Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stop Big-Cat Breeding | Commentary by Tippi Hedren

Tippi Hedren | Thursday, Jul 17, 2014
The following is an open letter to Congress. The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife held a hearing on the bill Wednesday.

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The Captive Wildlife Safety Act, which passed unanimously and was signed into law by President Bush on December 19, 2003, is to stop the interstate traffic of big cats for sale as pets or for financial exploitation.  That bill was inspired by a prototype I brought to my U.S. Representative “Buck” McKeon.  The bill now before Congress, (H.R. 1998, S.1381) “Big Cats and Public Safely Protection Act”, I also brought to Rep. McKeon in 2007.  This bill is to stop the breeding of big cats (apex predators) to be sold as pets and/or used for financial exploitation.  It will be up for review in the Senate in the middle of this week, July 14-17, 2014, hopefully to be voted upon.

I’m urging you to support this bill. Not one more human adult, or child, should be maimed for life or killed by a big cat. Not one more big cat should be abused by being born in captivity under the misunderstanding that they will be a good pet, or be brutalized into doing tricks for our “entertainment.”

My qualification to ask for this support is: I have rescued and provided sanctuary for big cats born in the U.S. since 1972. I founded The Roar Foundation in 1983 to become the financial support arm for The Shambala Preserve and to educate the public against owning wild animals.  We have rescued and given lifetime care to over 250 exotic big cats over these years.  I also have been the sitting President of the American Sanctuary Association, an accrediting organization for wild animal facilities, as well as a wildlife placement organization, since 2000.

Description of a big cat: Apex predator, top of the food chain, one of four of the most dangerous animals in the world, whose job in the wild is to take out any animal who is sick, old or lame.  This instinct/gene manifests predatory behavior in captivity and threatens humans as well.  Example: Roy Horn, who had a stroke on stage, survived the attack by tiger “Montecore” only because the trainers standing off-stage, managed to get the cat off of him.  In Montecore’s mind, Roy was physically hurt and had to be “taken out”. In the human species, these kinds of dictates are referred to as psychopathic.  Our jails are filled with psychopaths who can, and will, harm or kill any being, with no sense of conscience or remorse.  These conscience and remorse instinct/genes are absent in the big cat predator as well.

In my studies of the big cat since 1972, and while living at Shambala alongside them since 1976, I have found them to be infinitely fascinating – and life threatening. Their physical beauty is magnificent and it is the combination of that and their relationships, their sense of humor, their affection towards each other, and sometimes toward us, that draws many of them to us.

But, their memories of a bad relationship with another animal or human, their possessiveness of objects, and always over food, are what can cause you to be caught in a serious situation.  They can, and will, kill you if those possessions are threatened.  I managed to live through those situations … the scars are fading, but not the memories.  I understand these magnificent beings way too well. They can never be trusted. They don’t care about us! They are, in point of fact, serial killers!

Those who we call “pets” live in our homes; we cuddle them, sleep with them, feed them well, play with them, call them family, playmates and friends. We are able to trust them.  They are from an entirely different genetic mindset than the predator. Don’t think of describing an exotic feline as a “pet”. Please, think again when voting to stop apex predators from being bred as a pet for exploitation. Stop the misinformation sent to the U.S. population that any exotic feline can, or will, be a ‘great pet.’

I thank you for giving your support, because you in our Government are the only hope we have of stopping this insanity. I pray you will pass this vitally important bill, “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act.”

Who of you would put your child, your grandchild, your wife, friend or yourself in harms way for a photo op with a “great cat”? Would you place a loaded pistol on your coffee table?

Since 2011, over 104 attacks by big cats on humans in the U.S. have occurred.
This responsibility lies with you.

Actress Tippi Hedren is president of The Roar Foundation, which operates the Shambala Preserve. She lives in Acton.


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