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.
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.
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.
Male DOB 1/1/03
Caravel (Caracal / Serval Hybrid)
Meet Jo Jo the Caracal Serval Hybrid
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He really likes the grass. Are you hearing the Beetles lyric, “JoJo left his home in Homestead-Miami looking for some Florida grass?”
Mickey Cougar’s story is so long and heartbreaking that it will be hard to tell in just a few minutes. (Watch his rescue video to find out the whole story.)
Animal House, in Moulton, AL, was a backyard zoo that operated with a USDA license up until 2006 when it was revoked. At the time Alabama had no laws to regulate the private possession of wild animals, so once USDA washed their hands of the mess, there was virtually no government oversight of the facility. Former volunteers say the owner had no other source of income than her social security check and that she had contracted with the county to become their dog pound.
In 2013 conditions there were reported to be so grim that the county revoked her contract and rescue groups went in to save the dogs and cats housed at Animal House. One of the rescuers video taped a leopard who had been injured by a Doberman, two years prior, and sent the photos and video to Big Cat Rescue asking for help.
We were told that the owner had been feeding the dogs and cats there to her wild animals and that the Doberman had fought back. Her family said the dog had just been in an adjacent cage and the leopard reached through. Regardless of whether it was malice or neglect, the leopard’s leg had bones sticking out and festering tissue exposed. Big Cat Rescue tried, unsuccessfully, for months, to get USDA, the USFWS, the State of Alabama and the local Sheriff to either confiscate the leopard or get her medical attention. When they failed to help the cat we appealed to the media, who said there wasn’t a story if they couldn’t get permission to go film the cat themselves, which the owner was NOT going to allow.
The leopard died and had probably suffered unimaginable agony for two years or more until her wounds killed her.
We never gave up and 2014 began negotiations with the owner, her family members and the state department of natural resources to rescue the cats who still were being kept there. When we saw the condition Mickey Cougar was in, we didn’t know if he would make it at all.
Both of his back knees suffered from torn ligaments so that when he walked the bones on top would just roll and slip off the bottom bones. It was painful to even look at him. Despite the fact that he was grossly underweight and had almost no muscle mass we had to make the difficult decision to sedate him to evaluate the damage and then again to try and repair it.
Dr. Hay, an orthopedic specialist, did the surgery, using something like a synthetic ligament mesh, to mend back his first leg. Dr. Wynn used a new technique of spinning the patient’s own blood and harvesting platelet rich plasma, to quicken healing, which was injected into the other knee. We had to reduce the size of Mickey’s cage, so he takes it easy while he is healing. We will probably have to go back and do surgery on the injected knee once the first one has healed.
Meanwhile Mickey seems to have a strong will to live and we are going to give him every chance possible at a happy life.
Update Feb 22, 2016
Mickey Update Oct. 15, 2014
I can’t even look at Mickey without tearing up because he is at once, both so pitiful and yet so determined to overcome. We knew it would cost a lot to try and fix him.
For the past week or so, Mickey has been getting rehab treatments, to encourage him to use the leg and build up some muscle. It is Mickey’s nature to have two speeds: Laying around and full out running for the dinner plate. The twice a day rehab work gives him food treat rewards for walking slowing and deliberately.
We can see a pronounced improvement in the leg that was repaired, as he can keep the knee in place much better, but because of his lack of strength, from nearly starving to death in Alabama, and having no muscle, he trips over his back feet.
We film some of these sessions so the vet can see his progress and have shared some of them online, but it hurts to watch.
Dr. Hay visited the sanctuary recently, to see the rehab session himself. He said at Mickey’s current pace he thinks the surgically repaired knee should be strong enough that he can operate on the other side in 3 to 6 months.
Every day it is touch and go with Mickey because he needs to let the repair heal fully, and thus distribute his weight to the repaired leg and the one that still slides all over the place. Too much reliance on the repaired leg and it could damage the work done and never heal right and too much reliance on the broken knee, and his muscles on the other side will continue to atrophy.
Everything has its side effects, so even the pain meds have to be very carefully monitored, as too much can make him nauseous or cause him to sleep all the time and too little can make him not want to move at all.
Whenever there are cats in need of rescue, we always offer to take the oldest, sickest or most impaired because our sanctuary is unique in its ability to provide the best veterinary and supportive care. We have 2 vets that have been with us for about a decade each. They visit twice a week and provide all of the house calls for free.
We have specialists in orthopedics, eyes, cancer and teeth who dramatically discount their work because they love the big cats. We have 14 paid staff, who do administrative work and manage our 80-100 volunteers who put in the collective hours of 40 more paid staff. By spending the time and money to train expert volunteers, our donors’ money can go directly to the cats.
The reason we can provide such excellent care is because people like you care. It is your donations that keep the food coming every night, the medications on time, the emergency care and the ability to take in other cats like Mickey, who wouldn’t have a chance anywhere else.
