“There are major red flags that show these animals were victims of the cub petting industry,” said Bobbi Brink, founder and director of Lions Tigers & Bears, in a statement about the condition of the big cats. “These cats were declawed and in poor health and living conditions. They were likely bred to be photo props, and once they grew too big and were no longer profitable, they were abandoned. We are the animals’ voices, and we need to work toward education and legislation because each animal rescued makes a difference.”
Four big cats that were abandoned in a roadside attraction were rescued through the collaboration of AZA-accredited Oakland Zoo in Oakland, California and globally accredited big cat sanctuaries Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge from Eureka Springs, Arizona, and Lions Tigers & Bears in Alpine, California.
Among the cats was an elderly, arthritic lion that needed immediate medical care and was taken in by Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Next was an undernourished tiger hybrid with bowed legs and a gravely infected tooth that resulted in its facial deformation, now under the loving care of Oakland Zoo. And two tigers in separate cages, both energetic but very undernourished, and likewise lovingly taken in, one at the Oakland Zoo and one at the Lions, Tigers & Bears Sanctuary.
For seven years, these animals suffered hunger and existence in extremely deplorable conditions.
The rescue operation was carried out after a concerned Oklahoma resident contacted Oakland Zoo. An investigation was conducted, and rescue efforts immediately followed for these hapless victims of the cub-petting industry.
“For the past thirty years, we’ve fully committed Oakland Zoo’s tiger habitat as a sanctuary for tigers victimized by the circus, roadside zoo, private ownership, and cub-petting industries. Those tigers need help, and we can provide that help while educating the public about the dangers of animal exploitation practiced in those industries. When a concerned Oklahoma resident called us to help these big cats, who have endured so much suffering, there was no question that we would step in and give them the homes and care they deserve, at Oakland Zoo and our partnering sanctuaries, for the remainder of their lives,” said Nik Dehejia, CEO, Oakland Zoo in a statement.
The cub-petting industry is an exploitative business which has gone global due to people’s natural fondness for baby animals.
In this business, the animals suffer and people get duped for paying for a business practice that is founded on animal cruelty. Unknown to most people, the cubs that cub-petting operators provide for photo ops are often products of “speed breeding.” Many of them are also hybrid cubs that cannot be introduced to the wild even after being rescued because it’s never been their home in the first place.
The cub-petting industry does not help in animal conservation efforts. It aggravates the problem of animal exploitation under the mask of affectionate stewardship.
This article by Doris de Luna was first published by The Animal Rescue Site. Lead Image: PHOTO: YOUTUBE/LIONS TIGERS & BEARS SANCTUARY.
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