Response from the KARAS family
Let me put this in simple language for you: we were UNAWARE that these animals were not being fed. I have learnt that funds for our jaguars have been misused. Anyone with a business and who have gone through this can understand the disappointment and betrayal. For the past ten years we have closed for the end of the season and care for the jaguars have proceeded as usual. For ten years we have given them the best possible home.
As an open letter to the Karas family.
I have to take exception to this. Owning an animal, any animal, means you have to take some sort of responsibility. Just handing over that responsibility to someone who is not a trained animal keeper was just plain irresponsible, no matter how many times it has been adequately taken care of. Plus giving them the best possible home is also stretching the truth. Although these were captive bred animals, they were not domesticated animals and as such needed far more space to roam other than a concrete floored cage in the middle of a hotel.
These animals existed purely and simply to attract business to a resort. There was no 'love' of the animals or else they would not have been on display. They were simply living ornaments to attract trade. No wonder you feel upset and betrayed, one of your cash cows has died and the other is very poorly and the negative publicity will hurt you further.
I have never failed to boast about how well they have been taken care of. For the umpteenth time, they were never used for glorification purposes. We were honored to have them in our care. Our jaguars were our top priority. We are disgusted to have learnt of their conditions recently and are completely appalled to have discovered that one of our jaguars has perished horrifically.
They were most certainly used for glorification purposes, they were stuck slap bang in the middle of a hotel. There also was no honour involved in having them in your care as you abandoned these animals every year for 10 years and every year we used to hear stories about things not being done correctly.
While we are currently mourning the loss of Xupi allow me to give you a glimpse of a different insight. I grew up surrounded by my father's love for nature and animals. He would never condone inhumane treatment to animals he loved. If he had only known the conditions of these animals he would have taken care of it immediately. He fell in love with Belize decades ago and marveled at the beauty and potential. In the midst of creating lodges that offered a rare experience in Belize - and also providing an outlet of trades and jobs for our indigenous people of the south- we were given these jaguars from a highly reputable park in Mexico.
Was this the same love that forced the removal of the monkey rehab facility to our premises and then on to Sartajena after no money was provided for the care of the monkeys? What about the caged birds? Was this love the same love that caused him to order the release of non rehabilitate monkeys into the wild where hey almost certainly wouldn't survive? Was this the same love that when he found out that he wouldn't be able to display the monkeys that he lost all interest in the project?
TIDE, The Belize Forestry Department and other organizations in Belize have known about our jaguars. Never was there a problem that surfaced about them.
There was no problem because these were jaguars owned by the resort. If they had been wild caught jaguars then believe me you would have heard about it. Breeding Jaguars in captivity has led to a glut in captive Jaguars in zoos. Nobody wants them. The are too may in zoos. If you hadn't taken them they would have been euthanised.
So go ahead, let these organizations let you believe they are unaware of these cats and our purposes with them. They just end up looking quite ignorant. As for the obvious problem - we are undoubtedly taking full responsibility for our jaguars - regardless of the reasons surrounding the matter.
None of the organisations are denying that they knew of these jaguars. But they all will robustly insist that they did NOT agree with what you were doing with them. Even though you say you are taking responsibility for these animals, you are not. The people responsible for them right now are the people who are feeding them until they are well enough, The Belize Wildlife Conservation Network, The Belize Wildlife Rescue Team, and the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic. All under the authority of the Belize Forest Department.
No matter whose fault it was in the outcome. Personally I feel melancholy about this entire matter. I am heartbroken that these cats I have had so much pride in and grew up with have suffered such a fate. One is detrimentally ill and the other no longer with us. May Xupi rest in peace and forgive us for indiscriminately allowing this to occur.
We are doing what is best for Bosh in attempting to get him rehabilitated and off to what we believe is a better, SAFER home. Stop with presumptuous judgements. The matter is being dealt with currently.
As I said before, you are actually doing very little. You are leaving it all up to others. Has Ken Karras flown back to Belize to take responsibility?
I hope people will avoid doing business with any establishment that displays wildlife as a tourist attraction