Monthly Archives: June 2018

History of the Exotic Pet Trade

How did the Crisis Begin

June 29, 2018

What does an African lion look like in its natural habitat? Images of a pride surrounded by tall grass appear, the hot sun beaming down across the savannah, the lions happy and healthy with plenty of antelope and zebra to feast upon. The realization that there are lions in the middle of the United States, thousands of miles and an ocean away from home, living in a cramped horse trailer, is completely appalling. In fact, there are 10,000 big cats that are born and bred to be owned privately as pets or used for entertainment. These majestic creatures will never know what it is like to live a life roaming the savannah, wild and free from human exploitation.

For generations, humans have been capturing wild animals and bringing them back to America for personal gain and shock value. This practice is not new, but the lack of regulations federally has caused an explosion of dangerous exotic animals in the wrong hands today. By taking a look at the history behind the exotic pet trade, we can create a better understanding of how all of these exotic animals ended up in basements and backyards and how we can work to stop it.

2017: There are more tigers held in private hands in the US (~7,000), than in the wild (~3,200). The tigers in the U.S are not helping with conservation since they can never be released into the wild. Lauren Slater from National Geographic states that “it is believed the more exotic animals live in American homes then are taken cared for in American zoos”.  It is quite easy to get your hands on a big cat, where you can purchase one for $200. (Less than what it costs for a purebred dog!) They are purchased from backyard breeders, gas stations, wildlife auctions, and easily found on the internet.

Cubs are sold to owners who have no idea what it takes to care proper care of a dangerous exotic cat. Once they start to grow, use their teeth and claws and act like the wild animal they are, many owners are unable to provide adequate care for their large carnivores. These animals end up malnourished, abandoned, abused, and in need of rescuing. That is where places like Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge step in to rescue and care for the animals that are no longer wanted an provide them with a forever home.

The exotic pet trade is a lucrative multi-billion-dollar industry, only 3rd to drug and weapon trafficking in the U.S. Laws vary state by state, as of now there are no federal laws that are regulating private ownership. If you live in Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, or Wisconsin, there are no regulations or permits needed to own dangerous animals in these states. Curious what the regulations are in your state? Click here.

How you can help the future of these animals: You can make a difference.

  1. Never purchase an exotic pet
  2. Roar for the animals! Be their voice and share what you’ve learned
  3. Do not support roadside zoos, circuses, and cub petting facilities
  4. Support TRUE sanctuaries. Visit Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
  5. Contact your local representative and support H.R. 1818

Take Action Now! H.R. 1818 or The Big Cat Public Safety Act will help stop private ownership of dangerous exotic big cats. This federal law prohibits unregulated buying, selling, breeding and handling of big cats. Facilities such as zoos and sanctuaries with proper USDA licensing will be the only facilities allowed to have big cats, and future private ownership will be prohibited. Click here to find your local representative and encourage them to support H.R. 1818 today!

Putting the Cat in EduCATion

TCWR’s Online Fundraiser

June 25, 2018

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge will host an online auction Friday, July 13, to support the “education” aspect of our mission.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” We at TCWR share that sentiment. Educating others plays an important role in putting an end to the exotic big cat trade and in protecting wild animals, whether they are captive or in a natural environment.

This year, we unveiled our new Education Department that has given us the opportunity to host special programs and accommodate more groups at the Refuge. We are also looking forward to making breakthroughs with our new Visitor Education Center. Combined with our informative tours, it is our hope that these elements can come together to provide insight, information, and inspiration to all who visit TCWR. Even if only one person a day leaves with the knowledge they lacked before and a newfound commitment to animal welfare, then we are slowly but surely changing the world. That “we” includes you!

Aside from visiting TCWR, participating in our auction will be a fun way to support our mission! There will be a variety of items to bid on including:

Artwork Jewelry Gift Certificates to Local Businesses And More!

For more information, please keep an eye on our Facebook event page.

Local business owners who would like to donate to the auction in order to promote their establishment while raising money to support TCWR’s animal residents are encouraged to email katelyn@turpentinecreek.org.

Keeping Big Cats as Pets

Why is that a problem?

