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June 16, 2016

Rescuing Big Cats Is A Complex, Heartbreaking & Costly Task

By Jordan Kartholl

The (Muncie) Star Press

Center Point, IN (AP) - A tiger paces a worn footpath.

Its white fur contrasts brilliantly with the surrounding green foliage.

A growl rumbles in the animal’s throat as four colossal paws kick up puffs of dirt in the dry summer heat.

This is a 500-pound apex predator named Charlie Brown, adapted to stalk the rainforests of Southeast Asia. This is an animal so rare it’s feared they will disappear completely in the next decade.

Newly rescued tiger arriving at EFRC

This tiger doesn’t belong here.

Charlie Brown is in a cage in Indiana.

The white tiger is an abandoned prop from a magic show. It’s just one of more than 200 rescued tigers, lions, panthers, leopards and other abused or surrendered cats housed at the 108-acre Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point.

Joe Taft, director of the EFRC, said the facility is one of the largest of its kind and receives big cats from all across the U.S.

And recently, Taft’s center received an unusually tiny addition - a 10-ounce addition to be exact - in the form of a Bengal kitten found in a Gaston garage last April. Two kittens were found in the garage, and one died shortly after arriving at the center, but center officials are optimistic that the remaining one will survive.

With thousands of abused, privately owned exotic animals, the need for the sprawling refuge hasn’t diminished in its 25 years of operation.

``A lot of people see having these animals as some kind of fantasy,’’ Taft said. ``They don’t relate to the realities of the situation whatsoever until it’s far too late.’’

Taft said he and his crew are sometimes traveling for weeks picking up new animals but visitors are often shocked to discover how many of Taft’s big cats come from the center’s home state.

Indiana is where the EFRC rescued 21 tigers raised alongside a meth lab operation. It’s where the center took tigers and lions kept for a decade in mud- and feces-caked travel cages. They’ve saved leopards, cougars and other in-state big cats that were desperately malnourished, near death from dehydration and trapped in dog-sized kennels without basic veterinary care. The newborn Bengal kitten is just one of the latest arrivals who came from in-state.

``Whatever their original intentions were, most people who decide to own a big cat get put in a completely untenable condition,’’ Taft said. ``They can’t afford to keep the animals, can’t sell them, can’t give them away . and for whatever reason some people just don’t care about providing these animals with a good quality of life.’’

Assistant director Jean Herrberg has been feeding the kitten from Delaware County with a syringe every few hours. The outlook for the surviving exotic kitten is optimistic. The center plans to keep the as-of-yet undetermined-gender Bengal as an office pet.

Around 40 percent of the animals placed at the EFRC come from Indiana. Taft said the steeper percentage is partially due to the high number of breeders who once operated within the state.

The fact that most of the cats placed at the EFRC were legally owned is a regular source of frustration for Taft.

``Under the USDA’s breeder license, a lion or tiger can be kept in a cage no bigger than a sheet of plywood,’’ Taft said. ``There’s no economic incentive for licensees to take good care of their animals.’’

Brooke & Annie at EFRC

Compared to federal regulation, the state has more stringent restrictions on exotic pet ownership but remains one of the least regulated in the Midwest. The only neighboring state with fewer restrictions was Ohio, which changed its policies after a man released 56 exotic animals from his property in an apparent suicide bid in 2011.

As of the passing of Senate Bill 109 this year, Indiana no longer requires Class III exotic pet owners to notify neighbors of their intent to keep higher-risk exotic animals on their property.

According to Linneah Petercheff, operations staff specialist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the process of legally owning a Class III exotic pet begins with a one-time payment of $10 and a two-page form that includes the owner’s recapture strategy if the animal escapes.

Costs for a large enclosure, vet care, and the massive amounts of food needed to maintain the health of these animals required by the DNR are prohibitive enough for most would-be private owners seeking a state permit. If a person wants to breed exotic animals like tigers, lions or other big cats, however, federal law is much more accommodating.

The aforementioned tigers raised adjacent to a meth lab were licensed under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Petercheff said big-cat owners are required to provide a receipt that proves their animal was purchased from a licensed USDA breeder, but the DNR has no jurisdiction over those breeders.

That means a breeder that sells a tiger cub to an Indiana resident, for instance, is under no obligation to notify the DNR the sale was made.

Petercheff said relying on buyers to self-report newly acquired exotic animals creates problems for DNR staff trying to track who owns higher-risk pets like big cats.

