Americans got a crash course in exotic animal ownership in 2011 when Zanesville resident Terry Thompson released 18 Tigers, 17 Lions, 8 Bears, 3 Cougars, 2 Wolves, 1 Baboon, and 1 Macaque he owned before killing himself. People around the world watched in disbelief and horror as those animals were hunted down and killed by law enforcement, but really there was no other option to handling the situation. Chris Heath of GQ Magazine penned an excellent in-depth article about the tragedy.
Then we learned there are more tigers privately owned in the US than live in the wild throughout the world.
The Humane Society of the US estimates there are 10,000 captive tigers in the US. I say estimate because there is no mandatory reporting of ownership nationwide. Here in Forida there’s thought to be 1500 tigers in private hands, more than in any other state. Imagine what’s going to happen if a hurricane releases tigers down here in Florida Man’s backyard!
After Zanesville, Ohio passed a law in 2012 requiring owners of exotic animals, including big cats, to carry insurance or a bond on the exotic animal, meet minimum cage and space requirements, and have the animal neutered. Buying, selling, and breeding is banned except for zoos. This law that took effect in 2014 is more than window dressing; the state is actually enforcing the law, and have confiscated animals from owners who are non-compliant.
And that is how Teisha ended up at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. Teisha, a 13-year-old tiger owned by Mike Stapleton of Columbus, Ohio, was in such bad shape she didn’t move when state officials came in to remove her and the other tigers. The first week she was in the care of Ohio Department of Agriculture employees, she didn’t get up, and even eliminated while continuing to lie down.
But thanks to initial vet care received by ODA and extensive care received at Big Cat Rescue, Teisha is now standing and even walking a bit.
Teisha’s rescue is a true feel-good story, but there are thousands of other tigers out there who are slaughtered for their parts, warehoused until the target of a canned hunt (just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean it isn’t happening), or living out their days pacing back and forth in small cages (like Tony the Tiger, housed at a truck stop in Slidell, LA).
Folks, I simply do not understand why we as a nation are allowing this to continue. There is no good reason to have a tiger as a pet. None. Nope, that’s not a good reason. Neither is that.
So why in the hell do we allow ten thousand tigers to remain in private hands here the US?
Simply put: we don’t care enough to do something about it.
And for that reason I hope another tragedy like Zanesville happens, but this time somebody dies, preferably a young, blonde, white girl. She should die slowly. Horribly. And it must be caught on video.
Because, as hideous as that sounds, it’s probably the only way we’ll get motivated enough to end exotic animal ownership in the US.
26 thoughts on “Tigers Pacing Out of Sight in Neighbors’ Back Yards Day and Night”
We had a neighbor a few blocks over in Warren, Ohio, who owned a lion. It was enough to swing us around to your position.
Could you imagine waking up one morning to find that lion in YOUR backyard?
After I stop crying Jen, I’m going to find an animal advocate of the year award to nominate you for. Thank you, once again, for standing up and roaring loud for those who cannot speak.
I live in North Carolina. A friend who is an employee of a automobile repair service called me about something and mentioned that a customer was in the waiting area, and showing off a newly acquired primate like a newly received ginormous engagement ring. Something I find wrong on so many levels, and on some I think we would agree. I don’t like to assign ideas to people in general, but this one time, please forgive me Jen.
I called my vet, a knowledgeable advocate for social justice and government common sense. I wanted to alert authorities to this travesty My vet is a Republican, so we don’t always agree, but her thoughts are based on facts and are well-researched. She believes in what she speaks about, true to herself. She is outspoken and, will see her concerns and actions to whatever the completion may be. Apparently in our location, primate ownership is legal.
BTW, This same friend had a co-worker at another location who owned a caracal. I can’t express my dismay and outrage. The poor baby was kept in a bedroom. I would report, but it was 20 years ago.
Thank you Jen. What Hell the these animals must experience. None of these people are ever prepared with education and hands-on experience. Blergh.
It reminds me of “Ivan the Gorilla”, from my original neck-of-the-woods. He was loved, I truly believe by the owners of a discount store in Tacoma, Washington. Being from Seattle, I never saw him as a child. As an adult when I could have visited him under my own steam, of course I would not. When years later, PETA forced Ivan’so owner to relinquish the gorilla, I didn’t think Ivan would survive. Concrete, retail and the life at The B&I was all Ivan knew, and he was apparently attached to his owner. The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle took custody of Ivan until the ZooAtlanta in the state of Georgia could accept him. ZooAtanta excels in primate care. After a transition, Ivan spent his last years happy and healthy with fellow gorillas, a Southern-Gorilla-Gentleman in the happy home with a successful troop of real Gorillas.
I finally saw him after I moved to North Carolina. I cried. Some Moron was explaining how my childhood zoo, The Woodland Park Zoo, abused Ivan. I came close to using physical force and my purse to take said Moron out. Instead, I took a deep breath, and calm pointed out signage to the lucky recipient of Moron’s inaccurate story. Then my daughter and I found another place to adore handsome Ivan. When I went “home” to Seattle the next time, every time I mentioned my visit to the B&I’s famous Ivan the Gorilla, all in earshot were pleased and interested. I saw Ivan yearly for several years, on my annual visit to the Pacific Northwest, I was always asked about him. I believe a few non-animal lovers I know are liars, or their hard-hearts soften ed a bit because of his story.
So Jen, keep it up. You are, once again, my hero. 💚🐼🐯🐱🐶. Please give Rummy aand the cats a pet from me.
I suggest you might want to watch Louis Theroux – America’s Most Dangerous Pets. Here’s a link to see it online for free:
It’s a bit over an hour in length. No blood and gore, but incredibly difficult to watch. I think Theroux does an excellent job of capturing the mindset of those who own these types of animals.
they are wild animals and no pets… I always think it is a monument of shame for the whole mankind to see wild animals in cages and fenced on small areas in zoo’s.
If I had to choose between extinction and this life for those animals, I’d choose extinction.
Welcome to America: Home of the selfish.
I don’t understand allowing people to keep wild animals as ‘pets’.
I don’t either, but there are many people who do own them. There are auctions for babies, but for the adult animals there’s no market for live animals, unless it’s to kill them. But tiger bones and pelts will bring in few dollars for someone bored with their animal.
That was such a tragedy.
Ego driven “pet” ownership.
Big for drug dealers and human trafficking coyotes as guard animals, too. Bad for border patrol, INS, and law enforcement here. (every once in a while the guard “dog” forgets and reverts…that hits the news.)
You were talking about Christmas giving recetnly – with all the storms and flooding several big animal / big cat sanctuaries are in desperate need. One shelter ranch moved out all their rescued residents they could to zoos and willing certified locations and stayed on property with rifles (and tears) saying they would be forced to shoot the remaining animals rather than let them drown or get loose. (The watersNow the facilities need repairs and they need money to do so.
Please support your local big cat rescue groups and facilities – Only the ones you can actually check on and are sure are legit and benefit these animals who never asked to be here.
Thanks for raising awareness of these creatures who are only who they are, only do as they were born to do, and are far away from home
Definitely check them out,. And remember, if they allow exotics to breed, they are a part of the problem, not the solution.
Good point. The preserves/refuges I am talking about do not breed – only care for those animals confiscated. That’s why it is important to keep local so you actually understand what is going on there.
Another eye opening post Jen. Those figures blew me away. The thought of those precious animals being raised to be hunted is awful. Mankind sure has a lot to answer for.
It’s insane, and yet there is a big market for canned hunts.
I can’t “like” this, it is just too sad. Too tragic.
And yet it is all too real.
Yes, I remember the Zanesville massacre vividly. After Hurricane Andrew struck central Florida in 1992, authorities estimated untold numbers of exotic animals, mainly primates and reptiles, were deliberately or inadvertently released from their enclosures. It’s one reason why large snakes starting popping up all over south Florida within a year after the storm.
Have you ever seen “Fatal Attractions”? It’s an intermittent TV series about people who’ve made the often-fatal mistake of harboring exotic and dangerous animals.
I haven’t, but the documentary link I posted in a comment above was quite eye-opening to me.
So terrible ~
This is heartbreaking.
I don’t understand it either. Wild animals need to remain in the wild. Keeping them as pets doesn’t make sense and actually harms the animal instead of protecting it. 😦
Actually these animals are bred solely for these purposes, so it’s even worse.