Monthly Archives: February 2012

Big Cats and Public Safety Protection

Congressman McKeon and Congresswoman Sanchez Introduce Bipartisan “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection” Act

Washington, D.C.- Today, Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) introduced the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act.” An alarming number of wild cats have been bred and sold as domestic pets in the U.S. This trend threatens public safety and often results in the mistreatment of these animals. Just recently, the tragic events in Zanesville, Ohio, where 49 wild animals were killed after they were let loose on an unlicensed wild animal preserve, showcases the dangerous implications of this trend. Currently, only nine states have laws enforcing “no wild animals permitted,” and the remaining states have weak or no laws in existence. This bi-partisan bill will ensure that lions, tigers and other dangerous big cats, do not threaten public safety, diminish global big cat conservation efforts, or end up living in horrible conditions where they can be subject to mistreatment and cruelty.

The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act would prohibit private possession of big cats except at highly-qualified facilities, like accredited zoos, where they can be properly cared for and restrained. Also, since nobody, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), state agencies, or local first responders knows exactly how many dangerous big cats are being kept in private hands, under what conditions, and in what locations, the bill would require any persons who currently possess big cats to register those animals with USDA in order to keep the cats they currently own. The bill would also outlaw the breeding of any big cat except at accredited zoos and research and educational institutions. Violators of the law could have their animals confiscated along with any vehicles or equipment used to aid in their illegal activity, and could face stiff penalties including fines as much as $20,000, and up to five years in jail.

“No matter how many times people try to do it, wildcats such as lions, tigers, panthers and cheetahs are impossible to domesticate for personal possession and require much higher living standards compared to a domestic house cat,” said Congressman McKeon. “When accidents happen and these wild cats are released into our neighborhoods, it causes panic, puts a strain on our local public safety responders and is extremely dangerous. This bill is a step forward in protecting the public and ensuring that wildcats reside in proper living conditions.”

“The events in Ohio last year showed the tragedy that can occur when exotic animals are privately owned by individuals, with little to no oversight,” said Congresswoman Sanchez. “Wild animals are dangerous and we clearly need better laws limiting their ownership. Exotic species should be regulated to high quality facilities with the ability to properly care for them.”

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is working on introducing a companion bill in the Senate.

“It’s a little hard to believe that there’s a crazy patchwork of regulations governing people who try to keep wild cats as pets,” said Senator Kerry. “I know it sounds like something you just read about when there’s a tragic news story, but it’s all too real for first responders who respond to a 911 call and are surprised to come face to face with a Bengal tiger. This bill will ensure that these endangered creatures are kept in secure, professional facilities like wildlife sanctuaries rather than in small cages in someone’s backyard or apartment building.”

This legislation is supported by the Roar Foundation, Shambala Preserve, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Born Free USA, Humane Society of United States, Big Cat Rescue, Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and Ian Somerhalder Foundation.

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For questions or more information, please contact:

Alissa McCurley, Communications Director, Congressman Buck McKeon: alissa.mccurley@mail.house.gov 202-225-1956

Adrienne Watson, Press Secretary, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez: Adrienne.watson@mail.house.gov 202-225-2965

Whitney Smith, Press Secretary, Senator John Kerry: Whitney_Smith@kerry.senate.gov 202-224-4159


Kites to take flight March 24

Kites to take flight March 24

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The 22nd Eureka Springs Kite Festival takes to the skies Saturday, Mar. 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sponsored by KaleidoKites, a store specializing in kites and kaleidoscopes, the festival takes place at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, seven miles south of town on Ark. Hwy. 23. Kite fliers gather at the large field, high on a ridge that catches every breeze that comes along.

The free festival is for kite lovers, who come to fly kites together. The promoters said there is plenty of free parking, plus food and kites for sale. Kids can design and make their own sled kites at a minimal cost, then experience the thrill of watching them go airborne.

Kiters come from many states — one year as far as Oregon — to share the event.

Wind conditions determine what sort of kite will fly best, but over the years the festival has seen single line deltas, cellulars, boxes, parafoils, sleds, fighters, rokkakus, dragons and octopuses, along with dual-line and quad-line sport kites have taken to the skies. Butterflies, airplanes, frogs, dragons, and sailing ships of all colors and sizes will sail above the refuge, and several kites, including a Premier Kite Tiger Rokkaku, valued at $140 and donated by KaleidoKites, will be available through a drawing. Tickets for the drawing will be sold at the festival.

Participants are urged to bring kites, chairs, and coolers and make a day of family memories. Turpentine Creek will be open by admission fee for touring.

More information is available at (479) 253-6596.

Exotic animals don’t make good pets

Exotic animals don’t make great pets

Posted Feb 9, 2012 By EMC News

Many people have a fascination with owning a wild, dangerous, exotic pet. Maybe it’s bragging rights among friends, or simply having something that few other people have. Too often injuries or fatalities occur at the paws of an exotic animal, and in many countries, including the United States and Canada, it is illegal to own exotic animals as pets outside of a wildlife facility or without special licensing.

