Category Archives: Education

The Source Of All White Tigers

The Day That It All Started

May 27, 2020

Turpentine Creek is home to 45 tigers, 18 of which are white. These beautiful animals have all been rescued from backyard breeders or pseudo-sanctuaries that exist for the sole purpose of using them to make a profit.

White tigers today do not exist in the wild; they can only be found in captivity. The same could not be said 70 years ago, when white tigers could be found sporadically in India. On this day in 1951, the Maharaja of Rewa joined a hunting expedition in the jungles of India with the hopes of successfully finding and killing tigers. During the expedition, a two-year-old white tiger was captured after his mother and siblings, who were orange, were slain by the hunters. After the killings, this juvenile cat fled into a cave for protection. Fascinated by the white tiger, the hunters followed him, built a cage at the entrance of the cave, and forced him out with smoke. Once trapped, he was transported back to a spare palace of the Maharaja, where he was given the name Mohan. At the palace he was housed with access to a private sleeping area and a courtyard. Not long after the tiger’s arrival, the Maharaja ran an ad in the New York Times trying to sell him. No buyer wanted to pay what was being asked, an estimated $28,000, and the young cub remained at the palace in Rewa until his passing in 1970.

The Maharaja was fascinated by Mohan, and therefore wanted to create more white tigers. His original attempt to do so had him breeding Mohan to an orange tigress, Begum, who was brought to the palace. First, Begum was introduced to Mohan which produced ten orange-colored cubs. Mohan was then bred with one of his daughters, as the Maharaja was desperate to create white cubs. This inbreeding resulted in four white babies, the first white tigers to be born in captivity. These four were then sold to buyers around the world. These buyers were the National Zoological Park in Washington D.C., Delhi Zoological Park in New Delhi, India, and the Kolkata Zoological Park in Kolkata, India.

However, this wide distribution of those four white cubs was only the beginning. In 1970, nineteen years after Mohan was captured, the captive white tiger population increased from zero to 37; These 37 do not include the vast majority of cubs that did not live long after birth, due to the severe inbreeding and the associated health issues. In the current captive white tiger population, this trend of inbreeding is still prevalent, resulting in many genetic defects. These defects can include crossed eyes, club feet, cleft palates, organ deformities, and spinal deformities, among other issues.

While these animals may be beautiful, they do not occur naturally and therefore do not serve a purpose for conservation. Species survival plans, created by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), do not selectively breed, or inbreed, for specific recessive genes in order to avoid anomalous internal and external conditions of the offspring. This differs from their mission of positively affecting the conservation of the wildlife in their breeding programs. TCWR is not an AZA accredited facility, and therefore does not participate in the breeding of our animals. We are strictly a forever home for them and do not support the inbreeding of white tigers.

69 years ago, a white tiger cub was captured and bred for entertainment purposes. Today these white tigers are still being bred solely for that same purpose. Every single white tiger that exists in the world today, can be traced back to Mohan, the tiger that started it all.

The Bear Necessities Of Life

Black Bears Vs Brown Bears

May 13, 2020

Recently, as our bears have become more active and are featured more on our social media stream, we’ve been getting questions about the difference between black bears, like Koda G and Xena, and brown bears, like Huggy and Bam Bam. With 10 bears calling our Refuge home, we thought now would be a great time to help our supporters distinguish between these non-feline residents of Turpentine Creek.

There are eight species of bear across the world, but only the brown and black bear can be found in North America. Turpentine Creek is currently home to 10 bears who cannot be released into the wild: 2 brown bears and 8 black bears. When they are side-by-side, like roommates Thunder and Harley, they might look like two different species of bears, just because of their fur colors. But, they are actually both black bears.

SO, HOW CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE? 

Your first thought may have been to determine the species based on their color, but not all black bears are black in coloration. They can range from black to gray to cinnamon to white depending on the location! This means for brown bears and black bears who are brown in color, it makes it little harder to tell which species the bear is if they are living in the same area. But do not worry, there are many other characteristics to help you distinguish between the two!

Brown bears, like Turpentine Creek residents Bam Bam and Huggy, have very distinctive traits aiding in the identification of the species.

  • They have a large shoulder hump made of muscle to help make them powerful diggers.
  • Their claws are thick, long, and slightly curved.
  • Ears are short and round.
  • Their face is dish shaped
  • When looking at the bear from the side, their rear end is lower than their shoulders. 
  • They are larger than black bears, standing 3 to 5 feet at the shoulder when on all fours.

