AdvoCat News 2012 01

Out with the Old in with the New

According to the National Christmas Tree Assosiation, Americans purchased a whopping 27 million Christmas trees in 2010 spending an average of $36 per tree for a grand total of $976 million! Where do all of those trees go once the holidays are over? A lot of places actually. Discarded Christmas trees are mulched for landscaping use, used whole on shorelines to prevent soil erosion, and even burned to produce electricity. Did you know that the big cats like Christmas trees? They more than like them, they love them! Each year local Christmas tree retailers call Big Cat Rescue to offer their unsold trees to the cats. These unwanted old trees gain new life as enrichment. This year we picked up enough trees from three retailers to give each cat at the sanctuary a tree. The cats react to these trees much like they do to catnip or spices, they rub, paw, scratch and even chew on these festive trees. The enriching effects of interacting with the trees provides our resident felines with a healthy dose of holiday cheer!


Your Grocery Money Can Save Big Cats


A couple months ago Big Cat Rescue started ordering some great products online, instead of many of the cleaning and grocery products that we buy every week at supermarkets.  The reason we chose to do so is because the products are eco-friendly, safe around pets, economical and we were really hoping that they worked.  If so there is a residual income that could help support the sanctuary and our people who chose to get involved.


Here are a few things we learned:


– The products are great and in every case so far have proven to be more effective than the alternatives.  Around the sanctuary, probably the most impressive have been the dish and floor cleaners who have proven to do a better job at degreasing than Dawn.  This has been great for washing down our cooler, food prep floors, the cat hospital and the food and clean up buckets.


– The products are concentrated which makes them cheap to ship and then they last a long time.  They really do work when diluted with water like their label suggests.


So far it has been an easy sell and easy money for the cats.  Because of the hectic holidays we haven’t had time to really share the products with others but with just 9 of our staff and volunteers signing up and 7 of their friends doing the same, Big Cat Rescue has already gotten commission checks for $801.95 !  That buys some cat food!


Find out how your grocery shopping can help save big cats and/or how you can make an extra income by helping others here:



Bobcat Tortured by State Official


If you love animals, you may not be able to stand watching this video, TRAPPED BOBCAT TORTURED, but someone has to speak out against this sort of twisted cruelty before one more bobcat ends up this way.


In the video created and posted by Tracy Truman, appointee to the Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife in Nevada, a bobcat, that has been trapped with a leg hold trap, is jerked around in front of a dog that is urged to attack the terrified and injured cat. As the chain is pulled back and forth it appears to be wrenching the bobcat’s arm out of his shoulder socket. Regardless, bobcat is forced to defend himself against the dog, who is barking wildly, but appears to be afraid to make contact. The man on the other end of the chain is apparently trying to lure the dog into attacking by pulling the bobcat around like a toy. When questioned, the hunter/trapper reportedly said he was not mistreating either animal, but that the purpose of having posted his video online is a “training video for other trappers to show them how to train their dogs…” When questions by the media, Commissioner Tom Collins said, in reference to dragging the bobcat to and fro, “it is no different than someone pulling on their dog’s leash.”


Action needs to be taken in defense of this helpless wildcat, action from individuals like you. Please take a few minutes today to visit to send a letter on behalf of this bobcat to state officials asking for disciplinary action as well as improvements to policies that will protect wild animals, such as this bobcat, from being mercilessly tortured. Pre-written letters are available or you can write your own. It takes just a minute or two and is the only way to prevent this sort of cruelty from happening again. This bobcat and his wild brothers and sisters are counting on YOU.



Fundraising Campaign


Skipper’s Smokehouse Fun for All Ball a Wild Time and Roaring Success


We would like to sincerely thank the staff of Skipper’s Smokehouse and the bands who participated in the 1st Fun for All Ball. The event was a great success and a lot of fun too! Admission, raffle ticket and gift shop sales combined equaled $1,137


$785 was BCR’s 75% take of the door (just over 100 attendees), $206 in Raffle Ticket Sales, $146 in BCR Gift Shop Sales, for a grand total of $1137 raised for the cats!



Save Bobcats From Hunters


Let’s all walk the talk! NY is asking for public input on their planned expansion of bobcat hunting. Hunters have spoken up. Can you imagine if every animal lover did, too? Leghold trapping is one of the most inhumane forms of abuse. Won’t you answer the appeal of this bobcat and take a moment to email your thoughts by Feb. 16?


Please send an email TO: SUBJECT: Bobcat Plan



Big Cat Genome Project


Big Cat Rescue was recently contacted by Brian Davis, a geneticist in the laboratory of Dr. William Murphy at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine.  He said, “Our goal is to use existing genetic tools and recent advancements in large-scale genomic technology to characterize multiple aspects related to captive animal populations.  For instance, it is of great interest to us to accurately examine the genomes of tigers to develop easy-to-use assays to determine the subspecies of tiger, or the percentage of each subspecies contributing to a generic tiger’s genome.  With the recent events in Ohio, we are redoubling our efforts to develop these tools as efficiently and effectively as possible.”


He said they could use cheek swabs, hair bulbs, whisker pulls, blood draws and biopsy tissues. They are especially interested in tigers, ligers, other hybrids and any animals who have been inbred to produce white coats.


Our cats, both living and dead, can still help scientists save the endangered cats. We sent samples from Simba, Freckles and Zabu and Brian responded, “I want to let you know that Simba’s genome (along with Freckles and Zabu) has been extracted and banked. They are in cold storage at -80C and was wonderfully intact. We very much appreciate all your help with this tiger genome project. We can’t do the work we are doing without help from awesome contributors like you! Keep in mind, we are just starting with the tiger and will be doing similar work on all exotic felines in the future based on our methods development in the tiger.”



Thanks to the Tampa Bay Lightning staff!


On December 14th the Tampa Bay Lightning staff took a day out of their schedule to volunteer at Big Cat Rescue.  They were amazing!  25 staff members came in the morning, then another 25 in the afternoon.  They worked feverishly to taking down the old chain link fence around the 10 acres we bought a year ago and clearing foliage to prepare the property to be usable.  They took video of their work and of Bengali the tiger as well as Joseph and Sasha the lions, all of whom observed their efforts intently.  They also taped a short interview with Advisory Board Chairman Howard Baskin.  Then they played the video on the “Jumbotron” huge screens that are over the rink to a packed crowd at the Lightning vs. Flyers game, giving the sanctuary exposure to over 20,000 fans!   Thanks Lightning for caring about the cats!!



Can Big Cats Purr?


Do tigers, lions, leopards and other species of big cats purr like domestic cats?  We’re often asked this question so check out the video for answers.



Sorry we were so late with this issue of the AdvoCat.  The February AdvoCat will be ready for you soon and has a couple more great videos!


AdvoCat News 2011 12  Happy Growl-idays

AdvoCat News 2011 12 Happy Growl-idays

3 Connecting Tunnels, 2 Enclosure Additions, and a Leopard Jungle Gym

It has been a busy month for Big Cat Rescue.  As always, during the holidays, we receive many more visitors to the sanctuary, which is great because we are able to share the stories of the cats and inform the public how they can help put an end to the abuse of big cats in captivity!  Big Cat Rescuers have also been very busy enhancing the lives of the cats residing at the sanctuary.

A few of the most recent projects included an enclosure addition for Purr-sistance the ocelot and Windstar the bobcat.  Not only do they have lots of extra space, but we are now able to shift them easily from one side of their enclosure to the other making maintenance a breeze.

Pharaoh the serval, and Anasazi, Will, Bailey and Moses the bobcats all have new space to explore as well.  Their enclosures were connected with a series of tunnels so that they can each be shifted to the neighboring enclosure.  Shifting enclosures is quite enriching for the cats. Each enclosure offers a different view of the surroundings and provides the cat with a host of new and intriguing scents to discover.

Reno the leopard was the lucky recipient of a massive jungle gym designed and constructed by Big Cat Rescue’s Enrichment Committee.  He loves the complex series of platforms and catwalks and he certainly shows his appreciation by spending nearly all of his time lounging on the highest of the platforms.

