Page 1

Journal of the WILDCAT CONSERVATION LEGAL AID SOCIETY WILDCATS IN CAPTIVITY THE HISTORY & CULTURE OF WILDCATS IN CAPTIVITY THE CONSERVATION VALUE OF TIGERS: SEPARATING SCIENCE FROM FICTION DANGEROUS, WILD OR EXOTIC ANIMAL OWNERSHIP & ITS RELATIONSHIP TO ANIMAL HOARDING THE STATUS & EVOLUTION OF LAWS & POLICIES REGULATING PRIVATELY OWNED TIGERS IN THE U.S. PAPER TIGERS? OF NOTE: HAND RAISED CLOUDED LEOPARDS BEING RETURNED TO THE WILD IN INDIA COMMENTARY: THE ROLE OF ANIMAL SANCTUARIES IMPRESSIONS & PROSE Summer 2009 ~ Volume I WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society © All Rights Reserved


Journal of the WILDCAT CONSERVATION LEGAL AID SOCIETY


The Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society is published by the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Washington, DC. Copyright Š 2009 All Rights Reserved.


Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

iii

NOTA BENE The Journal of the WILDCAT CONSERVATION LEGAL AID SOCIETY (Journal) is published semi-annually by the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society. The Journal provides a unique forum for professionals and scholars to analyze and comment on the issues affecting wildcats around the world, reflecting the perspectives of all disciplines including law, education, medicine, science, philosophy, religion, humanities, social science, and art. Information on current topics, submission guidelines, and deadlines is available on our website at: http://www.wcclas.org/publications. The Journal is reviewed by the Board of Directors of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society and by our Legal Editor. Research, commentaries, opinions, views, and content expressed and contained in the articles published in the Journal are those of the contributing authors and not of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, its Board of Directors, or staff. No compensation is paid to the authors in exchange for publication. The Journal is published in a specialty-licensed electronic format. Disseminating this feature in any manner is strictly prohibited. Disseminating the Journal in whole or part and reprinting or republishing it on the Internet or in any other form is also strictly prohibited. Queries related to reprinting and republishing articles contained in the Journal should be sent to journaleditor@wcclas.org. Soft-bound copies of the Journal are available via a yearly subscription (two consecutive volumes) for $36.00US. Subscriptions may be purchased on our website or by mailing a check to WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, P.O. Box 65495, Washington, DC 20035.


Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

iv


Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

FOR ALL WILDCATS

v


Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

vi


Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

vii

TABLE OF CONTENTS PREFACE

ix

THE HISTORY & CULTURE OF WILDCATS IN CAPTIVITY L. A. Tekancic & M. Dunbar-Stewart

1

THE CONSERVATION VALUE OF TIGERS: SEPARATING SCIENCE FROM FICTION P.J. Nyhus & R. Tilson

29

DANGEROUS, WILD OR EXOTIC ANIMAL OWNERSHIP & ITS RELATIONSHIP TO ANIMAL HOARDING J. Martell

43

THE STATUS & EVOLUTION OF LAWS & POLICIES REGULATING PRIVATELY OWNED TIGERS IN THE U.S. P.J. Nyhus, M. Ambrogi, C. Dufraine, A. Shoemaker & R. Tilson

47

PAPER TIGERS? L. A. Henry

65

OF NOTE: HAND RAISED CLOUDED LEOPARDS BEING RETURNED TO THE WILD IN INDIA S. Shrestha

75

COMMENTARY: THE ROLE OF ANIMAL SANCTUARIES C. Baskin

77

IMPRESSIONS & PROSE E. Ash, Photographer

79


Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

viii


Preface

ix

PREFACE Wildcats are facing tremendous challenges on all fronts. In the wild, habitat and prey bases are continually being destroyed for human expansion and consumption along with illegal activities including poaching and trade, both of which are causing an irreversible and devastating affect on the wildcat population— their numbers are rapidly and steadily declining. For example, in just forty years, tigers in their range countries have dropped from 40,000 to 4,000; in fifty years, the African lion has dropped from 400,000 to 23,000 – 39,000. The Iberian lynx has roughly 80-100 mature adults in the wild. In October 2008, The International Union for Conservation listed the Iberian lynx as critically endangered. In captivity, wildcats are facing different challenges. The Journal, Volume I, focuses on a range of issues that captive wildcats are subject to and how we can through the law, education, and a shift in cultural behaviors and attitudes change the future for wildcats held in captive environments. The articles contained in this issue explore: 1) the origins of wildcats held in captive environments, the roles they play, and how their very being influences art, literature, religion, traditions and cultures; 2) the methodology and justifications for conserving wildcats, notably tigers, in captivity; 3) the problems associated with private exotic animal ownership—good intentions gone awry; 4) the laws and policies implemented to limit human activities with respect to commercial and private ownership of wildcats, specifically tigers, enforcement and inconsistencies between the federal, state, and local laws, the ways in which wildcats are affected, and what should be done to correct these issues; 5) the potential for tigers bred in captivity in the United States making their way into the international black market trade of tiger parts and products if current practices remain unchecked and unenforced, and recommendations to enhance current


Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

x

practices; 6) what an animal sanctuary ought to be; and 7) a look at captive wildcats through the art of photography. We have two powerful tools at our disposal to employ when dealing with not only wildcats but all wildlife issues: one being education the other is the law. However, the laws are not necessarily “animal protection” or “animal rights” laws. The international and federal laws discussed herein were enacted to limit trade and regulate certain commercial activities. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is just that; it is a trade agreement among the member Parties to limit or ban trade in live animals (or plants) parts and products because their populations in the wild cannot sustain over-hunting or over-takings. In the United States, the Endangered Species Act, in part, also limits trade of native and non-native animals, and the Animal Welfare Act regulates individuals and entities engaged in commercial activities that involve certain animal species and sets “minimum standards of care” requirements. The Lacey Act basically makes it illegal to engage in commercial activities across state lines or international borders with plants or animals that were taken illegally. Most recently, The Lacey Act now prohibits the movement of big cats across state lines or international borders. Article I of the Constitution limits regulations at the federal level. Congress does, however, have the power under the Commerce Clause to regulate interstate activities. The states, however, are able to regulate for “general welfare,” under their plenary police powers but may not infringe on the constitutional rights of citizens. State legislators are able to enact laws that ban or at least make it difficult to privately own or engage in commercial activities involving wildcats and other exotic animals based on public health and safety, zoning, and environmental and/or biodiversity issues such as the introduction of non-native invasive species. Within the last decade, more and more states have started to implement either stricter regulations or bans with respect to private ownership big cats. Commercial activities may also be


Preface

xi

banned unless the entities are licensed under the Animal Welfare Act through the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, along with state permitting or licensing requirements. The states have also come along way in affording direct protections to certain animals by enacting animal cruelty laws and banning activities that involve animal fighting. Some individuals, however, believe or claim to have some sort of “right” to own a wildcat or other exotic animal and should be able to do so without government interference. In response, one could argue that others also have a “right” too—a right to see wildcats in their natural habitat, not caged and chained and trained to do tricks; hung on a wall, laid out on a floor, worn or consumed. We may be a long way from affording animals their own legal rights but there is an increasing trend toward animal welfare. As the public and law makers at all levels are educated and made aware of the problems associated with keeping wildcats in an array of captive settings, more direct protections are not only possible but inevitable.

WILDCAT CONSERVATION LEGAL AID SOCIETY


Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

xii


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

1

THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF WILDCATS IN CAPTIVITY Lisa Ann Tekancic, Esq. and Maria Dunbar-Stewart, Esq. WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Washington, DC

Introduction No other creature on earth captivates us quite like the Felidae family. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, jaguars, pumas, and little wildcats embrace our fascination, imagination, and hearts with their beauty, majesty, ferociousness, vitality, spirit, independence, and elusiveness. From the Pharos in Egypt, the ancient Greeks and Romans, to Princes in India, Kings in Europe and the colonists of the New World, wildcats have been and continue to be cast in a variety of roles in our culture. This paper explores the history and culture of wildcats in captivity. It traces their journey from Africa, the Far East, ancient Greece, the Coliseums in Rome, and the Tower of London, to their debut in America appearing in menageries, circuses, zoological parks, Hollywood, and how they ultimately ended up in urban apartments and suburban backyards.

Journey through Antiquity The earliest records of big cats kept in captivity dates back to around 2500 B.C. In Egypt, lions, leopards, cheetahs, servals, and wildcats were depicted in tomb paintings, hieroglyphics, sculptures, jewelry, and sarcophagi. Egyptian rulers were known to keep many species of wild animals and some were considered holy.1 Until recently, it was generally accepted that the Egyptians were the first to bring wildcats out of the wild and integrate them 1

See JAROMIR MALEK, THE CAT IN ANCIENT EGYPT, (University of Pennsylvania Press 2000).


2

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

into human civilization and culture. However, an excavation of a human burial site on the island of Cyprus included skeletal remains of a roughly 8-month old cat. This discovery along with others suggests that wildcats were present on Cyprus around 9500 years ago.2 Cats were highly revered by the Egyptians because of their astute hunting of rats which kept their food sources safe. The Egyptian gods and goddess took on the likeness and attributes of cats; most notably was Bastet, a woman with a cat’s head and known as the deity of fertility; Ra the sun god that took the form of a cat; and Sekhmet, a women with the head of a lioness. Temples were built in their honor, and cats were mummified and buried with their owners.3 The Egyptians enacted laws to protect the cat; killing a cat was considered a crime and punishable by death.4 Meanwhile, in 2000 B.C. the Kings of Ur, a settlement in the southern part of Mesopotamia, kept lions in pits or cages.5 In 1500 B.C., Queen Hatshepsut, daughter of Thutmose I, as part of a trading expedition to the Land of Punt (perhaps Somalia), ordered exotic animals to be brought back to Egypt including leopards. The animals became part of the palace menagerie. Historian Gustave Loisel described it as an “Acclimatization Garden—a place where the attempt was made to tame or domesticate wild animals for human use.”6 During the reigns of Ptolemy I (323-285 B.C.) and Ptolemy II (285-246) a zoo in Alexandria was founded. Around 285 B.C. Ptolemy II, organized an animal procession, a day-long parade on the Feast of Dionysus that included among other animals, 96 elephants drawing chariots, 24 lions, 14 leopards, and 16 cheetahs.7 The ancient Greeks, from 600 to 300 B.C. had animal collections that they used for educational purposes which fostered Aristotle’s work, The History of Animals. Through his travels 2

J.D. VIGNE ET AL., Early Taming of the Cat in Cyprus, 304 SCIENCE (2004). MALEK, supra note 1. 4 See ROBERTA ALTMAN, THE QUINTESSENTIAL CAT: A CONNOISSEUR’S GUIDE TO THE CAT IN HISTORY, ART, LITERATURE, AND LEGEND, (Macmillan 1994). 5 R.J. HOAGE ET AL., Menageries and Zoos to 1900, in NEW WORLDS, NEW ANIMALS: FROM MENAGERIES TO ZOOLOGICAL PARK IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 9 (R. J. Hoage and William A. Deiss eds., 1996). 6 Id. 7 Id. at 10. 3


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

3

into Persia, Alexander the Great discovered a new source of animals to include in the collection. Yet, traveling animal shows that featured dancing bears and lions were popular among the ancient Greeks.8 Lions, however, were revered in Greek mythology. Hercules, the greatest of the Greek heroes, was the strongest man on earth and displayed supreme self-confidence. At the age of 18, he killed Thespian, a great lion who lived in the woods of Cithaeron. Hercules wore the great cat’s skin as a cloak with the head forming a hood. To prevent Hercules from attaining the kingdom of Mycenae, Eurystheus set Hercules on twelve labors, the first of which was to slay the Nemean Lion. “The Lion of Nemea was a beast no weapons would wound. That difficulty Hercules solved by choking the life out of him. Then he heaved the large carcass up on his back and carried him into Mycenae. After that, Eurystheus, a cautious man, would not let him inside the city. He gave him his orders from afar.”9 The Lion Gate, which stands at the entrance to the city of Mycenae, features two lionesses flanking a center column. Story telling was a treasured tradition in ancient Greece. The most famous storyteller, Aesop, used the lion as a symbol of great strength and intelligence as depicted in, The Lion and the Mouse and The Lion’s Share. From 669 to 626 B.C. Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria, in the Middle East, “inherited a zoological collection and was known as an expert on camels and lions.”10 The King of Babylonia, Nebuchadnezzar, from 605-562 B.C. “was a collector of lions, and like the Egyptians, the Babylonians kept and trained large predators that they hunted for amusement. Persian royalty up to the fourth century B.C. kept large hunting reserves and animal parks. In the Babylonian region of the Persian Empire, the reserves were known as paradeisos; they contained many kinds of animals including lions and panthers.”11 “On arrival at the destination, the lions would have been placed in an enclosure in the royal palace or released in semi-liberty in vast, special parks, 8

Id. EDITH HAMILTON, MYTHOLOGY: TIMELESS TALES OF GODS AND HEROES, 164 (Little, Brown & Company 1940). 10 HOAGE, supra note 5, at 11. 11 Id. (“Panthers” was also used to describe leopards.) 9


4

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

planted with palm trees, vines and flowers…”12 The Assyrian kings also kept confined animal parks containing freely roaming lions and herds of gazelle. One of the most deadly times for captive big cats was during the festivals and gladiator games of ancient Rome. Around 186 B.C., the first animal fights were seen by Romans, during which lions and panthers fought against each other in the Circus Maximus. Conservative Senators, however, did not care for these spectacles and passed a “senatorial decree prohibiting the import of wild animals from Africa, but the ban was lifted twenty years later and imports of exotic animals for the games were permitted.”13 Men were also pitted against lions, tigers, and leopards. Known as venatores, they fought on foot with spears against the big cats. Criminal executions also were carried out through the use of the big cats. Men were bound to stakes and driven out on chariots for leopards or lions to attack them.14 The Roman emperors held an extraordinary population of wild animals and an equally extraordinary number of them were killed. Octavius Augustus emperor from 29 B.C. to 14 A.D. had 3,500 animals in his collection killed that included 420 tigers, and 260 lions killed; Claudius (37-41 A.D.) had 4 tigers killed; Nero (54-68 A.D.) had 300 lions; and Domitian (81-96 A.D.) had lions and tigers killed.15 By 325 A.D., Constantine declared the arena games illegal but Justinian, who reigned from 527-565 A.D., again legalized them. This blood sport remained popular all over Europe until the end of the sixth century and did not recede until the decline of the Roman Empire. Constantinople, however, continued the games until the twelfth century.16 In India, during the thirteenth century, Marco Polo described a royal menagerie of Kublai Khan that housed leopards, lions,

12

GUSTAVE LOISEL, HISTOIRE DES MENAGERIES 45 (Paris 1912). (Arrivés à destination, les lions étaint placés dans l’enceinte du palais royal ou lâchés en demi-liberté dans vastes parcs spéciaux, plantés de palmier, de vignes, et de fleurs…) 13 GLADIATORS & CAESARS: THE POWER & SPECTACLE IN ANCIENT ROME (Eckart Kòohne and Cornelia Ewigleben eds., 2000). 14 Id. at 72-74. 15 HOAGE, supra note 5, at 12. 16 Id.


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

5

and lynxes. Hunting with ‘leopards’17 and ‘lynxes’ was an established sport of the royal court. “The Great Mughal Empire at its height under Akbar had one thousand cheetahs, and at one time he was known to have collected some 9,000 cheetahs in his half century long reign.”18

From the Olde World to the New World During Medieval Times, the big cats became part of royal menageries all over Europe and were given to Kings and Emperors as gifts. Keeping private collections of big cats became a symbol of the elite and associated with class, wealth, and power. In England, King John, who reigned from 1199 to 1216, was known to have lions and established the Royal Menagerie. The Duke of Wellington closed the menagerie in 1835 and the animals were transferred to what is now known as the London Zoo. A discovery of lion and leopard skulls in the Tower of London which were recently radiocarbon dated, puts the two lions and the leopard in the Tower from approximately 1280/1385; 1420/1480; and 1440/1625 respectively.19 “Leopards especially lions were popular with European monarchs and princes throughout the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. Rulers of large and small realms all seemed to have a lion collection of some kind at one time or another, and gifts of lions occurred regularly between them.”20 In 1450, René, Count of Anjou and Provence, had a large menagerie at this château that showcased a lion house. Pope Leo X (1513-1521), of the Medici family of Florence, established a menagerie at the Vatican. His collection held lions and leopards.21 In the sixteenth century, menageries began to spring up in urban centers across Europe and North Africa. “The royal menagerie founded in Sweden in 1561, persisted into the 17 (‘Leopards’ may also include ‘cheetahs’ which were native to India and were known as ‘hunting leopards.’) 18 DIVYABHANUSINH, THE END OF THE TRAIL: THE CHEETAH IN INDIA, (Oxford University Press 1999). 19 See BBC News, Big Cats Prowled London’s Tower, 2009 http://www.bbc.co.uk. 20 HOAGE, supra note 5, at 14. 21 Id.


