.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Opportunistic Old Hacks Who Run the Show in New Jersey Are All Set to Unjustly Condemn Rocky to a Lifetime Behind Bars for, Basically, Daring to So Much as Breathe

"If you've got one-hundred per cent bobcat, that should not be in your backyard. I sure wouldn't want my grandkids walking up and petting your cat."
-- Stafford Township Municipal Court Judge Damian G. Murray

It yet still another shocking and utterly outrageous case of naked animal exploitation and cruelty, a three-year-old, thirty-eight-pound pet cat named Rocky, believed to be either a purebred bobcat or a Maine Coon-bobcat mix, has been forcibly seized from his lawful owner's home in Stafford Township, New Jersey, and unjustly incarcerated at the Popcorn Park Zoo in nearby Lacey Township. Worst still, with Municipal Court Judge Damian G. Murray, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW),  the local police, and Animal Control all out to get him, it appears that he is destined to spend the remainder of his days on this earth at either the zoo or some other similar hellhole institution.

The Daily Record of Parsippany even reported on April 17th that the diabolical United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has entered the fray on, predictably, the side of Rocky's opponents but that claim has not been independently substantiated. (See "Rocky's Blood Drawn to Determine if Stafford Animal Is Purebred Bobcat.") If true, that certainly would not be anything new in light of that agency's extermination campaigns against cats on San Nicholas Island, in the Florida Keys, and elsewhere. If there are cats, big or small, to be demonized and liquidated, the USFWS usually can be found somewhere in the lynch mob, either in the vanguard or orchestrating the atrocities from the safety of the shadows.

Rocky's predicament is especially dire in that he is ill-equipped to defend himself against such a thoroughly evil, unprincipled and, above all, opportunistic gang of shysters, wildlife biologists, and law enforcement personnel. Even more deplorable, he cannot even depend very much upon the support of his owner, Ginny Fine of Beach Haven West, who is now claiming that she is too poor to hire an attorney to defend him even though it is believed that she shelled out as much as $1,750 in order to acquire him from a Montana breeder when he was only five weeks old.

Rocky's travails began last October when he reportedly used his front paws in order to open the front door of  Fine's abode. Although it is not known either how long he was on the loose or how he was recaptured, the mere fact that Fine was allowed to retain custody of him is a pretty strong indication that he never bit anyone.

Likewise since he has been cruelly declawed, it would have been impossible for him to have scratched anyone. On the negative side of the ledger, that act of  barbarism also placed his life in mortal danger by robbing him of his most effective means of both warding off predators and feeding himself.

As far as it could be determined, that was Rocky's first brush with the law, at least in Stafford Township. It has not been publicly disclosed if he and Fine always have lived at their current address so it is remotely conceivable that there could have been prior incidences at other locales.

Be that as it may, his clean record in Stafford Township did absolutely nothing in order to deter the authorities from throwing the book at both him and Fine. Not only did his escape wind up costing Fine $500 but she was forced to go to court where Animal Control strong-armed her into signing a stipulation on October 18th whereby she not only forfeited her rights to Rocky but his freedom, well-being, and future as well.

"Any subsequent running at large, biting, or attacking, on or off the owner's property will cause the hybrid feline to be immediately seized and a hearing requested, with no option of agreement," the accord mandates according to The Press of Pleasantville's April 8th edition. (See "Bobcat Mix Taken to Zoo after Owner Finds Him.")

Of all the underhanded flimflams that lawyers, jurists, and others in authority pull out of their overstuffed bags of dirty tricks and subsequently ram down the throats of the powerless, poor, and naïve, written accords of this sort are not only the worst but the most destructive. For example, they are so common as to be regarded as part of the woodwork in Manhattan's Housing Court where they are liberally used by draconian landlords, their shysters, and unscrupulous judges in order to illegally evict tenants bereft of counsel from their apartments. That is one reason why New York City has so many homeless individuals and the number surely would be far greater if the mortality rate amongst the dispossessed were not so high.

