Photo by @stevewinterphoto
During hurricane and tornado season, what would happen if the fencing came down at a roadside zoo full of big cats? First responders tend to get 911 calls when dangerous animals get loose, and local law enforcement does not have the training or the tools to deal with this problem—they don't have tranquilizer darts or the time for them to work, only bullets. I created this scene to illustrate a public safety issue, placing a plush toy tiger in the backseat of a car at a disaster training site for first responders—to show the hypothetical danger that they and the cats could face. For example, tigers that have spent their whole lives in a cage, sleeping in a small plywood “night house,” would seek out an enclosed space; in the dark, they might jump into a wrecked car. In the morning, the cat wakes up in a world it has never experienced, and it has no idea what to do—never knowing the freedom of the wild. With the danger wrought by ever more powerful hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and flooding, many support the need for federal oversight—there is no U.S. federal law regulating big cat ownership. After the last hurricane in Houston, first responders opened the door of an abandoned home and a lion came at them, and they went into a church and found a tiger. Every tiger cub that tourists hug, bottle-feed, and snap selfies with “fuels a rapid and vicious cycle of breeding and dumping of cubs after they outgrow their usefulness,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). That’s why he co-sponsored the Big Cat Public Safety Act—to make commercial breeding illegal and better protect both cats and the public. Check out Nat Geo's link in bio for more on this story.