Why is it so bad for James Jablon of Wildlife Rehab of Hernando Florida to be living in the lions’ den with two white lion cubs?
How about 10 reasons, just for starters:
1. The US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS ) defines a sanctuary as a place that does not allow contact with the animals. Accredited sanctuaries do not breed, buy, sell, trade nor allow contact with their big cats. The Wildlife Rehab of Hernando Florida is not accredited as a sanctuary nor a zoo.
2. If people see James Jablon treating these lion cubs like they are pets, they will want one too. Lions and other big cats are not regulated appropriately in the U.S. and far too many people, just like James Jablon, can go out and buy a cute cub, make money and get attention with them while they are young, and then they end up being relegated to tiny back yard prison cells, or worse. If you listen to him live on UStream the vast majority of callers are asking if they can come pet the lions too.
3. James Jablon told reporters that he bought the cubs while his website is silent on the issue and he tells callers he had to “rescue” them. To pay for the cubs only fuels the trade in exotic cats as pets. Florida law prohibits keeping lions and tigers as pets, but obviously it is easy to get around that law by saying that you are “rescuing” them or that you are breeding them for conservation. To get a USDA license only requires $40 and a one page application that asks for name, address and phone. No experience required.
4. The only legitimate conservation breeding is done by zoos that are accredited by the American Zoological Association and each species has their own Species Survival Plans. The Lion SSP does not support the breeding of white lions because the only way to get the white coat in lions or tigers is through severe inbreeding. Accredited zoos do not buy from backyard breeders like James Jablon.
5. You only have to tune in to Wildlife Rehabilitation of Hernando’s website for 5 minutes and hear him yammering on to know that he doesn’t know anything about big cats. As this was being written he was telling a caller that he makes his cats live in pairs because it is like prison and prisoners would rather have a cell mate than be alone. The fact of the matter is that cats are solitary and even lions only live in family groups, so forcing big cats to share space is not healthy nor safe. He goes on to say that he’s unemployed and gone through all his savings and can’t afford the animals, so why is he buying cats that grow up to eat 20 lbs of meat a day? He told reporters it was so he could breed them and sell the cubs.
6. The publicity stunt is only being used to raise money for him to keep buying and playing with big cats, when there is a HUGE wasted opportunity to share the plight of captive big cats or their race toward extinction in the wild. He posts one line saying the two year old lioness had been used as a photo op cub. Sort of ironic that the cat is still having to earn her keep, and that of her owner, as a photo prop. Find out more about why the use of cubs for photo sessions and petting sessions is the cause of most of the abuse suffered by big cats in the U.S. http://www.bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2010PetATiger.htm
7. There are about 15,000 lions in the wild today. Just ten years ago that number was closer to 50,000. Even the lions left in Africa are mostly inside parks where they are used as props for people to pay to play and then turned out into yards when they get too big so that hunters can pay to kill a lion as part of their Big 5 trophy game hunts. Lions breed well so there is no reason to be breeding them in cages when there are no protected places for them to live free.
8. The money sent to support this backyard breeder should be spent on protecting habitat and paying park rangers to protect big cats. As long as people like Jason Jablon can make a living showboating with big cats, they will continue to support the trade that causes so much misery and will continue urging others to do the same by their actions, which speak far louder than their words.
9. When you look at the cage these lions are spending their entire lives in, you only see concrete, a barren patch of ground and a wooden box. There are no trees, shrubs, grasses or anything natural to provide stimulation to the cats. Having a human toy is stimulating, but every time they want to do what comes natural, which is to attack and bite they are yelled at and knocked away.
10. Big Cat Rescue, an accredited sanctuary, has to turn away more than 50 big cats each year from people who see morons playing with lions and tigers and think that would be a cool way to show off too. The cost of entry is low; about $150 for a lion cub, but they can live 20 years and cost $7,500 per cat per year to provide proper care. As I was writing this line, I heard James Jablon telling a caller they shouldn’t support Big Cat Rescue because he needs the money more. If he isn’t aware of the fact that Big Cat Rescue leads the nation in ending the abuses that cause so many big cats, like these lions, to be unwanted, then he really doesn’t know anything about big cats.
There are literally hundreds of reasons why publicity stunts like this are doing more harm to big cats than good.
The only good coming of it might be that some people will begin to question why this clown is being promoted on major news channels and start people thinking about why it is that someone has a pair of lions in his backyard.