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2010 Annual Report

2010 Annual Report

A Year in Video by Chris Poole

Big Cat Rescue is more than just a place that provides permanent care for big cats.  It is a movement;  a change in the tide of human perceptions and is the combined effort of more than 50,000 supporters.  If you are one of them, you are a Big Cat Rescuer and the following is the great work YOU did!  If you haven’t helped yet, you can do so now at the top right of the screen or here:

http://bigcatrescue.org/donate.htm

Big Cat Rescue’s Mission Statement: Big Cat Rescue’s dual mission is to provide the best home we can for the cats in our care and educate the public about the plight of these majestic animals, both in captivity and in the wild, to end abuse and avoid extinction.

 

We are Caring for Cats and Ending the Trade

Advances

With your help we are winning in the battle for compassion! Up until 2003 the number of requests for rescues we had to turn down due to lack of space or funds had roughly doubled each year, to 312 that year. We feared it would double again to over 500 in 2004. Instead, it has steadily declined since then thanks to the passage of a federal bill and several state bills that restrict the ownership of exotic cats. This year we “only” had to turn away 89 big cats who were unwanted by their owners. We offered to take all of the cats who were cougar size or smaller, if their owners would contract to never own another exotic cat, but they all refused.  We just do not have enough Senior Keeper staff to take on more lions or tigers.

By now everyone knows that communication and fundraising will be cell phone centric.  On April 30, 2009 we added mobile phone number collection to our contact forms and promoted this new request with the Animal Lover’s Dream Vacation Giveaway. Our winners said, “It was the most fun we’ve ever had!”

Our new Intranet site established in January 2010 where all of our staff, volunteers, board and vet care professionals can interact and share information. This cloud based system was provided free via a Google grant and enables us to keep all of the sanctuary documents in a password protected cloud where Rescuers can log in and post their observations for the vet and can share photos, videos and stories with each other.  Our cloud can be accessed via a dozen or more computers at the sanctuary, Rescuer’s home computers, smart phones and iPads.  Those who subscribe to the site, such as the CEO, President, Operations Manager and the Vets can see, in real time, as observations are posted about the cats.  This insures that there are always many eyes on the look out for ways to enhance the cat care at Big Cat Rescue.

Animal Care

By the end of this year, 77 of our 115 cats are over the age of 15. This is well beyond how long they are designed to live in the wild and much older than most zoo cats.  This is a testament to the excellent animal care we provide, but we are dealing with many more age related illnesses and are losing more of our big cat friends every year.  Cats who required extensive veterinary care in 2010 were Alachua Bob, Bagheera, Bellona, Catera, Cha Cha, Cloe, Crystal, Freckles, Hercules, India, King, Narla, Nirvana, Pretender, Purrfection, Sarmoti, Servie, Snorkel, Sophie, Takoma, Tonga and Windsong. These cats were moved so they would have new neighbors and surroundings for their own enrichment: Freckles, Indian Summer, Modnic, Narla. Nikita & Simba, Peaches, Precious, Reno, Sundari and Thing. Even though we offered to rescue the 19 lesser cats and 3 lions and tigers who were in need of rescue in 2010, Skip, Angelica and Midnight, Rain and Storm the bobcats, Servie the serval, Narla, Freddy and Sassyfrass the cougars were the only ones who ended up here.  We found a rehabber for a bobcat in TN as well.  The rest did not come here because the owners refused to contract with us to never own exotic cats again.

Despite triple bypass heart surgery in August, Vern stayed busy this year with all of the maintenance issues and with these 32 cage improvements: Armani & Jade, Bailey & Moses, Bengali, Calvin, Cameron & Zabu, China & Khan, Crazy Bobcats, Despurrado, Diablo, Flavio, Freckles, Jefferson, Joseph & Sasha, King, Modnic, Nala, Natasha & Willow, Nikita, Nikita & Simba, Rambo, Rehab Bobcats, Sarmoti, TJ, Trick E and Windstar. On 3/18/10 we had another perfect USDA inspection.

Education

Our website is primarily an educational tool and according to Alexa we are ranked 266,861 worldwide and 110,338 most visited website in the U.S.  We have 458 other sites linking to us.   We offer about 58 outreach and field trips per year and have committed to offering 12 of them for free each year to lower income schools, but have already given 25 such free tours this year and expect that demand will continue to rise with the cost of transportation.  Even when we offer the tours for free, many schools cannot come because they cannot afford the $200.00 fee for their busses.  Our Education Department began writing grant proposals to raise the money needed for the buses.

Volunteer Committee Member, Sharyn Beach, was published at Encyclopedia Britannica with the best statement ever written about why breeding white tigers is Conserving a Lie.

