Where the wild things are: Tiger Rescue to hold first film festival

Dec. 05, 2013 @ 10:04 AM

The Pittsboro-based Carolina Tiger Rescue provides shelter for big cats who have been taken out of their natural habitat, or abandoned by their human owners or handlers. This weekend, the organization will present its first Friends of Wildlife Film Festival, which focuses not just on the plight of big cats, but other animals and conservation issues.

“We wanted to do something for the broader community because the sanctuary here is so small,” said Jennifer Brunk, development director of the Carolina Tiger Rescue.
The festival is patterned after the annual Jackson Hole Wildlife Festival in Wyoming, and organizers have been in contact with organizers of that festival, Brunk said.
Carolina Tiger Rescue and the Red Wolf Coalition will lead separate post-screening panel discussions at the festival. After the screening of “Broken Tail,” a film about a tiger who was believed dead but survived a journey across India, representatives of Carolina Tiger rescue will discuss steps being taken to help tigers.
Many of the tigers in sanctuaries are victims of the practice of exotic pet ownership, or have been used in entertainment and abandoned. The Carolina Tiger Rescue opposes both practices. Creating awareness of tigers and their plight is “a real uphill battle,” Brunk said. The exotic pet trade “is the number one reason these animals are in captivity,” she said. People often like to get their photos taken with a pet cub, not realizing they are contributing to the use of cats as entertainment. “People are so drawn to how cute the cubs are they don’t realize what the impact of it is,” Brunk said.
With an estimated 5,000 tigers, the U.S. captive tiger population exceeds the approximately 3,200 tigers in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Only 6 percent of the U.S. captive tiger population resides in zoos and other facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, according to the Wildlife Fund.
Other films related to tigers to be screened are “American Tiger,” “African Cats,” and “Global Tiger Initiative.”
Members of the Red Wolf Coalition will discuss wolf conservation in North Carolina after the screening of “Wild Things,” a film that chronicles ranchers’ methods to control wolves, coyotes and cougars without shooting them.
Piedmont Wildlife Coalition and the Duke Lemur Center will be on hand to discuss their work. “Bat Cave” is an ongoing screening of two films about bats: “Snakes in
a Cave” and “Whiteout,” about the disease white nose syndrome that is killing many bats.

Here are some synopses of several of the films:

“My Pantanal”
This film, directed by Andrea Heydlauff, follows Aerenilso, a young boy who works on his family’s conservation ranch in the Pantanal, the world’s largest and wildest wetland in Brazil. This is the first film project of Panthera, an organization dedicated to wild cat conservation.

“My Life as a Turkey”

This Emmy-winning PBS documentary chronicles scientist and naturalist Joe Hutto’s adventure raising several wild turkeys. A farmer left several eggs on his steps. Hutto, who has an interest in the science of imprinting, put them in an incubator, and began making a turkey call. When the first turkey hatched, he made the turkey call, and the turkey looked him in the eye and cuddled up to him. Hutto says something profound happened in his heart at that moment. Told in Hutto’s voice (with re-enactments), this film will amaze you – for what Hutto learns, and for what the turkeys know innately.

“Radioactive Wolves”

After the 1986 nuclear reactor accident in Chernobyl (during the Soviet era), an area around the reactor called “the zone” was sealed off. Twenty five years later, two German scientists return to the area to study wolves and to determine whether the radioactive environment attracts more wolves than a non-contaminated area. This is a fascinating film about an area that has become a laboratory for studying how a place humans once populated returns to wilderness, and becomes a refuge for endangered species.


WHAT: 2013 Friends of Wildlife Film Festival
WHERE: Full Frame Theater, American Tobacco, 318 Blackwell St., Durham
WHEN: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 12:30 to 7 p.m.
ADMISSION: Free, but visitors are asked to make a recommended donation for the films. Funds will benefit Carolina Tiger Rescue. For ticket information, visit carolinatigerrescue.com.