Big Cat Rescue claims that they must use live prey animals when it comes to teaching wild caught bobcats how to hunt in preparation of releasing them back into the wild (emphasis added):
In what can only be described as an attempt to justify their particular method of rehabilitation, Big Cat Rescue claims "legitimate" rehabilitators accept that live feeding is the only way to successfully rehabilitate animals and that it's also the preferred method by organizations such as the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (emphasis added):
We recently contacted the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, asking what is the feeding method the majority of bobcat rehabilitators implement and if there are other methods besides using live prey animals such as domesticated rabbits. They directed us to a wildlife center called the Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
When we sent our inquires to the Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, the Executive Director, Donna Ralph, told us that they have been rehabbing bobcats for over 20 years and believe live feeding is not necessary. Her email can be found below (emphasis added):
Doesn't that disprove Big Cat Rescue’s claim of there being no other way to rehab a bobcat? After all, this wildlife center was recommended to us by the very organization Big Cat Rescue was praising.
It's important to keep in mind, the animals The Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center lures into the cage are wild and actually have the chance of escaping. The domesticated rabbits at Big Cat Rescue aren't afforded the same opportunity. It should also be noted that the rabbits utilized for Big Cat Rescue's rehabilitation program exhibit none of the same survival instincts as their wild counterparts. With that in mind, we can't help but to wonder how reliable Big Cat Rescue’s methods truly are.
Below is a recording taken from Big Cat Rescue's live camera feed that streams live video of the bobcats in their rehabilitation program.
It would appear that the bobcats in that cage have no fear of people and seem to have associated people with free food. The bobcats in that recording have since been released back into the wild. Whether they lasted more than a few weeks is anyone's guess.
Before becoming a key player in the animal rights movement, Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, held a different viewpoint when it came to releasing animals into the wild. Back in 1997, Carole said, "This idea of returning animals to the wild is just the activist's way of patting themselves on the back, while the animal is sent out to surely die where no one can see him."
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