Mickey Cougar Update March 6, 2015
Mickey Cougar was rescued in 2014. He was in such bad shape that we weren’t sure if we should try to fix everything that was wrong with him, or put him out of his misery. This video does not seem to have ever been posted, as it was 40 minutes long and 6GB in size. It’s been cut down to 12 minutes and shows the horrible decisions we often have to make.
Check out our main YouTube channel at BigCatTV.com and our website at BigCatRescue.org
Every Wednesday night at around 6PM our wonderful volunteers come in and make enrichment for the cats. Sometimes we do live events, where we will answer your questions, or let you make suggestions to them on what to make for the cats, but most of the time it is just a one way window. We use Facebook for the two way interaction, when there is someone who can manage it.
Big cats and other animals do not belong in circuses. Circus life is inherently cruel for two key reasons:
The animals spend the vast majority of their time confined in tiny boxes while being transported from city to city.
Trainers claim they only use positive reinforcement, but that is not true. Cats are independent and while they quickly learn the behaviors, they simply will not perform reliably based on positive reinforcement, or what is known as operant conditioning. They will perform only if they feel like it. The ONLY way to get them to perform reliably is by training them with physical punishment, which is a form of abuse.
Social values evolve over time. We forget that it was only 100 years ago that a small band of suffragettes seeking the vote for women were mocked, beaten and thrown in jail by a society that broadly accepted the idea that only men should vote. Similarly, fifty years ago almost no one thought about what life was like for circus animals. The circus was viewed then, and still is by some, as part of the American identity.
But, in the last two decades that has changed dramatically. Country after country has banned using big cats and other animals in circuses. Sadly, nationally the U.S. is woefully behind at the national level, with the one large circus employing an army of lobbyists to resist efforts to correct this injustice. But, at the local level, there has been enormous progress in the United States. Over 50 local governments have passed ordinances or laws banning use of animals in circuses or limiting the abusive ways they are treated.
Bull hook bans are a great example. A bull hook is a medieval looking pole with a metal point and hook at the end. Do you know why the ban works? Because young elephants are beaten with the bull hook so they fear it as adults. If circus trainers cannot carry a bull hook into the ring, they have no way to control the elephants. The result? Ringling is stopping use of elephants in their circus. They should also stop using big cats.
We are seeing the evolution of our society’s concern for animal treatment affect other major animal exhibitors. The movie Blackfish resulted in major changes at Sea World.
Below are videos that give you a more vivid view of the history and issues related to the circus. Below them are lists of countries and US jurisdictions that have responded to the growing public outrage over cruel use of animals in the circus.
What can you do to help?
Sign the pledge committing not to attend a circus that uses animals by clicking the image below and spread the word on social media asking others to do so. If enough people stop attending, the circus will become unprofitable and will stop using animals, much like lower attendance caused Sea World to change.
Austria: Nationwide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. Belgium: Nationwide ban on the use of most wild animals in circuses (Parrots and camel are classed as domestic) Bosnia and Herzegovina: Nationwide ban on all animals in circuses Croatia: Nationwide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. Czech Republic: Nationwide ban on the use of certain species in circuses. Cyprus: Nationwide ban on all animals in circuses Denmark: Nationwide ban on the use of certain species in circuses. Estonia: Nationwide ban on the use of wild-born animals in circuses. Finland: Nationwide ban on the use of certain species in circuses. Greece: Nationwide ban on all animals in circuses Hungary: Nationwide ban on the use of wild caught animals in circuses, the purchase and training of elephants and primates for circus performances and the purchase, training and use of CITES (Appendix 1) listed species in circuses. Ireland: Local bans on the use of animals in circuses in Clonakilty, Cork, Drogheda, Fingal, Galway City, Kildare, Monaghan, Moyle, South Dublin and Waterford Malta:Nationwide ban on all animals for performances, exhibitions, shows or training for the circus The Netherlands Nationwide ban on the use and transport of animals in circuses, with exemptions for certain, mostly domestic, species Norway Local ban on wild or exotic animal shows in Tromsø municipality Poland: Nationwide ban on the use of wild-born animals in circuses. Portugal: Nationwide ban restricting the use of great apes in circuses and the acquisition and breeding of CITES listed species. Slovenia: Nationwide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses Spain: Local bans on the use of wild animals in circuses in several towns including Barcelona. Sweden: Nationwide ban on the use of certain species in circuses. UK: Over 200 local authorities have bans on animal circuses (more than two thirds of these ban all performing animals, the remainder ban just wild animals). A Government commitment to ban the use of wild animals in circuses – this is yet to be enacted.
USA: 46 partial or full bans on circus animals in municipalities in the US, in 21 states. Canada: Local bans on the use of animals in circuses in 28 municipal jurisdictions.
CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA
Argentina: Local bans on the use of wild animals in circuses in over 20 cities including a ban in the city of Buenos Aires. Bolivia: Nationwide ban on the use of wild and domestic animals in circuses. Brazil: Local bans on the use of wild and domestic animals in circuses in the districts of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Pernambuco, Paraiba, Rio Grande do Sul, Espiritu Santo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Alagoas and a number of bans in cities within another four Brazilian states. Chile: Local bans on the use of wild and domestic animals in circuses in the city of Santiago. Colombia: Nationwide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses; Local ban on the use of animals in circuses in the capital, Bogota. Costa Rica: Nationwide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. Ecuador: Nationwide ban on the use of native wild animals; restrictions on the use of exotic animals; ban on the import of both native and exotic wild animals with circuses El Salvador: Nationwide ban on the “Income, use or abuse of wildlife species in all kinds of entertainment” Mexico:Nationwide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses Panama:Nationwide ban prohibiting “entry of wild animals for use in static and travelling circuses and similar shows” Paraguay: Nationwide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. Peru: Nationwide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses as well as a local ban on all animals in Magdalena del Mar.
Australia: Local bans on the use of animals in circuses in several towns including Hobsons Bay, Surf Coast Shire, Parramata and Lismore.
India: Nationwide ban on the use of certain species in circuses. Israel: Nationwide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. Singapore: Nationwide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. Taiwan: Nationwide prohibition on the import or export of protected wildlife for circuses.
Our thanks to Animal Defenders International (ADI) for the list below of U.S. jurisdictions passing some form of ban
Typeof Prohibition, Restriction orUseof Animals
AK, Eureka Springs
Says Ban. Is that Display?
CA, Huntington Beach
CA, Los Angeles
Tools designed for inflicting pain
CA, Marin County
Keeping; bullhooks & other implements as of 2017
Bullhooks & other implements as of 2017
CA, Rohnert Park
CA, San Francisco
Display (says Complete Ban)
CA, Santa Ana
CA, Santa Monica
CA, West Hollywood
Ban deprivation, electricity, some punishment, some instruments
FL, Hallandale Beach
Bullhooks & other implements
Displays or exhibits
Painful techniques and devices
FL, Miami Beach
FL, Palm Beach
FL, Pompano Beach
All except educational. Ban on painful techniques/ devices
Use of substances and devices in exhibits & performances
Keeping, confinement, display
Bans certain mistreatment
GA, Fulton County
Painful instrument or device
HI, Maui County
ID, Blaine County
Train to participate in unnatural behavior
IN, Fort Wayne
Painful substances and devices
IN, St John
Unnatural behavior & substances/devices causing injury or suffering
KS, Douglas County
Ownership or possession barred in certain areas
NC, Orange County
NC, Chapel Hill
Use of electric prods
OR, Clatsop County
SC, Aiken County
Painful substances and devices
Possession (different from keeping?)
WA, Port Townsend
WI, Dane County
Full ban (not sure what comments about “one circus only” mean)
In celebration of International Tiger Day 2016, Big Cat Rescue and Clemson University Tigers for Tigers are teaming up in a fundraising effort to protect tigers in the wild. Clemson University Tigers for Tigers (t4tclemson.org) is a student-led group dedicated to preserving their mascot through education, research, and service learning on local and global levels. For International Tiger Day onJuly 29th, Big Cat Rescue and Clemson T4T have designed PURR-fect t-shirts, which are available for purchase via SunFrog. 100% of t-shirt revenue will be donated to the International Tiger (ITP). Big Cat Rescue is matching the profits for all t-shirts sold up to $3,000, check out the t-shirts here:
The International Tiger Project (ITP) is a not-for-profit project supporting Sumatran tiger conservation, rainforest protection, and local community partnerships. With less than 3,200 tigers left in the wild, projects such as this are essential for their continued existence. In the past century, we have lost 97% of tigers in the wild predominantly due to poaching and habitat loss. This loss has created a dire need for increased monitoring and conservation efforts of tiger species and the areas they inhabit. One major strategy employed by ITP to combat these issues is the use of camera traps to monitor tigers. The location of their work is the Bukit Tigapuluh Reserve, which has been identified as one of the priority landscapes for long-term tiger conservation in Sumatra. A Wildlife Protection Unit (WPU), initiated by ITP, adds additional protection for the tigers with an on-the-ground patrol that works with local communities to see that both tigers and humans remain safe and live in harmony. The WPU also provides employment opportunities for the community, thereby increasing the profile of the Sumatran tiger and its importance in the area.
In May 2016 Big Cat Rescue donated to Felidae Conservation Fund in support of a project they are carrying out on the Jaguarundi. The Jaguarundi species distribution in the borderlands of Northern Mexico, Southern Texas and Southern Arizona is currently unknown and there is a debate regarding recent unconfirmed observations and sightings. The last confirmed sighting in the United States was in April 1986 of a road-killed Jaguarundi. This research project will examine Jaguarundi distribution in the US-Mexico Borderlands (National Park Service lands), with the objective to address the gap in information of Jaguarundi presence. The project will examine habitat use in relation to competition with other felid species and habitat loss resulting from human conversion to mixed-use landscapes. The Project will utilize remote camera technology to yield a thorough evaluation of the species’ distribution in the US-Mexico Borderlands to answer the unresolved question of the presence or absence in this area. The project will also utilize Global Positioning System (GPS) collars to determine home range size and habitat use by individuals.
