I went over to Tampa last week with Tom M. and toured both the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary and the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary.
Eyes of the tiger – resting in his den and watching visitors at the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Tampa Florida.
Neither place is intended to be a good photo-op (lots of fences and obstructions) – you have to be lucky to get a good image. The geometry and light in the scene above worked well, but it’s the only animal photo I made that day that I like.
Volunteer caring for residents at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary
So why am I writing about these if they’re not good photo ops? This is supposed to be a blog about photo ops, right? Well, we met several volunteers at each place and learned a great deal from them about wildlife in captivity. If you care about wildlife then there are things about captives that you should know.
- Tigers are endangered and there are more in captivity in the US than there are in the wild.
- Many large cats in captivity live in deplorable conditions and are abused.
- It’s not just large cats that have issues. Smaller wild cats are kept as pets and even cross-bred with domestic cats and sold for profit. A situation that hardly ever turns out well.
- There are problems with primates too. Many can no longer be cared for as personal pets, or retire from the laboratory or film industries and need a home.
- Dolphins are captured in especially cruel ways and sold to amusement parks throughout the world. The dolphin capture season in Japan starts 1 September.
- Killer whales are captured or bred in captivity and separated from their families. They spend their lives in small tanks performing for audiences.
Seeing wild animals such as whales in their natural habitat is exciting and inspiring. Seeing them in captivity, knowing some of the background on how they’re captured, bred, and kept is depressing. The tiger in the photo above was well cared for and kept in nicer conditions than many others. Although sometimes big cats can be returned to the wild, this tiger will never be released. Wouldn’t it be better if they’d never been captured at all? Places like the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary and the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary are doing their best to care for large, wild animals that can’t be returned to the wild. But there are so many of these animals that they’ll never be able to keep up.
Are all instances of captive wildlife wrong? Maybe not. But many situations are clearly bad and should be against the law.
I know you don’t come to this site for editorials and commentary, but thanks anyway for stopping by and reading this. And if you care about this subject, you should click on the links in this post to learn more.
©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved