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Contacts: Chris Cutter (IFAW), Tel. (508) 737-4623, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandon Frazier (IFAW), Tel. (202) 536-1907, email@example.com
Scott Lope at Big Cat Rescue Tel. (813) 323-5991, Operations@BigCatRescue.org
Carole Baskin at Big Cat Rescue Tel. (813) 493-4564, MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org
Carol Asvestas of Wild Animal Orphanage Tel. (210) 688-9038, firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to editors: Photos, video & more info available at http://www.bigcatrescue.org/rescuelionsandtigers.htm
Animal groups rescue abandoned lions and tigers from Ohio woman
(Tampa, FL – 20 October 2007) – Today three animal welfare organizations: IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), Big Cat Rescue, and The Wild Animal Orphanage rescued 6 abandoned big cats – 2 lions and 4 tigers – from an unsanctioned Ohio shelter. The animals are being relocated to licensed animal sanctuaries in Florida and Texas. The move highlights the pressing need for reformed U.S. laws covering exotic pets and has been lauded by animal advocates nationwide.
The animal rescue groups are taking the big cats under a court order. The cats were formerly owned by Diana McCourt until the USDA revoked her license to use the animals and fined her. McCourt was subsequently evicted from her property and abandoned the cats. Local authorities were forced to take possession of the animals. Now they will be moving to permanent sanctuaries where they will receive much better care.
“IFAW is pleased to step in and be part of this extraordinary effort," explained IFAW U.S. Director Jeffery Flocken. “We are advocating for stricter regulations preventing illegal ‘big cat’ ownership and look forward to the day these types of rescue measures will be unnecessary.”
During the relocation, all six big cats will be transferred to Big Cat Rescue of Tampa, Florida – where 2 lions and 2 tigers will reside – while the remaining 2 tigers will continue on to permanent placement at the Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio, Texas.
“People need to understand the tremendous responsibility involved with taking on the care of these exotic animals," said Carol Asvestas, Wild Animal Orphanage Director. "These animals require a lifetime commitment that can be very costly and, at times, dangerous. What’s made this move easier for us is the overwhelming unity of participating organizations. It's been wonderful.”
"While we are happy to be able to rescue four of these cats we are so thankful to IFAW for arranging the transport of them and for enabling the rescue of the remaining two tigers. Once IFAW’s federal bill, Haley’s Act, becomes law it will be illegal to abuse big cats as photo props and horrific situations like this will cease to exist," said Carole Baskin, Founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue.
The six big cats being relocated are:
• 1 Tiger born April 24, 2000 named Ekaterina
• 1 White Tiger born March 3, 2000 named Sierra
• 1 Tiger born August 20, 1995 named Nikita
• 1 Tiger born June 8, 1994 named Simba
• 1 Lion born August 19, 1998 named Joseph
• 1 Lion born May 12, 1994 named Sasha
The cats are expected to arrive in Florida on October 21st and in Texas on October 23.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW works around the globe to protect animals and habitats promoting practical solutions for animals and people. To learn how you can help, please visit www.ifaw.org
About Wild Animal Orphanage
We are dedicated to providing a permanent home for and lifetime care to hundreds of formerly unwanted, neglected or abused animals. Learn more at http://www.wildanimalorphanage.org
About Big Cat Rescue
We provide the best home possible for the 140+ exotic cats in our care and are reducing the number of big cats that suffer the fate of abuse, abandonment & extinction. Find out how at BigCatRescue.org