Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Watch This Beautiful King Cheetah Give Birth To Four Cubs

Caging the Captive Tiger Problem


If your neighbor has a tiger in his backyard, he might not have to tell you.

That’s what Terry Thompson’s neighbors discovered on a grim night in October 2011 when, like a nightmarish remake of Jumanji, exotic animals began pouring off of Thompson’s property and barreling down the road in the small town of Zanesville, Ohio. Just before taking his own life, Thompson had set his private menagerie of dangerous, captive wildlife free. Throughout the evening, the local police fielded frightened phone calls until they managed to track down and kill the swarm of fleeing animals — 49 in total, including 18 rare Bengal tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, three mountain lions, a pair of grizzlies, two wolves and a baboon.

More than a tale of animals run amok, this tragedy underscored the broken regulations that have allowed a hidden captive animal problem to take root in America’s backyards. Almost three years after the bloodbath in Zanesville, little has changed, but this Congress has the opportunity to address this problem now.

Dangerous animals, such as big cats, are still being kept as pets in huge numbers. Most Americans would be surprised to learn that there are more captive tigers in the Unites States (roughly 5,000) than there are left in the wild (as few as 3,200 in all of Asia). And a staggeringly small number — less than 6 percent — of those captive big cats reside in zoos and other facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. No one is sure where or how the other 94 percent are kept.
In many jurisdictions, people can legally keep a tiger on their property without reporting it to local officials or neighbors. In some states, it is easier to buy a tiger than it is to adopt a dog from a local animal shelter.

Inadequate oversight makes it extremely difficult to determine how many tigers there are in captivity, where they are, and who owns them — and this lack of information makes it much harder to prevent new tragedies. It also makes it nearly impossible to monitor what happens to tigers after they die or to keep their body parts from being sold on the black market, where they may be used to make exotic illegal goods such as tiger skin rugs and tiger bone wine.

In many states, existing laws governing big cat ownership are poorly enforced, weakened by loopholes, or nonexistent. Because any trade in tiger parts potentially stimulates illegal demand for tiger products, poor regulation of captive tigers in the U.S. may also lead to more poaching of tigers in the wild — and they are already at critically low levels.

However, change is afoot.

On July 16th, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee held a hearing on the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, a bill which would greatly restrict private ownership of big cats in the U.S. and prevent individuals from keeping them as “pets.” The legislation was introduced in the House and Senate by bipartisan cosponsors, including Reps. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., and Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., and Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bernard Sanders, I-VT. More than 100 members of Congress have since signed on to co-sponsor this important legislation.


The Internet’s Most Famous Cats Band Together To Save Tigers From Extinction




Only 3,200 Tigers Remain in the Wild; This Map Shows Where

On International Tiger Day, the numbers tell the story of the big cat's struggle to survive.

(Photo: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)
July 29, 2014
Yesterday was International Tiger Day, and frankly, there was not much to celebrate. Wild tiger populations have plunged 97 percent over the past century, and the big cats have lost 93 percent of their historic habitat in Asia, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

This map shows the location of the estimated 3,200 tigers that remain in the wild.
How did this happen? It’s the usual suspects: us.

As Asia’s human population has boomed, people have logged the tiger’s forest home, pushing the cat onto ever shrinking patches of habitat. That in turn has ratcheted up human-tiger conflicts as the cats, deprived prey, raid farmers’ livestock.

Poaching is also decimating the tiger. “Every part of the tiger—from whisker to tail—is traded in illegal wildlife markets,” according to the WWF. “Poaching is the most immediate threat to wild tigers. In relentless demand, their parts are used for traditional medicine, folk remedies, and increasingly as a status symbol among some Asian cultures.”
Climate change is slowly but surely taking a toll as rising sea levels inundate the Sundarbans, a vast mangrove forest that straddles India and Bangladesh and is home to the world’s largest tiger population.

The good news is that countries like India are taking aggressive measures to fight poaching, and international nonprofits are increasingly deploying high-tech technology such as drones to keep track of tigers and find poachers. Not least, international outcry from ordinary citizens keeps the pressure on governments to prevent the tiger from slipping into oblivion.


Can we save the tiger?

Birds like it...

Hero #cat saves family home

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Roaring Success: Big cats come to Adilabad forests

S. Harpal Singh
  • The tiger was caught in one of the camera traps set up in Kagaznagar forest range recently. Photo: By Special Arrangement
    The tiger was caught in one of the camera traps set up in Kagaznagar forest range recently. Photo: By Special Arrangement

Sighting of three more tigers by villagers bears testimony to the efficacy of the slew of measures initiated by the Forest Department. Within days of receiving information from villagers, a round-the-clock protection plan to safeguard the majestic animals from poachers was initiated. This included establishment of four base camps and deployment of a unit of the strike force in the area.

Conservation in Adilabad can be credited with a rare success thanks to the presence of four tigers, where there was none, in the forests of Sirpur-Kagaznagar, apparently for its excellent prey base and density of trees for security cover. Given the scope, only some thrust is needed, to protect and revive the uniquely pristine forests and environment in Adilabad district which were once famous for supporting a great range of biodiversity.
Though presence of only two tigers in the Sirpur forest range of Kagaznagar Division, and the one in Vemanpalli range, has been confirmed through camera traps, villagers have sighted two more in the jungles of Sirpur-Kagaznagar and one in Mangi forests. If the sightings are found to be correct, it will also prove the efficacy of protection measures initiated by the Forest Department.
“The department is eagerly awaiting the green signal for its proposed plan on tiger protection, including in Kawal Tiger Reserve, from the National Tiger Conservation Authority. Already, coordination between forest officials of Maharashtra and Telangana has begun to keep a close watch on the movement of the big cats in question,” revealed Adilabad Conservator of Forests, T.P. Thimma Reddy.
“The Sirpur tigers, both females, have come from Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur of Maharashtra and have marked their territory in our forest which indicates they are here to stay. There is abundant prey in the form of wild boars and spotted deer for them to survive here comfortably,” observed Kagaznagar Divisional Forest Officer M. Siva Prasad as he confirms the presence of tigers.
Protection plan

Within days of receiving information from villagers, a round-the-clock protection plan to safeguard the majestic animals from poachers was initiated. This included establishment of four base camps and deployment of a unit of the strike force in the area.
“Visits of strangers to villages located in the forests are also being monitored closely with the help of police. We have informers reporting every movement of strangers wherever they go,” Mr. Reddy said.
“We will soon enforce speed restrictions on the 10 km Vempalli-Peddabanda stretch on the Kagaznagar-Sirpur road to prevent accidental deaths of wild animals,” Mr. Prasad said. “Sign boards and speedbreakers will be put in place in a week or two,” he added.
The department has lauded the efforts of Kagaznagar Forest Range Officer (FRO) Jagadish Chander Reddy and Sirur in charge FRO S. Venugopal in so far as maintaining vigil was concerned. “The efforts of Forest Beat Officer Banaiah and section officer Pratap Naik are no less,” the DFO said.


Breakfast with Auckland Zoo’s tigers

Breakfast with Auckland Zoo’s tigers

Today on World Tiger Day (29 July), Auckland Zoo is calling on locals to book in and support a rare opportunity to enjoy breakfast at its tiger exhibit on Saturday 9 August.

The 7.30am -10.00am Tiger Breakfast, part of its Big Cats Weekend celebrations (9-10 August), will be raising vital funds to help the critically endangered Sumatran tiger in the wild.

Guests will enjoy a palm oil-free hot breakfast, be able to view the Zoo’s tigers eating theirs, and find out all about these magnificent big cats from a tiger keeper who will be hosting the morning. The event will also include a special encounter with the Zoo’s cheetahs out in the Zoo followed by a guided walk back to the cheetah enclosure, as well as a serval encounter.

“This is a fantastic opportunity, not only to enjoy breakfast in the unique setting of our pop-up tiger cafĂ©, but also to help support the amazing efforts of our friends from 21st Century Tiger,” says Auckland Zoo carnivore team leader, Lauren Booth.

“21st Century Tiger is one of several carnviore projects Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund supports. We help fund its Tiger Protection & Conservation Units (TPCUs) in Kerinci Seblat National Park. These incredibly dedicated teams have helped the tiger population here to increase from 140 animals in 2006 to at least 177 individuals today.

However, 21st Century Tiger reports that in the past year they have seen an unprecedented increase in direct and highly focused poaching threats to wild tigers from organised poaching and wildlife trade syndicates.

“This makes supporting their monitoring of tiger habitat, dismantling of snares, their intelligence and prosecution work, and responding to wildlife emergences more vital than ever,” says Lauren.
Tiger Breakfast tickets cost $125 per person* (*children attending with adults must be 5 years+). All profits to Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund to support tigers in the wild. Numbers are limited. To book, phone (09) 360 3805.

After breakfast, guests are welcome to stay on and enjoy other Big Cat Weekend activities, including encounters, big-cat themed story time, face-painting, and other fun games and activities. Full details on the Tiger Breakfast and Big Cats Weekend activities at


A New Book “Tigers Forever: Saving the World's Most Endangered Big Cat” is Helping to Highlight Endangered Tiger Issues on Global Tiger Day

A new book “Tigers Forever: Saving the World's Most Endangered Big Cat” is helping to bring to light the issues endangered tigers face on Global Tiger Day, July 29, 2014, according to journalist and co-author Sharon Guynup.

Tiger in The Wild - photo by Steve Winter/National Geographic
If we're going to save tigers--one of the planet's most iconic animals--people need to understand the threats they face and what's being done to mitigate those threats, both what’s working on the ground–-and what isn’t." Sharon Guynup.
Phoenix, AZ (PRWEB) July 29, 2014
A new book “Tigers Forever: Saving the World's Most Endangered Big Cat” is helping to bring to light the issues endangered tigers face on Global Tiger Day, July 29, 2014, according to journalist and co-author Sharon Guynup.

The book, a collaboration between Guynup and award-winning National Geographic photographer Steve Winter, melds spectacular images of tigers and their secret behaviors with insights into why one of the world’s most iconic species is careening towards the edge--and describes the extraordinary efforts to save them.

The book is published by National Geographic Books.

Guynup, who is both a journalist and photographer, writes on wildlife conservation and environmental issues--but she has written extensively on big cats and other endangered species.
She says the goal of the book is to help save tigers in the wild; something both she and Winter are passionate about.

“In 2007, I was working on a story about rhino poaching in Kaziranga–when I glimpsed my first wild tiger and began writing regularly about big cats,” says Guynup. “In 2007, global estimates of remaining wild tigers hovered around 3,500; by the time Steve’s Nat Geo story “Cry of the Tiger” ran in National Geographic in 2011, estimates had dropped to about 3,200.”

She said this caused her to ponder what a world without wild tigers would actually be like.
“The idea of a world without tigers is sad beyond words,” says Guynup. "Steve and I were driven to speak louder, hoping to help jar the world into action before it’s too late. So together we produced Tigers Forever."

The book includes over 100 of Steve's images--but it also tells the tiger's story. To do that, Guynup interviewed over 60 of the world's top tiger experts to learn why these cats have been both feared and revered throughout human history--and to explore why they're disappearing.

"If we're going to save tigers--one of the planet's most iconic animals--people need to understand the threats they face and what's being done to mitigate those threats, both what’s working on the ground–-and what isn’t,” she says.

