Justin Bieber and his wife Hailey Baldwin recently bought a pair of part-exotic kittens – Sushi and Tuna – from Illinois' longest-standing Savannah cat breeder,
Sushi was valued at $20,000 while Tuna cost $15,000.
While fans ooh'd and ahh'd, PETA hissed over the singer's purchases and accused Bieber of not caring about the animals' well-being.
The felines are undoubtedly adorable little creatures worthy of their own Instagram account, so the Biebs launched @kittysushiandtuna to share his kitty love for all to see.
Savannah cats are a hybrid cat breed and are a cross between a domestic cat and a wild African Serval, which are known for their oversize ears and striking black spots. After most states banned owning wild animals like lions, leopards, wolves and Servals, breeders began to create hybrids for any of the animals small enough to cross with a domestic pet.
And while TheNew Yorker billed Savannahs as "living room leopards" in 2013, the Savannah Cat Association reported the cats are legally restricted or banned in 13 states: Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont.
@cnni They are beautiful though— Ros (@Ros) 1570197408.0
The Select Exotics' website describes the animals as having "dog-like" qualities and are "bright, inventive, intelligent, even ingenious." They even get along with dogs and prefer them as playmates over other household pets.
In fact, the dealer's description of the Savannah mirror the personality of dogs.
"Readily trainable, most love to play fetch, ride in cars, and relish outdoor walks on a leash."
While that is all well and good, PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange told PEOPLE:
"Justin Bieber could inspire his fans around the world to save a life by adopting a cat from a local animal shelter — rather than fueling the dangerous demand for hybrid cats, contributing to the animal overpopulation crisis, and proving that when it comes to helping animals, his stance so far is 'I don't care'."
@cnni Is @peta really a fan of anything— eria.tarka✨ (@eria.tarka✨) 1570197465.0
@cnni Pretty sure PETA would be against breathing if you asked them— Phill of Beans (@Phill of Beans) 1570197605.0
@people PETA exploiting celebrity status. I think I've lost all respect for them— Yulia (@Yulia) 1570213403.0
The 25-year-old singer clawed back at PETA on his Instagram story and told the organization to back off and focus on more pressing matters "like poaching and animal brutality" in favor of "tripping."
"PETA, go focus on real problems. Like poaching, and animal brutality. Ur tripping because I want a specific kind of cat? U weren't tripping when I got my dog Oscar, and he wasn't a rescue."
"Every pet must be a rescue? I believe in adopting rescues but also think there are preferences and that's what breeders are for."
@cnni Surprisingly to myself, I'm with Bieber on this one. He has every right to obtain a pet of his choice without… https://t.co/vSRK1Ho5I9— TheRealFDC (@TheRealFDC) 1570214634.0
The "Sorry" singer was anything but apologetic and kept the claws out for another swipe at PETA with a screenshot of their complaint.
He told them that they can "suck it" on his Instagram stories and added:
"PETA go help with all the plastic in the ocean, and leave my beautiful cats alone."
@people if he loves them what is the big deal they need homes too— leigh simmons (@leigh simmons) 1570199354.0
@DailyMailCeleb @peta I’m with @justinbieber ! They’re adorable, and he’s right. PETA goes way over the top, & nee… https://t.co/IpCHJIi4CI— Steve (@Steve) 1570191557.0
Those siding with rescuing over breeding exotic pets from wild animals had their say on Twitter as well.
@people Just adds to his ignorant personna. ADOPT, DON'T SHOP!!!!— DebinPA (@DebinPA) 1570220243.0
@people He will dump these like he has with his other pets because hes not responsible— jojo (@jojo) 1570196351.0
@DailyMailCeleb @peta Hey Justin, While you shell out $35,000 to purchase exotic cats, millions of cats in shelters… https://t.co/5OhbDAZZ8u— PeggyAnn (@PeggyAnn) 1570193058.0
The organization was not finished making their point about the crisis of animal overpopulation.
In a statement provided to
CNN, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk encouraged the singer to "think more deeply about this issue."
In response to his "suck it" comment, Bieber was reminded of what is really unfortunate about all of this.
"When millions of animals are losing their lives every year because not enough people adopt -- choosing instead to shop -- the animal overpopulation crisis is a 'real problem.'"
"That's what 'sucks.' PETA urges you to spend just one hour in a municipal animal shelter with us—we think you'll understand how hard it is to look into the animals' eyes and know that because people pay breeders, many of them will pay with their lives."
"You have the power to be a great role model on this issue—your behavior guides that of tons of your fans—so please put that to good use."
Nonprofit sanctuary Big Cat Rescue wrote in support of rescues over creating exotic designer pets on its website:
"Why make another [designer] cat when millions of domestics are put to sleep each year?"
A good majority still sided with the Biebs, despite their reluctance to support the notorious pop star.
@thedailybeast I agree with Bieber here(never thought I would say that). But #PETA needs to address the big issues… https://t.co/ZVXGZix30L— Radhika ❤ (@Radhika ❤) 1570220949.0
@thedailybeast I never thought it possible but I agree with Bieber, I am filled with shame and self loathing for doing so.— My dog's food server. (@My dog's food server.) 1570224632.0
Meanwhile Sushi and Tuna's Instagram account has become the cat's meow now with 282K followers.
The book Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat's Foster Mom, available here, tells the story of wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas and the orphaned Serval kitten she fostered in Kenya until it could be released into the wild.
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