***Click on photos to enlarge them***
EDITED: I've read up and heard via video, Robert Engesser, keeps wild cats/other animals in cages their ENTIRE lives. Often can't lift their heads or turn around, or even stand up! He has been cited numerous times over many years for this...Yet " has legal permits" and has done this traveling zoo for 13 years (correction from earlier, has worked with animals 29 years). Million dollar subculture.
On his farms in Chiefland and Trenton, Florida. He steals newborn cubs from their mothers, while eyes are still closed. They do this so they can hand feed the babies and they can be held for picture taking. Usually crying their hearts out in anguish for their mothers.
But the government run USDA says this is acceptable and any body can own exotic animals. They've low standards, as does the Humane Association.
Do a search on " petting baby tiger/lion cubs at malls." I understand the mega farm industry gets by with this and that must change, but individuals?
Here's theTiger I checked on a second time, July 4th at 5pm, was panting, no water or food. 95 degrees and humid. Called police but nothing they could do. Shade, (given) water, fed daily. If you are watching on a smart phone, you can't appreciate the shaking and the heaving of the belly. It's gotten 10 degrees hotter and more humid since this video.
How it began. Imagine my surprise, Tuesday, July 3rd, I thought I'd run brief errands before the heat worsened. I pulled in to Hamilton's Big Lots parking lot-- on Route 4. Saw a giant, white tent. Thinking it was somebody selling cheap furniture, imagine my shock, which turned to horror, when I saw a camel pacing in a cage, then a tiger lying in one, looking depressed. This tent was full of crates with exotic animals and farm animals.
I grabbed my Point and Shoot camera/video recorder, in my purse, but it did not work! Called the Hamilton Police. They didn't have a clue. "Are you sure it's a Camel that you see?" "Yes, I know what a camel looks like, and there are other exotic animals in small cages, too." The clueless dispatcher said she would alert the Animal Control officer for Butler County.
I was at another side of the parking lot leaving a message on a voice mail, to a Mercy For Animals friend. Maybe five minutes had gone by total?
Drove back to the tent and a lady in a van, is smiling and laughing with some tall, obese white man. (I mention weight because none of his animals were overweight.) I instantly got bad vibes from him, and her. She, a member of the Butler County "Humane" society.
I asked about the animals. "Well, it's a petting zoo. We've had some complaints and I just checked all the animals feet and they are fine, and he's got all the permits." (I later found out when I called the police again, that I was the only one who had called, as I was the only person on record. This "Humane Person" had lied about checking the feet of all the animals in 5 minutes! What about the monkeys, the baby lions? I did not know about them until later)
I voiced concern ". . it's so very hot." This fine animal control person (insert sarcasm) replied, "My barn animals at home are hot. It's hot!" I looked at the man and asked about the pacing camel. He assured me he would have a bigger circle --on the black top-- for him to move around in. I asked where these animals lived when not in cages? "On my farm, in Florida." Had I known his name then, I would've started quizzing him. Instead, I murmured some words . . . can't remember what, as I was close to tears and fled home.
I started doing online searches and ran into dead ends. Then put in 'camel, tiger, traveling exotic animal petting zoo' and bingo. Up came a link from a parking lot petting zoo in Troy, Ohio. Then a mall on the east coast and many more. A 911 animal site included Robert Engesser's name. Even without a photo, my gut told me, this is who I saw. These types are always on the run before the abuse stories catch up. This guy's "Jungle Safari" has records for all sorts of cruelty. The (corrupt) USDA slaps him on the wrist, and he's right back at it. Lives in Florida but shares this abuse with many states who think it's "educational." I can find no photos of his 'zoo' in Florida.
A legal 'but not ethical' permit) allows animals to sleep on blacktop with only straw under them. The Humane Society is not very humane, either, but some of us already knew this.
I'm trying my best, with this little blog to be one little voice for traveling petting zoo animals. If you'd like to be a voice, please share this site or send to somebody you know in an email that wants to see this stopped. Call Big Lots to complain. Ask for the manager! (I did with little info except to say Engesser buys his animal's water from them on a 400 foot long hose across a broiling parking lot!) A friend of mine in local news media got no takers where he worked. A local tv station did an I-Team report on Joe Exotic last year (see end of this post for that name) at Northgate Mall.
The lobbyist who really run this country, may support the filthy, cruel meat industry (that's another tragic tale ) but no way one human should have 'license to do this to animals.” Why can't we make this kind of thing a felony?
The owner of this exotic animal show is allowed to breed all these animals, repeatedly, and travel with this horror under the guise of 'Education.' Are you kidding me? Just like the Cincinnati Zoo, this guy can play animal expert?
Remember, when that guy in Zanesville set his animals loose and killed himself and Ohio folks said, something must be done. We'll change the rules. The new rules are a joke with 'existing exotic owners grandfathered in! '
How about we educate ourselves better at what we are doing to this world. Is this a display we want "the children to see and be happy about?"
