Cubs

Cubs

Be a Big Cat Friendly Tourist!

Big Cat Ban Save the CubsDid you know that big cats and cubs are exploited and even abused at tourist attractions here in the U.S. and in dozens of countries around the world?

What can you do to make sure you don’t unwittingly participate in tourist activities that exploit big cats and other wild animals?

Easy ways YOU and your family can be responsible tourists:
• Never pay to touch or have your photo taken with a tiger or lion cub
• Don’t attend circuses, fairs, or attractions that feature wild animal shows
• Don’t purchase items made from wild animals, such as furs and rugs
• Don’t partake in local “delicacies” made from wild animals, such as tiger bone wine
• Only visit sanctuaries that are accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (www.sanctuaryfederation.org).

Sign up here to be kept in the loop when your voice is needed to protect big cats and their cubs: Sign up for big cat alerts and as an added benefit you will be entered for a chance to win our Animal Lover’s Dream Vacation.

Tiger selfies exposed: Speed-breeding, distressed cubs focus of WAP investigation.  “Our current obsession with selfies and selfies with wildlife is most definitely driving this industry,” Ms Beynon said.  She said attractions are widely promoted by travel companies and online travel sites for tourists to get up close and personal with a captive tiger for a “once in a life-time” encounter.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-25/tiger-selfies-exposed-report-by-world-animal-protection/7652936

As an animal lover, if someone were to make you this offer, would you accept?

You can pet, play with and bottle feed this cub and we’ll take a picture of you so you can share it with your friends – BUT, it means one of the following will happen to this cub once he/she is too big for this anymore:

  • This cub will suffer the rest of his/her life in a cage without proper food or care.
  • This cub will be shipped off to a hunting ranch to be shot for a price.
  • This cub will be slaughtered for the exotic meat market.
  • This cub will be sold off at auction to the highest bidder, fate unknown.
  • This cub will be killed for parts and bones for the medicinal market.
  • This cub will be lost in the illegal black market trade of exotic animals.

We know you’d never say “yes” to any of these. You love animals. That’s why you want this experience. But, that’s exactly what you agree to when you say “yes” to this thrill-of-a-lifetime offer.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about tourist attractions in South Africa, Mexico, or the United States. Sadly, this is the fate for so many cubs bred for money-making ventures like these. An exhibitor in Oklahoma, that Big Cat Rescue sued, said he could make $27,000 each week offering animal interactions like this. It’s obvious, money is what drives the industry – and the breeding.

Download Cub Handling Factsheet

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But someone is surely regulating this, right?

In the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) feels there should be no contact with cubs under the age of eight weeks since that’s when they receive their first disease-preventing injections. They also feel there should be no contact with cubs over 12 weeks old since they can be dangerous even at that young age. But these are just guidelines, not regulations. If breeders/exhibitors were to follow these guidelines, it means a cub used for public contact would have a “shelf life” of only four weeks! What does this encourage? Rampant breeding and not following these guidelines. Where do they all go when they’re too old and can no longer be used for public contact? Refer to the list above.

Don’t inspectors make sure everything’s ok for these cubs?

In 2011 in the United States, there were only 105 USDA inspectors to monitor almost 8,000 facilities, ranging from slaughterhouses, pet stores, pet breeders and dealers, farm, laboratories and other animal-related businesses. That’s nearly one inspector for every 80 facilities! When traveling exhibitors often move these cubs all over the country to fairs, festivals, and malls, relying on inspectors to ensure quality of care for them is unrealistic. And even when cubs are being exhibited when they’re too young or too old, violators aren’t cited unless an inspector is there to personally see serious harm to the cub – screaming and squirming isn’t enough.

Doesn’t touching a tiger or lion help promote conservation since we’re losing them in the wild?

As more and more of these cub petting attractions spring up everywhere, guess what? Tigers and lions in the wild are endangered and becoming nearly extinct. In fact, touching a cub does nothing to conserve their cousins in the wild.

Tragically, it may be doing the opposite. If you can visit a facility to pet a tiger cub, then why protect them half a world away where you may never see them? Studies have shown that public interaction with captive wild animals has done very little to cause the public to donate to conservation in the wild. And there’s been no successful release of a captive-born tiger or lion to date. When a cub needs to be with its mother for at least two years to learn survival skills, this simply isn’t something humans can duplicate. So, the answer is “no,” touching a lion or tiger cub in no way helps save them in the wild.

Big Cat Friendly Tourist

What can we do?

  • GiveCubAbuseAsk your member of Congress to champion the Big Cat Public Safety Act!  This would put an end to the private possession and backyard breeding of big cats.  Get the factsheet.
  • Contact the USDA by emailing them at: aceast@aphis.usda.gov . Let them know you want to see an end to physical contact with big cats, to prohibit public handling of young or immature big cats, and to stop the separation of cubs from their mothers before the species-typical age of weaning.
  • Never, ever give in to the temptation of public contact with a wild cat. It’s dangerous for you and sentences these big cats to life in a cage – or far worse.
  • Educate friends, family, and media about the reality of this cruel practice. So few know this is an insidious form of animal abuse,  but now you do. Share it through social media channels too.
  • The next time you see a cub in your town or at some of the tourist attractions you visit while on vacation, we hope you’ll remember the truth and you’ll help raise awareness. When the demand ends, so will those who profit by supplying these experiences.

