The Humane Society of the United States is used to rescuing animals like dogs, cats and horses from cruelty situations. But the society recently expanded their humane touch by rescuing 11 exotic animals including tigers and leopards from Collin Zoo, an unaccredited roadside facility.
HSUS along with Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, Carolina Tiger Rescue, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation and Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary helped rescue three tigers, two leopards, three cougars, two wolf-hybrids, and a macaque monkey from the zoo in Mississippi.
The society had gone undercover to determine the conditions under which the animals were being kept at the zoo. They found the animals in a derelict state with some injured and their enclosures in a flimsy condition. In 2010 HSUS got in touch with state officials with legal complaints. The battle was finally won last week when the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks agreed to seize the animals from the zoo and asked HSUS to handle the animals’ transportation and temporary settlement in sanctuaries.
When the responders reached the zoo, they found most animals living in enclosures where they had barely any space to play or move around. Some deadly snakes were even left in open enclosures. One leopard was found to have wound on its leg and tails and a tiger was overweight due to lack of exercise. The officials also found a number of exotic snakes and turtles.
For the rescuers the biggest challenge was the safe transportation of these wild cats. A veterinarian from the accredited Jackson Zoo and several other vets experienced in handling exotic animals first sedated the animals, microchipped them for identification and then drew blood samples to check their health. Animals like a male tiger weighing more than 400 pounds were then loaded onto specially designed cages on large trailers.
“The animals at the Collins Zoo have been forced to live in inhumane conditions for many years, and The Humane Society of the United States is relieved to finally be able to rescue these animals and help them begin new lives in appropriate sanctuaries,” said Lydia Sattler, Mississippi state director for The HSUS.
The tigers and wolf hybrids have been taken to the HSUS Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch.The leopards and the cougar have been taken to Carolina Tiger Rescue while Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation will house another cougar, and Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary will care for the macaque.
The society officials say that there are 200 accredited zoos in the US but at least 2000 unaccredited facilities where animals are locked in conditions not suited to their natural character. The danger is as much for the owners as the animals.
“The situation at the unaccredited Collins Zoo is a prime example of the animal cruelty and public safety concerns that stem from our country’s unregulated exotic animal industry. This should be a wake-up call to lawmakers and communities around the country to crack down on the casual ownership of dangerous wild animals,” said Lydia.
The Ohio shootout that proved to be a nightmare for the locals as well as the animals is a stark reminder of how such situations can turn tragic in matter of seconds.
The animals rescued need to be looked after and millions are spend to just keep them in safer and better facilities from now on. What begins as a casual fancy of the animal owners, can become a huge challenge for organisations like HSUS that do take care of these animals for the rest of their lives. It is thus better to leave the animals in peace until they can be given the environment they deserve.