If you have seen Turpentine Creek’s resident black bears, you may notice that they look a little different than the brown bears. Black bears also have distinct characteristics for their species.

  • Black bears have no shoulder hump, they are level or flat with the rest of their back.
  • Their claws are short and curved.
  • Ears are tall and oval shaped. 
  • Their face is straight from between the eyes to the tip of the muzzle. 
  • If you were to look at a black bear from the side, their rear end is higher than their shoulders. 
  • They can stand 2 to 3.5 feet tall at the shoulders when on all fours. 

The National Park Service has an interactive image to see these characteristics side by side.

Although Tyson Foods donates a lot of meat for our animals, our bears are omnivores, meaning that much of their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and grains. We have to purchase the food to feed our bears even during our closure. Could you help us feed our bears by setting up a recurring donation of $10 or $25?

What TCWR Is Doing To Help

Animal Cruelty Awareness Week

April 24, 2020

In the face of the abuse and neglect thousands of exotic cats and bears experience around the country, Turpentine Creek acts as a forever home and place of refuge. Currently home to 88 animal residents, most of which have been victims of the exotic pet trade or entertainment industry, we are constantly working to increase public awareness about the plight of big cats in captivity.  

As a non-profit, TCWR is reliant completely on donations and the revenue brought in from admissions and supporters to cover the cost of operations. We are not open with the purpose of showcasing our animals. With the price of admission, one is able to come into the Refuge to learn about our mission. Exploring our Discovery Area and going on a guided tour are both educational experiences that are geared toward sharing the stories of our animal residents and their rescues. Our team also offers educational experiences for school groups and events onsite and offsite, to increase our outreach to more than just those that come visit the Refuge in person. These opportunities may look different depending on the occasion, but one thing that is always mentioned, are rescue stories.  

By telling these stories, we are able to teach our guests about the abuse and neglect that face so many exotic animals across the country. Our team does not just cover rescues, they also teach about the realities of cub-petting, white tigers, exotic cat hybrids, private ownership laws, and most importantly, how the public can help make a difference for these animals.  

With 41 USDA licensed cub-petting facilities, immeasurable interactive roadside zoos and psuedo-sanctuaries, and an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 big cats in captivity across the United States, public awareness of the abuse that accompanies these situations is imperative. It is the vision of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge to put an end to the Exotic Pet Trade though public education. By ending the Exotic Pet Trade and ending the use of big cats in the entertainment industry, true sanctuaries like us, would no longer be necessary. That is completely fine with us, it would mean no more animals are in need of rescue.

Animal cruelty of all shapes and sizes is heartbreaking and detrimental. Turpentine Creek works alongside other Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) accredited facilities and animal welfare organizations to put an end to the suffering of exotic animals in captivity. But, most importantly, our mission would not be possible without our supporters and visitors who become advocates for the animals that cannot speak for themselves. Please lend your voice to these animals by reaching out to your Senators and Representatives to let them know you want to end private ownership and animal abuse. The Big Cat Public Safety Act would do this and is just waiting to be voted on. Visit our Advocacy Page today to help us protect them!

Private Ownership

Animal Cruelty Awareness Week

April 22, 2020

Sadie Tiger was privately owned and lived in this dilapidated cage until her rescue.

In the United States, it is often cheaper to buy a tiger or lion cub than it is to purchase a purebred dog. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has rescued numerous animals that were owned as pets, a lion cub purchased for $175 at an animal show in Missouri being one of them. Once the lion became too much to handle, the owners decided that they could no longer care for a pet lion and surrendered it to TCWR in 2007. Since being founded in 1992, TCWR has experienced hundreds of similar owners surrendering their animals to us. Every year, people around the country decide that they want a cute, cuddly exotic animal as a pet. By purchasing these animals, it continues to fuel a multi-billion-dollar industry. The real cost comes at the expense of the exotic cats, whose lives will consist of only living in captivity with owners unfit to care for them.

Private buyers quickly realize that wild animals cannot be tamed by simply hand-raising them. Big cats are apex predators, and will inevitably start to use their teeth and claws as they are meant to. They become too much for their owners and are sold to roadside zoos or euthanized. Big cats, and other large exotic animals, cost over $10,000 per year for food and even more for adequate husbandry and veterinary care. Many animals live their lives with minimal health standards due to this high expense. Obtaining a license for private ownership and exhibiting to the public is regulated by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Class C exhibitor’s license. This entails a $10 application fee in many states and paying an annual fee ranging from $30-300 depending on the number of animals owned. While this might seem like a small price, in some states there are no regulations regarding exotic cat private ownership whatsoever. Making identifying private owners and exact numbers incredibly difficult.