6

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

eighteenth century when Carl Von Linné, now known as Linnaeus, created the modern scientific system for naming animals and plants.22 In 1665, Louis XIV established a grand menagerie in Versailles, but it fell into decline during the reign of Louis XV. An uprising during the French Revolution led to the release and slaughter of part of the collection. The animals that survived were sent to the botanical garden in Paris, Jardin du Roi renamed the Jardin de Plantses, which later became a division of Muséum National d’Historie Naturelle and the first ‘national menagerie.’23 Exotic animals, especially the big cats, continued to be viewed as symbols of status, wealth, and power and were caged and displayed for human entertainment. These displays were not organized for any scientific or educational value but solely for the gratification of human curiosity.24 The impending influx of importing wildcats to America for a new upper social class to have a ‘royal menagerie’ of their own, provided the means to create other venues in which to ‘use’ or ‘showcase’ the cats, such as the birth of the American circus, zoological parks, and with the development of moving pictures, the film industry.

From Kings to Performers: ~ Life under the Big Top In the early 1700s, animal collecting became popular in America; “collectors and dealers in live wild animals rose in social status from obscure marginal figures to heroes of popular culture.”25 Most notable among them are Carl Hagenbeck of Germany and in the United States, Frank Buck. Exotic animals began making their way into the United States as early as 1716 when the ‘The Lion of Barbary’ arrived. Hagenbeck supplied thousands of animals to American zoos, “the market for his exotic, circus, and traveling menageries was so large that…between 1866 and 1886 he imported over a thousand 22

Id. at 15. Id. 24 Id. 25 ELIZABETH HANSON, ANIMAL ATTRACTIONS 79 (Princeton University Press 2002). 23


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

7

lions.”26 By the mid-1800s it was through animal dealers based in Germany (including Hagenbeck) that most wildlife from Africa, South Asia, and the East Indies came to the United States.27 The success of the early animal dealers came at the same time as a rise in the number of zoos and circuses. From 1880 and 1930 zoos rose from four to over one hundred and during the same time period there were more than 650 circuses that featured a variety of animals and acts. The increase in the demand for more wild animals such as wildcats and elephants was due to serious and competition between the circus owners such as P.T. Barnum and Adam Forepaugh for bigger and better shows. Animal dealers marketed their animals for sale or lease to zoos and circuses. Prices for big cats ranged from $90 to $1,600 depending on their age, health, and rarity. In 1913, American dealer, I.S. Horne had for sale: “1 Male African Lion, 3 years old; 2 African Lioness, 2 ½ years old; 2 male Pumas, 2 years old; and 2 brown bears, 2 years old; arena, all props, shipping cages, etc. complete” for $5,000.”28 In the mid-1800s traveling menageries were simply wild animals on exhibit for which an entrance fee was charged. By increasing the number of animals to their exhibits and providing some sort of show, it was only a matter of time before the travelling menageries and circuses merged. Acts or shows featuring the big cats began around 1833. Issac Van Amburgh was one of the first ‘lion tamers.’ Dressed like a Roman gladiator he entered the big cats’ cage in which he confronted a lion, tiger, leopard, and a panther. “Van Amburgh emphasized his domination over the animals by beating them into compliance with a crowbar and thrusting his arm into their mouths, daring them to attack. When he came under attack for spreading cruelty and moral ruin he quoted the Bible.”29 Another popular act was Alfred Court’s, “Natural Enemies Since the Dawn of Creation,”

26

Id. Id. 28 Id. at 81. 29 BOB BROOKE, Step Right Up!, HISTORY MAGAZINE (2001). 27


8

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

which included lions, tigers, black jaguars, snow leopards, black panthers, pumas, leopards, jaguars, and ocelots.30 In the 1920s, Clyde Beatty became a famous wild animal trainer and achieved his fame through his lion and tiger acts. In Wild Tigers & Tame Fleas, Bill Ballantine, describes a Beatty performance, “Lions Hate Tagers,” The act was almost over. The great trainer had just coaxed his famous spinning tiger, Sleika, off her pedestal. The trick is one of the act’s most fearful features, for the tiger crouches, belly to the ground, facing Beatty, the trainer’s eyes must be strictly on her, leaving both he and animal wide open to attack by the lions. But the real balance of terror, the act’s most perilous moment, comes when the big cat spins like a puppy chasing its tail, for this movement greatly excites the lions. Sleika was just going into her wind-up crouch when the old lion-tiger jungle hatred flared. A lion sprang from his high pedestal and landed within inches of the tiger. The two locked together, kicking up shavings and mud on the slippery ground, struggling fiercely for tooth-claw advantage. Beatty grabbed a hickory stick that his cage boy, Junior was quick to push through the bars. Brandishing it, he rushed the flailing gladiators, blanking them (firing his gun) square in their snarling faces. Declaring the act official over, Beatty yelled to Junior to rattle the exit chute’s iron bars, standard cue for the animals to leave an arena. As the cats skedaddled out, helped along by prods from Junior, Beatty gave his troublemaker a whale of a clout on top of his murderous head, which made the lion let go the tiger’s neck long enough for the trainer to thrust his trusty chair between the two writhing beasts. The lion turned on him, which was exactly what he expected it to do, and the tiger bleeding slightly from the shoulder, scampered to the chute. Leo, plenty mad, clawed and bit the chair away from 30

HANSON, supra note 25, at 80-81.


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

9

Beatty once before the trainer was able to drive the beast through the exit. 31

The animal trainers, however, often found themselves on the receiving end of a lion or tiger attack. Clyde Beatty was hours away from death from an infection after he was mauled by one of his lions. In 1932, Beatty was wrapping up a rehearsal and “all but three cats had left the cage, a lion named Nero caught Beatty off guard and knocked him to the ground. By coincidence, it was Nero that had saved Beatty’s life only the year before by battling the tiger that had unexpectedly lunged. This time, however, Nero plunged his long sharp teeth into Betty’s thigh.” 32 “Every good wild animal trainer knows that there is no such thing as a lion tamer. Wild animals are never tame. Beatty himself has written of the big cat: No matter how much affection I lavish on him he will never lose his basic primitiveness.33 Another famous ‘tiger teacher,’ was Mabel Stark. At one time she handled sixteen tigers and had a grand mix display of fourteen tigers and seven lions. Being the only female made her act even more alluring. Stark too, was a victim of her students. The worst of the maulings occurred in 1928 in Bangor, Maine while she was with the John Robinson Circus There had been torrential rains; the ring was slippery, the animals extremely tense. Mabel slipped in the muddy arena, and the moment she went down a tiger Sheik leaped upon her ripping into her left thigh, almost severing the leg above the knee. Another tiger named Zoo closed in for the kill, and as the tigers tore and fought over the helpless woman, Terrell Jacobs, the lion trainer, rushed to her aid. He finally managed to drive the beasts back into their chute, but not before Miss Stark had suffered: a badly mangled leg, a torn and mashed face, an ankle that remained stiff for many months, a deep hole in her shoulder, a torn deltoid muscle and a hole in her neck uncomfortably close to the jugular vein. 34

31 BILL BALLANTINE, Lions Hate Tagers, WILD TIGERS & TAME FLEAS, (Rinehart & Company, Inc. 1958). 32 JOHN CULHANE, THE AMERICAN CIRCUS, (Henry Holt & Company 1990). 33 Id. at 210. 34 BALLANTINE, supra note 31, at 94.


10

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

Stark commented, “when you’re working with tigers, you watch for those little tail switches that warn of an attack, and you can usually tell in the eyes, but a tiger attack comes quick and sudden—not much warning.”35 From the 1920s and into the late 1930s the circuses were in their heyday and Beatty, Stock, Court, and others continued to perform with their big cats. However, John Ringling sought to eliminate such displays; he took into consideration not only the protests from the people who could not be convinced that cruelty was not used to train the animals, but also the immense amount of work entailed in erecting and dismantling three steel arenas and transferring the animals to shifting dens twice a day. If the menagerie men did not get the shifting dens right up against the cages in the rings, there was always a possibility of the animals escaping. Beatty also was subject to public scrutiny with respect to whether he employed the use of sharply pointed steel rods or red-hot irons to train the cats, and there was speculation about whether he had his cats declawed.36 After a horrific fire under a big tent in 1944 and the traveling circus in decline, it became apparent the circuses were nearing their final act. In 1956, Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey gave its last performance under the Big Top. “John Ringling announced, ‘The tented circus as it exists today is, in my opinion, a thing of the past, the Big Top was the victim of TV competition, labor troubles, terrible weather for canvas tents, traffic problems for audiences trying to get to the circus and increased freight rates for railroads trying to bring it to them.’ Life magazine announced, ‘Big Top Bows Out Forever.’37 That same year, Irvin Feld was able to convince Ringling to move the circus to an indoor presentation. Ten years later, the Feld family purchased Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey from John Ringling North.38 In an attempt to ‘legitimize’ a business that is purely entertainment, the circus now incorporates an ‘education’ component into their shows. For example, Ringling Bros. has a 35

Id. CULHANE, supra note 32, at 209-210. 37 BROOKE, supra note 29. 36

38

Id.


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

11

section on their website that provides a synopsis on plight of wild tigers along with a list of “Fascinating Facts.” Beautiful Big Cats - Tigers The big cats showcased at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® have a relationship with their trainers based on mutual trust and respect. However, our trainers never forget that these animals are incredibly strong and fierce. For this reason, the big cats always perform behind a barrier. Fascinating Facts #3 Tigers are an endangered species. They are protected by international law and national laws all over the world. In the United States, the acquisition and use of tigers is tightly controlled. The tigers you see in The Greatest Show On Earth® were bred in captivity. 39

Another type of big cat act emerged in the late 1960s. A combination of the circus act and magic tricks provided a new arena in which the popular Siegfried & Roy rose to fame with their Vegas act along with others including Roy and Joy Holliday, known as the ‘Cat Dancers.’ Each act came to its own tragic end. The Hollidays started with an exotic tiger act when William Holden gave them a black leopard cub from his animal preserve in Africa. The couple ran the Cat Dancers ranch in Florida, and hired Chuck Lizza to work with their cats. In 1998, Lizza was killed by one of their white tigers. Lizza tripped on a chain-link fence and fell on the big cat. He grabbed Lizza by the neck and killed him instantly. Just five weeks later, Joy Holliday was killed by the same tiger. Ron Holliday recalls, “But with Joy it was an out-and-out attack. I only remember the cat lunging up at her, and I don’t remember anything else.”40 After Joy’s fatal attack, the tiger was killed by authorities. Siegfried and Roy combined magic with their tiger stunts and performed on the Las Vegas strip for nearly thirty years. On October 4, 2003, during an evening performance at the MGM 39 See http://www.ringling.com/FlashSubContent.aspx?id=11660&parentID=320&asse tFolderID=326. 40 See LARRY GETLEN, Send in the Claws, NEW YORK POST, December 19, 2008 http://www.nypost.com.


12

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

Mirage Hotel-Casino, a white tiger, lunged at Roy Horn’s neck then bit him on the arm. The tiger was on a short leash and got Horn to the ground and dragged him off the stage by his neck.41 While Horn miraculously survived his attack, the flamboyant duo has since retired their Vegas show. Following the attack, the tiger was quarantined but subsequently returned to the performers.

~

Zoos: American Style

The same animal dealers that were supplying the traveling menageries and circuses with their big cats from around the world also provided cats for another type of menagerie the—zoological park. The dealers not only imported cats but acted as middlemen between the circus cats and the zoo cats with a majority of zoo cats coming from the circus and private collectors. Likewise, there was an overlap between dealers, circus, and zoo people. For instance, Hagenbeck also trained animals and had his own shows; a showman who performed a lion act in the Forepaugh Circus wrote to the director of the National Zoo looking for work as a keeper; and Frank Bostick, who was a dealer, was also a zoo owner and competed for a time with the Baltimore Zoo. Zoo directors were suspicious of many animal dealers: “They were businessmen who were affiliated with circuses, which were known for numerous forms of swindling. Zoo people always suspected that collectors and dealers were cheating them.”42 America’s first zoological park, The Philadelphia Zoo, celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009. The origins of zoos in America can be traced to early colonial menageries and exhibits. Ships’ captains who had visited distant and foreign lands were the first to bring exotic species to colonial ports hoping to make extra money by selling the animals for a profit.43 In 1716, the people of Boston, Massachusetts saw the first known lion that was brought 41

See Roy of Siegfried and Roy critical after mauling, CNN News October 4, 2003 http://www.cnn.com. 42 HANSON, supra note 25, at 84. 43 VERNON N. KISLING, JR., The Origin and Development of American Zoological Parks to 1899, NEW WORLDS, NEW ANIMALS: FROM MENAGERIES TO ZOOLOGICAL PARK IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 110 (R. J. Hoage & William A. Deiss eds., 1996).


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

13

to America known as ‘The Lion of Barbary.’44 Shipment of other exotic cats followed including the first leopard in 176845 and the first tiger in 178946. Early exhibits of wild animals focused on showcasing the novelty of captive exotic species with little understanding or regard for the animal’s welfare. For example, in 1806, two tigers from India were at Crombie’s Tavern in Salem, Massachusetts.47 The first lion shipped to America, The Lion of Barbary, was initially kept at the home of Captain Arthur Savage. After four years, in 1720, the lion was moved to the home of Martha Adams. Adams housed the lion and invited the public to visit her lion through a newspaper advertisement and a sign on her door that read: “The Lion King of Beasts is to be seen here.”48 Six years later, in 1726, the lion was shipped to the West Indies and returned the following year and was exhibited in Philadelphia.49 In 1728, records show that the lion was exhibited in New York and New Jersey and then Connecticut before the trail of the lion grows cold. In the late nineteenth century, establishment of the first American zoos coincided with the industrialization of the country.50 During America’s move from a rural, agriculturebased society to a more urban-based lifestyle, large numbers of the population were moving out of the country and into the city. As a result, there were growing concerns about the negative impact city life could have on the population.51 In response to the concerns of urbanization, large parks outside of many cities were established, affording the people of the city a place to reconnect

44

VERNON N. KISLING, JR., Zoological Gardens of the United States, ZOO AND AQUARIUM HISTORY: ANCIENT ANIMAL COLLECTIONS TO ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS 147 (Vernon N. Kisling, Jr., ed., 2001). 45 KISLING supra, note 42, at 111. 46 Id. at 112. 47 Id. at 148. 48 Id. at 147. 49 See id. 50 HANSON, supra note 25, at 15. 51 Id. at 16.