The book also profiles "tiger heroes," the men and women across tiger range who study the cats, fight poachers, protect tiger reserves, investigate the black market trade in tigers and more.

The good news, Guynup says, is that there is still enough habitat to support healthy tiger populations. "One thing I’ve learned is that they’re very adaptable. Tigers thrive with just the basics: food, water and a place to live. When you add boots-on-the-ground protection, strong laws, enforcement and careful monitoring, they bounce back."

Guynup notes that if we want to save these majestic creatures, we need to get involved, “In the words of renowned field biologist George Schaller, “I learned long ago that conservation has no victories. It’s a never-ending process that each of us must take part in.”

“So, if we want to have tigers in the world," says Guynup, "we must speak up and speak loudly."

Go here to purchase Tigers Forever: Saving the World’s Most Endangered Big Cat.


International Tiger Day 2014: 10 Facts About Iconic Big Cats on Brink of Extinction

International Tiger Day 2014 is an annual event held every 29 July to raise awareness of the problems facing tigers as their population plummet to an all-time low.
The event was founded in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit at a point when wild tigers were facing extinction.

Organisations from across the globe now champion Tiger Day, with supporters including WWF, Traffic, National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institute.
To mark International Tiger Day 2014, here are some facts and figures about the iconic big cat.

There are six main species of tigers living in the wild today: Siberian tigers; Bengal tigers; Indochinese tigers; Malayan tigers; Sumatran tigers and South China tigers. Several subspecies of tigers have already gone extinct, including Bali and Javan tigers.
Tigers can also be categorised by their fur colour. White tigers – possibly the most well-known subtype – are produced when tigers carry a rare gene and were first bred in the early 19th century. It is so rare it only occurs once every 10,000 births.

Tigers have been declining rapidly over the last 100 years, with 97% of wild tigers being lost in the last 100 years. At present, as few as 3,200 tigers remain in the wild. They are poached for medicinal purposes and for their fur. They are hunted when they stray into inhabited areas as the forests around them shrink, leading prey to become scarcer.

It is estimated that tigers have lost 93% of their natural habitat. Climate change is also posing a major threat, with rising sea levels threatening to wipe out even more of their habitat.

All tigers have a unique set of stripes, similar to human fingerprints. Their stripes provide camouflage for them while hunting in the jungle, as few large animals have the colour vision capabilities to detect them. While stripes differ between subspecies, most tigers have more than 100 stripes. Their pattern is also found on their skin, so if you were to shave a tiger, it's stripes would still be visible.

Tigers have the largest teeth of all the big cats, having developed them from the habit of hunting large herbivores that have thicker and larger bones than other big cat prey. Tigers also hunt alone, meaning they have to work harder than lions, for example, who hunt in packs.

Tigers ambush their prey and use their body strength to knock it off its balance. Once down, the tiger will bite the back of its prey's neck, breaking the spinal cord, piercing the windpipe or severing the main vein or artery. Once caught, the tiger uses it's forelimbs to hold onto the prey and stays attached to the creature's neck until it is dead.

Unlike most other species of cat, tigers like water and are very good swimmers. They often cool off in rivers and hunt in the water. Tigers have also been known to jump onto fishing boats for the tasty delicacies on board.

Tigers can jump five metres high from a standing start, and even further vertically, making them one of the highest-jumping mammals in the world. Their legs are so powerful they can even remain standing after they have died.

While tigers are solitary animals, they have several methods of communicating with one another. Adults mark their territory through scent by spraying urine and faeces around. Mothers also have individual scent glands that allow cubs to follow them.

They use their tails to signal if they are relaxed – by hanging it loosely – or rapidly moving it from side to side or holding it low to indicate aggression. Vocally, tigers roar and chuff, a sound which consists of a gentle brrr sound and is primarily used as greetings between tigers.

Mating and pregnancy
Male tigers identify a female's reproductive status by sniffing their urine markings. Females are only receptive for a few days, so mating is frequent during that time. Pregnancies last for around 100 days and normally between three and four cubs are born.

The female will rear the cubs alone and they are kept in a den for about eight weeks. Male tigers will kill cubs so the female will become receptive again. Infant mortality is high among tigers, with fewer than half of cubs born living past two years.

Cub life
Cubs leave the den at about two months and become independent at about 18 months. However, they do not leave their mother until they are about two-and-a-half years old. Cubs reach sexual maturity by the age of four. In captivity, tigers can live up to 26 but in the wild their life expectancy is just 10 years.

Tiger poaching poses a huge threat to the already waning population, with demand for body parts and fur only increasing as their numbers deplete. Their bones and body parts are used in Chinese medicine for pain killers and aphrodisiacs. Their claws are used to treat insomnia.

In Sumatra, poachers lay wire traps that close in on the tiger's paw when it stands on it. The tiger's arm or leg is then raised into the air, preventing it from getting away. In some cases, the wire cuts the tiger down to the bone, while others have chewed off their own limbs to get away. Earlier this year it was also revealed businessmen in China were having tigers caught, tortured and killed to entertain guests.

Your Daily Cat

Looking right at me The noble tiger in celebration of International Tiger Day

Monday, July 28, 2014

Footage captures leopard purring loudly while zoo keeper gives it a massage

  • Footage uploaded to YouTube shows the leopard lying in a cage
  • The big cat's purr get louder as the zoo keeper strokes its head
  • Video has been viewed nearly one million times on YouTube
By Tara Brady

Not many people would be brave enough to give a leopard a head massage - but this big cat loves it. Footage uploaded to YouTube shows the leopard lying on its back in a cage while a keeper strokes its head. The animal - called Voodoo - sounds like it is in kitty heaven as it purrs loudly.