These enclosure additions and platforms are thanks, not only to the dedicated volunteers who give of their free time to help with building, but to our generous supporters such as you!  Your donations make it possible for us to give every cat in our care the very best life possible in captivity.  So on behalf of the cats, Thank You!!


The Zanesville Massacre Could Happen Anywhere

Zanesville Massacre 18 tigers 17 lions 3 cougars gunned down

At 5:30 a.m. on October 19, 2011, the phones at Big Cat Rescue began ringing with the news that Terry Thompson, a private owner and collector of exotic animals in Ohio, had released 56 of his lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, wolves and bears before committing suicide.

As the watching world soon learned that day, Thompson had purposely cut the doors off his animals’ cages so they could not be returned to them. And because the perimeter fence around his property was a mere four- foot high cattle fence, and it was getting dark, the authorities who arrived on the scene were forced to shoot and kill all but six of the dangerous wild animals.

This senseless tragedy unfolded in Zanesville, Ohio, but it could just as easily have been in Tampa or any other city in Florida.  Read More


Snow Leopard Guardian Alliance

In addition to providing a permanent home to more than 100 big cats and advocating on their behalf to promote legislation that will protect captive wild animals, Big Cat Rescue also provides aid for programs focused on conservation.  Our most recent project is the funding of a GPS tracking collar that will be monitored by researchers with the Snow Leopard Trust. Founded in 1981, the Snow Leopard Trust is the world’s leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard. This collar will allow researchers to track a wild snow leopard in order to study its habits and territory needs.

We are excited to provide you with this teaser update on the field project from the Snow Leopard Trust researhers: A GPS tracking collar has been placed on one of the cubs of Khashaa, a female and mother snow leopard, within the study area. The cub, a male, is already pretty big at one and a half years old. We find this so exciting because it will help us begin to answer some of the unanswered questions about snow leopards, including information about dispersal patterns.

The Snow Leopard Trust is allowing us to share some of the great inside stories and tracking information that is only made available to those who sponsor the $5,000 Collar Project. If you would like to receive access to these updates and photos directly from the field you can join a limited number of individuals by becoming a member of Big Cat Rescue’s Snow Leopard Guardian Alliance.  Membership is $5 and as a member you will receive access to exclusive updates and photos for one year.  Membership is limited to the first 700 who sign up.  The membership fees collected will go directly towards funding the collar project.  The remaining $1,500 of the project has been funded by Big Cat Rescue in honor of our extraordinary team of staff and volunteers.

Sign up today and get full access to the first of many updates and photos to come. Check out photos of the newest contributor to snow leopard research, the 1.5 year old male snow leopard – and then go to


Gr-r-reat American Teach-In

A huge THANK YOU to all of our Big Cat Rescuers who attended the Great American Teach-In this year: Ann Berringer, Denny Mitchell, Honey Wayton, Jennifer Flatt, Kim Dever, Lynda Licht,  Merrill Kramer, and Sharyn Beach.  Our dedicated Big Cat Rescuers attended 20 schools and gave presentations that reached 1,684 students! Educating these children about our important mission and the issues facing big cats–it’s such an important job. If you would like to join our family of Big Cat Rescuers please visit our website to see how you can become a VOLUNTEER.


Serval Gets Second Opinion

Tonga the serval was not acting himself recently and his keepers noticed right away.  He was mildly lethargic and so an appointment was made for him to visit the vet. He was taken to Ehrlich Animal Hospital to see Big Cat Rescue’s veterinarian Dr. Wynn. She performed an examination on the 15-year-old serval including xrays and a blood test. There appeared to be nothing wrong with Tonga, so while he was sedated we took the opportunity to have him neutered.  He recovered in our onsite Cat Hospital before being returned to his enclosure.

Unfortunately several days later an abscess ruptured on his inner thigh.  He was lured into a transport cage and seen by Dr. Wynn a second time. The abscess could have been the result of a variety of things and its exact cause is unknown.  The wound was cleaned and Tonga spent an additional two weeks recovering in the cat hospital and was given a course of antibiotics.  While staying in doors and wearing an e-collar may not have been his first choice, Tonga certainly did not mind the frequent visits and treats from his keepers.  The wound healed completely and Tonga was once again taken back out to his enclosure.  You can help us provide excellent veterinary care by making a donation HERE. Tonga says thank you!


Sad Farewell to Feline Friends

We are very sad to announce the recent passing of two of our wonderful feline friends. 17-year-old Simba the tiger lost her battle with heart and kidney disease on Thanksgiving Day and 15-year-old Zoul the serval, rescued earlier this year from New York, also succumbed to heart disease.  Simba and Zoul will be missed dearly by everyone at Big Cat Rescue.  While we can take solace in knowing that we have provided them the best care during their time with us, it is never easy when we must say good bye to one or our dear friends.  We would like to thank you for making it possible for us to rescue Simba and Zoul and provide them with the best time of their life.



Max Bobcat Rescue

Meet Max the bobcat and hear the story of his rescue. Check out this video.


Fun Fur All Ball at Skipper’s this Sunday

Join us for a benefit concert at Skipper’s Smoke House in Tampa on Sunday December 11th.  Enjoy musical entertainment from Juanjamon Band, Skull and Bone Band, The Human Condition, and Sunset Bridge while perusing the raffle and auction items, including original paintings created live during the show by local artists.  The Fun Fur All Ball is from 4-9 PM.  Tickets are a $10 minimum suggested donation.  Check out Skipper’s facebook page and Like them. Get the latest details about the event or RSVP on their Event page.


Charity Navigator gives Big Cat Rescue 4-Star Rating

Big Cat Rescue has a 4-Star Rating with Charity Navigator.  We are also pleased to announce that Big Cat Rescue has the highest overall score of any sanctuary.  Check it out HERE.


Ways for YOU to Win

1. $100 gift card from The Body Shop for you and $1,000 for the big cats!

Check out The Body Shop’s holiday giveaway contest for your chance to win a $100 Gift Card as well as $1,000 in products that will be donated to Big Cat Rescue.  Visit the contest page and “shake” a festive snow globe for a chance to win. After you click to “shake” the globe you can help Big Cat Rescue win too by clicking the link at the bottom right of the globe graphic to Donate Shakes. Fill out the quick form with your email address and select either US or Canada resident. Click choose charity and from there select Big Cat Rescue.  After you are finished you can increase Big Cat Rescue’s odds of winning by sharing on Facebook and Twitter. Return daily from now until Christmas to try again!

 2. Last Chance to Enter for a Chance to Win Bucs Tickets

You could win tickets to see the Buccaneers vs. the Cowboys on Saturday December 17th at 8:20 PM. Raffle tickets are 1 for $5 or for the best deal get 10 for $20 (only $2 each!).

3. Help JOSEPH spread the word & WIN a $20 gift certificate to use in our gift shop!

Spread the word about National Geographic’s Big Cat Week and you could win a $20 gift certificate to use in our online gift shop. All you need to do is sign up at the link HERE, then simply post your unique link that is generated on your facebook and twitter accounts.  If you get the most clicks on your link by midnight Pacific Time that day, you win! Contest runs daily from now until December 11th.


Free Holiday eCards and Games at

Visit our BigCatFun site for more than 1,000 Holiday eCards and nearly 100 Holiday Games.  New cards and games are added weekly.  So go on and have some fun at It’s a roaring good time!

If you received this AdvoCat issue via email and cannot access the links, just paste this URL into your browser bar to see the issue online:

AdvoCat News 2011 11

AdvoCat News 2011 11

100 Cars for Good Benefits 100 Big Cats


Toyota 100 Cars for Good

We want to send out a huge THANK YOU to everyone who voted for us in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good contest. Big Cat Rescue won and celebrated with Stadium Toyota last Wednesday night.


This Toyota Tundra will go a long way in helping the big cats from hauling supplies, to taking cats to the vet, to cross-country rescue trips!