Sadie Tiger now enjoying her new spacious habitat at TCWR

When a tiger is owned as a pet, and not being exhibited to the public, a USDA permit is not required. This is regulated by each individual state and does not protect the animal underneath the Animal Welfare Act or any governmental regulations. The USDA Animal, Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has a set of minimum requirements that apply to “certain warm-blooded animals used for research, exhibition, and commerce.” These requirements are not species specific and apply to ALL warm-blooded animals, from rodents and birds to tigers and elephants, and therefore do little to offer protection to these animals. USDA regulations do have an up-side. They allow for the tracking of dangerous exotic wildlife in the United States. This is because exhibitors, any facility possessing animals and open to the public, and private licensees must provide animal inventories and are subjected to inspections by this governing body. Thanks to these reports and inspections, we are able to know that approximately 96% of the big cats in the United States are in private ownership and roadside zoos, with 4% kept in accredited zoos and sanctuaries.

Izzy was one of 3 tigers privately owned. She was declawed and has needed 4 corrective surgeries since her rescue to fix the botched declaw.

Without licensing, there are no requirements for animal inventories, or inspections of the facility where they are kept. Private owners are also not required to provide any information such as sale or transfer of tigers, birth, death, animal welfare, etc. USDA inventories show that there are 341 licensees with the USDA keeping approximately 1,903 tigers in the US since 2016. That means that the estimated other 5,000 tigers are kept by private owners, with very little regulation by operating outside of federal regulation.

It is time NOW to redirect the publics’ attention to legitimate tiger conservation initiatives, and steer away from their exploitation for entertainment and private ownership.

Add your voice to our Advocacy Page to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. This Federal Bill will BAN all private ownership and cub petting in the entire United States:

Click here and tell your Congress to Protect Big Cats!

Road Side Zoos

Animal Cruelty Awareness Week

April 20, 2020

It is Animal Cruelty Awareness Week and Turpentine Creek wants to raise awareness about the life of exotic felines being held in backyards and roadside zoos.

Roadside zoos exist all over the country with one motive: money. Many are found along busy roads, meant to be a quick stop for tourists. But, they can also be drive-through safaris, traveling zoos, and petting zoos. They usually give an interactive experience, luring people in with the options to feed animals or engage in hands-on interaction. Sometimes, roadside zoos are disguised as “sanctuaries” or “rescues”. These titles create the illusion that these facilities are rescues, and that by partaking in their activities, you are helping the animals. Animals in these facilities are not rescues but bought from notorious breeders or bred by the facilities themselves.

Roadside zoos often employ people with no education or expertise in the care of animals. Because of the lack of knowledge, the living conditions for the animals tend to be horrifying. To conserve money and space, animal enclosures may be built with no thought of the needs of the species. Oftentimes, animals have no escape from the weather. In some cases, the enclosures are not big enough for them to move or even stand to their full height. Some enclosures may experience crowding, causing stress if not managed properly. Enclosures may not be cleaned on a regular schedule, leading to an excess of feces and rotting food. This becomes a breeding ground for insects and bacteria that spread disease.

Exotic felines have very particular, and expensive, dietary and nutritional needs. Because of the large price tag associated with a proper diet, animals in pseudo-facilities are oftentimes malnourished, developing health issues. They may be overfed, underfed, or not fed on a regular basis at all. If an animal does become ill, there is typically a high mortality rate due to many symptoms of illnesses or diseases not being recognized or being treated improperly. Proper medical care is typically nonexistent due to the lack of knowledge and steep price of veterinary care and medicines. These questionable tactics lead to sick animals suffering for a long period of time before they receive treatment, or even pass away.

There may be zoos that provide clean enclosures and adequate food, but do not meet the complex requirements for wild animals in captivity. There are a number of needs that need to be met from exercise to privacy. Any facility that keeps wild animals for the purpose of human entertainment and amusement is not helping the animal, but merely exploiting them. Roadside zoos are not accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). In the United States alone, less than 10% of animal exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are accredited by AZA.

