Rob Russell PoetWill at
Wed Oct 15 10:24:35 EDT 2003

Letters to the NY Post



October 15, 2003 -- What started out as an honorable plan by New York Post writer Al Guart to help bring attention to the miserable trade in exotic cats ("'Cub' Reporter," Oct. 13), with the added hope that his story might help pass very badly needed legislation in New York and in Congress, has become completely distorted by other media and individuals with their own private agenda. 
Several days before this lion cub was purchased, Guart contacted the American Sanctuary Association (ASA) and discussed his plan to purchase an exotic cat to demonstrate how easily someone can buy one of these animals. However, Guart first wanted our assurance that after he made the purchase, the cub would have a permanent home in a quality animal sanctuary accredited by our organization. Without this assurance he would not proceed. 

ASA put Guart in touch with Tippi Hedren, president of our association and also the founder and director of Shambala, a model sanctuary for abused, abandoned and homeless big cats in California. 

A tireless advocate for the need to pass legislation to curb the trade in big cats, even having testified before Congress earlier this year, Hedren recognized the good that could come from this story. Consequently, Hedren gave Guart the assurance he needed. 

Shambala would accept the cub as soon as Guart was able to arrange transportation. There was never any doubt that this cub had a wonderful home waiting for him long before the cub was ever purchased. 

For emphasis, I need to repeat this: At no time did this cub not have a place to go. 

In this case the cub would be going to Shambala, one of the best sanctuaries for big cats in this country, where compatible animals are grouped together for companionship in large enclosures with habitat suitable for the species. Hedren guaranteed Guart that, once the cub arrived at Shambala, she would take full financial responsibility for the case and housing of this cub for his lifetime. 


Noah's Lost Ark has applied to the American Sanctuary Association for accreditation. We have also worked with Noah's director, Ellen Whitehouse, regarding cruelty cases in Ohio. 

When we learned that the cub purchased by Guart was only eight days old, it became obvious to all of us that he was too young and fragile to transport. He needed a little more time to grow and gain strength. 

ASA suggested to Guart that perhaps Noah's Lost Ark would be willing to help by providing temporary care. With animal sanctuaries always operating at capacity, we had no reason to believe that Noah's Lost Ark would decide that they wanted to keep this cub themselves. Guart, taking our suggestion, drove to Noah's Lost Ark on Sunday. 

It is important to note that the cub's breeder intended to sell this little cub to the first buyer who had the cash. His litter-mate had already been sold. 

Knowing how horribly many of these animals suffer in private hands, it is quite possible that Guart saved this little cub from a lifetime of abuse. And after he made the purchase Guart was immediately in touch with Hedren and her veteriNarian, who gave him instructions about how to care for the cub overnight. 

If the cub is sick, it is because of the way he was kept by the breeder. The reporter had the animal far too little time to make him sick. At no time did The Post reporter act in a way that could be considered to be clandestine or irresponsible toward this little cub.
Vernon Weir
Las Vegas, Nev. 


Let's focus on the real villain here: the breeder, Backyard Safari, who sold the 8-day-old lion cub, and the fact that the USDA licenses facilities that will sell virtually anyone an animal. 

Hopefully, Guart's story will lead to stronger regulations on private ownership.
Kim K. Haddad
Captive Wild Animal
Protection Coalition
San Fransisco, Calif. 

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