Zoe Foundation FAQ
Today is March 16, 2017. I am migrating the Zoe Foundation website to WordPress and updating as I go. This FAQ was written many years ago, but I'm leaving it up as an archive. Many of the points I tackled are still relevant today.
My friend and mentor, Dr. Michael Bleyman, passed away 21 years ago. It's hard to believe how quickly time passes.
My vision for a large tiger preserve (first called Paleocene Park and then the Ranthambhore Vision) dedicated to saving the species is still a worthy idea. But at my age, I doubt I will see that preserve come to pass. I envisioned that years ago. I hope a younger visionary will take up that banner. My efforts are now focused on the Tiger Preservation Initiative (TPI). It is a far less costly, attainable goal.
1. Tiger Island?
I have had many people write and ask, "Where is Tiger Island?" There is a Tiger Island in Australia at a theme park called Dreamworld in Coomera, Gold Coast, Queensland. Phone: (07) 5588 1111, but we have no association with that project. Also, I was told there is a Tiger Island at Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo, California, but I know nothing more about it. Our Park does not yet exist. This facility is in the planning stage. Neither have we selected a location. We are making the necessary contacts that will enable this preserve to succeed. We will not attempt to develop this facility until funds are in place. Since this facility is designed to be self sustaining, we feel that funding goals should be met first. So, please do not ask me for a job just yet.
2. Why should I really care if the tiger survives? We lose species everyday.
This paragraph is from the Rainforest Information Centre - "Tropical forests cover only 12 per cent of the land area of the Earth, yet they are home to between 50 and 90 per cent of the world's species. They contain 90% of non-human primates, 40% of all birds of prey and 80% of the world's insects and over 60% of all known plants. …Because of tropical deforestation, it has been estimated that at least 40 species are perishing every day." In addition, much of the world’s oxygen is produced by these forests. The tiger has been called the barometer of the rain-forest. They are at the top of the food chain. The loss of these great predators leads to over populations of non-carnivorous animals which then leads to food shortages, starvation, and an increase in rodent populations. The forest is out of balance and on the decline.
If we as humans are willing to let one of the most magnificent creatures on earth be lost due to poor planning and lack of concern, that speaks volumes about our highly evolved culture.
3. I don’t know you. There are new and different scams on the Internet everyday. How do I know this is not another one?
It’s true. You probably don’t know me. You can learn something about me and my back ground from reading my CV. I was asked by one of the world’s most renowned tiger experts, Dr. Michael Bleyman, to help him save the tiger. Unfortunately he passed away from cancer at the age of 58 in 1996. I am attempting to make his vision a reality. He trusted my dedication and abilities. My foundation has been operational since 1987. I placed my site on the Internet just as it started to emerge as a popular contact medium. My e-mail address is real. Other than that, I don’t know what else I can do. If you would like to meet, we can set something up.
4. There are plenty of scientists out there working to save the tiger. Exxon donates a million dollars a year for this effort. There’s the World Wildlife Fund, etc., etc. How are you going to make a difference?
It's true. There are plenty of scientists in the field. Have they stopped the poaching or the loss of habitat? No! Do they have a contingency plan if the tiger is lost in the wild? No! Are they interested in making you believe their work is making a difference? Of course. Their jobs are at stake.
Everything we need to know about the tiger is known. We don’t need scientists studying them any longer. The tiger needs protection in what few habitats remain. I will say that Exxon is one of the few companies doing anything in this area. But what are they actually doing? They are turning their contributions over to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and they in turn are distributing it to these very same scientists who are still studying tigers. Just where is that going to lead?
I contacted Exxon about a contingency plan that would guarantee the tiger’s survival before extinction. You can read about it in my position paper. In essence it involves managed captive breeding on a vast preserve. They were not interested. They only want to help save the tiger in the wild. The bad news - it’s not going to happen. The continued loss of habitat, poaching, government indifference or lack of ability in the countries where the tiger remains will assure its extinction. Be sure and read Michael Day’s article on the WWF.
I can make a difference for two reasons. One, I am not beholding to the politics of the scientific community. Let them do what they want. Second, I do have the skills and background to develop a secure, genetically managed tiger preserve designed to save this species. I want to ad that I have spoken with some scientists who I consider are on the right track on these issues. More power to them.
5. Just how are you going to develop this project? It would seem that a great deal of money will be needed.
You would be correct. A facility of this nature will be expensive. But we have to start somewhere. We have several plans of action. One is to raise funds through sales of a new product I developed. I have been given the OK by the Guinness Book of World Record’s group to stage a world record event attempt. This event will be used to focus attention on the tiger’s plight and the methodology to save it.
6. So, if I decide to send in a donation or purchase a print or other product when available, how do I know my hard earned money will be used to help save the tiger?
You will have to trust my judgment. If, for some reason, the tiger facility fails to draw sufficient support and my products don’t do well enough to fund the preserve, I will then in turn donate those funds to other non-profit facilities that I know are doing a good job with these animals. I keep track of them. Believe me, many misuse the donations they get. Some use these animals as a way to keep up their personal life styles.
So, your donation will end up helping tigers in one way or the other. Since I have knowledge in this area, I believe I'm qualified to make decisions about the best use of funds.
Money that is spent on my originals and prints or future products handled by TigersTime Studios™ will be used to further this effort in whatever manner I deem appropriate and prudent. Those purchases are not donations.
7. It seems to me that you would have contacted corporations about this idea. If it’s that feasible, it stands to reason they would be willing to help.
I have done just that. As I said, I contacted Exxon. I contacted another major corporation who uses the tiger’s logo - Kellogg. I thought surely they would be interested in at least helping to sponsor the Guinness event. The fact is that after submitting a 52 page full color presentation to a Senior VP, I heard nothing for six months. I would never have heard a thing, but I wrote to their President and CEO requesting a response. Three weeks later I got a short note from the Senior VP saying they were not interested. That sent a very clear message.
People in these corporations can’t go to the bathroom without a committee meeting. They have populated their marketing rooms with young know it all’s who don’t understand biodiversity, rain-forests, or the tiger.
The WWF and other giant animal or ecology centered organizations, now no more than overgrown fund raising corporations, are burdened by tremendous overhead and a propensity to support existing programs. Politics is the problem. None of them will leave the mainstream. Don’t upset the apple cart. Tell people what they want to hear so their donations will keep coming in. Read my Controversy paper about sub-species. Scientific dogma is leading to the extinction of the tiger. Some of the highly publicized organizations are actually part of the problem. Dr. Bleyman loathed some of these groups because of their hard line stands on issues that made no sense in the real world when it came to saving great or lesser felids. It’s all politics, and it’s disgusting.
I personally believe that individual help will be the salvation for the tiger. I have done over ten years of research on how people feel about the dollars they spend being used to develop a preserve to save the species. 95.7% of all respondents indicated they would buy a product if the funds were being used to help the tiger. That is the route I have decided to pursue. Naturally, I would not turn away corporate support, but I have wasted too much valuable time trying to make inroads in that arena.
8. So, if this plan is going to work I know you can’t do it all yourself. What qualified people are you going to use to develop this facility and insure genetic diversity among a captive population?
I've contacted International Theme Park Services, Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are experts in this area. They did a wonderful job with the Cincinnati Zoo and are fully capable of constructing this facility. I have spoken with Dr. Steven O’Brien of the National Cancer Institute’s Laboratory on Genomic Diversity concerning genetic management. He is the world’s leading expert on tiger DNA. He knew Dr. Bleyman and indicated his support in maintaining proper genetic diversity. In addition I have all the contacts I made while working with Dr. Bleyman and his staff. Expertise here includes felid care, genetic management, facility maintenance, volunteer coordination, and more. I can put together the personnel needed to make this project work.
9. It sounds like a zoo to me. Is there any difference? Zoos are saving these animals too, right?
First of all, zoos are not saving these animals. Zoos are in the business of displaying animals and making money. Did you ever see really old tigers, lions, bears, or other animals in zoos? Where do these animals go? You don’t want to know.
Many zoos proudly display a plaque on some cages saying the animal is part of the American Zoo and Aquarium Species Survival Plan. I saw a beautiful snow leopard in a 10’ x 20’ steel barred, concrete floored cage at a prominent state zoo I visited. That cage displayed such a plaque. That’s no life for this animal, but does the AZA care about the quality of that leopard’s life? It’s hard to see. No, zoos for the most part are not in the business of saving species - especially large ones like tigers.
The tiger preserve, as I envision it, is nothing like a zoo. It might be better envisioned as a Noah's Arc - a last refuge to save a species. Individual habitats would be quite spacious, occupying a minimum of 25,000 sq. ft. Larger tiger areas will cover 4 acres. There will be a visitor center, accommodations for guests, a dining center, and other amenities. The preserve will be self sustaining and offer state of the art security, an exquisite neo-natal center, and the best veterinary care. Total land area for this facility will approach 1,200 acres. It will be the largest and best facility of its type in the world.
10. I don’t have any money to give, but I would like to help. How can I do that?
One way each of you can help is to use social media to help us spread the word about the tiger's plight. If everyone would do that, we could reach millions of people.
If there are any other ways in which you feel you can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to write and make a suggestion.
After the preserve is operational our volunteer and staff opportunities will greatly expand. This is the funding stage and requires more than a passing interest.
11. What happens to this project if you should suddenly pass away?
I learned about that unfortunate circumstance first hand when Dr. Bleyman passed away. Sometimes it’s not a pretty sight. His board was composed of friends who knew nothing about what he was really trying to accomplish. When it fell into their hands to take over his work, they failed. They placed inept people in positions of authority. The volunteer base, dedicated staff, and several board members who were knowledgeable quit. His legacy is in great jeopardy. I am taking steps necessary to insure the continuation of this project.
The Zoe Foundation, Inc. is registered as a nonprofit corporation in the State of North Carolina. As of November 29, 2000 the Zoe Foundation has been granted tax exempt status (501 c3) as a public charity by the Internal Revenue Service under section 4940 of the Internal Revenue Code. We have just been notified that the US Patent and Trademark office has granted us the ® registration for our 'Zoe' logo. The by-laws mandate on site work by each director when the preserve is operational. This is to ensure in depth understanding about the project by management. The best insurance for continuation of this project is the careful selection of board members. This is always a top priority.
12. I would love to work with tigers. Can you tell me where I can find a job in this field?
I get this question all the time. It seems there are very few jobs in this field. Taking some exotic animal care course may get you a job cleaning cages in a zoo or private preserve at low pay. Why pay for a course when you can volunteer at a facility and learn the same things for free? A lady wrote to me from the UK who was an experienced research scientist. She tried for years to get a field position. Some said, "Sure, if you can pay your way." Others said no funds were available for assistants. She never found work in this area.
I would recommend volunteering at a local facility if you can. That might be as close as you will come to actually working with these animals. If you want to continue on to a higher education level and enter the field of genetics or veterinary medicine, you stand a better chance of finding a position. You may also consider a business background with an emphasis on fund raising. Most organizations could use help in that area.
Whatever you do, don’t go out and purchase a tiger, stick it in your back yard and pretend you’re a conservationist. A little boy’s arm was ripped off the other day (03-15-00) in Texas. A man had a tiger in his back yard as a ‘pet’, and the child reached in through an opening in the fence. I mean, some folks don’t have the sense God gave a clam. Why does this fellow have a tiger in the first place? A better question is, "Why does Texas have such lax laws regarding ownership of exotic animals?" Unfortunately, most states have very relaxed regulations.