14

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

with nature.52 Zoos were created as part of the increasing interest in establishing public parks.53 The late nineteenth century also marked a time when Americans were greatly influenced by and impressed with European scientific advances and culture.54 However, Americans also possessed strong nationalistic pride which spurred them to adopt European ideas with the intent to improve and Americanize them, including the idea of a zoo.55 William Camac, a doctor from Philadelphia, after traveling extensively in Europe, returned to America with the desire to replicate what he saw as the benefits of a zoological park.56 On March 21, 1859, Dr. Camac held a meeting at his home with naturalists and civic-minded individuals, and, using the London Zoo as a model for organization, began what lead to the incorporation of the Zoological Society of Philadelphia.57 Although the Pennsylvania legislature chartered the Zoological Society of Philadelphia to begin collecting living specimens for recreation and educational purposes, the Civil War put those plans on hold.58 After the Civil War, in March 1872, Dr. Camac held a reorganization meeting and work to create the first American zoo began, still looking to the London Zoo for guidance.59 The Philadelphia Zoo opened on July 1, 1874, with 212 animals including lions and a tiger.60 It was the first animal collection residing in permanent buildings and managed by professional, fulltime staff with support from a community-based zoological society.61 The Philadelphia Zoo succeeded in distinguishing itself from its menagerie predecessors by its desire to advance science and educate as well as to entertain.62 52

See id. Id. at 12, 16. 54 KISLING, supra note 42, at 114. 55 See id. 56 Id. at 115. 57 HANSON, supra note 25, at 15; KISLING, supra note 42, at 115. 58 HANSON, supra note 25, at 15; KISLING, supra note 42, at 115. 59 HANSON, supra note 25, at 15; KISLING, supra note 42, at 116. 60 KISLING, supra note 42, at 116. 61 HANSON, supra note 25, at 15-16; KISLING, supra note 42, at 115. 62 HANSON, supra note 25, at 13; KISLING, supra note 42, at 115. 53


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

15

In 1873, Andrew Erkenbrecher, a German-born businessman, established a zoological society from a community of prosperous German immigrants in Cincinnati, using German zoos as a guide.63 The society was organized as a joint stock company with the purpose of studying and sharing knowledge of wild animals.64 The members anticipated that not only would the zoo be a source of civic pride but also turn a profit.65 In order to ensure success, in 1875, the zoo hired Dr. H. Dorner, who had previously served as scientific secretary of the Hamburg Zoological Garden, as its first superintendent.66 The Cincinnati Zoo open on September 18, 1875 and by 1891, reports indicate that the collection was the largest and most complete in the country.67 Meanwhile, the new zoos attempted to distinguish themselves from menageries by explaining that their purpose was to educate, promote science and, for some, promote conservation, as well as to entertain.68 Despite the stated goals of zoos to educate as well as entertain, most were criticized “for being glorified menageries rather than zoological parks.�69 The creation of the National Zoological Park which opened in 1891 represented the first step toward moving zoos further from menageries and in a new direction.70 By the beginning of the twentieth century, many American cities had zoos including, Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Pittsburgh, St. Paul, Buffalo, Toledo, Denver, and New York.71 Many early zoos were formed through donations or as a solution to dealing with unwanted private collections and performance animals that included lions, tigers, leopards, and other wildcats. In 1882, Cleveland accepted land and a herd of deer as the beginning of its zoo, and by 1888, other animals joined the collection including 63

HANSON, supra note 25, at 16. See id. 65 See id. 66 See id. 67 KISLING, supra note 42, at 118. 68 See ASSOCIATION OF ZOOS AND AQUARIUMS, http://www.aza.org. 69 KISLING, supra note 42, at 120. 70 See id. 71 HANSON, supra note 25, at 13. 64


16

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

two cougars.72 In 1889, an Atlanta businessman bought the collection of a bankrupt circus which included two lions, two cougars and two wildcats and donated the animals to the city.73 Since most zoos did not focus on exhibiting native species and sought to achieve civic distinction and recognition, zoos also came to rely on commercial trade in wildlife.74 Zoos used the same dealers to acquire exotic, non-native species as the circuses and the varieties of wild animals that performed in circuses were the same that were housed in zoos.75 World War II ended the era of large-scale expeditions to collect animals since the war disrupted trade routes and exportation from newly formed countries was restricted.76 Subsequently, zoos began to systematically breed their own animals in order to replenish their stock.77 However, zoos also had to show the public that they were not contributing to extinctions in the wild but rather helping to save the species through captive breeding. Lions and tigers bred easily in captivity and were bred in captivity as far back as the 1920s. By the 1970s with the implementation of federal regulations regarding wildlife, zoos changed the way they managed their collections. Research programs on genetics and reproduction morphed into a organized system for captive breeding.78 In 1973, The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) created the International Species Inventory System (ISIS) to inventory zoo collections and by 1981, the AZA expanded on the ISIS program and created Species Survival Plans (SSPs) with a focus on individual species to prevent extinction through research and captive breeding programs among zoos and other institutions to ensure genetic diversity among the various captive wildlife populations.79

72

KISLING, supra note 42, at 119. Id. at 121. 74 HANSON, supra note 25, at 71, 73. 75 See id. at 81. 76 Id. at 166. 77 Id. at 169. 78 Id. at 170. 79 See ASSOCIATION OF ZOOS AND AQUARIUMS, <http://www.aza.org>. 73


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

17

Natural settings in which to exhibit wildlife had started to gain momentum in the 1940s. The Bronx Zoo created an ‘African Plains’ exhibit and displayed predators and prey in close proximity of each other. Frank Osborne, president of the New York Zoological Society, felt that the animal exhibits should be shown and grouped as they are in nature. “Osborne’s view was to encourage audiences to think of humans as part of natural systems; he wrote: if man is to fulfill his potential destiny, he must give thought to his relationship to nature—to his dependence upon all forms of life that surround him.80 By the late 1970s landscape architects coined a new phase, ‘landscape immersion,’ which they used to “describe exhibits that attempt to envelop zoo visitors in animals’ environments rather than setting animals down in parks with trim lawns and potted plants.”81 The master plan for the renovation of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, included both the vision of Osborne and the landscape immersion concept: “Wild animals live in a dynamic ecological relationship, and although the zoo is only a substitute, it should attempt to reflect this complex order.”82 The changes that took place at zoos throughout the twentieth century are all commendable with respect to animal welfare and the public’s perception. While the wildcats have been given better exhibits in which to dwell, medical care, and proper nutrition, the cats nonetheless show us that their wild instincts remain despite being raised in captive environments. Like the circus performers and trainers, veterinarians, zoo personnel and even visitors can and do become prey. In February 2009, a veterinarian at the Henry Doorly Zoo, in Omaha was bitten by a tiger while performing a routine medical examination. The tiger was anesthetized when it bit the veterinarian’s right foreman three times. One of the most horrific of zoo incidents occurred in December 2007 at the San Francisco Zoo. A 300 pound tigress escaped from her exhibit and attacked three teen-aged boys killing one and seriously injuring the other two. The tigress was

80

HANSON, supra note 25, at 176. Id. at 175. 82 Id. 81


18

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

killed by authorities. The same tigress attacked a zookeeper the year before, ripping the flesh from his arm.83 Big or small, the wildcats are by far one of nature’s most attractive creatures. They embody not only physical beauty and grace, but at the same time incredible physical strength and power. These characteristics may be why both men and women find them irresistible.

~

Hooray for Hollywood

With the birth of moving pictures in the late nineteenth century, the early filmmakers also found the cats to be irresistible and cast them in a variety of roles: from fictious characters, to lion-biographies, to historical representations of the gladiator cats, the wildcats have earned their stars on the Hollywood walk of fame. In the early days of motion pictures, the film studios also found a use for wildcats. The same cats that crossed from private menageries, circuses, and zoos also found themselves in front of the camera. Mabel Stark, tiger teacher and circus performer also crossed over into film with her cats. Stark spent several years performing for motion pictures working out of the World Jungle Compound at Thousand Oaks. She lent her ‘ferocious flicker’ assistance to most of the early epics whose scripts called for ‘bloodthirsty tigers,’ including: Sabu (Song of India), Cecil B. DeMille (The Greatest Show on Earth) and Victor Mature (Demetrius and the Gladiators). 84 One of the most famous lions of all time is Leo, the MetroGoldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio lion who for decades delighted audiences by lending his powerful roar at the beginning of every MGM film. Leo was brought to America by Volney Phifer, an animal trainer, during World War I and spent the next 23 years appearing in movies and on promotional tours. The first Leo died in 1938 and was buried on the grounds of Phifer’s 13-acre farm.85 There have been five lions to promote MGM over the years. Leo 83

See Captive Big Cat Attacks – Summary Reports, WILDCAT CONSERVATION LEGAL AID SOCIETY, (forthcoming 2010) http://www.wcclas.org. 84 BALLANTINE, supra note 31, at 86. 85 End of the Lion, PEOPLE MAGAZINE (1994) http://www.people.com.


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

19

V now resides at the Wildlife Waystation in Angeles National Forest—in a cage. According to animal trainer, Neil Egland, “MGM sponsored Leo from the time he was a cub until he was about 3. For the past four years, MGM has chosen not to sponsor a lion and has been without a mascot.”86 Paige Taylor, director of corporate communications for MGM, says, “It’s a matter of money. When the new regime took over in 2001 they decided the thousands of dollars each year it costs to have a lion wasn’t worth it to the studio.”87 By contrast, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino sponsors a Lion Habitat, in which lions live in “custom accommodations on a 8.5 acre ranch 12 miles from the MGM Grand.”88 Over the years there have been many films featuring wildcat actors. In 1938, RKO studios released Brining Up Baby, a box office catastrophe at the time, but today considered a classic, screwball romantic comedy, starring Katherine Hepburn and Gary Grant featuring a leopard in the role of Baby. One of the most notable films, tells the story of perhaps the most famous lioness of all time, Elsa. In the mid-1950s, George and Joy Adamson, at their home in Kenya, raised three female lion cubs. George at the time was a Senior Game Warden in a Kenyan game reserve. While he and his crew where in pursuit of a reported ‘man eater,’ they killed a lioness who had charged them. During their investigation, they discovered the lioness was protecting her cubs. As the three female cubs grew, the Adamsons needed to make arrangements for the three to be taken to zoos because being hand raised they could not be returned to the wild. Two of the cubs were taken in by zoos; the other, Elsa, remained with the Adamsons. George and Joy worked tirelessly to return Elsa to the wild. Elsa was known to them as the ‘lioness of two worlds.’ She remained under their careful watch. Elsa did learn to hunt and eventually had three cubs of her own—Jespah, Gopa, and Little Elsa. When her cubs were not quite 18 months old, Elsa became infected with a blood disease from a tick bite and died suddenly at the age of 86

MICHAEL J. HERMAN, The Roar Heard Around the World, CAT FANCY (January 2006). 87 Id. 88 See http://www.mgmgrand.com.


20

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

five. The Adamsons watched over Elsa’s cubs and eventually relocated them to the Serengeti National Park. Joy captured Elsa’s story in her books: Born Free, Living Free, and Forever Free. Published in 1960, Born Free came at a time when attitudes world wide were beginning to change with respect to wildlife and conservation issues.89 In 1965, the film version of Born Free was released, starring Virginia McKenna as Joy, and Bill Travers as George.90 The movie was filmed in Kenya with the help of the Adamsons and a number of lions and lioness that were brought in from private owners. The story of Elsa and the making of the film changed the lives of both Adamsons and the actors who portrayed them. George retired from his game warden duties and set up a camp in Kenya to rehabilitate captive lions. George started his ‘pride of lions’ with a number of the lions that were used in the film. Joy went on to work with other captive wildcats including Pippa, a cheetah which she semi-successfully reintroduced to the wild and wrote about in her books, The Spotted Sphinx and Pippa’s Challenge. Her final work was with a leopard, Penny, that culminated in the book Queen of Shaba.91 Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, husband and wife, continued their friendship with the Adamsons. They even brought a lion to George named Christian. Christian was bought by two young men from Harrods’s department store. They sought out Travers’ help when Christian was getting too big to be handled. Travers produced a documentary film that recounted Christian’s story in Christian the Lion, and a film titled, The Lions Are Free, which tells the story of what happened to the lions from the film Born Free and George’s work in Kenya.92 In 1984 the Travers-McKenna team founded Zoo Check which subsequently became the Born Free 89 See JOY ADAMSON, BORN FREE-A LIONESS OF TWO WORLDS (Pantheon Books 1960); LIVING FREE-THE STORY OF ELSA AND HER CUBS (Harcourt, Brace & World 1961); FOREVER FREE-ELSA’S PRIDE (Collins & Harvill Press 1962); 90 See BORN FREE (Open Road Films, Inc. 1965). 91 See JOY ADAMSON, THE SPOTTED SPHINX (Harcourt, Brace & World 1969); PIPPA’S CHALLENGE (Harcourt, Brace & World 1972); QUEEN OF SHABA-THE STORY OF AN AFRICAN LEOPARD (Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich 1980); GEORGE ADAMSON, MY PRIDE & JOY, (Simon & Schuster 1987). 92 See CHRISTIAN THE LION (Bill Travers & James Hill directors 1976); THE LIONS ARE FREE, (Bill Travers & James Hill 1967).


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

21

Foundation in England. The Born Free Foundation is “devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare” and continues to work to protect all wildlife around the world.93 A second movie on Elsa was also produced, Living Free.94 The movie tells the story of Elsa and her cubs (book of the same name) and the final book Forever Free which tells the story of Elsa’s death and the relocation of her cubs. A television series, Born Free, aired from September to December 1974 starring Gary Collins as George and Diana Muldar as Joy. In 1999, Richard Harris starred as George Adamson in the film To Walk With Lions which tells the story of George post-Elsa, and his work with his semi-captive pride of lions up to his tragic death in 1989.95 In 1965, filmmaker, Ivan Tors spotted a curious looking cross-eyed lion at Africa U.S.A. in Soledad Canyon and created the MGM feature film Clarence The Cross-Eyed Lion, and a spinoff television series, DAKTARI that ran on CBS from 1966 to 1969. Both the film and series tell the fictional story of Dr. Marsh Tracy and his daughter/assistant, Paula Tracy who work at the Wameru Study for Animal Behavior in East Africa and take in the curious lion. When audiences saw what Clarence saw it was in double vision. Another, not so friendly lion, doubled for Clarence. Known as Leo, Clarence’s double was used for growling and snarling scenes that did not require close proximity to humans. Leo was brought to Africa U.S.A. from a family in Utah. His ferocity, in part, was due to mistreatment by his former owners who repeatedly beat him.96 In another twist of fate, Africa U.S.A., the former home of Clarence, was subsequently bought by actress Tippi Hedren. Hedren is founder and president of The Roar Foundation and Shambala Preserve and works endlessly to end the suffering, breeding, and private ownership of all wildcats held in captive environments.97 More recent feature films depicting fictious stories about wildcats include Duma, and Two Brothers. Duma, set in South Africa, tells the story of a 12 year old boy who decides to return 93

See http://www.bornfree.org.uk. See LIVING FREE (Columbia Pictures 1972). 95 See TO WALK WITH LIONS (IAC Holdings Limited 1999). 96 See http://www.tvacres.com-cats_lions_clarence. 97 See http://www.shambala.org. 94


22

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

the cheetah he raised as a cub to the wild instead of seeing him living his life in captivity. Two Brothers, tells the curious tale of two male tiger cubs who are separated from their parents in the jungle. Each cub takes its own unique journey in captivity— Kumal is bold and fierce and is sent off to live in a circus and trained to jump through hoops of fire. Sangha is shy and gentle, and he is discovered by a young boy who takes him home. Sangha is sent to live in a Prince’s royal menagerie where his spirit is broken and he is forced to fight. In the end fate steps in and the two brothers are reunited and find their way back to the jungle.98 Working with live lions and tigers on sets can prove to have behind the scenes challenges of their own. Producer, Mark Johnson of the Disney film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, mulled over the use of a ‘real lion’ for some scenes, but reconsidered after Roy of Siegfried & Roy was mauled. Aslan took two years to create. He is mostly animated and three puppets were used on the set. Actor Liam Neeson, the voice of Aslan, said of his character, “He’s approachable—but he’ll bite your head off too.”99 Bringing a piece of ancient history and culture of captive wildcats to life can be seen in an extraordinary feature film: Gladiator. In a short but breathtaking scene, tigers are brought out on chains to fight against the gladiators. Director, Ridley Scott in a post-production interview on the filming and use of tigers on the set said, “tigers are not trainable at all…11 feet nose to tail and 800 pounds they can still move as fast as a house cat.”100 Paul Reynolds the animal trainer on the set of Gladiator noted that the only thing about tigers that is predictable is that they are unpredictable. His job was to make them look tame and quiet when in reality they are not. They are very dangerous and 98

See DUMA (Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. 2005); TWO BROTHERS (Universal Pictures 2004). 99 See Fantasy League: An introduction to Narnia’s key characters as described by the actors who play them, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY (2005); THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (Walt Disney Pictures 2005). 100 See GLADIATOR (Dreamworks 2000); (GLADIATOR Extended Edition Disc II Documentary Bonus Materials: The Heat of the Battle-Production Journals Dreamworks 2005.)


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

23

will grab at people. Reynolds had to train the crew to stay away from them. There also were problems when small children were on the set. Lions and tigers always want to get a hold of kids— they are ‘bite size’ and very dangerous around children. Tigers don’t act Reynolds said, they are. If tigers look mad, then they are mad.101 Lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, and other wildcats were and continue to be cast in a variety of roles for human entertainment. The Gladiator film takes us somewhat full circle in our look at the journey of the history and culture of wildcats in captivity. The film’s depiction of the ancient Roman gladiators and the fate bestowed on wild tigers, using twenty-first century captive-bred tigers, sets the stage for another modern arena with its origin in ancient history. The practice of keeping wildcats captive today is different than the royal menageries of the past. First, the royal collections were created using cats taken directly from the wild, and second the practice was limited to those who had the wealth and power to accumulate wild animals and determine their fate. As the trade in wildcats began to extend to commercial activities, such as circuses, zoos, and other entertainment venues, and as the practice of breeding in captivity versus taking the cats out of the wild developed, it became easier for any private collector to keep wildcats. Private collectors today include exotic pet owners, pseudo-sanctuaries, exhibitors, traveling exhibitors, roadside zoos, and backyard breeders. Like at the turn of twentieth century in which the menageries, circuses, and zoos were doing business with the same dealers and the same cats were being circulated among these groups, the same phenomena continues today, except that the wildcats are all bred in captivity.

How Much is that Kitty in the Window? Over the past hundred years, great advances have been made in animal husbandry and welfare within particular institutions. However, despite an increase in state and federals laws and 101

Id. (In reference to bite size, “Lost children will be taken to the Lion House,” is a popular saying among zoo staff.)