Together, let’s be their voice and assure no more cubs suffer an awful fate.  (Article by Julie Hanan for One Green Planet)

Why Petting Cubs Leads to Abuse

 

Here our radio ad to educate parents about swimming with cubs:

Hear the highlights from this page:

 

 

The Truth About Tiger Cub Petting Displays in Malls

By Howard Baskin, JD, MBA, Advisory Board Chairman of Big Cat Rescue, Tampa, FL

 

Breeders who charge the public to pet and take photos with young tiger cubs tell venues and customers some or all of the following lies:

1) That the exhibitors are “rescuers” and operate “sanctuaries”

2) That the cubs have a good life while being used to make money:

a) they enjoy being carted around the country in a semi and repeatedly awakened and handled by dozens of people all day

b) that blowing in the cubs face “calms” them down

c) that dangling them by holding under their front arms and bouncing them up and down “resets” them

cubs at the mall

Cubs at the mall always = cub abuse

d) that close up photos with flash does not harm the cubs

3) that it is safe for the cubs and for humans, and legal, to allow contact with cubs from when they are only a few weeks old to when they are six months or more old.

4) that the exhibitor must keep constantly breeding and using the cubs to make money because that is the only way he can support the adult animals he keeps.

5) that the exhibitor is doing this to promote conservation in the wild.

6) that the exhibitor is teaching people not to have exotic animals as pets

And the biggest lie of all:

7) that the cubs will have good homes after they get too big to be used to make money from petting

 

THE FACTS ARE

 

1) Breeders/Exhibitors are not sanctuaries.

Most sanctuaries are not accredited

Most sanctuaries are not accredited

True rescuers and sanctuaries do not breed.  Breeding more tigers simply adds to the number of big cats that end up living in deplorable conditions or being destroyed to supply the illegal trade in tiger parts.  The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is the most highly respected body that defines what a true sanctuary is and sets standards of animal care and practices that sanctuaries must meet in order to be accredited. Facilities that breed or subject the animals to the stress of being carted around to exhibit definition are not sanctuaries.  For more about the difference between real and “pseudo” sanctuaries, visit the GFAS website at http://www.sanctuaryfederation.org/gfas/for-public/truth-about-sanctuaries/

In addition to not being a sanctuary because they breed and do offsite exhibits, these people who claim to love animals so much typically operate facilities where the animal care, while it may comply with USDA’s minimal standards, is far below the standards set by GFAS as humane, and in many cases is deplorable.

 

2) Life on the road means being torn from mother, denied natural behaviors, and mistreated.

Tiger-Cubs-US-Tabby-TigersThe cubs used for petting exhibits are torn from their mothers shortly after birth, causing emotional pain to both the cubs and the mothers.  Imagine what that mother tiger experiences after enduring the long pregnancy and finally giving birth, filled with the instincts to nurture her cubs, and then having them snatched away.  The breeders take them away and have people handle them so the cubs will “imprint” on the people instead of doing what is natural and imprinting on their mothers.

And what is life like during the months they are used to make money for their owners?  Cubs this age want roam, explore, test their young muscles to develop coordination, and sleep for extended periods of time without interruption. Watch what happens during these exhibits.  The cubs are repeatedly awakened so a customer can pet them instead of being allowed the sleep their young bodies need.  When they try to wander they are repeatedly yanked back.  And where are they when not on exhibit?  They spend endless hours in small cages in trucks, hardly a suitable environment for inquisitive, active young cubs.

While used for petting by the public or held for photos with the public, the cubs squirm and try to get away.  What do the exhibitors do to control them?

One technique used by exhibitors to get the cubs to stop squirming is blowing in the cub’s face.   Contrary to what the exhibitors say, this does not “calm” the cub.  The cub does not like this any more than you would.  This blowing in the face is a way mother tigers discipline their cubs.  It is a punishment.  The cub becomes inactive temporarily not because the cub is calm.  The cub becomes inactive hoping that not moving will cause the exhibitor to stop blowing in its face.

The other technique is to dangle the cub from under their front armpits and toss them up and down in the air.  One notorious exhibitor tells customers this is to “reset” the cubs.  Another tells customers that this is how the mother tiger holds the cubs, which is equally ridiculous.  Being held under the arms and tossed up in the air is just another unnatural and unpleasant experience that causes the cub stress, making them temporarily stop doing the behavior that is natural, i.e. trying to squirm away from being held.

What happens when the cubs are sick?  The video at www.TigerCubAbuse.com shows cubs with severe diarrhea kept on display.  The keepers simply follow them around wiping diarrhea off the floor, and then use the same towel to wipe the cubs’ irritated rear ends as the poor cubs scream in pain.

How would you feel if you were their mother and knew this was the life they had been torn from you to endure?

 

3) Cubs are routinely used to make money both below and above the legal age.

 

Most big cats endure squalid conditions

Most big cats endure squalid conditions

While cub displays are inherently cruel for the reasons given in this fact sheet, USDA regulations do allow them, but only for a few weeks.  USDA has ruled that there should be no public contact with the cubs until they are at least 8 weeks old because that is when they receive their first injections to prevent disease.  USDA has ruled that there should be no public contact after the cubs are 12 weeks old because they are large enough to be dangerous.  So, the only time it is “legal” to have the public pet cubs is when they are between the ages of 8 weeks and 12 weeks.

However, because enforcement resources are limited, exhibitors flagrantly violate these rules, putting the cubs and the public at risk.  Videos at www.TigerCubAbuse.com and www.TigerCubAbuse2.com show exhibitors freely admitting on camera that the cubs are under 8 weeks old.  The video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tE8CXQLKfq0 shows people playing with 5 and 7 month old cubs at G.W. Exotic Animal Park, home base for Joe Schreibvogel and Beth Corley, who operate the most notorious mall exhibit road show.  Twenty-three of this exhibitor’s cubs died in 2010.

 

4) Abusing cubs is not a necessary or justifiable way to make money to support adult cats.

 

The exhibitors often claim they have no choice, that they must breed and exploit cubs to make money to support their other animals.  Joe Schreibvogel posts on Facebook “I don’t think none of us like to be forced to be in the entertainment of animals (sic).”  But the truth is that true sanctuaries all over the country support their animals without abusing some in order to make money to feed the others.  They do this by providing a great home for the animals that far exceeds the minimal legal requirements and then learning how to attract donors who appreciate the excellent home they are providing. Lacking the ability to do this is not an excuse for abusing tiger cubs to make money. People who are not capable of operating a real sanctuary simply should not own animals.  No true animal lover could justify abusing some animals to provide financial support for others.

 

5) Paying to pet tigers does not support conservation in the wild.

 

Skins from poached tigers

Captive breeding causes more poaching

No money the public spends to pet or take photos with tiger cubs ever goes to support conservation in the wild.  In fact, the opposite is true.  There is a huge and growing market for tiger parts like the skins pictured here, and tiger “derivatives”, i.e. products made out of tiger parts like tiger bone wine.  A dead tiger is worth up to $50,000 for its parts. Breeding what US Fish and Wildlife Service calls “generic” tigers like the ones used in the mall exhibits is not tracked.  So there is no way to know how many U.S. born tigers are killed to have their parts illegally sold into this trade.  And, the more that trade expands, the more incentive the poachers have to kill tigers in the wild.

 

6) Petting cubs sends the wrong message about exotic animals as pets.

 

Exhibitors often claim that they are teaching people that exotic animals should not be pets.  But what example do they set as they handle the animals and let others do so?  Saying that exotic animals do not make good pets while charging people to pet them is a little bit like someone telling people not to use heroin while having a needle sticking in their arm.  “Do as I say, not as I do” is not a message that works.  The websites of these exhibitors frequently show photos or videos of the exhibitor handling, hugging or kissing adult tigers. This encourages other people to want to be “special” like the exhibitor.

The way to encourage people not to want exotic animals as pets is to set an example by never having physical contact with them.  This is what true sanctuaries, people who truly care about the animals, do.  Meantime, exhibitors like Joe Schreibvogel actively support of private ownership of exotic animals as pets.  He has conducted a fundraiser for an organization devoted to, “fighting for the rights of everyday people….to keep, house and maintain exotic animals”.  Schreibvogel’s 2010 fund raising event was attended by people who brought their pet primates. He created an “association” whose website has a page offering baby white tigers for sale. Many of the followers on the “Joe Exotic” Facebook page are obviously exotic pet owners.  The G.W. Exotic website actively rails against the steady trend of laws banning private ownership to protect the public and stop abuse of the animals.

Private ownership of exotic animals results in widespread abuse as cute young animals mature and end up being kept in deplorable conditions. While some exhibitors claim they are teaching people not to get exotic animals as pets, others actively promote the trade.   But all of them, by their behavior, encourage people to own exotic animals in order to be one of the “special” people who can have contact with these animals.

 

7) The cubs are destined for a horrible existence after they are too big to use to make money.

 

Big cats are often kept in concrete & steel jail cells

Big cats are often kept in concrete & steel jail cells

This is the single biggest reason not to permit cub displays.  If asked, exhibitors tell venues and patrons that the cubs will end up in some wonderful home, either at their facilities or elsewhere.  Current USDA rules allow an owner to keep a tiger in a concrete floored, chain link jail cell not much bigger than a parking space, often with nothing to do but walk in circles or stare out.  Enforcement of the rules that do exist is limited because it would be economically unfeasible to have enough inspectors to adequately monitor the thousands of tigers owned by people licensed by USDA to exhibit animals.   These are animals built to live in the wild, roaming and hunting.   They are very intelligent and they experience a broad range of emotions.

