For several years, ARFF has been following the travels of an animal exhibitor named Thunderhawk Big Cat Rescue. Each month, Ray Thunderhawk would load a truck full of tigers and drive them across the state for appearances at bars, tattoo conventions and flea markets. We have pleaded with Mr. Thunderhawk to stop not only his cruel travels, but also his irresponsible breeding of tigers and other big cats.
This week we learned that Thunderhawk Big Cat Rescue is no more. According to an article in Florida Today, Ray Thunderhawk has been removed from the board of the organization, which has been renamed “Central Florida Animal Reserve.” In response, Mr. Thunderhawk has filed suit, claiming that several of the organization’s 15+ tigers are his “property.”
According to the article, “That some of the cats were allowed to breed was a contentious point” between Mr. Thunderhawk and the board. Mr. Thunderhawk acknowledges that breeding was done, “to help with fundraising by taking the cubs to shows.”
We are thrilled that Ray Thunderhawk is no longer in charge, but the future for the tigers remains uncertain. On its website, the new Central Florida Animal Reserve states its position on breeding: “We believe propagation of the species should benefit wild populations and not private ownership.”
Please contact Central Florida Animal Reserve and urge them to clarify this wishy-washy statement. Ask them to take an important step toward becoming a true sanctuary by clearly stating that they will never again allow tigers to breed. The breeding of tigers in Florida serves no conservation purpose.