Damariscotta resident Bailey Chalmers just lately accomplished a three-month internship at Large Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary in Tampa, Fla. featured within the in style Netflix documentary sequence “Tiger King.”
Based on its web site, Large Cat Rescue is among the largest accredited sanctuaries on the earth for abused and deserted massive cats, together with lions, tigers, cougars, and bobcats. The sanctuary has been accredited by the International Federation of Animal Sanctuaries since 2009.
Chalmers, a pupil at Mercer College in Macon, Ga., realized about Large Cat Rescue when she was despatched a video from its YouTube channel. After researching the sanctuary’s aggressive internship program, she utilized and was accepted to start out in January.
Chalmers and the opposite interns lived on the sanctuary and started this system by working within the reward store and doing chores. As soon as interns accomplished coaching and certification programs, they got extra tasks, together with cleansing enclosures, feeding, and offering enrichment alternatives for the cats, Chalmers stated.
“You do a number of watching earlier than you do something,” Chalmers stated. “So a number of the time was observing and asking questions, however nothing actually prepares you for the primary time you get to work with a cat by your self.”
One of many interns’ duties was to carry out operant conditioning with the cats, which helps the animals get extra comfy with individuals. The conditioning additionally helps the animals full particular duties they could have to do for medical causes, equivalent to to have blood drawn or obtain a shot.
The primary animal Chalmers did operant conditioning with on her personal was a bobcat named Breezy.
“It was completely superb,” Chalmers stated. “At that time in my internship I had turn out to be a little bit extra accustomed to being across the cats, and I knew her habits simply from spending a lot time watching.”
Even with greater than 60 cats on the sanctuary, Chalmers stated she rapidly realized every one’s identify and persona.
“For every little thing we do with every animal, it’s tailor-made to them and their persona,” Chalmers stated. “Like individuals, these cats have very, very distinctive personalities. Generally there could be a cat that for completely no cause hates you however loves everybody else. After which there’s cats that don’t like anybody however for some cause could like this one particular person.”
Just lately, Large Cat Rescue and its proprietor, Carole Baskin, acquired widespread consideration as a result of sanctuary’s portrayal in “Tiger King.” The sequence focuses on Joe Maldonado-Passage, identified by his stage identify, Joe Unique. Maldonado-Passage is the previous proprietor and operator of Larger Wynnewood Unique Animal Park in Wynnewood, Okla.
In 2019, Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in jail after a federal jury convicted him of 9 counts of violating the Endangered Species Act, eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife data, and two counts of murder-for-hire stemming from a plot to kill Baskin.
Chalmers started watching “Tiger King” after receiving questions on her expertise working for Large Cat Rescue and with Baskin. She described the sequence as heartbreaking and infuriating.
“It’s very troublesome to get by way of, and my expertise there was very totally different from what was portrayed,” Chalmers stated. “I feel drama sells, and so they positively had some bias within the statements that had been made, however actually I want the main target hadn’t been on that.”
Whereas she didn’t work intently with Baskin, Chalmers stated that in each encounter, Baskin was good, and that she is dedicated to the welfare of the animals on the sanctuary.
Chalmers stated she wished the sequence would have centered extra on the Large Cat Public Security Act, a federal invoice that, if handed, would additional the safety of animals like these featured in “Tiger King.”
“There was an actual alternative, in my view, to speak in regards to the Public Security Act, and so they did not make the most of it,” Chalmers stated. “It might change the lives of many, many animals who’re residing in situations they’re not fitted to or with individuals who do not know learn how to correctly look after them, and to see this simply get ignored is so irritating.”
Chalmers’ internship with Large Cat Rescue led to March, every week sooner than anticipated as a result of COVID-19 emergency. She is again in Damariscotta together with her household and is taking summer time programs by way of Mercer College.
Previous to her expertise with Large Cat Rescue, Chalmers deliberate to turn out to be a veterinarian. She just isn’t certain if she’s going to proceed pursuing this purpose, as a result of monetary burden, however stated she nonetheless needs to work with animals in some capability.
“This expertise is totally unparalleled by something I’ve ever carried out or will do,” Chalmers stated. “Now I’m utterly certain I need to work with animals, and vet med continues to be an choice, however I’m additionally eager about doing related work to what I did within the sanctuary, like analysis. It’s actually made me step again and have a look at the larger image.”
— to lcnme.com