We treat criminals in prison far better than the way most owners end up treating captive tigers, whose only crime was being bred by a breeder/exhibitor to make money.  Attached are photos that are not exceptions.  They are typical of the conditions in which the cubs that are bred by private owners will end up.

 

8) There is potential for disease and liability.

 

A May 2011 statement from the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) recommends that the public be prohibited from direct contact with tigers due to the risk of illness to humans stating” …ringworm in 23 persons and multiple animal species was traced to a Microsporum canis infection in a hand-reared zoo tiger cub.”  Zoonotic diseases — those that jump to humans — account for three quarters of all emerging infectious threats, the Center for Disease Control says. Five of the six diseases the agency regards as top threats to national security are zoonotic.  The Journal of Internal Medicine this month estimated that 50 million people worldwide have been infected with zoonotic diseases since 2000 and as many as 78,000 have died.

 

Cub petting has been an evil practice for far too long

Cub petting has been an evil practice for far too long

 

PUBLIC IMAGE ISSUE FOR VENUES

 

Changes in values in our society do not happen suddenly.  It took decades of educating and changing people’s minds before women finally got the right to vote, something we take for granted today.  A similar progression occurred in the area of civil rights.  The same shift is taking place at an accelerating rate with respect to our society’s view of private ownership of big cats.

Compelling evidence of this is found in the trend in state laws.  Just since 2005, nine more states have banned private ownership of big cats, generally recognizing that such ownership is dangerous to people and results in the animals being kept in deplorable conditions.

The public doesn't see how most big cats are kept

The public doesn’t see how most big cats are kept

Many people innocently support the abuse by patronizing the cub displays.  The cubs are adorable, and the exhibitors are skilled at telling their lies.  But, increasingly numbers of people are aware of the issues presented in this fact sheet, or on their own simply see the displays and find them repellant.  As the number of people of people who find such displays objectionable grows, venues like malls increasingly make a negative impression on patrons in a way they cannot necessarily measure.  Venues like Petsmart stores, Alton Square Mall in Alton, IL, and Metro North Mall in Kansas City, MO have led by banning exotic animal displays.

As more and more people become aware of what happens “behind the scenes” and actively object to the cub displays, more and more venues will ban the displays. In the meantime, venues who allow the displays make a negative impression on many customers who care about animals while many tiny cubs are condemned to lifelong misery.

As a venue, you can make a wonderful contribution to society by helping stop this abuse, while at the same time sending a very positive branding image to the many customers who love animals and do not want to see them being abused when they come to shop.

We hope the information in this fact sheet is useful.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Susan Bass, Director of Public Relations at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida at 813-431-2720 or Susan.Bass@BigCatRescue.org.  Venues that these exhibitors lie to in making their pitch to be allowed to display have a critical choice.  They can be part of the problem, encouraging this abuse by permitting it, or part of the solution.  We hope you will send a positive public relations image to your many animal loving patrons and help save these innocent tigers from abuse by banning such exhibits in your venue.

Get the brochure to hand out when you see cub abuse at malls, fairs, flea markets and schools.

See more video of the horrible conditions where big cats are kept

 

 

This video talks to Big Cat Experts Around the Globe About How Petting Cubs Kills Tigers in the Wild

 

 

See a cub man handled for paying guests to get their picture at the mall

Note that the handler stands on the cub to subdue him

 

How Can You Tell if a Tiger Cub is Too Young or Too Old?

It’s almost impossible for regulatory agents to determine if a cub being used on display is truly within the legal age range of 8 weeks to 12 weeks.  This photo composite shows tiger cubs at different ages and in relation to people to give you an idea of what is likely to be a legal size petting / photo op cub and what is not.  Note that we do not believe cubs should be used for petting or photo props at any age.  Cubs belong with their mothers and in the wild.

Click on the image to see it larger.

Tiger Cubs Ages 2 Weeks to 12 Weeks

Tiger Cubs Ages 2 Weeks to 12 Weeks

The American Zoological Association is the accrediting body for zoos, like the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries is the accrediting body for sanctuaries.  Only 10 % of the facilities in the U.S. that are housing wild animals are accredited.  GFAS does not condone unescorted public visitation or contact with the captive wild animals and the AZA also states the following (emphasis added):  http://www.aza.org/Education/detail.aspx?id=2451

 

V. Conservation Education Message 
As noted in the AZA Accreditation Standards, if animal demonstrations are part of an institution’s programs, an educational and conservation message must be an integral component. The Program Animal Policy should address the specific messages related to the use of program animals, as well as the need to be cautious about hidden or conflicting messages (e.g., “petting” an animal while stating verbally that it makes a poor pet). This section may include or reference the AZA Conservation Messages. Although education value and messages should be part of the general collection planning process, this aspect is so critical to the use of program animals that it deserves additional attention. In addition, it is highly recommended to encourage the use of biofacts in addition to or in place of the live animals. Whenever possible, evaluation of the effectiveness of presenting program animals should be built into education programs.  http://www.aza.org/animal-contact-policy/