DJ Schubert, wildlife biologist for the Animal Welfare Institute, said limited regulation on ownership and especially the breeding of exotic animals like tigers and lions not only creates a public safety concern but also further endangers the existence of these animals in the wild.
``When you make them available for sale you create a demand for them,’’ Schubert said. ``People see the little lion kittens and they are awfully cute and it’s that cuteness factor makes people think they can adequately care for them.’’

Schubert said breeding in the states, licensed or not, is not a viable means of conserving endangered cats as some private owners claim.

``Breeding captive tigers only creates more captive tigers,’’ Schubert said. ``No program currently exists that can reintroduce captive big cats into the wild.’’

Breeding exotic cats in the states also has the potential to contribute to animals being captured and removed from their natural habitats, Schubert said.

At the EFRC, tigers make up the majority of the cat population. Tigers are the clearest example of the impact of breeding and private ownership with an estimated 3,000 tigers remaining in the wild and anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 captive tigers in the U.S.

``We have a significant problem on our hands because we didn’t have the foresight decades ago to restrict the possession and breeding of these animals,’’ Schubert said. ``It’s not the animals’ fault they are in these horrible situations, so it’s our responsibility to fix it.’’

Schubert said existing restrictions fail to prioritize quality of life for captive big cats.

``The psychological health of these animals is often lost on people.

Jenny, lucky to be at EFRC; belongs in the wild

They tend to understand this need when it comes to their dogs,’’ Schubert said. ``Private owners don’t have the resources to ensure these animals are psychologically enriched and their physical needs are met.’’

Schubert said in addition to a national registry, the best solution to the problem would be allowing responsible, licensed private owners to keep their big cats while enacting a federal ban on all future breeding and private ownership of the animals.

``I think legislatures are crazy if they are not enacting extraordinarily restrictive laws for captive breeding of these large cats,’’ Schubert said. ``Loose restrictions only create a culture of cruelty and a culture of suffering for these animals.’’
Taft doesn’t think an outright ban is necessary, but he hopes changes will be made to state and federal laws, especially as they pertain to the minimum environmental requirements for exotic cats owned by breeders.

``These are animals that probably suffer more than the domestic cats or domestic dogs that have been bred into an abusive environment,’’ Taft said. ``They are genetically equipped to live in a much more challenging environment.’’

An enclosure is acceptable under USDA restrictions if it allows the animal to ``make normal postural adjustments’’ with being able to raise its head and turn around cited as examples.

Taft can still remember his first rescue, the one that led to the creation of the EFRC.

``I had never seen anything quite like that: two lions, 6 months old, and had lived their whole lives in a Volkswagen van,’’ Taft said. ``The male was blind and crippled. The female was malnourished. I took them in and then I needed a place to keep them, so I came here.’’

Taft said he hopes the work he and the EFRC do will help change perspectives on big-cat ownership, especially as the survival of these species becomes increasingly dire.

The EFRC’s 200-plus cats eat around 3,000 pounds of meat per day, have regular vet visits, large enclosures and 18 employees with 20 to 30 volunteers looking after them. The center operates on an annual budget of $700,000, and the EFRC staff is constantly looking for creative funding solutions to keep the center up and running.

The center just hosted a 5K run/walk. Taft said participants got the surreal exercise motivator that is resident tiger Iona stalking them from her enclosure as they completed the route.

On June 11, the center is hosted an adults-only formal event, The Evening Roar.

Taft described his future plans for the center as ``pretty mundane.’’ He’s content as long as the work of providing care and a permanent home for abused exotic animals continues.

``My feeling is if one is going to keep a wild animal in captivity, they certainly have a moral obligation to see that that animal has a good quality of life and good care,’’ Taft said.

Archaeologist Points To Hidden Monument In Jordan's Petra

By Karin Laub

Associated Press

Amman, Jordan (AP) - Satellite and drone images have led to a new discovery in the ancient city of Petra - a massive man-made stone platform hidden under sand.

The platform might have been used for ceremonial purposes because it was fronted on one side by columns and a monumental staircase, said Christopher A. Tuttle, executive director of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers. Only excavations would be able to shed more light on its original use, but no digs are planned for now, he said.

Petra is a sprawling archaeological site of tombs and monuments carved into rose-hued desert sandstone some 2,000 years ago by traders known as Nabataeans. Petra’s most famous building is the Treasury, where scenes from ``Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’’ were filmed in the 1980s.

Scientific exploration of Petra goes back some 200 years, and Tuttle worked at the site for close to a decade.