The objective of these deceitful little lawyerly games is to foist totally unreasonable demands upon defendants that they bloody well know it will be impossible for them to satisfy. As a consequence, they are able to divest them of their cats, dwellings, and other valuables without so much as breaking a sweat. Best of all, these ruses are totally legal!

Needless to say, accords of this sort never should be entered into under any circumstances without the advice and consent of legal counsel. In this particular case, any halfway competent attorney would have negotiated with Animal Control and Stafford Township so as to have prevented them from imposing unrealistic demands upon Rocky and Fine. Besides, emergencies, unforeseen events, and extenuating circumstances crop up all the time and Rocky and Fine therefore should have been accorded a certain amount of legal wiggle room.

Rocky Unjustly Incarcerated at the Popcorn Park Zoo

Although law is an exceedingly easy academic discipline to master, whatever advantage its simplicity conveys is more than negated by the dishonest and unfair tactics of the unscrupulous individuals and corrupt institutions that practice it. Charles Dickens, for example, once likened it to a blade that cuts very deeply but not too evenly.

The stipulation that Fine signed also gave her ten days in order to construct an outdoor enclosure that was surrounded by a fence in order to contain Rocky. Not only did she fail to comply but Animal Control looked the other way.

"The kind of pen they want to be built costs over $1,000," she bellyached to The Press. "I'm a single mom and I can barely make ends meet."

Without knowing the particulars of her financial situation it is impossible to speculate if she is being truthful or simply was too cheap to have built the enclosure. It also is entirely possible that she could have sustained financial reversals since she initialed the stipulation.

The weather possibly could have been another factor that worked against her in that this winter has been both long and hellish in the northeast. Torrential downpours and the bone-chilling cold arrived shortly before Thanksgiving and, although temperatures have begun to moderate a bit of late, Old Man Winter is yet to completely relinquish his icy grip on the region.

Nevertheless, Fine was fully cognizant of the consequences of what she was signing. Even more telling she certainly was well aware that she was playing Russian roulette with Rocky's life by failing to construct the pen.

Therefore, between her failure to fulfill her legal obligations and the snares set for her by the lawyers, judges, policemen, politicians, and bureaucrats who wield power in Stafford Township, the stage was set for Rocky's demise. All that was needed was for him to make one little mistake and that occurred on March 25th when he escaped through a sliding glass door.

Fine, who was home at the time, feverishly attempted to corral her errant cat and very well may have succeeded in doing so if it had not been for the unwarranted intervention of her meddlesome neighbors. "The day he got loose, he had been out ten to fifteen minutes when a neighbor must have seen him and called the police. He was only two yards down from the house," she told the Asbury Park Press of Neptune on April 8th. (See "Stafford Bobcat Comes Home, Only to Be Taken to Popcorn Park Zoo.") "Had we been given another ten minutes to coax him back in...if they had just given us a few minutes, this whole situation could have been avoided."

That was not to be, however, and once the peelers arrived on the scene it was way too late for her to save Rocky. "The police all arrived and there were ten men chasing him for four hours," she told to the Asbury Park Press. "He took off, and I think if I had ten people chasing me, I'd take off too."

Traps were set for him but it was not until April 6th that he was recaptured and for that fortunate turn of events Fine has her domestic cat, Elsie, to thank. "He is very bonded with our house cats, so I took Elsie back through the woods near my house where there had been some sightings," she confided to the Asbury Park Press. "As soon as the little cat started meowing and crying, Rocky came back."

Fine promptly notified the police that Rocky had been recaptured but to her chagrin Animal Control Officers showed up at her house on April 7th with a court order granting them the authority to remove him to Popcorn Park. That quickly transformed his happy homecoming into something more akin to a wake.