At a 2002 meeting of the Tiger Species Survival Plan members it was decided that, “A second concern is the relationship between the Tiger SSP and the private sector, where many tigers (mostly of unknown origin) are kept.  During the 2002 Tiger SSP master plan meeting in Portland there was a discussion of the appropriateness of handling tigers in public places by AZA zoos. There was complete consensus of all members in attendance that such actions place the viewing public at risk of injury or death, that there is no education message of value being delivered, that such actions promote private ownership and a false sense of safe handling of exotic big cats, and that the animal itself loses its dignity as an ambassador from the wild.  As a result, the committee resolved such actions were inappropriate for AZA-accredited zoos, and that the AZA accreditation committee should make compliance of this restriction part of its accreditation process.  This opinion statement was conveyed to the executive committee of the Felid TAG for comments and action.”

Mammals: Small Carnivores 


In general, due to the potential for bites, small carnivores should be used in contact areas only with extreme caution. Due to the risk of bites, small felids are generally not used in direct contact. If they are, care must be taken that such animals are negative for infection with Toxoplasma gondii. All carnivores should be tested for and be free of zoonotic species of roundworms such asBaylascaris sp. Small carnivores (e.g., raccoons and skunks) obtained from the wild may present a greater risk of rabies and their use should be avoided in contact areas.

#ProtectOurMascots

QR-SaveTheTiger

Click the image to get the 8 x 10 poster image to post at your school, civic center, on your car, or anywhere else you can reach people who want to save tigers.

Spirit Feather

Spirit Feather

Meet the 2 lb Rehab Rescue Bobcat named Spirit Feather

July 20, 2016: Another 2am success story! When this little bobcat was separated from her mom, and found in the middle of the road, good samaritans turned her in at a clinic in the middle of the state. Who are you going to call at 10:30 pm when you have a bobcat in a box taped shut? Big Cat Rescue, of course.

Spirit-Feather-Rehab-Bobcat-1

One look at that defiant little face and you know you are going to have your hands full!

Spirit-Feather-Rehab-Bobcat

Despite her tiny size Spirit Feather inspires her new name with her ferocity.  Feather was a tribute to our blessed Little Feather, but this little bobcat showed us that Spirit just had to be part of her new name.

Spirit-Feather-Rehab-Bobcat

Dr. Justin Boorstein, DVM and Jamie Veronica Boorstein, have their hands full while trying to do a SNAP test and give the first set of kitten shots to Spirit Feather.  Even though handling her is difficult, it’s exactly what we want for her.  She needs to see humans as the enemy if she is going to survive in the wild one day.

Watch her LIVE at https://video.nest.com/live/2zgUFP

Find out more about our bobcat rehab and release program here: http://bigcatrescue.org/bobcat-rehab/

Help fund bigger, better and more rehab facilities to enable us to help more bobcats get back to the wild, where they belong.

Give to Big Cat Rescue

 

The Claws

The Claws

Ms. Claws Still in Rehab

Ms. Claws has not grown like she should and has been too small to take on the kind of prey she needs to survive.  We are giving her more time in rehab to put on some size (she’s fat, but tiny) and to hone her skills.

Watch her LIVE in the Bobcat Rehab area: http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-bobcat-rehab-and-release

Mr. Claws Has Been Set Free

Mr. Claws has done a great job of healing and preparing for life in the wild, so he was returned to the same county where he was found and set free.

You can help us rescue, rehab and release bobcats, like Mr. Claws with the purchase of this fun, new tee called, My Bobcat’s in Rehab.

Mr Claws Bobcat Rehab Tee

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Claws

Having been rescued from Christmas, Florida, we just couldn’t resist the timely names.  Help make their holiday wishes come true by supporting their rehab and release back to the wild.

We wish they could talk, because it would take a lot of the guesswork out of their care.  Based on the injuries and and reports by Carol Hardee, the rehabber who was the first on the scene for both kittens, here is how it probably happened.

Donate to big cats

 

See the video at the bottom of the page to understand why they were separated.  The webcam footage is black and white and grainy because it was captured after dark using IR cameras.

September 2015 Mrs Claws:

Only a few weeks old, and not barely 3 pounds, she was being shaken to the core.  She could barely breathe due to the crushing jaws that had snatched her from her den.  Being shaken wildly, she could barely think, much less scream out for her mother, to return and save her.  The tiny bobcat was flung into the air, and hitting the ground rolled a few feet, but before she could gather her balance to run, she was snatched up again.  She was being carried away by some monster that was having fun playing with her, like she was a toy, but she was bleeding and this “toy” wasn’t going to last long.

With every last bit of strength, and every thing she learned from being raised by one of the most fierce of all felines, she bit and clawed back.  She aimed for the eyes and the sensitive nose, since that’s all she could reach from her vantage point of being held in the mouth of this creature.  With a yelp her freedom had been secured.  She didn’t know if it would be for a moment, or for good.  She had to find her mother as soon as possible.  She was just too young to be dealing with this terror on her own.

