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stunning statistics is that there are more tigers in captivity in the US then there now are in the wild
a situation we're under the USDA regulations the cage only needs to be big enough for the animal to stand up and
turn around in
so you can only imagine the small cages that people build that are
actually legal you know could potential be in our backyards right now
Tiger crisis it didn't get to this point if
everybody was aware that tigers need to be protected and tigers
while tigers belong in asia in the wild in their natural forest
when you see the kinds of places these animals live you start to realize that in some cases
its a fate worse than death
hi i'm kristin bauer for the animal legal defense fund
my character the vampire pam on true blood
fends for herself just fine in her unlikely louisiana home
but for one wild animal in particular Louisiana
is the last place on earth he belongs
tony is a siberian bengal tiger who
has been living on display
as a tourist attraction at a truck stop outside baton rouge
since two thousand and one
in the wild tony might roam a territory of one hundred square miles
but for the last decade he has instead
lived in a concrete enclosure
plagued by the noise of diesel engines and the stench of gasoline
years of living in isolation and confinement have taken their toll on tony's
day after day
this magnificent
cat is taunted and harassed by tourists
instead of basking in the sun and hunting by night
tony paces his cage a sign of extreme psychological distress confining a wild animal as
a road side spectacle is wrong join me
and the animal
legal defense
in urging the state of louisiana
to revoke the permit that allows
tony to be kept at the tiger truck stop
a state law that violates a permit
designed to protect people and big cats
like tony
help us win the fight for his freedom
visit tony thank you
hello and welcome to the educational forum
i'm your host diane sullivan
i have been an animal advocate
and a lawyer for many years
but i have to admit that i did not know about the plight of tigers living
in the united states
until a former student rose church called me
explained the problem and aced for my help
what i found out is that there are two issues
the first issue contributing to the tiger problem is what they call pay
to play
carol baskin the founder and c_e_o_ of big cat rescue
explains what pay to play is and its impact on tigers we track all of the
killings maulings and escapes by big cats on our website at
and what was happening was there were so many people that were being mauled by
while they were paying to pet tigers or have their pictures made with tigers that u_s_d_a_
requirement that you could not touch a big cat a lion tiger leopard
after it reached the age of twelve weeks
because they became too dangerous because they're wild animals they're tigers
right ok in the case of haley hildebrand she was a seventeen year old
girl it was very
common her area where she lived in kansas to have your picture made with a
tiger for your yearbook
and so like all these other kids had done she went to this facility
had her picture made with this six hundred pound tiger who killed her
during the photoshoot
as a result there was a huge outcry for a bill called hailey's act that would end the
uh... contact with these animals
u_s_d_a_ had already said that you couldn't touch them after the age of
twelve weeks
u_s_d_a_ came back and said you can't touch the cub up until the age of eight
and the reason for that is the cub doesn't have sufficient immune uh... immune
system to be able to deal with all of the handling
so what that did was it created an eight to twelve week window a one month
in which people can still pay to touch these tigers
and as long as people will pay to touch these tigers
breeders and dealers will breed
excessively to meet that demand
it really comes back to the public if you could just stop the public from
doing this
it would save so many lives
so let me make sure i have this straight i could
perhaps go to a mall and pay twenty dollars or maybe seventy five dollars have my
twenty twenty ok have my picture taken
with a tiger cub who is between the ages of eight weeks and twelve weeks
and and and then i'd would leave with this cute little picture and the memory
if somebody is making money out of this which i'm assuming they must be
otherwise why would we have this going on
they would have to be breeding it would seem to me a tremendous amount of tigers
each and every year to ensure that they have cubs
between the ages of eight and twelve weeks am i right about this that's
correct do you have any idea of how big a businesses this is we know that one
vendor who said that he could make over twenty thousand dollars in a single
weekend at the mall
i know another person that breeds these animals who i'd had gotten a copy of an
email he had sent around saying he needed two hundred cups per year
just to be able to have all of his photo booths stocked
these photo booths are just they travel around to malls they put the cubs down
on the floor in a cage you go in you have a picture made with the cub
and these cubs are being just constantly awakened and handled by the public
these are cubs that would spend two years or more with their mothers so the mothers
are being just bread to death to be able to provide these cubs for this
purpose and it's a horrible life for both the mother and for the cub but you
can imagine being
jostled awake every time you've tried to finally drift off to sleep these guys need
a lot of sleep as cubs
but every time somebody comes up with ten or twenty dollars to have
their picture made picture their jerking that cub up and making the picture with them so if
there is only this one month window of opportunity to have your picture taken
with a tiger cub
what happens to the tiger cub when its
thirteen weeks old or maybe even a year old
or particularly when it's full grown because we all know that a tiger cub
grows into a tiger and they really are not suitable house pets
what happens to them unfortunately we don't know in many cases where these animals
end up
the ones we do know about
always end up in horrible situations where they end up needing to be rescued
because like you somebody will take this animal in as a pet and think
well it was used for these photo ops and its handleable so its going to be this great
pet and then it gets to be a year
year and a half
and they're like two hundred pounds by then and the people are scared to death
of them and they can't find a place fast enough to unload their animal
tell me how they live that at your sanctuary what's life like
for a tiger there
i've seen some delightful pictures of tigers actually even painting to amuse
themselves the biggest challenge that we face is trying to meet the emotional
needs of these cats
you're talking about cats that in the wild which room
four hundred square miles of territory that would be their home base
so there's no cage that's going to be giving them a sufficient life
we do an awful lot of the stuff like you're talking about giving them
pumpkins and uh... watermelons in pools and a lot of interaction we don't do any
hands on interaction with the cats
just talking to them and
trying to make their lives as pleasant and as peaceful as possible
the bigger issue is that we need to end the abuse at its start because there aren't
enough sanctuaries and even if they are take their word
these cats just don't belong in cages
the biggest leading cause
for so many of these animals to end up in these horrific situations
are that people will pay to have their picture made with a cute little tiger
and you can imagine
how much people want to do that they're soooo cute and
they will always justify it by saying well it's just this one time and even the
people seem to know that there's something inherently wrong about the
whole situation about why am i a able to touch this cub where's the cubs mother
they still manage to justify it by saying
this one-time won't make a difference this is something i want to do
this is
something i want to give as a gift and
the result is that
the people
that breed these animals will constantly be breeding more and more cubs to supply
that demand
if the public would stop than the breeding would stop and this whole thing
would just die out over time
the other major issue facing tigers in the united states
is that there are no federal regulations prohibiting people who want to keep
tigers as pets
pet ownership is a matter of state law and some states do not regulate the
keeping of tigers or other exotic animals today twenty one states allow
private citizens to keep a tiger as pat with as little a requirement as a
license or permit and some do not even require that yes that's correct and with
the u_s_ fish and wildlife service because there's no permitting requirement
there's no tracking system
so we really don't have a sense of how many of these tigers there are
out there so people can buy these tigers on craig's list or facebook
and you know with no training at all you basically can keep them like a
domestic cat the problem is after about six months old they become a huge tiger
and than they bascially become confined to a small cage you know living
in somebodys backyard or in a basement you know a situation of an apartment
building and you know it basically outs the actual homeowner from whatever
living quarters their in
did you ever envision yourself as going to the pet store or
a barn down the street or craigslist and getting a tiger not not at all
to me the whole concept is completely inconceivable it just
when i heard about this situation and how prevailant it is in the united states
i was just in shock and i think it took me
probably three or four days to really come to the realization that this is a real issue
and something thats really happening describe some of the backyard scenes
that tigers are kept in
well the ones that i've seen which have been mainly from rescue
centers where they actually have gone and rescued these backyard tigers they basically live in
deplorable conditions these
basically in just flat concrete cells that are you know no bigger than the
size of a parking space and it's completely legal under the regulations as they are
right now
and it's it's really sad because the tires actually pace which is something
that they shouldn't actually be doing and they are not given any type of
natural habitat so they're basically out there you know in the in a
concrete not out in the wild as they should be
pacing back and forth with
basically nothing to do and they're given probably not even enough meat that
they're supposed to have why did you get involved with trying to help with put
and end
to the problems surrounding the life of tigers in the united states i first
got involved working for a non-profit which was one of my pro-bono projects
and we're really looking at the tony the tiger situation down in louisiana and
doing research for that i realized that
you know tony was just one of maybe fifteen thousand tigers within the
united states and that really there is a serious problems with the laws and
regulations and you know as an attorney i felt like is kind of my duty to
step in and try to
solve the problem in whatever capacity i can
while doing research on the tiger problem
we spoke with individuals from a few of the animal welfare organizations about
their thoughts on the tiger problem
adam roberts is the executive vice president of born free u_s_a
adam has significant expertise in international wildlife trade and captive
wild animals and he serves on several committees including animals in
captivity born for u_s_a_'s is a national animal advocacy and wildlife
conservation organization
and we have offices in california in d_c_ and elsewhere
but we also operate a primate sanctuary down in texas
and our basic philosophy much like our partners in the u_k_ at born free
is to keep wildlife in the wild it's a very simple message so that were uh...
against the keeping of animals in captivity
provided that it's not
humane captivity it's kind of complicated because of course
when we have a sanctuary for primates
that's captivity but we try and give them
as naturalistic an environment as possible so that they can live out the
remainder of their days in peace with limited human interference in a natural
juxtaposed against treatment of animals in circuses or when they're caught for
their fur or when they're killed in the wild for their parts
i want to talk a little bit about zooz
and circuses
and your
position on that
and ask you whether animals can really be kept humanely and safely in those
conditions well i think under certain circumstances you might
be able to i think the bottom line is that
the way i see the modern zoo is that it's more for the human visitor than it
is for the animals
and as long as its created that way and run that way it's not going to be a humane
enterprise and so really have to i think break the entire zoo mold
and start over again what i could see is that zoos eventually evolved into
sanctuaries where they're not breeding animals they're not importing them into
from the wild but they're actually serving as rescue facilities so that
when someone is caught with tigers in their backyard and they're confiscated they
have a place to put that animal
that can better tend to their needs them what they had before or if
a bear cub for example as orphaned in the wild there's a place for that animal
to go
when that is the most humane alternative
tell me about born free's position
on the tiger problem here in the united states
well it feeds right into everything i've been talking about in terms of keeping
wildlife in the wild i mean obviously when people are keeping tigers in
these are apex predators and you can't sort of breed that or take that
out of the animal
so no matter what construct you put that tiger into
when that tiger is in captivity
and more importantly when that tigers in captivity around humans
it's a recipe for disaster and so part of our situation is trying to keep them
protected in the wild but also out of human hands
here in the united states and and so we fight against the exotic pet trade
where people have tigers in their back yards their apartments their living
rooms literally
because we knew the human interactions that that causes and the fatalities in
other injuries that come as a result
i'm a lawyer and i happen to know that what animals are kept somebody's
home or in their yard
is a matter of state law it does seem incredulous that somebody would think it
would be ok to keep a tiger in their backyard but i understand that that's a
great problem here in the united states that in certain states that have no
regulations to prohibit it
people keep tigers as pets
yeah that's right in fact it's
popularly known thought
but we think it's fairly certain that there are more tigers in captivity in human
hands in the united states than there
are left in the wild
which for us is an alarming statistic to think about you know when you have maybe
three thousand tigers left in the wild where they belong
it really is alarming and and concerning for us
and the other problem is that some states are particularly problematic in
fact texas where there's a proliferation of tigers in captivity there may be
more tigers in captivity in texas than there are in india
which is the one remaining stronghold of the wild population of tigers so it really
is incongruous to me how
a people could want to keep these dangerous animals
and b that states would allow
these animals to be kept the why of that why would you want a tiger in your backyard
kept in a little tiny enclosure why would you want to do that i think i can kind
of understand that part of it
and it goes like this
either it's because you want to have the biggest baddest animal on the block and
it used to be the doberman and then it was the rottweiler
and now it's the lion cub or the tiger cub and that eventually grows in to
a pretty large and domineering animal
but on the other hand as a parent i can understand too
when you see a cub a tiger cub
that is a cute and cuddly that is incredibly affable
gregarious playful
the problem is that when the person acquires that animal
they don't realize that eventually that animal is gonna become a three hundred
four hundred-pound monster yeah and then it becomes dangerous and that's where
you have animals that are either released into the wild
of this country
so that their roaming around the streets of birmingham or are they end up being
the humane society's problems or dumped on a local facility or
they're taken out into public on a leash and actually bite people so that's
really what the problem comes in so i can see the desire to acquire the animal
that for some people unlike me
there's there's not the separation there where they say okay that's a cute animal
but i wouldn't want own one or have my child around one
and for some people
that uh... leap doesn't ever get bridged
a few years back maybe a half a dozen at this point i remember reading in the
new york times
about the tiger that was in an apartment in harlem i think it was and
you know the rescue on officers had to calm down the skyscraper and go through
the window to try to sedate the tiger to get it out at the apartment building
how does a tiger end up in a public housing apartment building in new
york city is it because it was purchased legally somewhere and then transported
here illegally
yet it could be acquired in any number of ways it could be legally acquired or illegally
acquired obviously it depends on the state where the problem is happening
and when you have a situation where you know in connecticut it's illegal to own
a tiger but in pennsylvania you can get a permit to own one
it's very easy with that patchwork of state laws to acquire the animals and
move them around in interstate commerce and so
people get these animals and they get them in their houses and
i for one if i was the super of that building wouldn't want to go tell that
to get rid of the tiger i think he also have some big reptiles like an
alligator that i think that's right now that you say that so
i'd be a little fearful about going into that apartment i think that's what people prey on
another problem with respect to tigers and particularly tiger cubs that
grow in to tigers
is this
pay for play notion at the local malls where in certain states i guess
exhibitors bring tiger cubs and during a period where the tiger cubs is eight to twelve
weeks old you can go play with it or have your picture taken and it's a big
moneymaker for the exhibitor could you comment on that and how much that