More photos of the celebration.



Zanesville Massacre Sparks Change in Legislation to Protect Wild Animals


The recent events in Zanesville, OH will haunt our minds forever.  Our only hope is that in the wake of such tragedy public outcry will demand better laws to protect captive exotic animals as well as the people that reside near the back yard collectors who house them.


62-year-old Terry Thompson had been released from a federal prison September 30 after pleading guilty earlier this year to possessing illegal firearms, including five fully automatic firearms. He had also been convicted in 2005 for animal cruelty. Thompson returned to his 73-acre farm where he housed his personal collection of 56 exotic animals including lions, tigers, leopards, bears, monkeys and more.  For reasons unknown, on October 18th, Thompson released his collection of exotic pets, damaging the enclosures so the animals could not be recaptured, and then took his own life.


Shortly after, around 5 PM, 911 calls reported of lions and bears roaming freely along the side of the road near his farm. Officers dispatched to the scene were ordered to kill the animals instead of trying to bring them down with tranquilizers for fear that those hit with darts would escape in the darkness and soon regain consciousness. Thompson’s farm was located just outside of Zanesville that has a population of 25,000, authorities could not take the risk of losing sight of these dangerous animals that could potentially harm or even kill nearby neighbors.


Killed were 2 wolves, 6 black bears, 2 grizzly bears, 9 male lions, 8 lionesses, 1 baboon, 3 mountain lions, and 18  tigers. Six animals survived including; 3 leopards, 2 monkeys, and a grizzly bear that did not attempt to escape their cages.  These animals taken to the Columbus Zoo where they remain today. At this point, the only animal still unaccounted for is a macaque monkey that may be infected with the Herpes B virus, however authorities believe that his animal may have been eaten by one of the big cats.


Ohio has some of the nation’s weakest restrictions on exotic pets and among the highest number of injuries and deaths caused by them. Lax state laws coupled with an urge to own an exotic creature is often a death sentence for both the owners and their pets.  According to the Captive Wild Animal Protection Campaign in Washington, D.C., 90 percent of large animals considered wild or exotic die within the first two years of captivity. The Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, is working with wildlife expert Jack Hanna to create new regulations in the state for nonnative animals so this kind of disaster never happens again. According to reports a task force has already been assembled and they’re about six weeks away from the new restrictions.


You can speak out for these animals as well as for the countless others that are hidden away in cramped sub-standard conditions in back yards all across the country.  Visit to let your legislators know that you want better laws that will protect both exotic animals and the public.  At we make it easy for you to advocate for the animals. Each current issue is concisely outlined, choose to write your own letter or select from available pre-written letters, enter your zip code to send your letter automatically to your local legislator or choose the option of printing your letter and mailing it.  With just a few clicks of the mouse and less than 5 minutes you can make a difference and protect wild animals from falling victim to tragedies such as the Zanesville massacre.


Please tell the Cedar Mall in WI that hosting cub pimping displays is what leads to tragedies like the bloody slaughter of 38 lions, tigers and cougars in Zanesville, OH



Pumpkin Fun with Big Cats

Big Cats and Pumpkin Fun


Check out our Halloween – Pumpkin Fun  album on Big Cat Rescue’s facebook page to see lots of great photos of the big cats playing with their pumpkins.


A big thanks to East Lake United Methodist Church for donating pumpkins 2 years in a row!



Check out this awesome video to see the cats having a blast with their pumpkins!



Animal Law Students Visit Sanctuary


Big Cat Rescue’s Founder Carole Baskin’s favorite people are those who are getting involved in politics to end the abuse of big cats.  In 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King said, “It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless.”  While we are working hard to change the way people think about big cats, by showing them how smart they are and how deserving they are of our protection and respect, we have found that the only way to save them is by encouraging bans on their possession as pets, props and for their parts.  Carole gives free group tours to people who are dedicating their lives to these same ideals and recently hosted the Ethics class at Eckerd College and Animal Law Students from both Stetson and Barry University.  “These are my favorite tour groups because they already get the big picture and are visiting to remind themselves of what they are fighting for,” says Baskin.



Python Swallows Whole Deer.  Help End Importation of Wild Animals.


As the recent tragedy in Zanesville, Ohio so painfully illustrated, there’s no good reason for individuals to keep dangerous predators as pets, and the outcome is inevitably disastrous—for the people who are put at risk, for the wild animals themselves who are confined in unnatural settings that fail to meet their complex needs, and, in this case, the animals who met such an untimely and violent death. Another news story that broke this weekend—a 76-pound adult female deer was found intact inside a 16-foot-long Burmese python in the Everglades—shows that when these exotic pets are released or escape into the wild, they are capable of wreaking ecological havoc on our natural resources.  Click the link above to read the story and see how you can help protect our native wildlife.



Big Cat Rescue Frees Serval from Birdcage in Basement


Serval Rescued

When a caller asked Big Cat Rescue to relieve him and his wife of the serval they had kept in a bird cage in their basement, we were full after just rescuing 3 tigers from a large sanctuary in Texas that went bankrupt.  The serval was a three year old, intact, declawed male that had been bred by Sue Arnold in Okeechobee, FL and sold to this Ohio couple.  Only the wife could get near the cat and “he wasn’t fun any more now that he was an adult.”  Note that almost all of the calls we get from people trying to get rid of servals and jungle cats report that they originated at Sue Arnold’s exotic kitten mill.  All of the accredited sanctuaries were full as well; many because of the failing of the TX facility. So we began looking to other facilities where we knew Ollie the serval would have a good home and not end up back in the pet trade.  Thankfully, Christine Janks of Carson Springs Wildlife Foundation had a 20 x 60 foot enclosure available and was willing to take on another exotic cat, which would be a huge commitment to feed and care for throughout the next 15 years of his life expectancy.  Christine had also recently taken in 3 tigers from the now defunct wild animal sanctuary in Texas.



1st Annual Florida Panther Festival



The 1st ever Florida Panther Festival was held at the North Collier County Park event center just north of Naples on October 29th.  This event was organized by US Fish and Wildlife Service, Collier County Parks & Rec, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Defenders of Wildlife and many other SW Florida wildlife and conservation groups.  The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the important efforts needed to save the Florida Panther, who’s numbers have been rising, but still only approximate 100-120.   There was an exhibit hall with representatives from the various sponsoring groups, a room dedicated to educating people on “how to live with panthers”, presentations from park rangers from the Fish and Wildlife service, vendors selling wildlife inspired art & crafts, and a raffle to raise funds.  “I was honored to present as a donation from BCR a painting done by our own Hal Cougar.” says Lynda Licht, the Big Cat Rescuer who attended and tabled at the event on behalf of the sanctuary.


Here are some interesting facts that Linda learned during her day at the festival that we would like to share with you;


There are 4 National Parks in Florida including the Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Park.  These two parks comprise much of the southwestern part of Florida and is critical panther habitat.  There is also the 26,400 acre Florida Panter National Wildlife Refuge just north west of Big Cypress National Park where volunteers give guided nature walks along the hiking trails as well as many outreach programs about the panthers.  They estimate that the refuge provides safe habitat for about 10 adult panthers.  During one of the presentations, the park ranger repeatedly reinforced the concept that these parks are public land, which means it belongs to all of us and that we all have a responsibility to be stewards to all the wildlife and plant life therein.  These lands exist so that we can continue to know and experience how panthers behave in the wild – how they are meant to be – not just observed in zoos and cages.   It was a powerful and important message – one that we share with our guests as well.


