REXANO Editorial, May 2011
Back in January 2011,
we reported on the inaccuracies with the Discovery’s
WAR episode that was supposed to air on January 16th, 2011. WAR’s promos
showed the “rescue” of capuchin monkeys from a soon-to-be demolished
roadside zoo and the “rescue” of 22 bears from suspected breeders.
When many in the industry exposed the truth, that the monkeys and bears
were from a Texas sanctuary that closed its door because of corruption
and mismanagement, and the animals were NOT from a roadside zoo or a
private exotic animal breeder, Discovery cancelled the show at the last
minute. Now, unbelievably, the same show is scheduled to air on May 8th,
This time, Discovery changed WAR’s promo description of the bears’
rescue from that of a private breeder to that of a “financially troubled
sanctuary”, yet continues to claim Lope rescued “a troop of capuchin
monkeys from a soon-to-be-demolished roadside zoo”, even though the
truth is the monkeys came from the very same “financially troubled
sanctuary” as the bears!
By law, there is no such thing as ‘Exotic Animal Repossession”. Even
though animals are property under the US legal system, the only time an
animal confiscation can occur is when law enforcement officers are
directed to do so by a court order.
Scott Lope is not authorized to confiscate or repossess anyone’s
animals. For Discovery to pretend such a job exists, and the notion that
Lope is ‘the man’ in what they call a ‘reality’ show, is a sure way to
get lumped in with tabloid-style propaganda TV programming.
To this day, the untold story behind the WAR’s supposed rescue of “six
tigers in flimsy cages” was not discussed—until now.
Background: The Untold Story
In May 1998, a pet cougar named Ranger bit a 4-year old boy in Wylie,
Texas (Collin County). Multiple newspapers reported that the owner of
the pet cougar was Vicky Marshall (now Vicky Keahey). The boy was
treated in the hospital for several puncture wounds. As required by law,
cougar Roger was quarantined for 45-days at the local animal shelter as
a precaution to ensure he didn't have rabies.
Animal control officers tried to impound Marshall’s second pet cougar,
Tahoe, as a precaution, since Tahoe and Roger had nose-to-nose contact,
and by law, should have been quarantined for rabies as well.
To prevent Tahoe being quarantined, Marshall took her pet cougar to her
friends’ USDA licensed, exotic animal facility in Leona, TX.
At the time, Collin County authorities allowed residents to keep exotic
pets only if they had a Federal USDA permit. Vicky Marshall supposedly
didn’t have the required permit and was therefore in violation of County
law. Marshall was given a misdemeanor citation for this violation.
When Marshall eventually secured her USDA exhibitor permit, so as to
legally keep her pets, she was not only reunited with her pet cougars,
but she also started buying pet tiger cubs as well. Marshall’s first
white tiger was Kiro, bought in September 1999, from the same friend in
Leona, TX, that cared for her cougar during Marshall’s time of need, as
she sought the required USDA license. Back then, the going purchase rate
for white tigers was around $10,000. So with just two pet cougars and at
least one pet tiger cub, non-profit ‘In-Sync Exotic Wildlife Rescue and
Education Center’ was born. It was around this time Vicky Marshall got
married and became Vicky Keahey.
The Leona woman, who temporarily cared for Vicky’s cougar Tahoe, was
diagnosed with cancer, and her life-saving treatments took a toll on her
physical health, making it difficult for her to care for her six big
cats. In 2010, she voluntarily decided, for the health and well-being of
her animals, to transfer her six tigers to Vicky Keahey’s “In-Sync
Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center” in Wylie, Texas. The
elderly woman’s Federal USDA inspection reports show no animal welfare
violations just prior to the re-homing of her beloved tigers. The
following USDA inspection report clearly stated she was voluntarily
giving up her cats—they were not confiscated.
This was supposed to be an easy, late summer transfer of her animals
from one USDA facility to another. Since the women knew each other and
their animals for over a decade, it was supposed to be a quick, humane,
‘load up the tigers and drive away” situation. There was no rescue, no
repossession, no confiscation, of these six tigers—just a simple,
already pre-arranged, re-homing of the animals.
Prior to the actual “move date “, In-Sync was approached by the WAR
filming crew. In exchange for filming the re-homing, In-Sync was
allegedly offered several tens of thousands of dollars to be applied
towards the care of the six tigers.
On Thursday, April 28th, 2011,
In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and
Educational Center’s Facebook page responded to a query from one of its
“friends” regarding Lope’s participation in the tigers’ so-called
“I’m afraid we can't comment on Scott Lope, but I do believe he is still
a large part of the show. Unfortunately, had absolutely no input on the
content of the show, we simply allowed them to come along and film our
rescue of the 6 tigers, so we really don't know what the show will look
like until we see it!”
In In-Sync’s own words, they simply allowed Scott Lope to film the
animals’ trip from one USDA facility to another. Lope was NOT a rescuer;
he was just “playing” one on TV.
The WAR Crew ‘Rescue’
In 2010, the staged tiger ‘reality’ filming happened on a 100 degree hot
and humid August day. The transfer of animals was supposed to begin
around 7AM so as to protect the animals from the searing Texas heat.
According to our sources, the WAR crew supposedly didn’t show up until
after 9AM, and did not conclude it’s filming until the early evening
hours, mostly spending time filming footage of Lope posing and talking
to the camera for hours on end, while animals were stuck sedated in
transport cages, and overheating.
Veterinarians were present, but still,
one older tiger supposedly almost died from over sedation and heat
exposure. Eventually, ice was brought in and applied to the animals. It
is still not clear to us why two Sheriff Deputies were on the scene at
taxpayers’ expense. I guess we will have to wait and see for the
explanation when the episode airs this week.
While we have only seen WAR’s promo of the supposed “tiger” rescue,
which was originally aired in January of this year and not the entire
show; we can only hope the elderly dying woman and her facility will be
portrayed in an ethical, honest and dignified manner on the soon-to-be
aired WAR episode. Anything other than the truth could worsen her health
condition, as well as cause a possible public relations and legal
nightmare for the Discovery Channel.
Scott Lope is NOT an animal “repo man.” He is just an “actor” and he did
NOT “rescue” any of the tigers featured in the upcoming WAR episode.
Plans to relocate the featured animals to new homes were made long
before Lope showed up on the scene. Lope was simply along for the ride,
nothing more, nothing less. To claim otherwise, not only discredits Lope
and the Discovery Channel, but it also portrays real animal rescuers in
a negative light. If Lope truly cared about the animals, he would have
been honest about why the animals were re-homed from USDA facilities to
other USDA-licensed facilities. We can only speculate that money and the
promise of fame motivated Lope to grossly exaggerate the so-called
animal “rescues” in the first place. I guess we will know for sure after
viewing WAR’s season premičre this week.
Copyright © REXANO 2011
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