Stench of the Bench Damian G. Murray Lording It over Rocky

"He was so happy to be home, to see his friends (two cats, a dog, and a bird)... He was so, so happy. It was late Sunday and we went to bed and Rocky literally was walking between us and the cats and he was so happy," Fine swore to the Asbury Park Press. "It just crushed me that he came back home with his family and buddies and he had a nice meal -- then they came and took him."

Although she very well could be telling the unvarnished truth, it nonetheless is extremely odd that whenever hybrids and purebreds are able to escape the domestic yoke it is almost unheard of for them to voluntarily return home. A prima facie case therefore could be made that no matter how much they may care for the domestic hearth they value their freedom and the wild outdoors even more.

Despite the damage that had been done, Fine showed up in Municipal Court on April 11th with high hopes of having Rocky promptly returned to her. Unbeknownst to her, the cat-hating fiends at the DFW had been busy plotting against both her and Rocky during the interim.

Specifically, the DFW went to Murray and persuasively argued that it believed Rocky to be a purebred bobcat instead of a hybrid. Always willing to be of assistance to a fellow member of the establishment, Murray automatically granted the department's request that a DNA test be performed on Rocky in order to determine his pedigree.

"If you've got one-hundred per cent bobcat, that should not be in your backyard," he thundered like Zeus from the bench according to the Asbury Park Press's April 12th edition. (See "Rocky the Bobcat Stays at Zoo; Judge Wants to Know If It's a Purebreed (sic).") "I sure wouldn't want my grandkids walking up and petting your cat."

A good case could be made that any sitting judge who spouted such drivel as that is in far greater need of a mental competency test than Rocky ever will need a DNA verification. First of all, bobcats are native to New Jersey and as such they very well could be stealthily roaming in and out of more backyards than the general public realizes.

More importantly, to do so is their natural right. They were here long before loudmouthed and empty-headed Murray and his double-dealing confederates arrived on the scene and as such they are entitled to inhabit this land. The same can be said for the black bears, coyotes, raccoons, fishers, birds of prey and other so-called dangerous animals that call the Garden State home.

Furthermore, since rocky is declawed and domesticated he hardly could pose much of a threat to anyone. Au contraire, it is precisely he who needs to be protected from all the trigger-happy, cat-hating lunatics and motorists who deliberately run down cats for sport.

Besides, as Murray should realize, an inside bobcat is even less of a threat than one living in the wild. Also, it is highly improbable that his precious grandchildren ever would come into direct contact with Rocky let alone attempt to pet him.

Of course, it is always conceivable that he considers them to be either very stupid or foolhardy which is a distinct possibility given that imbecility, like lawlessness, is said to run in families. A more plausible explanation is that he simply hates cats and is trying to capitalize politically by indulging in scare tactics and character assassinations against an animal who is unable to verbally fence with him on his own turf.

It probably is unrealistic, especially in New Jersey, but the public nevertheless has a right to expect considerably more from a highly-paid jurist than what it can get for free from the village idiot. At the very least, Murray and the representatives of his ignoble profession and privileged social strata should be stopped from making a meal out of the animals and those individuals who are unable to defend themselves.

A Dejected Ginny Fine Walks Away in Defeat

To put the case succinctly, the job of a judge is to pass judgment and that requires considerably more than just passing gas and playing to the prejudices of those in the peanut gallery. Accordingly, by his own words and actions, Murray has demonstrated conclusively that he has neither the temperament, impartiality, nor the brains to decide a matter of this importance.

Pursuant to the court issued by Murray, Rocky was anesthetized and a blood sample taken by Jonathan Bergmann, a veterinarian at Popcorn Park, on April 16th. The sample then was sent to the Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab at East Stroudsburg University for analysis.

As soon as that is completed, court will be reconvened and Murray will issue his ruling. In the meantime, Rocky remains a captive at Popcorn Park.

"The pen looks awful," Fine told the Asbury Park Press on April 10th after reviewing photographs of his new lodgings. (See "Rocky the Bobcat Can Go Home if New Pen Built, Stafford Authorities Say.") "It looks like a Third World jail cell."

