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May 6, 2013

Big Cats in Cages: Wild Animals Rescued in Atchison, Kansas

Animal rescue groups help authorities confiscate an abandoned tiger, cougars, and other wild cats

A formerly abandoned tiger happily settles in at Black Beauty Ranch. See video from the rescue. 

Nearly one dozen dangerous wild animals were removed from an Atchison, Kan., property after authorities discovered that the animals had been abandoned in their enclosures without access to food or clean water.

The Atchison County Sheriff’s Office seized the animals, which included a tiger, two cougars, three bobcats, two lynx, a serval, and two skunks. See a slideshow of images from this rescue.

The Humane Society of the United States, Big Cat Rescue, In-Sync Exotics, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and the Kansas City Zoo removed the animals from the property and transported them to sanctuaries around the country.

The animals were living in enclosures that were inadequate in size and security. The enclosures were also full of mud and feces, and did not have appropriate enrichment for the animals. The owner of the animals has been cited for 10 violations, including cruelty to animals and violations of the Dangerous Regulated Animals Act.

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Kansas law currently prohibits the keeping of dangerous regulated animals, including big cats, as pets. However, several provisions render the law virtually ineffective. Specifically, the law allows people who have a U.S. Department of Agriculture license to maintain an inventory of dangerous animals.

Atchison County Undersheriff Joe Butner said: “This case exemplifies the inherent problems with the existing law and the need for it to be strengthened. Most private individuals cannot provide humane and safe care for captive wild animals, which leaves law enforcement, taxpayers, and sanctuaries to shoulder the financial burden. We are thankful for the assistance and expertise of the organizations that helped rescue these animals.”

Midge Grinstead, Kansas state director for The HSUS, said: “It is sad to see these large, wild cats abandoned in flimsy cages that they could have easily escaped from. As we see in this case, when people own dangerous wild animals it creates an unsafe situation for the community and exposes animals to inhumane conditions. Kansas needs stronger laws on the books to ensure that dangerous wild animals with complex needs are kept only at accredited zoos and sanctuaries. We are grateful for the actions of the sheriff’s office and the other organizations involved in this case.”

The animals will get a veterinary exam and housing at sanctuaries until the legal case is wrapped up.

After discovering that the animals had been abandoned, the sheriff’s office worked with the Kansas City Zoo and The HSUS to provide food for the animals on an emergency basis. Veterinarians with the zoo and Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association were also on hand during the animal seizure.

The tiger was transported to The Fund for Animals’ Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, an affiliate of The HSUS; the two cougars were taken to In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center in Wylie, Texas; the bobcats, lynx and serval will be provided homes at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Fla.; and the skunks will go to Operation Wildlife in Linwood, Kan. The animals will be thoroughly examined by a team of veterinarians and receive any necessary immediate medical treatment. They will be held at the sanctuaries pending final disposition in this case.

**B-roll and stills are available upon request.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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