Nikita

Nikita

hear big catsNikita

Lioness

DOB 2/3/01

Rescue 11/30/01

Nikita was found chained to the wall in a crack house during a drug bust in Tennessee. Because she had been confined to a concrete floor, she had huge swellings on her elbows that took months to heal.  She was so thin that you could carry her under one arm.  She would only eat white rabbits, so she had a plethora of nutritional issues to deal with as well.

The authorities took her to the Nashville Zoo at Grasmere, but she had been declawed and could not live with the zoo’s other lions.  They had to find a new home for her, so we received the call. Big Cat Rescue agreed to take Nikita in, as well as three other Bobcats who all arrived on 11/30/01.

Nikita has flourished under our care.  She has grown into a tall, lanky, healthy lioness.  She’s extremely playful and loves to roll on her back and grab her paws or try to do somersaults whenever she has visitors stopping by to talk with her.   Though we wish she had the freedom she deserves, we’re so happy that she survived her earlier ordeals to enjoy the blissful days we try to provide for her here.

Sponsor Nikita http://big-cat-rescue.myshopify.com/collections/sponsor-a-cat

Watch Nikita Lion LIVE on explore.org

LIVE lion web cam

Here is a list of pages on our site that you can find more information, photos, and videos of Nikita Lion.

See Chris & Gale setting up Piñatas for Cameron and Nikita the lions and Zabu the white tiger in this Wildcat Walkabout Video on April 25, 2014 – http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-april-25-2014/

Pumpkin time for Nikita Lion: http://bigcatrescue.org/pumpkin-time-for-nikita-she-seems-pretty-happy-about-it-lion-pumpkin-halloween-funny/

Nikita Lioness seized in drug raid! http://bigcatrescue.org/lion-seized-in-drug-raid/ and http://bigcatrescue.org/000news/Advocat/2012-2.pdf

Nikita Lioness all grown up: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-sept-24-lion-cage-grand-opening/

The walls start to go up on a new play yard for Nikita: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-aug-21-2/

Nikita the lioness loves her new view and can’t wait for room addition: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-jan-29-army-strong/

The last couple wall go up: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-sept-12-iphone-5-announced/3/

Watch Nikita the Lion explore her new enclosure! http://bigcatrescue.org/new-lion-home/

Photos of Gayle talking to Nikita Lion: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-talk-like-a-pirate-day/

I wonder what Nikita is thinking while she watches the volunteers and Interns working? http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-sept-14/

LION VS Big Yellow Ball = Lion Wins! Watch our goofy lioness Nikita take on her new yellow boomer ball! Enrichment is an important part of our cats lives at the sanctuary they will never be free and wild, so we have to keep their minds stimulated with new toys and enrichment, ensuring the best quality life in captivity. http://bigcatrescue.org/lion-vs-big-yellow-ball/

Another photo of Nikita: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-sept-6-2/

Watch as our tigers and lions have fun destroying whole watermelons! http://bigcatrescue.org/tag/lions/page/25/

We didn’t think Nikita Lion would ever feel comfortable going into a confined space like one of our feeding lockouts, but she looks pretty content. http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-sept-16/

RNC visits Big Cat Rescue Lioness Nikita: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-aug-29-2/4/

See photos – Dr Justin used a bent spoon to dislodge a stick that had gotten stuck across the roof of Nikita Lioness’ mouth. http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-sept-5-2/

Nikita Lion and her yellow ball

Nikita Lion and her yellow ball

 

 

Nikita Lion "I Haz Feets"

Nikita Lion “I Haz Feets”

 

Meet the rest of our exotic wild cats.

Joseph

Joseph

hear big cats

Joseph

 

Male Lion

DOB 8/19/98

Rescued 10/21/07

 

Joseph the lion was rescued along with several other lions and tigers who had been bred to be used as photo and ego props.

 

Sponsor Joseph http://big-cat-rescue.myshopify.com/collections/sponsor-a-cat

Your Lion Eyes

 

When a lens luxated due to old age it became very irritated and had to be dealt with right away.  Dr. Miller, Dr. Wynn and Dr. Boorstein all came in to the Windsong Memorial Hospital to see if the eye could be saved.  Stay tuned.

 

 

What do you do when a lion needs a vet?

 

 

 

 

Call in a team of experts for a lion size house call.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Keepers reported that Joseph the lion wasn’t eating and was wobbling when he walked.