She was reduced to looking at photographs because the zoo initially had refused to allow her to even visit Rocky. More recently, however, it has relented and she now at least is able to see him ever once in a while.

Also, an anonymous donor has come forward and offered to foot the bill for a new enclosure and work is believed to have already commenced on the project. An online drive additionally has raised in excess of $1,200 for Rocky's defense and as of April 23rd seven-hundred-thirteen concerned cat lovers had signed a petition at www.care2.com calling for him to be allowed to return home.

Regrettably, it thus would appear that all of those welcomed developments have come way too late in order to save Rocky. That is because the breeders who reportedly sold him to Fine, Deborah and Gerald Roe of Bitterroot Bobcat and Lynx of Stevensville, Montana, advertise only purebreds on their web site.

The plot thickens considerably at this point in the story because the Roes, if that indeed is their lawful name, are an especially dodgy duo. On their web site they freely admit to having bred bobcats and Canadian lynxes since 1985 but in a newspaper interview last year they claim to being nothing more than the guardians of three pet bobcats and a trio of lynxes.

"We're not breeding and selling cats like people breed and sell dogs," Deborah Roe swore to the Ravalli Republic of Hamilton on July 28, 2013. (See "Life in Lynxville: Stevensville Couple Raises Bobcats and Canadian Lynx in Their Home.") "We don't have immediate plans to breed, but we may end up wanting to breed a litter. It's not like my girls are just going to be pumping out kittens."

Right before making that declaration, Roe sounded a cautionary note about adopting out the kittens that she supposedly does not even breed in the first place. "Nobody in their right mind would sell an animal to just anybody who walks through the door. These animals are strictly controlled in the majority of states," she told the Ravalli Republic. "Before somebody even thinks about it, you need to know state and county laws and what permits are needed."

Gerald and Deborah Roe with One of Their Pet Bobcats

From there she went on to delineate the specific adoption guidelines in place at Bitterroot. "Before I will let one of my animals go, we need an interview. We don't allow anybody that has small children. They must own their own home, and they have got to have provable prior experience with owning these animals," she declared to the Ravalli Republic. "And whenever possible, they need references. I will talk to the local veterinarians and see how they treat their own animals."

If Roe did indeed sell Rocky to Fine, she willfully violated all of her own rules. Most important of all, she undoubtedly is aware that it is illegal for New Jersey residents to own bobcats except under certain narrowly circumscribed circumstances.

Secondly, Fine admittedly has at least one child although its age has not been specified. Thirdly, it is doubtful, although not entirely out of the question, that she has owned bobcats previously and therefore is anything but an old hand when it comes to their care.

Fourthly, Roe's reliance upon references from veterinarians is especially puzzling in light of her exceedingly low opinion of the profession. "After two weeks of receipt of your healthy kitten our liability ends," she declares on her web site. "This is due to much misinformation and improper treatment by veterinarians and new owners that do not follow our directions and advice properly."

That leads into the intriguing question of the legality of veterinarians treating bobcats. At first glance it would appear that any practitioner who ministered to an illegally-owned bobcat would be every bit as guilty as physicians who treat gunshot victims without notifying the police.

Much more important than that is the question of their competency to treat such animals in the first place. Nonetheless, considering their well-established greed, it is likely that most of them gladly would treat most any animal so long as they are handsomely rewarded for their services.

At the same time, they do not have any scruples whatsoever about systematically slaughtering untold numbers of cats each year because they either are homeless and do not have any money or their caretakers are too cheap in order to pony up for their veterinary care. (See Cat Defender posts of March 19, 2014, July 17, 2013, and December 22, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Cheap and Greedy Moral Degenerates at PennVet Extend Their Warmest Christmas Greetings to an Impecunious, but Preeminently Treatable, Cat Via a Jab of Sodium Pentobarbital," "Not Satisfied with Merely Whacking Meiko, Garrison Keillor Struts on Stage in Order to Shed a Bucketful of Crocodile Tears and to Denigrate the Entire Species," and "Rogue TNR Practitioner and Three Unscrupulous Veterinarians Kill at Least Sixty-Two Cats with the Complicity of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC'S Animals.")