She called and called, but she’d been carried too far away.  Her mother couldn’t find her and she was too small and too badly injured to find her way back to the nest.  But Carol Hardee, of the Wildlife Rehab Center, found her and began treating her life threatening wounds.

BobcatRehabMrsClaws

The kitten doubled in size, but was reaching an age when she would need to be transferred to a rehab center that could teach her to hunt.  A mother will spend a year and a half, or more, teaching her kittens how to hunt, how to stay away from people and how to survive in a tough world.  This kitten was about ready to make that move, to a new stage of training, when Mr. Claws arrived on the scene.

November 5 2015 Mr Claws

He had found a warm spot under the hood of a car to hide until dark.  He’d gotten too far out of the woods for his own good, and now there were kids running wild in the YMCA parking lot, so he figured he would just wait it out.  The one thing his mother hadn’t taught him about being a bobcat, is that you should never go near cars, even if they are sitting still and being silent.

When the owner returned, the slam of the door almost gave him enough notice, but not quite.  The key turned in the ignition and a ton of metal gears, belts and a fan roared to life.  The fan both cut him to the bone in one leg, while snapping another leg bone in two.  He was flipped out to the pavement beneath.  As the owner of the car backed out of the parking space, he saw the young bobcat trying desperately to pull himself to safety with his front paws.

BobcatRehabMrClaws_0020

Not knowing what to do, the auto driver called the police.  They called the Florida Wildlife Commission and between them managed to capture the broken little bobcat in a box.

BobcatRehabMrClaws

Again, the closest rehabber was Carol Hardee, of the Wildlife Rehab Center, who does her life saving work from a ranch in the woods, on Reindeer Lane in Christmas, Florida.

Due to family matters she was not able to get the bobcat X-rayed, but could see that he was not recovering properly and it really was time for the little female to start to learn to hunt.  Carol Hardee called Carole Baskin, of Big Cat Rescue to see if we could take both bobcats and finish their rehab and release.

Jamie Veronica made the 5 hour round trip, ending at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, where Mr. Claws was rushed into X-ray.  Jamie’s husband, Dr. Boorstein, had enlisted the help of Dr. Bard and tech, Jamie Gibbs, and the four of them worked on saving Mr. Claws leg for the next 4 hours.

BobcatRehabMrClawsBobcatRehabMrClaws

There was no handling this wild child, so he had to be sedated.

BobcatRehabMrClaws

BobcatRehabMrClawsBobcatRehabMrClaws

The vets were able to get a good look at his face, noting a slight ulceration to the eye, and some broken and missing teeth. The gash was cleaned and sewed up.  His tail had been separated in the spinal column, but no outer damage was visible.  It could have happened in the accident, or someone may have grabbed him by the tail trying to save him.  The tail may be dead and might have to be amputated later.

BobcatRehabMrClaws BobcatRehabMrClaws_0037

The damage to the back leg bone is obvious, but what is less obvious is that the pelvis is cracked and uneven.  This may heal or may need further surgery.  Dr. Boorstein is consulting with orthopedic specialist, Dr. Callum Hay.

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Humane Society of Tampa Bay vet tech, Jamie Gibbs, prepares Mr. Claws for surgery.

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Dr. Justin Boorstein and Dr. Bard working to save Mr. Claws leg.

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Pins in the bone to hold it together under the skin.  You can’t put a cast on a wild cat.  They will chew it or their leg off.

We can’t know for certain what happened to either of these kittens before they arrived here, but one thing we do know for certain is that we will always be here to help wild cats like them, as long as you are by our side.

We Sure Hope They Kiss and Make Up Before Valentine’s Day

More Photos of Mr and Mrs Claws

Mr. and Mrs. Claws are in our onsite West Boensch Cat Hospital temporarily.  Soon we hope to send them to a far larger outdoor space where they can begin to get ready for life in the wild.  At this writing we have 6 bobcats in rehab and desperately need to build a larger rehab area to accommodate this growing need.

Donate to big cats

Mr Claws on the way to Big Cat Rescue

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Mrs Claws on the way to Big Cat Rescue

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Volunteer Vacations

Volunteer Vacations

Can I Volunteer for a Week While I’m on Vacation?

Maybe.  Depends on how bad you want it and what you are willing to do to make your dream come true.

3 months has always been our minimum term for volunteers but there are a lot of people who just can’t pack up and leave their real lives for three months.  Eco vacations are popular, but due to the dangerous nature of the work we do, we have never felt like we could fully prepare someone in just a week, to do anything meaningful while they were here.  Now we think we can and are doing a test pilot program in September of 2016.  Here’s why:

Our volunteers have to take and pass more than fifty classes as they progress through our levels of training and responsibility.  We launched those classes in a learning management system in May that make the exact same classes available to anyone who wants to see if they have what it takes to work with lions, tigers and other big cats.  ZooCollege.com is $9.00 so people can learn at their own pace.  We have had two students who completed the entire course in a month, so it only cost them $9.00 total.  We will be raising that price, as this was a beta to make sure all the material was understandable and that all of the tests were automatically graded, allowing students to progress.