Hey, Gov. John Kasich! How about you spend the night here and re-think those laws you wrote for your animal buddies? How comfortable is this tent? I noticed the owner has an RV with air conditioning next to the broiling tent.
I would be horrified for my children/family to see this "educational facility."
**Click on any photo to see them enlarged. I upload them smaller so the pages load quicker on your computers!**
This is the 'bigger outdoor corral' Engesser told me his camel would have access too? Liar. Depressed camel.
Various animals close together, taken from zoom lens day before opening. Note tent down to help weaken the animals to the verge of death. Then feed and water. Lather, rinse, repeat.
PROOF this is Engesser as he's in this video link,
the big guy leading the camel around. He allegedly hits animals in face with fists, with held food and water, but an ex-employee didn't get it on video. He gives the newborn cubs dysentery to weaken them for picture taking (A common practice with ALL Petting zoo's that have wild animals for picture taking!) but many folks later realize "that kitten didn't seem too happy and cried pitifully the entire time we were there." They're taken from mothers after birth, with their eyes still closed. This same thing happens in the farming industry with baby animals.
It's how we get our milk, stealing baby calves from their moms.
NOTE: I studied up and USDA rarely inspects these nightmarish conditions unless enough complain, and when they do, they find filthy water buckets full of algae, silt or feces and give small fines. Sick weakened animals, without enough water or ventilation, or cage too small to stand up or turn around in, is no big deal. Then these guys re-breed the Tigers/Lions, who's babies they steal, and that's how they keep these sick shows going. Selling cubs to any creep via the internet and networking about the country. When cubs grow too big for pictures? SOLD to another guy who starts the whole pattern again.
I had a couple phone calls with the Outreach person from Mercy For Animals, Kevin O'Connor. They strictly lobby and demonstrate against the farming industry because that's where 95% of the cruelty in this country comes from. Cows, pigs, chickens , etc. Dairy barns are horrible, too. There are not enough people to volunteer their time to protest every animal show like this because, as it is so rampant. PETA protests circuses, and animal testing and such. But I was disappointed they (PETA) had no local people interested in this 5 day show. Kevin suggested a letter to the editor. I am working on that now.
I've started calling these exotic petting zoo's the "toss away animals." Nobody has time to protest for them to raise awareness. Search the internet on how easy it is to buy an exotic pet. 1000's of hits come up instantly. Humanity can be a disgrace at times.
I am still bothered by the tiger's panting and the camel pacing. Kevin did make the drive up to check the facility and said "Legally, nothing could be done." When I went back, I saw the camel lying on blacktop, under a tent, blinking at me with his big eyes and turning his head away as I spoke with him. . . spirit broken knowing his miserable -forever- fate. I found Engesser's truck license for his haulers in Florida. Travels over 120,000 miles annually. That's a lot of stressful travel for these critters.
As Kevin O'Connor put on his Facebook page: 'A Tiger's territory usually encompasses 600 square miles or more. . . This Tiger spends his entire life within 150 feet in this cage'. Kevin has a short video of the above panting tiger, pacing later neurotically, the same day.
On another site about petting zoos, I saw a monkey spinning in circles going insane, because there is nothing for him to climb on in his cage. Meanwhile parents and kids take pictures thinking "Isn't that funny?!"
I've read wild cats need ponds to swim in to keep cool in extremely hot weather. The big animals in these shows have limited hot, stale water.
Please, never take your children, grandchildren or your friend's kids to these shows. You are supporting these “self-proclaimed Zoo animal experts.” They are frauds. Petting Zoo' titles are red flags.
Educate yourself and by the way, a real sanctuary never BREEDS animals, never sells them, is kind to them, and never steals the babies from the mother, for human's to bottle feed. Not ever.
Final Note: Joe 'Exotic' SCHREIBVOGEL likes to put out his 'own spin' on vimeo and youtube, but the fact is he also ADMITS to taking baby cubs away from their mothers while their eyes are still shut. His claim? "It makes the public care more (??) to hold these babies, touch them and have a once in a lifetime photograph with them." He doesn't mention the history of heartache, trauma and suffering that is the truth about that cub's life. And the other animals.
Engesser and "Joe Exotic" (Joe uses dozens of aliases) get by with abuse in the name of a fraudulent "sanctuary and rescue home."
All of God's creatures, great and small, deserve a better life than what these types force on them.
I am going to write a letter for these countless animals across the country. But will anybody else? In this day of hit and run comments on Facebook and Twitter, nothing beats old fashioned snail mail and a phone call to complain. Or a well written email. Those sometimes work, but too often, get caught in a spam box. Same with online petitions.
Big Lots and Hamilton should be ashamed, as should be other cities that allow these petting zoos. They are a disgrace.