This also apparently is not the first time that Bitterroot knowingly has sold bobcats to individuals living in states where their ownership is explicitly proscribed. For instance, one of the prime motivations behind the DFW's rabid interest in this case stems from the Roes' prior sale of a purebred bobcat to an unidentified party living somewhere in New York State.

Bobcat hybrids, on the other hand, are perfectly legal in New Jersey and elsewhere across the United States and with that being the case it is possible, albeit unlikely, that Fine was deceived into believing that she was acquiring one of them. Despite their legal status, the cats themselves always have been controversial from the very start.

Carol Ann Brewer of Bellingham, Washington, for example, is credited with creating Pixie-Bobs back in 1986 by mating bobcats with domestic cats. DNA tests have failed to prove, however, a direct genetic link between the two dissimilar species.

Mitchell and Keeley Morris with Pixie-Bob Kittens

Rather, Jan Strother of the North Alabama Cat and Bird Veterinary Clinic in Hartselle believes that those cats which are passed off as Pixie-Bobs actually are Manxes and bobtailed cats. That has not deterred breeders such as Mitchell Morris of Lawrence County, Alabama, from making a killing by selling what he claims to be crosses between bobcats and domestic felines.

"I found gold in my backyard with these kittens," he crowed like a lottery winner back in 2007. "I'm not a cat person. I'm more of a dog person, but I might turn into a cat person."

Flush with enough shekels from his thriving new enterprise in order to finance a heart transplant, a new motor for his boat, and trip to Disney World, Morris was not about to forget who it was that had made possible his naked exploitation and ruthless abuse of both bobcats and domestic cats. "God will send you money and miracles in the strangest ways," he testified. (See Cat Defender post of June 28, 2007 entitled "Rural Alabama Man Makes a Killing Forcibly Breeding Domestic Cats to Bobcats in Order to Create Pixie-Bobs.")

Although the controversy over his pedigree has transformed his case into a cause célèbre, Rocky is not the first alleged bobcat hybrid from southern New Jersey to run afoul of the DFW. For example, in December of 2008 an eight-month-old alleged Pixie-Bob named Benny got into trouble when, spooked by dogs, he inadvertently bit Santa Claus at a picture-taking event held at a PetSmart outlet in the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing.

In the brouhaha that followed not only the DFW, which subjected Benny to a DNA test in order to verify his pedigree, but the Atlantic County and Vineland health departments, the SPCA, and the New Jersey State Department of Health, lined up for miles in all directions in order to get a piece of Benny. Unfortunately, the results of his DNA test never were made public and as a result it is not known if his owner, Christine Haughey of Egg Harbor Township, was allowed to retain custody of him.

The staggering toll that the ensuing legal, political, and media circus took on her did, however, leave her duly chastened. "I'm really sorry, Santa, that he bit your hand and I apologize," she said at the time. "I learned my lesson for taking Benny out of the house." (See Cat Defender post of December 19, 2008 entitled "Regardless of Whether He Is a Pixie-Bob or a Bobcat, It Is Going to Be a Blue Christmas for Benny after He Inadvertently Bites Santa Claus.")

Civil servants in New Jersey are by and large a singularly unexceptional lot. So long as they receive their overinflated salaries, perks, and baksheesh, they generally can be counted upon to dutifully act out their self-defined rôles as worthless old political hacks.

They are, however, extremely greedy. Many of them, for example, hold down three or four fulltime, permanent public jobs on top of which they are known to put in as much as two-hundred to three-hundred hours of overtime each week!

