Big Cat Times 2009 02

Would a big cat species be able to survive in North Africa today?
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With only individuals left the Saharan Cheetah is on the brink of extinction.

Heroic effort, for what?

Four individual Saharan Cheetahs were identified from the camera traps, which were set in Algeria. Scientists were able to separate the individuals by unique spot patterns. The Saharan cheetah, also called the Northwest African cheetah, roams the desert and savannahs of North and West Africa. It is believed that Algeria possesses the largest populations. Scientists plant to work with Saharan nomadic pastoralists, the Tuareg, to uncover what this desert-dwelling community knows about the Saharan cheetah and its threats.

The photos of the Saharan cheetah are apart of a systematic camera trap survey of the central Saharan desert, which has made additional discoveries. Photos have confirmed that the sand cat inhabits Algeria as well. Beth Preiss, director of the exotic pets campaign for the U. Humane Society, worries that McCarthy's schoolhouse shows give kids the wrong message. Richard Farinato, a former zookeeper and director of the Humane Society's captive wildlife protection program, compares on-the-road animal routines to playing Russian roulette. The list of potential mishaps is long.

The animals could escape if the van got into an accident.

On the trail of Britain’s wild big cats

A kid could contract salmonella from a reptile. An animal could get loose inside a school auditorium. Farinato says animal shows like McCarthy's also help feed the problematic sale of rare animals. It's a circle. Animals just travel through it. The way Baskin sees it, McCarthy is taking advantage of animals like Sabi when he shows them to the outside world for a fee.

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Baskin is a former breeder and displayer of big cats who now speaks out against breeding them for life in a cage. For people like this, it's all about control. They try to get respect from other people by demonstrating control over animals. Officials at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wrote a report about the video-shoot bite, but they did not issue McCarthy a citation.

McCarthy controlled the situation," Fish and Wildlife investigator Shannon Wiyda wrote in the report. McCarthy maintains that there was nothing to the Ross incident. When they play, they play very rough. But they have thick skin — we don't. I still have not had anyone get injured by any of my animals, other than myself. It's like a carpenter getting hit by a hammer or something.

It's part of the job.

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The worst bite came from a clouded leopard named Siam, a pound adult male that had performed well in many shows for kids. McCarthy says he can't recall exactly when it happened, but one day, the cat jumped on McCarthy's back as he knelt to pick up poop inside the leopard's enclosure.

Siam planted his claws into McCarthy's shoulders and long canines into his skull. McCarthy squeezed the cat's face until he finally released. McCarthy escaped from the cage before the cat could come at him again. He was covered in blood from head to toe. McCarthy refused medical treatment that time too.

But the wounds got infected. A doctor stuck tubes in his head to drain the swelling. Siam attacked, McCarthy believes, because a female cat in an adjacent enclosure was in heat. Still, he became leery of the animal, so Siam was banned from performing in any more animal shows. The cat lived out the rest of his life in McCarthy's backyard sanctuary. Last August, McCarthy was in the news again. A lion and a tiger wandered out of their enclosures in his backyard while he was on vacation in Montana.

A caretaker at McCarthy's place called Fish and Wildlife officials for help. The cats were sedated, still within the fenced property.

But their escape prompted three nearby schools to go on lockdown. Lisa Wathne, a specialist in captive exotic animals with the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wrote a letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in August that called for the agency to revoke McCarthy's state license to own and exhibit animals.

She labeled the escape of the lion and tiger "one more example of Mark McCarthy's inability to safely handle dangerous animals.

Photos: Rarest cheetah photographed for the first time

McCarthy is furious that Baskin listed him on her animal abuse website. After all, the tiger bit him. None of his animals have ever bitten a child or a model or any other member of the public, according to wildlife authorities. McCarthy takes insinuations that he can't handle his animals as personal insults. McCarthy estimates that he has presented more than 6, shows at elementary schools, old folks' homes, parks, hospitals, and birthday parties over the past two decades. He also rents out creatures for fashion magazine shoots, movie cameos, TV commercials, print advertisements, and music videos.

And he relies on donations. McCarthy could have another payday coming soon. He got a phone call recently from Picture Perfect Productions, producer of the Ross video shoot. The production company wanted to know if McCarthy would bring a white tiger to another video shoot.

McCarthy says he's leaning against it because the bite at the first shoot led to too much bad publicity after years of his animal injuries staying out of the media. The animal performers include: Louie the kinkajou, Norma Jean the scarlet macaw, Harriet the tarantula, Wally the baby gator, Snowball the Burmese python, and Sandy the Florida panther. Recently, a principal at another elementary school asked McCarthy to leave the panther out of the show for liability reasons.

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It's easier for me, anyway, because I don't have to pick her heavy butt up," he says. Norma Jean will take a chunk out of you.

3 Replies to “Big Cats in Captivity a National Crisis”

Keenesburg's Wild Animal Sanctuary takes in lion, tiger from Saipan zoo after typhoon. Ashraf said that the cat had perched itself on a tree and was surrounded by scared and aggressive villagers in Bibinagar village in Bulandshahr. The initial reports stem from the Westham area, where several pets were mysteriously killed in the late s. Get instant notifications from Economic Times Allow Not now You can switch off notifications anytime using browser settings. Science and History of the North African Lion Use our map layers on the species ranges of an array of big cats to find out. Fish and Wildlife Service

I'd rather get bit by a panther than a parrot. That bottom beak is sharp like a shovel to get pulp out of fruit.

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The show at Pine Grove Elementary is held outdoors, under the shade of a pavilion. The audience consists of about a hundred kindergartners. Norma Jean kicks off every show. McCarthy lets a handful of kids approach, one at a time, to act as living trees for the bird. A little boy volunteers.