contributes to the breeding and the problem with tigers here in this country
yeah well as long as there's going to be profit made by showing those animals to
the public allowing the public and to interact with those animals
and take pictures with those animals there's going to be a problem with those
animals long-term first it
it feeds the breeding because obviously when there's profit to be made there are
people who were going to want that money
and greed takes over
you going to breed the animals and try and display them to make a buck
but then what happens when the animals are too old to show will they either get
shipped off to some substandard facility where the lifestyle is horrible and
their uh... inhumanley treated or they're killed for their parts and we
have evidence that
the need of these tigers ends up in the trade in the meat trade exotic meat trade
or the animals end up as we've talked about in somebody's backyard as a pet
so it really does feed the problem to allow these animals to be shown to the
and of course in some situations you have animals that are
alder being showed in the public that are more grown up
and there was one instance in the midwest where somebody was killed a teenage
girl was killed by an animal during a photo op so you think that having an
animal like a tiger on a leash is somehow going to be ok but obviously
it's just not
lets talk a little bit about the international trade of tiger parts
the problem of some of the folk lore of the chinese
believing that tiger bones put in medicine or
stews or whatever they're used in
is something that I would imagine born free is up against that's
right it is a huge problem
uh... the international trade in tiger parts much like the international trade
in elephant ivory or rhino horn or bear gall bladder hugely profitable on the
black market and while the international community does not allow legally the
movement of tiger parts it's illegal to trade internationally in these parts
uh... the profit that can be made by the illegal trade is pretty enormous
and so you have tiger penis tiger bone wine tiger skins clause teeth everything
having a market value on the black market yeah now
two of the problems that comes from that relate to the source of these animals
uh... on the one hand you have
businessmen in china who are quote unquote forming the strikers keeping
them in these breeding facilities and spending thousands and thousands of
dollars to maintain the animals every year and so naturally they're putting
pressure on the government
who in turn but for puts pressure on the international community to open up the
legal trade
so that those businessmen
can finally see some profit on their investment
but as long as that's happening as long as theirs pressure and there's a black
market for these items there are poachers who are paying a dollar for a bullet
and taking the animals from the wild to feed into the trade so really as long as
that international trade happens
and there's not a firm message from all the governments around the world including
china that it shouldn't be happening tigers are going to be vulnerable in the
is their anything our viewers can do to help
with getting a message out there that this is not acceptable yeah well really
it would help for them to contact us at born free so that we can take
that message forward
when we go to these international treaty meetings uh... it's called the
convention on international trade in endangered species
and they're a hundred and seventy five hundred seventy six countries that
including the united states and we need to be able to tell the international
including the united states government
that our citizens are strongly against any trade-in uh... tiger parts uh... but
then also writing to the government itself write to the department of the interior let
them know
that we need strong as possible regulations globally
to prevent any tigers from being killed for the trade
last question tony the tiger
how hear wrenching is that tony is living in a cage at a truck stop is this going to
end for tony do you think well i think it will and and i'll tell you that you
know you describe it is heart wrenching and and it is but it's also inspiring
because that was one situation
where i personally i have to admit on i'm guilty of this i'd look at that
situation for many years and i could not find a way out couldn't find a solution
i couldn't figure out how we can get this tiger out of this parish in
louisiana where obviously the people who were intrenched there in the decision making
had no interest in doing so and and our friends at the animal legal
defense fund had a great campaign and a successful campaign and now the question is
come the end of the year if his permit is in fact not able to be um...
uh... renewed
what's gonna happen to tony and and quite frankly we've offered if his
health is strong enough to take him to our century in india now i know that's a big
if but god knows that would be an amazing end for that tragic story but
even if we got him to one of the sanctuaries like big cat rescue in the u_s_ it would
still be just so wonderful thats just where i was going i was gonna ask is
there any possibility you could take tony if things work out to india or
certainly big cat rescue would be another great organization yeah we have
to make that judgment call you know is he healthy enough to make that trip and
if he is
and and he could actually be back where tigers belong uh...
the international fund for animal welfare known as the ifaw
is currently one of the largest animal welfare and conservation charities in the
their mission is to improve the welfare of wild and domestic animals throughout
the world by reducing commercial exploitation of the animals protecting
wildlife habitats and assisting animals in distress
grace ge gabriel is the regional director of international fund for
animal welfare asia
she joined the international fund for animal welfare in nineteen ninety-seven as
the china country director
in this capacity
she established the ifaw china office she initiated and managed an array of
animal welfare campaigns and programs
headed by grace ifaw china works with the chinese government to influence
its current conservation policies
increase coordination with the international community
and enhance enforcement of both domestic and international
wildlife protection legislation
well while tiger only exist in asian
it's a asian species and scientists believe that
tiger as as species originated from china
really yes so uh...
a century ago there where
probably a hundred thousand tigers across asian continent
on far wide as even to iran to the caspian sea uh...
