Mr. Claws has done a great job of healing and preparing for life in the wild, so in the next few days he will be 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There was no handling this wild child, so he had to be sedated.
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.
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.
Humane Society of Tampa Bay vet tech, Jamie Gibbs, prepares Mr. Claws for surgery.
Dr. Justin Boorstein and Dr. Bard working to save Mr. Claws leg.
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.
To read the Federal Trade Commission’s charity checklist, click HERE.
How can you tell a real sanctuary from a fake?
It’s actually easier than telling a diamond from a cubic zirconium because if you look at them, under any light at all, they are easy to tell apart. The problem is that the fake ones insist on keeping you in the dark. Some legitimate sanctuaries believe that their animals should never have to see humans, other than for their daily feeding and cleaning, and are closed to the public. Pseudo sanctuaries use this same tactic to keep the public from seeing the deplorable conditions that their animals are kept in.
Fake sanctuaries often have wonderful web sites full of self serving documentation about all the wonderful ways your donations save lives. They rely heavily on direct mail campaigns and paid solicitors. New laws have enabled these mail houses to front the costs and then pay themselves, exorbitantly, from the proceeds making it that much easier for pseudo sanctuaries to solicit funds. This means that even less of your donation is actually going to the cause (assuming any of it was before).
There are a few fool proof ways to know if the sanctuary you support is a real sanctuary or a fake:
Real sanctuaries don’t breed or buy animals. If there are babies, they were probably bought or born there. People don’t get rid of them until they are too big to handle. If there is a baby, ask how it got there and ask for proof.
Real sanctuaries don’t exploit animals. They don’t take dangerous animals out in public on leashes or in cages. Many pseudo sanctuaries do and they say they are educating the public that these animals don’t make good pets, but when people see that they can be walked on leashes or taken out in public to be shown off or to make money, then they will want to buy one of their own. It is the equivalent of saying to your audience, “Do as I say, and not as I do.”
Real sanctuaries adhere to the law. They will be licensed by the state, and usually by the USDA. They will be classified by the IRS as a non profit 501 c 3 charity. They will be licensed by the state to solicit donations, and every piece of solicitation that you see, from print to web site, will have documentation of the fact that they are so licensed. Some states, such as Florida, go a step further and require that the percentage that goes to the program services of the cause be included in all solicitation materials. Big Cat Rescue spends 100% of its donations on program services (ie: taking care of the cats).
Real sanctuaries meet the highest sanctuary standards. Fake sanctuaries will say that they don’t like the politics, or it’s a waste of donor’s money, or that they don’t want someone else telling them how to take care of their animals, but none of those are valid reasons for not meeting the highest sanctuary standards. Many fake sanctuaries are licensed by their state and by USDA and will tell you that these governing bodies are the watchdogs of the industry, but neither USDA nor any state law defines a sanctuary as being a place where animals are not bred, sold or exploited. USDA’s standards only require that an animal’s cage be big enough that he can stand up and turn around in it.
The Global Federation of Sanctuaries only accredits real sanctuaries. It only costs $150.00 per year to be a member and the application is only four pages long, so it is not a huge investment of time and money. Accreditation is only granted after an on-site inspection if the facility meets the high standards of care and responsibility. The facility must continue to maintain those standards and be re-inspected regularly to insure compliance. Membership provides real sanctuaries with a method of demonstrating their excellence to the public and donors. Membership also enables small sanctuaries across the nation to unite as one voice for the animals because The Global Federation of Sanctuaries is a member for the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition which is made up of 20 huge organizations including the Humane Society of the United States, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Animal Protection Institute, Peta and many more.
Real sanctuaries spend your donated dollars on program services. This means they spend the money on the things that made you select them as your charity. GuideStar.com lists all non profit organizations and posts their tax returns so that you can see how the money is being spent. If you type in the key word “animal” almost 15,000 organizations are listed, but only 23 of them are accredited by The Global Federation of Sanctuaries. The industry standard allows that charities spend up to 35% of their donations on soliciting and still be considered reputable. A search of the 990s on GuideStar will show that fake sanctuaries often spend as much as 75% of their donations on raising more money. In almost all of these cases you will see that the biggest expense in the pseudo sanctuary is in providing a salary to the founder. Big Cat Rescue’s founder donated millions of dollars to start the sanctuary and refused compensation for the first 20 years of the rescue’s growth.