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

It was a Sunday afternoon and there is no place nearby that we could take a lion for X-rays.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Justin Boorstein and his friend, Dr. Tim Jones sedated Joseph lion to draw blood and do a physical exam.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Jamie’s home made, lion size gas mask enabled the transition from drugs to gas.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Interns held the Y-stick on Joseph, in case he woke suddenly and pumped fluids into Joseph as he slept.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Justin Boorstein listened to the lion’s breathing and heart beat as Dr. Tim Jones kept an eye on the anesthesia.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Every intern had their job, from protecting the vets to logging each drug, each change in vitals and giving fluids.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

That is a lion size heart monitoring cuff!

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Fay Hererro Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Fay Herrero, from Odessa Equine Clinic brought out his portable X-ray machine to make sure there were no broken bones.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Fay Hererro Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Fay Herrero had been making house calls all day for horses, but this way probably his only lion call of the day.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Fay Hererro Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

The portable X-ray was not powerful enough to penetrate Joseph’s abdomen.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

We tried to find a vet with a portable sonogram machine, as well, but had no such luck.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Justin, Cody and Michael lift Joseph so the X-ray pad can be positioned under the sleeping lion.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Fay Herrero will be on speed dial until our own X-ray machine is up and running.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Fay Hererro Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Despite all of the diagnostics, we still do not know what is causing Joseph to feel bad.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Hopefully his blood work, which usually takes a few days, will let us know how to proceed.

 

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

When Dr. Herrero left he said, “You have an wonderful group of people here!”

A Lion Pride of a Different Stripe

 

hear big catsIt took the combined efforts of USDA, undercover agents and concerned citizens seven years to shut down Diana McCourt (aka Cziraky) and her Siberian Tiger Foundation. It wasn’t until her landlords, Donnalynn and Christian Laver were able to evict her from the property that Knox County was able to seize the six cats who had been used for years as props in Diana McCourt’s “tiger training” scheme.

By the end of the ordeal eye witnesses said that the cats were starving and they still have inadequate shelter from the elements.

Joseph the lion and Nikita the tiger, his best friendEven though McCourt lost her USDA license to operate the tiger-tamer camp in 2000, and permanently in 2006, she still continued to charge people to come into her back yard in Gambier, OH and pet the adult lions and tigers.

The cats would often be chained down so that people could touch them or have their photos made with the cats.

To make the cats more pliable McCourt had their teeth and claws removed. (Joseph still has his canine teeth) Despite the abusive violations to their bodies and mobility, the USDA investigation included eight allegations of attacks on visitors in an 8 month period.

Most cases that 6 years or more to prosecute so animals suffer most or all of their lives waiting for help to arrive.  The only way to put an end to the suffering is to end the private possession of big cats and eliminate the USDA loophole that allows people to keep big cats if they have a $40 USDA license.  It is too easy to get and too hard to lose to provide any sort of enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.

 

 

In May of 2007 Diana McCourt emailed Carole Baskin asking if she could move her operation to Tampa and bring her cats to Big Cat Rescue.  Our response was that her cats were welcome here but her brand of animal abuse was not.  By August McCourt had been evicted and Knox County was awarded custody of the four tigers and two lions.  Dean Vickers, the State Director for the Ohio branch of the HSUS contacted Big Cat Rescue and asked if we could take the cats, but six more big cats increases our annual budget by $45,000.00.

Sasha the lioness was used as a prop by the Siberian Tiger FoundationWhen Sarabi, our lioness died, her half acre enclosure was opened up so that Nikita our only other lioness could have the run of both half acre enclosures.  This large enclosure has an open roof and is only suitable for lions because they don’t climb, or very old, declawed tigers, who would be unable to climb.  Taking on two lions, age 9 and 13, who have a 20 year life expectancy means a cost of $15,000.00 annually and $150,000.00 in the long run.  Lions often end up in canned hunts, especially males who are coveted as wall trophies, so we felt certain our donors would help us rescue these two cats.  Our board convened and agreed that the lions would be rescued as soon as we could make travel arrangements for them.

Nikita and Simba the tigers who make up Joseph's prideCalling with the good news, that at least the lions would be spared, we were told by the landlord, who has been caring for the cats since evicting Diana McCourt, that the male tiger, Nikita, would be heartbroken that his best friend in the world, Joseph the lion, would be leaving.  As the conversation unfolded it appears that for the last 13 years, two tigers and two lions have shared a cage.  (Joseph only coming along in the past 9 yrs)  Instead of being elated for the lions, we now felt sick that they would be separated from the only pride (albeit tigers) they had ever known.  And thinking about how they would feel, of course, led to thinking about how the tigers left behind would feel.

We appealed to our supporters, asking if they would be willing to help us rescue all four cats who have lived together and the response was an overwhelming, “YES!”

