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Chuck Stairs

Chuck Stairs CAGE BUILDER Chuck has volunteered with Big Cat Rescue from its very beginning and began helping with the lawn maintenance of the sanctuary and the properties that support the sanctuary. He helps Vern build the cages and can always be seen singing and smiling. He retired from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office in 2015. He had been with the Sheriff's Office for 25 years, and has worked in the jail, on patrol in a zone, and for the last 7 years as an Accident Investigator. He worked the midnight shift for at least 10 years, Read More

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Barbara Stairs

BARBARA STAIRS RECORDS MANAGER Barbara Stairs has been a volunteer of Big Cat Rescue since 1997 when she took over the record keeping for the sanctuary.  She handles all of the banking and credit card reconciliation and manages all of the rental properties that provide income for the cats. Barbara met Vernon at WEDU in Tampa in 1959, where she was a secretary and he was a camera man.  She asked him out first to a Sadie Hawkin's Day picnic at her church.  They married in 1960.  Carole was born to them in 1960 and Chuck was born to Read More

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Jarred Smalley

Jarred Smalley GROUNDS KEEPER Jarred has been a volunteer at Big Cat Rescue for many years and has earned his Green Level status.  He was hired in 2014 to help with the grounds maintenance as we expanded and had a LOT more grass to mow. If you hear a lawn mower, a weed whacker or a chainsaw in the background at Big Cat Rescue, it is probably Jarred. Meet the Big Cat Rescue Team. See a typical day at the sanctuary. Read More

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Katie Nikic

Katie Nikic DATA DIVA Katie Nikic formerly worked for the Hillsborough County Sheriff but after marrying she wanted a job that had more flexible hours so that she could care for her family.  Katie helps Barbara Stairs manage the real estate holdings for the sanctuary as well as a number of other record keeping duties. Katie is also responsible for the database management in Raiser's Edge to insure that we are able to stay in contact with our supporters and fans and not waste money on mail that can't be delivered. Katie's signature line Read More

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LaWanna Mitchell

LaWanna Mitchell WEBMISTRESS I had spent a couple years traveling various zoos and learning how to make web sites and website goodies, just looking for a way to make a difference for animals;  tumbling around trying to find my 'place in the sun', my purpose in life.  then in July 2004 I found Big Cat Rescue's web site and offered to make games for them.  Carole sent me some photos and the fun began. That progressed into being blessed with getting actually visit Big Cat Rescue for eight heavenly days taking photos in September 2004.  If Read More

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Karma Hurworth

Karma Hurworth REGISTRAR Karma started out as an Intern but began working part time as staff in 2015. Two days a week she helps manage the Gift Shop and one day a week is devoted to keeping all of our cats' records updated in ZIMS. She is also the Kitten Monitor to ensure our Foster Kittens are growing and thriving. Meet the Big Cat Rescue Team. See a typical day at the sanctuary. Read More

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Jennifer Leon

JENNIFER LEON DIRECTOR OF OUTREACH Jennifer manages the Education and Legislation Departments, which seek to raise awareness about the plight of captive big cats through community outreach, advocacy, and research. She has two undergraduate degrees and her MPA from the University of South Florida with a focus in public policy. Over the past decade Jennifer has volunteered for local and national animal welfare organizations including various Tampa Bay area rescue groups, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, Read More

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Jeff Kremer

JEFF KREMER DIRECTOR OF DONOR APPRECIATION Jeff Kremer is the Director of Donor Appreciation with Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, the world's largest accredited rescue facility for exotic cats. Jeff was born and raised in the Tampa Bay area. After spending 21 years working for Honeywell Space Systems in Clearwater, Jeff chose to embark upon a career that focused on his life-long interest in the field of animal welfare. Big Cat Rescue is accredited by The Global Federation of Sanctuaries (a national accrediting body that is to sanctuaries what the Read More

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Gale Ingham

GALE INGHAM OPERATIONS MANAGER Gale worked her way up to Senior Keeper twice.  The first time around she ended up as Den Mother to our interns, but family issues required her to move away for a while.  When she returned, she started over again and quickly worked her way back up to Senior Keeper. Gale is a By-The-Book kind of person and Big Cat Rescue has a LOT of rules on its books that keep our cats well cared for and our people safe.  When our Operations Manager, Scott Lope decided to resign in order to pursue his film career Gale was Read More

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Chelsea Feeny

CHELSEA FEENY PROJECT MANAGER   Chelsea Feeny first arrived at Big Cat Rescue in early 2009 as an intern. Before the completing of her internship she was hired as Project Manager. She currently is responsible for database management, donations processing and acknowledgement, and Intern intake/screening. This is no small feat with a support fan base of more than 80,000 people. She aims to share her passion and excitement for this magnificent sanctuary with all of the guests, donors, and volunteers that help to make Big Cat Rescue Read More