A groundbreaking two-year study paid for by UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service involves tagging 400 calves at two Immokalee-area ranches over the next two years to try to pin down how often panthers are dragging off calves and dragging down the ranches’ bottom lines. The study led by University of Florida graduate student Caitlin Jacobs could help guide a possible government program to compensate ranchers.  Lost calves are often blamed on Panther predation and this creates a lot of opposition to having panther populations in those areas.   At one of the ranches panthers were blamed for the loss of 70 calves last fall. Each calf is valued between $600-$800. Through radio tracking, researchers are alerted and can find the down calves to determine the cause of death. Experts can recognize a panther kill by the size of the bite marks, their location, how the calf has been eaten and where it was eaten. A companion research project by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is putting radio collars on panthers at the two ranches to try to find out where they are taking their kills and what they’re eating there. The study is in it’s beginning stages, but so far 3 calves went missing before they could be tagged, 2 were abandoned by their mothers, and 1 was killed by a Florida Panther.


Most of the Florida panthers in SW Florida are collared with a radio transmitter so they can track the population and roaming patterns.   When females are known to have a litter, park rangers will locate the den when the kittens are about 3 weeks old.  They are counted, microchipped and hair and blood samples are taken so they can analyze the genetics of each litter (with so few remaining, in-breeding and a weak gene pool is a constant concern.)    On September 14, 2011, female P188’s collar transmitted a mortality signal and rangers were immediately concerned about her litter that they had been processed a few months before.   They were able to trap 2 of the 3 kittens and they were transferred to the White Oak rehabilitation center outside of Jacksonville.  There these two kittens (a male and female) will live inside a 5 square mile fenced area with minimal human contact, with hopes of being released back into the wild in approximately one year.


Cookie Tiger Dental

Cookie Tiger Goes Under the Knife…Twice


Cookie the tiger was rescued from a facility in Mississippi along with Alex, another tiger, in 2008. She had been abandoned by her owner along with 13 other big cats.  You can read the story of their rescue.


Big Cat Rescuers recently noticed a small quarter sized mass that had developed on the inside of Cookies rear leg.  Arrangements were made by staff and BCR’s veterinarian Dr. Wynn to sedate Cookie to remove the mass.  While Cookie was sedated a routine examination was performed.  The 17-year-old tigress weighed 305 lbs. Blood was drawn and samples of the mass were collected for testing. Her overall condition looked great for a cat her age, with the exception of two of her teeth.  One of her upper canines had long since broken off (prior to her arrival) and was rotting and one of her lower canines was chipped exposing the root.  In addition, a tennis ball sized mass was found in her abdomen, samples of which were also collected for testing.  The mass on Cookie’s leg was removed and she was sutured up with stitches as well as staples.  She was then recovered in the cat hospital cage and prescribed two weeks of antibiotics.


During the next week, Dr. Wynn made arrangements with veterinary dental surgeon Dr. Peak, who runs 2 dental offices by the name of The Pet Dentist in Largo and  Wesley Chapel. Some of Dr. Peak’s wilder patients have included a gorilla, an elephant, and our very own dearly departed Freckles the liger. Dr. Peak agreed to bring his equipment and support staff to Big Cat Rescue to perform Cookie’s needed dental surgery onsite in our Cat Hospital.


The surgery took just over 3 hours, in which time Dr. Peak removed Cookies upper canine and did a root canal on her lower canine.  The procedures went smoothly and Cookie is now happily recovering back in the comfort of her enclosure.  She will most certainly be feeling much better very soon thanks to the heroic efforts of Dr. Peak, his staff, and Dr. Wynn.


See photos here:


Fun Fur All Ball at Skipper’s


Join us for a benefit concert at Skipper’s Smoke House in Tampa on Sunday December 11th.  Enjoy musical entertainment from Juanjamon Band, Skull and Bone Band, The Human Condition, and Sunset Bridge while perusing the raffle and auction items, including original paintings created live during the show by local artists.


The Fun Fur All Ball is from 4-9 PM.  Tickets are a $10 minimum suggested donation.  Check out Skipper’s facebook page and Like them.


Get the latest details about the event or RSVP on their Event page.



Seasons Grrr-eetings! Check Out Big Cat Rescue’s Holiday Gift Guide


There are more ways than ever to get all of your holiday shopping done and support the big cats at the same time. Click on one of the bolded titles below to start checking those names off your gift list today. Don’t wait ’til the last minute, its fur a good cause.


Happy Holidays from Big Cat Rescue – We have completely redesigned our online gift shop and have added lots of new items, so be sure to check it out for great Big Cat Rescue logo merchandise and an outstanding selection of big cat themed gifts. – Give a unique gift to that special person with a gift of sponsorship.  Sponsorship kits are available for all of the cats at Big Cat Rescue and are available in levels ranging from $25 – $5,000.  The basic kit includes a personalized 8×10 color photo of one of the big cats, a 4-page color information booklet about the chosen species, and an exclusive Big Cat Rescue window decal. Each level comes with its own variety of gifts and benefits. – Send a little something extra with a Holiday Grrr-eeting color photo. Each glossy 8×10 features one of the cats residing at the sanctuary.  At the bottom of the photo appears a holiday themed banner that reads; Happy Holidays to NAME HERE from BIG CAT’S NAME.


Big Cat Fun – Check out our Big Cat Fun site for tons of free holiday e-Cards, screensavers, santa letter templates, games and more!  There’s so much to do at


Earth and Animal Wellness – Cindy Wines is a Big Cat Rescue donor who has shown us a way to change our grocery shopping dollars into donations to the sanctuary.  We have started using the everyday products at the sanctuary and in our homes and love that they are cruelty free, eco friendly, safe and effective.  Find out how you can save money or even earn money while protecting the planet and supporting Big Cat Rescue.


ShopOnPurpose – Popular retailers will donate 1% to 31% to the cats every time you shop through the store links on Big Cat Rescue’s shopping page. Choose from 45 online stores including; Aeropostale, Banana Republic, Columbia, Disney Store, Puma, Sears, Target, The Body Shop and more.  ShopOnPurpose, is passionate about showing people how they can contribute to Big Cat Rescue every time they shop online. You can make a difference while saving money on the things you already buy from the stores you already use!


Enthusem – Upload your own photos, or choose from ours, and send a card for less that what it would cost you to buy a card and postage in the store.


Magazine Subscriptions – Buy or renew your favorite magazine subscriptions at up to 85% off newsstand prices. 40% of your online purchase is donated to the cats at Big Cat Rescue. Over 650 popular titles.


AdvoCat News 2011 10

AdvoCat News 2011 10

3 New Tigers Call Big Cat Rescue Home


Loading Andre into the transport.

We are very excited to announce the rescue of three very special tigers; Amanda, Andre & Arthur.

The economic crunch has been felt nationwide by all and charities are no exception.  In fact it is non-profits that are often affected first.  When money becomes tight and every dollar counts, donating to a charity is the first budget cut for most individuals.  These difficult financial times struck one particular sanctuary in Texas so hard that they were forced to declare bankruptcy and close their doors for good.  Soon after they were faced with the challenge of finding homes for the hundreds of animals that resided on the grounds including bears, monkeys, and big cats. With no funds to care for the animals the International Fund for Animal Welfare and others stepped in to cover the cost of food until all of the animals could be placed in new homes. More than one year later keepers at the sanctuary were struggling to place the last of their animals and enlisted the help of the Global Federation of Sanctuaries to help them do so.

Meanwhile Big Cat Rescue was visited by a special person that had a very special request.  This person believed he and his wife knew some of the tigers in Texas that were in need of a home.  They had met the cats nearly 15 years earlier, when they were cubs, at another facility in New Jersey.  They knew the Texas sanctuary had rescued more than 20 tigers from the New Jersey facility in 2003, but they did not know if the cubs they had once known were still living.

They had a few old photographs of the cubs and asked if we could identify whether or not any of the tigers in Texas were the same cats.  It just so happened that Big Cat Rescuers, Jamie Veronica, Gale Ingham, and Honey Wayton, were making their way across the country to transport Abel the cougar to his new home in Nevada.  On their way back to Tampa they stopped and took photographs of 7 tigers at the Texas sanctuary.  These 7 tigers were the last of the group of tigers rescued from New Jersey.  A tiger’s stripes are as unique as a person’s finger prints.  While it was difficult to match the fuzzy stripes of a cub to the sleek stripes of an adult it was not impossible.  After hours of analyzing each photograph the results were in.  Five of the cubs were identified within the group of seven tigers.

