To those sceptics of Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue who claim that she is not concerned with big cat welfare but with making money, I’d like to point out that she has been campaigning for the passage of an important bill in the United States Congress, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, since 2015.
If this statute was enacted (i.e. it successfully went through the US federal legislature) it would substantially improve big cat welfare in the US by banning all future keeping of large wild cat species with specified exceptions. These would be licensed organisations such as wildlife sanctuaries exempt from taxation under section 501a of the Internal Taxation Code of 1986 etc..
It is my understanding that this act would ban the ownership of big cats by individuals who exploit the animals for financial gain. The present situation is too lax. It needs tighter regulation so the authorities know where the tigers, lions and leopards are.
It is currently so slack that the US government does not know how many big cats there are in captivity in the US. Estimates range range from 5,000 to 10,000. There are far more captive ‘pet’ tigers in the US than wild ones living in Asia.
This lack of knowledge about what is going on and the fact that a lot of people in the big cat business are unscrupulous means that some of the animals are killed for the illegal tiger parts trade which services the desire in China to eat bits of tiger such as penises to improve mens’ performance in bed. It is an idiotic and dangerous belief. Tiger bone is also used to make wine. In China tigers are farmed like livestock to provide tiger bone. This dramatically undermines conservation and is cruel.
There is also widespread abuse of cubs for financial profit (e.g. photoshoots). And many individuals who own big cats as pseudo-pets are unable to care for them properly resulting in tigers and lions suffering ill health and abuse.
WWF have a page where you can support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. There are currently 439k supporters. Clearly a lot of Americans understand the desirability of tightening up the rules on big cat ownership.
On a technical note the Big Cat Public Safety Act is going through the legislature as H.R. 1380. It is a short act which amends existing law. It is described as ‘To amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to clarify provisions enacted by the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, to further the conservation of certain wildlife species, and for other purposes’.
And at the beginning of the proposed act it says:
(1) IN GENERAL.—It is unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce, or in a manner substantially affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or to breed or possess, any prohibited wildlife species.
After that there are exceptions. These are organisations which are registered and licensed. This is about controlling big cat ownership in the US and Carole Baskin has been campaigning for this for years.
I hope people understand that she is fervently concerned with wild cat species welfare. Her sanctuary also has smaller cat species such as lynx and servals. The two men who are planning a protest at BCR in July need to understand that Baskin is the goody and men like Joe Exotic (currently in jail) and his ilk are the badies.
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