Despite their popularity, the following pets can also be dangerous.

TURTLES

Outlawed exotic pets don’t always have big claws and fangs. Turtles, for example, are banned as pets because of their propensity to carry salmonella bacteria. Since 1975, the FDA has placed on a ban on the sales of turtles at a size of 4 inches or smaller. Prior to the ban, researchers linked an estimated 250,000 cases of salmonellosis in children and infants to pet turtles. That’s because the small turtles are irresistible to children, and the smaller the size the higher propensity the child may try to put the turtle in his mouth. Salmonella can also be contracted when handling a turtle and then putting fingers in the mouth.

BIG CATS

Despite being well trained and experienced in tiger handling, illusionist Roy Horn of the long-running partnership Seigfreid and Roy was mauled by one of his show tigers in 2003. Big cats can be very dangerous to people, thanks in large part to their unpredictability. Also, the sheer size of a big cat can cause injuries to a person even if the cat is simply playing.

The size of a big cat also makes it a challenge to find a cage or enclosure to house the animal. In addition, feeding the animal is no small task, as larger cats need substantial amounts of food to remain healthy and strong.

Cats routinely engage in territory marking with urine and engage in combative behavior to defend their space. They produce a lot of waste that will also need to be cleaned. Pet tigers have been involved in several fatalities and maulings throughout the United States and Canada in recent years.

SNAKES

Constrictors and venomous snakes are generally outlawed due to the propensity for injury or death. Constrictors, as their name suggests, are equipped to constrict, or squeeze their prey to death through suffocation. Anacondas and boa constrictors can reach 13 feet or more in length and several inches around in body width. At this size, they can easily subdue a pet, child or even an adult caught by surprise. In the summer of 2009, a 9-foot albino python owned by a Florida man got out of his cage and strangled his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter to death.

Venomous snakes have powerful venom that can cause anything from neurological problems to paralysis and extreme pain to death. These snakes are formidable foes in their natural environments, and with the high chance of biting an owner, they are not safe to have as pets.

Too often snakes that become unmanageable are simply let out into the wild where they can become neighborhood menaces.

MONKEYS AND CHIMPS

With a close resemblance to humans, and the frequency with which chimps are used in movies or trained for shows, people think that these animals are safe to own.

In reality, chimpanzees can engage in pack hunting behavior. They have been known to be very aggressive, feeding on other monkey species and even turning cannibalistic to earn a higher social standing.

Monkeys have large fangs and have been known to attack people and humans. Some species also throw feces and spray urine, something many people would not look for in a pet.

In 2010, Charla Nash from Connecticut was mauled by a 200-pound chimpanzee. Nash lost much of her face and her two hands in the attack. She no longer has eyes because they were removed due to infection.

REPTILES

Crocodiles and alligators start out as small, almost cute hatchlings, which are attractive to pet owners. But these animals grow very quickly in a short period of time. They can reach several feet in length and hundreds of pounds.

These animals have very powerful jaws capable of doing quite an amount of damage. It is not beyond reason for a croc or gator to drag a person into the water, where survival is difficult. They participate in a “death roll,” where they spin like a top in the water, ripping and tearing flesh apart from prey.

Despite their size, these reptiles can charge rather quickly on land. In water they ambush hunters and can quickly surprise an animal or person.

Exotic animals might seem like a potentially interesting pet but the safety risk associated with these animals is simply too great to welcome such pets into a home.


New Habitat Opening Feb 7, 2012

Turpentine Creek opening new habitat for big cats

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Feb. 11 will a big day at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, when staff celebrate the public grand opening of the 31st natural habitat. The USDA licensed facility, located on Ark. Hwy. 23, seven miles south of Eureka Springs, is dedicated to the rescue and care of exotic big cats, and currently has more than 100 big cats and other rescued animals under their care. Many of the animals still live in caged concrete-floored enclosures, and every new natural habitat means more of the refuge’s creatures can enjoy life a little more.

The new natural enclosure is in honor of TCWR friends, Brandi and Ryan, who donated the entire cost of the new habitat. It will also honor Hilda P. Jackson, original founder of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, who passed away in February 2011.

Two Bengal tigers, Ziggy and Tigger G., and African lion Brody will share the habitat on alternate days. For the big release day, Ziggy and Tigger G. will step onto the grass for the first time in their lives. The next day, Brody will have his turn to enjoy grass under his feet. Everyone is invited to come and watch this exciting event for the animals and staff of the refuge.

The refuge opens at 9 a.m., and all-day admission includes attendance at the grand opening event. Prices are $15 for adults and $10 for children 4-12, veterans, and senior citizens, 65 and older (children three and under are admitted free).

For additional information, call (479) 253-5841.