Department Of Things That Should Be No Brainers…
But Some People Have No Brains When It Comes To Animals
History: ____ (exotic animal’s name) was taken into her (former) owners’ home to be kept as a pet. After being bitten through a pair of welding gloves, her owners reached out to the rescue sanctuary….
History: ___ (exotic animal’s name) had been kept as a pet, but was rehomed after biting his owner’s child….
History: ___ (exotic animal’s name) was rescued from a home in ____(town, state), where she was being kept as a pet. After injuring her owners’ son….
History: Young couple purchased a baby (exotic animal) from a breeder who told them that the (exotic animal) would make a good pet for their young children. “Don’t feed the (exotic animal) any raw meat and he will mature to be docile,” the exotic animal breeder told the young couple. The (exotic animal) was put on a diet of canned tuna and chicken, until one day he bit the couple’s five-year-old son on the shoulder and would not let go…
These are just a few of the stories of how thousands of formerly neglected and abused lions and tigers and bears – and cougars and bobcats and servals and leopards, et al – came to be rescued by exotic wildlife refuge centers across the country. These stories also illustrate a few of the myriad of reasons why “exotic” animals do not make good “pets.”
No matter how much you may wish it, this
Is not this
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I am currently on vacation with MH, visiting daughter Belle, who is working at one such exotic animal rescue sanctuary, as previously mentioned in this blog:
A few months after acquiring an exotic pet (whether via legal or questionable means), Joe Lookatmei’mcoolIownatiger realizes that the cub which was so adorable at 8 weeks old is growing into AN ACTUAL FRIGGIN’ TIGER – never mind that the breeder assured them it was from eight generations of “domesticated” tigers and was really just a big, big pussy cat. At that point, Joe either voluntarily abandons/surrenders the animal or is forced to do so by his neighbors or an animal welfare organization.
Enter Wild Cat Sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, et al, who offer a place for these discarded “pets” – along with animals rescued or retired from circuses or other anachronistic “entertainment” shows – to live out the remainder of their lives in as natural a setting as possible. These organizations also work to, essentially, put themselves out of business. That is, they lobby for legislation which would end the captive wildlife crisis by outlawing the buying, selling, breeding and exhibiting of such animals.
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This is my first trip to Arkansas, home of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.  Turpentine Creek’s mission, like that of other legitimate wildlife rescue organizations, is twofold:
- to care for and provide lifetime refuge for abandoned, abused  and neglected big cats, (with an emphasis on lions, tigers, leopards and cougars );
- to educate the public about the plight of wild animals kept as pets and used for profit (e.g. cub petting “zoos” and traveling animal shows and animal display or petting birthday and other kiddie parties and trophy hunting), and to lobby for legislation which would outlaw these practices.
Intelligent, proactive, well–intentioned and kind-hearted, supportive-of-ethical-businesses person that you are,  you might be interested in advocating for and maybe even visiting an exotic animal sanctuary. But because the term “sanctuary” is not regulated by the government, any facility can call itself such. Being a person with the afore-mentioned attributes, you want to make sure you are supporting a true sanctuary and not enabling a pseudo-sanctuary – one which may seem to say all the right things but which in fact is keeping (and even raising) its animals for profit.
True sanctuaries will NOT
*allow any interaction (petting/feeding) with cubs
*allow the public to have any hands-on interaction with any carnivore of any age
*allow its own animal care team to handle any animal (unless it is sedated for veterinary care)
* buy or sell animal parts
* exhibit animals at shows, or transport animals to any place off- sanctuary (unless for vet care)
Turpentine Creek’s website has links (What is a Sanctuary) which will help us educate ourselves; i.e., to know what questions to ask about a facility to determine its legitimacy:
“Differentiating between a true sanctuary and a pseudo-sanctuary might take a little extra research, but when you visit a true sanctuary you are helping to put an end to the exotic animal trade and also protecting exotic animals from exploitation.”
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Department Of One More Thing: You Also Don’t Want To Be Responsible For Encouraging The Breeding Of More “Kennys” In This World
If this tiger remind you in anyway of the British royal family, that’s because the (now deceased) “Kenny” is the poster boy for the dangers of inbreeding. Kenny’s tiger parents were closely related, and he suffered from a variety of physiological – and obviously cosmetic – ailments and deformities…but as long as breeding exotics is allowed and someone can make money off of it they will continue to do so and breed for a rare mutation – one that is de-selected for in the wild – because thanks in large part to ASSHOLES like Siegfried and Roy people got the mistaken idea that it would be cool to own white tiger.