The platform is located about 900 meters (3,000 feet) from the ancient city center, but away from paths used by tourists and away from major monuments, Tuttle said late Friday. It is not clearly visible from the ground or nearby hills, and its outlines only emerged in satellite and drone images, he said.

``It’s this very large platform that many of us (archaeologists) have walked over for years, and probably didn’t even realize we were walking on it,’’ said the archaeologist, who collaborated with Sarah Parcak from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Tuttle led four ground surveys while Parcak analyzed satellite data.

The ancient city Petra, in Jordan

The platform was constructed by leveling a natural plateau, according to the pair’s findings, published last month in the Bulletin of American Schools of Oriental Research. It measures about 56 meters (184 feet) by 49 meters (161 feet), or about the size of six professional basketball courts.

A second, slightly smaller platform was built on the first and was paved with flagstones, some of them exposed by erosion, the report said. The remnants of a small structure, including a doorstep, are visible on the smaller platform.

The east side of the smaller platform was originally lined by a row of columns that was partially revealed by illegal excavations, the researchers wrote. The columns ``crowned a monumental stairway that spanned the entire width of the smaller platform,’’ they wrote. Some of the treads of the staircase were found further down a slope.

Tuttle’s team discovered surface pottery at the site, some of it going back to the Nabataeans’ peak era of more than two millennia ago, but some of it much newer.

``It appears highly likely that the platform and structures were initially constructed to serve ceremonial purposes,’’ the researchers wrote.

Vast areas of Petra have not been uncovered, but the platform appears unusual among the city’s monuments.

Tuttle said there are no plans to lay bare the entire platform.

``The moment you uncover something, it starts to disintegrate, and that’s Petra’s No. 1 problem,’’ he said. ``The (sandstone) monuments are disintegrating ....from exposure to the wind, the rain, the sun. So what we would do if we did go back there is targeted excavations.’’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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President Kennedy Is Best Remembered In His Own Words, This Week In The Civil War: The Battle Above The Clouds, German Who Held Nazi-Era Art Trove Wants Collection Back, Fifty Years Ago, A Young Boy Sought To Comfort JFK’s Bugler

This Week In The Civil War: The Gettysburg Address, NC Student, A ‘Modern Hippie,’ Treasures His 1977 VW Bus, 1869 Account Of Yellowstone Was Disbelieved, Nearly Lost, Amazing Story Of 17th Century Gem & Its Princess Savior, BBB: Tips For Donating To Typhoon Haiyan Relief

2013 Meteor Crash In Russia Is More Likely Than Realized, This Week In The Civil War

This Week In The Civil War: Confederates’ Knoxville Move, Was The Exorcist A True Story? The Answer Remains Elusive, OK, Weather Nerds! Here’re Some Weird Sandy Facts, LA’s La Brea Tar Pits Mark 100 Years Of Excavations

Inspired By Hugo’s Wrath, SC Building Arts College Thrives, This Week In The Civil War, Evidence Found Of Yeti: Oxford’s DNA Analysis Irrefutable

Remembering The Civil War, Graves Spanning Decades Of Tragedy Featured On Hike, NC Twins Meet Biological Mother On Their 20th Birthday

In Debate Over Redskins’ Name Whose Opinion Matters Most?, ‘Appearance Isn’t Everything’ & Model Finds Attention ‘Creepy’

Texas Historical Commission Look For Old Socorro Mission, At 86, Man Continues Career As Mason: ‘I love to do it’

Burger King Seeks To Make Fries Less ‘Painful’, Pirate Ship Which Sank In 1717 Yields Valuable, Rare Booty, Miss Piggy Sets Up House With Kermit & Fozzie At Smithsonian

Beep Baseball Helps Blind Players Gain Confidence

Woman Loses 160 lb. In Two Years, Without Suffering, US Wind Farms Responsible For Dozens Of Raptor Deaths

Detroit Asserts Driverless Cars Are Only Eight Years Away, Beloved Irish Poet’s Final Words: “Don’t Be Afraid.”

Report Highlights Importance Of Increasing Fruit And Vegetable Access In North Carolina, Area Of Brain Where ‘Normal’ Memory Loss Occurs Is Found

Life After TV’s Smash Still Busy For Its Songwriters, Free Dogwood Trees For Joining Arbor Day Foundation, August, Back To School Sleep Habits: Tips For Getting Kids In Gear!

