A tribute to Alachua Bob the bobcat here: https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home/alachuabob-bobcat
If I had to be an animal, I would want to be a bobcat. They are fearless, adaptable, resilient and far stronger than you would expect from a 25-pound cat. They are being hunted for their pelts and sport despite their very important role in keeping the rat and vermin populations in check. They are being pushed from their homes by urban sprawl and often are killed or permanently injured when crossing busy roads to access their hunting grounds. This is when they enter my life.
A call comes in late on a Monday in 2003 from the West End Animal Hospital in Alachua County. A couple of saintly (and amazingly brave) individuals discovered an adult, male bobcat that had been hit by a car and lived to tell the tale. The cat wasn’t going to live much longer though, and had crawled in a hole to die. He was in such bad shape that the Good Samaritans were able to load him up in a dog carrier and drive him to the local vet who was known to take in wildlife. Vets who are willing to take in non-paying customers, who seem all but grateful for the care, are rare enough indeed.
X-rays showed the pelvis to be shattered with little or no hope of full recovery. Setting a broken bone is one thing, but the recovery time that a wild animal needs in order to be back at peak performance before being released can take months and very few facilities are equipped for long term care. The vet assistant called Big Cat Rescue to see if there was any chance that “Alachua Bob” could come to Tampa for recovery. She explained that the bobcat’s injuries were such that he might never be able to hunt and run due to his obvious advanced age and the extent of his fractures. If he had to live a life in captivity, she knew there was no place closer to living free than Big Cat Rescue.
As is the case with sanctuaries, all of our cages are already full of cast offs created mostly by the insanity of the pet trade. There are never enough funds to care for all of the animals that are in need. We have to turn away more than 300 big cats every year due to the lack of space and funding to properly care for them. There is nowhere else to go.
Alachua Bob got lucky and was delivered to our gates the next morning. Overnight, staff and volunteers transformed an old chicken coup into temporary living quarters with lots of places to hide and lots of soft hay. Room service delivers specially prepared meals to try and simulate the bobcat’s typical prey of rats and rabbits. He doesn’t have to drag his old and aching body for miles to reach water now because it’s just a paw’s reach away. He doesn’t have to know the agony of starving to death if he can’t catch his own food. He doesn’t have to be another victim of man’s inhumanity.
You can help Alachua Bob and others like him. You can help put an end to the surplus of large exotic cats needing sanctuary by putting a stop to people profiteering from them in the pet trade. Take action at the link at left called Cat Laws.
Stopping the overpopulation problem at it’s root enables wildlife rehab facilities such as Big Cat Rescue to devote more space and funds to native wildlife like Alachua Bob. You can also help by volunteering, sponsoring an animal here or touring the facility. Your donations will enable us to provide Alachua Bob with the more expensive, whole prey diet he requires, his continued vet care, and if he cannot be released, the construction of a 1200 square foot Cat-A-Tat full of trees and shrubs and lots of great places to hide. Donations can be mailed to 12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
Update: 7/2003 Alachua Bob looked ready for release, so he was transferred to a much larger Cat-A-Tat to be sure he could climb the hills and trees in the enclosure and to be certain that he could catch his own food. Unfortunately, the vet has determined that his limp that is still keeping him from being able to run. The chicken that he was supposed to dispatch has now become his “pet”. The good news is that he loves to swim and is utilizing the pool to work his legs in a manner that we did not think likely.
Update: 12/30/2007 Alachua Bob is still doing well, but never has recovered enough to run. The chicken crowed all the time and made all of us, including Alachua Bob, crazy so we gave it away.
2014 Update: Alachua Bob has been moved into a new Cat-A-Tat where he will be close the rehab area and may be able to swap some tall tales with the rehab bobcats.
He also has a huge new cave that is 8 feet by 10 feet under a mound of earth, so it is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This will also give him a place from which to watch us without being seen.
Just about every day I am giving a tour, or overhearing a tour, or responding to a reporter and discussing the way that Big Cat Rescue started; which was in buying all of the cats off U.S. fur farms to end that trade. Since I am thinking about cats being killed for their coats almost every day, I forget sometimes that there are people out there who don’t realize the cruelty involved in all fur products, until I hear from someone like Leigh.
She wrote to me recently and said, “In going through many belongings, I came across something I’d almost forgotten about. I have a lynx coat which was a gift that I want to “dispose” of. I do not want to sell the coat or donate it to any organization that would resell it or auction it off to anyone that might wear it (as some people have suggested).
I no longer wear fur, have not for a long time, and am very depressed, disgusted and want to cry any time I look at this coat. I do not want to do anything to promote the wearing of it.
Other than burning it, (or burying as some friends have suggested), I’ve tried to think of some way that it can be put to use as an educational tool. I do not even want to think about how many animals went into the making of this thing.”
I was touched by Leigh’s letter. She had obviously learned a long time ago that there is no humane way to part an animal from his skin. I know that I naively believed that animals were shorn for coats and have heard many, many people tell me they thought their fur coats came from animals who had died from natural causes. I think a lot of people just don’t think about where fur comes from in order to justify wearing it.
Leigh obviously had spent a lot of time thinking about the origins of this coat and how to honor the cats who had died. By donating it to our Education Department we can use it as a teaching tool to explain how such coats are made, how to tell real fur from faux and to contrast how beautiful our lynx are and how ugly a person wearing their fur is to those who have respect for life.
In talking with Leigh we told her that our presentations are limited to cat issues, so if the fur turned out to be made of fox or other animals, then the only use we would have for it would be to cut it up for nesting materials for our rehab bobcats. Her response was as beautiful as she is, “I do not even want to think of how many beautiful lynx died to make nothing more than an embellishment for the human willing to pay for it. I’d rather them become animal bedding than that.”
Who knows how many precious animals may be spared the horrific lives of being farmed for their fur or trapped and killed for the trade because of Leigh’s thoughtfulness?
For years I had mink coats, that had been purchased as gifts for me by my late husband, in the back of my closet. I didn’t know what to do with them either. I wouldn’t think of wearing them, but didn’t want to give them away and have others stimulate the demand for fur by wearing them either.
Part of me; that part that was raised to eat everything on my plate because children were starving in China, was sickened as I took scissors to the coats and made them into cat beds, but by the time I was done, I felt liberated. I believe that if I had been the mink who were turned into those coats, I would be happy to be set free from the awful design that took my life and glad to be back in the circle of life that enables the survival of wildlife.
We only rehab bobcats here, and very few each year, so we have all the coats we can use, but if you have a fur coat in your closet there are a lot of wildlife rehabbers, or even domestic cat foster homes, who can use the fur for bedding. You can get more information on those organizations here: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/fur_fashion/fur_coats_for_cubs.html
That is the lie that animal abusers tell everyone to try and change the subject from protecting exotic cats to a message of mere competition.
They trot out their modified version of our 20 year plan to back up their ridiculous claims, but they leave out the most important part of the plan, which is that there no longer be big cats suffering in captivity, and thus no longer a need for sanctuaries, including Big Cat Rescue’s sanctuary.
As the public becomes better educated about why it is so wrong to breed wild cats for life in cages, they will cease to support industries that breed them as pay to play props, for circuses and other abusive purposes. There will temporarily be an increased need for real sanctuaries, which are those who meet the following standards.
1. Real sanctuaries do not breed exotic cats for life in cages.
2. Real sanctuaries do not buy wild cats.
3. Real sanctuaries do not sell their wildlife.
4. Real sanctuaries do not let the public, nor their staff or volunteers handle the big cats, other than for veterinary purposes.
5. Real sanctuaries do not endanger the public and the big cats by taking them off site for exhibition.
Big Cat Rescue LOVES real sanctuaries and helps them by:
1. Providing guidance on best practices to help the sanctuary qualify for and obtain accreditation through the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
2. Hosting workshops and conferences for those who want to do the right thing for wild animals.
3. Training volunteers and international interns in understanding that each animal is an individual who is to be respected and treated with dignity.