Our web site addresses local and global concerns about environment and has over 17,000 pages of information, movie clips, sounds, safe interactive online games with a conservation theme and photos. From 1/1/2008 until 9/9/2010 the site was visited 3,642,337 times, resulting in 8,197,155 page views.  In any given week the visitors will be roughly 33% from 218 countries outside of the U.S. as you can see from this breakdown:

United States 2,757,351, Poland 204,209, Canada 198,127, United Kingdom 127,246, Australia 40,618, India 24,496, Germany 17,428, Japan 13,023, France 11,017, Netherlands 9,593, Philippines 8,559, Singapore 8,545, Sweden 8,177, Italy 8,136, Brazil 8,024, Malaysia 7,793, Spain 7,779, New Zealand 7,740, Ireland 6,788, South Africa 6,697, Mexico 6,554, Belgium 5,994, Russia 5,986, Indonesia 5,627, Finland  5,364 and Turkey 5,248 to name a few.

The information provided has helped wildlife rehabilitators identify animals and obtain proper care instruction, helped officials in smuggling cases to identify rare species of exotic cats being illegally traded and those are just a few of the ways that we know the site has had an impact this year.

Big Cat Rescue has been in the press 694 times, in 31+ states including AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, GA, FL, HI, IO, IN, IL, KY, LA, MA, MN, MO, MT, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, VA & WA and dozens of programs of national or international coverage or in countries other than the U.S.

 

Legislation/Education

The steady increase in legislation banning private ownership represents recognition by our society that private ownership leads to massive abuse.  Social values evolve.  It took decades to ban slavery in England and for women to win the right to vote in America.  Those ideas started out as “radical”, held by a small minority.  Gradually more and more people understood and agreed until they became a part of our value system that we take for granted today.  The same trend is happening with private ownership of exotics.  Gradually more and more people are realizing that this simply leads to widespread abuse of these animals.  The best evidence of this is the accelerating trend in state laws.   Just since 2005 eight more states have passed some level of ban. Sweden, Austria, Costa Rica, India, Finland, Bolivia, Greece and Singapore have all banned or restricted the utilization of big cats in circuses-it’s time for the U.S. & South Africa to do the same!

Nationwide & Canada:

Dade City’s Wild Things acquired a white tiger cub from G.W. Exotics, a notorious Oklahoma breeder, that they are marketing to the hilt in order to make money off her as quickly as possible.  To accomplish that they dragged her into PetSmart to drum up some business.  Almost 900 advocates responded to our alert and wrote to PetSmart demanding an end to displays of exotics like this, knowing the bad message it sends.  We’re very pleased to share that PetSmart listened and  immediately responded positively.  According to corporate spokesperson  Margie Wojciechowski  at the Phoenix, AZ headquarters, she confirmed she had just come from a meeting and the company has “reinforced with our managers that no exotic pets are allowed on store premises.  There will be no live display of exotic animals for events.”  More Here

FL Sept. 1, 2010:  The Florida Wildlife Commission passes final rules on the keeping of wild animals HERE

FL June 23, 2010: Thanks to thousands of letters from Big Cat AdvoCats the Florida Wildlife Commission agreed to change the wording of their Nuisance Wildlife rules so that bobcats who are trapped as nuisance wildlife may not be killed, but rather must be released.  While our 2,000+ letters asked that bobcats be removed from the list of nuisance wildlife we are still thankful that the FWC has decided to at least spare the life of bobcats who are trapped this way.  We will continue to educate the FWC and the public as to why bobcats are so necessary to our ecosystem so that they may soon be removed from the list of animals that may be trapped.

FL June 23, 2010: Animal AdvoCats vs Animal Terrorists. The FWC agreed to ban the practice of “fox penning” which was a blood sport in 16 locations in FL where foxes, coyotes and bobcats would trapped or purchased from trappers to be turned loose in fenced areas for the purpose of training hunting dogs.  Packs of dogs would be turned loose in the pens and scored on how persist ant they were in chasing the wildlife.  The FWC had rules that required hiding places for the wildlife, but investigators found that the operators would often block the access to the safety areas so that the foxes, coyotes and bobcats could be cornered and ripped apart by the dogs for the amazement and betting opportunities of the dog owners.  For the first time in the history of the FWC meetings that we have attended since 1993 there were more animal advocates than animal terrorists in the room to testify.  52 concerned citizens spoke up in favor of a ban while only 20 animal abusers / hunters spoke up in favor of continuing the blood sport as part of their “cultural heritage and God given right.”  As more of these egregious practices are exposed we expect the number of main stream Americans who show up and speak up to increase.