Upon receiving confirmation that the tigers in Texas were in fact the cubs they had met so long ago the couple agreed to fund the ongoing care of the cats if we would be able to take them in.  At the time we only had room for 3 tigers, and they were given the decision as to which 3 would come to Big Cat Rescue.  Arrangements were made with Carolina Tiger Rescue in North Carolina to take in the remaining 4.  These 7 tigers had lived together for most of their lives therefore it was important to the couple that the cats go to places where they would not have to be separated.

On September 27th Big Cat Rescuers, Jamie Veronica, Gale Ingham, Jeff Kremer, and Chris Poole traveled to Texas to load the tigers into a transport trailer provided by supporters Laura and JT of Loving Friends Transport.  Jamie and Gale then escorted Amanda, Andre and Arthur back to Tampa.  The trip was just over 20 hours. All three tigers traveled in style.  Each had their own transport cage with soft hay, sturdy water bowls, and a giant bone to keep them occupied.  The transport trailer in which they rode was air-conditioned and outfitted with cameras so all 3 tigers could be monitored in the main cab.  The group arrived the next day and were greeted with the excited buzz of the media and fellow Rescuers.

All 3 tigers are settling right in to their new surroundings.  Four adjacent enclosures, one of which was also expanded with a large addition, were connected together to give Amanda, Andre and Arthur plenty of room to roam.  Each enclosure has a large rock den, elevated platforms, and a pool giving these three lucky tigers plenty of places to hang out and lots of fun things to do. To see a video showing the preparation it took to rescue these tigers click HERE and be sure to subscribe to BigCatTV to see the rescue video coming soon.  More pics of the rescue can be found HERE. Check out the media coverage on Fox  and



NJ Bill to Protect Tigers


Are you a resident of New Jersey?  Do you love tigers?  A new bill has been introduced by state legislators that would create a captive tiger registration system. This bill will be administered by the Department of Environmental Protection in order to ensure that captive tigers in New Jersey do not fall into the illegal tiger trade.  The information obtained through the registration system would include; owner’s contact information, location of where the tiger is housed, birth date, weight, and sex of the tiger, a description of it’s unique markings, a color photograph, and a hair sample from the tiger sufficient to meet any future need for DNA analysis.  The bill also requires that all tigers be micro-chipped and upon its death the tiger must be submitted to an approved facility to remove the micro-chip and dispose of the remains in a manner that will not permit any part of the tiger to make its way into the illegal trade.

Your legislators need to know that you support this bill.  Visit to show your support for S 3061 today.  It takes seconds for you and means the world to them.


Vote for Big Cat Rescue to Win $25,000!


If you live in AR, LA, TX, FL, AZ, CO, NM, or Salt Lake City UT and at least 13 years of age or older we need you to vote for Big Cat Rescue to win $25,000 that will go towards providing low cost and free group tours and field trips to organizations and schools that do not have the funding for such opportunities.

Vote every day from now until October 15th. Each day you will receive 5 votes.

Visit, login with your email address and zip code, and use the code # 0063 to find Big Cat Rescue.  You can cast all 5 votes one after another.  We are currently in 5th place so please vote daily.Be sure to share with friends and family to help the big cats win!

What will the grant funds go towards?

We provide 100+ school and community field trips annually at modest cost to cover program expenses. With the current economic conditions and budget cuts facing local schools, field trips are being dramatically reduced or eliminated during the 2011-2012 school year. Therefore, Big Cat Rescue offers an Educational Grant Program funded by donations to ensure access for Title I schools, disabled Veterans, and NGO’s serving special needs populations such as the Children’s Home, Family Resources, AMI and many others. An award from the Albertsons Community Challenge grant project will go a long way to support the program costs including transportation and attendance for educational field trips to the sanctuary. The program is offered and expanded throughout the school year as funding is available. We ask for your participation to provide access for as many kids as possible. Join us in making a difference!


Leopard Eye Consult


Eye-One a wild female Sri Lankan Leopard at Wilpattu National Park in Sri Lanka

Big Cat Rescue receives hundreds of emails every day covering a never ending variety of subjects.  One in particular real caught our “eye”.  Dr.  Rishani M. Gunasinghe who lives in Sri Lanka had written to us about a wild leopard residing in the Wilpattu National Park. The leopard, who appeared to be blind in one eye, was a female Sri Lankan Leopard. The Sri Lankan Leopard has been classified as endangered by the IUCN, and the population is fast dwindling due to poaching, habitat loss etc.

The 2-year-old leopard is a park favorite and is seen often by visitors on safari. The park has named her Eye-One. Dr. Gunasinghe had read a few articles on our website and informed us that they were looking for an experienced wildlife veterinary surgeon who might be willing to take a look at some photographs of the leopard, and give an opinion as to what this leopard might be suffering from. They were trying to get a proper diagnosis and explore the possibility of treating her. Such practices are rare in Sri Lanka so they had turned to international experts who might be able to help. Due to her partial blindness, she can only hunt small prey like the Sri Lankan Jungle Fowl. At the moment she doesn’t seem severely malnourished, but they were afraid that she might also easily fall prey to illegal poachers because of her disability.

We forwarded the email to Dr. Tammy Miller Michau, an ophthalmologist with BluePearl in Tampa, who has seen a few of Big Cat Rescue’s residents in the past including Narla the cougar and Calvin the palm civet. We asked if she would have a look at the photos of the leopard and follow up with Dr. Gunasinghe.  After close examination of the photos and knowing the limitations of treating a wild leopard, she recommended doing nothing at this time. “The severity of the leopard’s corneal edema indicated a significant injury to the corneal endothelial layer (possibly from trauma, although there are other considerations). Topical medical therapy is highly unlikely to result in any significant improvement. If the corneal edema is the only thing wrong with the eye, she should still have some vision out of it. Other differentials that can cause what I see in the photograph include glaucoma, stromal keratitis (viral or immune mediated), congenital abnormalities, etc. I think that most of these other things are unlikely due to the fact that she is obviously not in any discomfort (no discharge, tearing, squinting) and the eye is the same size as her other one. Her eye is likely contributing to her hunting only small prey, but I fear her apparent lack of fear of humans puts her more at risk from poachers than her eye does. If she ever develops discharge/tearing or obvious discomfort from the eye I would re-evaluate the situation at that time.” Dr Michau.

Eye-One will be continued to be monitored closely by the park staff for any change in her condition. Meanwhile we are so happy that we were able to put Dr. Gunasinghe in touch with Dr. Michau.


Purr-sonal tribute to Steve Jobs from all the cool “cats” at BCR


Big Cat App

Big Cat App available now at iTunes

Because of all the graphics and desktop publishing that we do at Big Cat Rescue we have been Mac users for many, many years, dating back to the original G5 tower.  In 2009 when our record keeping system was all being translated into digital records that we could share and store in Google Education Apps we switched our phones over to iPhones.  This way our vet, staff and key keepers could access every record for every animal just by touching the screen on their phones.

From there we moved in 2010 to using iPads after 6 of them were donated to us at the Fur Ball.  Now, with access to the Cloud and all of the great apps and features that were the brain child of this remarkable man and his team we are able to provide the best animal care possible.

We are able to document that care to share with each other and with you.  Most of the photos that you see in the series Today at Big Cat Rescue were shot with iPhones.  We were able to use the platforms he built to launch the Big Cat App.  Most of the videos that you see on our pages were edited in iMovie.  Many of our millions of viewers have been through iTunes.  Big Cat Rescue has been so amazed by the brilliance of the Apple creator and team that we have even invested in their stock.  The world has lost an unparalleled innovator in Steve Jobs and he will be missed.


Your Vote Can Continue Snow Leopard Conservation


Vote to Save Snow Leopards

The Snow Leopard Trust has been selected as one of 12 finalists in the 2011 BBC World Challenge! If the Snow Leopard Trust wins, a $20,000 dollar cash prize will be awarded to support and expand snow leopard conservation. The Snow Leopard Trust will also be featured in Newsweek and on BBC World News, which is great publicity for such a worthwhile cause!

