Big Cat Rescue: A Wild Journey
Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been drawn to the beauty, grace and power of big cats.
So while I was writing the story about Cloe the snow leopard, who lives at Big Cat Rescue and who treated for kidney stones (just like me), it occurred to me that my husband, Marty, and I live just a couple of hours from Big Cat Rescue.
I called Carole Baskin, the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, to ask for more information about the work being done to save and protect these incredible cats.
She graciously invited Marty and I to take a tour of the sanctuary, where cats who have been abused, abandoned, bred to be pets, retired from performing acts, or saved from being slaughtered for fur coats have a permanent home.
Carole greeted us warmly at the front gate, giving a few rules, and we leisurely traveled in a cart along the pathways of the facility’s 45-acre property, winding around huge enclosures for the animals.
I took an endless number of photographs of the lions, tigers, panthers, servals, bobcats, cougars, ligers and many other species of cats that make their home at the sanctuary. I was amazed to hear myself talking to them as if they were just bigger versions of our little domesticated kitties at home–enticing them to pose for my camera.
However being just a few feet from these breathtakingly beautiful animals, I could practically read their sad stories in their soulful eyes. Many live in the sanctuary because of chilling abuse and neglect.
The sanctuary began in 1992 when Carole and her then husband Don, mistakenly believed that bobcats made good pets, and went looking to buy some kittens. They inadvertently ended up at a “fur farm” and bought all 56 kittens to keep them from being turned into fur coats.
While the sanctuary’s amply-sized enclosures are designed to mimic each cat’s native habitat–giving the cats a variety of trees to climb so they can view their environment to mark their territories, as well as dens and hiding places for privacy–I could not help but feel a profound sadness as we wended our way around the impressive compound.
After all, they are not free.
However, without Big Cat Rescue, the largest accredited rescue and sanctuary for exotic cats in the world, making heroic interventions and showering their cats with an abundance of love, respect and understanding, these animals would have suffered a far worse fate.
Learn more about Big Cat Rescue’s work and see some of the resident cats, by watching the video uploaded to YouTube by BigCatRescue.
Would you ever visit a big cat rescue? Let us know in a comment.
Images by Jo Singer.