FL June 3, 2010: Thanks to thousands of letters from Big Cat AdvoCats the legislature amended Florida Statutes 379.374 Bond required, amount. (2) No person, party, firm, association, or corporation shall possess or exhibit to the public either with or without charge or admission fee, any Class I wildlife, as defined in s. 379.303 and commission rule, without having first guaranteed financial responsibility, in the sum of $10,000, for any liability which may be incurred in the possession or exhibition to the public of Class I wildlife. The commission shall adopt, by rule, the methods of payment that satisfy the financial responsibility, which may include cash, the establishment of a trust fund, an irrevocable letter of credit, casualty insurance, a corporate guarantee, or any combination thereof, in the sum of $10,000 which shall be posted with the commission. In lieu of the $10,000 financial responsibility guarantee required in this subsection, the person, party, firm, association, or corporation has the option to maintain comprehensive general liability insurance, with minimum limits of $2 million per occurrence and $2 million annual aggregate, as shall protect the person, party, firm, association, or corporation from claims for damage for personal injury, including accidental death, as well as claims for property damage which may arise. Proof of such insurance shall be submitted to the commission.  Effective July 1, 2010.  In 2009 there were 111 Class I possessors in FL who managed to escape the bond requirement because they claimed they were not “exhibitors.”  This new language was necessary to close the loophole in the 2007 law so that all “possessors” of Class I animals must post this minimal bond.

OH July 1, 2010: A deal struck between The Humane Society of the United States, Ohio agriculture leaders and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland will lead to major animal welfare improvements in Ohio on a raft of issues to protect exotic, domestic and farmed animals. The agreement includes recommendations from all of the parties for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Care Board, the Legislature, and the Governor to ban the acquisition of dangerous exotic animals as pets, such as primates, bears, lions, tigers, large constricting and venomous snakes, crocodiles and alligators.

China October 27, 2010: The Ministry of Housing & Urban/Rural Development suggested in an official web posting that zoos should adequately feed and house animals, should stop selling wild animal products and serving wild animal parts in restaurants, and should stop staging circus-like trained animal acts.  The authorities report that zoos could be shut down for non compliance.  This is the first step toward permanent laws to protect the animals.

Germany June 17, 2010: The zoo director and three of the staff at the Magdeburg Zoo were convicted of cruelty to animals for killing three tiger cubs who were the result of a cross breeding tigers at the zoo.  The zoo had bred a Siberian tiger to a Sumatran tiger.  All of the tigers in the U.S. that are referred to as Bengal tigers are actually hybrids of Bengal and Siberian tigers as the result of the white tiger craze when Bengal tigers were inbred to the point of non existence in America.  A fine of 8,000 euros was suspended upon the condition that the zoo not kill cubs as the result of their own improper breeding plans.  The Magdeburg zoo case drew attention to the common practice of zoos breeding and killing animals to keep youngsters on exhibit.

Russia November 29, 2010: Russia is now filing a bill for an exotic pet ban like other countries have passed.  Despite Prime Minister Vladimir Putin having a pet tiger named Mashenka, the country is working on passing a bill that would restrict the ownership of monkeys, tigers, and crocodiles, because of their danger to the public and diseases they can carry, according to the bill that was submitted on Nov. 29, 2010 Thanks to all of you who wrote letters, attended town hall meetings and met with your lawmakers, the world is a little kinder place. Many of the worst breeders, dealers and tiger-tamer-wanabees were finally shut down.  Most of these collectors were fined or shut down by USDA or the state, or both in some cases: You can read the USDA reports and news stories at http://www.911AnimalAbuse.com 134,704 letters were sent via our CatLaws.com site in 2010 which is triple the year before.  We now have 44,606 members registered to help us with email campaigns. Thanks to all of our supporters being more aware of exotic cat issues and doing something about it, the wild cats had a lot of wins in 2010.  Only bans on the possession of private ownership of wild animals are fully enforceable but any step forward in restricting ownership is helpful.  For more details go to BigCatBans.

Animal Abusers Shut Down and / or Fined

Many of the worst breeders, dealers and tiger-tamer-wanabees were finally shut down.  The following is from 2008- 2010.  Most of these collectors were fined or shut down by USDA or the state, or both in some cases:

CA:  Hesperia Zoo AKA Cinema Safari Zoo owned by Stephanie Taunton was put on probation and fined $30,000 by USDA.

FL: Horseshoe Creek owned by Darryl Atkinson was shut down by USDA and FL.

FL:  Wild Things’ land owned by Kathy Stearns went into foreclosure and bankruptcy.

