twenty-four years, killed four children and eight adults.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, approximately 5,000 tigers are being held captive in the United States. Six percent of them reside in zoos and similar accredited facilities. The remainder are warehoused in squalid cages in backyards, unaccredited zoos, sideshows, circuses, private breeding facilities, and even a roadside truck stop.
Thirty-two states have banned private ownership of tigers; 10 require a license; and eight states have no regulation. What little regulation does exist to prohibit and protect big cats in captivity is often unenforced. A federal bill to ban the private possession and breeding of big cats – The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act – has 114 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
Of the 5,000 captive tigers in the U.S., only a lucky few will be rescued and relocated to sanctuaries where their needs take priority. In October, four tigers hit the feline lottery with the opening of a new habitat at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas. Ben Callison, director of the Ranch, speaks to Jane Velez Mitchell about the new sanctuary and big cat captivity:
Even the best of sanctuaries, however, cannot meet the needs of nature’s top predators. In the wild, tigers carve out large territories based on the availability of prey animals and mating partners. They hunt and, in spite of the fact that they are solitary animals, they sometimes share their kill with other tigers. The run 30 – 40 mph, and they can swim up to 18 miles a day.
Contact your U.S. representative and Senators to ask them to support The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act.
Please learn more about why holding wild animals captive is cruel; boycott zoos and circuses; and speak out.
Filed under: Entertainment, WIldlife
Tagged with: Ben Callison, Black Beauty Ranch, captivity, Clevelend Amory, Jane Velez-Mitchell, tiger