Earlier this week the Wildcat Sanctuary in Minnesota welcomed a white tiger, Nikita, and cougar, Tasha, with open arms and 8,000 square feet of roaming room. The International Fund for Animal Welfare helped out with an emergency grant to rescue these large cats from their less than adequate homes in Ohio.
Nikita, previously used for breeding and photo opportunities, endures mood issues that have been triggered by strangers and cameras, typically taking the stress out on herself. Tasha escaped from her enclosure, but returned before anything tragic happened. With the obvious threat to public safety as well as risks associated with tightening state regulation and legislation like the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act being addressed on the federal level, the owner of these cats turned them over to the sanctuary.
Statistics show that:
"There are more tigers living in captivity in the U.S. than exist in the wild today. Some 5,000 tigers live in captivity in the U.S., but as few as 3,000 tigers remain in the wild. In the past 21 years, U.S. incidents involving captive big cats have resulted in the deaths of 21 humans, 246 maulings, 254 escapes, 143 big cat deaths and 131 confiscations."
When big cats and other exotic animals are kept as pets it is detrimental to both the animals and the owners. With these large numbers of big cats in inappropriate environments along with incidences like the Zanesville Animal Massacre, it is crucial that measures are taken to regulate the keeping of exotic animals.
If the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, introduced to the House of Representatives last month, passes, it will work specifically to prevent such events from occurring. Not only does it strive to protect the public and nurture the animals, it also serves to aid in big cat conservation.
Photo credit: IFAW/Michael Booth