Fishing Cats in Sri Lanka
In June 2016 Big Cat Rescue donated towards an ongoing in situ project by the Fishing Cat Working Group in support of a project in Sri Lanka. The conservation status of fishing cats according to the IUCN Red List Category & criteria is Endangered. Despite being an endangered species, fishing cats in Sri Lanka, and in most parts of Asia, are a poorly studied species. In Sri Lanka they are most commonly seen inhabiting marshes and other wetlands, including in urban areas. However, with rapid urban development taking place, these wetlands are being filled. Therefore, it is now crucial to understand the ecology and behavior of fishing cats in these urban wetlands, and integrate the conservation of these wetland habitats into urban development plans, as green areas.
In 2006, a pilot study was conducted to confirm and establish the presence of fishing cats in Colombo’s urban wetlands. The study was conducted over a year, during which fishing cats were caught on camera, in several of these wetlands. However, the study had to be concluded due to security issues in Colombo and suburbs, as this was during the last stages of the country’s civil war. In 2013, four years after the war ended, Colombo saw rapid development and many of the urban wetlands were cleared or filled with complete disregard for the importance of these habitats, and their biodiversity. It was therefore decided to reconfirm the presence of cats in the wetlands, and understand if the cats still reside within these wetlands or if they had been pushed out of these habitats due to development practices. You can read more about the project here: http://www.fishing-cat.wild-cat.org
Pallas Cats in Russia
Big Cat Rescue donated towards an ongoing in situ research project, The Pallas Cat Study and Conservation Program, that started in 2004 in order to collect data pertaining to the true conservation status of the species. The Pallas Cat is one of the least studied wild cats in the world despite having a large habitat ranging across Russia, Mongolia and North-Western China. The habitat of this species has been decreasing over the years, meaning species numbers have dramatically declined. Biology of the species and its adaptations to different landscapes have never been studied adequately, meaning data is lacking on the current spatial distribution, migratory patterns and habitat preference.
The project started initially with interview surveys and snow-tracking research in all the main regions of Russia where the species resides. Since 2009 they have also studied Pallas cats in Kazakhstan, with the north-east region proving to be the most important habitat for the cats, as this is where the majority of the data was obtained. Since 2013, the project has moved its focus to study factors influencing Pallas Cat distribution, clarification of actual and potential threats to the species, population density estimations, pilot studies of Pallas Cat Biology and public awareness. Techniques such as GPS tracking, GIS databases, on foot tracking and the involvement of locals has contributed to the progress thus far for the data collected. Read more about their work here: http://www.savemanul.org/eng/
Tanzania Lion Illumination Project
Human-animal conflict is an ever growing problem especially in ares where the habitats of humans and animals overlap. With human populations increasing, there is more pressure on wildlife to survive due to habitat loss, and livestock Bomas provide an easy meal for many predators. When predators kill the livestock, the locals retaliate by killing the predators and thus it means, in countries like Tanzania, Kenya and Nairobi, where human-animal conflict is prevalent, lion and leopard populations are dramatically declining.
Big Cat Rescue donated to the Tanzania Lion Illumination Project to aid in a solution for this ever growing problem. The Tanzania Lion Illumination Project is a small, non-profit organization that works out in Tanzania installing “Lion Lights” on to livestock Bomas in areas where they are needed, to help rural communities protect their livestock and reduce retaliatory killings. “Lion lights” are a simple and effective method that involved the installation of LED lights around the tops of livestock bomas. The flashing LED lights are solar powered and help to repel predators, by disorientating them and causing them to flee. To date the Tanzania Lion Illumination Project has installed lights on more than 70 Bomas and the result has shown a dramatic decrease in both livestock loss and retaliatory predator killings.
The Tanzania Lion Illumination Project not only funds the light systems but also trains local people and the native tribes in the installation and upkeep. By doing this they hope to be able to educate them and raise awareness about living in peace with the animals. Read more about their work here: http://www.tanzlight.org/home.html
The Corbett Foundation
Big Cat Rescue donated $5,000 to The Corbett Foundation, a charitable, non-profit and non-governmental organization solely committed to the conservation of wildlife. They work towards a harmonious coexistence between human beings and wildlife across some of the most important wildlife habitats in India, namely Corbett Tiger Reserve, Kanha and Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserves, Kaziranga Tiger Reserve and around the Greater Rann of Kutch.
Local Communities and wildlife share natural ecosystems and this often raises conflict, so the health and wellbeing of these communities are often directly linked to their willingness to participate in wildlife conservation efforts. The Corbett foundation has implemented its programs in over 400 villages in the last decade. One specific area the Corbett foundation is working on is the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.