4. Sending work groups of our own volunteers out to help after disasters and when other sanctuaries are short handed.
5. Sharing the secrets of our success with those who demonstrate clearly that they are putting the animals first.
Those who exploit wild animals for their own gain hate us because they don’t want the public to know that:
1. There is no reason to breed big cats in cages, as none of them in private hands can ever be set free.
2. There is no captive breeding program that benefits conservation, other than AZA administered SSP programs.
3. Paying to play with a cub or see one on display actually harms conservation efforts.
4. Tigers could disappear from the wild because of the smoke screen caused by their legal breeding of generic tigers.
5. A ban on private possession is the first step toward saving tigers in the wild.
Exploiters claim that if the Big Cats & Public Safety Act were to pass that they would be put out of business and wouldn’t be able to help “rescue” lions, tigers, leopards, ligers and other exotic cats, but that isn’t true. Big Cat Rescue is one of the most successful sanctuaries in the world and we do it by being open, honest and treating the cats with kindness and respect. We want sanctuaries to thrive, and they can do that if they employ the same attitudes and behaviors that we have in being a real sanctuary.
Any real sanctuary, who is doing their work for the animals and not their own sense of satisfaction, will share our goal of a world where all wild cats live free.
Carole records a day in the life of the sanctuary via Google Glass and the iPhone 5s. Jumanji Leopard gets a stick stuck across the roof of his mouth, Apache and Divinity Bobcats move to a new Cat-a-Tat, but Divinity puts up a fight. Cats get mint and Halloween treats for enrichment, including the Texas Tigers, Reno, Raindance Bobcat, Windstar Bobcat, Anasazie and Will the Bobcats and a load of trees arrive in this DailyBigCat 2014 10 14. #ThroughGlass
Cougars at Big Cat Rescue
Mouse over each cougar image to see who it is. Watch for our daily posts on Facebook, G+ and Twitter for updates about these Mountain Lions.
STRIDE EVENT DAY PRIZES & AWARDS
GRAND PRIZE I:
Individual with Greatest Fundraising Total
First place medallion, tickets to Disneyworld and a 2 night stay at an Orlando 5-star resort.
GRAND PRIZE II:
Individual with Most Number of Donors
Sunday brunch for 2 at Oyster Catcher’s at the Grand Hyatt and an afternoon at popular Florida Aquarium.
INVITATION TO THE VIP STAR LOUNGE
The VIP Lounge is open to individual walkers raising at least $500 and Teams raising $1,000 or more at this year’s Stride for Strays. Just wear your “VIP Dog Tag” and hang with the Big Dogs at the VIP Star Lounge It’s a whole new VIP experience at Stride.
“I SAVED A LIFE” STORY FEATURES
(Open To All Registrants)
Submit your favorite “I saved a life” (send to email@example.com) for the chance to have it featured in an upcoming ACT or Stride for Strays email blast. It could be a story about how you saved an animal in need of medical attention, or how the money raised through Stride for Strays saved a life… whatever story you have directly related to saving the life of an animal.
ROVING GOLDEN DOG BONE:
Awarded for to the team with the greatest fundraising total to show off for the entire upcoming year! The ongoing tradition of Stride…
PLAQUES FOR TEAMS:
1. Golden Dog Bone Award:First Place Team
2. Golden Mutt Award: Second Place Team
3. Golden Pack: Most Team Members
4. Golden Spirit Team: Most Enthusiastic Team
“$5 IN THE FIRE BUCKET”
all day events:
COSTUME CONTESTS BY SAM IVY K-9 CONSULTANTS Auditions will be held at the Sam Ivy tent starting at 10am for a $5 in the fire bucket entrance fee. Ten final contestants will be chosen for the costume contest hosted by guest MC Veronica Cintron from Bay News 9! First, second & third place trophies will be awarded.
HOT DOG EATING CONTEST
BY JUST GRILLIN
Sign up for the dog eating contest for $5 entrance fee. Six final contestants will be chosen to compete for the First Place Gift Certificate from Just Grillin;
$10 gift certificates to
PET AND PEOPLE MASSAGES
Have a glass of wine or beer while you
enjoy a great massage by MC Escapes at the ACT tent.
$5 in the fire bucket!
DOGGIE FUN ZONE AGILITY COURSE
PRESENTED BY BIG CAT RESCUE
Have way cool fun with your dog
at the Doggie Fun Zone, where
your dog is always the star.
You won’t believe what your dog can do for just $5 in the fire bucket!
PHOTO OP WITH FIREMAN, FIRETRUCKS & DALMATIANS!
Have your picture taken with Tampa’s finest on the Fire Truck or with the K9 City Policemen for a $5 in the fire bucket. We’ll also have real NYC firetrucks and dalmatians! It’s an opportunity to be on ACT’s next calendar!