Vicky Keahey has killed more big cats than a poacher!
The CDV outbreak prompted us to organize and do something about Vicky. The outbreak started fast. Several cats were having seizures. Volunteers were shoving vitamins down their throats around the clock. The scene was chaotic and sad. So sad. Vicky was in way, way over her head. She just had a stunned look on her face all day. She didn't know what to do. We didn't believe when she said "nothing can be done". We called experts and every one of them asked "why didn't you vaccinate". Good question.
The CDV outbreak was avoidable. Those cats suffered terribly and died needlessly. A $3.99 vaccine would have saved them all. Vicky was warned about it months ahead of time and did nothing!!!!!
Here are two pieces of evidence she knew about it in advance
Evidence 1: Look at Vicky Keahey's Board Meeting Minutes from May 10th 2013. It shows that in April of 2013 she knew about the threat of CDV. This was several weeks before the first cat ever showed symptoms. "Worried about canine distemper". She did nothing, and then those cats died because of her ignorance! Most of the cats who contracted CDV did not show symptoms until early June. She had a month to vaccinate, but did nothing.
It is impossible for her to admit fault (more on that here). She created a series of lies about vaccination. She fed these lies to the press, the donors, the staff. Let's look at the most common.
Lie 1 - It could hurt them.
Truth - Refer to the American Association of Zoo Vets http://www.aazv.org/?273. It says "This vaccine was used in large cats, including tigers, in a clinical trial in 1997. No adverse reactions were reported.... She is now using a dog vaccine that can hurt them! One of her own vets said "studies have shown the dog vaccine isn't safe for big cats". The link is here.
Here is another link to a big cat vet who recommends the use of the vaccine.
Canine Distemper: Since 1992, we have recognized the dog form of distemper in captive tigers leopards, jaguars and lions kept in Illinois and California. The symptoms are similar to those in domestic dog – sickness including diarrhea, head tilt, naso-ocular discharge, ataxia paralysis and pneumonia. Because of this I give these large cats attenuated FER-VAC-D or Merial's non-adjuvanted canine distemper PureVax (labeled for ferrets). Larger animals receive two 1ml doses. I would appreciate any feedback you-all might have on this subject.
On the subject of the vaccines
This is what she learned about vaccinations. In the clip she is talking to Chuck Kerin about vaccinations. Chuck is the vet. This conversation happened at the very beginning of the outbreak. More proof she doesn't care about the cats.
Lie 2 - Nobody knows if it even works in big cats.
Truth - Please refer to the American Association of Zoo Vets http://www.aazv.org/?273. It says "This vaccine was used in large cats, including tigers, in a clinical trial in 1997. No adverse reactions were reported and cats did develop detectable antibody titers to canine distemper virus."
The world renowned San Diego Zoo also says "Preventable by vaccination". Here's the link. http://library.sandiegozoo.org/factsheets/tiger/tiger.htm
Lie 2 - The ferret vaccine isn't legal and we're not going to do anything illegal.
Truth - She's hiding behind what is called 'off-label' or 'extra-label' use of drugs. Few drugs are FDA approved for exotic felines. This is because there's not enough incentive for drug companies to get FDA approval for anything but domestic dogs and cats. Over 90% of medications the cats receive are extra-label. If the 'illegal' argument were true she wouldn't be giving vaccines now, that are not approved for exotic cats.
A little background info.... There isn't a CDV vaccine specifically for big cats, but there is a ferret vaccine recommended by The Tiger SSP (Species Survival Plan) http://www.aazv.org/?273. Take a moment to read that again! The SPECIES SURVIVAL PLAN recommends this vaccine! The group that defines the protocol to ensure the survival of captive big cats says to vaccinate them!
Vicky Keahey learned nothing from this outbreak. Her short sighted view of the world revolves around people hosing down cages for public appearance. A visiting veterinarian asked her "where's your risk mitigation plan? This time it's raccoons and CDV but next time it could be possums and XYZ". She replied "yeah right" and walked away. She has no understanding of risks to the cats and making plans to address them. Zoo's have these plans. Professional sanctuaries have these plans. It has been over a year since the outbreak and the cats are at risk for some other type of diseases. An outbreak could happen, and Vicky Keahey will be caught off guard again.
Makes me want to vomit
In several interviews, including this one, she states she "turned to my vet" and asked "what about canine distemper". This is grotesque. How dare she try to take credit for identifying something she was warned about many times. Using the death of these great cats to her advantage is despicable and denigrates their memories.
The Cover-Up - switching samples
Of all the disgusting things done by Vicky Keahey, this is probably the worst. In late December 2013 Vicky said that only Kashama was still testing positive for CDV. Around this time Vicky was asked if she could take 13 new tigers. Knowing she wouldn't be permitted to accept new cats with CDV still active; she SWITCHED KSHAMA'S URINE SAMPLE WITH SMUGGLER'S URINE AND PROCLAIMED INSYNC EXOTICS TO BE CDV FREE. Then she TOOK KSHAMA OFF DISTEMPER MEDICATIONS. This is the fake negative result dated 12/20/13. These are minutes from the board meeting. It says "12/20/13 Kshama – got urine for PCR test, still showing positive & no change in numbers". We know she lied because she admitted it to someone who then told Betty Webb; who then told a few others. An employee who was bothered by this secretly took Kshama urine. Took it on the same day, and submitted it to a private lab. The result was STILL POSITIVE. Volunteers were working with university researchers on a possible treatment. They stopped because they were told ISE was CDV free. This could have helped cats, but instead Vicky just didn't care if they died. The new cats arrived on the 28th. This was four days after Vicky conveniently proclaimed In-Sync Exotics to be CDV free. For all we know there could still be CDV positive cats out there.
The marijuana incident
Iona was getting worse. Her left side jerked badly every second. She could not walk. She did not know what was happening and was scared. It was truly heartbreaking to watch. A very old volunteer named Betty Webb told Vicky she had "highly potent cannabis". She wanted to give it to Iona. Vicky agreed. Because Betty cant see (but still goes in with tigers) a volunteer drove Betty to her house to get the "highly potent cannabis". While there, she got high then proceeded to drive back to InSync Exotics with Betty. For hours people commented she was "high as a kite". SHE HAD KEYS AND COULD HAVE GONE IN WITH ANY CAT! The cannabis did not help. People said it made her worse. Her vet even said it would not help. Iona died a few days later. Another needless death. Another kill for Vicky.
Not the first time they've had CDV!!!!
This is not the first time CDV has killed a big cat at InSync Exotics! ISE's vet, Chuck Kerin, was overheard telling her "Vicky, you've had CDV out here a lot longer than you're telling people". It makes perfect sense. There are cats who never got sick even after being nose to nose with several cats who died. It's because those cats were previously exposed to a less deadly strain and developed immunity. We hired a contract veterinarian who spoke with several CDV experts. They all said it is the most likely reason.
Lying to volunteers
In the interview above, by Vicky's own admission she suspected canine distemper on May 5, 2013. Twenty days later on May 25 she had not yet told the volunteers of the CDV outbreak. She thought she could spin it and hide it. This put volunteers' pets at risk for contracting the virus. Here's an email sent to volunteers on May 25th.