Our response statement to Carole Baskin:
Carole Baskin from Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’ and organisation the Big Cat Rescue took to social media in an attempt to condemn our latest jaguar cub announcement.
Baskin claimed that our Sanctuary was “shameful” and attacked The Big Cat Sanctuary for the breeding of captive cats. In response to Baskin’s post, the team at The Big Cat Sanctuary composed a reply that highlighted the misconceptions found in her statement.
Unfortunately, Baskin never received our reply as she turned off the comments to the post. As a Sanctuary that values education, we would have gladly entered a dialogue with Baskin with an intention to show how good zoos and sanctuaries actually benefit our wildlife. Please see our response below:
We are proud to be a facility offering sanctuary to some of our resident cats as well as being a breeding centre of excellence.
The Big Cat Sanctuary’s aim is to help provide a future for some of the most endangered and iconic cats on the planet. The aim of the breeding at the Sanctuary is to contribute to accredited international breeding programmes, helping to maintain genetic diversity in a captive population with the ultimate aim to reintroduce them to join their wild counterparts, should it become viable to do so.
Although we are considered a sanctuary in the UK, we are also listed in the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme that allows the safe and healthy breeding of endangered wildlife. Only good and accredited zoos and aquariums are licenced to be in this Programme, as governed by BIAZA, EAZA, and WAZA. These governing bodies and the Breeding Programmes are all run and led by renowned conservationists, scientists, zoologists and vets. They have also approved our Sanctuary to be part of their accredited zoo and aquarium community.
In the case of our most recent cub, wild jaguars are considered ‘near threatened’ by the IUCN Red List due to deforestation, illegal wildlife trade, animal-human conflict and poaching. It is vital to conserve this species within captivity. The IUCN Red List categorises wildlife species dependent on their threat of extinction. We have already raised thousands since announcing the birth to help fund jaguar conservation projects with our partners in Costa Rica.
We are very proud to have contributed to breeding programmes for jaguars, Snow leopards, Amur leopards, Amur tigers, Sumatran tigers and Pallas’s cats. As you know, Amur leopards are the most endangered big cat on the planet. The Big Cat Sanctuary has actively participated in the continuation of this species so that we have a genetically diverse population within captivity. This is so important as the wild Amur leopard populations are rapidly declining and without captive breeding, we would lose this species forever.
We also thought you may be interested to know that cats who are identified as part of the breeding programmes do not technically belong to us, we are merely custodians of these individuals. They are placed with us as a trusted facility to provide the best possible life in captivity as well as supporting the accredited international breeding programmes.
Welfare, breeding, education and conservation are the pillars that uphold The Big Cat Sanctuary. Our keepers provide excellent welfare so that our cats are mentally and physically stimulated in order to replicate as wild behaviour as possible. Ensuring our cats receive excellent care, a varied diet and different sources of enrichment, whilst maintaining a peaceful environment and not compromising the tranquillity of the cats within the sanctuary. With this awareness and education, we can help prevent endangered cats from slipping into extinction.
Just to point out, the big cat featured in your social post does not belong to The Big Cat Sanctuary. The cub in question is a healthy female, who has been doing exceptionally well with her mother. If you would ever like to visit The Big Cat Sanctuary and learn more about our wonderful cats and our dedication to conservation, please do get in touch with us.”
We hope that we can raise some awareness for the vital educational and conservation work the organisations that fall under BIAZA, EAZA and WAZA do on a daily basis.