Arthur the Tiger

Arthur the Tiger

hear big catsArthur

Male Tiger

Born 1/1/96

Rescued 9/28/11

Arthur the tiger at Big Cat Rescue

Arthur is social with his keepers, however he keeps his guard up at times. He settled in soon enough as it is hard to resist the charm of the volunteers who bring treats to their newest charges.

Arthur loves his brother Andre dearly and the two are often found cuddled up in the same den or lounging together in one of their pools. Arthur is the dominant tiger in the group and shows off his fierce attitude at dinner time. We can only guess the feeding situation of their previous home, but from they way these three tigers act it seems they may have had to fight over food at times.

All three tigers are so aggressive when it comes to food they have to be separated. While each has their own feeding lock out that they are fed in, if they are not separated into different enclosures as well they will run back and forth through the enclosures to steal one another’s food resulting in fights.

Hopefully they will one day understand that food is plentiful here and there is no need for a frenzy when it comes to dinner time.
Arthur, Andre and Amanda were born in 1996 in New Jersey to be used as pay-to-play photo props.  It never makes sense to breed more cubs to raise money to feed last year’s cats, and the New Jersey facility fell into disrepair and then was shut down after USDA revoked their license following a tiger escape.

In 2003, Wild Animal Orphanage took in the 24 tigers, but big cats have big appetites and by 2010 the Wild Animal Orphanage was in bankruptcy.

It took over a year to find permanent homes for all of the cats because it is hard to place a big cat who will cost $10,000 per year in food and vet care.

Amazingly, an anonymous donor couple who had known these tigers as cubs fortuitously stepped in to fund the ongoing care of these three lucky tigers who came to Big Cat Rescue in 2011.



Read more about the rescue of three tigers from Texas here.

Andre the Tiger

Andre the Tiger

hear big cats


Male Tiger

Born 1/1/96

Rescued 9/28/11

Andre the tiger at Big Cat Rescue

Arthur, Andre and Amanda were born in 1996 in New Jersey to be used as pay-to-play photo props.  It never makes sense to breed more cubs to raise money to feed last year’s cats, and the New Jersey facility fell into disrepair and then was shut down after USDA revoked their license following a tiger escape.

In 2003, Wild Animal Orphanage took in the 24 tigers but big cats have big appetites and by 2010 the Wild Animal Orphanage was in bankruptcy.

It took over a year to find permanent homes for all of the cats because it is hard to place a big cat who will cost $10,000 per year in food and vet care.

Amazingly, an anonymous donor couple who had known these tigers as cubs fortuitously stepped in to fund the ongoing care of these three lucky tigers who came to Big Cat Rescue in 2011.

Andre is the friendliest of the three tigers who live together. He always greets his keepers and guests alike with a hefty chuff.

He is easily identified within the group because all four of his canine teeth are broken off. According to his care givers at WAO, when he was rescued in 2003 he bit the transport cage and broke off all of his canines. After the incident he did not receive any dental care.

Once he arrived at Big Cat Rescue it became a top priority to get him and his mates the dental work they required. A specialist in veterinary dental work, Dr. Peak, arranged a visit to the sanctuary and performed four root canals on Andre which took nearly three hours. Now that the sensitive nerves have been removed from the canine nubs Andre is completely pain free.



Read more about the rescue of three tigers from Texas here.





hear big catsTonga

Male White Serval
DOB 5/21/97

Sponsor Tonga


Tonga the White ServalTo our knowledge, only two white servals exist in the world:  Tonga and his brother Pharaoh.  The white coat is just the outward indication of the deleterious effects of inbreeding.  Tonga was 15 years old when he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. Although most arise without antecedent cause, in many species, especially in white cats, prolonged exposure to sunlight is a major predisposing factor.  Being a wild cat, Tonga lives outside, and what cat doesn’t love to nap in their favorite sunny spot?


