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Nikita, a 7-year-old white tiger, and Tasha, a 10-year-old cougar, were relocated from 300 square-foot cage to an expansive 8,000 square-foot free roaming habitat filled with perches, caves, and water features. The rescue comes at a time when new federal legislation seeks to prohibit private ownership of big cats.
“Since 2003, the International Fund for Animal Welfare has helped rescue more than thirty tigers and lions from unsanctioned shelters, closing sanctuaries, and other poor and unsafe living conditions in the US,” said Gail A’Brunzo, IFAW Animal Rescue Officer. “Big cats should never be kept as pets. When these wild animals are privately owned, the animals and their owners always suffer.”
Recognizing that stricter regulations were being put into place and continued possession of these animals would prove difficult, Nikita's and Tasha's current owner gave them to The Wildcat Sanctuary. IFAW provided an emergency grant of $30,000 to help cover the costs of the move and an enclosure in Sandstone, Minn.
In the past twenty-one years, U.S. incidents involving captive big cats have resulted in the deaths of 21 humans, 246 maulings, 254 escapes, 143 big cat deaths and 131 confiscations. Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, (D-CA), to prohibit breeding and private possession of captive big cats. The “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act” seeks to ensure that lions, tigers and other dangerous big cats do not threaten public safety or end up living in unsuitable conditions. It also seeks to serve to strengthen global big cat conservation efforts.
Visitors to The Animal Rescue Site can show their support for “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act” in the Take Action Center.
Photo of Tasha courtesy of IFAW