24

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

regulations that ban or limit the private ownership of wildcats, there are loopholes through which individuals can acquire and breed wildcats, and through the lack of enforcement of existing laws, illegal commercial activity is on the rise and the wildcats in private hands are in a perpetual miserable state. The practice of breeding wildcats in captivity originated within the zoological system. In order to keep wild animals in their collections, the zoos had to initiate breeding programs and change public opinion about their practices. Instead of being part of the extinction problem, they were actually saving the species by no longer taking animals out of the wild. Back in the 1960s public opinion turned against the wild animal trade, and articles in the popular press drew attention to the astonishing loss of life it perpetuated. Frank Buck’s stories in the 1930s had matter-of-factly detailed animal deaths on the journey from jungle to zoo, and they provoked no complaint. The public mood had changed by the time of a 1968 article in Life magazine. Illustrated with photographs of animals that had suffocated in transport and others crammed into small cages, it declared, ‘The enormous and profitable traffic in wildlife—for food, sport, skins, zoos, scientific research and even pets— decimates whole species and threatens to wipe out those rare specimens from which man derives such benefit and delight.’102

The practice of breeding wildcats in captivity, is rationalized by all sources as saving the species from extinction and that it benefits ‘public education’ if individuals can actually ‘see a cheetah’ versus watching a cheetah on film. While these efforts are important, there are some practical considerations. For example, with habitat loss continuing, will captive populations have a wild home to return to; are captive bred wildcats able to return, survive, and reproduce in the wild; and in the meantime, what happens to the all the surplus animals? There are more tigers living in captive environments in the United States than there are in the wild. Recent studies indicate there are at least 5,000 captive tigers with only 256 in accredited

102

HANSON, supra note 25, at 167-168.


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

25

zoos.103 Where are all of these tigers and why is it necessary to have such an enormous surplus? Lions, leopards, cheetahs, pumas, jaguars, and servals are all bred in captivity for commercial purposes. Because there is no detailed and centralized reporting system on these cats, the breeding programs are not being used to ‘stave off extinction’ or to ‘educate.’ In the book, Animal Underworld: Inside American’s Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species, author Alan Green, recounts numerous stories of the fate of far too many wildcats. Some of the animals consigned to these auctions are stuck in an endless loop of misery. In late 1995, for instance a Michigan sanctuary operator named Shannon ‘rescued’ an adult male serval and a pair of two-week old lions that were offered for sale at Woods & Waters. Shannon fought back the tears as she recounted the convoluted tale of how she was forced to give up these lions and some of her other big cats. Unable to find them suitable homes, she turned to a friend—an Ohio exhibitor whose Animal Finders’ Guide ads read like this: ‘Siberian Tigers Cubs born 2-2-95. Big beautiful fluffy babies. Nicest you will ever see. $1,000.’ Or this, from two springs later: ‘Liger female, 12 weeks old. Very beautiful and friendly. Mother is a Siberian tiger, father is an African lion. $1,500.’ He put Shannon in touch with a California dealer who for three decades has been dumping exotic cats into the pet trade and who counts the Cincinnati Zoo among her suppliers. She knew just the right person to take Shannon’s animals: the owner of a top-flight sanctuary in Missouri. Conversations ensued. Shannon inspected the sanctuary. Everything checked out. And weeks later the sanctuary owner came to haul away two tigers and a lion, including the Woods & Water pair.

103

See DOUGLAS F. WILLIAMSON & LEIGH A. HENRY, PAPER TIGERS?: THE ROLE OF THE U.S. CAPTIVE TIGER POPULATION IN THE TRADE IN TIGER PARTS

(TRAFFIC North America, World Wildlife Fund 2008); Big Cat Rescue http://www.bigcatrescue.com.


26

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

Shannon at first was troubled by some aspects of the transfer including the type of truck and cages used for the long trip back to Missouri. But a month later, she made a surprise visit to the facility and found her three big cats in good health. Buoyed by the visit, she subsequently sent another four lions—including the second Woods & Water cub—to the Missouri sanctuary. There was soon trouble however. The owner of the sanctuary refused Shannon’s request for a visit, saying the animals had been moved to a satellite facility. There were more requests, and more refusals. Then Shannon spotted an advertisement in Animal Finders’ Guide asking for donations of unwanted big cats. The phone number listed was that of the Missouri sanctuary. Shannon became nervous and starting asking questions about the sanctuary. She talked to state and federal investigators, game wardens, and anyone else who might have information. And as her inquiries continued, she became increasingly suspicious. Finally, she was told by someone she won’t name that some of this sanctuary’s cats had been shipped to canned hunts; other were killed on site, their meat packaged and their hides hauled off to a local taxidermist. What’s more she was told, the remains of the two lion carcasses were apparently found in a burn heap. Despite the fates suffered by animals sold at auction, the breeders, dealers, ranchers, and petting zoos keep shipping them there for sale. 104

This is just one story. In 2003, Antoine Yates wanted to create his own Garden of Eden in his five room apartment in New York City that included a full grown Bengal-Siberian tiger, a second tiger and cubs. The New York Post reported that the Bearcat Hollow Animal Park in Minnesota had records of Yates buying a lion, jaguar, and puma. Bearcat Hollow had problems of 104

ALAN GREEN, ANIMAL UNDERWORLD: INSIDE AMERICA’S BLACK MARKET FOR RARE AND EXOTIC SPECIES (Public Affairs 1999).


The History & Culture of Wildcats in Captivity

27

their own including a private action against them when a young girl was mauled by a tiger at their facility. From the mid-1990s there have been 288 reported maulings and/or fatal attacks that occurred at private homes and facilities, zoos, and performance venues in the United States alone.105 Another problem which results from so many private individuals, organizations, and institutions breeding wildcats is in-breeding and cross-breeding or ‘hybrids.’ The zoos that participate in the AZA’s SSPs at least ensure genetic diversity among the cats they breed. However, there are far too many ‘commercial breeders’ that are not concerned with genetic diversity. Nor is this practice regulated at the state or federal level. Hybrids such as ligers or tigons (male lion with female tiger or male tiger with female lion) do not naturally occur in the wild. These are forced couplings by breeders. As a result these cats suffer physically. They are born sterile and present with varying mental and physical challenges. Carl Hagenbeck at his animal park in Germany bred a leopard with a puma resulting in a ‘pumapard.’ These cats were inflicted with a form of dwarfism and did not reach adulthood. Are the wildcats in captivity today any better off than the ones held by the ancient Romans or the Kings and Queens of Europe and Asia? Their journey through antiquity and into modern times leaves us with more questions than answers even though through research and experience we are better educated than our ancestors. Our modern culture may view the ancient Roman gladiator games with distain for its abominable cruelty and brutality, but have our practices in reality really changed that much? Or are they cloaked under the guise of ‘accepted’ commercial enterprise, conservation, and education?

Conclusion Humans have integrated wildcats into their lives for thousands of years. Each generation has in some form or another admired and worshiped them; punished them for being what they are; and embodied their beauty, power, and strength in religion, 105

See supra note 82.


28

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

literature, art, sport, and entertainment. If the acceptance of certain practices throughout our history continued, we may not have had the opportunity to know what a lion or tiger is. The ancient Romans and successors of the deadly games and hunting very nearly caused a complete eradication of these majestic cats. Today, wild populations are depleting rapidly and captive wildcats are being viewed and used solely as commercial commodities. Without some sort of intervention with respect to our current practices, behaviors, and attitudes, the future of all wildcats is in jeopardy.


The Conservation Value of Tigers: Separating Science from Fiction

29

THE CONSERVATION VALUE OF TIGERS: SEPARATING SCIENCE FROM FICTION Philip J. Nyhus† and Ronald Tilson †† †

Environmental Studies Program, Colby College, Waterville, Maine Conservation Department, Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley, Minnesota

††

Introduction Tigers are a global good. One of the world’s most widelyrecognized animals, tigers are valued for their beauty, power, and ecological benefit. Most people appreciate tigers or care about their conservation. Notable exceptions may include poachers or the small number of people who directly experience death, injury, and loss of property from tiger-human conflict. Given the biological and cultural importance of tigers,1 it would not seem difficult to argue the conservation value of tigers. Unfortunately, tigers also have value to people who profit handsomely by killing them, marketing them, and breeding them in captivity. Those hoping to profit from our collective admiration of tigers often use the concept of “tiger conservation” inappropriately to exploit tigers for their own gain. This is a problem because wild tigers are declining everywhere they once existed2 while captive tiger populations are increasing in countries, as in the United States (U.S.), where they should not.3 1

PHILIP J. NYHUS ET AL., Wildlife knowledge among migrants in southern Sumatra, Indonesia: Implications for conservation, 30 ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION (2003). 2 ERIC DINERSTEIN ET AL., The fate of wild tigers, 57 BIOSCIENCE (2007). 3 PHILIP NYHUS ET AL., Thirteen Thousand and Counting: How Growing Captive Tiger Populations Threaten Wild Tigers, TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS, AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson eds., 2d ed. forthcoming 2010).


30

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

A fundamental question for tiger conservation is whether the growth in captive tigers is, or is not, a good trend. We argue it is not. In this paper, we focus on the issue of captive tiger conservation. We distinguish between meaningful captive tiger conservation and tiger conservation rhetoric by drawing on the tiger science literature and our decades of experiences as tiger conservation scholars and practitioners. We have made some of these arguments elsewhere, but bring them together here in one place for the first time. Our focus is on the U.S.—the target readership of this new journal—but the broad issues we discuss are applicable everywhere. The world is facing the reality that wild tigers are disappearing and will continue to do so across much of their traditional range in the near future unless the world’s leaders, institutions, and citizens do more.4 An important part of this conservation effort must include captive tigers, but some captive tiger populations promote conservation while others do not. It is a fiction that most tigers owned by private individuals—such as pet tigers, tigers bred and sold for profit, or white tigers—are valuable for wild tiger conservation that we address here. A good start to understanding the debate over privatelyowned tigers is to back up and make sure we know what a real wild tiger and the real conservation value of wild tigers is—and is not.

What a Wild Tiger Is Tigers, the largest of the living cats,5 are powerful animals equipped to capture and subdue prey, like deer and boar, 4

ERIC WIKRAMANAYAKE ET AL., Roads to Recovery or Catastrophic Loss: How Will the Next Decade End for Wild Tigers?, TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS, AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson eds., 2d ed. forthcoming 2010). 5 See ANDREW C. KITCHENER & NOBUYUKI YAMAGUCHI, What is a Tiger? Biogeography and Taxonomy,TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS, AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson eds., 2d ed. forthcoming 2010) (for scientific arguments about whether lions can compete for this title depending on whether size or weight is used to define “large”).


The Conservation Value of Tigers: Separating Science from Fiction

31

including animals that can exceed their own weight. They are adaptive animals, at home in the hot, dry thorn forests of Rajasthan in India; the tidal mangrove swamps of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh; the wet tropical forests along the Equator in Sumatra, Indonesia; and in the frigid woodlands of the Russian Far East.6 Wild tigers occur naturally in Asia, but not Africa. Wild tigers have black stripes and a dark gold background to provide camouflage to be better hunters.7 Wild tigers typically are not white with black stripes and blue eyes. Wild tigers do not mate naturally with lions. There is one recognized species of tiger, Panthera tigris, divided among six8 living subspecies: the Bengal tiger P.t. tigris, the Amur tiger P. t. altaica, the Indochinese tiger P. t. corbetti, the Malayan tiger P. t. jacksonii, and the Sumatran tiger P. t. sumatrae. The South China tiger P. t. amoyensis exists in captivity but has not been seen in the wild for nearly four decades.9 Three other subspecies, the Bali P. t. balica, Javan P. t. sondaica, and Caspian P. t. virgata are extinct.10 White tigers living in Las Vegas are not on this list of recognized subspecies. Tigers are classified as Endangered (considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild11) by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.12 There are no populations of white tigers, ligers, or tiglons (offspring of tigers and lions) roaming the dry, salty, wet, or cold forests and grasslands of Asia. We know much more today about the phylogeny and evolution of tigers because of new advances in molecular biology. 6

MEL SUNQUIST, What is a Tiger? Ecology and Behavior, TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS, AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson eds., 2d ed. forthcoming 2010). 7 K. ULLAS KARANTH, THE WAY OF THE TIGER: NATURAL HISTORY AND CONSERVATION OF THE ENDANGERED BIG CAT (Voyageur Press 2001). 8 See S.J. LUO ET AL., Phylogeography and Genetic Ancestry of Tigers (Panthera tigris) 2 PLOS BIOLOGY (2004), six subspecies are based on recent molecular evidence. See also supra note 5 (for arguments why there may exist only five). 9 RONALD TILSON ET AL., Dramatic decline of wild South China tigers: Field survey of priority tiger reserves, 38 ORYX (2004). 10 R.S. CHUNDAWAT ET AL., Panthera tigris in IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES Version 2009.1. http://www.iucnredlist.org (2008). 11 See http://www.iucnredlist.org/static/categories_criteria (for definition). 12 CHUNDAWAT, supra note 10.


32

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

For example, a recent study of tiger mitochondrial DNA indicates that extinct Caspian tigers and modern Amur tigers likely are evolutionary nearest neighbors.13 Another recent study suggest that Bengal tigers in India may retain more than half of the extant genetic diversity in the species, and these remaining tigers may represent only 1.7% of the historical tiger numbers in India.14 We do not know with certainty how many wild tigers remain in Asia because of their secretive nature and the difficulty of carrying out surveys in remote habitat. We do know, however, that a reasonable estimate is around 4,000, a mere fraction of the estimated 100,000 tigers found in the wild at the beginning of the 20th century.15 We also know that tigers today occupy only about 7% of their historical range, and in some countries, that number may be closer to 1%.16

What a Captive Tiger (and Captive Tiger Owner) Is There is growing recognition that there are more tigers in captivity than in the wild. A conservative estimate for the size of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s captive tiger populations is at least 13,000-14,000.17 There could be as many as 25,000 if more liberal estimates are used. There are many different ways that people keep tigers in captivity, including zoos, circuses and other entertainment venues, sanctuaries, private individual owners, and commercial farms (only in Asia). There also are different kinds of tigers in these facilities. Zoos can be large or small, public or private, accredited or not. Accredited zoos are recognized by regional zoo associations, like the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in North America, and participate in scientifically-managed captive breeding programs. These zoos follow specific management 13 CARLOS A. DRISCOLL ET AL., Mitochondrial phylogeography illuminates the origin of the extinct caspian tiger and its relationship to the amur tiger, 4 PLOS ONE (2009). 14 SAMRAT MONDOL ET AL., Why the Indian subcontinent holds the key to global tiger recovery, 5 PlOS Genetics (2009). 15 CHUNDAWAT, supra note 10. 16 DINERSTEIN, supra note 2. 17 NYHUS, supra note 3.


The Conservation Value of Tigers: Separating Science from Fiction

33

standards, including those governing health, husbandry, genetics, conservation, and education. At the core of their mission is their Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program that manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy, self-sustaining captive population, both genetically diverse and demographically stable. It is based on a master plan that analyses the "family tree" of the captive population derived from information in international and regional studbooks containing the vital data of the entire captive population, including births, deaths, transfers, and lineage. Non-accredited zoos rarely participate in these coordinated breeding programs, have less oversight and lower standards related to animal care, usually know little or nothing about where their tigers come from (e.g., subspecies origin). Many “roadside zoos” claim to support wild tiger conservation, but in reality do little or nothing to contribute to meaningful conservation of wild tigers and their habitats. Circuses typically use tigers primarily for entertainment. Outside of circuses, tigers are also used to entertain audiences at sporting events, magic shows, fairgrounds, and other public venues. These tigers are of unknown genetic lineages, often are hybrids, and most likely are significantly inbred. Commercial farms in Asia breed tigers for profit. This is a newly emerging “threat” for tigers. China currently has at least 5,000 tigers in tiger farms to support the market for traditional Chinese medicine. If China decides to commercially farm and sell tiger parts to the domestic pharmaceutical market, the number could balloon to 20,000 or higher, further expanding the world’s captive tiger population. A few other facilities in Thailand and Vietnam hold several hundred tigers for show, but also likely to realize future profit in the traditional Asian medicine market. Sanctuaries are facilities intended to rescue abandoned, abused, and neglected animals. Real sanctuaries, such as those accredited by the American Sanctuary Association, do not breed or buy tigers, and do not take them out in public on leashes or in cages on the premise that they are educating the public. Real


34

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

sanctuaries adhere to local, state, and federal laws18 and are licensed by state and federal agencies.19 In the U.S., the majority of captive tigers are not located in zoos, circuses, or sanctuaries. They are owned by private individuals. No one knows how many tigers exist in the U.S., but reasonable estimates range from 5,00020 up to 15,000 (unlikely a realistic number, but widely cited). The U.S. is alone among the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s countries in having such a large number of individuals who own and care for tigers on their personal property. As with zoos, some of these individuals are responsible owners and provide adequate care for their animals; however, others provide inadequate care or abuse their animals, and some are involved with the illegal trafficking of tigers.