As in every aspect of life, the truth is out there. With the right tools you can discover it for yourself.
FTC Charity Checklist
Thinking about donating to a charity? The Federal Trade Commission advises that you consider the following precautions to ensure that your donation dollars benefit the people and organizations you want to help. They’re good practices whether you’re contacted by an organization’s employees, volunteers or professional fund-raisers, soliciting donations by phone, mail or in person.
Be wary of appeals that tug at your heart strings, especially pleas involving patriotism and current events.
Ask for the name of the charity if the telemarketer does not provide it promptly.
Ask what percentage of the donation is used to support the causes described in the
solicitation, and what percentage is used for administrative costs.
Call the charity to find out if it’s aware of the solicitation and has authorized the
use of its name.
If the telemarketer claims that the charity will support local organizations, call the local groups to verify.
Discuss the donation with a trusted family member or friend before committing the funds.
Don’t provide any credit card or bank account information until you have reviewed all
information from the charity and made the decision to donate.
Ask for a receipt showing the amount of the contribution and stating that it is tax
Understand that contributions made to a “tax exempt” organization are not necessarily tax deductible.
Avoid cash gifts. They can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by check – made payable to the beneficiary, not the solicitor.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on wise giving, visit www.ftc.gov/charityfraud or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.
“I’ll pay you $500.00 if you will turn around and go back to help DNR rescue that bobcat!” I was desperate, because I know how most of the staff, at Department of Natural Resources agencies across America, feel about bobcats. They are just competitors to the hunters who want to shoot the “game” animals themselves. They say things like, “The only good bobcat is a dead bobcat.”
Mike assured me that he didn’t care about the money and that he would go help, if the fish and game officer would allow him, but he really didn’t think that would happen. I’ve kind of gotten ahead of myself though, as I am still pretty upset over the whole ordeal.
3:58 PM I got a call from a surveyor who was working the area of Fulsome Creek Road and Poole Road in Sparta, Georgia. He said he’d come across a bobcat in a leg hold trap who was panting and panicked. He couldn’t get close enough to the cat to free him (you know how bobcats are) but he didn’t want the bobcat to starve to death like the raccoon in the next trap over.
It’s illegal to trap animals, without a license, unless they are considered a nuisance. Even under those circumstances, the law states that you have to check the traps every 24 hours. The raccoon near the bobcat was badly decomposed, so we knew this was either an illegal trap or the trapper wasn’t abiding by the law.
The caller said his name was Mike and that he’d called the Georgia Department of Natural Resources an hour earlier, but no one had called him back. He just couldn’t get the haunting look of the bobcat, left trapped to suffer and die a cruel death, out of his mind.
He called Big Cat Rescue.
I suggested that he try a local vet, who might know a rescue group in the area, but he said Sparta was a “po-dunk town” that didn’t have any vet clinics. I took his name, number, the street intersection (two dirt roads in the middle of nowhere) and said I’d try to track down a rehabber.
I went to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division to see if I could find any local rehabbers in Hancock County. Rehabbers are a wonderful kind of people, who will risk it all to save wild animals, and nurse them back to health, but I can count on one hand the ones that have any sort of marketing sense. There are rehabber lists, but they are always outdated and just about useless.
There weren’t any wildlife rehabilitaters in Hancock County, so I pulled up a map of surrounding counties. Greene, Taliaferro, Warren, Glascock, Washington, Jefferson, Baldwin and Putnam Counties, and only one rehab facility amongst them.
That one place, the Mockingbird Hill Wildlife Rehab Center, was in the next county over; Washington County.
I called both numbers, left the info at both answering machines, and then turned my attention to local veterinarians.
I called Tim Gress, the person who had run a sanctuary in Georgia, where we had gotten Kali Tiger. He said he was over an hour away and couldn’t leave work. He said he didn’t have the tools to deal with a bobcat anyway. I told him he could come visit Kali and he said he was saving up vacation time to do that.
The closest veterinarian I could find, was also in Washington County, so it would be a long shot, but I called them.
It would be an hour drive for them but it would be 6 and a half hours for me and I can’t take controlled drugs across state lines and couldn’t take the bobcat in any case as I am not licensed in Georgia. By the time I could get there, it would be the middle of the night and no chance that I’d find the bobcat on my own.
I got a kindly woman, with a very southern accent named Amy, and she said she knew the Game Warden, Bryant Adams, in Glascock County. She said that he was the one who covered Hancock County, since they don’t have their own Animal Control Services. She said she would call him. I asked her to call me back if she was not successful. I wasn’t going to let this bobcat chew off his own foot even though I hadn’t figured out what Plan B was going to be.
I’d been calling and texting, back and forth with Jamie Veronica, and she had checked with Dr. Justin Boorstein about any drugs that could be used to sedate a bobcat that might be legal to transport across state lines and he said there were none. Even if we were able to transport the drugs across state lines, we aren’t licensed to use them and he can’t just up and leave work for a two day mission to save the bobcat. AND even if he could, he’s not licensed to practice medicine in Georgia.
4:44 PM I call the surveyor to let him know that I’ve called the vet, who is calling the Glascock Game Warden, and Mike tells me that meanwhile the DNR has called him back. He told the officer where the cat could be found and the officer complained that all he had was a choke stick and he was by himself, so he had no idea how he was going to get the bobcat out of a foothold trap alive. Mike said from the way the guy laughed while saying it, that he feared for the bobcat’s life.
That’s when I said, “I’ll pay you $500.00 if you will turn around and go back to help DNR rescue that bobcat!”
Mike agrees that if the DNR officer will allow it, he’ll drop off his workmate, turn around and make the 45 minute drive back to the scene to help. He gives me the phone number for the officer and I called, but got voicemail, so as I am leaving him a message, with Mike’s offer, a call comes in.
I switch over and it’s a deer rehabber named John Burke who I mistake, initially, for the fish and game officer. Once we clear that up, he tells me that he has no experience with bobcats, but he’s willing to try. He asks what I would do if I didn’t have any way to sedate the cat.
I tell him that we do two nets down over the cat, then a big blanket on top and would try to fish the trapped leg out with gloved hands, to pry off the trap. I give him both the fish and game officer’s number and Mike’s number and suggest that he call DNR first to offer assistance. He says he will.
Meanwhile, our Operations Manager, Gale Ingham, has overheard all of this and gets on the phone with our Gift Shop Manager, Honey Wayton because she thinks Honey has relatives in Georgia. They are all willing to go help someone as well. I get another text from Mike who tells me that a second agent from DNR has contacted him and is going out to help the first one.
Amazing how many people show up to help after all!
So if you are all on edge, like I’ve been all day, you will be thrilled to know that Corporal Dave Allen of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources returned my call the next day to let me know that he had successfully released the bobcat. He said there was minimal damage to the foot and he believed the bobcat would be able to hunt and survive with no further intervention.
Carole Baskin is the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue. She runs a real estate business and manages 100+ volunteers and interns from around the world and 20 staff and contractors. She has run this Tampa based non profit since 1992 and has garnered international attention to the plight of captive big cats on CNN, Animal Planet, Discovery, U.S. News & World Report, People Magazine, The Today Show, Sports Illustrated, all of the local media outlets and many more national and international programs. She is the host of the Cat Chat Show, a weekly, live interview with cat experts from around the world.
She has lectured in Costa Rica, Panama and many cities across the U.S. on legislative affairs, and sanctuary standards in Universities, Law Colleges, and in numerous animal association conferences. Her efforts, combined with many others of like mind, have resulted in the 2003 passage of the Captive Wild Animal Safety Act which made it illegal to sell a big cat across state lines as a pet, the 2009 requirement that those in Florida who possess Class I animals must post a $10,000 bond and the reclassification of a cougar to Class I, making it illegal to own as a pet in FL.
As part of the Big Cat Coalition she has worked with The International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Humane Society of the United States, Born Free, the World Wildlife Fund, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Wild Cat Conservation Legal Aid Society, World Council for Animal Rights, the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, Ian Somerhalder Foundation, and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Together they represent more than 18 million supporters.
The coalition formed in 2011 and decided on a three prong approach to ending the abuse of tigers including; Closing the generic tiger loophole at the USFWS, Asking USDA to close the 4 week window of cub petting and a federal bill that ends the breeding and trade in big cats outside of AZA zoos. By 2013 the USFWS and the USDA had put the group’s suggestions on the Federal Register for public comment and had received nearly 30,000 comments in support. The Big Cat Public Safety Act, a federal bill to stop public handling of big cats and their cubs and ending the private possession of big cats is gaining momentum and is poised for passage.