They also are endowed with highly developed proboscises which enable them to sniff out at tremendous distances anything of value, including rusty old nickels tucked away inside rotting Prince Albert tins that have been buried underneath piles of goose droppings for decades! It accordingly is anything but surprising that they have piled on Rocky and Fine with such a vengeance.

The situation is so deplorable in fact that the only known honest civil servant to be found anywhere in the Garden State is a cat named Caloo. (See Cat Defender post of September 22, 2008 entitled "New Jersey at Long Last Has at Least One Honest Public Servant and Her Name Is Caloo from Carlstadt.")

Benny and Santa Claus

Needless to say, to wind up at the mercy of such a rapacious gang of miscreants and other assorted low-life makes Rocky's situation extremely difficult. On top of all of that, rules promulgated and enforced by the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), of which the DFW is a part, entitle only zoos, animal exhibitors, vivisectors, and advertising and theatrical concerns to own purebred bobcats. C'est-à-dire, it is perfectly legal for ruthless capitalists to exploit and abuse bobcats to the hilt in order to line their pockets but strictly verboten for someone like Fine to simply care for and to love one of them.

It thus would appear that Rocky and Fine have been left with only two very slim chances of escaping the hangman. The first one would be for him, against all odds, to turn out to be something other than a purebred bobcat. Secondly, DNA tests are not always conclusive.

Even under either of those scenarios it still would be up to an antagonistic Murray to decide his fate. Even though he previously has blowed long and hard against purebreds specifically, it is doubtful that he would let Rocky off the hook if he was determined to be much more than fifty per cent bobcat.

As far as it is known, the DEP does not have in place any rules stipulating precisely how close to a purebred a bobcat needs to be in order to warrant its confiscation and removal from a private home. This matter in turn would need to be litigated if the DFW attempted to hold on to Rocky in the event that he is determined not to be in fact a purebred. Regrettably, Fine at the moment either does not have or is unwilling to spend the money needed in order to finance such a protracted legal tussle.

Lost amidst all the legal wrangling and public posturing has been a totally inexcusable lack of concern on the part of the authorities for Rocky's well-being. "I'm okay with taking the blame for all of this," Fine told the Asbury Park Press in the April 8th article cited supra. "But unfortunately, it's Rocky who is getting punished, and I don't think that's fair."

Besides being grotesquely unfair, Rocky's options are few. Because he was born in captivity, is friendly disposed toward humans, and declawed, releasing him into the wild is totally out of the question.

The wild is, moreover, a perilous place even for those bobcats that are born there. Fur manufacturers and taxidermists covet their valuable pelts, motorists and large carnivores prey upon them, farmers, who consider them to be pests, shoot them, wildlife biologists bedevil their lives with their endless electronic tagging experiments, and some blighters even have developed a taste for their flesh.

All of those dangers therefore combine to make it highly unlikely that Chips, a three to four week old bobcat kitten orphaned by an eponymous California wildfire on August 25, 2012, is still alive. Although she had been rescued by a forest ranger and nursed back to health by wildlife rehabilitators, she cruelly was returned to the wild on April 19th of last year to either sink or swim on her own.

There never are not any easy solutions when it comes to dealing with bobcats like her but it nonetheless is feared that the six months or so of schooling given her by rehabilitators was woefully inadequate in order to prepare her to cope with the mountain of difficulties that awaited her. Although like New Jersey owning bobcats is illegal in California, it very well may have been better if that rule had been waived and she turned over to a loving family to raise.

No matter how strenuously some people argue to the contrary, nature is plural and one size does not fit all. Accordingly, applying strict, unbending legal mandates to bobcats and other animals is not only unrealistic but inhumane. Animals are individuals and should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. (See Cat Defender posts of February 21, 2013 and December 13, 2013 entitled, respectively, " Orphaned by a Wildfire and Then Rescued by a Forest Ranger, Chips Is Now Bracing for a Frightening Return to the Wild" and "Chips Is Abandoned in the Perilous California Wild Where Her Fur Alone Is Worth $700 to Trappers.")

