Sunday, April 15, 2007

Truck Stop tigers and Zoo noses

We had a day at the Austin Zoo on Saturday. The Austin Zoo is a rescue facility, they take exotic animals that have been pets, used in circuses, roadside zoos, and other situations where they never should have found themselves. Mostly all examples of man's inhumanity. There are signs on some of the cages/habitats that explain where those particular animals came from. Here's what one of the tiger signs says. Some of these little stories are incredible:

Ramah was rescued from a roadside breeding "zoo" in Texas. He was malnourished and had a skin infection. His littermates did not fare as well. All are now deceased.

Taj was bought from a Truck Stop in west Texas. The owner soon after released him to our care.

While purchasing an exotic pet may be well intentioned, it encourages ill-advised or illegal breeding operations. Many end up in sanctuaries like Austin Zoo.

Here's one of the tigers being a big sweetie to someone who, for some reason, thought it was OK to get up close and personal with some of the animals. First he ran up and down outside the cage, with the tiger following, then he gave the tiger stritches and headbutts... and vice versa. I don't know if he was acquainted with some of these animals or not. Seems a bit ill-advised, to say the least.

Here is the history of a couple of the bears:

Babs and Bruno were bought at a public auction from an establishment called "Noah's Land". Upon "introducing" herself to her new bear cubs, the purchaser was bitten by Babs and lost her finger. Not wanting the bears after this incident, the were sent to Wayne's World. The SPCA then confiscated the young bears and sent them to live here.

Wayne's World is some kind of a small-time tourist zoo near Corpus Christi. Noah's Land is another "rescue" place that has needed a lots of its animals rescued (more about Noah's Land at the bottom of the post*). Very sad. Check out the following story on the lions. You have to wonder what some people are using for a brain:

Molly was sent to the zoo from Plano ISD following a confiscation from a drug dealer.

Leroy was donated by Black Beauty Ranch after being rescued from a junkyard in Arkansas. Leroy and his mate at the time were housed in tiny cages and used as "guards" for the junkyard. Following an attack by the female in which the owner's daughter was injured, Leroy's mate was shot and killed. Authorities responded and promptly seized Leroy.

Nayla was another of our big cats used in the traveling religious circus before making her way to the Austin Zoo. She was donated in 2000 via PETA.

Amara is an ex-pet donated to another adoption and rescue center. She was transferred from that facility to the zoo in 2003. Amara is the highly playful "small kitten".

Can you imagine that guy being used to guard a junkyard? I mean, what could go wrong? [sheeesh] Black Beauty Ranch is Cleveland Amory's (Fund For Animals) sanctuary.

My blog post on the Austin Zoo from two years ago.
Lions and Tigers and Honey Bears

*Noah's Land excerpt, article [full text here] from 2002
Tax-exempt "preserves": Noah's Land Wildlife Park in Harwood, Texas, currently under USDA investigation, calls itself a sanctuary, enjoys tax-exempt status, and solicits donations. When Cheri Watson took over in 1998, Noah's Land was in bad shape. Watson lacked the money-and enough paying customers-to improve things. She gained nonprofit designation in May 2000, but conditions aren't much better. "We took in way too many animals," she says, "including four tigers that had been kept in a two-horse trailer for six months [that was] never cleaned out." Watson allowed her cats to breed. Within two years, Noah's Land produced 26 new tiger cubs, infuriating regional accredited sanctuaries already swamped with unwanted Bengals. America now has an estimated 10,000 or more generic tigers in roadside zoos and backyard cages, virtually all of them mutts with no conservation value and often suffering painful physical defects from inbreeding. The 275-acre Noah's Land has 48 big cats, six bears, several primates, between 200 and 300 exotic deer and antelopes, and scores of feral pigs that are fed to the predators. Some of the caged animals exist in grim squalor, including cell-like cinderblock cages, but Watson rejects offers by legitimate sanctuaries to take them. "We're still having growing pains," she says. "We haven't got a foothold on the fundraising yet, but we will improve."
I'm not really sure what the current status of Noah's Land is. I know that lots of the animals at Austin Zoo were listed as being rescued from there.

Here's one of the fun parts of going to this zoo, getting to feel like a little kid and feed certain of the animals (these are hog deer, they also have goats, llamas, sheep and pot-bellied pigs that you can hand-feed with approved "chow"). What sweet little faces!


Nava said...

I've been to Austin a couple of times, and never visited that zoo - what a miss!

By the way, that's what I like about Cirque Du Soleil: no animals. No tigers forced to jump through burning hoops, no frustrated lions, no bears with a tutu.
Humans only.

Blueberry said...

It's a bit out of town (to the southwest) in a rural setting.

Yes, exactly! Cirque Du Soleil -- and it's just a tad more enjoyable than Ringling Brothers too, wouldn't you say? I hate it when animals are given employment that they didn't seek out and shouldn't be doing anyway... plus circus abuse!! Well, that's a whole topic isn't it? ...and these small-time "circuses" and roadside zoos should just be outlawed.

Mariamariacuchita said...

wow. I have never been over there. I'm gonna have to go now. Thanks for sharing this. I always read such interesting local Austin things here.

Nava said...

Had to open Wikipedia for the Ringling Brothers... OK, now I know.

Yes, just a tiny bit more entertaining. Haven't been to a "good old" traditional circus with sad animals, so I only guess by seeing glimpses in movies. Almost like bullfight.

This kind of circus is not better than the ones in the past, that showed the bearded lady and other anomalies.
Those who cannot defend themselves get employed in a degrading way, for the crowds to come and gloat.

Pam said...

This sounds like a really wonderful place. Next time I am in Austin, I will check it out.

MichaelBains said...

Almost like bullfight.

I have the same reaction to both of 'em, but have been to a few circuses and always loved the high wire acts the best, though at least one group of clowns really was funny. At least I remember 'em that way. :}

Blueberry said...

The circus is fine with me as long as they don't have animals in them. Flea circuses are OK. ;-)

Nava said...

Hey, fleas are people too!

pissed off patricia said...

I'm so liking the idea of a zoo being a rescue facility. Great idea!

I hate seeing any animal having to work for us as entertainment for its living.