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Large group of big cats seized by USDA

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Here's the news article:
http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/8887078.htm?1c

This has been in the works for a LONG time. Local and Federal authorities have been trying to get this guy to provide proper care for years. Contrary to the article, this guy knew full well what was coming. Also contrary to the article the cats are NOT in that good of shape. The tigers, lions and sun bear were delivered to our facility this past Thursday.

One of the tigers may not make it. She has a badly infected tooth - with records indicating this problem goes back at least a year without proper treatment. The infection seems to have spread into her jaws and possibly farther. She's on massive antibiotics with the hope of getting the infection under enough control that the tooth (a canine) can be extracted.

Another tiger has a huge gaping, and apparently rather old, wound in her back leg. It's so large you can see right through to the other side. It may require surgery.

Without going into details, all the cats have wounds of various types and indications of various traumas. Looks like it will be a long rehab process.

I can say that the cats appear quite happy to be out of the small cages with cement bottoms. One of the male lions spent the last couple of days just rolling in the dirt and lying stretched out on his back in the sun. Sleeping on the ground (or in grass as he sees fit) for the first time ever.

The local papers have sent out reporters and articles should be in the papers tomorrow.

George
post #2 of 17
It's about damn time. We've been after this guy for a while. He was giving every honest person in the industry a bad name. Sadly now, with all the extra publicity, things are not going to get better, except hopefully for the animals rescued.

Please everyone, understand that not every single private institution or owner is bad, nor are most near as bad as this case will be. Just the way life seems to work out, the good people rarely get noticed, unless something bad happens.

Please keep us posted on the developments George,

Spotz
post #3 of 17
OMG!!! Those poor animals. It brought tears to my eyes reading about the condition of the cats. And, reading about the lion rolling in the dirt for the first time ever...I didn't know whether to smile or cry. The thought that he has lived his whole life on cement is so very sad.

Keep us updated on their condition.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
I saw the cats for the first time today, and got a full update. The man had managed to sell the sun bear and a couple of the big cats prior to the raid, so there weren't as many as expected. We ended up receiving 8 lions and 6 tigers.

The cats were apparently kept in groups of four in 10 x 10 cages. The one den box in each cage was only big enough for one animal - so the animals were exposed to the weather. Lions do not handle cold well, and these animals were outside, unprotected, in the Ohio winters.

All the animals are absolutely covered with open sores from fights and cage rubbing (both from cramped and boring conditions.) Serious signs of neglect!!! One of the female lions has apparently decided I'm the person she wants as a friend. She followed me whenever I was near the pen and talked to me the whole time. I understand she has been very depressed and withdrawn from everyone, so this is a good thing. Lions are social animals and attachments are good for them (and no, I will not be going in the cage with her, all interaction is across the cage walls with safety a prime concern.)

Sadly, the decision was made yesterday to euthanize the one tiger. She was sedated and had a careful exam. The infection had destroyed all the upper gums on one side of her mouth, and the upper palate was so soft it was ready to collapse, the bone was completely eaten away. It was clear the infection was beyond the point of saving her so on the vet's recommendation she was euthanized.

On another unhappy note, it's very possible several of the cats are pregnant. That creates all kinds of new problems, but we do have some time to plan and prepare.

Originally this was supposed to be a temporary placement, but now it's it appears it will be permanent.
post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by CharmsDad
I saw the cats for the first time today, and got a full update. The man had managed to sell the sun bear and a couple of the big cats prior to the raid, so there weren't as many as expected. We ended up receiving 8 lions and 6 tigers.

The cats were apparently kept in groups of four in 10 x 10 cages. The one den box in each cage was only big enough for one animal - so the animals were exposed to the weather. Lions do not handle cold well, and these animals were outside, unprotected, in the Ohio winters.

All the animals are absolutely covered with open sores from fights and cage rubbing (both from cramped and boring conditions.) Serious signs of neglect!!! One of the female lions has apparently decided I'm the person she wants as a friend. She followed me whenever I was near the pen and talked to me the whole time. I understand she has been very depressed and withdrawn from everyone, so this is a good thing. Lions are social animals and attachments are good for them (and no, I will not be going in the cage with her, all interaction is across the cage walls with safety a prime concern.)

Sadly, the decision was made yesterday to euthanize the one tiger. She was sedated and had a careful exam. The infection had destroyed all the upper gums on one side of her mouth, and the upper palate was so soft it was ready to collapse, the bone was completely eaten away. It was clear the infection was beyond the point of saving her so on the vet's recommendation she was euthanized.

On another unhappy note, it's very possible several of the cats are pregnant. That creates all kinds of new problems, but we do have some time to plan and prepare.

Originally this was supposed to be a temporary placement, but now it's it appears it will be permanent.
They should abort the pregnancies, and at least Spay the females. If the outward appearance of the lions isn't an issue, they should also Neuter the males.

The breeding of these animals, especially given the overall poor health, is not going to produce any offspring that are beneficial to the survival of the species.

Sad story indeed, but there is hope. Some of the groups that these animals are going to are extremely good homes. These animals will recieve proper care and space that they've missed for a long time.