Since there are so many of these roadside zoos, how does one differentiate a true facility from a roadside zoo? Sanctuaries are strictly that, a sanctuary, or place of refuge for animals who have been abused or neglected. AZA zoos have a breeding program in place called Species Survival Plans. These plans aid in conservation of animals whose populations are extremely low in the wild. We understand that it can be difficult to know the difference on your own, so Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has created a True Sanctuary Checklist to help you out! One of the most important things to know is that no true sanctuary will buy, sell, breed, sell or offer hands-on interaction with their animals. By using the questions on the True Sanctuary Checklist as guidelines, it makes learning about facilities and their true motives more straightforward. Researching before you go to any animal facility can make the biggest difference for these animals.

Love Is In The Air

Spring Is Coming

February 12, 2020

Valentine’s Day is Friday and love is in the air! This romance includes native U.S. wildlife, like bobcats and cougars. Although we spay or neuter our animals to prevent breeding, their wild cousins are entering mating season. When breeding season is in full swing, animals who are usually solitary, like cats, become more social. This socialization increases the chance for them to be sighted more frequently. Just because they may be seen doesn’t mean they are a threat; they are most likely just looking for a mate. Depending on the species, there are certain mating behaviors that occur. Once mating is over, the animals go back into hiding to start preparing for their babies to be born.

At Turpentine Creek, we spay our female cougars to prevent wild suiters from entering our property. Female cougars will call out to males, when in heat. This sound can travel for miles. It sounds a lot like a woman screaming at the top of her lungs and can be very unnerving to hear. For our safety, and peace of mind, it is better to spay our female cougars than to let them go into heat every year.

In the upcoming months, while outdoors, you might see some of these cute cat-like babies, such as bobcat and cougar kittens, “hiding” in bushes or tall grass.

If you see them, do not touch them or move them. It is very likely that their mom only left for a short time to hunt or forage and will be back soon to get them! They may also be heard from a distance yowling. Though they may sound distressed, do not go closer to them! They are calling for their mom and if people are near she will not return, leaving her babies alone even longer. Interfering with kittens of wild cats can end up hurting them in the long run, especially if they get used to people being around.

As the season of love ends, young wildlife will start appearing. Though they are cute, they are still wild animals who play an important role in the environment.

Click Here To Learn More About Mountain Lions

Click Here To Learn More About Bobcats

The US Has A Tiger Problem

The American “Generic” Tiger

December 10, 2019

The demand for tigers as a source of entertainment and being kept in private ownership is deterring from the reality of the very possible extinction of wild tigers in the near future. Approximately 95% of captive tigers are privately owned and have no conservation or genetic value. They have been cross-bred between different subspecies, diluting their genetics, and carries a negative implication for animal welfare and species conservation efforts.

Breeding tigers is not consistently regulated in private hands, many generic tigers also suffer health issues due to inbreeding and over-breeding practices. The purpose is to have as many babies as possible, and not to ensure that the genetics are preserved or animal welfare is a priority.

Currently, there are over 5,000 privately owned tigers in the United States, while only ~ 3,800 wild tigers remain between 5 different subspecies. Many private owners, menageries, and roadside zoos also breed for traits that are not naturally found in the wild, such as white tigers, causing debilitating health issues from inbreeding.

As a legitimate captive breeding and conservation program, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is an accrediting organization that over 200 true zoos have obtained to ensure the highest standards of animal care, education, scientific research, and conservation. They follow strict and regulated guidelines for their breeding programs to ensure that genetics are pure and that endangered species being bred for conservation purposes to maximize genetic diversity for the Amur (Siberian), Malayan, and Sumatran tiger subspecies in their Species Survival Plan. AZA zoos currently have 269 tigers within their breeding programs.

It is vital that take action now to prevent further abuse and neglect of big cats, and only support facilities that are focused on animal welfare, education, and conservation. As an individual, you can make a difference by choosing to support true zoos and sanctuaries, who are not exploiting this magnificent species.

How You Can Help:

  • Join us to advocate for the Big Cat Public Safety Act to end private ownership and cub petting in the United States. With stricter laws, the focus can shift on protecting tigers and their wild counterparts.
  • Visit our: How You Can Help Page to learn more about how your choices make an impact.
  • Visit true sanctuaries like TCWR, that rescue abused and neglected privately owned tigers, and provide them with a life they deserve.
  • Do your research before you visit any facility that exhibits animals to the public.
  • Do not visit places that allow interaction with big cats, breeding outside of AZA regulated zoo facilities, and allow cub petting and photo opportunities.

