Cats are one of the most unique and fascinating animals on earth. They are also one of the most diverse and oldest species found in this world. While some have been tamed to be domestic pets, others live primarily in the wild. But sadly, a significant majority of the big cats are held captive by private owners in the US. They breed them in a confined environment and exploit them for monetary gains. Many of these big cats are hunted down or captured by poachers to smuggle them off across the globe in the exotic pet trade.
History of Cats
The first known existence of cat species dates to the early Pliocene Epoch (5.3 to 3.6 million years ago). Not until much later (6,400 – 6,500 years ago) were the cats domesticized to form modern-day house cats. The earliest association of cats with humans was found in Cypress in the Middle East around 9,500 years ago. Cats played an essential role in Egyptian Civilization (around c. 2465 – c.2150 BCE). Even though they were not domesticated yet Egyptians worshipped and mummified cats. They highly respected these mighty predators because the cats would help people keep their grains (a primary food source) safe by preying on the rodents.
International Cat Day
International Cat Day was initiated by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) in 2002 and is celebrated on August 8th to raise awareness about domestic cats. The goal is to encourage people to adopt more cats from shelters and be able to care for the ones they already own correctly. Since Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is home to a significant population of big cats, we will discuss some of them in this article.
Cats are one of the mightiest and most competent predators out there. Domestic house cats are common to be kept as pets all over the world. But the problem arises when some people try to keep wild, big cats as pets. These owners sometimes lack the proper knowledge of how domestic animals are defined. Other times they deliberately choose to do so for personal reasons. Specific criteria need to be matched for an animal to be considered domestic. Please follow our other article, Domestication, to learn more about that. There are a lot of domestic cats in shelters all over the country that needs a good home and someone to care for them. Please consider adopting them and give them the love and care they deserve.
The feline species considered ‘Big Cats’ include – lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars. Even though cheetahs, cougars, servals, and bobcats are not considered big cats, they are still wild animals. These animals can be extremely dangerous and harmful for their owners when they are kept as pets. Most of these species face serious threats in the wild due to overhunting, poaching, deforestation, and habitat fragmentation. Tigers are one of the most important animals on the list of endangered species.
As for these animals, please consider donating directly to true sanctuaries (GFAS accredited) and legitimate programs. There are a lot of verified organizations that are working toward big cat species conservation plans. Another way you can help the big cats in captivity is by advocating for the ‘Big Cat Public Safety Act.’ This bill passed the House of Representatives and is in Senate now. With your help, it will become a law that would make it illegal to own any big cat. Please advocate for this bill by contacting your representatives today! Learn more about it here.
Cats at TCWR
Currently, at TCWR, we have about 95 animals (approx.), including big cats, hybrids, bears, and a hyena. Among these animals, there are approximately 50 tigers, 10 lions, 2 leopards, 1 jaguar, 3 cougars, 9 servals, and 6 bobcats here at TCWR. There are about 5 big cat hybrids here – 3 ligers, 1 Ti-liger, and 1 Li-liger. Ligers are created with lion dad & tiger mom; tigons are created with tiger dad and lion mom. Male tigons and ligers are sterile; female hybrids are bred to a lion or tiger to create ti-liger, li-liger, ti-tigon, and li-tigon. None of these hybridizations would occur naturally since lions and tigers do not interbreed in the wild. People force lions and tigers to breed with each other in captivity to use the hybrids for entertainment purposes. Please refer to the picture below for more clarifications.
You can adopt or sponsor any of the animals here at TCWR! Just follow this link – Adoptions & Sponsorships. With all your help, we can give these animals the life they deserve. All your donations go directly to our animals which helps us to provide proper care, food, and enrichment items for them. Since a true sanctuary will never allow photo ops directly with the animals and cub selfies, you can still take pictures of our animals from a safe distance. We encourage you to use #SayNoToCubPetting and #PredatorsNotPets if you post photos of these animals on social media. So, it is excellent if you are being crazy about cats – big or small, to make sure they are not the victims.