Last night was one of those nights. I just could NOT get into my run at all.
My stomach didn’t feel right, my calves were ridiculously tight and the wind felt like it was pushing me backwards. We NEVER have wind like that in Fort Lauderdale. It is very much unwelcome!
Oh well, for every bad run there are 100 good runs so I just need to wipe that one from my memory. Since I don’t have much to report on from my run, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about a cause I really care about.
As some of you know I am a donor of Big Cat Rescue (BCR), a sanctuary in Tampa, FL for lions, tigers, bobcats, jaguars and other large cats.
Today I want to just talk briefly about something that many of you might not know is really bad - cub petting.
There are many companies out there that will allow the public to pet, pose for pictures with and even swim with lion and tiger cubs.
Some of these companies pretend that the revenue made from these activities goes towards animal conversation, while others just pitch it as a fun activity.
But this petting process is not fun for the poor cubs involved, and what’s really not fun is what happens to these cubs after they become too large to participate in petting activities.
A loophole in US law allows for cubs between the ages of 8 weeks and 12 weeks to be exploited for money. Under the age of 8 weeks the immune system of the cubs is too wear to be handled by the public, and after 12 weeks of age the cubs are deemed to be too dangerous for public handling.
To keep profits up and work around this loophole companies overbreed their big cats to ensure they always have an ample supply of 8-12 week old cubs available for petting. Sometimes the handlers don’t even wait until the cubs are 8 weeks old. Age violations are very common between the Department of Agriculture only has around 100 inspectors who must perform around 4500 inspections on an array of facilities including breeders, safaris, zoos, dealers, auction houses, circuses, etc.
In short, handlers know they can get away with putting younger cubs up for petting.
Here are a few important things to know if you’ve ever considered cub petting:
- Cubs are torn from their mothers prematurely
- Cubs are sleep deprived so they can ‘work’ which causes stress on cubs that require long hours of sleep
- Cubs are often handled at an age where their immune systems are not developed resulting in sickness
- Females are overbred so that an ample supply of 8-12 week old cubs are always available
- Inbreeding is common resulting in serious health issues
- When not in the public eye, cubs are confined in small cages, transported to unfamiliar settings and handled for long periods of time by scores of people to make the most profit – there are no regulations for the size of cages for cubs or adult big cats
- Cubs are often disciplined with stun guns, drugs or worse
- Cubs and mothers are often deprived of veterinary care, food, water and clean housing
For example, on www.TigerCubAbuse.com (graphic) you can see some cubs that have gotten sick from mistreatment. “The keepers follow the cubs around wiping diarrhea off the floor and then use the same towel to wipe the cubs’ irritated rear ends and the poor cubs scream in pain.”
Handlers who offer cub petting services are NEVER working with or affiliated with nonprofits or conservation efforts. Ever. Period. However, they do often lie about being affiliated to earn your trust and your money.
So, what happens to the cute little cubs after they are 12 weeks old?
Because the cubs have been handled by humans their whole lives they are not suitable for wildlife preserves as they haven’t been taught to hunt or interact with other animals. Because of this the cubs are usually destined for very dim futures.
- Cubs are sold into the black trade market where they are killed and sold for their parts
- Cubs are sold to game reserves where they have no method for escape and are hunted daily until they are finally killed
- Cubs are left behind to starve and die in empty warehouses and other similar places
- Some cubs are rescued by sanctuaries like Big Cat Rescue, but these organizations receive more requests than they can respond to
The idea for playing with cubs is very enticing for any animal lover, especially one like myself who has a house cat.
However, it’s important to remember that lions, tigers and other big cats are meant to be wild animals. They should have as little human interaction as possible.
For more information about the dangers of cub petting please see these resources:
I hope this post didn’t come off as too preachy. I probably do dozens of things per day that are unintentionally hurting animals or our environment in some way, and I hope if you see me doing something wrong you’ll let me know.
However, here in South Florida we have several handlers who offer such cub petting services and I thought it was important to bring it to your attention in case you see something like this going on in your area.
If you do, you can contact Big Cat Rescue and they can put you in touch with an appropriate contact in your area who may be able to help.
If you made it to the end of this post, Cecil and I thank you for listening!
Have a great weekend!