Voting is limited to one vote per person and ends on November 11th.

The BBC World Challenge wants to honor programs that show enterprise and innovation without creating a cost to the earth. The Snow Leopard Trust is the only wildlife conservation initiative in the contest and they have nominated their ‘Snow Leopard Enterprises’ conservation program. Snow Leopard Enterprises helps herding families in Mongolia make and sell beautiful handmade crafts, and in return, these families commit to protecting snow leopards and their habitat.


Bongo Serval Goes to the Vet


Bongo the serval loves special treats and when he refused them one night his keepers became worried.  His behavior had also taken a sudden shift.  Big Cat Rescuers made an appointment for him to visit the vet for an exam.  Wild cats have a natural instinct to hide their injuries or illnesses so they give very few clues as to when they are not feeling well. Bongo was taken to the vet where he was examined, had xrays taken and blood drawn. Bongo looked great for a 20-year-old cat! His coat was full and sleek, his teeth were in perfect condition, his initial blood work indicated his kidney values were within range and his x-rays showed only mild arthritis.  Internal parasites were found in his fecal results for which he was prescribed medication and then he was sent home.

All of the cats at the sanctuary are treated monthly as well as quarterly with specific de-wormers to combat internal parasites, however every now and again some of the cats catch a meal of their own that is not on the Big Cat Rescue menu. We have seen heavy rains during the last few months after which the lizards and frogs thrive.  Bongo being the cat that he is must have eaten one of these slimy visitors that visited his enclosure. While Bongo was at the vet, volunteers and interns took the opportunity to do some landscaping in his enclosure.  They trimmed up the palmetto bushes, gathered up sticks and raked the leaves.  Bongo has completed his course of medication and is doing just fine now, loving his special treats and all.

Cameron the lion with Pumpkin

Halloween Cards, Games, Etc. on Big Cat Fun


Visit for a wild selection of big cat Halloween themed e-Cards, screensavers, puzzles, word games, crafts, party favors and more.  There is a ton of cool stuff on the site and it’s free!  So head on over and check it out!



Big Cat Birthdays


Some very special big cats are celebrating their birthdays this month.  The three “Cougar Cubs” Ares, Orion, and Artemis are turning 6, Cameron the lion is turning 11, and Cookie the tiger is turning 17!  You can make each of these cat’s birthdays extra special by sponsoring them. donations help us to provide the cats with delicious food, spacious enclosures, cozy dens, and fun toys to play with.  Sponsorships are available in gift amounts from $25 to $5,000 and make great gifts for any occasion.



Get the Latest Big Cat News First

Keep up to date with everything that happens at Big Cat Rescue.

Like us on Facebook at

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Check out Daily News Blog for daily updates and photos!

AdvoCat News 2011 09

Please Comment on Proposed Rule Change Aimed at Saving Tigers


Save the Tiger – Your Comments are Needed

The US Fish and Wildlife Service wants to hear from you.  Please take just 30 seconds to visit their site and comment on a proposed rule change that will help protect tigers.  This rule change will require that individuals breeding generic (not pure-bred) tigers will have to follow the same strict regulations and permitting processes that are currently required of Species Survival breeding programs.  There is an enormous illegal trade in tiger parts and products made from their parts and we have no way to know how many of the thousands of tigers that languish in private hands in the U.S. in squalid conditions are being killed and sold into this very lucrative illegal trade. The reason we don’t know how many tigers there are, and where they are, is that in 1998 the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) created a rule that exempted “generic” tigers from the permit and reporting requirements that normally apply to endangered species.  All tigers bred outside of AZA accredited zoos are considered “generic”.  Lack of reporting makes it very easy to kill a tiger and sell its parts without detection. Increasing the supply of these tiger products builds the market for them and creates greater incentives for poachers to kill the rapidly shrinking population of wild tigers. To have any chance of saving the tiger from extinction in the wild we must control and track their breeding in the U.S. to be sure our tigers are not going into the illegal trade.

You don’t have to be eloquent.  Just let them know you are FOR the new rule rescinding the generic tiger exemption.  (This is the main point and really all you need to say.)  If you like you can point out, as FWS says in their explanation for rescinding the rule, that breeding generic tigers has no conservation value and that we should control breeding so trade in their parts does not further threaten the survival of the tiger in the wild.  Please use your own words – comments that appear to be “form letters” have less impact. The proposed rule is open to public comment until September 21, 2011.

To submit a comment on the proposed rule change click HERE

To read more about the issue visit


Sassy Caracal Gets Spayed

Sassy the caracal wasn’t acting like her usual self one night at feeding time and her Keepers took notice.  Sassy is very food aggressive and is always waiting, impatiently, in her lockout for food each night.  This particular evening she showed no interest in her dinner. Her behavior was reported on the observation logs which are checked daily by staff.  Arrangements were made to take Sassy to Ehrlich Animal Hospital the very next morning.  Big Cat Rescue President Jamie Veronica and Senior Keeper Barbara Frank escorted Sassy to the clinic where she would be seen by Big Cat Rescue’s vet Dr. Wynn.  X-rays showed her intestines filled with feces and a fluid filled mass that was blocking her colon.  Exploratory surgery revealed Sassy’s uterus was infected and was the cause of the cyst.  She was spayed and the fluid was drained.  Sassy is currently recovering in our onsite Cat Hospital.  Once her sutures have been removed she will be moved back out to her enclosure and reunited with her pal Rusty. (Rusty is neutered. It is our policy to house cats in pairs only if one has been spayed or neutered.)


Modnic Tiger has Surgery

Dr. Hay of Veterinary Surgical Services removes tumors from Modnic the tiger’s mammaries and cervix

Modnic the tigress went in for surgery because it looked like her uterus was falling out.  Having been bred, nearly to death at Savage Kingdom, and the fact that she was diagnosed with mammary cancer, we weren’t sure there was much hope of saving her. We didn’t want to do the very extensive and invasive surgery required to spay her if the cancer had already spread to her lungs.  Only an X-ray of her chest could tell us if it had.  We do not have that kind of equipment in our onsite cat hospital and  the portable X-ray we have borrowed in the past can have a hard time producing clear images through larger areas of the body. We called our friend Dr. Hay of Veterinary Surgical Services who agreed to let us bring Modnic to his clinic.  This trip was a big deal and the first of its kind for Big Cat Rescuers.  Preparations were made in advance, with the assistance of Big Cat Rescue’s primary veterinarian Dr. Wynn, to have Mondic loaded into a transport the day before so that she would be ready to go to see Dr. Hay the next morning.  A convoy of three cars including the transport trailer hit the road for the 15 minute drive.  Founder and CEO Carole Baskin and President Jamie Veronica were joined by Dr. Wynn, Operations Manager Gale Ingham and Media Producer Chris Poole.  Shortly after arriving Modnic was sedated and X-ray were taken of her chest. The first X-ray showed a cloudy area on her lung and we were devastated.  Even though we were fully prepared for this to be the case, it was still an awful moment.  We all just stared at the screen…silent. Then one of the vets said, “Sometimes, in a big animal, if they are laying on their side for a while, it can squish the lung on that side a bit and make the area look cloudy because it isn’t fully inflated.  How about we prop her up, let her take a big breath and try to get a shot that way?” This time the cloudy area was gone and Modnic was whisked into the surgery room.

The tissue that was falling out of her vagina wasn’t a collapsing uterus, but rather a huge, fist sized tumor.  Dr. Hay snipped it off and cauterized the bleeding before turning to the two lowest teats with cancerous bulges, each about the size of an orange.  Usually, in cats, if one teat is affected they all are, which would mean cutting her open down both sides from chest to abdomen, but they couldn’t detect any masses other than these two. Four hours and two surgeons later, Modnic’s tumors were removed, she was stitched up and heading back to Big Cat Rescue.  She will spend a couple of weeks recovering before she is moved back out into her enclosure. Your donations ensure that we are able to provide top-notch veterinary care to all of our residents.  A surgery of this caliber will most definitely cost a lot more than a thousand dollars.  In our August AdvoCat we brought you the story of Sassyfras the cougar and the surgery to repair his hernia.  This surgery costed a total of $1,500. You can donate towards the care of the big cats by visiting our Donations page of the website.


