How True Sanctuaries Are Working Together To End The Big Cat Trade
September 17, 2019
Several Turpentine Creek team members have been attending the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance (BCSA) Conference this week. All members of the BCSA are working towards a unified goal: a future where sanctuaries (like Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge) are no longer needed because private ownership and the commercial exploitation of big cats have been ended. Though “true” sanctuaries and ethical establishments upholding the highest standards of care for big cats are outnumbered by the population of roadside zoos, traveling shows, and inhumane breeding facilities, we are not discouraged. By working together, we know we can build a brighter future for big cats.
The sheer number of shoddy facilities operating under the guise of “pay-to-play” establishments or even falsely using the word “sanctuary” in their name despite being nothing but tiger mills is one of many reasons why the need for an organization like the BCSA is more crucial now than ever before. For decades, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has networked and created connections with a number of ethical animal welfare organizations. Those connections truly came through in 2016 when we were tasked with rescuing and rehoming 115 animals from an animal exhibitor park in Colorado. The animals were living in squalor, many were sick and injured, and all were under immense psychological strife. We had to save them, but how? We simply did not have room for over 100 new animal residents. Enter more True Sanctuary All-Stars.
Over the course of 6 months, all animals were rehomed to reputable refuges, with 34 coming to our own. What would have happened to the other animals if we absolutely could not take them and there were no other true sanctuaries in existence? Thankfully, we didn’t have to find out. However, as the Exotic Pet Trade’s network continues to grow, the issue of space is always in our thoughts. Right now, we are confident we can work with members of the BCSA and other true sanctuaries should another large undertaking like the Colorado Rescue occur, but we hope we never see the day when the supply of sanctuary and it’s demand become unbalanced. The only way to ensure that day never comes is by ending the Trade, which is just another thing true sanctuaries are working together to do.
In a joint effort, we are educating the public about the many challenges big cats are facing at the hands of the Trade, both in captivity and in the wild. By combining forces, we are able to reach more people than ever and build a team of passionate citizens to advocate for big cats. From supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act to spreading awareness about the difference between a real sanctuary and a “scam-suary,” we rely on people like you as our allies. Here are some ways you can team up with Turpentine Creek and the BCSA to make an impact:
- Opt for ethical tourism choices. Say no to circuses, cub-petting attractions, magic shows, and live events that feature big cats. If the thought of giving up your big-cat-attraction addiction is bringing you down, check out the members of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance. These are true sanctuaries, which means your visit isn’t just fun- it’s important!
- Stand up and give a voice to the voiceless by contacting your representatives and asking for their support on R. 1380: The Big Cat Public Safety Act and H.R. 2863: The Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act. By clicking the hyperlinks, you’ll be taken to a page that will locate and generate an automatic email to your state reps.
- Spread the word! Educate your friends, family, and coworkers about what big cats are facing in captivity. Share information and videos from true sanctuaries on social media. Consider bringing people to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge so they can gain a new perspective on exotic animals and tourism.
Do you have any other tips on working together to spark change for big cats? If so, feel free to add to the conversation on Twitter (@turpentinecreek) or in our Facebook Group (@TurpentineCreekWildlifeRefugeGroup).