Spotz
post #6 of 17
OMG how sad . And this human grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
I do hope he gets what he needs and will be locked up in a small cell for life . Maybe then he knows how it feels like .

But I am happy for the ones who got saved even though one had to pass away . But at least a happy ending for the rest of them . Please keep us posted , for sure I like to know the ending .

I could not go into the link , I would have to sign up I guess .
post #7 of 17
George,

I am glad that these cats have been saved and are now in a good place. What I would like to do to the man who got them in such bad shape, I will not go there!

Thank you for what you and Spotz do for these poor animals. I was reading somewhere off the internet that one of the states that carries the most pet tigers in America is Texas. I just can't fathom how people can think tigers could be made into "pets"!
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
George,

I am glad that these cats have been saved and are now in a good place. What I would like to do to the man who got them in such bad shape, I will not go there!

Thank you for what you and Spotz do for these poor animals. I was reading somewhere off the internet that one of the states that carries the most pet tigers in America is Texas. I just can't fathom how people can think tigers could be made into "pets"!
Texas is a sore subject, the legislators are trying to make it better but only succeeding in creating a bigger problem. Something definately needs to be done to address the problem of unqualified/irresponsible owners, but again, not every owner or private institution is a problem.

Regarding pets...."Pet" is definately not the correct term, however, under the care of a truely experienced and knowledgeable person, these animals can behave very much like a domestic. Albiet about 40 times larger. Their ability to be social is definately surprising, and to those of us who work with and around them, often rewarding.

Spotz
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
What I would like to do to the man who got them in such bad shape, I will not go there!
I know the feeling.

We have most of them in temporary cages for the moment. These are 60 x 15 (still much bigger than where they came from. This group of cages was build just for rescue situations.) The group of four tigers is in one of our big tiger cages we were able to empty by doing some shuffling, so they have plenty of room for now. (Our standard tiger enclosure has roughly 3000 square feet of usable space and includes plenty of hiding areas and other enrichment.) Generally tigers are kept in pairs in captivity, not larger groups because of their tendency to have fights. We're keeping an eye on them and will separate them if necessary. The male is one of the biggest tigers I've ever seen. I thought our Willie was a big boy at 600 lbs, but this new boy will is bigger and will be heavier when his weight is up to where it should be.

With the local publicity we had quite a few people coming by all day. The place is not open to the public but we did give guided tours. Hopefully the publicity will help bring in some extra sponsorship to provide the funds needed to build larger more permanent housing for these critters. (The USDA and local government officials have both helped us with some publicity.) The food and veterinary care are already arranged.
post #10 of 17
Great news CharmsDad!

Spotz
post #11 of 17
That is wonderful news
And hopefuly with all the news ect ... you will get all the funds you need .
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Latest update:

Cats are all doing better. One of the tigers still has a badly inflamed area on one of her legs, but should recover in time. All others are doing well. The cats have settled into their new environment nicely. Since we're not sure of the time frame for larger permanent enclosure, we've decided to build a single large enclosure near the rescue pens with connecting tunnels so the groups can be rotated into the large enclosure on a daily basis. We have a new volunteer that is making a $1000 donation toward that pen, but we'll have to open our own pockets (again) to come up with the rest of the cost of the materials. I'll be building a small platform for the one tiger in the pen by herself so she'll have something to climb on (her back legs are very atrophied from her past conditions, this should help with her recovery in that area.)

We do have a bit of a nut case running around and causing a stir. Among other things, he's claiming these should be his cats (though he has never had any claim and the Ohio court which ordered them released to the USDA clearly has a different opinion.) He's also on the "do not accept calls from" list for the USDA, and the regional supervisor has already testified to that fact. There's a county commissioners meeting tomorrow (Monday) night where he has signed up to speak (he gets 3 minutes). The county attorney, county manager, public health director, and animal control are all set to make statements on our behalf, so this is really should be little more than an annoyance, but it still takes up time and causes grief.

It's actually Sabrina, not Ugmo, that was following me around before (OK, so I don't have them straight yet.) She seemed happy to see me today and rubbed against the cage wall for me to scratch her chin (through the fence). What a sweetie - though I would never be foolish enough to go in the cage with her or any of the others. At dusk they started a group call, with the deep grunts and roars that only lions make. I wish I'd had a recorder with me. I'll get it yet and post it for folks to hear.
post #13 of 17
I'm glad they're doing better. I'd love to hear their night-time vocalizations....they sound fascinating! Good luck dealing with the wack-o.
post #14 of 17
Very good news Charms dad.

Spotz

I tried to PM you, but it says your box is full.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I tried to PM you, but it says your box is full.
I've cleaned it out.

We're very pleased and surprised at how quickly some of the wounds are healing. So many looked to have been long term open sores, but many of the wounds have scabbed over and have signs of good solid healing underneath. I still don't have copies of pictures yet, but will share some as soon as I get them.
post #16 of 17
I tried again...no luck....

Spotz
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I tried again...no luck....
OK, now it should be clear. There were "sent messages" to be deleted too.
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