Sources:

Association of Zoos & Aquariums. (n.d). Tiger Conservation. Retrieved from https://www.aza.org/tiger-conservation.

World Wildlife Fund. Winter 2016. Captive Tigers in the US. Retrieved from https://www.worldwildlife.org/magazine/issues/winter-2016/articles/captive-tigers-in-the-us.

The Price Of Life

Is a Bobcat Worth More Alive or Dead?

October 8, 2019

Have you ever wondered how valuable a bobcat is? We know that they are very important to the environments that they live in for a variety of reasons, one of which being prey population management. But, sometimes bobcat furs are sold in order to make money. In the United States, a single pelt can be sold for an average of $416.

You might think that that is a lot of money. However, in Madison, Wyoming, a bobcat, known as the Madison River bobcat, makes much more than that; He does this by just being alive. Did you know that tourists make a special trip to Madison Wyoming every year? This special trip is made in order to witness and photograph this particular bobcat that is located on the Madison River. Bobcats are very aloof, and therefore difficult to see in the wild. Even in National Parks, like Yellowstone, these small cats are rarely seen by the public. A fact that makes seeing one in the wild all the more special, and people flock to this area in order to see one of the most elusive wild cat species in North America.

The lead scientist for Panthera’s puma program compiled a list of ecotourism costs that were associated with this particular bobcat and the many people that go to see and document the cat in one year. By interviewing guides, photographers, and other tourists that visited the area, he determined that in one year, those people collectively spent $308,105 on guide services, equipment, hotel costs, and revenue earned from photo sales.

Given this information, the value of a bobcat decreases by nearly 1000 times by killing it. This study is incredibly valuable to proving that the bobcat is worth much more alive than dead. It might seem odd to associate a monetary value with a living creature. But, in a world that is constantly using economic value to make legal, ethical, and personal decisions, it is vital that our society is aware of these lesser-known values.

For more information about our elusive neighbor, the bobcat, please visit our Species Information Page, or come visit us at Turpentine Creek to see our bobcat residents, learn their stories, and see for yourself how valuable a bobcat’s life is!

Teachable Experiences

New Movie “Secret Life Of Pets 2” Includes A White Tiger

June 19, 2019

Blackfire and Peyton stalk their sibling RocklynAnimated movies are a fantastic way for children to connect real life morals and values in the form of cartoon characters. We all remember the most influential movies of our childhood, and the way watching them made us feel in that moment, 25 years into the future. For animal lovers, The Lion King was extremely impactful, and still is today. With the growing industry of childhood animation and storylines, it is important to not forget what messages those movies are sending the future of the natural world, our children.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a sequel, where the heroes in the film fight together to rescue a white tiger from an abusive life in a circus. The film is full of action, with the main character Max anxiously doing everything he can as a dog to protect his human baby, and his furry friends try to rescue Hu, the white tiger, from an abusive circus master. The moral of the story is that children can embrace the challenges of life, and overcome personal fears.

However, the ending winds up with Hu, the white tiger, living in a household as a pet. Although rescuing exotic animals from the circus industry is a wonderful way to teach children the negative aspects of animal entertainment, it encourages keeping wild animals as pets. As the exotic pet trade continues to wreak havoc on captive wildlife, we must use these opportunities to speak out to our children on why tigers should never be kept as a pet. Just as the real-life stories we see of tigers being kept in apartments in New York, or abandoned in a home in Texas.

White tiger Donner stalks the camera with a smile on his face.Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge relentlessly fights to advocate and create awareness on why tigers, lions, bears, and other exotic wildlife should never be kept as a pet. For 27 years, TCWR has been rescuing abused, neglected, and abandoned big cats from those who cannot provide them with the proper care. There are over 7,000 tigers kept as pets in the United States, when there are only 3,800 left in the wild.

Together we can stop the exotic pet trade by working together and teaching our children that tigers and other endangered species should be kept in the wild. Captive exotic animals should be in the care of professionals, should never be held or pet, and live their lives at facilities like Turpentine Creek, where they can live a life of freedom at a true sanctuary.

We encourage our supporters to use this opportunity to speak to the younger generation on how they can help, and to spread the message that predators are not meant to be pets. By having an open-ended conversation with the youth in your life, you can facilitate wildlife warriors for the future. Discuss why having a predator as a pet is never a good idea, and if that were a real-life tiger, what kind of care does it deserve? We can use these opportunities to teach our children that not everything in life (or a cartoon) is what we should believe is right.