and but in the past century
three subspecies of tigers have
become extinct
including caspian tiger bali and javan
uh... tiger
in china
there is one sub species of tiger called south china tiger
subspecies but this species hasn't been seen
in the wild for over thirty years
so scientists believe that this species has
already become extinct
except some individuals that are remaining in zoos
but china
you know up until nineteen eighties
china still had a policy of killing tigers as pests
and not until nineteen eighty-nine when china issued
uh... wildlife
protection act
when tiger killing is
was banned
and today china had
fewere then
thirty tigers in the wild no wow and across tiger continent
there are there could be as few as
thirty two hundred
tigers across that continent in
tiger range states
but china is still very important for
tight wild tiger conservation
because china in china's border with russia
there is a subspecies that is amur tiger
most of it lived in russia in the russia and the fare east
and it was
in the past fifty years that species had
had increased to
about forty
four hundred
but today that species is also threatened because of the demand
for tiger parts
in china
and in souther china
in china's border with myanmar and vietnam
and that region there's also the indochinese subspecies of tiger
that that
occasionally wander
into china
and that species is also very
very much pressured
by the trade by poaching
are there now laws in china hurts uto prohibit or attempt to
at least regulate the the poachings so are their anti- poaching laws and
other laws to restrict trade of illegal parts of tigers
china's protection of wildlife law
prohibits poaching of uh... tigers and many endangered species
in the wild
however china's policy
uh... is very much promoting trade
so under the policy there are a few
there are a lot of
operations that are allowed
um... in in china including tiger farming
some of the
largest tiger farms exist in china
in total there are
over six thousand tigers um...
in the various farms
versus fewer than thirty tigers in the wild what are the tigers being farmed
or bred for specifically what's going to happen to those tigers
supposedly when when china allowed these tiger farms to be set up
they were set up
um with um
basically with the
to say with the excuse to say these tigers are bred for releasing them into
the wild
but what actually happened that these tigers are speed bred
they are bred so that the breeding strategy for these tigers on the farms is very
different from breeding strategy
for wild tightness
in the wild in order to preserve diversity the genetic diversity
you wouldn't breed so frequently
but on the farms in order to produce the maximum number of tigers
they breed very quickly
the tigers
after a female
breeds within three months
that cub is taken away from the mother
so the female tiger will get into breeding again so what happens is that
the diversity is is very
it got very uh... messy
and compromised and the tigers are not only
breeding withing you know just
with other tigers
these farms also breed tigers with lions
so what happens this you know these monster
that has no use ever
in conservation
tigers cannot the tigers on the farm bred on the farms can never never be
release into the wild
and i would surmise that the conditions they're kept in on the farm
are not
ideal conditions for a tiger no they're not and also day they are
uh... allot of the tigers are starved
and in order for them to engage in shows
by shows that i mean
they would sell tourists
prey tiger prey
so tourists can take a bye a chicken buy a cow release into the
enclosure for the tiger to pounce
pounce onto the prey
and in the wild a tiger would hunt
individually by itself but in these farms uh... you can see
a group of tigers twenty thirty tiger pouncing on one cow or
chasing one chicken
so these are
many of the farms also are uh... wildlife parks safari parks
so what
what they do it is uh... they chain tigers to
to uh... to the floor and
pose pictures for pictures
with tourists so these tigers
live a very miserable life
on the farm and then when they die or when they are killed
these farms are also selling
the tiger parts online
and in the name
of traditional medicine
one of the
one of the laws that china had passed
it wasn't a law law but it was a state council china's highest level of
government body
in nineteen ninety three
responding to international uh... uh... pressure
to protect tigers and tigers are already listed in society the society of
international trade
in endangered species
on appendix one so international trade is banned
so in nineteen ninety-three china's state council issued a notice
tiger bone and rhino horn
use in traditional chinese medicine
and after that ban the government actually started a lot of uh...
education campaigns
within the tcm
medicine community
to urge them not to use
tiger bone and rhino horn in medicine
so what happened was the
official tcm community have moved away
from using tiger bone
in medicine
but these tiger farms
they are
they're basically they used tiger bone
to produce a type of wine
and they call it for medicinal use
and then they are they are using peoples
you know a lot of older people's in their mind yeah tiger bone has you
know medicinal powers and so they're on
preying on
those type of people and
who treasure
tiger bone in medicine and who still want to use it as we sit here at the
international headquarters it's easy to cast a stone on what's going on in
china and
other countries but here in the united states there are also significant
problems and of course other endangered species
significant problems as well
do you have any commentary on the link between what's going on in china
with respect to the tigers in some of the abuse of tigers here in the united
indeed you know tiger crisis it it it didn't get to this point if
everybody was aware that
you know tigers need to be protected and tigers wild tigers belong in asia
in the wild in their natural forest
in fact in the u_s_ um... their the number of tigers
that are kept in captivity
the number is even higher than
those that are on china farms
and tiger is not even an indigenous species
on this continent
so in
for the people in the
for the u_s_ government on and for the people in in
in u_s_
they need to be aware of
if they' really care about tigers
than we need to have stronger laws we need to have stronger
position to keep tigers in the wild to regulate
make sure that the tigers
in captivity
in this country do not
go into uh... illegal trade
which stimulates a market demand
which fuels poaching tigers in the wild
nathan herschler is an attorney and international operations manager with
the international fund for animal welfare
prior to joining ifaw in two thousand and eight
he graduated from american university washington college of law
where he focused on environmental and animal law
nathan has co-chaired his student animal legal defense fund law school chapter
he's lectured on animal law issues and volunteered with a number of animal
advocacy group
can you tell me how pervasive the captive tiger problem is here in the u_s_
the problem is pretty widespread uh...
