Sunday, April 3, 2011

Carolina Tiger Rescue

I have spent the past week volunteering on the Carolina Tiger Rescue as part of The University of Missouri’s Alternative Spring Break. Ten students hopped into vans and made our way across the U.S. on a 30 hour round trip drive through the Midwest and into the Appalachian mountains. The Carolina Tiger Rescue is a non-profit  that provides a lifelong sanctuary for several different kinds of wild cats who have been abandoned, mistreated, or surrendered. Througout the week we built fences, disassembled old structures, transported industrial materials, and cemented new posts.

Alternative Spring Break volunteers attach wire to new polls at the Carolina Tiger Rescue.

I bet you’re wondering: Did I get to pet these adorable creatures? No.

Volunteer Coordinator Scott Miller leads an education tour of the Carolina Tiger Rescue.

Common Misconceptions about Tigers and Wild Cat Rescues

Sanctuaries allow physical contact with tigers
The Real Deal: According to the wildlife safety act in order to be a federally recognized sanctuary you must meet the following guidelines: No physical contact, be tax exempt, no captive breeding, refrain from the buying trade and selling of animals. Any injuries by tigers could put the public, staff, and the organization's credibility at risk.

It is acceptable to have your picture taken with a tiger cub because the money is going to help fund a wildlife sanctuary.
The Real Deal: Most of the time these sanctuaries do not exist. Lets do some math. You pay 20 dollars to get photographed. Tigers are virtually impossible to handle after six months so where does the tiger go? These animals are found malnourished in backyards, along the highway, or on display in entertainment venues. If a tiger lives for 18 years there is no way the money made in six months can finance a tiger for its lifetime.

Animal rescue workers are vegetarians.
The Real Deal: The Carolina Tiger Rescue takes no stance on vegetarianism. The cats eat meat. So do many of the workers and volunteers.

Wild animal attacks are rare.
The Real Deal: Attacks are not always reported but occur frequently. Wild animals may be handleable 99% of the time but if their predatory insticts kick in one time it can be fatal. This is a problem because of lax regulation on exotic animal ownership. In North Carolina it is illegal to own a bobcat without a permit but legal to own a tiger.

White tigers are a special rare breed of tigers.
The Real Deal: White tigers are actually inbred. The gene that makes tigers white is recessive so the only way to breed these tigers is by mating them with their siblings. This can cause serious birth defects to the tigers. The last stable population of white tigers seen in the wild was in to 1800’s.

If you tame tigers from birth they can be loving adorable pets.
The Real Deal: Domestic animals have been human companions for tens of thousands of years. Wild animals have not. There is no way to remove their predatory instincts. Even house cats demonstrate this behavior sometimes but are much less dangerous because of their size.

Sheba was given up by her owner who charged tourists for photographs with her at 6 months after she became too difficult to handle.

Alternative spring break workers remove nails from old boards so they can be reused.

Jellybean is the Carolina Tiger Rescue's only white tiger. Many private breeders will inbreed tigers with the white gene in an attempt to get white offspring.

Camp New Hope just after sunrise. Alternative spring break stayed in cabins over spring break while volunteering at the Carolina Tiger Rescue.

1 comment:

  1. it looks really beautiful and I love the picture of Sheba the best.
    Your biggest fan!