Tonga’s adult life has been pretty uneventful from a medical perspective.  He had a bad tooth extracted in 2010 and he had an abscess treated on his leg in late 2011 but his blood work was pretty much routine for an elderly cat.  (In the wild and in most other places Servals only live to be 10 or 12, but at Big Cat Rescue they have an average lifespan of 17).  In July 2011 our Education Director Willow reported on the Veterinary Observation Chart that Tonga had a cut or scab on his nose.  It was treated and went away but then in February of 2012 Keeper Bren reported it had recurred.  It was treated with antibiotics and subsided, but recurred again in August of 2012.  Something strange was going on here and this time it looked much worse, so despite the dangers in sedating an exotic cat we decided to do a full work up on him first by Dr. Wynn at the Ehrlich Road Animal Hospital and then by Dr. Jen Coyle and Dr. Wendy Gwin at the Blue Pearl Oncology lab.


White Serval Tonga Licks Paw

White Serval Tonga Licks Paw

We were crushed when we heard the devastating news that it was cancer.  After many tests and a full CT scan of his nose it was determined that the only way to save Tonga’s life would be to remove his cute little pink nose.  The surgeons have to take a full centimeter extra, around the cancerous mass, in order to make sure they get all of the cancerous cells.  That will mean removing his entire nose, but the good news is that they said it should heal very well and that he will be able to live outside again once the skin has completely healed over.  He will just have higher nostrils on his face and more of a Persian profile than that of a normal Serval.  He will still be beautiful to us.




The other bit of good news is that Tonga is strong, has a healthy appetite and zest for life and the cancer does not appear to have spread into his brain or nasal cavities, so he could live another two years.  That is an average lifespan for our Servals and we feel like this surgery will give him a chance.  To leave it untreated will undoubtedly result in the spread to the rest of his body and cats are so good at masking pain that we fear he would suffer and not let us know.  The only clue we had that there was anything wrong this time was a recurring sore on his nose.


WhiteServal-TongaSpotsWhile waiting on test results and several expert opinions on what could be done we have wrestled with these options.  It will be thousands of dollars for the diagnostics we have already done and the delicate surgery that he needs.  Tonga could die during surgery.  He could have a recurrence or have the cancer manifest in other organs.  He may live a few weeks, a few months or a few years;  we just don’t know.  What we do know is that we have to try.  We hope that you agree that every life is precious and worth trying to save by helping us fund the work here and specifically Tonga’s surgery.



Update 8/18/12:  Tonga had three hours of surgery today at Blue Pearl to remove his cancerous nose.  Tonga is back at Big Cat Rescue, in the Cat Hospital, and will recover in there until his nose heals over sufficiently that it will not be bothered by bugs or get infected.


Tonga’s Dental Video



Tonga has since been moved to a shadier area of the sanctuary to prevent any more potential sun damage.



More About Tonga the White Serval


White Serval Tonga as a Cub

White Serval Tonga as a Cub

Tonga was born at Big Cat Rescue before we knew any better back in the 1990s.  When we first began we only had the guidance of those who bred and sold cats and believed that what they said was true. We started breeding some cats under the misguided notion that this was a way to “preserve the species.” We had not then figured out what seems so obvious to us today, that breeding for life in a cage an animal that was meant to roam free was inherently cruel. Tonga was born to parents Frosty and Nairobi, who has since been neutered and spayed.  We didn’t know it at the time, but they must have been closely related.


Tonga has a white coat and very few spots, the spots that he does have are silvery gray. Tonga is a shy cat that likes to keep to himself, except at feeding time, when he magically turns into your best friend in the whole world. Like many of the servals at Big Cat Rescue, Tonga loves enrichment involving scents. One of his all time favorite enrichment items were some pine tree cuttings. He rubbed all over these pine limbs and was soon covered in a mixture of sap and drool, his coat transformed from snowy to muddy. He made a bed underneath the pine limbs and this became his favorite napping spot for several months.


Because white footed servals and white servals are rare, people will pay to see them, so breeders will inbreed to get the defective genes that produce the un natural coat color. They cannot survive in the wild because they could not hide from predators and cannot sneak up on prey even if they did manage to survive to adulthood. They do not live where it snows. There are only a handful of white footed servals in the world and only two white servals that are known to exist. These are not albinos as they have pale blue to green eyes and some golden patches. They are born and mature approximately 20% larger than the normal colored servals. For the first year, their health is much more delicate and we have never known of white serval females to survive more than two weeks. We will not sell (although we’ve been offered $75,000.00 each) nor allow others to breed to our white servals because we do not want them to be exploited and the only way we can control that is to control their offspring. The demand for white tigers causes many of the normal colored cubs, born to these litters, to be destroyed. We will not be a part of anything that could cause the same to happen to golden colored servals. We do not breed cats, nor sell cats at Big Cat Rescue.


white serval kittenMost of our servals were rescued from people who got them as pets and were not prepared for the fact that male or female, altered or not, they all spray buckets of urine when they become adults. Some were being sold at auction where taxidermists would buy them and club them to death in the parking lot, but a few were born here in the early days when we were ignorant of the truth and were being told by the breeders and dealers that these cats should be bred for “conservation.” Once we learned that there are NO captive breeding programs that actually contribute to conservation in the wild we began neutering and spaying our cats in the mid 1990’s.  Knowing what we do about the intelligence and magnificence of these creatures we do not believe that exotic cats should be bred for lives in cages.


More Links About Tonga:

** May 3, 2014 – Walkabout Video has some footage of Tonga enjoying a bath:

** August 29, 2013 – Walkabout Video has footage of Tonga:

** How do you vaccinate wild cats without sedating them or getting bitten?

** Photos of Tonga getting a check up:

** See some photos of Tonga watching a tour go by:

** This page has a photo of Tonga after he managed to turn his e-collar upside down:

** Quick thinking and quick action saved Tonga’s life:

** This page has a photo of Tonga in the cat hospital watching the Cat Sitter DVD:

** July 2011 Advocat Newsletter – There is a little tidbit about Tonga on this page, as well as, LOTS of other good stuff:



hear big cats


Female Serval
DOB 1/1/00
Rescued  5/25/10


A  pet Serval was confined to a tiny, two room apartment for the past 10 years. She was housed with a domestic cat, presumably for the purpose of breeding Savannah Cats which can fetch as much as $26,000. Her life was about as boring as can be imagined since she had to be kept secreted away from the world, but all of that was about to change.

Her owner was so ill that she needed intensive hospital care, but having no relatives and no one she could turn to, it was up to the authorities to have her Baker acted for her own good. Imagine the hysteria involved in being so incapable of making your own decisions that the police and paramedics had to be called to carry you to the hospital.

It was worrisome for the authorities as well because this woman’s neighbors all whispered that she kept a lion in that apartment. The lion turned out to be a Serval, but none the less, it left animal control in a strained situation. It is not expected that the owner will live and county law there gives Animal Control ownership and custody of animals who are not claimed within 10 days. They knew that it would be torturous to take a wild cat into a shelter full of barking dogs. They didn’t know who to call about placing a wild cat.

On the one hand, they found the cat in a house and originally thought that maybe they should seek out an exotic pet owner to take the cat, but as they interviewed candidates it became clear that no one had the cat’s best interest at heart, but rather were just looking for the novelty of owning an exotic pet. They investigated some exotic animal sanctuaries, but were dismayed by the over crowded cages full of pacing animals.

They asked a local vet for advice and he found Big Cat Rescue. After researching our facility and doing an interview with Big Cat staff, they knew that Big Cat Rescue was the purr=fect place for this Serval to go. The thought of this Serval having her own Cat-a-tat, her own den, her own trees and shrubs and grass and all of the wonder of the little creatures that she will be able to see and sniff and chase…it was just as good as it gets if you have to be held captive. (Being captive bred and born, she could never be returned to the wilds of Africa.) This Serval had been through enough and they wanted a place that was stable, reputable and that would provide a permanent home.

This is where you come in.

A Cat-a-tat for her will cost $1,500 and her ongoing care, for food, toys, vitamins, vaccines and vet care is roughly $500. per year. Your help now makes it possible for her to have a forever home.

If you have been following us in the AdvoCat you know that Cloe the Snow Leopard just had a very expensive procedure done to save her life. Veterinarians, Liz Wynn, Allyson Berent, Chick Weisse, and Haven Bade from the Animal Medical Center in NYC, and Demetrius Bagley MD donated their time and Bay Area Renal Stone Center donated the equipment but Big Cat Rescue had to pay for airfare, car rentals, food and lodging for the vets and that bill just came to $2,614.78.