uh... there's been a number of advancements over
the past fifteen to twenty years or so most recently with the passage of
the captive wildlife safety act in two thousand three
after that came into effect there was a ban on interstate transport on a
number of big cat species defined is prohibited wildlife species under that
um... it protects species that uh... including lions and cougars which were
necessarily already protected under federal law
uh... but that became so because of that act and remain only protected under
federal because of that act
that being said
there are still a substantial number of
big cats in captivity in the united states
both in private hands kept as pets and also in sort of
corporate type of farms that uh...
are using these animals for uh... for commercial activities like bringing them to
malls where
they ask people to take photos take photos with these big cats as part of
you know
uh... activities that will bring
folks into malls
where does one
go about purchasing a tiger
it's not as simple as going to a local pet store or that but
there are a number of states where private ownership of big cats is just not
prohibited in the united states its legal
or its legal with a permit uh...
the number of states have declined where that's allowed in the last number of
years but
uh... you can still go to some of these states where
uh... where the private ownership is allowed
or you can find them on the internet the simple google search away you can
purchase your own big cat
why would states allow this
there's a substantial amount of money in it in some instances
states sometimes allow because they think of it is a private ownership issue
they don't like to see government getting involved in the private
ownership of
they think that it's somebody's right to own
it's hard to speculate on a state to state basis there a number of different
reasons why they would do it
uh... but i think that uh... a lot of times it's really just inertia
and i think that they don't see it as a substantial problems in their states so
there's not a lot of
effort being put into changing the way that they actually do it
the ownership of big cats other the obvious danger of a
tiger escaping and harming someone are their other
things to worry about
yeah so their there's a number of issues and there's welfare issues
a member of these cats are being kept in
horribly tight confinement uh...
you know spaces small cages that are the equivalent of of
dog cages the you see that you will only will transfer your dog for a couple of
hours s just keep them safe but these tigers are living their
entire lives
in in
equally small cramped behavior so there's massive animal welfare problems
with that
there's also
um... issues of public safety uh...
you know when you're dealing with these private owners of big cats there's
always the possible of mailings theres the possibility of escapes
uh... and then there's also international conservation issues we
suspect although we don't have any proof at this stage that a number of these
animals are actually being put into
uh... international and domestic wildlife trade uh... for use in either
traditional asian markets for as medicines
where the tiger in particular tiger bone wine is thought to increase both
virality and strengthen its drinkers
and then there's an increasing demand for that thats putting extreme pressures on
wild populations of tigers but we also suspect may be putting pressure on
domestic formed populations
and the same holds true for other species of big cats lions
for example
that are sometimes used as replacement products for those tigers when they
become more scarce
uh... there are also additional threats on the ground to a number of the species
poaching in particular uh... or trophy hunting for species like lions
where the
uh... import of those trophies is not actually prohibited at this time in the
united states what are some challenges that we face
probably the number one challenge is the fact that people don't
think of this is a major problem uh... the people who are out there
trying to interact with these animals the cubs that you're allowed to play
with at shopping malls for example
they like animals that love animals they want to be near these animals and that's
really the
cause for them to be willing to pay these ten twenty dollars for a photo
opportunity with them
to some extent of the biggest challenge is as overcoming the public awareness
and what the actual side effects of having these cubs in malls is
actually going to be
we also have challenges in congress of course as everybody knows right now
there's huge impasses over the budget over the role of federal government
implementing wildlife reforms
uh... and overcoming that just on a
uh... federal law basis is a substantial challenge for anybody trying to do the
type of work that our organization does ian
robinson is a veterinarian and ifaw's emergency relief program director
he began his career in general veterinary practice in the u_k_ but for
the past fifteen years he has worked full time in animal welfare ian work
first with the royal society for the prevention of cruelty to animals where
he helped to open the largest wildlife rehabilitation hospital in europe
treating over six thousand wildlife casualties per year from over two
hundred different species from bats to badgers to sparrows to sea birds to
seals and all kinds of animals
ian joined ifaw in two thousand and three
and he has helped the animals around the world including responding to
emergencies in many foreign countries as well as in the united states
it was interesting actually because my first job really
when i first started with ifaw
was a tiger rescue
and uh... when i was going to
to start my job i was called by my new boss saying can you start in time for the big cat rescue
and i said oh yeah that'll bbe fine I had no idea whether this was a like
just a big cat or like a tabby or a main coon cat
it turned out to be twenty-four tigers
in a backyard in new jersey
which we took out of quite appalling conditions
and moved to a sanctuary in texas and i think one of the
stunning statistics
is that there are more
tigers in captivity in the u_s_ then there now are in the wild
uh... and the wild tigers are extremely endangered
yet they are relatively easy to breed in captivity and there are large
numbers of them unregulated in the u_s_ and i think this is the the basis of the
problem you can buy a tiger cub
for about the same price is a good pedigree labrador
and people will do this and in many states there are
really no regulations to
control how
the trade in
dangerous wild animals of all sorts
uh... is is undertaken
and so people will
buy a cub which sounds like a good idea at the time than the cub grows it
becomes dangerous
it becomes often unwanted or they can't afford to keep it anymore
and then it becomes a problem
and that's often where we get involved trying to find
sanctuary for these
animals which people can no longer cope with
now i am a law school professor and one of the things that i have great interest
in is animal welfare
so i'm aware more than the general public about the problems with
respect to animals in this country
approximately three months ago i found out
that people
had in their back yards in texas and in other parts of the country tigers i was
shocked shocked is an understatement really
i wonder what people think when
when they decide that they're going to keep a tiger in their backyard to me
common sense tells should tell you that you can not keep a tiger like you would
keep a cat or a dog absolutely and wild live belongs in the wild whatever it is
people do
get attracted by the beauty and the grandeur of these animals and
there is that inquisitive streak in people which which wants to own
they want to own the want
to have one of these animals for themselves and they don't really consider
the implications of that
keeping wildlife like tigers in captivity
is an extremely complex expensive
and specialized business and should be left to
those organizations like zoos that have the wherewithal
to try and do it properly uh... and often
the results of trying to do it and
not being able to do it properly is these animals end up
needing a home and that's where
the sanctuary community of the
u_s_ comes in to try and rescue these animals and give them
a good environment for the
remainder of their lives
my understanding is many of the sanctuaries we have now are full
and because we have such a problem in the united states so i would imagine
that it's quite hard when you get a call that there are a number of tigers in a
backyard somewhere that are being captain horrible conditions you need to
find a way to go in and
rescue them but then you also have to relocate them somewhere
walk me through what it's like to to relocate a tiger
well it is a tremendous problem because particularly
in this at this time of economic recession it's becoming
more difficult for
the sanctuaries who are providing for these animals
to keep going in fact there has been a recent case of a sanctuary going
bankrupt and then
the hundred-plus tigers and
lions and other big cats that they had in sanctuary
had to be farmed out through out
the the whole of the u_s_ to other sanctuaries that could provide them with
a decent home that was an extremely difficult and is still an ongoing process
that we're going through we haven't quite rehoused
all of the tigers that they have
uh... a sanctuary which takes on
the job
of caring for one of these animals and giving them a good home for the rest of
their lives is taking on a tremendous burden
both financially and in terms of the care
that that's required and this is the real problem
and the problem is there are more and
more tigers being produced now one of the reasons for this is that people
want to pet tigers
and so there is a market
for people to pet tigers and it is still legal in this country to
be able to handle and have the public interacting
with tigers within a certain age group which is
sort of eight to twelve weeks now that's a very very short time scale
so in order to have these animals to make a profit out
allowing the public to handle them
people will breed
and then each of those tigers has to be has to go somewhere so they're sold as pets or
those tigers get into trouble and then go to sanctuaries but the whole time there's
this big machine
which is creating more and more animals
which need help and so there's a it's a never-ending problem the only way the
only way that this is ever going to come under control and the only way it
really is going to be stopped
is national legislation oh certainly i mean i sit here and i listen to you
now and it seems to me that it's common sense that we ought to not allow people
to interact with tiger tiger cubs between the ages of eight weeks and
twelve weeks because that's a month
and so you must have
people that are continually breeding
tremendous amounts of tiger cubs so that they always have them available because
of course they can make money from doing this and think of the life of the tiger
afterwards how sad it is that of course now you're gonna ultimately probably get
called in to try to rescue what is an unsuitable pet from the backyard of
somebody and now you have to find a home
and the sad thing is the tiger ends up living in captivity for its life and
that is not an ideal solution to the problem absolutely
and although each state is different and some states have all ready
outlawed the keeping of dangerous wild animals such as tigers
by the general public it does go state by state and in many states it is
still legal and in many states you will find
people who who still
acquire these animals as pets and then often keep them in unsuitable conditions
where they suffer there is also the significant danger not only to the
owner but also to the public if these animals escape or if people get in with
an animal because they're not expecting there to be a tiger on the premises these these
kind of things so there is uh... considerable uh... public safety issue
involved with this as well the massachusetts school of law has a very dedicated
animal law program
here are two students well this summer we've been working on an internship uh...
