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Where Have All the Wild Cats Gone?
A feature length documentary
In the U.S. there are more tigers living in captivity than in the wild. We will follow the story of exotic big cats from roadside circuses to rescue operations in hopes of unveiling the captive wildlife crisis in America.
For centuries, Lions, Tigers, Jaguars and Leopards have been symbols of freedom and strength, but in America they are inappropriately kept as pets and subjugated to unnatural living conditions for profitable exhibition and entertainment purposes while generating unnecessary danger to public safety. Over the last 21 years, incidents involving these animals have resulted in the deaths of 21 humans, 246 maulings, 254 escapes, 143 big cat deaths and 131 confiscations. It is estimated that there are 10,000 to 20,000 big cats currently held in private ownership in the U.S., although the exact number remains a mystery. Where Have All the Wild Cats Gone? follows the stories of abused and exploited exotic big cats living in captivity across the U.S from backyards to roadside circuses in hopes of shedding light on the often overlooked captive wildlife crisis in the United States.
Director-Producer Whitney Ellis assembles intimate portraits of these majestic creatures alongside heart wrenching stock footage, emotionally honest interviews with private big cat owners, experts, activists, law enforcement and victims. We will hear eyewitness accounts of circus conditions, observe a big cat rescue to rehabilitation, watch as an attack victim retells their story and hear what it was like to be on the ground during the release of 51 exotic animals in Zanesville, Ohio in 2011. This heart-shattering story challenges us to consider the implications of acquiring dangerous carnivores and forgetting their role in the animal kingdom, as predators. It will inspire viewers to think about the inherent rights of animals to live as free beings in their pre-ordained environment and force us to reflect upon our own human desire to possess, dominate and commodify a wild animal.
Call to Action & Campaign Goals:
- Bring awareness of lions, tigers and other dangerous big cats being inappropriately kept as pets and exploited for entertainment in the United States to a wide audience beyond academic and animal activist groups
- Generate conversation around exotic big cats in captivity and used for exhibition and entertainment in America
- Inspire change in public policy and the passing of the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act. This bill would avert unnecessary human suffering from deaths and injuries from these inherently dangerous animals, stop the illegal trade in captive animal parts that encourages poaching of the wild population, and end the widespread misery these majestic animals endure in private hands when exploited for exhibition or inappropriately kept as pets.
- Shed light on Public Safety and Health repercussions of private ownership of these wild animals
 International Fund for Animal Welfare