2013 Annual Report
A Video Report of 2013 at Big Cat Rescue
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 there were “only” 37 big cats who came to our attention as being abandoned. We were able to take in 9 wildcats plus 2 rehab bobcats. We offered to take 10 of the cats who were leopard size or smaller if their owners would contract to never own another exotic cat. The cats we did not take were those whose owners refused.
There is no point to our taking in cats just so an owner can go buy another cute cub and alter discard it. We did not have enough Senior Keeper staff to take on more lions or tigers than the ones we have.
- Animal Care
- Award Winning Sanctuary
- Fundraising and Marketing
- Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
- Helping Others
- Then and Now
Rescued 9 exotic cats, including Nala the Serval, Skipper & Gilligan the Canada Lynx, Ginger the Serval, Mary Ann, Thurston & Lovey the Bobcats, JoJo the Caracal Serval hybrid and Reise the Cougar.
Rehabbed and released 4 native bobcat kittens; Gator, Copter, Khaleesi and Fencer.
Newborn kittens who are brought to Animal Control are routinely killed because with their immature immune systems they do not survive in the shelter environment. So we began a foster kitten program with our interns as the fosters. We have saved more than 70 kittens from being killed. We raise them until they are 2 pounds and healthy, then bring them to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay to be fixed and adopted out. See some very cute kitten video here: http://youtu.be/4yMMudueBow and see cute cats meeting the vet here: http://youtu.be/lfXyynkYmfc.
Bought 9 more acres for quarantine and native wildlife rehab.
Installed a new solar system http://youtu.be/leiZPwsd1sA
By the end of this year, 92 of our 111 exotic animals are over the age of 12; 76 of those are over the age of 15; and 19 of those are over the age of 20. 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.
2013 was a big year for expanding our big cat enclosures. We built our largest ever enclosure and dubbed it the Vacation Rotation Enclosure. This 2.5 acre cat-a-tat includes a pond, fountain, trees, forts and three safety areas for storms. We had to construct a number of above ground tunnels to move cats to and from nearby enclosures so they could “rotate” through the new enclosure, and we had to make significant improvements to those nearby cages. Two of them being were torn down and rebuilt from scratch so that all of our tigers, no matter how frisky, could be cycled through the Vacation Rotation area safely.
Sadly we had to say “goodbye” to these great cats: Willow the Siberian Lynx who was 18, Ty the Serval who was 20, SARMOTI the Tiger who was 20, Rose the Caracal who was 16, Shaniqua the Jungle Cat who was 19 and Bella the Tiger who was 17.
We never gave up on Precious the Bobcat after her stroke http://youtu.be/ZY3IQuKAWwM
Award Winning Sanctuary
Top Rated Non Profit at Great Non Profits
We have received this award every year since they started awarding it in 2010 due to the many great reviews we get from visitors and donors each year.
We again received Charity Navigator’s highest four star rating.
Dalton Agency Contest
We won a cash prize and pro bono professional video in this national online voting contest thanks to our dedicated supporters who voted daily.
WEDU Nonprofit of the Year awards
We are a finalist in the Best Use of Video category for this annual contest held by our PBS Station thanks again to our passionate supporters voting online. The winner will be announced in late February.
Added audio story telling to the bio of every cat at the sanctuary and created a free virtual tour app in both iTunes and the Google Play Store. This app is being integrated into our guided tours to insure that every tour is accurate and relevant.
Also new this year was the use of the Vox tour system, where guests can listen via a headset to the guide or recorded tour. The benefit to the guest is that everyone can hear and can adjust their own volume. The benefit to the cats is that when using the recorded tour the guests move silently through the sanctuary.
We were presenters at the Big Cat Workshop hosted by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the International Fund for Animal Welfare where more than 20 big cat sanctuaries converged for a weekend of learning, networking and sharing. http://bigcatrescue.org/
We were presenters at Animal Grant Makers in Austin, TX in November on the topic of sanctuaries that fail, and how not to.
BigCatRescue.org gets about 1.5 million unique visitors per year with 1,498,422 in 2013. Our website is primarily an educational tool and according to Alexa we are ranked 224,835 worldwide and 66,562 most visited website in the U.S. in 2013 which was a doubling of our site’s popularity over 2012. We have 866 other sites linking to us.
Some of the pages that were the most popular each showed increases of 1,500% – 3,500% and these were:
#4 Why it’s wrong to buy big cats had 119,418 visitors
#7 Why it’s wrong to breed white tigers had 97,833 visitors
#8 Why it’s wrong to breed ligers had 81,303 visitors
#11 Why it’s wrong to breed domestic cat hybrids had 57,164 visitors
#12 Why it’s wrong to breed Savannah Cat hybrids had 56,346 visitors (which should probably be combined with #11)
Our web site addresses local and global concerns about environment and has over 9,400 pages of information, movie clips, sounds, safe interactive online games with a conservation theme and photos. In any given week the visitors will be from more than 200 countries outside of the U.S.
The information provided has helped wildlife rehabilitators identify animals and obtain proper care instruction and helped officials in smuggling cases to identify rare species of exotic cats being illegally traded. Those are just a few of the ways that we know the site has had an impact this year.
We gave 195 field trip tours to the sanctuary and outreach visits this year. We gave 8 free tours and 12 discounted school field trip tours this year to groups for whom the modest price of the visit was not manageable. Even when we offer the tours for free, many schools cannot come because they cannot afford the $200.00 fee for their buses, so we maintain a fund where contributors can support big cat education by donating the bus fee.
The steady increase in legislation banning private ownership represents recognition by our society that private ownership leads to widespread 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” and were 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 nine more states have passed some level of ban. Internationally, El Salvador, Slovenia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Peru, Sweden, Austria, Costa Rica, India, Finland, Bolivia, Greece, China, the UK and Singapore have all banned or restricted the utilization of big cats in circuses. It is time for the U.S. & South Africa to do the same!
Orchestrated our first Fly In to DC for 17 AdvoCats to talk to nearly 20 Legislators about supporting the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act HR1998/S1381: images here: http://bigcatrescue.org/dc-
The Library of Congress offers this guide to global laws regarding the private possession of exotic cats.
Late in the year after the bills were introduced we resumed inviting our on site guests to call their Senators and Representatives asking them to support the Big Cats and Public Safety Act this year.
Through our CatLaws.com site, powered by Voter Voice, 8,324 of our 88,877 supporters sent 143,918 messages to 1071 recipients. While we wish that more than 10% of animal lovers on our mailing list would take the time to speak up for the animals, the ones who did were awesome. The 3 most popular letters sent were these:
1. Letters in favor of the Big Cats and Public Safety Act, which would ban the private possession of big cats and ban cub handling.
2. Letters opposing the exhibition of exotic cats and their cubs at fairs.
3. Letters opposing a football player posting that he owned a tiger.
Some of the wins from these campaigns were:
1. 86 Senators and Representatives joined the 3 bill sponsors by co sponsoring the Big Cats and Public Safety Act (HR1998 & S1381)
2. Darnell Dockett turns out to not actually possess a tiger despite his claim that he was going to bring it to practice.
3. Hillsborough County, FL enacted an ordinance that allows them to seize assets in animal abuse cases and enacted another ordinance to protect feral cats and their caregivers.
Imagine what we could have accomplished if just 20% of our mailing list were to take action for the animals? This is an easy, no cost way for us to have a huge impact collectively. If you have not yet been active in taking action when we send alerts asking you to email a legislator, regulator or venue hosting an abusive animal exhibit, please make 2014 the year you join in. You CAN make a difference – the many supporters who do send these emails have proven it! The most vivid example is our having gotten owners of over 200 malls to agree not to allow cub petting exhibits, saving all those cubs from a miserable life on the road and being sleep deprived as they are handled or restrained for photo opportunities hour after hour. You can make ending big cat abuse part of the legacy of your life with just a few emails each year.
Wins for the Big Cats in 2013
Ft. Wayne, IN: Bears, wolves, lions, tigers, alligators, and venomous snakes are prohibited within the city limits of Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
Unfortunately 2013 was noted by a Wall Street Journal poll to be the worst congress ever for a number of reasons, but most noticeably for animal lovers not one animal protection bill made it through the process.
This article published in the Vegan Health and Fitness magazine gives some great examples of how parents can guide their children to treat animals by avoiding “traditional” animal attractions that we’ve come to learn are usually abusive, such as circuses and zoos. www.VHFmag.com
Fundraising and Marketing
Big Cat Rescue was reported favorably in the news 225 times in 2013. Some of our national press has included shows on CNN, MSNBC, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery and the History Channel in addition to such publications as USA Today, National Geographic and the New York Post and major media coverage in several other countries as well. Big Cat Rescue has been in the press in 42+ states including AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, GA, FL, HI, IA, ID, IO, IN, IL, KY, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, VA, VT, WA, WI & WV and dozens of programs of national or international coverage or in countries other than the U.S.
YouTube and Revision 3 were the big news this year. Revision 3, which is owned by Discovery, contacted us and asked us to be their first animal themed channel in 2012. Thanks to this partnership and cross promotions with Animal Planet, we are experiencing more than 1.5 million views of our YouTube videos per MONTH! By 2013 year end we had 405 videos with 130,011 subscribers and 71,633,898 views.
YouTube Mini Clip Site: DailyBigCat 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 4,574 subscribers and 748,688 views.
Facebook: We surpassed 109,444 fans on Face Book
Google +: This is a new social site for us in 2013 and we have already reached 30,000 fans on this new venue.
Final financial numbers will not be available until after our annual audit in the spring, but estimates will be posted here after we reconcile the credit card statements.
Big Cat Rescue has an Endowment Fund to provide a secure future for the cats. The Fund resides at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. Periodically the Community Foundation offers a matching program where the nonprofit sets a fundraising goal and when 75% of the goal is reached, the Community Foundation provides the remaining 25%, which effectively is a 33% match of the funds provided by donors. We set our most ambitious goal ever, $400,000, which is the maximum allowed. We had three years to reach the $300,000 that represents our 75% target, but thanks to our generous donors reached the goal in 9 months and received the $100,000 grant from the Community Foundation in 2013.
We continued to build our affinity credit card program with Capitol One under which you can choose one of our beautiful cats for your credit card image and 1% of all of your purchases is donated to Big Cat Rescue at no cost to you.
To build awareness of our federal bill we signed up to be the top level Diamond Sponsor for the Taking Action for Animals Conference in Washington, DC in June, 2014 where more than 1,000 animal activists converge to learn more about legislation to protect animals.
Selected by Body Shop for their Dragon Fruit Lip Butter campaign which resulted in representatives from popular beauty magazines visiting the sanctuary and writing about our work to stop big cat abuse. http://youtu.be/j3kD84iFPms
Started the Cat Chat Show, a weekly podcast where we interview cat experts from around the world about all kinds of cats, from Tabbies to Tigers.
The Halloween “Haunted Trail” event was a lot of fun and a financial success! See some of it here: http://youtu.be/BseKW0QzbAU
Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
In 2013 Big Cat Rescue donated $3,883.91 towards four conservation programs in the FL and in other countries on behalf of our volunteers.
$1533.91 to Panthera to save corridors for wild cats to travel safely
$1000.00 to the Florida Panther Refuge to help protect the Florida Panther.
$850.00 to the Snow Leopard Trust to cover the cost of camera traps and snow leopard monitoring.
$500.00 to the Tiger Trust to protect tigers in India by providing better legal assistance and training for game wardens.
1. Big Cat Rescue was recruited to offer our expertise and guidance in the development of a rescue center in Spain that will be broadening their focus from primates to now include big cats. AAP Primadomus is located on more than 400 acres in Villena and currently houses a variety of primates that have been rescued from private ownership, circuses, and laboratories. They are now expanding their focus to also rescue countless lions and tigers that are in need across their country.
In an effort to prepare for this project nearly a dozen experts were invited to a symposium that focused on sharing information regarding the proper care of big cats in captivity, emergency protocol development, and enclosure design. Big Cat Rescue President Jamie Veronica and volunteer veterinarian Justin Boorstein travelled to Spain and joined experts from Italy, South Africa, France, Austria, the Netherlands and all across the United Kingdom.
Over the course of three days the team worked tirelessly to provide as much information as possible to the members of not only AAP Primadomus, but its origin center Stitching AAP. Stitching AAP is a rescue center for apes, monkeys and small exotic animals in the Netherlands that was founded more than 35 years ago.
The symposium was a huge success. Big Cat Rescue will continue to work with AAP remotely throughout the development process. We are so pleased to provide assistance to organizations that are saving big cats across the globe!
2. Created 8 Intranet sites, which are sort of a sanctuary-in-a-box site, for other sanctuaries to use. These came complete with every training video, training manual, chart and idea that we use to run Big Cat Rescue. We do this for free for sanctuaries that do not breed, buy, sell, trade nor allow contact w/ wild animals.
3. Loaned one of our Green Level Keepers (Kathryn Quaas) to Wildcat Sanctuary for 5 weeks of brutal winter weather to help while they were hiring & training new staff.
4. Big Cat Rescue provided our CatLaws.com service to Animal Coalition of Tampa in their efforts to send a powerful message to the Hillsborough County Commissioners on the subject of TNR. Trap, Neuter and Return. We similarly supported Be The Way Home effort in Hillsborough County that protects feral cats from being rounded up and killed. The Board of County Commissioners responded with ordinances to protect feral cats and their caregivers. http://youtu.be/o1ve94nYbP4
5. Presented at Tigers 4 Tigers which is a coalition of all colleges that have tiger mascots who are working to save the tiger. It was also the last place for the good friend and world famous and much beloved tiger expert Ron Tilson to make a presentation before his untimely death this year. http://youtu.be/o1ve94nYbP4
6. Hosted 2nd annual SkipAHolics reunion tour to thank the many people who help us keep an eye on our cats via the webcams. http://youtu.be/IuKXK4r7PEo
7. We were a sponsor for Animal Coalition of Tampa’s Stride for Strays, as we are every year.
Then and Now
Below are the audited financial statements of Revenue and Expense for the past five years. We pride ourselves in keeping our fundraising and administrative total expenses below 20%. Because our tour revenue exceeds our fundraising and administrative costs, 100% of donations go to Program Expense.
The majority of the increase in Program Expense in 2012-2013 was the cost of lawsuits we filed in furtherance of our mission against what we believe to be one of the most notorious exploiters of tiger cubs. We won a million dollar judgment against this breeder/exhbitor for violations of our copyright and trademark in 2013. He filed bankruptcy personally and on behalf of his zoo. However, by consent agreement his personal debt to us is not to be dismissed in bankruptcy, and the zoo bankruptcy has been dismissed. So currently we are working through the process of seeking to recover our judgment against whatever assets we can. Without the generous support of our donors we could not have sustained this successful effort. Thank you!
Officers and Members of the Board of Directors in 2013 and meetings (2/23, 7/9, 9/24 & 12/17):
CEO and Founder Carole Baskin (not compensated by BCR for her role as Director)
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)
VP Director Lisa Shaw (not compensated by BCR)
Director Mary Lou Geis (not compensated by BCR)
Pamela Rodriguez (not compensated by BCR)
Darren Kipnis (not compensated by BCR)
Keith Lawless (not compensated by BCR)
Kim Mahoney (not compensated by BCR)
These members met for quarterly board meetings at the sanctuary. The board met 4 times in 2013.
Paid Staff and Contractors:
CEO and Staff Manager: Carole Baskin
President, Editor & Creative Director: Jamie Veronica
Operations Manager & Volunteer Coordinator: Gale Ingham
Videographer and Social Networking: Chris Poole
Director of Donor Appreciation: Jeff Kremer
Gift Shop Manager: Honey Wayton
Project Manager: Chelsea Feeny
Education Director: Willow Hecht
Cage Builder and Maintenance: Vernon Stairs
Cage Building Apprentice and Maintenance: Scott Haller
Grounds Keeper, part time: Jarred Smalley
Bookkeeper: Barbara Stairs
Assistant Bookkeeper: Katie Nikic
Guest Services, part time: Valerie Stockton
CFO: Howard Baskin
Public Relations: Susan Bass
Web and Social Media: LaWanna Mitchell
All of our animal care is done by volunteers or by staff who also volunteer time before & after work.
Big Cat Rescue had 89 volunteers at the end of 2013 who clocked in 40,547 man-power hours, in addition to 54 interns who clocked 32,400 man-power hours, plus 4,793 Volunteer Committee member hours. In total this amounted to 77,740 man-power hours provided roughly the equivalent workforce of 37 more full time staff. Between paid staff, part time staff, contractors and volunteers we averaged the equivalent of 52 full time staff.
Interesting breakdown of volunteers: We have 89 volunteers; 69 women and 20 men. The youngest 18 years old, the oldest 76 years old.
Between January 1, 2011 and September 10, 2013 Big Cat Rescue had 99 interns from 10 countries and 21 states.
Staff and Volunteer Training
Several of our staff attended the Safe Capture Course, as we do any time they are in Florida.
Began turning our volunteer training classes into video classes.
Get our Financial Reports: See our IRS 990 and audited financial statement for Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org/finances/