Win Club Seats to a Buccaneers Game

Enter to win a pair of Club Seat tickets to a Bucs Game! These club seats are valued at $590 per pair and ticket holders enjoy benefits such as an exclusive separate entrance, padded seats, and access to the Club Lounge! A winner will be chosen 3 days before each scheduled game, there are eight total games in the raffle. All non-winning tickets will roll over and be entered into the next drawing. For instance, if you purchase 5 tickets, and are selected as a winner, your 4 remaining tickets will be entered automatically into the next drawing. Raffle tickets are 1 for $5, or for a better deal, 10 for $20.  Get your raffle tickets today its “FUR” a good cause!  Visit Bucs Ticket Raffle to see the official rules and to purchase tickets.


Bengali Tiger on the Move

Bengali the tiger is living it up in his new digs.  He was recently moved to a half acre enclosure, next to Joseph and Sasha the lions, on the tour path.  Being the attention loving ham that he is, Bengali’s life will surely be enriched by the tour guests oohing and awing over him.  Bengali was eager to move and once freed into his new space he spent several hours checking out every square inch which includes a two level platform so that he can survey the land and of course a swimming pool!  Big Cat Rescue provides several forms of enrichment to the cats to make their lives in captivity as enjoyable as possible.  Enrichment items include paper spice bags, food puzzles using cardboard tubes and boxes, frozen treats from yogurt cup to 5-gallon bucket sized, durable plastic balls and “tires” and more.  These are all great ways to enrich the cats, but each receives a limited amount of attention.  Moving the cats around provides weeks or months of excitement.  Not only is the enclosure different, providing a variety of things to explore, but the surroundings are new as well including the views from the enclosure and the neighbors.  So as a result a cat being moved into a new enclosure is not only enriching for them, but for all of the surrounding cats too!


$25,000 Grant from Community Foundation

It costs over $250,000 to feed all of the big cats living here at Big Cat Rescue each year.   Considering the average lifespan of an individual cat is 15-20 years, the cost of food alone is a huge commitment.  With that in mind we decided to open an agency endowment with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay several years ago.  Since opening the endowment, we have participated in two Challenge Grants.  The way these work is we set a financial goal and once donations from our supporters reach 75% of the goal, the Community Foundation matching grant fund puts the remaining 25% into our Endowment Fund.  Our most recent goal was $100,000.  Thanks to the many of you who donated toward it, we reached the $75,000 mark in record time and recently were presented with a matching grant check for $25,000.  Commenting on how quickly we achieved the goal in both programs, David Fisher, President and CEO of the Community Foundation, said “Big Cat Rescue is setting the pace in Hillsborough County.”


The Elephant in the Living Room

Now available on DVD. Click here.

The Elephant in the Living Room is a documentary film about the controversial American subculture of raising the most dangerous animals in the world as common household pets.  Director Michael Webber follows the journey of two men at the heart of the issue.  One, Tim Harrison, Big Cat Rescue’s Guardian Angel Award winner, a man whose mission is to protect exotic animals and the public, and the other, Terry Brumfield, a man who keeps his two pet African lions in a broken down horse trailer after one escaped and begins chasing cars on the highway.

The film has received more than 12 awards including the 2011 Genesis Award. It has also been rated the #1 Most Watched Documentary on iTunes, Amazon, Sony Playstation, and Xbox.

Purchase the Elephant in the Living Room on DVD in our online gift shop or from the Elephant in the Living Room website (if you use the code “bcr” a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Big Cat Rescue) .

You can also help spread the word about this ground-breaking film by Liking the film on Facebook.


Click  to see more Phantom Fur Ball merchandise

Phantom Fur Ball Cafe Press

Big Cat Rescue will soon be home to three more tigers, Andre, Apotha, and Misha, and we need your help to fund their transportation from Texas to Florida.  This year we are hosting our first ever Phantom Fur Ball. Instead of getting all dressed up and making your away across town to go to our usual Fur Ball you can enjoy a night on the couch in your comfiest attire while helping us save these three very special tigers! So far we have raised $8,279 of our $30,000 goal to fund the rescue.  You can make a donation in any amount (every dollar counts!) to save the lives of these tigers by visiting our Razoo page.  You can also show your support of the Phantom Fur Ball in style, visit our Cafe Press store and check out more than 40 items featuring the Phantom Fur Ball artwork. 30% of each item purchased goes directly to the cats.



TBBJ Awards

The Tampa Bay Business Journal has just announced the winners of their very first Best in the Biz: Readers Choice Awards.  We are so excited to share that we placed first in two categories; Favorite Black-Tie Event for the Fur Ball and Favorite Retreat/Team-Building Venue.  We also placed second in Favorite Fundraising Event. Nominations were received from all across the TBBJ’s seven-county coverage area. A survey containing 56 categories and more than 750 businesses was posted on the Best in the Biz: Readers’ Choice website.  Nearly 6,000 individuals participated in the survey.  We would like to send our sincerest thanks to all those who voted Big Cat Rescue – Best in the Biz!



Hal celebrates his 18th birthday with special treats – his name spelled out in chicken necks and a frozen fish cake

Big Cat Birthdays

Some very special big cats are celebrating their birthdays this month.  Serengetti & Kalahari the servals and Mac the cougar are turning 15, Angelica the bobcat is turning 16, and Hallelujah the cougar is turning 18!  You can make each of these cat’s birthdays extra special by sponsoring them. donations help us to provide the cats with delicious food, spacious enclosures, cozy dens, and fun toys to play with.  Sponsorships are available in gift amounts from $25 to $5,000 and make great gifts for any occasion.

Get the Latest Big Cat News First

Keep up to date with everything that happens at Big Cat Rescue.

Like us on Facebook at

Follow us on Twitter at

Check out Daily News Blog for daily updates and photos!


AdvoCat News 2011 08

Phantom Fur Ball to Rescue Tigers

Phantom Fur Ball to End Abuse

Phantom Fur Ball to Rescue Tigers

We decided not to hold our annual Fur Ball this year so that we could focus our attention on stopping the abuses the big cats face, at their root, through legislation.  This does not mean, however, that we do not desperately need the funds that are usually generated from the event.  Each year the proceeds from the Fur Ball go towards the care of the cats that we rescue.  This year is no different and in fact, at the time of writing this issue, we are coordinating the rescue of 3 tigers.

Andre, Apotha, and Kyle, two males and a female tiger, are in need of a new home.  They were rescued along with 21 other tigers from terrible conditions nearly 8 years ago and have lived at a sanctuary in Texas ever since. Unfortunately, last year, this sanctuary was forced to close its doors and find new homes for the 300 animals in their care.

Big Cat Rescue has agreed to rescue the 3 tigers but we need your help to make this rescue possible. Help fund the rescue of Andre, Apotha, and Kyle by making a donation of any amount towards the Phantom Fur Ball.  Instead of getting all dressed up and making your away across town to go to our usual Fur Ball you can enjoy a night on the couch in your comfiest attire while helping us save these 3 very special tigers!

You can see photos of the tigers and  make a donation here:


A 50th Birthday Wish to Save Tigers

Big Cat Rescue Founder Carole Baskin had only one wish for her milestone birthday and that was to let the US Fish and Wildlife Commission and the USDA know that the public cares about big cats and wants their suffering to end.  She asked that instead of cards or gifts Big Cat Rescue volunteers compose hand-written letters to both agencies asking for two crucial changes in legislation.