Open farm wells, dug by villagers, in the buffer zone of the Reserve, are proving to be a deathtrap for wild animals, with several cases having been reported of animals, including tigers and leopards, drowning by accidentally falling into the open wells. Currently around 2500 of these open farm wells exist, many in the core zone of the Tiger Reserve. The Corbett Foundation with the support of Exodus Travels Ltd UK, has initiated a project to install chain-link fencing around such open farm wells to prevent any further accidental drowning. More here: Big Cat Fences
In the first phase of the project, 200 fences have already been built around wells closest to the core of the reserve. The cost of one fence is 7500 Indian Rupees so approximately $111, meaning from the $5000 donated, between 40-45 fences can be built. You can read more about the other great work done by Corbett Foundation here: http://www.corbettfoundation.org/what-we-do.php#wildlife-conservation
The Urban Caracal Project
In February 2016, BCR donated funds to assist the Urban Caracal Project. The Cape Peninsula is a biodiversity hotspot that has lost almost all of its large mammals such as cape lions, leopards and brown hyenas. Caracals as a result may play a major role in maintaining the ecosystem as they are the largest remaining predator in the area.
The Urban Caracal Project, fronted by Dr Laurel Seyries and the Cape Leopard Trust, is a project that aims to establish baseline information about the caracal population in the Cape Peninsula: population size, health of individuals, and the distribution of caracals across the Peninsula. In addition they want to evaluate the effects of urbanization on the behavior, movement patterns, diet, and genetic health of caracals and assess threats to survival of caracals in the Peninsula and potentially beyond to other parts of South Africa. This study is an essential tool to understand how urbanization may be threatening wildlife in other parts of the world affected by similar factors. Read more about the Urban Caracal Project: http://www.urbancaracal.org/about/
See Caracals Living Free
The Black Footed Cat Working Group
In March 2016 BCR donated funds to assist the Black Footed Cat Working Group, with one of the longest running small cat projects that has been in process for over 23 years, conserving the Black Footed Cat population in South Africa. More than 60 cats have been caught and collared over 100 times and what is known today about the species has been found during this field study. The study collects data on the ecology of the species, like home range sizes, home range usage, social organisation, food habits but also mortality, longevity, dispersal and reproduction of the population.
The Black-footed Cat Working Group was formed to publish and share findings from the project and the group consists of 7 biologists and veterinarians that act as a central information source for the species. Read more about The Black Footed Cat Working Group here: http://www.black-footed-cat.wild-cat.org
Sand Cat in Morocco
Big Cat Rescue donated $1,000 towards the first ever study on the ecology and behavior of Sand cats in Morocco, launched in 2015 by Dr Alex Sliwa and Gregory Breton, scientists from Europe. The researchers aimed to study the cats over several years to collect data, throughout the lives of individuals but also across generations. In an attempt to understand the species better the research aims to look at particular ecological aspects such as activity times, size of home range, territory, social and reproductive behaviors, prey species and different hunting methods. The method of the study is for researchers to actively search for Sand Cats. Once located, the animal are caught and sedated, to be measured and given a health check, then fitted with a radio collar. These animals will then be followed with an receiver and antenna to determine their movements.
2015 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
On Father’s Day (Sunday June 21, 2015) Big Cat Rescue hosted our second annual walkabout to fund conservation efforts.
In 2014 Big Cat Rescue donated $15,000.00 to conservation programs.
$900 to Walk for Lions in Kenya (from our March for Lions event)
$7,000 to Campaign Against Canned Hunting in S. Africa (from our March for Lions event)
$1,000 to Build a Boma via Nat Geo initiative in S. Africa (from our March for Lions event)
$1,100 to Animal Defenders International
$5,000 Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation
1. Saving Lions. March 15th’sMarch for Lions may have just seemed like one heck of a party, but thanks to everyone who came and fundraised for the event, we were able to net $10,000 and we wanted to spend it on ways to help lions outside our gates. The movers and shakers behind the Global March for Lions were Chris and Bev Mercer of CannedLion.org. Any time we need the truth on what is happening in Africa regarding lions, we always turn to Chris and Bev. They have been the leading force against lion hunting and pay to play schemes that pimp out lion cubs, only to sell them into canned hunts as easy targets. They would never ask for help, but this event made it possible for us to contribute $7,000. to their continued efforts to ban lion hunting. Chris said this is the equivalent of a small fortune in his world and that he will put it to good use in protecting lions.
2. We were impressed with Nat Geo’s Cause an Uproar campaign and donated $1,000. to their BuildABoma.org project. This will build two bomas to help protect lions from being killed for harming livestock.
3. We have long been impressed by Animal Defenders International because they are a small organization that has been winning huge victories for animals. What really brought them up on our radar was the amazing work they have done in the past few years to ban circus acts that use wild animals in 40 + countries. If you saw Blackfish and thought, “big cats need a movie like that,” then you have to see Lion Ark. We saw it and were so enamored that we sent $1,100. to help with their efforts to free all big cats from circuses.
