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




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.


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.”


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:

 See More About JoJo:

JoJo the Caravel is up on his platform in this Wildcat Walkabout Video on May 1, 2014 –

Get the Meet JoJo iBook in iTunes

Meet another Caravel at the Wildcat Sanctuary






LaWanna Mitchell

LaWanna Mitchell

LaWanna Mitchell


LaWanna MitchellI 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 a turning point in life can be pinpointed, that trip was exactly that for me.  My life changed forever right then and there.

After visiting Big Cat Rescue it was quite clear to me that this place was it unlike any other animal facility.  I had finally finally found the animal place I wanted to devote my life to thus no longer needed to travel around looking for my place in life.  More trips to take photos of the cats at Big Cat Rescue followed in 2005 & 2006.   During those visits I became completely hooked for life.  For me, building web site goodies for Big Cat Rescue is like breathing itself.  If I couldn’t be a part of Big Cat Rescue and part of working toward the goals of their mission, I think my breath would actually stop.  I LOVE Big Cat Rescue with my whole heart and my whole being and firmly believe in their mission and goals.

Now, I take great delight in spending my days using those photos to create goodies for their newest website  I really enjoy doing tabling events and doing little classroom presentations on saving endangered species by saving their wild habitats.  Big Cat Rescue participates in many habitat preservation projects and getting to share those with kids whose minds and hearts are open and full of wonder for wild animals is a truly joyous thing.  Currently, there are three passions that rage like wild fires in my heart and working with Big cat Rescue allows me to help make a difference in these three areas.  #1 Raising awareness for the need for new laws to keep big cats out of backyards and roadside ‘wannabe’ zoos #2 Raising awareness for saving wild habitats and last but not certainly not least #3 Educating the public on the real truth about white tigers.

Working with Big Cat Rescue is the highlight, the joy, and the purpose of my life.  Not to go without mention, working with Big Cat Rescue is the greatest privilege I could ever have imagined receiving in my life.  To sum it up, I live and breath Big Cat Rescue and our mission and count it a privilege to do so.  I can’t give money, so I give what I can, which it my time and devotion.

Meet the Big Cat Rescue Team. See a typical day at the sanctuary.

Lauren Buckingham

Lauren Buckingham

Director of Research

Lauren Buckingham

Lauren BuckinghamLauren arrived from the UK in march 2013 as an intern.

On completion of her level 5 and after clocking over 4,000 intern hours, Lauren was hired as Big Cat Rescues research director and started in October 2015.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behavior & Wildlife Biology and experience working with an array of different species.

Lauren is responsible for identifying and managing research and conservation collaborations, finding new areas Big Cat Rescue can help fund or provide assistance too.

She also assists with Big Cat Rescues call to action, getting guests to call their legislators in support of the Big Cat Public Safety Act.

Lauren came to BCR with a passion for all animals and since learning about their plight aims to educate others on the current status of big cats and joining the fight to end the trade.


Spay N Play

Spay N Play

Spay N Play


Spay and Play Flier that you can share in your animal shelter, rescue booth or veterinary clinic.  Download Front and Back.


In an ongoing effort to promote responsibility and to stop suffering, Big Cat Rescue is pleased to present our international Spay and Play program.  Bring us an original receipt, from your vet, showing that you spayed or neutered a pet, or a receipt from an animal shelter showing that you adopted a spayed or neutered pet, within the past year,  and get a FREE PASS for our day tour.  That is a $36.00 value!  If you are the kind of person who cares enough to protect your pet, or feral cats, from over population and all the horrors that go with it, then you are the kind of people that we want to meet.  See Day Tours for times and tell the Ticket agent you have a Free Pass to redeem.  So fix a pet and bring us proof (the receipt, not the cat) and we will give you a tour that you will be talking about for years.

Think you want to have just one litter first?  Think again:

From just allowing one litter of four, you are responsible for a minimum of 52 more cats in just 14 months!   There is no safe place for all these cats to go.  Tens of thousands are killed every year.  Be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Spay or Neuter your pet, and then come “Play” with some of our big cats.

If you are a Veterinarian, a shelter employee or a pet rescue organization you can print out the posters below that lets your clients know that their receipt for spaying or neutering OR adopting a pet that was spayed or neutered gets them in to see our big cats for free. The receipt should be dated within the last year. That is all they have to bring.

The No More Homeless Pets coalition is a movement that is sweeping the nation.  In almost every place in the country you can find rescue groups working together now to end euthanasia of healthy dogs and cats in shelters by promoting low cost and free spaying and neutering projects.  Visit No More Homeless Pets of Hillsborough County to see if you qualify for free or low cost altering of your pet. If you are not a resident of Hillsborough County, FL then try asking your local Animal Control if they have a low income voucher program or if they can recommend a low cost clinic.


Low Cost Spay & Neuter for Those Qualified


The No More Homeless Pets coalition is a movement that is sweeping the nation.  In almost every place in the country you can find rescue groups working together now to end the killing of healthy dogs and cats in shelters by promoting low cost and free spaying and neutering projects.

Visit Hillsborough County Animal Services to see if you qualify for low cost altering of your pet. If you are not a resident of Hillsborough County, FL then try asking your local Animal Control if they have a low income voucher program or if they can recommend a low cost clinic.

Find out your Animal Shelter’s policies and ask if they are involved with No More Homeless Pets in an attempt to end the killing of healthy dogs and cats.


“Come quick, come quick,” their mother said,
“The time is getting near.”
She feels that when the kittens come,
The children should be here.

She told them that a big orange Tom
Took “Kitty” as his wife.
“It’s wonderful, a gift from God,
The miracle of life.”

At half a year young “Kitty”
Feels too painful and too scared
To appreciate six miracles,
Blind-eyed and yellow haired.

But she knows these lives depend on her
And nature tells her how.
And as she cleans them, children ask,
“Mom, can we go now?”

But now and then for six more weeks
The children visit her to play
With six new magic toys
Made of life and fur.

The six weeks pass, the newness gone,
And new homes yet unfound,
Mom bundles up six miracles
And takes them to the pound.

Where lovingly, with gentle hands,
And no tears left to cry,
The shelter workers kiss them once,
and take them off to die.

And “Momma Kitty” now she’s called
Mourns her loss and then,
She’s put outside, and of course,
She’s pregnant once again.

Dad tells “Kitty,” “STOP THIS NOW,
Or you wont live here long!
But deep inside of Momma Cat,
This time something’s wrong.

Too young, too small, too often bred,
Now nature’s gone awry,
Momma Kitty feels it too,
And she crawls off to die.

She too is freed from this cruel world,
And from her time of strife.
How harsh the truth, how high the price,
This “Miracle of Life?”

–By Barry Taylor, DVM

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement

Big Cat Rescue Assists Law Enforcement


Big Cat Rescue gets no funding from the government, but often steps in to help government agencies.

When states pass laws to ban the private possession of big cats, they always include a grandfather clause that allows the people who have big cats to keep them, but doesn’t allow them to buy or breed more.  There is usually a requirement that people register their big cats with the state, when such a law is passed, so that the state knows if the person is compliant.

When people refuse to comply with new laws the state will sometimes seize the animals, if they think the public is at risk.  That often results in years of legal battles between the state and the lawbreakers who use wild animals in their money making schemes.

State law enforcement agencies are not equipped to provide years of care to animals that can cost thousands of dollars per year in food and vet care alone.


That’s when they call on Big Cat Rescue.


We will provide the best care and environment the cats have ever known, during the long court cases, and we do it for free.

Sometimes we cannot tell you the name or the horrific stories of abuse that these animals have suffered until after the last appeals court has ruled in favor of the state.

For the protection of the cats, from the criminals who would often, rather see them dead than living the good life at Big Cat Rescue, we must ask that you not take photos, videos or talk about some specific animals if your tour guide indicates that they are in the Big Cat Witness Protection Program.


What About Kenny Hetrick / Tiger Ridge Cats?


The news posted this story about the Kenny Hetrick / Tiger Ridge Cats being sent to sanctuaries pending the conclusion of the State of Ohio’s lawsuit against the owner for refusal to comply with state law.

The “cat is out of the bag” and everyone knows the three tigers and one leopard are living at Big Cat Rescue due to the court filings by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Our contract with law enforcement usually prohibits us from talking about the cats in specifics, or posting any photos or videos of them during the litigation.

If you want to know what kind of life the cats have while here, check out our protocols at or watch our hundreds of videos at and


What we can tell you is:

Big Cat Rescue is happy to welcome the black leopard named Shadow, and the three tigers, named Jessica, Emily and Lily to the sunshine state during the term of the court battle between the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Kenny Hetrick. All of the cats made the trip from Ohio to Florida without incident and have quickly settled into their new daily routine.

Now they walk on soft earth, roll in the grass, perch up on platforms that overlook our 18 acre lake, lounge in their spring fed pools or can lazily gaze out over their new habitats from the security of their hillside dens.

Their daily routine consists of the best carnivore diet money can buy, attentive care by expertly trained staff, playing with balls, tearing up enrichment, watching the ducks on the lake and “talking” to their new cat neighbors nearby.

This video shows you a little about the enclosures where they are kept, without including any actual photos or videos of these specific cats.