“The cat wasn’t meowing and the bag wasn’t moving,” municipal waste employee Mikhail Tukash told local television. “I needed to cut the bag to screen it for metals. I was just doing my job.”
In an eerily similar incident, three kittens were pulled from a conveyor belt in New Jersey on Dec. 17, just before they would have been killed in the threshing metal teeth of a glass crusher, the local CBS News affiliate reported.
Someone had disposed of the kittens in a backpack. This time the bag was moving, prompting Burlington Recycling Plant employee Barrie Donaldson to stop the conveyor.
“I looked at it real closely and they were moving,” Donaldson told the station. “And I was like, ‘Oh wow, there is something in this bag.”
Co-worker Ashley Bush, who was with Donaldson when he rescued the kittens, adopted one of the three baby cats and named her Precious.
“I looked to my right and I see all the teeth going,” Bush said. “That would have been horrendous.”
“Right away, I said, ‘I gotta have her,'” Bush added.
The other two were adopted by a local family. Police in Burlington are asking the public for tips to help them track down the person who disposed of the kittens.
As for the lucky Russian feline, local government officials in Ulyanovsk are holding a public contest to name the fluffster, who will also be named an honorary wildlife minister in the government’s efforts to tell the public not to toss animals in the garbage.
A woman from Thailand apparently decided that caging, beating and sedating tigers for selfies wasn’t enough mistreatment for Earth’s critically endangered apex predators. You can always add more insult, just a little icing on the “We Destroyed Your Entire Species” cake, by grabbing a handful of tiger testicles and mean-mugging for a selfie.
Of course the reason the tourist, named Waraschaya Akkarachaiyapas (also referred to as Khun Waraschaya in some media reports), was able to enter the tiger enclosure and pose with the tigers in the first place is because the keepers at Tiger Kingdom zoo in Thailand sedate the animals until they can barely yawn, rendering them incapable of defending their personal space or doing anything other than laying down as tourist after tourist touches them and poses for selfies.
Tiger Kingdom was at the forefront of the so-called “Disneyfied” “zoo experience,” in which the operators rake in millions by breeding tiger cubs like an assembly line and charging tourists to interact and pose for photo with the animals.
The tourists are told comforting lies: Employees of Tiger Kingdom dress like Buddhist monks, spout platitudes about being one with nature, and claim their “humble” operation began when one kindly monk took in an orphaned cub and founded a sanctuary decades ago.
The reason the tigers are so docile, the tourists are told, is because the monks hand-raise them, socializing them with humans from a young age. (Paging Siegfried and Roy, as well as Joe Exotic’s two former employees who lost limbs to hand-reared tigers!)
The comforting fiction allows tourists to justify what they’re doing: When an acquaintance of mine proudly changed her social media profile photo to a shot of herself hugging an adult tiger, she acted as if she was shocked by the suggestion that the tigers were sedated. No, she explained, you don’t understand! These tigers were hand-raised by the monks from the time they were cubs! That’s why they love spending 12 hours a day having their tails pulled and getting mounted by tourists who want to ride them like horses. They love it!
It takes only a few seconds to refute what we’ll gently call that misconception: Articles abound of former employees and conservation experts describing horrific conditions for the animals at Tiger Kingdom. (It’s not the only “zoo” that thrives on selling big cat interactions in Thailand: When the infamous “Tiger Mountain” attraction was raided by authorities in 2016, they found the remains of more than 60 tiger cubs, tiger pelts, and “around 1,500 tiger skin amulets, plus other trinkets apparently made of tiger teeth.”)
The cubs, who would normally spend at least two years with their mothers, are taken away when they’re infants so Tiger Kingdom’s employees can hand-raise them, and not with the care and good intent they claim: The operators want the cubs to be accustomed to being handled and passed around so they don’t protest too much when tourists manhandle them.
The cubs are big money-makers, and tourists will pay a premium to feed them from milk bottles. The baby tigers are fed and fed until they can’t drink anymore, then they’re fed some more, former employees say. The bottle-feeding only stops when the day’s over and there are no more tourists forking over an additional $15 to get “adorable” photos of themselves with the babies.
That’s also the age when the cubs are introduced to the bamboo stick, the primary tool for keeping them in line. A cub who doesn’t want to leave its cage for another day of manhandling and force-feeding is smacked on the nose with a bamboo stick until it complies.
Tiger attractions like the infamous one at Thailand’s Tiger Kingdom have popped up all around the world, with interest fueled by enthusiastic reviews from celebrities like Beyoncé, who shared photos of her visit to an American tiger park with her millions of Instagram followers.
If Queen Bey says it’s okay, then it must be okay. Okay?
Life as a cub at Tiger Kingdom is a walk in the park compared to adulthood. Most of the adults are confined in cages 24 hours a day and are only let out on busy days when the operation swells with visitors who want tiger selfies. (Tiger selfies are extraordinarily popular with men who use them on dating site profiles, and Buddy’s home state of New York went so far as to ban tiger selfies because of their prevalence.)
When you consider the context, it’s really not surprising when someone like Waraschaya Akkarachaiyapas feels perfectly comfortable literally molesting the animals for her amusement.