Marius Is Gunned Down by His Keepers at the Copenhagen Zoo

Even an exploiter of the species as ruthless and callous as Roe understands that both those born in captivity and those who have lost their fear of humans cannot be set free in the wild. "It would be nice if all these cats (her pet bobcats and lynxes) could live in the wild, but these cats were not born in the wild and would not survive in the wild, so we do all we can to make these cats happy and comfortable," she declared to the Ravalli Republic in the article cited supra.

No matter how correct those sentiments may be, she nonetheless is guilty of being less than candid because she also has dumped many bobcats and lynxes that she has bred and raised at zoos in Wisconsin, where she used to live, and presumably elsewhere as well. That not only is the hellish fate now staring Rocky in the face but John Bergmann, director of Popcorn Park, is already licking his chops in eager anticipation of adding him to his permanent collection.

"He's eating fine and he's adjusting more and more every day. Ms Fine stops by and sees him about every other day," he told The Press on April 21st. (See "DNA Test to Determine Pedigree of Pet Bobcat.") "It's a slow process. He doesn't know us. It's all new to him."

Not a great deal is known about Popcorn Park other than that it opened in 1977 and occupies seven acres. Its collection of roughly two-hundred animals already includes Bengal and Amur tigers, African lions, and cougars as well as elephants, bears, camels, and foxes.

It is perhaps best known for the three ducks, three emus, and a pair of rheas who were brutally slain by a trio of teens when they broke into the compound in May of 2003. Presumably, security has been beefed up considerably since then but that in no way removes the long-standing objections to allowing institutions like Popcorn Park to exist in the first place.

Everything that is so terribly wrong with these odious institutions was epitomized by the premeditated and brutal killing of an eighteen-month-old perfectly healthy giraffe named Marius on February 9th at the Copenhagen Zoo. Specifically, he was murdered with a bolt gun and then carved up and fed to a group of lions as visitors, including many children, looked on in a mixture of horror and revulsion.

Rather than expressing so much as a twinge of remorse at having perpetrated such an atrocity, the zoo on the contrary proceeded to glory in its profound wickedness. "I'm actually proud because I think we have given children a huge understanding of the anatomy of a giraffe that they wouldn't have had from watching a giraffe in a photo," Stenbaek Bro of the zoo proclaimed to the New York Daily News on February 10th. (See "Kids Watch Zoo's Shock Giraffe Slay.")

A few weeks later in March, the zoo did the same thing to a pair of ten-month-old lion cubs, their sixteen-year-old father, and their fourteen-year-old mother. (See BBC, March 25, 2014, "Danish Zoo That Culled Giraffe Kills Family of Lions.")

Even more outrageous, incidences like those are merely the norm at zoos all across Europe where it is believed that as many as five-thousand perfectly healthy animals are systematically exterminated each year. Zoos in the United States also kill a large number of their inmates but they also rely upon contraception, sterilization, and segregation of the sexes in order to lessen the need for the commission of such barbaric crimes. (See CTV of Toronto, February 14, 2014, "Marius the Giraffe Not Alone: Thousands of Animals Killed at European Zoos Yearly" and The Independent of London, February 27, 2014, "Zoos in Europe 'Kill Five-Thousand Healthy Animals a Year'.")

"The (Copenhagen) Zoo seems keen to demonstrate publicly their (sic) disregard for the lives of their animals and for public opinion, and in doing so demonstrate so much of what is wrong with the keeping and breeding of wild animals in zoos," the Born Free Foundation stated in a March 30th press release posted on its web site. (See "Statement on the Killing of Lions at Copenhagen Zoo.")

