Demand Closure of Exotic and Unethical Sanctuaries

John and Karen Hollingsworth

Target: President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto

Goal: Close all exotic and unethical sanctuaries in Mexico

Recently, Catie Wayne, from Youtube channel Animalist, discussed her trip to Mexico where she visited a “sanctuary” that allowed visitors to pet tiger and lion cubs. While waiting in line for these animals, the staff of the facility told her that these tigers were rescued, and were being rehabilitated to be set free into the wild. She then saw one of the staff members abuse a jaguar into submission, where she then exited the line. The sad truth is there are many sanctuaries in Mexico, and around the world, who call themselves sanctuaries, but are fronts for the illegal animal trade. The Mexican president should close these sanctuaries, as they are places of neglect and abuse.

Exotic animal petting zoos exist in both Mexico and Europe, where these animals are abused, starved, and neglected for profits. These animals are acquired either through capturing them in the wild, or purchasing them through dealers. Young tigers and lions are used as tourist attractions for visitors to cuddle and take pictures with, but when these animals grow up they are either used to breed more young ones, or sold off to the illegal wildlife trade for profits. These animals are not being taken care of, and are instead used to generate revenue for the owners.

Big Cat Rescue, the largest big cat sanctuary in the United States, says that breeders and exhibitors–who often pose as sanctuaries and reserves–are not proponents of animal welfare. Sanctuaries and rescuers will not breed their animals, and they will not allow visitors to touch or pet the animals. Paying to pet these large creatures does not help conserve their numbers in the wild, in fact, it does the opposite. By paying into this tourist attraction, visitors are adding to the demand for young tiger and lion cubs. This fuels the illegal wildlife trade, and takes these wild animals away from their natural habitat. The Mexican president should not allow these breeders and exhibitionist to exist, and he should draft a law to immediately close these facilities and relocate the animals to a proper and ethical sanctuary.


Dear President Enrique Pena Nieto,

It has come to my attention that your country runs several facilities that allow visitors and tourists to pet and take pictures of young tiger and lion cubs. While this facility attracts tourists, I am afraid that such places are known to abuse and neglect the animals. A true sanctuary will not breed or let the public handle these animals, especially when visitors could get hurt.

I am writing this letter urging you to close these places, as they are unethical and are fueling the illegal wildlife trade. Tigers and lions belong in the wild, and should not be bred for human gain.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Bjorn Christian Torrison via Wikimedia Commons

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