Not many people would be brave enough to give a leopard a head massage but this big cat loves it
Not many people would be brave enough to give a leopard a head massage but this big cat loves it

Footage uploaded to YouTube shows the leopard lying on its back while a zoo keeper strokes its head
Footage uploaded to YouTube shows the leopard lying on its back while a zoo keeper strokes its head

The leopard places its big paw on the zoo keeper's hand while he gives the animal a massage
The leopard places its big paw on the zoo keeper's hand while he gives the animal a massage

Voodoo could pounce at any time but the zoo keeper is completely at ease as he gives the animal its morning massage. It is believed the leopard was being kept at Cedar Cove Feline Conservation Park in Louisburg, Kansas which provides refuge for big cats which have been abandoned, neglected or whose owners are unable to care for them. The video has been viewed nearly one million times on the video sharing website. 

Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars. They live in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China.However, many of their populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa.

That's the spot! Leopard LOVES getting a massage

The leopard is so strong and comfortable in trees that it often hauls its kills into the branches. By dragging the bodies of large animals aloft it hopes to keep them safe from scavengers such as hyenas. Leopards can also hunt from trees, where their spotted coats allow them to blend with the leaves until they spring with a deadly pounce.
Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars
Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars

Tickled: The leopard looks delighted to be given a massage by the zoo keeper
Tickled: The leopard looks delighted to be given a massage by the zoo keeper

Leopards are normally found living in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China

These nocturnal predators also stalk antelope, deer, and pigs by stealthy movements in the tall grass.  When human settlements are present, leopards often attack dogs and, occasionally, people. Leopards are strong swimmers and very much at home in the water, where they sometimes eat fish or crabs.

Many leopard populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa
Many leopard populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa

Female leopards can give birth at any time of the year.  They usually have two grayish cubs with barely visible spots. The mother hides her cubs and moves them from one safe location to the next until they are old enough to begin playing and learning to hunt. Cubs live with their mothers for about two years—otherwise, leopards are solitary animals.

Most leopards are light colored with distinctive dark spots that are called rosettes, because they resemble the shape of a rose.  Black leopards, which appear to be almost solid in color because their spots are hard to distinguish, are commonly called black panthers.

Researchers finding that cougars not so solitary

July 27, 2014 

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — New research has debunked theories as to why mountain lions in northwest Wyoming seem to be eschewing their normal solitary habits.

The theories included that the lions were associating with each other because their home ranges were near their siblings or parents.

But it turns out that hypothesis was wrong, said Mark Elbroch, team leader of the Teton Cougar Project, which studies the big cats. "In fact, what we found is that interactions occur between the least-related individuals most often," Elbroch said.

The results were recently published in the academic journal Acta Ethologica.

Some years back, two mother lions with kittens tracked by the Cougar Project were seen "plainly hanging out" with each other consistently for months. "Every time one of them made a kill, the other one would show up," Elbroch said. "The assumption and the story was that they must be sisters."

Instead, genetics tests proved that the two female felines were as "unrelated as they could be," he told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (

Researchers based their findings on GPS location data from 18 Jackson Hole-area cats and DNA tests from 68 animals.

Over the course of an eight-year period, the Cougar Project detected 92 "spatial associations" between GPS-collared cats, defined as any time when two animals were within 200 meters of each other for four hours or less. It documented another 190 "spatial overlaps," defined as a period when cats were within 200 meters of each other for between four hours and two weeks.

Associations were nearly seven times more frequent during the breeding season — Feb. 1 to July 31 — compared with the rest of the year.

But that seasonal rise is not just because of male and female lions are mating, Elbroch said. It can also be attributed to fluctuations in the whereabouts of prey. "Winter's a big deal here," he said. "There's deep snow, serious ungulate (large-mammal) migrations, large congregations of elk. This changes everything for mountain lions, including where they are."

The Acta Ethologica paper uses the word "associations" rather than "interactions" because of limitations that Elbroch is up front about. The Cougar Project study relied only on hard data acquired from GPS collars and did not attempt to weave in observations made via remote video camera.
But an analysis of cougar relations from the video feed, which includes 50 adult cat interactions, is coming soon, Elbroch said.

"No one knows what these guys are doing," he said. "It really creates a mythology."


Your Daily Cat

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lion Man becomes king of the screens: Craig Busch back on TV


Animal Planet
"Lion Man" Craig Busch has roared back onto TV screens around the world.
Lion Man
Discovery Networks
LION-HEARTED: Craig Busch with Jabula.
"Lion Man" Craig Busch has roared back onto TV screens around the world.

Busch's new reality TV series, The Lion Man: African Safari, is being beamed into an audience of tens of millions in India, South Africa and parts of Europe on the Discovery Channel network's Animal Planet. The new show follows the Northland-based big cat handler's initial foray into reality TV with The Lion Man show in the mid-2000s; which ran for three series and was shown in more than 100 countries around the globe.

The voiceover in Animal Planet's official advertisement for The Lion Man: African Safari says: "His passion . . . to fight for the wilds. His mission . . . to hunt down poachers. "Meet Craig Busch . . . a real life hero who will take you closer to the world's most adorable but dangerous wild cats."

The Discovery Channel is also promoting The Lion Man: African Safari on its website, with a bio for the show saying the series "features Kiwi farm boy Craig Busch, an experienced self-taught ‘wild cat trainer', as he creates a haven for rare, endangered cats such as white Bengal Tigers, Barbary Lions and White Lions at a reserve near Johannesburg.  "Craig and a passionate band of animal-loving supporters heal desperately ill tigers, and attempt to track down unscrupulous rhino killers. He also seeks out like-minded animal experts and conservationists around the globe, including ‘Wolf Man' Shaun Ellis, to help with his cause."