First, to close the 4-week window in which the public is permitted to come into contact with tigers.  Currently tiger cubs between the ages of 8-12 weeks are exploited through out the country.  Breeders charge the public to play with these cubs and to have their photos taken with them at a variety of locations including fairs, malls, and parking lots and it is all legal.  The problem is once these cubs have aged past this window they are no longer of use and are discarded. Closing this window of time will put an end to the suffering of thousands of tigers.

Second, to remove the generic tiger breeding loop hole which currently exists in the law.  Presently the law requires that an accredited facility acquire a permit to breed pure-bred tigers for conservation purposes. However the way the law is written if a tiger is not a pure-bred and is instead a cross between two sub-species of tiger then there is no permit required.  This loop hole makes it easy for disreputable back yard breeders to churn out a never ending supply of tigers.  These tigers are bred and sold as pets, profited on through public interaction, and slaughtered for their parts.

You can grant Carole’s birthday wish and save tigers from a life of abuse and suffering with a few easy clicks of the mouse at  For a more profound impact hand write a letter and send it to the addresses provided at the site.


Cougar Hitches Ride with Big Cat Rescuers

Cougar hitches a ride to new home.

When a big cat collector in Poetry, Texas died she left behind 20 lions, tigers and mountain lions. The conditions where 12 of these cats had been kept were just horrific, each cat locked away in a cramped and filthy stall in a barn. With no access to the outdoors and had been kept in the barn for nearly 10 years. The remaining 8 cats were housed in small outdoor pens.

A nearby sanctuary in Texas for big cats stepped in to provide emergency care for 8 of the cats and relocated them immediately to their facility. The remaining cats were rescued by facilities located in Indiana and New Jersey.

The Texas sanctuary asked the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries to help them find permanent placement for some of the cats that they did not have room for.  A former volunteer of Big Cat Rescue runs an excellent facility out west and had a 4,000 square foot enclosure waiting for him, but she couldn’t make the trip to pick him up. Thanks to a five part collaboration of sanctuaries, GFAS and our supporters a cougar named Abel would soon be on his way to his new home at Safe Haven Rescue Zoo in Nevada.

Big Cat Rescuers, Jamie Veronica, Gale Ingham, and Honey Wayton, loaded up the van with a transport cage and supplies and hit the road. Their first stop was Texas to pick Abel up from his temporary home.  He was very calm and loaded into the transport cage purrr-fectly.  Abel was a quiet and content passenger.  He looked through the windows at passing cars and the changing scenery, took lots of naps, and occasionally amused himself by shredding his blanket into tiny pieces.  (Rescuers monitored him closely to ensure he did not eat any bits of fabric). Rescuers drove straight through the night stopping only for fuel and a quick detour to pick up some raw chicken!  Nearly 27 hours later the group arrived at Safe Haven.

The Big Cat Rescuers and Abel were greeted by the eager staff at Safe Haven and within minutes Abel was freed into a temporary enclosure.  This temporary home spans more than 4,000 square feet and the new enclosure that will be constructed for him will be 10,000 square feet.  Abel immediately toured his new space checking out the tall grasses, rocks and logs, toys, spacious den, and even his new neighbors, a tiger and two lions.  Finally Abel has a safe and comfortable place to call home and will receive the love and care he deserves.

During the week long trip Big Cat Rescuers traveled 5,500 miles.  The estimated cost of the trip was 50 cents per mile resulting in nearly $2,800 in travel expenses.  See more photos of his trip and his new home here:


How to keep 100+ Big Cats cool and happy!

Click the photo of Joseph eating watermelon to watch a video about the Enrichment Program at Big Cat Rescue

Summertime in Florida remains hot and humid, which requires a great deal of resources in seeking to keep the cats cool and comfortable. Volunteers and staff continue to install new multilevel platforms in numerous cat-a-tats, serve up frozen watermelon, honeydew melons, sardini-martinis and other treats to enrich the animals’ lives. In 2010 Arlene Hoffer, one of the sanctuary’s most dedicated supporters, generously donated $15,000 to create the Magnificent Thomas Big Cat Rescue Enrichment Fund.

Named in honor of her feline companion, this fund supports the purchase of enrichment items that provide for the cats physical and mental wellbeing.

You too can help make sure that the big cats stay happy and content by contributing directly to the Magnificent Thomas Big Cat Rescue Enrichment Fund.


Palm Civet has Eye Surgery

Dr. Miller of BluePearl operates on Calvin’s eye.

Big Cat Rescue’s Keepers are trained to observe each and every animal daily and to be able to identify when something is wrong.  Calvin’s keepers noticed that his right eye had suddenly become cloudy and was bulging from the socket.  They notified staff right away who reported it to our volunteer vet.  Dr. Wynn came out for a visit and knew right away that she needed to call Dr. Miller, an Ophthalmology Specialist with BluePearl in Tampa. The lens in Calvin’s eye had shifted and was causing him discomfort.  Dr. Wynn arranged for Calvin to go to BluePearl for corrective surgery.  Dr. Miller performed a battery of tests on 16-year-old Calvin prior to surgery to ensure that the eye could still see.  Had it not, the simpler procedure would have been to remove the eye.  Calvin’s eye was visual so he was taken to surgery to have the damaged lens removed.  The surgery lasted about a half hour and was a success.  Calvin was sent back to the sanctuary to recover in the onsite Cat Hospital and was prescribed antibiotics and eye drops that had to be administered daily.  We are happy to report that Calvin’s eye has healed very well and his vision was saved. He is now back in the comforts of his outdoor home.


Casino Night for the Big Cats

Last year, after the success of their first Casino Night to benefit Big Cat Rescue and one other charity, John and JoAnn Nestor knew they had a winner.  But, they did not know how big a winner until this year when the event netted twice as much, over $8,000, to support the cats at Big Cat Rescue! The casino tables and staff were provided by DanMar Productions, the same wonderful folks who have appeared at our Fur Ball.  So, of course, they brought along the custom built Wheel of Fur-tune that features photos of our cats on the betting spots on the table.  A portion of these funds go to sponsor Simba the tiger, who was declawed and defanged and used for “photo ops” for years before she found a peaceful home at Big Cat Rescue.  A few weeks after the event, BCR’s Howard Baskin presented JoAnn and President John Rurkowski with a framed photo of Simba and her story that now hangs in their office. Charles Rutenberg Realty has over 3,500 agents in Florida, Illinois & New York.  If you live in a market they serve, please consider thanking them for their support of our cats by giving them a chance to serve your real estate needs.


A Calendar, a Car and “Cougars”….Oh My!

Cougar Calendar & Cats Roar Magnum Project

Led by longtime BCR supporter Kathleen Slaven, some of the Tampa Bay area’s most attractive and gracious women who tongue in cheek refer to themselves as “cougars” have generously devoted their time and talents to create a sexy but tasteful calendar that features each model in a unique setting. While some people think that a cougar is a derogatory term used to describe women who only prefer younger men, nothing could be further from the truth in this case. Kathleen and the wonderful members of her organization describe a Cougar as any woman over 40 that is excited about living their life as a smart, sexy and independent individual. The calendar is a testimony to each woman’s timeless beauty as well as their desire to make a positive difference in both the animal as well as human world that we share.

Proceeds from the 2012 Cougars of Florida calendar will go to help meet the sanctuary’s significantly increased food costs. It will be available for purchase online beginning August 14th for $14.95 at:

In a very exciting development, the Cougars of Florida have teamed up with John David Callison, founder of the Cats Roar Magnum project. John’s 2005 Dodge Magnum Show Car is highlighted by a $20,000 African cat themed custom paint job, created by artist Mike Lavallee (Killer Paint/ Overhauling fame). Following an extensive makeover made possible by some very generous sponsors, the estimated value of the Cats Roar Magnum car is approximately $120,000. This amazing car will be shown at events across the United States. Following an extensive tour of automotive shows, John and his colleagues plan to auction the vehicle and have generously offered to donate 50% of the proceeds in support of the sanctuary’s efforts.

To learn more about the exciting developments of the Cats Roar Magnum Project, follow John and his
sponsors on Facebook: