Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tiger Touch

Today's post is borrowed from some of the text at I simply admire these people and agree with their philosophy so much, that I wanted to share their ideas in their own words with you.
The cats came here needing sanctuary. Yet it was the cats who extended sanctuary to us, inviting us out of mankind's self-imposed exile from nature. Their beauty is compelling, and their enthusiasm for life and spirit of fun is infectious. Each night they make strange music, the ancient calls that tell the world, "This is MY territory." What a joy it is to give these noble cats both the room and the reason to be proud of their own special kingdom.

The Problem: Even in today's enlightened world, the great carnivores and their habitat are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Conventional wisdom touts Species Survival Plans (SSPs) and the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) as the one-two combination punch to stop extinction. However the ESA cannot protect many critical habitats found in the world's poorest countries. Local governments are often powerless to do more than create preserves in name only. Furthermore, the majority of poached animal goods are sold outside the United States, making US laws far less effective at curtailing poaching. SSPs rely on leftover money from cash-strapped zoos and rarely accomplish more than impressing zoo visitors. The number of animals needed to preserve genetic diversity is higher than the shrinking wild can protect or zoos can house. Without a diverse network of responsible private owners allowed to operate unhindered by animal rights activism and ban laws, large carnivores will become victims of conventional wisdom.

Conflicting Ideals: Some well-intentioned people believe humans should enter a self-imposed exile from nature. At Tiger Touch we believe it is the nature of all living things, including man, to enter into vital relationships with other species. Severing our connection with nature wounds our spirits and limits our options in saving Earth's grandest treasures. We reject the charge that all forms of captive management are cruel. Large carnivores, like most animals, are held captive by territoriality and burdened by parasites, diseases, accidents, and starvation. The tradeoffs of enlightened captivity are outweighed by the benefits; kept with plenty of love, education and caution, exotic animals can live good lives in the human habitat while maintaining a reasonable degree of self-determination. Our work to improve animal husbandry can be read in detail in The Library.

Our Solution: By carefully re-examining conventional husbandry practices, we have identified a number of important lifestyle issues that go beyond the conventional wisdom approach often called "enrichment." To be happy and fit, animals need touch, not toys. They need a combination of proper diet (including often-overlooked micronutrients) and handling practices mandated by science and guided by Maslovian principles of psychological development that reduce aggression and deepen the human-animal bond. We recognize four forms of fitness:
Physical Fitness is more than basic life support; meeting animals' whole spectrum of needs makes their life longer and better.
Mental Fitness is as important in captivity as it is in the wild, promoting natural parenting and avoiding stereotyped, neurotic behaviors.
Emotional Fitness is the cornerstone of a compassionate, trusting partnership between humans and cats.
Moral Fitness is a clear understanding of rules and expectations that promote trust, minimize stress, reduce accidents and enhance cooperation.

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