Feline Conservation Federation emphasizes keeper safety in light of recent leopard attack

"Responsible captive husbandry of large and endangered felines requires keeper experience and training plus facilities that provide proper housing in legal, stable and secure circumstances", notes Tracy Wilson, FCF Director of Education.

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(PRWEB) February 19, 2004

The Feline Conservation Federation, the nation's oldest organization dedicated to responsible exotic feline husbandry neither recommends nor encourages inexperienced individuals to acquire any feline species that can achieve or exceed an adult weight of 100 lbs. Felines in this category include lions, tigers, jaguars, all species of leopard, and cougars.

According to Tracy Wilson, FCF Director of Education, “The recent attack of a Port Sulphur, Louisiana woman by her pet black leopard is a tragic reminder that successful management of large felines requires keepers to exercise caution and sound judgment at all times. One should not enter the enclosure of an adult large feline when alone even if the feline was hand-raised, because they are strong and playful and can cause injury even without intending to do so.”

The FCF Policy on Big Cats states responsible captive husbandry of large and endangered felines requires keepers be trained and experienced plus facilities provide proper housing in legal, stable and secure circumstances. “A basic requirement of any enclosure should include a separate lock out area for the feline to increase keeper safety and allow the owner to control their interaction with their feline”, states Tracy Wilson.

Leopards are endangered species and the US Fish and Wildlife Service regulates the interstate commerce of this feline. USDI permission is not granted for pet purposes, only for conservation education and breeding. According to Lynn Culver, FCF Director of Legal Affairs, "The recent passage by Congress of the Captive Animal Safety Act reiterates the Endangered Species Act intentions by limiting all interstate transfers of large felines to USDA licensed facilities only. Since USDA licensing requires big cat keepers to have documented experience in husbandry and handling, these two federal laws should help improve safety for the owners and the felines.”

The FCF regrets the death of Jovani the leopard and the injuries he inflicted upon his owner Julie Miles. Says Tracy Wilson, “Safety should always be forefront in our minds around these animals, even when performing mundane daily tasks such as cage cleaning or feeding. All keepers of large felines should have contingency plans that include a means to stop an attack.”

The Feline Conservation Federation conducts basic wild feline husbandry courses around the country to increase keeper safety and husbandry knowledge.


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