ZOO WARS~Big Cat Rescue Puts the Public in Danger-Response from FWC~No to Variance for Enclosure with No Top
[click on each view for larger print and then come back to the post]
So they moved the leopard out before inspection??? That is unclear…from the pictures it seems that they were rushing to take the leopard out of the enclosure and appears they slid past the inspectors seeing that the leopard was, in fact, in the enclosure-So the bigger question is-Why haven’t they reviewed all the Internet posts showing leopards in that enclosure-In previous responses there is supposed to be someone reviewing BCR Internet posts. Apparently they aren’t looking hard enough-even when the links are provided-go figure, and this service is brought to you from Florida taxpayers who are NOT getting their monies worth!!!
This has certainly been a real eye opener demonstrating that without proper enforcement you have nothing and that goes both ways.
The last page states that BCR has been denied no matter the excuses that she gave her followers for having done it-Had Baskin been working within the regulations and providing properly addressing both animal welfare and the public safety issue, then no one would have anything to complain about. There is no expert at Big Cat Rescue-actions speak louder than words. SO again I have to ask how legislatures can possibly consider what comes from BCR when they can not be compliant themselves with Florida State regulations for those types of animals. ALL complaints from Baskin are things that she has done herself and no one would have dared to have ever done for risk of citation, fines, suspension and possible loss of license. Apparently Baskin knows something no one else does or has protection been bought?!?
There is something to be said for a young mind and how they go “Beyond Thinking” to get to the bottom line. This is a site that you should follow for another take on the obvious but put under a magnifying glass so that the truth can be revealed and put into perspective.
Remember Howard and Carole Baskin are the BIG supporters of the Big Cat And Public Safety Act but they can’t even pay attention to safety measures in place in their own state-As I have always stated and will continue to state; whatever Howard or Carole Baskin’s complaints are against other Private Exotic Animal Owners are things they have done or are doing themselves that no one else would have dared to do or even considered doing.
My biggest issue right now is that they only received a warning when anyone else would have received a citation or possibly loss of their license…Considering that FWC have yet to concern themselves to properly address the situation with BCR when things do go wrong FWC will also have to be held accountable. Posts on BCR site indicate that they have broken the law many times over placing leopards in that cage including at least one that was receiving medical attention at the time.
I guess Howard and Carole Baskin are laughing all the way to the bank while other private Exotic Animal Owners are doing their best to hold on.
Rebuttal to Big Cat Rescue’s
Putting The Public in Danger
BIG CAT RESCUE: “In Case You Are Wondering What the Fuss Was About
Last Friday (Oct 3, 2014) the Florida Wildlife Commission inspectors came out, based on a complaint filed by Vernon Yates and Kathy Stearns, of Dade City Wild Things. The officers told us that the rules say you can’t have leopards in an open top cage unless you get a prior, written, approval by the FWC.”
REBUTTAL: Who cares who filed the complaints (they had links to their other website where they try to shame whoever speaks out against them). It doesn’t change the fact that Big Cat Rescue wasn’t following the rules put in place to keep the public and big cats safe.
BIG CAT RESCUE: “This was news to us, because in the past it was OK to have leopards in open top cages and back when we first built the sanctuary, a lot of our leopard cages were built that way and passed inspection every year. Attached at the bottom is the actual rule, so you can see how confusing it is, but I have highlighted the sentence in yellow so you can find it at all.”
REBUTTAL: Why make excuses? All of the cages the leopards are kept in at BCR have a roof so I assume they already knew the rules about housing leopards but just ignored it when it came to the vacation rotation enclosure.
How is the rule confusing? I’ll post the rule so you can clearly see how easy it is to understand.
“c. Outdoor cages over 1,000 square feet (uncovered) for cougars shall have vertical jump walls at least 10 feet high, with a 4-foot, 45 degree, inward angle overhang. Leopards and jaguars shall not be kept in uncovered enclosures except in facilities with wet or dry moats, which have been previously approved in writing by the Commission.“
So very confusing haha. Do they really expect people to believe that? Here is where you can find the rule that has been in effect since 1998 and probably even later.
BIG CAT RESCUE: “The one sentence about leopards and open top cages was buried in a section about cougars. The FWC inspectors said they thought the cage was safe for leopards, but that they couldn’t make the decision, so they told me to contact Tallahassee for the request. I did so within the hour.”
REBUTTAL: Excuses, Excuses. Here is the section which they claim is buried about cougars.
“2. Jaguars, leopards, and cougars
a. For one or two animals, a cage 20 feet by 10 feet, 8 feet high. For each additional animal, increase cage size by 25 percent of original floor area.
b. Each cage shall have an elevated platform(s) that shall accommodate all animals in the enclosure simultaneously. Each cage shall have a claw log, unless the animal(s) front claws have been removed.
c. Outdoor cages over 1,000 square feet (uncovered) for cougars shall have vertical jump walls at least 10 feet high, with a 4-foot, 45 degree, inward angle overhang. Leopards and jaguars shall not be kept in uncovered enclosures except in facilities with wet or dry moats, which have been previously approved in writing by the Commission.”
Notice how the part about cougars took up only a small sentence.
BIG CAT RESCUE: “Since we were obviously not aware of the rule and there was no imminent danger, they issued a warning, instead of a citation. The warning gave us 5 days to remedy the situation. All that meant was that leopards can’t go on vacation, until we hear differently from the FWC.”
REBUTTAL: Since they weren’t aware of the rule it makes me wonder what other rules they aren’t aware of. Remember, they have around 30,000 people touring their facility annually. Also they are located in a heavily populated city.
No, it does not just mean leopards can’t go on vacation. It really means that Big Cat Rescue didn’t follow the rules about properly keeping big cats in cages to keep them and the public safe. It also means the public was in danger of having a leopard possibly escaping from its enclosure. The leopard that caused Big Cat Rescue to get a warning was Jumanji. A woman needed 451 stitches to close her wounds inflicted upon her after being severely mauled by Jumanji
BIG CAT RESCUE: “Yates and Stearns, apparently gleeful to have at least secured a copy of the warning letter, immediately sent out the following press release to all of the local news outlets, and included three photos that I took of the day the leopard went on vacation and lied, saying they had an undercover spy inside BCR who gave them the photos:”
REBUTTAL: “What proof does BCR have to prove that Mr. Yates and Ms. Stearns are lying? It’s entirely possible to have a volunteer working at BCR inform Mr. Yates and Ms. Stearns of a public safety hazard by sending them photos from their website. We use information posted on Big Cat Rescue’s website to inform the public about their lies”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BIG CAT RESCUE ENDANGERS THE PUBLIC
Big Cat Rescue local Sanctuary was issued a warning by Fla Fish & Wildlife Commission for unsafe caging. Per Carol Baskin’s own claims “Dangerous Leopard” that could of escaped and BCR put the public at risk.
On Friday October 3, 2014 the Florida Wildlife Commission issued a citation to Carol Baskins and her roadside zoo Big Cat Rescue for illegal housing of a leopard, (citation # W716942). The citation was issued after receiving a complaint from Vernon Yates, complaint #13437. Mr. Yates, who runs a shelter for exotic cats in Seminole Florida, was sent pictures by an informant who works at Big Cat Rescue. The pictures showed Ms. Baskin releasing the leopard into a non-covered enclosure, and he forwarded them to the Florida Wildlife Commission for investigation. Florida law prohibits the keeping of cats like leopards and jaguars in non-covered enclosures and it does so for good reason; leopards are excellent climbers and thus present a real and immediate risk of escape if housed in an enclosure that is not completely covered. Without a top to the cage the leopard can simply climb out.
It is shocking that Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue would endanger the lives of their neighbors as well as their own employees and volunteers in this way. It is shocking that they would endanger the life of the leopard itself in this way since there is a very real risk that the leopard would be hurt or killed if it had escaped. It is ironic that Big Cat Rescue frequently criticizes other zoos claiming that Big Cat Rescue is better able to handle exotic cats.