Joseph the lion shares his dinner with Nikita the male tigerOn Oct. 19th Big Cat Rescue’s President Jamie Veronica, VP Cathy Neumann, Operations Manager Scott Lope and Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wynn, DVM flew to Columbus, OH to rendezvous with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) staff and a driver and vet tech from the Animal Sanctuary of the United States (ASUS) at the Columbus Zoo at 6 am on the morning of the 20th.  From there the entourage drove an hour to the Gambier, OH facility and met with the property owner and the Knox County Animal Control Officer, Rich Reed who had been granted possession of the six cats.

Within just a few hours all of the cats were safely loaded and on the way to Florida where they arrived at 6 am the morning of the 21st.  While the weary drivers slept, the Big Cat Rescue team unloaded Nikita, Simba, Sasha and Joseph into their new enclosure, which is a little more than half an acre of lakeside living with high grass, cave like dens and hills from which they can survey their new kingdom.

Joseph the lion sucks his thumb because of emotional scars from being taken from his mother too youngWe let you know that the rescue would cost us $34,000.00* and 294 of you responded.  As of 11/16/07 $29,435.00 has been raised to save these four cats. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) agreed to help rescue the last two cats and IFAW paid to transport all six cats to their final destinations. That saved us $4,000.00! We are now only $565.00 short of what this rescue will cost us in the first year. Thank you everyone who has helped so far!  If you haven’t helped yet, keep in mind that your donations are tax deductible and that these cats rely entirely on your generosity.

See slideshow of photos taken 9/26/07 in Ohio: Siberian Tiger Foundation


The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) agreed to help rescue and place the last two cats, Sierra and Ekaterina who are now at Wildcat Sanctuary.

Sierra the white tiger lives with Ekaterina and still needs a home too! Ekaterina the tigress lives with Sierra the white tiger and still needs a home too!
Sierra the white tigress Ekaterina the tigress

Should there be any surplus in the donations made to this rescue they will be used for the continued care of the cats.

More Info About and Photos of Joseph

ShamingJoseph

Do lions cough up hairballs? Check out this specimen from Joseph: http://bigcatrescue.org/category/the-sanctuary-cats/lions-the-sanctuary-cats/page/7/

Scroll down this link to see a video of Joseph eating his much loved vanilla ice cream: http://bigcatrescue.org/cat-chat-show-notes-june-19-2013/

Tigers, Lions, Leopards, all cat species can catch fleas, so at Big Cat Rescue we have to treat all of our 100+ residents with flea prevention just like your domestic cat at home every single month!: http://bigcatrescue.org/how-to-flea-treat-100-big-cats/

Happy Caturday Photos: http://bigcatrescue.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=9117&action=edit

Kids’ freebies featuring the lions of Big Cat Rescue: http://bigcatrescue.org/march-lions-kids/

Check out Joseph the lion doing some “gardening” in his enclosure: http://bigcatrescue.org/lion-gardening/

Despite all the commotion today, Joseph the Lion just couldn’t care less. (scroll down to find the photo): http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-dec-28-lion-display-at-mgm-to-close/

Joseph the Lion Before and After: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-may-11-ohio-legislative-update/

Download a free iBook or PDF, “The Lions of Big Cat Rescue”: http://bigcatrescue.org/books/

Scroll down this link to find a photo of Joseph entitled “Joseph the Lion makes his mark on Big Cat Rescue”: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-apr-12-2/

Funny captioned photo of Joseph: http://bigcatrescue.org/joseph-the-original-grumpy-cat/

Photo entitled, “Joseph the lion is one of our best singers”: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-jan-26/

See and Hear Cameron and Joseph lions roaring: http://bigcatrescue.org/lion-roar-video-2006/

Come along with Carole Baskin using Google Glass while catching a bobcat, caring for an elderly tiger, shaving a bobcat, watching staff building the “Bobcat Tower of Terror,” talking with Simba Leopard on vacation, catching and sending Sabre Leopard out on his first vacation, checking in on the feisty little Cypress bobcat, a sneak peek at Genie the sandcat, Joseph lion taking a long, cool drink and more: http://bigcatrescue.org/cat-chat-45/

A page with a few videos about Joseph’s Rescue: http://bigcatrescue.org/lion-and-tiger-rescue-from-siberian-tiger-foundation/

A photo of Joseph waiting on another treat: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-oct-2-2012/

Photo of Intern Heather drawing Joseph and Sasha lions: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-sept-8-come-see-the-tigers/

Lion Facts: http://bigcatrescue.org/lion-facts/

Photo entitled, “Joseph and Sasha the lions are all sleepy eyed”: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-july-11/

Find a photo of Joseph and Sasha the lions on a lazy afternoon: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-oct-10/

Watch as we let Joseph and his pride of another lion and two tigers into their new large enclosure: http://bigcatrescue.org/josephs-pride-lion-tigers-new-beginning/

Joseph’s Pride are two lions and two tigers that were rescued from a facility in Columbus, Ohio on October 19th, 2007: http://bigcatrescue.org/lions-tigers-josephs-pride-update/

A lion of a different stripe: http://bigcatrescue.org/a-lion-pride-of-a-different-stripe/

Chardonnay featuring Joseph the lion: http://bigcatrescue.org/advocat-2012-05-happy-mothers-day/

2016 June

2016 July

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In the wild I am king of beast but in captivity I depend on you for food.  Please donate!

For more funny and inspirational quotes visit:  https://bigcatrescue.org/category/free-stuff/

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If you LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cats of all shapes and sizes, please help by adding your voice to protect them at CatLaws.com

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Cameron

Cameron

hear big catsCameron the Lion

DOB 10/1/00

Rescued 5/3/04

 

lion Cameron

Cameron the lion and Zabu the white tiger are Big Cat Rescue’s odd couple. They were both born at a run down roadside zoo in 2000 and were rescued in 2004.

At the New Hampshire zoo, Cameron had been raised with Zabu, the white tigress, with the hopes of cross breeding them and selling the resulting liger cubs.

People often hybridize lions and tigers because they are either trying to create a novelty that people will pay to come see or trying to avoid the law. Until recently, some state’s laws did not recognize a 500-pound cross between a lion and tiger to be either. Therefore, people would buy them and claim that laws against owning a lion or tiger did not apply to them. We were told that prior to Cameron’s rescue he had lost over 200 lbs. It was up to us to help turn his life around.

Since Cameron and Zabu were true companions, we had to do whatever we could to make a long life together possible for them. The first step was to build a very large enclosure fit for the two energetic big cats.

Next we spayed Zabu so they would not breed and produce any more cats for life in cages.

Over the years Cameron became more and more possessive of Zabu and would not allow keepers near the enclosure to clean or feed. Because Cameron’s behaviors were testosterone driven we had only two choices; separate him from Zabu forever or neuter him. The decision was easy, Cameron was neutered.

Several months later he lost his mane as a result. It does not seem to bother him though. Cameron’s mood has mellowed dramatically and he seems much more comfortable in the hot Florida summers without the extra 15 pounds of fur around his neck. He has even become much more playful since he no longer worries about everything that is going on around his enclosure. His favorite toy is a big yellow ring which he bats and pushes around his enclosure in the early morning and late afternoon. While it was sad to see Cameron lose his mane, it was completely worth it so that he could continue to live with his best friend Zabu.

 

Cameron Lion Mane   

While Cameron tries to sleep most of the day away (as lions do in the wild), Zabu is extremely energetic and is always pestering him to play. She’ll often give up on him and just run and jump and play with her big red Planet Ball. Of course, that’s after she’s tired of playfully stalking her keepers or trying to spray the groups of visitors that stop by everyday.

 

 

Here are some more pages you can find information, photos, videos, and stories about Cameron:

 

Spring 2014: “What’s Up With Cameron’s Mane?” Why is Cameron losing his gorgeous mane? http://bigcatrescue.org/advocat-2014-04/

See Chris & Gale setting up Piñatas for Cameron and Nikita the lions and Zabu the white tiger in this Wildcat Walkabout Video on April 25, 2014 – http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-april-25-2014/

See photos of Cameron and Zabu heading to their cool den on a hot day, kissing behind their big red ball, and playing with toys by their pond.   http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-may-31/

See the video: Lion + White Tiger = Cameron and Zabu! http://bigcatrescue.org/lion-white-tiger-cameron-zabu/

The rest of the world has “Brangelina” Big Cat Rescue has “CAMBU” !! Cameron the male African Lion and Zabu the female white tiger love each other very much and love “playtime” where they can be very goofy big cats! http://bigcatrescue.org/lion-and-tiger-playtime-at-big-cat-rescue/

Read about working with big cats. http://bigcatrescue.org/work-with-big-cats/

Enrichment is a very important part of the cats’ day.  See Cameron and Zabu attacking a giraffe for Enrichment. http://bigcatrescue.org/lion-tiger-vs-giraffe/

Here are more Enrichment videos.  We would like to invite you to share these videos with your friends and family. http://bigcatrescue.org/tag/enrichment/page/7/

Hearing a lion’s call is one of the most powerful sounds of nature; “Cameron” belts one out in this short clip. http://bigcatrescue.org/roar-a-roar-from-bcrs-male-lion-is-a-powerful-sound/