Discovery Channel revealed that during the series Busch adopts and raises an orphaned white lion cub, named Jabula, and "lovingly hand-rears" several Barbary Lion cubs. "Craig travels across the world to begin a long struggle of enhancing the bloodlines of these rare cats to bring them back from the brink of extinction," the promotional material added.

There had not yet been any scheduling for The Lion Man: African Safari to be broadcast in New Zealand. But the series has created headlines in many of the countries it is screening in, particularly India. Hindi Television Post reported: "Busch will handle the king of the jungle with flair and courage. Founder of the Zion Wildlife Gardens, he is a self-taught wild cat trainer and has dedicated his life to the welfare and breeding of the big cats. "The series will also showcase Busch heading on a new adventure, travelling to Africa on a mission to help save these animals. "It documents Busch's mission and a passionate band of animal-lovers who have been searching for missing cheetahs, heal desperately ill tigers and track down unscrupulous rhino killers."

An article in the website said: "Craig has been travelling across the world to exchange the cubs [he raises], in order to enhance the blood lines of some of the rare cat [sic] and has helped to bring them back from the brink of extinction.

Working for over 30 years with these animals, his ‘not-so-easy' job includes feeding lions almost four times a day, supervising their health, and managing a park spread over 500 acres of land." Busch could not be reached for comment on The Lion Man: African Safari.

His New Zealand-based TV series The Lion Man was largely filmed at the then-named Zion Wildlife Gardens big cat reserve which Busch opened on the outskirts of Whangarei in 2002. Sole directorship of the park was handed to his mother, Patricia, in 2006 after she raised loans to help pay off growing debts. Craig Busch's employment ended in 2008. Zion Wildlife Gardens was put into receivership in July 2011.

Craig Busch returned to the park in early 2012 after a management change, with the tourist attraction being rebranded as the Kingdom of Zion. He was contracted to care for the big cats and run interactive tours for visitors. After returning, he spoke of his desire to kickstart his reality TV career in an exclusive interview with Sunday News. "I am going to do filming for the rest of my life," he said. "I didn't use to like it when I first started years ago. But now I enjoy it. I think it is a necessary thing to actually help and educate and teach people around the world. If people can learn from that, that will actually put a smile on my face."


While overseas fans enjoy new TV show The Lion Man: African Safari, gates have been locked to the public at the big cat park that was the scene for much of the filming of Craig Busch's earlier reality series The Lion Man.

The Ministry of Primary Industries - the Government department charged with overseeing safety and welfare standards and operating practices at New Zealand zoos - confirmed to Sunday News it had "ordered" the closure of the Kingdom of Zion to the general public. "MPI is responsible for approving zoo containment facilities and their operators and auditing them to ensure the requirements of the approvals are met on an ongoing basis," the ministry's director, verification services, Chris Kebbell told Sunday News. "Part of these responsibilities is to ensure that the animal enclosures meet approval requirements. "MPI ordered the facility to be closed to visitors while work is undertaken around upgrading of the closures."

Kebbell said the forced closure of the Kingdom of Zion would remain in effect until at least Thursday, when the "closure order will be reviewed" when officials return to the popular tourist attraction, on the outskirts of Whangarei. Busch, who in 2012 was contracted to care for the big cats and run interactive tours for visitors at the Kingdom of Zion, did not return messages from Sunday News.  Busch's partner, Suzanne Eisenhut - listed as the Kingdom of Zion's director - also did not return messages from Sunday News.

The park's website has an online tool offering tours from August 1.


Your Daily Cat

Walking bonitaBonita, the female jaguar by the inimitable, Tambako

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Video of two new Amur Leopard cubs shortly after birth with mum

Published on Jul 23, 2014
Footage of Twycross Zoo's two new Amur Leopard cubs shortly after birth with mum Kristen.

Your Daily Cat

The cute Maxxum posing in the grass

African wildcat on the loose in Surrey is found

 ...after tiny house cat corners it in her back garden territory letting police swoop to trap the 'savannah stalker'

  • Large African wildcat was found prowling around in a neighbour's garden
  • The neighbour spotted its own house cat challenge it in the garden
  • But both cats appeared to be equally scared of each other
  • West Moseley Police confirmed that the cat was found at 8.50pm Friday
  • Police warned that the animal, in West Molesey should not be approached
  • Cat had been left in the care of a cat sitter while owners were on holiday
  • Helicopter was called in as a search began involving police and RSPCA  
By David Wilkes And Neil Sears
An African wildcat that was at the centre of a police search after it escaped whilst its owners were on holiday was caught after it was corned by a tiny house cat in the back of a neighbours garden, say police.

The African wildcat was spotted by a neighbour in their garden late last night, close to where the cat had first gone missing near where its owners lived. A neighbour saw their own tiny house cat challenge the big African cat which had been described as 'dangerous', but both were equally scared of one another.

Scroll down for video
Safari time in suburbia: The escaped serval pads past the shrubbery and climbing frame in a Surrey garden yesterday
Safari time in suburbia: The escaped serval pads past the shrubbery and climbing frame in a Surrey garden yesterday
Found: Elmbridge Police tweeted Great News!!! The missing serval from West Molesey has been reunited with their owner - thank you to all who helped with the search
Found: Elmbridge Police tweeted Great News!!! The missing serval from West Molesey has been reunited with their owner - thank you to all who helped with the search

The unnamed neighbour called the police and they arrived at 8.50pm. They told police that they had watched several local reports in the media and realised that the missing African wildcat was in their garden prowling around. They then said how they saw their own pet cat challenge the big cat but said both looked quite scared of each other.
A police spokesperson for West Moseley police told Mail Online: ‘The owner of the cat turned up to get the cat from the neighbour’s house and brought a blanket to subdue him. ‘The neighbours called the police and they all arrived at the house at 8.50pm last night. When the wildcat was captured, it was nervous and worried as it had not been out of the house before. But it calmed down when the owner threw a blanket over it.'

West Mosely Police confirm that the owner will not face any charges, but will be given advice on how to look after animals properly so that it does not happen again.
West Moseley Police were called after the cat was found.

The large African wild cat had been seen creeping menacingly past the undergrowth showing just why it is nicknamed the ‘savannah stalker.’ But it was no match for a smaller pet and West Molesey Police which launched a widespread search - including a police helicopter - for the 'dangerous' cat in Surrey after it went missing.
In a tweet by Elmbridge Police today, it was confirmed that the cat had been found.
The tweet read: 'Great news!!! the missing serval from West Molesey has been reunited with their owner - thank you to all who helped with the search.

The message was then re-tweeted by West Molesey Police who had lead the search.
Yesterday, before its capture a picture emerged of  the cat near a neat lawn, climbing frame and slide which were all giveaways that this particular beast – a potentially dangerous serval – is a long way from its natural home.

For this display of stealth was taking place yesterday not in the wilds of Africa but in the tame gardens of north Surrey, well within the stockbroker belt.
The exact location of the suburban safari was West Molesey where shocked householder Allan Tinkler captured the serval on camera as it padded past his shrubbery.

Police warned that the wild cat should not be approached. A police helicopter and the RSPCA joined the hunt and the public were asked to call 999 if they spotted the animal. It is owned by a local couple who had left it in the care of a cat-sitter while on holiday. But it gave its guardian the slip and was last night on the loose, until it was caught at 8.50pm.

The serval: a cat of spare parts
The serval: a cat of spare parts

Police said it had been reported missing at around 9am yesterday having escaped from an address in West Molesey.
Fortunately it is well domesticated. A police spokesman said: ‘At around 9am today we received a report that a serval cat was on the loose. ‘The pet cat had escaped from an address in Anne Way, West Molesey. The animal is registered as a dangerous cat although it is not believed to be aggressive.’

The serval, similar in appearance to a small leopard, stands about 18 inches tall and is 2ft long.  Its owners are believed to be due back from holiday today. One of their neighbours, Percy Cooper, said: ‘I have been keeping an eye out for it in my garden and have seen the helicopter going overhead but I haven’t seen the cat.’ The police helicopter crew joked on Twitter: ‘On safari with @SurreyPolice looking for escaped serval. Search continues.’ 

Serval owners in the UK must have a licence to keep them as pets - which the police confirmed that the owners had for the cat. The animals are also cross-bred with domestic cats to produce Savannah cats, which can sell for more than £600 each as kittens.  

Video courtesy of Big Cat Rescue


The serval is known as the 'cat of spare parts' thanks to ears and legs which are very big for its body size, its small head, long neck and short tail.
Large ears let it hear the rodents it hunts as they tunnel underground.
Long legs allow it to leap vertically up to ten feet in the air to catch birds.
Their beautifully patterned hair makes them attractive to poachers.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Your Daily Cat (A Triple Threat by Tambako)

Approaching snow leopard

Two happy snow leopards!

Snow leopard looking back
Snow leopards

Playing with Pardus the black leopard at Cheetah Experience (Video)

July 24, 2014

Juhi Agrawal is not your ordinary cat lady. Her cats are a lot bigger than the ordinary housecat. But they love her as much as she loves them, as will be evident from this video, taken at Cheetah Experience, a South African non-profit “big cat center,” where she volunteers to work with the huge but nonetheless adorable kitties.

Check out this clip of a beautiful black panther named Pardus, who can’t wait to see Juhi when she shows up to give the majestic yet playful big cat some attention. This cat is literally bouncing off the walls with excitement. Black panthers in Africa, by the way, are actually black leopards. In the western hemisphere, they are black jaguars.

But it doesn’t really matter what you call Pardus. As you’ll see in this amazing video, at heart he’s just an overgrown kitten. And if this video makes you smile as much as we think it will, please check out Juhi Agrawal’s own YouTube channel, where she presents a number of other videos with different big cats at Cheetah Experience in Bloemfontein, the capital of South Africa’s Free State province.

Cheetah Experience was started in 2006, “with the long-term goal of breeding cheetahs. Our intention is to release them back into a ‘protected wild’, where they will be interfered with as little as possible by humans, yet will still be monitored closely by vets and researchers in order for us to gain better insight into the lives of these magnificent creatures.

We also wish to introduce a new cheetah bloodline,” the center’s online site says. All we can say is, those cats are going to be the most lovable cats in the jungle if they keep spending time around Cheetah Experience workers like Juhi.


Living Walls Turn Maasai Hunters into Lion Defenders (Video)

In a land where the lion truly is king, attitudes about traditional lion hunts are changing. Two Maasai people – one lion slayer and one lion savior – share the stories of their respective journeys. Species are disappearing at a rate that has scientists around the world calling this period the sixth mass extinction. Today, the warriors of the Maasai Steppe – old and new – are recognizing the value of living lions to their culture and economy. You might have read the story, now hear it from the mouths of Julius Laizer and Lucas Lengoje themselves about how they came to trade their spears for shields through the Maasai Steppe Big Cats Conservation Initiative.


'Weak, hurt wild #bigcats more likely to turn man-eaters'

UDHAGAMANDALAM: Villagers of Thalamalai and Dhimbam in Erode district are relieved after a leopard which killed two people, including a forest guard in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, was captured on Thursday. In the last seven months, five people have been killed by carnivores in the fringe areas of forests in Tamil Nadu. While three people, including two women, were killed by a man-eater tiger in the north division of Nilgiri forests in January, two men, including a forest employee, were killed by a leopard in Sathyamangalam reserve area in the past one month. A year ago, a 3-year-old girl was killed by a leopard in Valparai area.

According to wildlife filmmaker-conservationist, Shekar Dattatri, the man-animal conflict is a complex issue. "As long as there are humans and large carnivores in the world, there will be some conflict and it will continue into the future," said Dattatri.

Stating that our sense of horror is much greater when a human is killed by a wild animal, Dattatri said, "While one cannot generalise, in some cases, good conservation measures result in increase in the big cat population in some reserves. When this happens, some young or aged big cats may get pushed to the forest fringes where they may come into conflict with humans. When cornered or taken by surprise, such cats may maul or kill a person in self-defence".

Sometimes, an injured or incapacitated tiger or leopard living on the forest fringes may turn into a man eater. "Each case is different and has to be dealt with as such. An accidental mauling need not be cause for great panic and may need no action at all," Dattatri said. However, when there is a confirmed man eater on the prowl, it will have to be captured and removed to a zoo for permanent captivity or put down, he added.

With the increasing forest cover in Tamil Nadu, the last few decades has seen a spike in wildlife population because of good conservation efforts and protection of animals in forest areas, said a senior forest official. "When the wildlife population grows, there will be a natural shrink in territory leading to in-fighting among carnivores. This forces the weaker big cats to move to the forest fringes for smaller prey," he said.

In addition, habitat improvement with huge prey base increases the population of wild animals, he said. A few decades ago, there was no concept of anti-poaching watchers which is now a core concept for the protection of wild animals from poachers.

"Creating awareness among the public located close to fringe areas of forests will go a long way," said the senior forest official. According to him, there is no shrinkage in forest cover in TN in the last decade.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Is Fluffy really a backyard serial killer? Scientists are spying on cats to find out.

By Sarah Keartes July 16 2014 
One cat, two cat, red cat, miniature head-mounted video camera-wearing ... cat.

cat killers-cat bird-2014-07-014
Image: David Barber/Flickr
A group of researchers from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University is embarking on arguably the most internet-worthy project of all time: spying on pet cats.

Using tiny 3D-printed harnesses, satellite trackers and miniature head-mounted cameras, the team hopes to detail what cats do when they're not lazing around on your couch or dancing to dubstep (go ahead, watch it ... we'll wait).

The 'Cat Tracker Project' comes in response to a 2013 study that initially estimated outdoor cats kill 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion small mammals per year. "The numbers of bird and animal deaths mentioned in the study are far from precise," says Troi Perkins, a zoology and fisheries student who works on the project. "The researchers wanted to know more."

Not only did the study's broad estimates spark the curiosity of the North Carolina researchers, but they also fanned the ongoing battle (dubbed&"apocalypse meow"...slow-clap) between Twitchers (extreme birders) and feline fanatics. "Whether you love cats or hate them, their behaviour has important implications," says team member Robb Dunn. "They may (or may not) eat [these] significant numbers of birds and other wild animals, and may wander in ways that could affect the spread of microbes."

The scientists are particularly interested in developing solid data on why cats do (or do not) roam, and if gender plays a part in the desire to move around. Adding video feeds to the tracking data could largely improve their understanding. "We know where cats go, but we don't really know why," perkins explains.

Dunn's own cat (a test animal for the project) was tracked wandering over a mile to the family's previous home. "She's old, and all her parts don’t work well, but she walked back all that distance," Dunn says. "Cats are doing these things we don't know about."This isn't the first case of 'catspianage' taken on by scientists.

In 2012 researchers at the BBC put 50 cats in the Surrey village of Shamley Green under 24-hour surveillance, which revealed some surprising cat stats. The biggest reveals were that they hunted less than expected ... in fact, the cats spent more time in each other's houses, eating other's cat food (much to the shock of the humans who lived there) than they did hunting outdoors."In many ways, scientists know more about the roaming behaviour of big cats in Africa than they do about our own pets," the show's producer Helen Sage explains.

To change this, Dunn and his team are going big, hoping to persuade cat owners to enrol over 1,000 cats from a much wider scope than with the BBC group."We recently established collaborations with researchers in New Zealand and Australia," explains Your Wild Life, who run the Cat Tracker website (where, by the way, you can anonymously register your own furry friend). "The New Zealand cats, in particular, will make for an interesting comparison group ... [the island's] only native mammals are bats and sea lions, making Kiwi kitties the top of their food chain."But sending so many cat cams into the world has some people on edge.

The team must work through various legal, ethical and practical issues before the cameras can start recording. What's to stop the camera army from playing a bit of 'peeping tomcat' or wandering onto private property? There are certainly some logistical kinks to work out, but Dunn and the team aren't giving up just yet."We view cats through the lens of how we see them culturally, but seldom do we view their actual behaviour," Dunn says. "We want to change that."

Top header image: Linda Tanner

Keep your kitty hydrated!

From whiskers and night vision to paws with retractable claws house, cats and lions have a lot in common, including the tendency to become dehydrated.

Their sandpaper tongues are great for grooming but are not meant to lap up water. A feline body is meant to extract its hydration from its food.

Just as house cats are fed commercial foods and need another source of water, captive lions also need extra water. "We basically check their water all the time, because they hydration is super important.

We make sure they always have water, clean water, fresh water so we monitor it constantly because that is a big thing with them. They definitely need to have their water," said Jeff Taylor, owner and operator of The Wild Animal Park in Chittenango, N.Y.

Through computer simulation and watching slow motion video of cats drinking, researchers at MIT discovered that big cats and house cats just use the tip of their tongue to drink by bending the tip under to draw water in while lapping up the liquid. House cats lap four times per second, while lions lap just twice per second.

To help your cats get more water, try mixing soft food with hard food. Give them a cat fountain and try placing bowls at different heights.


Your Daily Cat

Angry kittyAngry white tiger by Tambako the Jaguar

Two rare Amur leopards born at Twycross Zoo

By Leicester Mercury  |  Posted: July 23, 2014
By Peter Warzynski

  • A still from the Amur leopards video
  • Amur leopard cubs. Picture: Nikki Williscroft

  • The Amur leopard cubs with mum Kristen. Picture:Twycross Zoo
  • A still from the Amur leopards video
  • Amur leopard cubs. Picture: Nikki Williscroft
A pair of extremely rare big cats have been born at Twycross Zoo, giving conservationists a big boost in the fight against their extinction. The endangered baby Amur leopards, which haven’t been named yet, are among the world’s rarest animals, with less than 50 known individuals worldwide – although numbers are so few that experts are unable to count them accurately.

Breeders say poaching and the destruction of their natural habitat have pushed the shrinking population to the brink of extinction. Fears that they will die out completely have prompted conservationists to class the species as “critically endangered” – just two categories away from extinct.

However, they are celebrating after the two tiny leopards were born at the Leicestershire zoo as part of European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). They said the arrival represents a significant step forward in ensuring the survival of the species.

Dr John Lewis, veterinary adviser to the Amur leopard and tiger EEP, said: “We don’t know how many of the Amur leopards remaining in the wild are young or old, male or female. “So if the population is skewed towards too many males, or too many older individuals, this can impact the species’ chances of breeding successfully. The added threats of disease and human-animal conflict also jeopardise the animals’ survival. Zoo breeding programmes are fundamental to protecting and saving species that are close to extinction in the wild.” Dr Lewis is also veterinary director of Wildlife Vets International, which funded the breeding programme.

The siblings were born on June 2, but their sex has not yet been determined as keepers have been keeping their distance. Their mum, Kristen, was born in September 2011, and arrived at Twycross in February 2013, while dad, Davidoff, was born at the zoo in November 2006.

There are plans to reintroduce the young pair to the wild and bolster Amur leopard numbers in Russia, but wildlife conservationists are still negotiating with the Russian government over whether the mammals will be allowed back into the country’s south-eastern region.

Dr Charlotte Macdonald, head of life sciences at Twycross, said: “We are delighted with the birth of the two cubs. “We are hopeful that these UK-born babies will one day be part of wider conservation plans for the reintroduction of the species to the wild. Although animals are best conserved in the wild – and it’s unlikely that any reintroduction will take place for several more years – captive-bred cubs such as these could help save the Amur leopard from disappearing forever.”

An endangered species

The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List is the system used to categorise animal species and ranges from "not evaluated" to "extinct."

Twycross Zoo's newest leopards are classed as "critically endangered" – two steps away from extinction.

1 Not evaluated – Not yet categorised
2 Data deficient – Not enough data to make an assessment
3 Least concern – Species are widespread
4 Near threatened – Likely to become endangered in the near future
5 Vulnerable – High risk of endangerment in the wild
6 Endangered – High risk of extinction in the wild
7 Critically endangered – Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild (the Amur leopards)
8 Extinct in the wild – Known only to survive in captivity
9 Extinct – No known individuals remaining


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Your Daily Cat

Confident NelsonNelson the Ocelot captured by the inimitable Tambako

Senate Subcommittee hears testimony in support of #BigCats Public Safety and Protection Act

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the Big Cats Public Safety and Protection Act’s lead sponsor in the Senate, emphasized its potential value.Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the Big Cats Public Safety and Protection Act’s lead sponsor in the Senate, emphasized its potential value. 
Last Wednesday, a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing to discuss the Big Cats Public Safety and Protection Act (S. 1381). Although a number of other bills were under consideration during the hearing, which limited the time available to review S. 1381, Senators and witnesses alike expressed their support for this important measure.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the bill’s lead sponsor in the Senate, emphasized that this legislation is a “common sense solution to the serious dangers associated with private ownership of wild animals such as lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards and more.”
He addressed the “utterly inhumane living conditions” to which captive big cats are subjected, and pointed out the associated risks to communities and law enforcement personnel. “No matter what the setting,” he explained, “private ownership of big cats poses gravely serious safety threats for anyone who happens to live in the surrounding community.”
The Senator went on to dispel the myths that have been perpetuated by pro-captivity interests, noting that:
  • private ownership and breeding provide no conservation benefit
  • that this legislation would not interfere with the work of legitimate sanctuaries and research institutions, and
  • that big cats simply cannot be tamed to serve as pets.
Put simply, “they are wild, and people should respect the expertise that is required to deal with them…they should not be allowed to own them.”
Following Sen. Blumenthal’s powerful testimony, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) confirmed that she too would support S. 1381.

Speaking for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Steve Guertin, FWS Deputy Director for Policy, also expressed support for the bill. He noted in written testimony that
“[a]mending the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 by clarifying provisions of the Captive Wildlife Safety Act to prohibit individuals from breeding or possessing prohibited wildlife species would significantly address the current public safety concerns with large cats.”
Countering the opposition, Mr. Guertin went on to state not only that this legislation is necessary, but also that further restrictions might also be appropriate to combat the United States’ captive big cat crisis.

This hearing is an exciting step forward for IFAW's Big Cats in Captivity Campaign.
In addition to raising awareness among members of the Senate committee responsible for legislation governing captive big cats, it provided additional momentum for building co-sponsorship in the Senate and the House.

Visit to learn more about IFAW’s work to protect captive big cats.