So here’s the deal:

 

The Enrichment Committee meets every Wed night to make up fun stuff for the catsThis deal will only be offered to graduates of ZooCollege.com

We will offer limited spots for week long volunteers, on site at Big Cat Rescue, during the month of September.  If it goes well we will add more months to choose from.

Monday arrive at 8am for Orientation and to re take some of the more important classes to ensure your safety and that of our cats.  Get a quick golf cart over view of the sanctuary to get your bearings and have some playtime in the Kitten Cabana with our Foster Kittens, then go off site for lunch.  The afternoon will include more classes and the opportunity to make enrichment for the cats and go with the keepers who hand it out.  You are done by 5pm and free to return to your accommodations.

Tuesday arrive at 8am and follow along on one of our feeding routes and watch the cats get fed. Help clean up in food prep after feeding.  Shadow a keeper for morning cleaning with the cats. Go to lunch from 12 -2. Help backup one of our General tours.  Shadow the handing out of afternoon Meds.  Help with afternoon chores before attending our evening lecture with vegan food included at 7pm.  Lectures vary but include topics such as Bobcat rehab, legislative issues revolving around protecting cats, work we are doing to save cats in the wild, how to stay safe online, how to improve your public speaking and other great topics.

Enrichment-Tiger-Bengali-Halloween-Mummy_1172Wednesday arrive at 8am and follow along on one of our feeding routes and watch the cats get fed. Help clean up in food prep after feeding. Shadow a keeper for morning cleaning with the cats. Go to lunch from 12 -2. Help backup one of our General tours. Help with afternoon chores.  At 6pm meet with the enrichment committee to make enrichment projects.

Thursday arrive at 8am and follow along on one of our feeding routes and watch the cats get fed. Help clean up in food prep after feeding.  Work with our folks on some projects for the cats.  Go to lunch, Participant in enrichment, more projects, Help with afternoon chores and food prep for the next day. We are closed to the public on Thursdays, so you will see a lot more of the behind the scenes work.  It is also the day we move cats to and from our two vacation areas, so that’s always exciting.

Friday arrive at 8am. You will be following along with our Feeding and Keeper Tours from 9am – 12 pm. During this tour you will see how we do Operant training with our cats. Go to Lunch, Work with the keepers on projects till time for afternoon chores.

Saturday is optional.  You are free to enjoy some other sites in Tampa or attend the Feeding and Keeper Tours.  It will be a half-day and you are free to go after the Keeper tour returns to the gift shop.

What Would You Pay for Such an Adventure?

We have no idea, but we know what it will cost us, to make sure that you get this up close experience, because we have to make sure that you are always accompanied by someone who knows the ropes.  The itinerary above is 49 hours and we charge $125.00 an hour for a private tour, so if we just assigned private tours for those hours, instead of working you into our daily life, we would charge $6,125. for the week.  In the future, we might charge that, but this is a test pilot program, so we are offering this interactive week for $3000.00 if you don’t need housing, and $4000.00 if you want to bunk in one of our intern houses.

Additional requirements are that you must have graduated ZooCollege.com before applying.  As stated above though, we know that it’s possible to pass the program in just one month, so that’s just $9.  You would also have to pay for a background check which is $50.  You will be responsible for your own food and transportation.  There are a number of limitations physically too, as this is hard work, so you need to be able to be on your feet all day, in 90-95 degree heat, and carry 60 lbs of food, poo or dirt.  This work isn’t for sissies.  You will not be allowed to smoke, drink or use mind altering drugs (even prescription) for the week.  You can’t bring your kids or pets.  You can bring a friend, if they pay the same rate, and they do not have to pass ZooCollege.com as long as they take the classes once they get here and stay with you at all times.  You absolutely cannot touch the cats, unless it just so happens that one is sedated for medical procedures that particular week. It’s dangerous and rude to touch a cat who would never allow you to do such a thing if they were free.

Interested in a Week that Will Change Your Life?

ZooCollegesmartmockupsStart by signing up for ZooCollege.com  As soon as you take the last test and pass it you will get an email with the invitation to fill out the application for our first Volunteer Vacation at Big Cat Rescue.  The Zoo College courses can be taken as quickly as you like, as long as you pass the tests, but you have to take the classes in order, so you can’t just skip to the end.  I’ll warn you, the Map Test is the hardest test, because you have to know where the cats live on site to pass with at least an 80%, but after that it gets easier.

See you on the other side!

 

Kricket Serval

Kricket Serval

hear big catsKricket

Female Serval
DOB 4/1/2001
Rescued 3/11/2011

 

Kricket the serval was born in 2001 and had been kept as a pet, but when her owners divorced, the wife decided that she didn’t have time for Kricket and began looking for a home for her.

We agreed to rescue Kricket and began preparing an enclosure for her with lots of places to hide and fun things to explore, she’d just spent the last ten years living indoors so we wanted to make her adjustment to life outside as stress free and enjoyable as possible.

Her owner was willing to contract with us to never possess another exotic cat, Kricket was then shipped from Virginia to Florida via Delta Dash.

We were at the airport to pick her up and Joseph the lion gave Kricket a roaring welcome to the sanctuary when she arrived!

Exotic cats kept as pets are often fed improper diets resulting in serious health problems.  Her former owner, a vegan, insisted that Kricket chose a predominantly vegetarian diet, but we’ve never known a cat to do so.

The former owner said the deformities that Kricket suffers from were from injuries and not diet related.

She insisted that Kricket preferred broccoli to animals, but here Kricket loves the variety of raw meat.

Whatever Kricket’s diet was it’s obviously taken a toll on the little serval, her back and rear legs show signs of stunted development and her tail is unusually curled, which is most likely the result of her past injuries, inbreeding that is common in the pet trade and her insufficient diet.  Some of Kricket’s bone deformities have improved since she has been on an improved diet.

Watch more about Kricket and a few of her new serval friends who were rescued the same year.

 

 

Sponsor Kricket http://big-cat-rescue.myshopify.com/collections/sponsor-a-cat

 

 

JoJo

JoJo

JoJo

Male DOB 1/1/03
Rescued 9/1/13
Caravel (Caracal / Serval Hybrid)

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Meet Jo Jo the Caracal Serval Hybrid

 

JoJo the Caracal / Serval Hybrid

hear big cats

I first met JoJo the Caracal / Serval hybrid at the South Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in 2005 after a hurricane had taken down the perimeter fencing and dumped piles of deadfall on the cages.

JoJo hybrid 2012 Big Hiss

The owner, Dirk Neugebohm, had ended up in the hospital with a heart attack from trying to clean the mess up by himself.

 

He wrote from what he thought was his deathbed back then to anyone and everyone he could think of asking for help; and asking for help was not something that came easily to this hard working German.

Bird Caged Cats

What we found, when Howard and I visited, was a man who was way in over his head.  Donations were almost non existent, the cages were old, dilapidated, small and concrete floored.  The freezer had been damaged and he had lost his food supply, so we sent food and volunteers to help him clean up and rebuild.

The tiger back then was Sinbad, who lived in what is commonly used for housing parrots.  An oval corn crib cage with a metal roof.  Sinbad died recently after a snake bite, leaving Krishna, pictured, as the only remaining tiger.

Krishna Tiger

 

We had a donor and a sanctuary (Safe Haven in NV) that were willing to take Krishna, but we were told that the Florida Wildlife Commission had found someone less than 6 miles away to take him.

Dirk managed to keep his sanctuary afloat, if just barely, for the next 8 years, but a couple days ago one of his volunteers, Vickie Saez, who we had been helping for the past couple of years with infrastructure and social networking, contacted us to say that Dirk was dying of brain cancer in the hospital and that she had convinced him to let the animals go to other homes.   She said the Florida Wildlife Commission had arranged for most of the homes, but that Dirk was very happy that we could take JoJo.  Our sweet Caracal, Rose, had died July 31st and her cage was empty.

We were told that all of the other cats had new homes waiting, except for Nola the cougar, but she was very ill.  We offered to pay a vet to do blood work on her to make sure that she was not contagious.  We were concerned because she had a history of some very contagious diseases, which had left her severely debilitated.  What concerned us was that her caretaker said she looked bloated.

A vet had arrived to help with the transfer of two leopards to a place in Jupiter.  He sedated Nola to see what was wrong.

We are told that he palpitated three melon sized tumors in her abdomen and that with every touch of her belly she exuded foamy blood from her nose and anus.  He was sure that there was no hope for her and humanely euthanized her.

Nola cougar 2011

This photo was Nola back in 2011.  While we were sad that we would not be able to give Nola a new home here at Big Cat Rescue we are glad that she is not suffering any more.

 

JoJo at Big Cat Rescue

 

JoJo has arrived at Big Cat Rescue and settled in nicely.  It is quite possibly his first time to walk on the soft earth.

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His cage has been a small (maybe 60 square feet) of concrete and chain link for at least 8 years and probably longer.  He is thought to be about 10 years old.  Sometimes breeders hybridize exotic cats because there are no laws on the books that regulate them, but in Florida, the inspectors say, “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck; it’s a duck.”

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JoJo now has 1,200 square feet of earth, bushes, trees and grass.

JoJo hybrid Grass Hide

He really likes the grass.  Are you hearing the Beetles lyric, “JoJo left his home in Homestead-Miami looking for some Florida grass?”

JoJo hybrid GrassClose Up

His diet has only been chicken necks for as far back as anyone can remember.  I think he is really going to like the menu at Big Cat Rescue.  You can help make rescues like this possible and help feed all of the cats at:  http://big-cat-rescue.myshopify.com/collections/sponsor-a-cat

 See More About JoJo:

JoJo the Caravel is up on his platform in this Wildcat Walkabout Video on May 1, 2014 – http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-may-2-2014/

Get the Meet JoJo iBook in iTunes

Meet another Caravel at the Wildcat Sanctuary

 

2016 July