Carole Baskin’s mission is to end the trade in exotic cats and thus put herself out of business.
Carole Baskin is the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, the world’s largest accredited rescue facility for exotic cats. She and her family volunteer for Big Cat Rescue as unpaid staff and have 100+ volunteers and a dozen interns from around the world. She has run this Tampa based non profit since 1992 and you may have seen Big Cat Rescue on CNN, Animal Planet, Discovery, People Magazine, The Today Show, Sports Illustrated, all of the local media outlets and many more national and international programs. She has been asked to provide lectures in Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, and Australia, as well as countless cities across the U.S. She has lectured on cage construction, legislative affairs, and sanctuary standards in Universities, Law Colleges, and in numerous animal association conferences.
She has successfully rehabbed and released a number of bobcats and other native animals. Big Cat Rescue is accredited by The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and Carole Baskin served as a past President of, The Association of Sanctuaries (a national accrediting body that later folded into GFAS and is to sanctuaries what the American Zoological Association is to zoos.
She previously served on the board of the Humane USA PAC and had been the legislative liaison to the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, and was responsible for representing The Association of Sanctuaries at their meetings. She supplies CWAPC with all of the current data on exotic cat issues, including the numbers being displaced, the maulings, escapes and killings of both the public and the cats involved. She scans the media daily for news regarding exotic cats and reports to some 300 people of three different groups with the daily headlines.
In 2005 she was appointed by Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair as a member of the Animal Advisory Committee to assist Animal Services in their service to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and was unanimously elected as Chairperson the following year. Big Cat Rescue is a member of the International Tiger Coalition, Florida Association of the Restoration of Ethics, a member of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, The Tampabay Visitors and Convention Bureau, and many other animal welfare groups.
Big Cat Rescue assists other accredited sanctuaries by helping them build cages, train their volunteers and they lend their people and resources to help them recover from natural and man made disasters. Big Cat Rescue is licensed by and in good standing with FWC, USFWS, USDA and is registered with the state of Florida as a charity.
Big Cat Rescue’s founder, Carole Baskin, with members of the Humane USA’s staff and board of directors.
Big Cat Rescue offers Field Trips for schools and Group Tours for community groups (that may include children) and homeschool groups.
One hour walking tour.
For non-school groups (this includes homeschool groups).
Minimum of 10, maximum of 60 people on one day.
No minimum age.
Must arrive 30 minutes prior to tour.
No group tours on weekends.
Kids under 18 yrs old $19
M, T, W, & F Anytime between 10am and 1:30pm
Group tours are scheduled on weekdays only. Groups who are interested in weekend tours may purchase tickets to any of our regular weekend tours through our Zerve booking system. Standard pricing and policies apply.
Zerve does not book group tours or field trips. You must reserve them through the Jennifer Leon the Director of Outreach at 813-393-6066 or email@example.com
The benefits of scheduling a group tour is that you have the tour guide to yourselves and are not sharing the tour with people you don’t know. Our regular Day Tours are typically 20 people and do not allow children under the age of 10, except on Kids Tours.
A few years ago Vernon Stairs was using the weed whacker back in the heavy brush behind Cameron the Lion and Zabu the White Tiger’s cage when he accidentally stepped into a fallen bee’s nest. The hundreds of stings he endured would have killed most people and certainly would have killed our cats. You can imagine our trepidation when we discovered three HUGE hives on the sanctuary grounds!
We were really torn between wanting to insure the safety of our cats and our workers and being aware of the fact that honeybees are dying off at an alarming rate, due primarily to the use of pesticides.
According to Einstein, if the bee disappears then man only has four years left to live.
Barbara Stairs got busy (dare I say, like a bee?) to find someone who could rescue and relocate the bees. She followed a lot of leads that led no where before being funneled through the University of South Florida and out to some previous students who just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE BEES!
Bryan and Erica started a honey bee rescue and honey product Facebook group called Urban Buzz. They are just getting started, but have a lot of knowledge about bees and a strong desire to preserve the important role they serve in nature. You can see how expertly they relocated the bees from our trees to their hives in the video below: