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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Cheetah attack is "no big deal"?

Published 04/07/08
By Zibby Wilder, Director of Public Relations

Last weekend, the owner of Panther Ridge Conservation Center, a so-called “sanctuary” in Florida, was mauled by two cheetahs while inside their cage. The owner has told the media that the attack was “not a big deal” even though she was airlifted to a hospital, admitted, and then reportedly treated for around 40 puncture and scratch wounds.

No big deal? I think many people would disagree.

This woman bills her establishment as a haven for “abused, unwanted, or neglected exotic cats.” Being that there are big cats across the nation literally dying to find true sanctuary, why did this woman pay $40,000 to a South African breeding facility for these two cheetahs? The Born Free Foundation recently rescued two leopards from the Monaco Zoo and took them to South Africa to give them sanctuary. Paying someone to breed animals and then export them to the U.S. to provide them “sanctuary” here makes as much sense as ... well, it’s such nonsense, I can’t even think of anything to compare it to.

Places such as Panther Ridge Conservation Center have no business billing themselves as sanctuaries or as advocates of conservation if they continue to purchase animals and provide public exhibitions where employees are allowed direct public contact with big cats. What kind of message is this sending to our children — that it is OK to import wild animals from Africa and exploit those animals for profit — that it is OK to own one of these animals as a “pet”? This behavior feeds the vicious cycle that keeps wild animals suffering in cages, when they should be living life as they were meant to: in the wild.

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