together with another msl alum, rose church
and its in regards to captive tigers
and we're here to help create a multiorganizatinal effort
to help combat captive tigers
and to ensure that they're
not being brought around to all the different malls captive tigers are basically
tiger cubs are basically taken around to
different malls when they are between eight and twelve weeks old
they are petted and
uh... just some horrible
abuses are happening to these poor animals
and what do you think
personally you guys can do to help this problem
personally i would like to make it
more aware to the public about the captive tigers in the united states uh...
especially in new england uh... i was shocked by
uh... the numbers
anywhere between five thousand and twelve thousand captive tigers and i would like
to make that more aware to the public
i think that i agree with kaitlyn education is really key at this point in
because in new england we have no idea that this is going on
as kaitlyn indicated there are so many tigers that are being held in inhumane conditions
that education's really a key factor
now i know you both took animal law have you
worked on animal issues before
i have worked
uh... at the local level i have worked with a... local shelter
i have helped foster dogs i've
also created a program for people with disabilities where they collect
and then take it into a shelter
I um
in high school was on a
wild animal rescue team
and we would take care of like squirrels and take care of eagles
and hawks and different things like that and then in college i was in animal club
and did things with the animal club and now at law school i took the animal law class
and hopefully helping the tiger situation
It seems that it always takes a tragedy before people will see a problem and act
on wednesday october nineteen twenty eleven
fifty-six exotic animals including lian's tigers bears giraffes wolves
were freed from their captivity at a rural residence outside of
zanesville ohio
police report that the animals owner terry thompson let the animals out of
their cages before he killed himself
when the carnage was over
forty-nine animals were slaughtered including eighteen bengal tigers
seventeen lions six black bears a pair of grizzlies three mountain lions two wolves
and a baboon
only six animals one grizzly bear
three leopards and two monkeys were captured alive and taken to the columbus zoo and
this tragedy should not have happened
it is time to take action
write or call your congressman and tell them we need a federal ban on keeping
wild animals as pets its common sense
tell you a congressman to press the u_s_d_a_ to close the eight twelve-week
contribute to one of the many animal welfare organizations that you saw on
the show
finally please please do not pay to play with a tiger cub
and do not have your picture taken with a tiger cub
so until next time
be the voice for for those who cannot speak
become educated on the things that you care about
like this topic
and above all you be well
i think we have a really good case for getting them to close the window and
the reason is they say up until eight weeks
the cat doesn't have sufficient immunology and so
what they didn't tell you they got it partially right they got it partially
right in that the cat does not have a proper immune system
but the fact is with domestic cats as probably all of your people know you
give kitten shots at 8 weeks 10 weeks and twelve weeks before they're actually
protected it's the same way with tiger cubs so they're not even protected until
twelve weeks
u_s_d_a_ has already said at twelve weeks they're too dangerous for handling so
what we hope
to presented to them is to say you guys had it right
aren't protected but they're not protected until the twelfth
week and we could just close that four week window it seems like it would be such an easy thing it is such a
problem at the state level and because the states have been delegated the the responsibility
controlling the trade an exotic animals in the keeping of exotic animals as pets
one thing we had great success in doing uh... about eight years ago was passing
the captive wildlife safety act which prohibits the interstate movement in big
cats like tigers lions leopards cougars or even hybrids if they're gonna be
kept as pets and so full enforcement of that law
which is not currently happening would be a huge boon to the stopping of
interstate movement of these animals
and really localizing the problems
so that states and communities can actually address the problems themselves
i think the other thing we need to do is focus on those states that's still
allow the trade go to those state legislatures show the incidents that
have happened in the states that have been uh... problematic where children have
been bitten
or otherwise hurt
show the number of people that we think are keeping tigers in those communities and
why it's a risk and urge them literally one by one
to change the state law
so that there won't be any communities left in the country where these animals
could be procured i think there's a number of things that we can do it and
there's a multitude of options on the table
um but it's they're all difficult and that's all it's a difficult slog all
the time trying to pass federal legislation trying to pass regulatory
change at the state and the federal level uh... i think that obviously the
holy grail in all of this
would be a ban on the private ownership of big cats with certain
exceptions for obviously reputable sanctuaries potentially for circuses for zoo
we haven't we don't have an organizational position on that at this
uh... but there are clearly a lot of options out there
um... that can help address this issue and its an issue that needs to be addressed without strong
both federal and state support for
proper and sensible legislation to control
the ownership of dangerous wild animals including big cats and specifically tigers
in the u_s_ this this
will continue to be a constant problems so for the
people in the
for the u_s_ government and for the people
in the u_s_ they need to be aware of
if they really care about tigers then we need to have stronger laws we need to
have stronger position to keep tigers in the wild to regulate make sure that the
tigers in captivity in this country do not go into illegal trade and which
simulate a market demand which guels poaching of tigers in the wild
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The Plight of Tigers in The US.- The Exotic Animal Trade in America

7093 Folder Collection
羅致 published on May 28, 2014
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