Eight Animals Saved From Cub Petting Scheme
September 30, 2020
For months Turpentine Creek has been in a holding pattern waiting on the court case between People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Wildlife In Need’s (WIN) Tim Stark to conclude. In August, when the court ruled in PETA’s favor, Turpentine Creek began preparing for a rescue we knew was to come. The court conducted research on sanctuaries around the country, including background checks, accreditations, and USDA reports to determine the best places for the animals to be placed. The federal judge decided Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge was the best place for some of these animals to live out the rest of their lives.
All of these animals were exploited and used by WIN for their cub petting scheme. Many of the animals used by WIN were needlessly and cruelly declawed so that they would be ‘safer’ for the public to handle.
The court found that the declawing procedures were “a gross failure to meet the accepted standards of medical care,” and that pulling young cubs from their mothers to be handled by the public “deprives cubs of vital components that help develop a healthy immune system, also subjects cubs to extreme stress.” You can read more on PETA’s website.
For weeks we waited and prepared; finally the call came in that we would be off to rescue eight big cats on Friday, September 18th. Our rescue team of six individuals packed up our two rescue trailers and set out Thursday evening so that we could get on the property first thing Friday morning.
This rescue was dangerous; only days earlier the Indianapolis Zoo had conducted their own rescue of the non-feline and small cat residents. They reported 31 animals missing that should have been there (almost $200,000 worth of animals!). Some of the animals were later found in a box truck about a mile from the facility in cages with no access to food, water, or proper ventilation of the vehicle. A warrant for Tim Stark was placed since he did not comply with court orders.
When the rescue team arrived, they were met with a SWAT team doing a sweep of the property and multiple US Marshals who were there to guard the rescuers. It was a terrifying situation and the first time ever the US Marshals have had to assist on a rescue of this nature.
Luckily, the team was well prepared and quickly loaded the eight animals coming to our property.
The team left the WIN property at about 5pm EST and began the nearly 600-mile journey back home. They arrived safely at the Refuge early Saturday morning with our newest animal residents.
We managed to rescue four tigers and four lions. Five of the eight had to be sedated for transport but the team worked efficiently to make sure all animals were secured for transport. Initial exams of the animals show that all animals are infested with worms and have other health issues. We are conducting wellness exams on the animals currently.
We want everyone to welcome our newest residents:
Chief, a thirteen-year-old male lion (DOB 10/3/06), he was dehydrated and sickly when rescued. We have taken him for a wellness exam, and he shows signs of malnutrition, a severe case of worms, and other health issues that we will need to work to correct. He lives with Mauri his mate.
Mauri, a four-year-old female lion (DOB 11/7/16), lives with Chief and after we can safely sterilize Chief will be re-introduced. Currently, they alternate days in their habitat. Once it is safe, we will either give Chief a vasectomy or spay Mauri so that they can be re-introduced and live together again.
Savanna, a six-year-old female lion (DOB 10/8/12), lives alone and is a little cautious about her new lion neighbor Tsavo.
Miles (MeGyrl), is a seven-year-old female tiger (DOB 9/19/13), she currently lives at Rescue Ridge and is still getting used to her new home. Although it is rare, we do sometimes slightly alter names or give nicknames to animals for our records. MeGyrl is one such case, we’ve updated her name to Miles.
Hurricane, a fifteen-year-old male tiger (DOB 7/19/05), lives with his brother Avalanche on the habitat tour loop. They are quickly settling into their new home.
Avalanche, a fifteen-year-old male tiger (DOB 7/19/05), lives with his brother Hurricane on the habitat tour loop. They get along well and still cautious around visitors.
Glacier, a thirteen-year-old male white tiger (DOB 3/19/07), was rescued with Ungowwa. We performed a wellness exam on him and neutered him so that we could re-introduce him to Ungowwa.
Ungowwa, an twelve-year-old female lion (DOB 5/10/08), who lives with Glacier. Although they lived together most of their lives, they reported that this pair never reproduced. She loves her new habitat and spends most days lazing around under the trees.
We are glad that we could provide a forever home for these beautiful animals. Rescuing and caring for big cats is a lifetime commitment. Big cats in captivity can live upwards of 20 years and it costs approximately $10,000 a year to care for a single big cat. Please donate to help us care for our newest animal residents as well as our other animal residents. Your support saves lives!