We’ve poached this species to the brink of extinction and destroyed its habitat. We make rugs of their pelts, mount their taxidermied heads to our walls, sell their claws and teeth as trinkets, and grind their bones into dust for use in elixirs that allegedly cure ailments like baldness and erectile disfunction, according to ridiculous millennia-old folk medicine systems. (Having exhausted their supply of tigers to slaughter for traditional Chinese “medicine,” the Chinese have turned to poaching the Amazon’s jaguars to fuel their insatiable appetite for big cat parts. Jaguar poaching has skyrocketed “200 fold” in the last five years to fuel Chinese demand for animal parts.)
In that context, literally molesting a helpless animal is a drop in the ocean of abuse, decimation and the destruction of the dignity of these amazing animals. We’re supposed to be the intelligent species on this planet, the wise caretakers of the only world that we know of brimming with life. We are failing miserably.
After Josie Saltarelli’s cat, Capone, went missing for a few days, it was her 13-year-old daughter who found him — directly across from the family’s driveway and cleaved neatly in two, as if to send a message.
“I don’t know how anyone could do that to an animal,” Saltarelli told a local TV news channel in Oklahoma. “The last image we have of him is cut in half and gutted. My 13-year-old daughter had to see that and that is our memory of him, and it’s awful.”
Capone had been with the family his entire life, for nine years, and was well-loved, his family and neighbors told local media. He was found on Aug. 20.
Police and a local veterinarian have ruled out another animal, due to the precision of Capone’s wounds and the fact that the cat was placed in front of their home.
Now there’s a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest, and police in Tulsa are treating the killing as a hate crime. They suspect the cat was killed because Saltarelli’s boyfriend is a police officer, and the family flies a “Thin Blue Line” flag in front of their home as a message of support for law enforcement. Like officers in many smaller jurisdictions, Saltarelli’s boyfriend also drives his patrol car home and parks it in his driveway.
“For that reason, investigators believe someone could be targeting the officer and his family,” the Tulsa Police Department wrote in a press release about the case.
The Oklahoma Alliance for Animals is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for killing Capone.
“It is well documented and proven that violence and abuse against animals leads to other major crimes,” the group wrote in a Facebook post about the killing, “including violence against children and elders. We need to find the person who did this.”
A female Siamese has become the first cat to test positive for COVID-19 in the UK.
The cat almost certainly caught the virus from her COVID-infected owners, authorities said. Christine Middlemiss, the U.K.’s top veterinary official, echoed the CDC in urging people not to freak out:
“There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans,” Middlemiss said. “We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change.”
Owners who have COVID-like symptoms should social distance from their own pets, says Margaret Hosie, a virologist at the University of Glasgow: “Don’t kiss your cat. Don’t have the cat sleeping in a bed with you, and don’t share food with the cat.”
If your cat is anything like mine, good luck trying to tell him he’s not sleeping in your his bed.
Kleptomaniac cat collects goggles
A cat in Bristol, UK, has an odd obsession with swimming goggles. The four-year-old moggie, Avery, has stolen eight pairs so far this summer.
Avery’s human, Sally Bell, said she’s checked with her neighbors and no one’s told her they’re missing goggles, so Avery must be wandering further than realized.
“He doesn’t play with the goggles, he just leaves them for me. In fact, the pair he brought home the other day had a dead mouse with them – two presents at once,” Bell told the BBC. “I feel so bad in case it’s children who are being brought new goggles and they’re getting into trouble because they keep going missing.”
Terrible human beings are terrible
Someone is shooting cats with pellet guns in a Wyandotte, Michigan, neighborhood. Four cats have been killed and a fifth had a leg amputated after he was shot, WDIV reports. There’s a reward for information leading to the shooter’s arrest, and police want to hear from anyone with information about the cat shootings.
Meanwhile, the Humane Society of Utah is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a sicko who tied a cat down, tortured it and set it on fire.
A woman found Sterling the cat on July 21 and brought him to the veterinarian. Little Sterling made it through surgery and remains under the care of the vet, who’s providing pain medication and making sure the tough kitty is being “loved and spoiled.”
“This level of cruelty should unnerve the community,” said the Humane Society’s Rachel Heatley. “In the interest of public safety, an individual who is capable of torturing an animal needs to be identified and taken off the street as soon as possible.”
I’ve never watched The Princess Diaries, but apparently the movie features a scene in which Sandra Oh picks up the phone and says:
“Gupta. Mmm-hmmm. Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm. The Queen is coming.”
Why that’s worth replicating is beyond me, but apparently there’s a new trend among Tik Tokers to replicate the scene using cats in place of a phone, while holding the cats upside-down and promptly dumping them on the floor immediately afterward.
Why? Who the hell knows.
You can see the bizarre cat-phoning Tik Toks here:
Say it with me now: “Cats are not toys. Cats are not toys. Cats are not toys…”
Veterinarian Dr. Jessica May told Business Insider the obvious, which is that cats aren’t enjoying their forced participation in this meme:
“Many are handled roughly and their body language shows a negative response to having been picked up,” she said. “It is especially concerning to see some cats being held upside down — something that is not only very frightening for the animal but that also puts the pet at risk of head injury if dropped.”
May said she’s also concerned by the way the Tik-Tokers are dropping their cats immediately afterward with no concern for their well-being.
People reenacting the same scene using dogs aren’t manhandling them or just dropping them like a phone, noted Paula Stewart of the Animal Talent Agency.
“I can’t imagine many people holding a dog upside down,” said Stewart. “But I think that we need to realize that animals, cats and dogs are sentient beings. They’ve got emotions like us and we shouldn’t treat them badly.”