* * *
Belle loves her work and the proximity she has to the creatures in the sanctuary, and reaffirmed her comment to us, made after her first week of her internship, about how she needs no convincing about wild animals needing to be wild: no matter how many generations of “domestic” breeding the animals come from, no matter how friendly they seem on the other side of the fence,  no matter how long they’ve lived in captivity or how much they seem recognize you as an ally/as someone who brings their food, “As soon as you turn your back to them they begin to stalk you.” 
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Department Of But Wait, There’s More…
(To Arkansas, That Is, Besides The Big Cat Sanctuary)
* more road kill than I’ve seen in a long time
* the former includes armadillos (seeing their carcasses, for some reason, makes me sadder than seeing that of the other road kill specimens)
* The beautiful Ozark “Mountains” (I cannot bring myself to refer to them as mountains without quotation marks –apologies to the friends who’d seen this part of the country and who, when they found out my destination, told me, “What they call ‘mountains” in the south/east aren’t really mountains.” These apologies are due because I reacted by pooh-pooh-ing them for what I considered to be their Western Regionalism Prejudice ® …and now I find myself thinking, Really, people, these are nice, rolling hills on a plateau…but the highest peak is 2500 feet and you call them, ‘mountains?” 
* An architecturally notable Art Museum…which inadvertently provided the most notable art of all (at least for moiself): A Certain Moment Of Engagement With A Fellow Human Being ® which happened to take place at said museum.
* * *
Blog Department Of Please Share Your Impressions With Us… Up To A Point.
Dateline: Monday, Crystal Bridges Museum of Contemporary Art in Bentonville, AR. MH and I have just completed viewing the museum’s featured exhibit: Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Today, which “…presents works of art by important Native American artists, enriching our understanding of American art.”
At the end of the exhibit, I am standing in front of a comment board near the exhibition’s exit door. The comment board is a series of metal grooves on a wall, into which museum visitors may insert ~ 4″ x 6″ unlined index cards which are provided, along with felt pens, on a table by the wall, along with the instructions to “share your impressions of the exhibit.”
I begin to scan the various comments. One of the museum’s docents, who is stationed near the exit door, walks over to stand beside me. He also begins reading the comment cards, and quickly reaches up and removes two of them.
Moiself: Why are you taking those cards down?
Docent (pointing to a slot in the top of a trash can-like receptacle to the right of the Comment Wall): “We save them; they all go here. We take some cards down to make room for others.”
I note that there is plenty of room on the board, which looked as if it could hold about 50 comment cars and there were only about 9 – 10 posted at that time.
Moiself: “Okay…but why are you taking those two cards down?
I was careful to modulate my voice, to indicate curiosity and not accusation. Because the cards the docent left posted had comments along the lines of, “Beautiful!” and, “Thanks I enjoyed this,” while the comments written on the two cards he took down were:
card one: Move on
card two: There can be no illegal people living on stolen land.
The docent, again (attempting to distract/reassure me?) says, “We save all the comments.” I ask him if he’d chose those particular cards to remove – excuse me, to expedite to the save box – because they could be considered political or controversial. 
Docent (flashing me a nervous smile): “We like to leave the ones that are positive.”
Before I can point out to him that the instructions for filling out the comment cards mention noting about positive or negative, only offer the opportunity to share your impressions of the exhibit, he once again declares, “We save all the comments.“
* * *
May you do more than “save all the comments;”
May you appreciate another state’s hills even if you remain smug about the superiority of your state’s mountains;
May you appreciate and support the true sanctuaries of (exotic or ordinary) life;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 MH had previously visited the state in his way younger years, to see an uncle who ran one of those “Life of Jesus” theme parks (really).
 And by definition, private ownership and breeding of these animals is abuse.
 Along the way TC has also answered the call to rescue several bears, and servals, and even a monkey.
 Since your reading this blog, I’m assuming the best!
 And they are *always* on the other side of the fence. No matter what the individual animal’s history of human contact was prior to coming to the refuge there is *no* direct animal/human contact at that – or any respectable – wildlife refuge.
 The caregivers are always behind fences, and there is NO direct human contact with sanctuary animals, except for when the animal is sedated, e.g., veterinary care.
 When your point of reference for mountains are The Rockies (62 peaks exceeding 13k feet), or The Sierras (peaks to 14k), or the Cascades (peaks to 14k) or even the Coast Range of the Pacific Northwest (peaks to 4k)…. these cute little hills just don’t cut it.
 It was an interesting “egalitarian” moment of censorship, I thought, in that the move on comment could be taken to be a more right wing suggestion to Native peoples to get over their history of defeat and exploitation (common themes in the art), while There can be no illegal people living on stolen land is obviously a more left-leaning sentiment.