FL:  Amazing Exotics was shut down.  It was notorious for allowing contact between large exotic cats and the public for a fee.  The head of their tiger-tamer-wanabee program was Ron Holiday (real name Ron Guay) who gained fame in the HBO movie Cat Dancers and the book by the same name.  His career in dancing with big cats ended when a white tiger he had raised from a cub killed his wife and his lover within a few days of each other in 1998.

FL:  In 2010 Jeff and Barbara Harrod of Vanishing Species lost both their USDA and FWC licenses.

FL:  In 2010 Thomas R. Cronin of the Shell Factory was sanctioned by USDA for improper handling of animals, poor sanitation and lack of vet care.

IN:  Great Cats of Indiana, formerly known as Cougar Valley Farms, Inc., owned by Robert B. Craig and Laura Proper had their license revoked by USDA.

IN:  Ervin’s Jungle Wonders owned by Ervin Hall was shut down by USDA for a three year term.

KS: In 2010 Clint Perkins of Riverside Zoological Park lost his USDA license to exhibit tigers and was fined for violations.

MO:  Wesa-A-Geh-Ya owned by Sandra Smith was shut down after a visitor lost his leg to a tiger.

MS:  Cougar Haven closed its doors for good, sending the last 3 big cats to Big Cat Rescue.

NC:  Metrolino Wildlife Park owned by Steven Macaluso was shut down by USDA.

NE:  Zoo Nebraska was ordered to find appropriate homes for their big cats and bears.

OH:  Pearson’s L & L Exotics owned by Lorenzo Pearson was shut down by USDA following six years of violations.

SC:  In 2010 Robert Childress dba Quality Equipment was fined by USDA for lack of care for tigers.

TX:  Zoo Dynamics, owned by Marcus Cook was fined $100,000.00

TX:  In 2010 Jamie Palazzo of Great Cat Adventures had their USDA license suspended for 3 years.

TX:  Wild Animal Orphanage closed their doors in September 2010 after investigation the Attorney General for fraudulent fundraising practices.  363 animals, mostly big cats and primates, are being disbursed to other sanctuaries.  Three of the tigers are coming to Big Cat Rescue.

Australia:  Craig Bush, the “Lion Man” was ousted from the Zion Wildlife Gardens by his mom.

Fundraising and Marketing

Two Legacy Society donations over $100,000 each helped make this the best financial year ever for the sanctuary.  The first was a bequest from the estate of Terry Nordblom for $110,000.  The second was a matching grant of $200,000 in memory of William and Lois Modglin of Glendale, California.   Final financial numbers will not be available until after our annual audit in the spring, but estimates will be posted here in late January after we reconcile the December statements. 2010 began using Posterous.com to post to 16 of our major social networking sites at once.  We currently operate 333 social networking sites. 2010 we began using Traffic Geyser which increased our web traffic 24%.

Big Cat Rescue was reported favorably in the news 111 times in 2010 which in a 20% increase over 2009.   Some of the national press included shows on Animal Planet, Discovery and the History Channel in addition to such publications as National Geographic and the New York Post and major media coverage in several other countries as well.

The Fur Ball netted over $80,000.00! Over 650 big cat supporters had a blast at the Fur Ball; dining, dancing, playing the Wheel of Fur-Tune casino table and bidding in the silent auction and live auctions. Spirited bidders in the live auction won exotic trips see lions in South Africa, and many other wild and exotic places. We had 26,154 visitors this year. Our BigCatRescue.org website visitors rose to 1,660,550 but the site was temporarily replaced for two months.  During those two months (Jul-Aug) we did not have any tracking service on the replacement site.  We plan to re launch the replacement site in January 2011.  Google awarded Big Cat Rescue a grant of $40,000 per month in free AdWords. People who love animals love to share their photos and stories.  In 2008 Big Cat Rescue unleashed a Chat Big Cats community.   Members can post their own blogs, or join in our forums and contests. It is a YouTube/ MySpace styled community made up entirely of animal lovers. By year end there were 4,129 members and 107,374,194,388 videos, songs, photos and blogs posted to the site.  (blows my mind too!)  Get in on the action free at http://www.chatbigcats.com

YouTube.  We ended the year as the 6th most viewed Non Profit of all time and the 7th most subscribed Non Profit with 22,393 subscribers and 669,725 channel views and a whopping 20,685,511 upload views.  Up 500% from 2009.  By year end we had 412 videos posted on YouTube and other popular sites like google, Blip, MetaCafe, Revver and others. http://www.youtube.com/bigcatrescue YouTube Mini Clip SiteDailyBigCat was launched Nov. 20, 2010 to provide a channel for the mini clips we upload directly from our iPhones.  By year end this site had 248 subscribers, 5,046 channel views and 25,812 total upload views.