June 18, 2018

Outside of accredited zoos and sanctuaries, there are an estimated 10,000 big cats privately owner within the United States. These wild apex predators can be found in backyards, basements, corn cribs, horse trailers, roadside zoos, circuses, cub petting facilities, as personal pets, and hunting ranches throughout the country. There are more privately owned tigers in the U.S., around 5,000 – 7,000, than there are in the wild, roughly 3,800. The mass quantity of tigers being kept as “pets” is a major concern for big cat conservation and welfare.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has been rescuing abused and neglected exotic cats, bears, and other species for 26 years, since it was founded in 1992. The immediate goal has always been to provide a second chance at life for animals that needed to be protected in a forever home. The Refuge has continually transformed over the years, proving that it is a true sanctuary. Turpentine Creek provides large grassy habitats for every animal and never buys, sells, breeds, trades, handles, or exploits the animals in any way. TCWR will continue to fight the exotic pet trade, and provide sanctuary for animals that call it home.

The exotic animal trade issue stems from extremely loose laws that are not very well regulated, allowing thousands of big cats to fall into inadequate care. Those who obtain large dangerous carnivores as pets do not understand the requirements it takes to care for them, and that they cannot be tamed or domesticated by humans. The result is an animal that is abused due to lack of knowledge, care, and resources of the owner.

It is easier in the U.S.A. to own a dangerous exotic animal than it is to own a pit bull, and you can buy a big cat for as little as $100-200. Mismanagement of exotic animals has reached epidemic proportions, and the captive wildlife industry has inconsistent views on the problems at hand. Regulating living conditions is not enough to ensure proper treatment of exotic animals. You can help Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge make a difference by visiting our website, and advocating for a law to be passed called the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 1818/S.2990) to ban private ownership in the United States here.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act

Making Progress in Congress

June 11, 2018

Creating change in the lives of big cats across the United States takes time, patience, and a lot of persistence. On June 5, 2018, the Big Cat Public Safety Act was introduced to the Senate and assigned bill number S. 2990. This is a large step forward for the Big Cat Public Safety Act. For the bill to pass it must be approved by both the House and the Senate before being put on the President’s desk to be signed.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act – S. 2990 was presented to the Senate by Connecticut’s Senior Senator Richard Blumenthal and co-sponsored by five other Senators; Senator Kristen Gillbrand (NY), Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA), Senator Edward Markey (MA), Senator Jack Reed (RI), and Senator Bernie Sanders (VT). After being read twice it was sent to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. It has yet to be assigned to a subcommittee but this should happen shortly. This means that the bill already has 6% of the Senate’s support, it will need 51% to pass.

The bill will run concurrently in the House of Representatives and the Senate so that it has a better chance of becoming a law. The bill must be passed before January 3, 2019, when the 115th session of Congress ends. Having the bill run in both the House of Representatives and the Senate at the same time will make the most out of the remaining time.

The bill has yet to pass in the House of Representatives, but we are seeing some major progress there. H.R. 1818 currently has 131 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, that is over 30% of the 435 members of the House! For a bill to pass it needs 218 votes 50.11%. But for the bill to even be voted on it needs to move from subcommittee to the floor. With your help, we could get the bill passed in the House soon. 

The supporters of The Big Cat Public Safety Act have done amazing things! Getting 30% of the House and introducing the bill to the Senate took a lot of support, but we aren’t done yet! Please continue to reach out to your Congressmen about The Big Cat Public Safety Act. Our Advocacy page has been updated to now include Senators. If you’ve already sent a message to your House Reps. we are asking that you send a message again to stress the importance of The Big Cat Public Safety Act, and also send a message to your Senators.

It is only with your help that we can make a major change in the lives of ALL big cats across the United States of America. We can change the world one paw step at a time. Help us, help them and send an email today. You can also share links on social media and encourage your friends and family to also reach out to their congressmen. You can make a difference in the lives of big cats TODAY!

First Kids Day Camp

Introducing Kids To Conservation

June 4, 2018

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge will be kicking off the busy summer season with our first day camp on Wednesday, June 6th. We are looking forward to 3 days of fun programs and activities with the kids. Throughout the week, the kids will discover the world of wildlife and how they can be the voice for animals everywhere. We will work together to create enrichment for the animals that call the Refuge home, explore animal senses, go on a nature hike to journal what we see and hear, and so much more.

Our goal is to help immerse children into the world of wildlife in order to help them understand why exotic animals do not make good pets. Through our summer day camps; the kids will see the animals every day and learn how dangerous it is to have a tiger, lion, bear, etc. as a pet. They will have a better connection to the animals that call Turpentine Creek home and will discover how to help advocate for wildlife everywhere. If you know any children that would love to participate in any of our day camps, we would love for them to attend. We do still have spots available for our camps in July. We know we are going to have a blast helping the kids explore Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge during their time with us. Check out our Education Day Camp page to see the Day Camp Schedule and to reserve a spot for your cub today!

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