Big cat sanctuary rescues animals abandoned by owners

A private, animal sanctuary in Mexico is rescuing predatory, big cats kept as pets by the wealthy. It’s quickly become a hit on social media, but the organization has also been questioned on its motives. CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock spoke to the founder of the sanctuary.


Big cats are beautiful but deadly, and they’re often seen as status-symbols for the extremely wealthy in Mexico. While they can be legally owned with the right paperwork, these animals are very expensive to maintain, and dangerous to keep.

Mexican animal rights activists estimate more than 60 predatory felines are abandoned by their owners every year. Eduardo Serio has dedicated his life to caring for them. He’s the founder of the Black Jaguar-White Tiger Foundation, a foundation dedicated to taking in these felines.

Serio regularly receives calls, many of them from people involved in organized crime. They soon realize they’ve bitten off more than they can chew by buying these predatory cats.

“You can have the money to buy a lion or a tiger as a pet, but you don’t have the knowledge, so they buy the cubs from breeding facilities, and then they have them for like a month, or two months, and then they ask us to come pick them up. They’re crazy,” Serio explained. He claims his collection of rescued lions, tigers, jaguars and panthers is the world’s largest.

The Black Jaguar-White Tiger Foundation is home to over 300 big cats. It’s also become a social media sensation, with nearly 6.5 million Instagram followers. Better known as ‘Papa Bear’ to his followers, Serio gets up close and personal with his cats, creating extraordinary viral videos.

“I built my foundation with my heart, my iPhone and Instagram. Without the three none of it would exist,” he said.

Yet despite its online fame, the foundation is not universally popular. Leonora Esquivel is one of Mexico’s leading animal rights activists and founder of AnimaNaturalis, an international, animal rights nonprofit.

“Black Jaguar is not a sanctuary. It is either a zoo, or a private collection. According to international standards, it has no legal status as a sanctuary, because truthfully, we don’t know where these animals have come from,” she explained.

Animal advocates have criticized what they call an excessive amount of human interaction and dependency Serio fosters with his cats. While well-meaning, they claim this environment is ultimately unhealthy for the animals.

Serio rejects such criticism, and has said that as long as there are abandoned animals in need of sanctuary , he will continue to take them in.

Read the original story on CGTN America

Previous articleDisabled inclusion initiative seeks empathy in Mexican society
Next articleHarsh winter sees zoo animals given blankets
Alasdair Baverstock MA is an award-winning multimedia foreign correspondent based in Mexico City, with more than five years of experience covering Latin America. Originally from London, and with full NCTJ certification, he specialises in news and feature journalism for print, radio and television. His work has previously been used as set-texts in British A-Level examinations. He currently works as CGTN America's Mexico correspondent, and has formerly published work in TIME Magazine, Daily Mail, The Atlantic, Penthouse, Fox News, BBC, Daily Telegraph, TRT World, and others.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here