The dastardly deeds committed against defenseless animals entrusted to their care at the Copenhagen Zoo and at other such infamous institutions around the world exposes not only their appalling disregard for the sanctity of life but the ugly truth about captive-breeding programs as well. "The 'price of success' of captive breeding in zoos is a surplus of animals...All too often, such animals are killed -- they are not reintroduced into the wild," Born Free's press release continued. "What is tragic is that captive-breeding programs seem to serve little function beyond the world of zoos: few, if any, species are genuinely being kept for reintroduction to the wild."

Rocky and, Presumably, Elsie Share a Tender Moment

Being cooped up indoors with Fine and her other animals certainly is far from being an ideal situation for Rocky and such a lifestyle never will satisfy the bobcat part of him that will forever yearn for the wild. Nevertheless, allowing Fine to retain custody of him is the very best that can be done for him under the circumstances.

In the event that she should be deemed to be an unfit guardian, all energies should be concentrated upon securing another caregiver for him. He certainly does not belong at Popcorn Park or any other zoo where he eventually very well could wind up like Marius and the pride of lions.

In addition to all of the attendant problems associated with such institutions, he never could be happy confined in either a cage or a pen. Fine and her domestic animals are the only family that he ever has known and his mental health doubtlessly will deteriorate if he is not promptly returned to them.

"He's very affectionate with me. He purrs and rubs on me," she confided to The Press in the April 8th article cited supra. "He sleeps with me, and he's not a wild animal, and he's very bonded to my other house cat (presumably Elsie)."

Although he possibly could have undergone a change of heart, Captain Tom Dellane of the Stafford Township Police initially was amenable to allowing Rocky to remain with Fine. "We don't have any issue with her having the bobcat," he told t he Asbury Park Press in the April 10th article cited supra. "She's legally allowed to have it, but the only issue is that she doesn't let it run at large."

His hands are tied, however, if Rocky turns out to be a purebred. More to the point, if he truly had meant what he later publicly declared he never would have foisted the airtight stipulation upon her in the first place and, above all, he certainly would not have enforced it.

In the final analysis, this entire episode is a classic case of much ado about nothing. If Rocky had somehow injured someone it might possibly be an altogether different matter but nothing could be further from the truth.

It also demonstrates why anti-roaming statutes and the American Bird Conservancy's cats indoors agenda never will work. Felines of all sizes and species occasionally are going to get outside no matter how elaborate the precautions that are taken by their guardians. In doing so they are only yearning for the freedom that rightly belongs to them and to punish such behavior is not only inhumane and barbaric but imbecilic as well.

On a more fundamental level, the practice of law is supposed to be about the meting out of justice and yet Rocky has been forcibly uprooted from his home and family and unjustly incarcerated without so much as a scintilla of due process of law. Moreover, his guardian does not even have access to legal counsel.

It also is revealing that not a single animal rights group has had even so much as the compassion to intercede on his behalf. Just about all of this society's so-called protectors of animals love to strut, preen, and run off at the mouth but whenever they come face to face with animals in need they scatter like fallen leaves in the breeze. That petit fait alone demonstrates writ large the sorry state of the animal rights movement in America.

Old meathead Murray is expected to lower the boom on Rocky any day now and, sadly, there does not appear to be much that Fine can do in order to save her beloved cat. Appealing to his sense of compassion would be, after all, a total waste of time because a pigheaded and brain dead stooge for the establishment like him would no more take into consideration either Rocky's welfare or the solemn demands of justice than he would contemplate putting a revolver to his own temple and pulling the trigger.

Photos: Tanya Breen of the Asbury Park Press ( Rocky up close and  at the zoo), Ryan Morrill of The Sandpaper of Surf City (Murray), Edward Lea of The Press (Fine in court), David Erickson of Ravalli Republic (Deborah and Gerald Roe with a bobcat), Gary Cosby Jr. of The Decatur Daily (Morris with his Pixie-Bobs), WCAU-TV of Philadelphia (Benny and Santa), Peter Hove Olesen of Polfoto via CTV (Marius), and Ginny Fine (Rocky asleep with another cat).