Our MySpace account now has 7,625 friends. myspace.com/1BigCatRescue We surpassed 36,000 fans on Face Book which is a 500% increase over 2009 as well.  We also enhanced our presence on Care2.org and many other such sites.  We now have 359 contacts in our LinkedIn presence here:  linkedin.com/in/BigCatRescue Big Cat Rescue now has an Endowment Fund to provide a secure future for the cats. The Fund resides at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.  bigcatrescue.org/communityfoundationoftampabay.htm We initiated a program with Capitol One so that you can choose one of our beautiful cats for your credit card image and 1% of all of your purchases will be donated to Big Cat Rescue at no cost to you.

Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats Leonardo DiCaprio Protects Tigers

Big Cat Rescue continued working with the International Tiger Coalition, which is a group of 40+ organizations committed to saving the tiger, based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild.   The goal is 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years.  There are less than 3,000 in the wild currently and we are losing one per day due to poaching.  We persuaded ITC to keep US tiger farming issue as part of their mission to eradicate because legalized trade puts even more pressure on wild populations. What makes this initiative unlike all of the past programs is two fold.  40+ major conservation groups, including Big Cat Rescue, have joined forces with one common goal:  Save the tiger in the wild.  There have been other joint efforts, but none this large and never before has an entity as powerful as the World Bank been a committed partner in saving wild places for wild animals.  Big Cat Rescue sponsored the ITC booth at CITES and sponsored the attendance of the ITC Moderator, Judy Mills at the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Leonardo DiCaprio attended as well and met with Prime Minister Putin.  DiCaprio donated 1 million dollars to WWF’s fund for saving the tiger.

23 FL Panthers died in 2010 but 90 were born according to FWC.  Big Cat Rescue is stepping up our support of local initiatives to save the Florida Panther.

Helping Others

America’s injured veterans have found Big Cat Rescue a place of tranquility where they can surround themselves with beauty and grace;  a respite from all that they have endured protecting our country.  It started with one group and now they come to visit quite frequently.  It’s on the house and we provide lunch when we can as well by asking donors to contribute.  They have done their part in keeping Americans free and we are doing our part to fight for that same freedom for the big cats.

Then and Now

Our CFO, Howard Baskin, compiled a ten year snapshot of the sanctuary and its growth.  This is just a comparison between 1996 and 2010.

Wildlife on Easy Street to Big Cat Rescue 1996 2010
Visitors 85 26,128
Total Expenses $1,686,386 * $1,363,443
Total Income $0 $2,245,798
Total Net Assets $148,455 $4,881,165
Spent on Program Services 100% 83% **

*funded by Founder        ** 17% spent on Management and Fundraising combined

Officers and Members of the Board of Directors in 2010 and meetings:

CEO and Founder  Carole Baskin (not compensated by BCR) President and Chairman of the Board Jamie Veronica (not compensated by BCR for her role as a Director) Secretary & Treasurer Howard Baskin (not compensated by BCR for his role as a Director) Director Lisa Shaw (not compensated by BCR) Director Mary Lou Geis (not compensated by BCR) These members met or plan to meet for monthly board meetings at the dates and places below: Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL;  Feb 7, May 2, Aug 1, Nov 7

Paid Staff:

Operations Manager & Volunteer Coordinator Gale Ingham Staff Manager, Editor & Creative Director Jamie Veronica Gift Shop & Guest Services  Honey Wayton Intern Recruiter & Data Management Chelsea Feeny Education Director Dr. Beth Kamhi and her assistant Willow Hecht Vernon Stairs Cage Builder and Maintenance Scott Haller Cage Building Apprentice and Maintenance Videographer and Social Networking Chris Poole Director of Donor Appreciation  Jeff Kremer Assistant to Operations Manager and Staff Relief Person Jennifer Flatt CFO Howard Baskin LaWanna Mitchell is an independent contractor who works remotely on web issues. All of our animal care is done by volunteers or by staff who also volunteer time before & after work.

Volunteers:

Big Cat Rescue had 107 volunteers in 2010 who clocked in 56,411 man-power hours in addition to staff, 31 interns and Volunteer Committee member hours.  Our interns came from 10 states and 8 countries.  Volunteers and interns provided roughly the equivalent workforce of 30 more full time staff.

Staff and Volunteer Training

We want to say a special thank you to all of our staff & volunteers who have just completed their 10th year of service to the cats.   Click here for 2010 IRS form 990 and audited financial statement

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