4. Before the March for Lions even began we sent the early money we raised, in the amount of $900. to Walking for Lions to be a major sponsor for the cycling event from Kenya to Botswana to raise awareness of the plight of lions. So, thanks to your generosity we are raising awareness, supporting boots on the ground, giving locals a way to live with lions, rescuing lions from circuses and letting everyone know that when you pay to play with a cub, the cub is always the one who pays with his loss of life and liberty.
5. Big Cat Rescue was recruited to offer our expertise, guidance and funding in the expansion of facilities to house jaguars who are rescued from being killed and sent to the Belize Zoo. The zoo does not breed their cats, but cannot release the jaguars either because there are too many in the area and they get in trouble with people.
6. Created 22 Intranet sites, which are sort of a sanctuary-in-a-box site, for other sanctuaries to use. These came complete with every training video, training manual, chart and idea that we use to run Big Cat Rescue. We do this for free for sanctuaries around the world that do not breed, buy, sell, trade nor allow contact w/ wild animals.
2013 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
In 2013 Big Cat Rescue donated $3,883.91 towards four conservation programs in the FL and in other countries on behalf of our volunteers.
$1522.91 to Panthera to save corridors for wild cats to travel safely and outfitting rangers on behalf of our volunteers.
$850.00 to the Snow Leopard Trust to cover the cost of camera traps and snow leopard monitoring.
$500.00 to the Tiger Trust to protect tigers in India by providing better legal assistance and training for game wardens.
1. Big Cat Rescue was recruited to offer our expertise and guidance in the development of a rescue center in Spain that will be broadening their focus from primates to now include big cats. AAP Primadomus is located on more than 400 acres in Villena and currently houses a variety of primates that have been rescued from private ownership, circuses, and laboratories. They are now expanding their focus to also rescue countless lions and tigers that are in need across their country.
In an effort to prepare for this project nearly a dozen experts were invited to a symposium that focused on sharing information regarding the proper care of big cats in captivity, emergency protocol development, and enclosure design. Big Cat Rescue President Jamie Veronica and volunteer veterinarian Justin Boorstein travelled to Spain and joined experts from Italy, South Africa, France, Austria, the Netherlands and all across the United Kingdom.
Over the course of three days the team worked tirelessly to provide as much information as possible to the members of not only AAP Primadomus, but its origin center Stitching AAP. Stitching AAP is a rescue center for apes, monkeys and small exotic animals in the Netherlands that was founded more than 35 years ago.
The symposium was a huge success. Big Cat Rescue will continue to work with AAP remotely throughout the development process. We are so pleased to provide assistance to organizations that are saving big cats across the globe!
See a digital rendition they did from the plans submitted:
2. Created 8 Intranet sites, which are sort of a sanctuary-in-a-box site, for other global sanctuaries to use. These came complete with every training video, training manual, chart and idea that we use to run Big Cat Rescue. We do this for free for sanctuaries that do not breed, buy, sell, trade nor allow contact w/ wild animals.
3. Presented at Tigers 4 Tigers which is a coalition of all colleges that have tiger mascots who are working to save the tiger. It was also the last place for the good friend and world famous and much beloved tiger expert Ron Tilson to make a presentation before his untimely death this year. http://youtu.be/o1ve94nYbP4
2012 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
After delivering a couple of free webinars for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), and hosting their first in person 2 day Workshop in 2011, Patty Finch asked if the board of GFAS could use our facilities for their meeting. We were delighted to meet the members of the board that we had not met before and were proud to show off Big Cat Rescue to all of them. Howard Baskin presented on our fundraising streams and the history of Big Cat Rescue and I shared how we use google Apps and how we manage over 100 top notch volunteers.
2011 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue funded a $5,000 GPS tracking collar program that will be monitored by researchers with the Snow Leopard Trust. Founded in 1981, the Snow Leopard Trust is the world’s leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard. This collar will allow researchers to track a wild snow leopard in order to study its habits and territory needs.
A GPS tracking collar has been placed on one of the cubs of Khashaa, a female and mother snow leopard, within the study area. The cub, a male, is already pretty big at one and a half years old. We find this so exciting because it will help us begin to answer some of the unanswered questions about snow leopards, including information about dispersal patterns.
Big Cat Rescue has been working with WildTracks this year to provide images of our tigers’ paw prints for entry into their computer program which can determine who a cat is by their tracks when there are enough tracks submitted to use for comparison. Learn more and see photos of the print collection at http://bigcatrescue.org/2011/today-at-big-cat-rescue-sept-22
Big Cat Rescue offered to sponsor the first ever Florida Panther Festival if they agreed not to use any live cats at their exhibits. They did not take us up on the offer to sponsor the event, but did assure us that they would not exploit cats this way. Our camera traps have been set in various locations to monitor wildlife populations and poachers in the area.
After delivering a couple of free webinars for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), Patty asked if we would host their first in person 2 day Workshop. Howard Baskin presented on our fundraising streams and the history of Big Cat Rescue, Jeff Kremer presented on donor recognition while giving the group of 20+ attendees a tour, Chris Poole spoke on social marketing and networking, Patty Ragan shared the value of hiring a coach, Kari Bagnall illustrated how to get the most out of a tabling event, Patty Finch taught grant writing, teaching your board how to be helpful and how to avoid “founder’s syndrome” and I shared how we use google Apps, how we manage over 100 top notch volunteers, why it is important to have a plan and stick to it.
Big Cat Rescue later hosted HSUS Sanctuary CEO’s for their annual retreat and gave them an inside look at how we operate. In both the GFAS and HSUS workshops we shared our Intranet site along with all of our training documents and all of the assets to create a “sanctuary in a box.” All of these tools are included on our website behind a $1.00 pay wall so that anyone who wishes to improve their facility has access to everything we do. Big Cat Rescue also helped the Humane Society Legislative Fund in their work to end puppy mills because the same laws would protect cats and kittens from use in kitten mills as well.
2010 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue continued working with the International Tiger Coalition, which is a group of 40+ organizations committed to saving the tiger, based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild. The goal is 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years. There are less than 3,000 in the wild currently and we are losing one per day due to poaching. We persuaded ITC to keep US tiger farming issue as part of their mission to eradicate because legalized trade puts even more pressure on wild populations.
What makes this initiative unlike all of the past programs is two fold. 40+ major conservation groups, including Big Cat Rescue, have joined forces with one common goal: Save the tiger in the wild. There have been other joint efforts, but none this large and never before has an entity as powerful as the World Bank been a committed partner in saving wild places for wild animals. Big Cat Rescue sponsored the ITC booth at CITES and sponsored the attendance of the ITC Moderator, Judy Mills at the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. Leonardo DiCaprio attended as well and met with Prime Minister Putin. DiCaprio donated 1 million dollars to WWF’s fund for saving the tiger.
23 FL Panthers died in 2010 but 90 were born according to FWC. Big Cat Rescue is stepping up our support of local initiatives to save the Florida Panther.
2009 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue continued working with the International Tiger Coalition, which is a group of 39 organizations committed to saving the tiger, based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild. The goal is 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years. There are less than 3,000 in the wild currently and we are losing one per day due to poaching. We persuaded ITC to keep US tiger farming issue as part of their mission to eradicate because legalized trade puts even more pressure on wild populations.
We assisted in the rehabilitation of an orphaned baby bobcat in NC. Nina Fischesser, Director, Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, NC had contacted us for advice in rehabbing and releasing an orphaned baby bobcat. Giving cats a second chance at living free is the best part of our day!
We began working with Dr. Wynn’s CO colleague and a Florida Wildlife Commission epidemiologist on research involving FIV in bobcats and FL panthers. We will begin testing all road kill for FIV, as well as testing bobcats who are reported frequenting human habitation if we can safely trap and release them without too much stress to them.
2008 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue was welcomed into the International Tiger Coalition, which is a group of 39 organizations committed to saving the tiger, based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild. The goal is 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years. There are less than 3,000 in the wild currently and we are losing one per day due to poaching. We persuaded ITC to keep US tiger farming issue as part of their mission to eradicate because legalized trade puts even more pressure on wild populations.
What makes this initiative unlike all of the past programs is two fold. 39 major conservation groups, including Big Cat Rescue, have joined forces with one common goal: Save the tiger in the wild. There have been other joint efforts, but none this large and never before has an entity as powerful as the World Bank been a committed partner in saving wild places for wild animals.
Harrison Ford, one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, thanks to his latest Indiana Jones movie breaking records in theaters, is on the board of Conservation International and spoke at the June 9th launch. Also in attendance were our friend, the beautiful Bo Derek, who won the Wildlife Guardian Award at the Fur Ball last year, and Robert Duvall. HSUS brought Tiger Kids to the launch and this photo is from their participation as a ITC members. See these celebrities up close and purrsonal in the most important roles of their lives in this video we shot and find out more about how the World Bank and the International Tiger Coalition plan to save the tiger.
2007 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
The Jaguar Trust Trapping is the furthest thing from our mission, except when it comes to camera traps for tracking and aiding wildlife. Our own Big Cat Rescue president Jamie Veronica went to Guyana, South America with a fellow volunteer on a mission for the sanctuary. Jamie and Justin Boorstein were in Guyana for ten days setting new digital camera traps with video to track Jaguars, Ocelots and Pumas. Our partner, Foster Parrots, tells us that with the recent import ban of all birds into Europe, Guyana now finds herself in a position to change the long practiced wildlife export industry there. Many trappers are finding that there are no markets for their “products”! Many of these trappers now find themselves unemployed and the government may start to look at the potential revenues of eco-tourism to fill the gap. If we can make a concerted effort with our conservation project we hope to serve as an example and to garner the support of Guyana to create the world’s premier rainforest destination. Our plans include the promotion of our project here in the US and a marketing strategy to heighten the visibility of this important move in Guyana.