Your ongoing donations make it possible for us to race to the rescue of cats like this Serval. We can’t do it without you. Please sponsor Servie Serval here:






hear big catsWill

Male Bobcat
DOB 7/15/07
Rescued 8/13/07


bobcats willWill was found by a couple in their back yard. Their home was situated on a large farm located in a rural area of Dade City. An adult Bobcat was recently seen within the area and nearby farmers had reportedly been shooting at it to deter it from their property and their livestock. It is unknown if this Bobcat was any relation to Will, but since this young cub was found abandoned it is likely that the adult was his mother and had now been scared away from her cub or worse yet killed.

When Rescuers came for Will, they noticed something out of the ordinary right away. At this age, a young Bobcat should have been all teeth and claws backed up with hissing and growling. Instead he sat still and quite and went limp when he was picked up. Over the next several weeks he was seen by several specialists including a neurologist and an optometrist. Will would slowly walk around a room and run into walls or objects as if he did not see them.

Although he has improved, Will still suffers from these symptoms and if his surroundings are altered he will still run into things. This handicap prevents him from being considered a candidate for release. He will have a home here at the sanctuary and is being raised with Anasazi. The two are very close in age and will hopefully bond to one another.


Bobcats Face Many Perils



Sponsor Will Bobcat here:





Female Tiger
Born 2000

Arrived 9/6/2014

Help care for Kali Tiger here:


KALI Female Tiger Born 6/25/00 Arrived 9/6/14

Kali (pronounced Kah-lee’) the tiger was born in a travel trailer in the year 2000 the day after her mother and a transport full of tigers, leopards, cougars, bears and wolves were dropped off at the Augusta Conservation Education in GA.  The founder of the organization rescued over 300 animals in the 20 years that he ran the facility, but by 2014 he could no longer afford it and began placing the remaining animals.  The International Fund for Animal Welfare asked if we could take Kali, the last cat on the site and we agreed.

The Hindu goddess Kali is the fierce destructive form of the wife of Shiva, but also considered the goddess of time and change.

Kali’s previous owner shared many of Big Cat Rescue’s ideals of a sanctuary including no breeding, buying, or selling, but he did believe in physical interaction with his animals.

Big Cat Rescue takes a hands off approach to working with the big cats. Even though these animals were born and raised in captivity they are still wild animals and having close physical interaction puts both the people and animals at risk of serious injury.

Overall Kali was well cared for. She had been fed a good diet and had a spacious although barren cage. Because Kali was so well fed she was very difficult to lure into a transport cage. Her owner did not want Kali to be sedated and so he spent weeks trying to get her accustomed to going in the transport cage to receive her food. His patience paid off and the day of the rescue Kali loaded up within seconds.


When Kali first arrived she was depressed. She would spend the entire day sulking from atop her platform. At dinner time she would come down to eat, but would then immediately go right back up to her perch. Perhaps she missed her owner and the interactions they shared.

Most of our cats were mistreated before their arrival and are happy to find a new home where they are loved and fed a good diet. Kali had a different experience in that she was cared for, and then suddenly was moved away from the only home she had ever known. A lot of people rescue animals with the best intentions, but when life happens they find themselves no longer able to provide for the animals that they have committed to.

This was the case with Kali’s owner. He was going through a bitter divorce and neither he nor his wife were able to provide sanctuary to the animals that they had rescued.

Thankfully for Kali she will never have to worry about being moved from her home again. Big Cat Rescue will provide her with a stable and loving home for the rest of her life.


A few weeks after her arrival Kali made a complete turn around. She bounces up to keepers chuffing all the way, plays with her toys and enrichment, and loves lounging in the tall soft grass.

Big Cat Rescue will be her forever home because we operate this sanctuary in a responsible manner that ensures all of our cats will have a permanent home regardless of changes in the economy or even the leadership of the sanctuary.  We have done this by creating detailed strategic plans, setting aside money for reserves and training all of our staff and volunteers extensively.  People like you, who learn about the plight of these cats, and who donate to help, are the way we can continue to help cats like Kali.



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