On Christmas Day in 2007 a tiger escaped from an enclosure in San Francisco zoo and killed a zoo visitor. Carole Baskin previously had a cougar escape from her facility in 1996 when her zoo was called Wildlife on Easy Street.
Vernon Yates requests anyone knowing of any animal facility, SPCA or Humane Society or Big Cat Rescue to contact him so that he may take action to protect the welfare of the animal and the public.
Vernon Yates, President & Founder
Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation
Dade City s Wild Things
37245 Meridian Avenue
Dade City FL 33525
BIG CAT RESCUE: “Reporters from TBO the Tribune and WFLA (Ch 8) all called me.This is what I sent them:
Would you send me a copy of the news release, please?
I’d like to sue Vernon Yates and Kathy Stearns, of Dade City Wild Things, because of all of the false complaints that I believe they have been filing. A copy of their news alert would be helpful.
Feel free to call me on my cell
They lied if they told you it was a citation. The number referenced is their complaint they filed. The Florida Wildlife Commission inspectors said they saw no way a leopard could escape our vacation rotation enclosure but that I would have to apply to their boss in Tallahassee, which I have done, for an exception. They issued a warning, not a citation, because they believed it was clear that no harm was intended and no harm would have come of the situation.”
REBUTTAL: Wow! They threatened to sue Mr. Yates and Ms. Stearns for filing a sound complaint. Notice the word “believe”? Again, they offer no proof to prove that Mr. Yates and Ms. Stearns are lying or in this case filing false complaints. Tell me, would a truly innocent sanctuary threaten to sue people for filing complaints? Of course not because they would focus entirely on their cats and would pay no mind to complaints if they are truly false like they claim.
They claim the inspectors saw no way a leopard could escape from the enclosure. Do you think a leopard could escape from this enclosure?
BIG CAT RESCUE: “Here is what I sent Captain Kara Hooker.Dear Captain Hooker,I’d like to obtain a variance for our 2.5 acre Vacation Rotation area for our leopards.All of the cage material is 6 gauge, double galvanized, wire panels with 4 ” square openings. (The wall, cantilever and wire drape)The panels are hog ringed with 9 gauge hog rings.The cage wall is nearly 20 feet high, consisting of an approximately 15 foot high side wall (14 feet and 4 inch at the least) with a 5 foot cantilever extending inward.What is unique about this construction and makes it safe for even the most athletic cat is a curtain of wire, a foot high, that drapes from the highest peak down toward the floor. This is braced at regular intervals to keep it in place.
If a cat were to climb, upside down, for the five feet of the cantilever, this draping of a wire panel keeps them from being able to get a paw out past the wire and over to the top of the cantilever.
The walls are staked at the bottom to follow the terrain so that there are no gaps. There is an apron along the eastern wall, because that is the side that faces other cats and where the most pacing and posturing goes on, although there has never been a serious attempt at digging by any of the cats.
There are 3 roofed sections that are attached to the outside of the enclosure where the cats are fed each day and we do feed every day; unlike any other place I know. If the winds get up to 30 MPH the cats are locked in the roofed sections until the winds die down.
The platforms and trees are positioned 16 feet from any point on the cage wall, cantilever or curtain.
The poles are 18 foot long, 3 inch steel pipes, sunk in concrete, at 10 foot intervals.
Maintenance to the trees, grass and foliage is done every two weeks, in between cats’ turns to be on vacation.
Attached is a video we made about the construction and photos of the cage.
Most captive leopards only live to be 10-12 but all of our leopards are over the age of 16; 16, 17, 18, 20 and 22. All but two of these leopards have been declawed by former owners as well. (none of the clawed leopards have been in the enclosure)
Would you grant us a variance on this cage design for our leopards so that they can have the benefit of 2 week vacations where they can run, swim and have an unobscured view of the sky?”
REBUTTAL: The cage wall is nearly 20 feet? Again it’s a leopard. Here are some more photos showing their climbing ability, strength, and fearlessness.
“There is an apron along the eastern wall, because that is the side that faces other cats and where the most pacing and posturing goes on, although there has never been a serious attempt at digging by any of the cats.”If the cats are supposed to be relaxed in their ‘vacation’ rotation why are they pacing? There may not have been a serious attempt at digging but there was an attempt at climbing out of the enclosure by one of their tigers named Amanda.“Carole Baskin, the CEO of Big Cat Rescue, which she founded in Tampa, Fla., 22 years ago, used Love Animals to raise money for a fence extension that would foil a female tiger’s escape attempts and allow her to join her siblings in the sanctuary’s new outdoor enclosure. (…)Big Cat Rescue built a 2.5-acre open-air enclosure last year with money raised the old-fashioned way. It is surrounded by a 15-foot fence topped with a 5-foot overhang so the 150-pound cats can safely roam, run and play in an area with a swimming hole and unobstructed views of the sky.But Amanda, who previously had tried to escape, wasn’t allowed in the area until Baskin’s father invented a short, drape-like addition for the overhang to keep her in the enclosure.The rescue’s $20,000 campaign for the addition last November garnered donations ranging from $2 to $1,000, allowing Amanda to stretch her legs, watch over her brothers and get in good roar.”
BIG CAT RESCUE: What happens next?There is no fine or strike on our record for the warning letter. We have applied for an exemption to the rule and now it is up to the FWC to approve this fun space for our leopards, or deny it. Meanwhile, no leopards can go on vacation.
We believe Vernon Yates and Kathy Stearns also filed another false complaint with OSHA. I haven’t gotten a copy yet, but will have to address their nonsense formally. The complaint, as read to me over the phone is about the leopards on vacation endangering staff, something about a cougar being lifted off a platform that was more than 4 feet off the ground, which requires safety harnesses if the employees are up on the platform, and exposing employees to zoonotic diseases by not quarantining animals. All of these claims, as well as the last round of false complaints are ridiculous, but it is the only way they can divert us from the work of passing the Big Cats & Public Safety Act, which would stop them from breeding, buying and selling big cats for their own personal gain.
See the actual caging rules and note how tiny the minimum standards are. Yates and Stearns have both been previously cited for failing to even meet these miserably minimal standards.
REBUTTAL: I wonder how their donors would feel if they were denied the exemption. I’m pretty sure people donated money so leopards could also enter the enclosure.
The complaint that caused them to get a warning about the leopard being in an enclosure unsuitable for it was part of the last round of complaints so it should make one think what other warnings and possible violations will surface in the near future. One complaint that should not go unnoticed is the one involving the public, volunteers, staff members, and the cats that call BCR home walking and living on the grounds that used to be a dump site with burrowing pit full of mountains of trash.
“12802 Easy Street was a 40-acre dump site, with a small house with a caved in roof and a borrow pit out back. (…) Today the former borrow pit is a beautiful lake in which Tigers and Swans can swim. The former mountains of trash and construction debris have been converted to a park like setting (..)”
Isn’t it ironic that they are so adamant about trying to get the Big Cats & Public Safety Act passed when they didn’t even know the law that requires leopards to be in an enclosure with a top?
They act as if their enclosures are the best of the best. The truth can be found by touring their facility for FREE. You will see rusty wire enclosures with over grown weeds, vines, and trees.
I’m not sure if Mr. Yates and Ms. Stearns have been cited but I wonder if they have ever been threatened with a suit by the USDA like BCR has. Luckily for BCR they had a bunch of their cult-like followers speak up for them like they still do now.
Well, apparently FWC didn’t agree with Howard and Carole Baskin-As you see above, they have been denied. I repeat, Carole Baskin is NOT a big cat expert and has made several rather poor decisions for the animals in her care.
For people so firmly committed in the Big Cats and Public Safety Act you’d think they could at least follow the laws as written and not outright lie to her followers and sponsors over the situation. Hell, I wonder if their sponsors even know just how many times they have been caught in their lies…hummmmmmmmmm
Careful for what you wish for -It just might come back to bite you in the ass
Disclaimer connected to this blog…Things said are of my opinion and the opinions of others…Stay tuned -B