Separating Conservation Fact from Fiction Individuals who own tigers not surprisingly offer arguments why they are entitled to own, breed, and sell tigers. Here we describe what we believe are some of the most relevant arguments presented by opponents and supporters of private ownership of tigers. First, opponents of private ownership highlight the human safety risks associated with housing large and dangerous carnivores. Growing concern about exotic animals and disease transmission has provided further fuel to the anti-ownership fire. Supporters of private ownership claim that the risk of injury or death from tigers is negligible, particularly when compared to

18

See PHILIP NYHUS ET AL., The Status and Evolution of Laws and Policies Regulating Privately Owned Tigers in the United States, 1 JOURNAL OF THE WILDCAT CONSERVATION LEGAL AID SOCIETY 47 (2009). 19 TAMMY QUIST, History and Function of US Sanctuaries TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS, AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson eds., 2d ed. forthcoming 2010). 20 BRIAN WERNER, Distribution, abundance and reproductive biology of captive Panthera Tigris populations living within the United States of America assessment: Decision analysis using a Bayesian age-and sex-structured model incorporating multiple populations and facilitation dynamics, and applied to the captive population of the U.S., 49 FELINE CONSERVATION FEDERATION MAGAZINE (2005).


The Conservation Value of Tigers: Separating Science from Fiction

35

more common threats, such as attacks by dogs or snakes.21 Since 1996 at least 51 people have been killed by captive tigers (including zoos and private owners in the U.S.), and many more have been injured.22 It may be subjective to decide whether this is serious or negligible, but it is irrefutable that tigers kill and injure owners, keepers, and innocent bystanders, including children. Tiger attacks occur even where owners are professionals and highly trained, such as with Roy Horn, part of the duo of Siegfried and Roy, who was injured in 2003 while performing with a white tiger in Las Vegas. It is simply hubris to believe that tigers can be domesticated. No amount of training or discipline will make them safe as human companions. Moreover, if a tiger attacks a person, the tiger itself may be killed during an attack to save the human victim or after the attack to test for rabies. Second, opponents of private ownership argue that keeping wild animals as pets causes many animals to suffer from poor health and is inhumane. Proponents argue that many animals in private ownership receive better care than animals in accredited zoos or other captive facilities. The facts seem to negate this argument. According to the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, a consortium of zoo professionals, sanctuary operators, and animal protection groups, a majority of all wild animals kept as "pets" die within the first two years of ownership23. Third, opponents argue that the potential risks faced by the public, the potential for substandard care and welfare of these animals, and the nuisance these animals can impose on neighbors transcend the rights of individuals to own these large animals. Supporters of private ownership typically stress their individual right to own these animals and criticize government meddling in their personal lives. The growing number of cities, counties, and states that have passed legislation restricting ownership of tigers and other large cats24 clearly contradict this perspective. People in almost every state are sufficiently concerned about animal and 21

See PHILIP J. NYHUS ET AL., Dangerous animals in captivity: Ex situ tiger conflict and implication for private ownership of exotic animals, 22 ZOO BIOLOGY (2003) (for discussion of risk from tiger attacks). 22 NYHUS, supra note 3. 23 See http://www.cwapc.org/education/PETA_BornFree_SoldOut.html. 24 NYHUS, supra note 18.


36

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

public health, safety, and welfare to ban or severely restrict who and where tigers can be kept. Recent modification of federal law further suggests this has become a national concern as well. Fourth, opponents of private ownership argue that tigers outside of managed breeding programs, such as SSPs, have little conservation value because they are of unknown genetic lineage and may or may not be inbred. These tigers are referred to as “generic”25 tigers and have been described as “tiger soup.”26 They will never be considered or used by any serious reintroduction program in any Asian tiger range state. Advocates supporting the right of private individuals to breed, sell, and own tigers in unmanaged populations (herein “privately owned tigers”) argue that privately owned tigers could have this same role27. Zoo conservation scientists contend that privately owned tigers are not genetically valuable because their ancestries usually are unknown and most are probably admixtures of two or more subspecies. A recent study by Luo,28 examined the genetic ancestries of captive tigers worldwide in an attempt to clarify their conservation value. The authors conclude that more purebred tigers with potential conservation value exist in captivity than previously recognized and that a substantial number occur outside of managed programs. The study’s findings have been highlighted by international media and have been portrayed by private ownership proponents as evidence that privately owned tigers have conservation value. The authors did not, however, evaluate any privately owned tigers.

25

i.e., tigers whose ancestry cannot be traced back to wild-caught founders and that are not registered in the Amur, Sumatran, or Malayan tiger studbooks. 26 NYHUS, supra note 3. 27 e.g., Phoenix Exotic Wildlife Association, Inc., http://www.phoenixexotics.org; the Feline Conservation Federation, http://www.felineconservation.org; the Alliance for the Conservation of Exotic Felines, <http://www.acef.org>; BRIAN WERNER, Private ownership can be the “missing link” to saving the tiger from extinction, BIG CAT FIGHT: CAN PRIVATE OWNERS HELP SAVE A SPECIES? (2009). 28 S. J. LUO ET AL., Subspecies genetic assignments of worldwide captive tigers increase conservation value of captive populations, 18 CURRENT BIOLOGY (2008).


The Conservation Value of Tigers: Separating Science from Fiction

37

A subsequent reconsideration of the evidence by Harris,29 (in review) refutes the idea that a substantial number of captive tigers outside of managed programs have potential conservation value. The authors contend that the genetic method developed to determine subspecific affiliations of captive tigers is unreliable. Furthermore, they argue that there are multiple challenges with trying to incorporate privately owned tigers into any resemblance of a reputable conservation management program. Prominent among these include the expense of conducting tests to determine subspecies affiliations of tigers, the large percentage of tigers that would likely falsely test pure when in fact they are hybrids, the diverse and competing motives of private owners, and the presence of laws prohibiting international and interstate transport of tigers among private owners.

The Ethics of Private Ownership The more objective and scientific issues noted above related to number of people injured and killed, quality of housing and care of the tigers, and genetic and logistic issues related to the country’s privately owned tigers represent only part of the argument. We believe there are at least three additional salient issues related to this discussion that similarly deserve attention but are less tangible and thus more elusive to characterize. These include, the lack of public awareness of what a real tiger is, the unnecessary hidden costs of managing unregulated tiger populations in private hands, and the unbalanced priorities that come into play among the public and the private sector that leads to unnecessary hostilities between “responsible” and “irresponsible” owners.30 Numerous captive tigers are not only genetically inbred tigers, they are white tigers or hybrids of tiger subspecies, or of tigers and lions. Contrary to popular belief, there are no wild white tiger populations, and white tigers in captivity are all significantly inbred. Most visitors to zoos and the general public are not aware of this, and as a result white tigers and white tiger 29 TARA R. HARRIS ET AL., Reconsidering the value of privately owned tigers for conservation management programs, ZOO BIOLOGY (in review). 30 NYHUS, supra note 3.


38

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

paraphernalia (e.g., shirts, calendars, and plush toys) are sold everywhere at state fairs and shopping malls, on the internet, and even at AZA zoo gift stores. The “petification” and “commoditization” of privately-owned captive tigers—and the mistaken messages about what a tiger really is—warp our perspective of wild tigers.31 Tigers are expensive to feed and care for, but there are additional social costs as well. The unnecessary cost of developing regulations, monitoring animal welfare, distributing and monitoring permits, along with the many other costs of managing the unregulated growth of tiger populations in private hands diverts funds that could be better spent saving tigers in Asia.32 Finally, those that support unregulated (or at least limited regulation of) privately owned tigers fail to consider how captive tigers ultimately lead to the perception that these and other large cats can be bought, sold, hand-raised, and bred on commercial scales, such as is currently occurring in China and in neighboring countries. As a message that made its rounds several years ago on a list-serve devoted to private ownership noted, “Who ever heard of chickens being an endangered species?” The same could be said of tigers: If we can raise them in captivity for profit like chickens so that there are thousands or even tens of thousands of tigers in cages, why should we worry about the loss of a few hundred or a few thousand in the forests of Russia or India or Indonesia?33 On the international level one of the most strident and important debates currently ongoing in the tiger conservation community is over the future of China’s farmed tigers.34 On the one hand, tiger conservationists argue that China’s efforts to encourage captive breeding of tigers to support China’s pharmaceutical industry and traditional medicine markets will lead to even more poaching than already exists and hasten the end

31

Id. NYHUS, supra note 18. 33 NYHUS, supra note 3. 34 BRIAN GRATWICKE ET AL., The World Can't Have Wild Tigers and Eat Them, Too, 22 CONSERVATION BIOLOGY (2008). 32


The Conservation Value of Tigers: Separating Science from Fiction

39

of wild tigers in Asia.35 Animal welfare advocates deplore the inhumane conditions of these mega-farms. In response, Chinese authorities and some economists have argued that enhancing domestic supply will reduce pressure on wild tiger populations.36 We do not have the space to discuss this issue further in this brief review, but organizations such as TRAFFIC have argued that the issue of private ownership of tigers in the U.S. and tiger farming in China are linked because the U.S. domestic tiger population ultimately could be used to fuel the trade in tiger bone for traditional Asian medicines.37 The authors contend that the U.S. needs to take further action to tighten controls even though they admit that available evidence suggests the contribution of the U.S. captive tiger population to the illegal international trade in tiger parts remains a potential future issue rather than a current crisis.

Conclusions We know much more today than we did a few decades ago about what a tiger is. We know that thousands or even tens of thousands of tigers can be bred in captivity. We also know that wild tiger populations are declining and captive populations are increasing. The relevant question we should be asking is whether there is any utility in having thousands of tigers in captivity here in the U.S. We believe the answer is no. A generic tiger living in a small pen in the backyard of someoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s house in Florida is simply not the same as a wild tiger living in the forests of Asia. Generic tigers in pickup trucks in Texas do not count either. These are not wild predators that are part of larger populations 35 KRISTEN NOWELL, Tiger Farms and Pharmacies: The Central Importance of Chinaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Trade Policy for Tiger Conservation TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS, AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson eds., 2d ed. forthcoming 2010). 36 MICHAEL 'T SAS-ROLFES, Tigers, Economics and the Regulation of Trade TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS, AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson eds., 2d ed. forthcoming 2010). 37 DOUGLAS F. WILLIAMSON & LEIGH A. HENRY, PAPER TIGERS?: THE ROLE OF THE U.S. CAPTIVE TIGER POPULATION IN THE TRADE IN TIGER PARTS (TRAFFIC North America, World Wildlife Fund 2008).


40

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

evolving and carrying out significant ecological functions in their natural habitat.38 The world’s wild tigers and their habitat are in serious trouble. The challenge of raising public concern and resources to save the last forests and wild tigers of Asia is difficult enough without having to spend time and energy convincing people that “saving” inbred generic and white tigers is not the same as saving wild tigers. Let us be clear: Tigers are wild, fierce, and strong. They evolved to hunt and kill. They should not be disguised as pets. Tiglon and liger hybrids are not natural. And genetically indistinguishable alley-cats have no place in realistic conservation. Is there a place for any captive tigers? Yes, if the owners of tigers participate in recognized managed conservation breeding programs, if the tigers are of known genetic lineage and could be used to support wild tiger populations (e.g., the world’s last South China tigers are in captivity, and these will be the source of any future tiger reintroduction programs), if they support education and awareness programs about wild tigers and tiger conservation rather than the false information about white tigers and other fallacies, and if tigers are cared for humanly where they and the people who care for them and visitors are safe. We support the efforts of responsible individuals who care for abandoned and confiscated tigers, such as those of accredited “real” sanctuaries, who do not breed their animals, who do not seek to profit from their animals, and who obey state and federal laws. Wild tigers have enormous conservation value. Where wild tigers thrive, ecosystems flourish. Some captive tigers have conservation value when they are part of a managed breeding program as shown by Russello,39 who found that the Amur tiger population in AZA zoos has become keepers of gene variants lost in situ, and Luo,40 who confirmed that captive Amur tigers in AZA zoos are less related to each other than their wild counterparts living in the Russian Far East. But most if not all 38

NYHUS, supra note 3. M. A. RUSSELLO ET AL., Potential genetic consequences of a recent bottleneck in the Amur tiger of the Russian Far East, 5 CONSERVATION GENETICS (2004). 40 LOU, supra note 8. 39


The Conservation Value of Tigers: Separating Science from Fiction

41

privately owned tigers, particularly those that are white, inbred, or genetically unrecognizable, do not have any conservation value. Even if valuable genes can be identified in privately owned tigers, not knowing the individualâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s genetic linage back to its wildcaught parents will contribute to its loss of conservation value. Some private owners are doing a service by taking unwanted and abused tigers. But many private owners are benefiting their own egos or profit margins at the expense of tigers. Conservation cannot be an excuse for those that do not properly care for their animals, do not adequately protect employees and visitors, and who do not contribute meaningfully to global tiger conservation efforts.


42

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I


Dangerous, Wild or Exotic Animal Ownership and Its Relation to Animal Hoarding

43

DANGEROUS, WILD OR EXOTIC ANIMAL OWNERSHIP AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO ANIMAL HOARDINGâ&#x2C6;&#x2014; Josephine Martell, E.M. Captive Wildlife Animal Protection Campaign, Washington, DC

Summary of Intent In 1999, animal hoarding was first described and defined as the accumulation of a large number of companion animals with the following characteristics: failure to provide minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, and veterinary care; and failure to act on the deteriorating condition of the animals (including disease, starvation, and even death) or their environment (severe overcrowding, extremely unsanitary conditions) or the negative effect of the collection on their own health and well-being and on that of other household members.1 Since then, much has been written about the phenomenon and it has been linked to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)2, object hoarding and personality disorders3, among other pathological presentations. Although dogs and cats, otherwise known as companion animals, make up the vast majority of animals in animal hoarding â&#x2C6;&#x2014;

This briefing is a preliminary summary of a wider study examining the motivations behind dangerous, wild or exotic animal ownership and its relationship to animal hoarding. The full study is not yet published. 1 GARY J. PATRONEK, Hoarding of Animals: An Under Recognized Public Health Problem in a Difficult to Study Population, 114 PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTS 82-87 (1999). 2 RANDY FROST & HARC (Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium), People Who Hoard Animals, 17 PSYCHIATRIC TIMES 25-29 (2000), available at http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/54. 3 GARY J. PATRONEK & JANE N. NATHANSON, A Theoretical Perspective to Inform Assessment and Treatment Strategies for Animal Hoarders, 29 CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW 274-281 (2009).


44

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

cases, other types of animals also are hoarded. Farm animals and birds4 have also been found, and even exotic or wild animals.5 There also have been a number of high profile cases in the media where large numbers of dangerous, wild animals, most notably tigers, have been kept in deplorable conditions.6 In the United States, big cats, including tigers, lions, leopards, cougars, and others are one of the most popular exotic pets and comprise the majority of exotic animal incidents in the news7. It is estimated that there are nearly 10,000 big cats being kept in private ownership across America8. In facilities licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is currently the only regulatory body that retains information on commercial use of these animals, there are nearly 5,000 big cats. Tigers are the most popular of the big cat species and the vast majority of them, if not all, are cross and in-bred. Due to their impure genetic make-up, these tigers lack conservation value and, as a result, can never be reintroduced back into the wild. Legitimate zoos, including those accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), do not want them because they cannot be used for breeding purposes. These animals also are vulnerable to cruel, and misinformed practices to modify their inherent dangerous behaviors through procedures such as declawing and defanging, despite these practices being prohibited under the AWA.9 The large number of big cats being kept in private ownership are creating tragic consequences. Since 1990, in the United States alone, there have been over 592 incidents involving captive, exotic cats reported in the news; these

4

PATRONEK, supra note 1. ARNOLD ARLUKE & HARC (Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium), Press Reports of Animal Hoarding, 10 SOCIETY & ANIMALS 1-23 (2002). 6 See JOAN B. MARASEK AND JOHN WEINHART, as reported in the Captive Wild Animal Protection Campaign (a program of Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries) Database (2003). 7 See Born Free USA United with Animal Protection Institute Database, http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?p=443&more=1. 8 Number estimated by the Captive Wild Animal Protection Campaign (a program of Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries) as reported in the CWAPC Factsheet http://www.cwapc.org/education/download/cwapc_factsheets1.pdf 9 See http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/downloads/big_cat/declaw_tooth.pdf 5


Dangerous, Wild or Exotic Animal Ownership and Its Relation to Animal Hoarding

45

incidents include 16 adult deaths, 5 child deaths, 173 escapes into the community and 196 maulings.10 Despite this coverage in the news, there is little information available in the current body of veterinary, scientific or conservation literature addressing the phenomena of dangerous wild or exotic animal ownership, or any of the motivations that may be behind it. One characteristic that big cat ownership appears to have in common with animal hoarding is the inability of the owner to provide minimal standards of care for the animals along with denial of the actual circumstances and lack of insight into it. This is exacerbated by the specific and expensive nutritional, caging, enrichment, and veterinary requirements that big cats have that the average person simply cannot provide. As a result, an ownerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to care for even one big cat can become quickly overwhelming. In order to explore this particular aspect more, a case series approach was used to compare and contrast dangerous, exotic animal ownership with what is known about animal hoarding. It will be the purpose of the completed study to provide a constructive framework for public health officials, enforcement officers, and policy-makers to effectively address the welfare and public safety threats of dangerous, wild and exotic animal ownership. The author draws upon nearly ten years of animal welfare experience and 6 years of captive, exotic animal experience including public policy, legislation and hands-on interventions. She also acknowledges the contribution of Dr. Gary Patronek, his colleagues at the Hoarding of Animals Consortium (HARC), and the work of her colleagues in the animal welfare field who advocate for exotic animal welfare and policy reform, such as Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue and the members of the authorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own organization, the Captive Wild Animal Protection Campaign (CWAPC), a program of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS).

10

See Big Cat Rescue, Incident Database, http://www.bigcatrescue.org/big_cat_news.htm.


46

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I


The Status and Evolution of Laws and Polices Regulating Privately Owned Tigers in the United States 47

THE STATUS AND EVOLUTION OF LAWS AND POLICIES REGULATING PRIVATELY OWNED TIGERS IN THE UNITED STATES Philip J. Nyhus,† Michael Ambrogi,† Caitline Dufraine,† Alan Shoemaker,†† and Ronald Tilson††† †

Environmental Studies Program, Colby College, Waterville, Maine Tiger SSP Permit Advisor, Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Silver Spring, Maryland ††† Conservation Department, Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley, Minnesota ††

Introduction Tigers (Panthera tigris) are one of the world’s most endangered large cats. Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, today the world’s wild tiger population may number fewer than 4,000,1 and viable populations remain in only 12 countries.2 Tigers are revered in Asia and have long been a source of fascination for people living in countries far from the tiger’s native habitat. Romans used tigers in the Coliseum, and European royalty imported tigers for their menageries.3 In the United States (U.S.), tigers likely were first introduced for use in

1 JOHN SEIDENSTICKER ET AL., How Many Wild Tigers Are There? An Estimate for 2008 TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS, AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson eds., 2d ed. forthcoming 2010). 2 TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE BIOLOGY, POLITICS, AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson eds., 2d ed. forthcoming 2010). 3 DANIEL HAHN, THE TOWER MENAGERIE: THE AMAZING 600-YEAR HISTORY OF THE ROYAL COLLECTION OF WILD AND FEROCIOUS BEASTS KEPT AT THE TOWER OF LONDON (Tarcher 2003).


48

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

circuses in the 1830s.4 Subsequently, tigers became a popular addition to most circuses and zoos. In the twentieth century, a growing number of individuals owned and bred tigers for sale and use in the pet trade. Ironically, as the world’s wild tiger populations shrunk, the world’s captive tiger populations increased. We estimate the number of tigers in the world’s zoos, circuses, farms, and those owned by private individuals may exceed 13,000, a ratio of more than three captive tigers to every wild tiger.5 The U.S. alone likely has at least 5,000 captive tigers, and possibly many more.6 The large number of tigers and other large cats in captivity raises concern for the welfare of tigers, the safety of people interacting with tigers,7 and growing recognition that the largely unregulated trade in exotic species is a significant conservation and public policy challenge.8 Over the past decade, a growing number of states, counties, and municipalities have addressed these concerns by adopting a variety of regulations pertaining to the private ownership of tigers and other large, dangerous animals. Congress also has modified federal laws in an attempt to address more effectively the commercial ownership and trade of these species. In this article, we summarize the current status and evolution of laws and policies regulating private ownership of tigers in the U.S. Many of these laws also address other large cats. We review major federal legislation and amendments that address laws regulating tigers and other large cats, describe and analyze the growth and geographic distribution of state laws addressing this topic, and identify some of the limitations of these efforts. We conclude that the existing mix of federal, state, and local policies is inadequate. Enforcement authorities lack adequate 4

BOB BROOKE, Step Right Up!, HISTORY MAGAZINE (2001). PHILIP J. NYHUS ET AL., Thirteen Thousand and Counting: How Growing Captive Tiger Populations Threaten Wild Tigers TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE BIOLOGY, POLITICS, AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson eds., 2d ed. forthcoming 2010). 6 Id. 7 PHILIP J. NYHUS ET AL., Dangerous animals in captivity: Ex situ tiger conflict and implication for private ownership of exotic animals, 22 ZOO BIOLOGY (2003) 8 NYHUS, supra note 5. 5


The Status and Evolution of Laws and Polices Regulating Privately Owned Tigers in the United States 49

capacity, and compliance is easily circumvented by irresponsible owners. We do not even know with certainty how many tigers and other large cats exist in the U.S. We argue that a more coherent and forceful approach is needed to protect tigers and the public before the issue becomes more unmanageable than it already is.

Federal Laws and Amendments An international treaty and three federal laws indirectly regulate private ownership of tigers in the U.S., but none strictly forbids the private possession of tigers and other large carnivores.9 The U.S. is a signatory of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora10 (CITES), an international treaty that establishes a system of import and export regulations for the purpose of preventing the over exploitation of animals and plants. International regulation and cooperation is necessary to ensure the future survival of many species because trade in wild animals and plants crosses the borders of many countries. In the case of tigers, it is well known that the borders of Asian tiger range states are especially porous. The magnitude of the illegal wildlife trade is enormous, with an economic worth of at least $5 billion and possibly more than $20 billion annually, thus ranking it just behind elicit drugs and possibly human trafficking and arms trafficking.11 The U.S. national counterpart to CITES is the Endangered Species Act12 (ESA). The ESA, enacted in 1973, regulates the interstate and international trade and taking of species officially listed as “Endangered” or “Threatened.” It is the first federal law to protect tigers, a species listed in the first version of the ESA. Specifically, the ESA regulates interstate commerce involving 9

NICOLE G. PAQUETTE, The Tiger in the Backyard, 33 ANIMAL ISSUES (2002), available at http://www.api4animals.org/1402.htm. 10 1976 U.N.T.S. 224, 27 U.S.T. 1087. 11 Liana Sun Wyler & Pervaze A. Sheikh, International Illegal Trade in Wildlife: Threats and U.S. Policy LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE (RL34395, 2008). 12 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1544 (2000).


50

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

tigers, the importation and exportation of tigers, and the unauthorized “taking” of tigers within the U.S. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the primary agency responsible for permitting activities related to listed terrestrial species, does not issue permits to possess or breed endangered or threatened animals as pets.13 For conservation purposes, USFWS issues Captive-bred Wildlife Permits that allow permit holders to buy and sell in interstate commerce living Endangered or Threatened species held within the U.S. These permits are issued to zoos and individuals breeding listed species born in the U.S. for the enhancement of species propagation, provided the people or institutions involved in the transaction are both registered for the same species. Under this system, otherwise prohibited activities can occur if they enhance propagation or survival of the affected species and assist captive breeding programs.14 In 1998, USFWS created an exemption to the Captive-bred Wildlife Permit which eliminates permit requirements for certain listed species. The exemption includes inter-subspecific crossed tigers, commonly referred to as “generic tigers.”15 The Animal Welfare Act16 (AWA) of 1966, as amended, is regulated and enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The main purpose of the AWA is to “ensure minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public.”17 Under the AWA, all individuals or businesses involved with animals covered under the law are required to be licensed or registered with APHIS.18 13

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, U.S. Endangered Species Act: Permits for Non-native Species or Import and Export of Non-native and Native Species, (2002). 14 U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, Captive-bred Wildlife Registration under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, (1999). 15 (i.e., tigers whose ancestry cannot be traced back to wild-caught founders and that are not registered in the international Amur, Sumatran, or Malayan tiger studbooks.) See 50 C.F.R.17.21. 16 7 U.S.C. §§ 2131-2159 (2000). 17 Id. 18 Id.


The Status and Evolution of Laws and Polices Regulating Privately Owned Tigers in the United States 51

“Commercial activity” is a prerequisite for licensing; therefore, pet owners are not eligible to apply for a license from APHIS. Some states grant exemptions to individuals, entities, and organizations that are licensed or permitted by USDA. An APHIS position statement on the private ownership of large cats recognizes that large wild and exotic cats, including tigers, are dangerous animals, and only qualified, trained professionals should keep these animals “even if they are only to be pets.”19 In the same statement, APHIS notes that it does not regulate the ownership and care of large wild and exotic cats as pets, but that state and local laws may apply in some situations.20 Under The Lacey Act Amendments of 1981,21 regulated and enforced by USFWS, it is unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, purchase, receive or acquire wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of federal, state, foreign or Native American tribal laws, treaties or regulations.22 The Act applies to fish, wildlife, and plants—including their parts or products— that are indigenous to the U.S. and either included in the appendices to CITES or listed under state conservation laws. In late 2003, Congress passed the Captive Wildlife Safety Act (CWSA), an amendment to The Lacey Act,23 by making it illegal to import, export, buy, sell, transport, receive or acquire, in interstate or foreign commerce, live tigers and other large cats, including any hybrid combination of any of listed large cats, unless certain conditions are met. Exemptions under the CWSA include: individuals licensed or registered by APHIS, state colleges, universities, or agencies; state-licensed rehabilitators or veterinarians; and accredited wildlife sanctuaries.24 So how effective are these laws? USFWS stringent permitting process is widely considered a reasonably effective deterrent to uncontrolled trafficking. Despite criticism from 19

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE Large Wild and Exotic Cats Make Dangerous Pets No. 1560 (2000). 20 Id. 21 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371-3378 (2000). 22 Id. 23 Id. 24 Id.


52

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

conservationists that the ESA is not strong enough, and opponents that it is too strong, the ESA and The Lacey Act have dramatically reduced the importation of tigers into the U.S. From the perspective of tiger conservation, it is difficult to import or export live tigers, even for zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The effectiveness of APHIS to enforce the AWA is much less obvious. The core mission of APHIS is to protect the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources. While APHIS is charged with determining standards of humane care and treatment of animals, its role in enforcing animal welfare laws is more recent. Inspecting and permitting commercial exhibitors is a small component of its overall mission. In addition, exotic pet owners can become “exhibitors” under the AWA and receive a license which allows them to circumvent state laws that prohibit private possession of large cats. Supporters of the CWSA hoped the law would help to reduce the number of large cats in private ownership. It has made transporting tigers and other large cats from one state to another more difficult, but individuals wanting to own pets can still circumvent these restrictions by obtaining an APHIS exhibitor’s license.

State Laws and Regulations State regulations of tigers and other large cats are typically categorized as bans, licensing and permitting systems, or more general certification requirements. As of 2009, for tigers specifically, 32 states have bans, 12 have license or permit requirements, 6 have general regulations, and 2 have no form of regulation.25 The most stringent form of oversight is a complete ban on the private ownership of tigers. Statute wording, which tends to be similar among states with bans, is exemplified by the Iowa statute that states “…a person shall not own or possess a dangerous wild animal, cause or allow a dangerous wild animal owned by a person or in the person’s possession to breed, or 25

See Figure 1.


The Status and Evolution of Laws and Polices Regulating Privately Owned Tigers in the United States 53

transport a dangerous wild animal to breed…”26 In general, most states include exemptions for tigers that were legally possessed prior to enacting a ban. For example, Arkansas’s 2005 ban states that “A person may possess a large carnivore only if: (1)The person was in possession of the large carnivore…on or before August 12, 2005; and (2) The person applies for and is granted a permit for personal possession.”27 Other common exemptions include AZA-accredited zoos, circuses, veterinarians, and wildlife refuges. Some states have adopted a “partial ban” on the private possession of wild animals. Such states may ban tigers but not other dangerous animals, or vice versa. In Illinois, for example, a ban on “dangerous animals” does not include any non-human primates,28 while Nevada bans private possession of wildlife including coyotes and foxes, but specifically allows tigers and wolves, among others, without permits.29 Twelve states allow private ownership of tigers but require state permits. In Texas “a person may not own, harbor, or have custody or control of a dangerous wild animal for any purpose unless the person holds a certificate of registration for that animal…”30 Maine requires a permit “to take alive, possess or import any native or exotic wildlife for the following purposes…: Wildlife Exhibit, including any commercial display of wildlife; General Wildlife Possession, including propagation or personal use of wildlife; Wildlife Rehabilitation; Wildlife Importation…and Scientific Collection.”31 Lastly, some states have only general requirements regulating tigers. Ohio requires a certificate of veterinary inspection for all non-domestic animals prior to their entry into the state.32 Other examples of basic regulations include cage

26

IOWA ADMIN. CODE R. 21-77 (2008).

ARK. CODE ANN. § 20-19-504(B)(2)) (2008). 720 ILL. COMP. STAT. 585/0.1 et seq. (2008). 29 NEV. ADMIN. CODE §§ 503.110, 503.140 (2008). 30 TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN. §§ 822.103 et seq. (2007). 31 09-137-007 CODE ME. R. (2008). 32 OHIO ADMIN CODE §§ 901: 1-17-12, 1501:31-23-01 (2008). 27 28


54

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

requirements33 or mandated insurance coverage to protect against liability. We noted three broad patterns when looking at the evolution of state laws regulating tigers specifically: (1) over time, the number of states passing laws has increased, (2) laws tend to evolve from the general to the specific, and (3) more recent laws tend to be more restrictive. Many of the laws we reviewed also address other large cats and exotic animals. The first captive wildlife regulations were passed in the 1930s. The number of states passing laws banning, permitting, or regulating tigers increased from 1970-1980, with 25 states adopting a regulation or more stringent statute by 1985.34 Over the past 20 years, 23 more states passed various forms of regulations. As of July 2009, only Wisconsin and West Virginia had not yet adopted laws regarding privately owned tigers. The earliest state laws used to regulate private ownership of large, dangerous animals tended to be broad in scope, addressing wildlife in general. New Hampshire’s regulatory history reflects this trend. In 1935, this state passed a statute stating that “no person shall import, possess, sell, exhibit, or release any live marine species or wildlife… without first obtaining a permit from the executive director.”35 Recent legislation tends to target specific species (Panthera tigris) or groups (“exotic pets”) rather than “wildlife” or “animals.” The most recent ban passed in Oregon, that becomes effective Jan 1, 2010, is intended “to protect the public against health and safety risks that exotic animals pose to the community,” where “exotic animal” includes “any member of the family Felidae not indigenous to Oregon, except the species Felis catus.”36 The targeted language in this statute is rare in previous legislation. Over time, various state statutes also show a tendency to become increasingly stringent. In 1992, for the first time, New Hampshire specifically listed tigers as a “wildlife” species for

See MICH. COMP. LAWS §287.731 (2008). See Figure 1. 35 N.H. REV. STAT. ANN. § 207:14 (2008). 36 See S.B. 391, 75TH LEG. REG. SESS. (OR. 2009); OR. REV. STAT. §609.305, 609.319 (2007). 33 34


The Status and Evolution of Laws and Polices Regulating Privately Owned Tigers in the United States 55

which a permit would not be issued.37 Four other states have also increased their restrictions from a permit to a ban. Idaho and Montana have adopted permitting systems replacing more permissive regulations.

County and Municipal Laws and Ordinances A substantial number of counties and municipalities also developed their own system for regulating the private possession of exotic or wild animals. We identified at least 226 counties and 85 municipalities that passed some form of regulations (described as “uncategorized” because we do not yet have enough information to classify all of these as bans, permits, or general regulations).38 Of these, North Carolina and Texas have the largest number of counties and cities with regulations pertaining to tigers. Both states have specific statutes giving local governments the authority to regulate exotic animals. In Houston, Texas, for example, it is unlawful to possess a wild animal within the city except if under treatment by a licensed veterinarian, held in an AZA-accredited zoo or humane society, used for medical research, or being transported through the city. The Houston Code of Ordinances specifically lists tigers in its definition of wild animals, and also includes all animals listed as an “endangered species” under the ESA.

Stakeholders A large number of stakeholders have an interest in private ownership of tigers and other large cats. Prominent opponents include animal welfare organizations like the Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA, and the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society. A consortium of more than 20 animal protection organizations formed the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition expressly to reduce the availability, volume, and presence of dangerous animals as pets. Some sanctuary 37 38

N.H. CODE ADMIN. R. ANN. FIS 804.04 (2008). See Figure 2.