Turpentine Creek is not discouraging our supporters from watching this movie, only encouraging them to use this movie as an opportunity to have a discussion with their children and other people.

Infectious Diseases

The Dangers of Human Contact with Big Cats

May 21, 2019People participating in cub petting. Two cougar cubs lay listlessly while humans of all ages play with them.

Big cats can potentially carry many diseases that can be transmitted by animals to humans through various forms of contact; these are known as Zoonotic diseases. Many businesses that allow hands-on interaction with cubs for photos or pay-to-play schemes will not inform the public that a cub is ill, even when it is sick with a zoonotic disease. This is done because the time that cubs can legally be handled is limited to a two-month period. When a cub can potentially make $5,000 – $10,000 a day, any downtime is very costly in the eyes of these businesses, and they’d rather not lose out on money, though patrons may contract these diseases.

Some of the more common zoonotic diseases that big cats can carry and transmit to humans are:

  1. Ringworm – a highly contagious skin infection caused by a fungus that can be transmitted through contact.
  2. Roundworms & Hookworms – intestinal parasitic worms. Roundworms, also known as ascarids, can be caught through accidentally ingesting infective worm eggs. Hookworms can be passed one of two ways, either through accidental ingestion of infective larvae or through larval migrans, which is where the infective worms penetrate and burrow through the skin. Once larvae are in the body, they can move about freely, infecting and damaging different organs including the gut, liver, and lungs.
  3. Giardia & Cryptosporidium – intestinal protozoans that cause malodorous diarrhea. Transmission is through accidental ingestion usually after contact with a fomite or infective water source. A fomite is any object, such as a door handle or the bottom of a shoe, that can spread disease. Both parasites can survive weeks to months in the environment.
  4. Young cubs suffering from Metabolic Bone Disease, unable to walk due to broken bones. These cubs suffer because of human's wanted to play with a cub.Toxoplasma – another protozoan that is contracted by accidentally ingesting the parasite after contact with feline feces. It is believed that there are already a large number of people infected with this parasite in the United States who may not even know it. A healthy immune system can keep the parasite at bay, though it can persist for long periods of time in the human body. The greatest concern comes for pregnant women or those who are immunocompromised from illness. Serious disease can occur for them including miscarriage, stillbirth, a child born with severe birth defects, ocular (eye) disease, and other symptoms such as fever, seizures, nausea, and poor coordination.
  5. Leptospira – a bacteria spread through contact with the urine of infected animals. The bacteria can penetrate through skin or mucous membranes. It can cause a wide range of symptoms that are easily mistaken as other diseases. If left untreated, it can cause severe kidney damage, liver damage, meningitis, respiratory problems, and death.
  6. Rabies virus – a deadly virus that causes inflammation of the brain, spread through the saliva of an infected individual. Transmission is most commonly through a bite. An animal can be protected from this virus through routine vaccination and proper administration. Unfortunately, many of the cubs in these businesses do not receive routine veterinary care.
  7. Bovine tuberculosis – A relative of the bacterium that causes human tuberculosis. Both bacteria affect the lungs most commonly but can occur anywhere in the body, and can cause deadly disease. Transmission is spread through the air. Most recently, in 2014, two women in the United Kingdom were diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis. It was discovered that these women caught the disease from their cat that became infective after consuming a prey animal that was infected with the bacterium. It has also been found that nearly half of the lion population in Kruger National Park are infected with bovine tuberculosis. Though at this moment, there is likely a low risk for zoonotic potential through cub-petting, as bovine tuberculosis cases continue to spread, more animals are likely to become infected, especially those animals that are consuming meat obtained in an unscrupulous fashion.

A cub is shaken and bobbled around in an attempt to make them more active for a child to play with. These are just some of the diseases that can be spread when the public comes into contact with big cats. Since no laws restrict the handling of sickly cubs, the pay-to-play cub petting schemes get away with putting the public in danger so that they can continue to make money at the risk of human health. Changing the law to put an end to cub-petting doesn’t just protect animals; it protects humans too.

Reach out to your representative today and tell them you want them to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. Learn more about this bill and how it will help big cats across the US at www.tcwr.org/advocacy

You can also learn about these zoonotic diseases and more on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/basics/zoonotic-diseases.html