Visitors to Guyana will have a choice of tour itineraries ranging from an ambitious 3 and 4-day Kanuku Mountains hike that will bring them to the realm of the Harpy Eagle, to more leisurely tours that will encompass sightings of Red Bellied, Scarlet, Red and Green, Blue and Yellow Macaws, Giant Anteaters and a wide variety of primates. Horseback and canoe excursions will let tour groups experience the wilds of Guyana at an intimate level. Visitors can also travel to Kaeiteur Falls to witness one of the world’s tallest single-drop waterfalls of 741 feet. Construction on the first of two planned lodge complexes, located in Nappi Village, has been completed by the local tribes with funds from Foster Parrots and Big Cat Rescue. Contact SaveTheCats@bigcatrescue.org to spend your vacation dollars saving the wildcats in the rainforest.
Africa President Jamie Veronica and volunteer Barbara Stairs also toured Africa to see the issues first hand that have resulted in game parks being virtually the only lands left that house wild cats. She will work with relatives there to check out sources for offering handmade products in our gift shop that could help preserve wildlife there as we currently do in the Jaguar Trust. (Barbara Stairs funded this excursion)
Since 2005 Big Cat Rescue has provided both funds and volunteers to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. Lewa relocates problematic wildlife to protected areas and provides education to children in the area who would not otherwise be able to read or write. In addition to the funds that Big Cat Rescue donates, we also provide a U.S. market for Kenya ‘s craftsmen and send clothing with our volunteers to distribute when they visit. Our volunteers take their skills and attitudes of compassion for all life into these barren regions and share a message of hope.
China, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia and Pakistan: Every year since 1997 Big Cat Rescue has donated to the countries that are home to the Himalayan mountain range where the elusive snow leopard is found. One whole corner of the gift shop explains how the sale of items made by the villagers helps save the snow leopard in the wild. In 2006, Dr. Tom McCarthy, the Conservation Director for the Snow Leopard Trust, came to Big Cat Rescue to explain just how crucial each sale was to protect of these exquisite cats.
The snow leopard lives in regions where the average person makes the equivalent of $1.00 per day. Most of the people who share the same highlands with the snow leopard are herders and to them, the loss of one sheep or goat can mean the difference in their survival. Most of the snow leopards that are killed are retribution killings; meaning that the cat has been blamed for killing one of the herd and the herdsman has killed the next snow leopard he saw. The herdsman can eat the cat and sell the hide for 25.00 which for them is a month’s wage. There are many other middle men along the way who are anxious to get their hands on a snow leopard pelt or penis for the Asian medicinal trade or for the black market. The pelt dramatically becomes more valuable as it goes down the line and can cost $5,000.00 or more to the final buyer.
The Snow Leopard Trust members in China, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia and Pakistan work closely with the local people to find out what they need. In some cases, they can create handicrafts like those we sell and make five times what they can make from herding.
The programs are structured with reducing reliance on Snow Leopard Trust funds for each consecutive year and to remain in the program the community must ensure that no snow leopards are killed. If anyone in the community kills a snow leopard, the entire community risks losing their right to participate in the program for a year and that is enough to keep everyone watching out for the snow leopard. Their claims of protection must verified by the game wardens and governmental agencies who actually have incentives to discover poaching because they are often paid a portion of the confiscation if they can catch a poacher.
Big Cat Rescue is the second largest retailer for Snow Leopard Enterprises.
We collected fecal samples from our captive snow leopards for the Snow Leopard Trust to use in training dogs to be able to tell one wild snow leopard from another just by sniffing the scat left behind. This will greatly enhance conservation efforts and is a cost effective method as well. The video we produced is being aired on our sites, and also being used as a marketing tool for the new program and the Snow Leopard Trust.
The U.S. State Department enlisted our help in saving the critically endangered Amur Leopard because of our ability to reach so many people who care about wild cats and their habitat.
2006 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
When our beloved tiger, Nini, died Brian Czarnik wanted her to live on and so we sponsored a tiger in the wild in Way Kambas Park. The money donated will help protect the tigers in this critical reserve. We worked with the Smithsonian Institution in a project to examine the population biology of small carnivores in Gabon, West Africa and Borneo. We hosted a party and raised more than $1000.00 to aid the campaign that would require the government to provide emergency plans for people who won’t leave their pets. This bill became law in 2006 and will protect America’s pets in times of disaster. We also sent proceeds from our Fur Ball to Lewa Conservancy in S. Africa and invested in creating eco-tourism in Guyana, South America to protect the wild cats in that area. At the request of the World Wildlife Fund in Poland we have provided photographs for them to use in creating a handbook for border guards to prevent the illegal trade in exotic cats and their pelts.
2005 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
We raised $1000.00 each for conservation programs to save the margay in Brazil, to help start an eco tourism lodge in Guyana and to assist Lewa in Africa.