56

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

owners also take a strong stand in support of restrictive legislation at the state and federal level.39 Notable among these are Tippi Hedren, President of the Roar Foundation and Shambala Preserve, and Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, who share similar missions to educate the public about the dangers of private ownership of exotic animals. A range of professional organizations and agencies also have stated their opposition to individuals owning tigers and other large and dangerous animals. These include AZA, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among the most prominent advocates of private ownership include individual owners and associations of private owners, such as the Feline Conservation Federation. The issue appears to have little support outside this community of animal owners. In addition to claims of furthering education and conservation, the arguments used by these groups tend to be similar to those supporting less government involvement, constitutional rights, and private property advocacy.

What Drives Regulations of Tigers and Large Cats? The increase in federal, state, and local laws and ordinances regulating private ownership of exotic species is driven by multiple factors related to animal welfare, public health and safety,40 zoning and nuisance, ecological issues, awareness, and growth of special interest groups. One of the most important drivers has been concern over animal welfare. Organizations like the Humane Society of the United States are prominent advocates of state and federal initiatives that restrict private ownership of exotic species. Many exotic species have specific needs, and tigers in particular require significant veterinary care, considerable amounts of food, and in the interest of both human and animal safety, should have special 39

TAMMY QUIST, History and Function of US Sanctuaries TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS, AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS, (Philip J. Nyhus & Ronald Tilson eds., 2d ed. forthcoming 2010). 40 See MATTHEW G. LIEBMAN, Detailed Discussion of Exotic Pet Laws, (Michigan State University College of Law 2004), available at http://www.animallaw.info/articles/ddusexoticpets.htm.


The Status and Evolution of Laws and Polices Regulating Privately Owned Tigers in the United States 57

housing.41 To raise awareness about the problem of private pet ownership, organizations and campaigns use pictures of distressed tigers and other animals in cages. A brochure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), for example, has the heading, “Tigers: America’s Latest Homeless ‘Pet’” with a photograph of a dead and skinned tiger. Public safety and health typically are prominent drivers of legislation restricting private ownership of exotic species. For some taxa, like monkeys, transmission of zoonotic diseases is a concern. For large, dangerous animals, protecting trainers, keepers, and visitors from bites and scratches is the largest concern. This is especially the case for tigers, which require substantial safety protocols to protect people from serious injury and death. We documented 17 deaths and 109 injuries to individuals by tigers in the U.S. between 1996 and 2008.42 The actual number of unreported injuries may be far higher because these only represent those published in searchable news sources. Half of all deaths from tigers occurred in Florida and Texas. It is difficult to monitor every injury, but of those serious enough to warrant mention in newspaper articles, 58% came from Florida, Texas, Minnesota, and California. More deaths occurred in states that had a ban (largely due to Florida, which accounted for five or about one-third of deaths), which simply confirms the limitations of many “bans.” More injuries also occurred in states with bans. Ironically, the fewest deaths occurred in states with no legislation.43 There are several possible explanations for this trend. An individual in Florida who has or wants to own a tiger can apply to be an “exhibitor,” a tactic that is also used to circumvent federal laws, and thus the “ban” is not absolute. Another explanation for these patterns may be that attacks by tigers may have triggered relatively strict legislation, but existing private owners that are grandfathered may have animals which continue to result in attacks, as occurred in the examples in Minnesota below. 41

RONALD L. TILSON & ULYSSES S. SEAL, TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE BIOLOGY, BIOPOLITICS, MANAGEMENT, AND CONSERVATION OF AN ENDANGERED SPECIES, (Noyes Publications 1987). 42 See Nyhus & Tilson, supra note 2. 43 See Figure 3.


58

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

The three states with the most attacks have adopted different laws to address private ownership of large cats. In Florida, it is unlawful to possess a tiger (considered a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Class Iâ&#x20AC;? category of wildlife) unless the animal was in possession for personal use on August 1, 1980, or unless the entity is permitted to own a tiger. Owners can apply to be exhibitors. In Texas, a person may not own a tiger unless they hold a certificate of registration issued by a municipal or county animal registration agency. Minnesota only recently passed legislation in 2004 that prohibits private ownership of virtually all large cats, but grandfathered four existing facilities. At one facility, BEARCAT Hollow, a federal grand jury handed down a 55-count indictment against the owners and seven out-of-state individuals, alleging illegal trafficking in wild and exotic animals. The owners were convicted and sentenced to prison and the facility was closed. Another unlicensed facility in western Minnesota was closed and authorities removed nine tigers after a lion escaped. Subsequently, at a third facility a keeper was killed by a tiger. The tiger was shot and killed and the facility was shut down. A number of regulations, particularly local ordinances, address zoning and nuisance issues. Reasons for these ordinances vary, but have included a wide range of complaints, such as safety, incompatible land use, (commercial areas versus residential) noise, odor, and other factors. Finally, there are legitimate scientific concerns about the genetic origin of privately owned tigers44 and their lack of conservation value.45 For many exotic species, the risk of release into the wild is a major factor driving legislation that limits ownership. This is true for species like Burmese pythons, increasingly common in the Everglades of Florida, but not a problem for species like tigers that are not likely to establish feral populations in the U.S.

Conclusion

44 TARA R. HARRIS ET AL., Reconsidering the Value of Privately Owned Tigers for Conservation Management Programs, ZOO BIOLOGY (in review). 45 NYHUS, supra note 5.


The Status and Evolution of Laws and Polices Regulating Privately Owned Tigers in the United States 59

Federal, state, and local governments have attempted to restrict ownership of tigers and other large cats, but the existing and often complex jumble of laws and ordinances have had mixed success in regulating effectively every private owner of tigers and other large cats. Notable among the remaining challenges is the issue of enforcement. At the federal level, APHIS does not have sufficient staff or resources to monitor effectively private owners of exotic species like tigers. The primary mission of APHIS is focused on agriculture, and adding funding for additional inspectors and resources to address private ownership of tigers and large cats is unlikely to become a priority. Compounding this issue, APHIS only enforces what it terms “minimum standards” that are poorly defined, open to conflicting interpretations of compliance, and are generally regarded by accredited AZA member institutions, accredited sanctuaries,46 and responsible members within the private sector as insufficient, if not unacceptable. Few, if any, state or local governments have the funds or staff to monitor adequately commercial exhibitors of exotic species. A recent report by the Humane Society of the United States47 describes Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oklahoma as the “worst in the nation” regarding policies on keeping dangerous wild animals as pets. Even when apparently strict legislation is in place, significant loopholes remain that enable individuals to continue to own large cats. Some sanctuaries or wildlife rehabilitators may claim their operations are in line with guidelines and regulations when in fact they are not in compliance. This is possible because there is uncertainty in how individuals and organizations are defined which makes it difficult to differentiate between credible sanctuaries—those that do not breed, buy, sell, trade or use animals commercially—and “pseudo-sanctuaries”—those that exploit and abuse animals for

46

QUIST, supra note 39. See The Humane Society of the United States Names Five Worst States for Exotic Pets, (March 18, 2009), available at http://www.hsus.org/press_and_publications/press_releases/worst_exotic_pet_st ates_031809.html. 47


60

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

profit.48 It also is possible to obtain a permit to exhibit commercially but essentially to function as a private owner. The diversity of regulations among and even within states has led to renewed calls for Congress to develop more coherent legislation to restrict interstate transport of tigers and large cats to make private ownership more accountable. These initiatives are also framed by the growing awareness within the international tiger conservation community that efforts to condemn the thousands of tigers in “tiger farms” in the People’s Republic of China are constrained when a similar number of tigers exist here in the U.S. One concern is that the U.S domestic tiger population ultimately could be used to fuel the trade in tiger bone for traditional Asian medicines.49 Several approaches could be used to make private owners more accountable. Under the AWA, Congress could make the procedure to obtain licenses or permits from APHIS more restrictive and expensive. APHIS could decide to issue licenses and permits only in ratio to the number of their inspectors and limits of their budget. They also could decide to revoke the licenses of facilities with repeated violations. To accomplish this, APHIS and FWS, in conjunction with state and local governments, would need to develop a national system for tracking and monitoring the number and ownership of tigers and other large cats.50 A formidable undertaking that illegal traffickers would try to avoid. At present, there is no reliable comprehensive database of large cats in private ownership. Without knowing how many tigers and other felids are in the U.S., it is difficult to monitor compliance and to adjust policies designed to regulate large cat owners. What is clear from this review is that we have a multitude of laws, regulations, and ordinances in place, but no coherent federal policy to eliminate irresponsible ownership of large cats. At the federal level the ESA appears to have effectively eliminated the unpermitted importation and exportation of tigers into and out of 48

QUIST, supra note 39. DOUGLAS F. WILLIAMSON & LEIGH A. HENRY, PAPER TIGERS?: THE ROLE OF THE U.S. CAPTIVE TIGER POPULATION IN THE TRADE IN TIGER PARTS (TRAFFIC North America, World Wildlife Fund 2008). 50 Id. 49


The Status and Evolution of Laws and Polices Regulating Privately Owned Tigers in the United States 61

the U.S., but at the state level, individuals who desire to own tigers and other large cats have found clever ways to circumvent APHISâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; minimal standards and many state and local regulations. Other owners just acquire young tigers from other states, often paying for them with cash, and expect to remain unnoticed in rural locations. Too often this strategy works. Irresponsible private ownership of tigers or other large cats will not end until loopholes are closed, exemptions within statutes are redefined, the laws are enforced consistently, violators are prosecuted, and the public is educated. There is a need to halt the ever-increasing number of tigers and other large, dangerous felids in the private sector, but also to recognize the cost in time, staff, and funds that would be necessary to further monitor compliance and to target a class of tiger owners who may care little about existing laws in the first place. We conclude that one solution is to prohibit the â&#x20AC;&#x153;breedingâ&#x20AC;? of large cats except by permitted captive breeding programs. Legitimate sanctuaries already embrace this concept51 as does the AZA. In 2009, the AZA Board of Directors updated its definition of full participation in Species Survival Plans (SSP). This led to the initiation of a process that aims to reduce, over time, the number of generic tigers (currently, 141) held in AZA Institutional and Related Member facilities by adopting the policy that AZA-accredited institutions should not breed, acquire, or transfer generic tigers unless otherwise approved. In the short term, this will curtail the breeding of generic tigers, especially abnormal color morphs, and thus provide more space for SSPmanaged individuals in AZA-accredited zoos. The ultimate challenge is not how to prohibit private ownership of large cats completely, but how to restrict private ownership to responsible owners who provide humane care of their animals, do not breed and traffic in their offspring, support meaningful education and in situ and ex situ tiger conservation programs, and willingly comply with existing laws and regulations. If such restrictions can be put into place, the privately held population of generic tigers can only decrease.

51

QUIST, supra note 39.


62

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

FIGURE 1. Growth in number of states that have enacted laws that ban, require licenses or permits, or regulate tigers in the U.S. The gray line represents the number of states with no regulation.


The Status and Evolution of Laws and Polices Regulating Privately Owned Tigers in the United States 63

FIGURE 2. Distribution of states that have enacted laws that ban, require licenses or permits, or otherwise regulate tigers in the US. Original data from Born Free USA United with the Animal Protection Institute52 and further updated and modified to represent legislation pertaining to tigers in July 2009.

52 See BORN FREE USA, Summary of State Laws Relating to Private Possession of Exotic Animals, (2009) http://www.bornfreeusa.org/b4a2_exotic_animals_summary.php.


64

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

FIGURE 3. Comparison of number of people killed and injured by tigers between 1996 and 2008 in the U.S. by states that have enacted bans, require licenses or permits, regulations, or have no legislation. Incidents were tallied based on the date of the attack and the status of laws at that time, not the current status of laws in that state. Original tiger attack data published and updated July 2009.53

53

NYHUS, supra note 5.


Paper Tigers?

65

PAPER TIGERS? Leigh A. Henry Wildlife Policy Officer, Species Conservation & TRAFFIC North America, World Wildlife Fund, Washington, DC

Synopsis One of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest populations of Tigers exists not in the wild in Asia, but in captivity in the United States. With an estimated 5,000 Tigers, the U.S. captive Tiger population is on par with the captive Tiger population of China (~5000) and far exceeds the 2,500 breeding individuals believed to exist in the wild today. Approximately six percent of the U.S. captive Tiger population resides in zoos and other facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The rest are found in other private hands, some regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), some under state regulation, and some under virtually no regulation at all. The status and management of the U.S. captive Tiger population and its implications for conservation of remaining wild Tiger populations are the subject of Paper Tigers?: The Role of the U.S. Captive Tiger Population in the Trade in Tiger Parts,1 a TRAFFIC report that sought to answer two central questions: Are Tigers or Tiger parts from the U.S. captive population entering the international Tiger trade? And what implications might trade in this Tiger population have on conservation of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s remaining wild Tigers? Despite decades of conservation efforts, the future survival prospects for Tigers remaining in the wild are uncertain. Although wild populations are stabilizing in parts of their range, many have been decimated, and enforcement measures targeting 1

DOUGLAS F. WILLIAMSON & LEIGH A. HENRY, PAPER TIGERS?: THE ROLE OF THE U.S. CAPTIVE TIGER POPULATION IN THE TRADE IN TIGER PARTS (TRAFFIC

North America, World Wildlife Fund 2008), available at http://www.traffic.org.


66

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

illegal trade continue to be insufficient. One of the most significant threats facing Tigers today stems from demand for their parts in traditional Asian medicines. Most of the world’s attention and attempts to resolve the Tiger conservation crisis have focused on Asia—particularly on key Tiger range and consumer states—but it is clear that a global effort is required to conserve this species in the long-term. The role of nations such as the United States that have significant captive Tiger populations may be a key piece of the puzzle. Paper Tigers reviews the status of wild Tigers and the trade threats facing them, analyzes the laws and regulations governing captive Tigers in the United States, assesses the status of this population, evaluates the role of the United States in domestic and international Tiger trade, and finally, discusses the overall implications for conservation of Tigers in the wild. In general, the report finds that the U.S. captive Tiger population does not at present play a significant role in the domestic or international trade in Tiger bone or other parts. However, the report does find significant flaws in the United States’ management of its captive Tiger population. Left unaddressed, continuing lax management of the U.S. Tiger population could have global trade implications. The concern is that without closer regulation, this large population of Tigers could become a “drip feed” of supply should demand for Tiger parts continue or even increase, thereby further threatening wild Tiger populations, as their parts are always preferred in traditional medicines and as it is cheaper to poach a wild Tiger than to raise one in captivity. Any such activity could help to perpetuate a market for Tiger products that many governments, traditional medicine practitioners, conservation organizations and others have worked decades to suppress. The U.S. must do its part to ensure that its captive Tiger population does not play a role in the endangerment of the world’s remaining wild Tiger populations. The conclusions and recommendations of Paper Tigers are summarized below.


Paper Tigers?

67

Conclusions ◊

Despite some progress in conservation efforts, the number of Tigers remaining in the wild has continued to dwindle in recent years, from an estimated 5,000-7,000 in the late 1990s to as few as 2,500 mature breeding adults today. Expanding human population, habitat loss and degradation, and depletion of the prey base all pose ongoing threats to the survival of wild Tigers in Asia. Especially dire, however, is the threat posed by commercial poaching and trade for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), clothing, and ornamentation.

All Tiger subspecies are listed in Appendix I of CITES; commercial international trade in Tigers or their parts or derivatives is prohibited. Enforcement of CITES, however, is the responsibility of member Parties, and the record of compliance remains uneven in Tiger range states.

Markets continue to exist in Asia and elsewhere for a variety of Tiger products. While most genuine Tiger products likely come from the poaching of wild cats at present, TRAFFIC and others are concerned about the potential impact of China’s proposal to re-open a domestic market for Tiger derivatives from commercial farms. With the emergence of these farms, it is believed that China now claims the world’s largest captive Tiger population. Re-opening of any legal trade in Tiger parts carries potential implications not only for wild Tigers. but also for captive Tigers held in other countries.

With a rough estimate of some 5,000 Tigers in captivity, the United States now likely ranks second behind China as the country with the single largest Tiger population. Although the United States has no commercial Tiger farms, all of these cats are held in captivity. Unfortunately, U.S. laws and regulations governing the keeping of these Tigers are currently inadequate to foreclose the possibility that parts or derivatives from these animals could enter illegal trade.


68

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

The United States has a strong legal framework at the federal level governing international trade in Tigers or their parts through the Endangered Species Act, the Lacey Act, and the Criminal Code. The Rhino and Tiger Conservation Act, as amended in 1998, further prohibits any domestic sale of Tiger parts, as well as the sale of any products labeled or advertised to contain Tiger parts.

Through the Animal Welfare Act, the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) registration and permit system for captive-bred wildlife, the United States also has a federal legal framework governing the interstate movement of captive Tigers, rules for the sale, trade, or exhibition of live Tigers, and conditions for their confinement.

