There must be something in the drinking water of decisionmakers these days—a little lapse in judgment, perhaps? Thankfully, our longtime supporter Kim Basinger, who has testified on behalf of “exotic” animals on Capitol Hill in the past, can spot a bad situation from a mile away.
At our behest she has just sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their irresponsible decision to issue a permit that will allow two tigers to be transferred to the Baghdad Zoo. That’s right, according to the permit, Riley and Hope will be sent off to live an uncertain future in a war zone—an area already proved to be dangerous and deadly to the animals at the Baghdad Zoo and where the last two tigers were shot to death by…”friendly fire.” You can read Kim’s full letter here:
July 28, 2008H. Dale Hall, DirectorU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service1849 C St. N.W.Mail Stop 3238 MIBWashington, DC 20240Dear Mr. Hall,I have long had an interest in how “exotic” animals are treated in captivity. Now, I am very troubled to learn that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved an export permit to send two tigers, Riley and Hope to the Baghdad Zoo – into a war zone with an uncertain future – and hope you will do all in your power to reverse the Service’s decision.It has already been shown that the animals at the Baghdad Zoo cannot be properly protected from the country’s military conflict. When the war began, hundreds of animals in the zoo were killed, stolen, eaten, or let loose by looters. The last two tigers escaped and were shot dead. The future is uncertain. Most of the people in Iraq still do not have access to basic necessities or a safe environment and Iraq remains a war zone: sending tigers there would place the animals squarely in harm’s way.Also, because Iraq is not a signatory to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), issuance of the permit would violate the basic tenet of CITES and will eliminate a significant incentive for other countries to sign on to the provisions of this very important international treaty that is designed to protect tigers like Riley and Hope.The Endangered Species Act mandates that such a transfer enhance the species in the wild, yet there’s absolutely no evidence that sending these tigers to Iraq would fulfill that requirement. Their presence is for amusement.In their natural environment, tigers quietly roam throughout many miles of territory consisting of forests, swamps, grasslands, savannahs, and rocky terrain, hunt, and raise their young. This is the life that they were meant to have—not dodging bullets in a facility that does not have the expertise or resources to properly care for them. It’s my understanding that the zoo even lacks veterinary diagnostic capabilities and many of the animals are handled with the crude use of ropes.Surely your agency will give thoughtful reconsideration and make the kind and responsible decision to deny the export. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.Sincerely,Kim Basinger
If you’re as outraged by this decision as Kim is, please immediately contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service using our action alert. Ask them to rethink their decision to transfer Riley and Hope and to consider the safety of all animals at the Baghdad Zoo.
Posted by Jennifer Cierlitsky