NOAA Features Live Ocean‘TV’ Through August 16, Amazing Mayan Frieze Is Found In Guatemala, New Film The Butler Bridges Decades Of Struggle For Blacks

Elvis Week Honored With Release Of Elvis At Stax, Agencies Now Track The Biggest Fish: Whale Sharks, Suburb Seeks To Reduce Deer Population With Birth Control

Tick-Killing Robot May Change The World - And Your Backyard, Research On Monogamy In Animals Yields Varied Results, Back To School Overview Of Cool Stuff For Kids!

Retired Professor Sweeps Village Streets For The Good Of All, Particle Bs Sighting Confirms Clue To Universe’s Origin, Native Artist Seeks To Redefine What It Is To Be An Indian

Chance Meeting At Auschwitz Leads To Understanding, High Point Man Recalls Days On Lone Ranger Radio Show, Monks’ Sand Mandala Tour Spreads Cultural Tolerance

Solar Powered Plane Finishes Historical Journey In NYC, Raising Butterflies Is Spiritual Medicine For SC Man, More People Are Donating Bodies To Science

Teaching Each Other How To Live, Inmates & Dogs Reform, Easy July 4th Dessert! Raspberry Coconut Pie, Freshly Made Lemonade With Fresh Berry Ice Cubes, Utah Man Submits Bigfoot Skull Fossil To Science For Exam

NC WW II Veteran’s Family Receives His Bible, Missing Nearly 70 Years In Europe, Greensboro Science Center Works 24/7 To Save Little Duke

Formerly Obese Man Will Cycle To The South Pole, Site Of Native American Chiefs In Virginia Is Now Protected, Infant Left In Phone Booth Grows Up & Seeks Birth Family, Yummy Hobby! Mushrooms In A Grow-Your-Own Kit

Search For First Web Page Leads To North Carolina, Myspace Is Reinvented (by Justin Timberlake) As A Home For Musicians, Artists & Writers, Keep It Down! New Products Help Soften Noise Sensitivity

Staying At Historic Inns Requires Some Homework - Do It!, Retired From ‘Real Jobs,’ People Embrace New Lives As Artists

Modern Home Classics: Noguchi’s Light Sculptures, Facial Recognition Technology To Stop Crime...Invade Privacy?

At 100, ACS Has Made Huge Strides In Reducing Cancer, Authors Seek To Align Horses With Owners’ Personalities, Honeybees Trained In Croatia To Find Land Mines

Dan Brown’s Very Latest, Inferno, Is An Engrossing Read, Man Hits The Road On Harley To Collect WWII Vets’ Stories, Fitzgerald’s Obscure Grave Garnering More Visitors Now

Sundance Takes A Look At Animal Moms On Mother’s Day, It’s All The Rage: Moms & Dads Taking ‘Stroller Hikes’

Britain’s Pinewood Studios Opens Its Branch In Atlanta, Fido Swallowed A Sock? That’ll Be Expensive And Maybe Fatal, Replica Of 8th Century Buddhist Caves Now On Exhibit

Planets With Life, “Goldilocks Planets,” Are Everywhere

A Place For Artists & Poets, Marked By A Big, Big Head, Woman Gets Book & Movie Deal After Self-Publishing On Amazon

Are You A Lilly Girl? It’s Hard To Resist The Sunny Lilly Lifestyle, NYC Pay Phone Project Features Neighborhoods’ Past

Everything You Need To Know About Backyard Chickens, History Buffs Gather To Mark 80th Anniversary Of Air Disaster, Hurricane Uncovers Sadness Of Unclaimed Patients’ Remains

Love Hummingbirds? Tips For Attracting These Tiny Miracles, Haiti Paints A Slum And Honors Artist Prefete Duffaut

PA Exhibit Features Local Reading Railroad Artifacts, Rite Of Spring Gives Right Of Way To Jersey Salamanders, Restoration Of Last Wooden Whaler Nears Completion

Stonehenge A emetery?, What’s A Rogue Taxidermist?“Cat” Grey Is, For Example

Community Helps Excavate Oldest Street In The US, For Fun & As Collectibles, Retro-Style Toys Remain Popular

Email, Text, Instant Message: Does Lack Of Response Bug You?

Re-enactors Skill At Acting Out History Has Dual Purpose, Team Retraces Shackleton’s Amazing 1916 Rescue, Virginia Volunteers Offer Chocolate & Hugs

Helping Kids & Adults Heal From Trauma: There’s No Clear Path, Cat Stars Of The Internet: How Did This Happen?

Shoah Foundation Produces Holograms Of Nazi Survivors, Museum Mounts Exhibit Of Ice Age Masterpieces, Family Restores Rare Airplane After ‘Coyote Chase’ Crash


 

 

 

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