All of these laws and regulations, however, have exceptions or exemptions that mean, in practical terms, that the majority of private owners of Tigers in the United States need to simply keep records of Tigers held. While such records must be made available upon request or inspection, federal agencies charged with implementing these laws and regulations do not have a mandate to maintain a current inventory of how many Tigers may be in the country, where they are, who possesses them, when they die, or how they a are disposed of.

At the state level, laws and regulations governing the keeping of Tigers in private possession vary widely. As of 2007, 26 states have laws banning the possession of Tigers in private collections, 16 states allow for the keeping of Tigers by individuals but require a state permit or registration, and nine states have no laws on the subject. Furthermore, requirements that owners of captive Tigers register or report their cats to state authorities are inconsistent.


Paper Tigers?

69

Given that the vast majority of U.S. captive Tigers reside in private hands, and that many of these cats reside in states that do not have laws or regulations requiring close monitoring or scrutiny, it proved impossible to account comprehensively for all captive Tigers in the country. Furthermore, there is no comprehensive legislative or regulatory system in existence at the federal or state level to document how many Tigers are being bred or born each year, how many may die (naturally or otherwise), or what happens to Tigers or their parts when the animals do perish.

Thus there exists a potential supply of Tiger parts being generated within the United States that could reach illegal markets. To date, there is no evidence that parts from such Tigers are entering illegal international trade. Available evidence further suggests that the U.S. domestic market for Tiger parts is being fed from Asia—and China in particular—and consists mostly of medicinal products, be they real or fake.

There have been cases of U.S. Tigers in illegal domestic trade, but these have been fairly rare and involved primarily parts such as skins and meat rather than Tiger bone for medicinal purposes.

There also are records of ongoing legal imports and exports of Tigers into and out of the United States. The vast majority of such trade involves live captive-bred U.S. Tigers leaving and subsequently re-entering the country for exhibition (circus, etc.), entertainment, zoological, educational, or breeding purposes.

USFWS data show an ongoing problem with the attempted smuggling of medicinal products (or purported products) derived from Tiger bone into the United States, so there clearly remains a market for illicit Tiger products.

However, state laws and regulations governing U.S. captive Tigers focus on the dangerous nature of live animals and


70

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

their humane treatment, rather than their potential as a source of parts for trade. Therefore, not enough attention is being paid to this latter issue at the state level. ◊

Furthermore, TRAFFIC’s research for this project indicates that there are potentially hundreds of mature unwanted Tigers in private possession or captive U.S. facilities in any given year.

Should demand for Tiger parts rise to a level where the U.S. Captive Tiger population becomes a serious target for individuals involved in the parts trade, the potential implications for conservation of remaining wild Tiger populations could be grave. Preventing such an outcome needs to be raised as a priority, including the following steps.

Recommendations TRAFFIC recommends that the United States take steps on the legal, regulatory, oversight, educational, and law enforcement fronts to better track the U.S. captive Tiger population and ensure that these animals or their parts cannot enter illegal trade. At the federal level « Exceptions to laws that exempt certain categories of captive U.S. Tigers from regulation need to be rescinded. USFWS should issue new regulations removing the exemption for “generic” or inter-subspecific crossed Tigers under the agency’s Captive-Bred Wildlife (CBW) Registration system. Most Tigers in the United States are generic and thus exempt from the CBW registration system. Rescinding the exemption would require that many more persons and facilities holding captive Tigers would have to report annually their year-end inventory of Tigers and activities conducted with the cats, thereby exponentially adding to current knowledge of the U.S. captive Tiger population.


Paper Tigers?

71

«

USDA, through the APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) Animal Care program, also should require that all persons or facilities holding USDA licenses for exhibition or breeding/dealing in Tigers report annually on the number of Tigers held, births, mortality, and transfer or sale. This information should be kept in a distinct database, made available for public review. At the state level » All U.S. states that allow private citizens to keep Tigers must enact laws or regulations that require a comprehensive accounting of the number and location of all captive Tigers in their jurisdictions. Record-keeping at a minimum should include information on the number of Tigers, their locations, owners, births, and deaths. State laws should also clearly ban any breeding of Tigers in facilities that are not USDAlicensed and registered under the USFWS CBW system.

»

Such record-keeping must account not only for live Tigers, but also for the disposal of Tigers and their parts when they die. Agencies tasked with regulating U.S Tigers (federal or state) should require that all Tiger deaths be immediately reported, with a further requirement that the carcasses be disposed of through prompt cremation by a licensed facility, with documentation of the incineration provided to the regulatory body. This would help ensure that the Tigers’ parts do not disappear into illicit trade. » State and/or federal agencies tasked with regulating Tigers should further require that: • All Tigers in the United States be implanted with microchips containing information on the animal’s license or permit number, age, sex, and other identifying information. • A hair sample also needs to be provided from every Tiger as a reference should DNA analysis need to be performed.


72

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

• Furthermore, because each Tiger has unique markings, Tiger owners should be required to provide a digital picture every year or two to confirm each Tiger’s identity visually. Regulatory authorities should maintain these photos and DNA reference samples securely until a Tiger’s death and confirmed disposal. This will deter misuse of microchips and laundering of parts. • Any Tigers found without such proof of legality would be confiscated, with the owners facing criminal prosecution. When a Tiger dies, the owner should be required to notify regulatory authorities, who would collect the chips upon receiving proof that the animal and its parts had been properly and permanently disposed of.

»

States should require that all facilities operating as Tiger “sanctuaries” or “refuges” adhere to strict criteria such as bans on breeding, sale, or trade in the animals. Every state at a minimum should adopt the USFWS 2007 definition of what constitutes an accredited sanctuary, as some of the most prominent U.S. cases of illegal Tiger trade in recent years originated from facilities calling themselves sanctuaries.

» States should consider adopting laws or regulations that establish a system of “reciprocity”. Under such a system, states would enact rules that require that any Tigers imported into their jurisdictions be micro-chipped and registered as suggested above; Tigers outside of the system would not be allowed. On the private and educational fronts ^ As an immediate interim measure, private stakeholders in Tiger conservation such as zoos, sanctuaries, circuses, and others could establish a voluntary system to inventory, regulate, and accredit holders of captive Tigers according to the principals outlined above. Legal or regulatory changes at the federal or state levels may take time; responsible private


Paper Tigers?

73

entities may be able to act more quickly.

^ NGOs could further assist in this effort by offering to help fund and/or manage a U.S. Tiger database that keeps track of U.S. captive Tigers more broadly. Records in such a database could include each animalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s license or permit number, microchip identification code, age, sex, owner, and location. ^

U.S. federal and state government agencies, as well as NGOs and others interested in Tiger conservation, should continue and enhance public awareness programs to further reduce the demand and use of Tiger parts in traditional Asian medicines both in the United States and abroad. Previous initiatives have shown that concerted efforts to reach out to the TCM community have been effective in reducing their use of endangered wildlife. Final points ÂĄ State and federal law enforcement should be provided more resources to conduct surveys and undercover operations of TCM shops in the United States. These agencies have the ability to confiscate products and prosecute offenders, thereby supplementing public awareness initiatives with real enforcement action. ÂĄ Funding for the USFWS wildlife inspection program and related activities by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) needs to increase. Additional funding is also needed to enhance special operations and undercover investigations in the United States to identify and eliminate potential markets for Tiger parts here and abroad. The fact that USFWS and CBP inspectors have in recent years continued to detect and seize illegal imports of products, primarily medicinals, purported to contain Tiger bone shows that there remains some level of demand for these products in the United States, and U.S. law enforcement will need to be increasingly vigilant to keep the United States out of the trade as either a consumer or a source for Tiger parts.


74

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I


Hand Raised Clouded Leopards Being Returned to the Wild in India

75

OF NOTE: HAND RAISED CLOUDED LEOPARDS BEING RETURNED TO THE WILD IN INDIA Sheren Shrestha Wildlife Trust of India

Even as conservationists celebrate the rare sighting of a clouded leopard, thought to have gone locally extinct, in Bangladesh, in July of this year, two hand raised cubs are in the midst of a novel rehabilitation attempt in the northeast Indian state of Assan. The two cubs were found by locals in Kokrajhar of Bodoland in Assam around March 2009, and were handed over to the forest Department for care and nursing. Less than a month old then, the cubs were admitted to the Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS) field station in Kokrajhar, run by Bodoland Territorial Council—International Fund for Animal Welfare—Wildlife Trust of India. The cubs were tended to by the resident veterinarians and animal keepers at the MVS field station. Initially, the cubs were bottle fed. The diet was changed as the cubs matured, and by July, they were being provided meat along with nutritional supplements. As the cubs grew, their inherent wild instincts became evident. The cubs attempted hunting and became increasingly nocturnal, resembling their natural behavior. The cubs were ready for the next phase of their rehabilitation attempt— acclimatization and eventual release into the wild. The release site selection followed evaluation of a number of relevant factors such as prey availability, level of human disturbance, vegetation, and connectivity with other forests, in


76

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

several prospective sites. Eventually, the Sanfan range under Kachugaon Forest Division was selected as the most suitable site to release these cubs. The cubs were screened for communicable diseases to prevent transmission into the wild and were put through general health examination. On September 24, the two cubs were transferred to the forest rehabilitation site, with the help of the Eco-Task Force of the Indian Army. A spacious enclosure, on a raised platform, was set up at the release site to house the cubs during their acclimatization. With an animal keeper at their guard around-the-clock, the cubs, about seven months old, are taken for daily walks into the forest to help them understand their natural environment and help them learn necessary survival skills. The cubs will be released only after the rehabilitators are confident of their independent survival in the wild. With only about 10,000 individuals estimated to survive in the wild, the clouded leopard, Neofelis nebulosa, is one of the rarest wild cats found today. The species is classified as â&#x20AC;&#x153;vulnerableâ&#x20AC;? by the IUCN and is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, according it the highest level of protection. In India, this intermediate sized cat is found largely in the semi-evergreen and rain forests in the northeastern states. Clouded leopards are pursued for their skin, bones used in medicines, pet trade, as well as meat. They also are threatened due to rapid destruction of their habitat across their distribution range.


The Role of Animal Sanctuaries

77

COMMENTARY: THE ROLE OF ANIMAL SANCTUARIES Carole Baskin Chief Executive Officer, Big Cat Rescue, Tampa, FL

The role of animal sanctuaries is to provide a permanent home where the animals are not exploited, used in ways contrary to their nature, taken out of their environment for shows, bred for life in captivity, or used for photo or pay to play schemes. In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), defined sanctuaries in the Captive Wildlife Safety Act (CWSA): The CWSA specifically states that an accredited sanctuary must be tax-exempt, it must not commercially trade in the prohibited wildlife species, and it must not breed the prohibited wildlife species. Our definition of “propagate” clearly addresses that restriction. Our monitoring of these sanctuaries is accomplished through the requirement that accredited wildlife sanctuaries must maintain complete and accurate records of any possession, transportation, acquisition, disposition, importation, or exportation of the prohibited wildlife species, and that these records must be accessible to USFWS officials for inspection upon request during reasonable hours. We considered options for developing some type of formal accreditation mechanism for wildlife sanctuaries, but concluded for a number of reasons that such a step was not practical. The CWSA itself sets specific criteria that must be met for a sanctuary to qualify as “accredited.” We have decided that if a sanctuary meets these four criteria, it will qualify as accredited and be exempt from CWSA prohibitions. Other


78

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

sanctuaries that do not meet these criteria will continue to be able to possess big cats but will not be able to import, export or transport them in interstate or foreign commerce. In the proposed rule (71 FR 5041, January 31, 2006), we stated that placing male and female big cats in the same cage for any period of time may result in breeding and is considered propagation, however, we recognize that sterilization will prevent propagation and that proof of that sterilization should assist a sanctuary in qualifying as “accredited.” We will only consider a wildlife sanctuary exempt from the prohibitions of the CWSA if it meets the four criteria for accredited wildlife sanctuaries provided in the CWSA. Accredited wildlife sanctuary means a facility that cares for live specimens of one or more of the prohibited wildlife species and 1. is approved by the United States Internal Revenue Service as a corporation that is exempt from taxation under § 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, which is described in §§ 501(c)(3) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of that code; 2. does not commercially trade in prohibited wildlife species, including offspring, parts, and products; 3. does not propagate any of the prohibited wildlife species; and 4. does not allow any direct contact between the public and the prohibited wildlife species. We are requiring accredited wildlife sanctuaries to maintain complete and accurate records of any possession, transportation, sale, acquisition, purchase, barter, disposition, importation, or exportation of the prohibited wildlife species. The ultimate goal of sanctuaries is to end the need for their existence by advocating for more compassionate attitudes toward animals and for more protective laws that would end the root causes of so much abuse, exploitation, and abandonment of wild animals used as props, pets, and parts.


Impressions & Prose

79

IMPRESSIONS & PROSE Eric Ash, Photographer† Ontario, Canada

I was in a jeep in Corbett National Park, India and I spotted some pugmarks in the dirt as we were driving by. I had the driver stop and back up to get a closer look. They were from a female and were fairly recent. The driver got out of the jeep to examine them more closely. Now...there has been a photo I've wanted to create for some time, but have not had a good opportunity; being in tiger country afforded me a couple chances to capture this image from my dreams, but park rules state that tourists aren't allowed to exit the vehicles which was crucial if I was to get the photo. I motioned to the driver that I wanted to get out of the jeep, and he didn't seem to care. I jumped out of the jeep with camera in hand and my heart was racing (a combination of excitement and nervousness as there could have been a tiger close by). I ran up to the pugmark and did something that would leave the driver momentarily confused - I removed my shoe and my sock from my left foot. I judged the best place to make my move and then stepped firmly into the dirt beside the pugmark. I lifted my foot and beamed at the result. There it was—our footprints in the dirt side-by-side illuminated by a beam of morning sunlight which had found its way past the mountains and trees, sticks and leaves. It was an †

Mr. Ash is an Environment and Resource Studies major at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. He is an avid volunteer, providing services for WWFCanada, WWF-Sumatra, the International Tiger Coalition, Jungle Cat World Zoo, WildAid, and Trent University’s Environmental Advisory Board. To see additional work by Mr. Ash, please visit: http://www.savingthetiger.com and http://www.hewhowalkswithtigers.DeviantArt.com. Email: hewhowalkswithtigers@gmail.com.


80

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

image that made my heart singâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;I finally had an image that could speak to my relationship with tigers and the natural world.


Impressions & Prose

81

Years ago, I chose my email "HeWhoWalksWithTigers" based on the idea that the fate of the tiger and of myself are inextricably linked, just as all things in the natural world are linked in deep, interdependent relationships. It has become a metaphor to describe the path in life I chose to take, and in this image, it has taken physical form in a simple, but meaningful symbol...one I've wanted to depict for a long time. There is also a greater context I wanted to communicate. Without the tiger, in ancient cultures considered the guardian of the forest, the forest system begins to break down. The presence of tigers has been linked to the preservation of bamboo, fuel wood, timber, honey, medicine and other products that directly or indirectly help thousands of people earn a living. This is in addition to ecological services such as protection of topsoil and the retention of groundwater. If we cannot save the tiger, how can we save ourselves? We breathe the same air and drink the same water—all the efforts we have made to distinguish ourselves from creatures like tigers have betrayed this fundamental truth: humans and wildlife all walk the same path, rely on the same natural world, on the same earth. Our fates are shared. The photograph is not going to win any sort of awards for photography, but it is deeply meaningful to me. I was extremely lucky too...this was the last pugmark I saw in India. It is the best souvenir I could get. I don't think I'll ever be able to take a photo quite like this one. I will probably never know the tigress that left this pugmark, but I hold hope she is still out there surviving. I may not be in Corbett right now, but I walk with her...her and all tigers, leaving pugmarks in the sands of time. Eric Ash

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈


82

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

Weapon of Mass Destruction


Impressions & Prose

83

Eyes of the Forest


84

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

Fire and Ice


Impressions & Prose

85

Long Live the King


86

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

Beryshnikov


Impressions & Prose

87

A Matter of Trust


88

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

Sasha


Impressions & Prose

89

Family Bonding


90

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

A Motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Love


Impressions & Prose

91

Condemned


92

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I

Sweet Dreams


Impressions & Prose

93

Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me, And just be my friend. Albert Camus


94

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol. I


ENSURING A WILD FUTURE FOR ALL WILDCATS

WILDCAT CONSERVATION LEGAL AID SOCIETY 1725 I STREET, NW SUITE 300 WASHINGTON, DC 20006 WWW.WCCLAS.ORG ~ INFO@WCCLAS.ORG

Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Summer 2009, Vol I  

The Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society provides a unique forum for professionals and scholars to analyze and comment on t...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you