See a video entitled “If A Lion and Tiger Got Into a Fight, Who Would Win?” http://bigcatrescue.org/if-a-lion-and-tiger-got-into-a-fight-who-would-win/

On this link you will find a video of some of the cats. You will also see volunteers hauling dirt and Cameron and Zabu enjoying their vacation at Big Cat Rescue. http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-jan-30-2014/

Zabu the white tiger takes Cameron’s pumpkin and puts in the water. http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-oct-17/

See the video, “Lion and Tiger, Backyard Blitz”. http://bigcatrescue.org/today-big-cat-rescue-nov-8-2013/

After being separated for quarantine and ‘getting fixed’ Cameron and Zabu are reunited. http://bigcatrescue.org/white-tiger-and-lion-november-4-2004-update-2/ and http://bigcatrescue.org/white-tiger-and-lion/

Join is on Facebook to see new photos of the cats every day. http://www.facebook.com/bigcatrescue

Sponsor Cameron http://big-cat-rescue.myshopify.com/collections/sponsor-a-cat

 

JnK

JnK

New York JnK Tiger Rescue

Donate to big catsDejaVu is all I can say. It happens over and over, like a recurring nightmare for the wild animals suffering through it; only the names and places change.

Someone wants to “rescue” wild animals because that seems like glamorous work, so they buy animals (and just prolong the problem) until the really bad guys find out there is a new place to dump last year’s photo cubs, and then the “rescues” become more legitimate, in the eyes of the “rescuer” because at least they aren’t paying for animals any more. Usually the big cats who need rescuing are the cubs who just outgrew the ridiculous 8-12 week window, in which USDA condones the use of cubs for photo and pay to play sessions. All it takes to fix this mess is for USDA to acknowledge that it is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act to take cubs from their mothers for this inhumane, unethical, albeit lucrative exploitation… But I digress.

Five years go by, and citations pile up for not providing sufficient shelter, not having an attending vet, not willing to provide documentation of where the cats came from or went and having a perimeter fence that was only 2 feet above the 6 feet of snow.  This article from 2009 detailed the illegal purchase of a leopard that resulted in seizure and a fine, as well as a number of other violations, and yet the media treated it like a puff piece.  http://bigcatrescue.org/lions-tigers-and-bears-find-refuge/

So, every few weeks more litters of lions, tigers, primates and bears are bred, used and discarded into these pseudo sanctuaries. But then the animals grow up into 500 pound apex predators who require thousands of dollars in food & vet care each year and before you know it, the “sanctuaries” have collapsed under the collective weight and debt. Then other sanctuaries, of varying financial stability, are called in to clean up the mess; but most of those are not in much better shape than the facilities they are being asked to bail out.

Big cats are bounced around from breeder, to photo booth operator, to the public as pets, who then dump them into the hands of backyard hoarders, who collapse and then the bigger sanctuaries come and move them to their fourth or fifth home, where they may stay until they die, but even then will sometimes end up in yet another rescue situation when the bigger places fail as well.

The second worst part of all of this is that the animals suffer from the time they are only a few hours or days old, when they are ripped from their mothers and thrust into this dismal cycle, and begin the years of suffering as the legal processes wind through the courts.

The worst part of this scenario is that it would be so easily avoided by a ban on public contact with cubs.  Help do that here:

That’s what happened at JnK’s Call of the Wild.

In 1997 Ken and Jackie Wisniewski started “rescuing” big cats, bears, wolves and a variety of other wild and domestic animals. Before long they were in over their heads. Feeding the animals wasn’t a problem because there is a lot of roadkill in Sinclairville, NY. We counted half a dozen dead deer, a duck and raccoon, in just two days visiting this sleepy little town. Maybe the locals drive too fast, or maybe it is all of the grape vineyards and farms that attract so much native wildlife.

The problem was that the rotting carcasses were just left to fester, along with the piling excrement, in the tiny, barren cages. The lions and tigers, who are the most fastidious creatures on earth, were forced to live in these abysmal, fly infested conditions while USDA went through the tedious process of citing the facility year, after year, after year with no improvements.

Finally after many years of failing to to provide vet care or clean and safe caging, USDA revoked the license, which is a multi year task. The state of NY had previously banned the private possession of big cats, bears and wolves, but in all but 4 states (KY, OH, WA & WV) a person could circumvent the ban if they held a USDA license.

Now JnK had lost their USDA license and the animals could have been seized years ago, but as is often the case, the violator will just have a family member or friend get a USDA license issued in their name and then the whole process starts over. When Ken and Jackie Wisniewski lost their USDA license, they just had their daughter, Kristy Wisniewski, get one in her name. It’s easy: a one page form, name, address and phone and $40 and you can get around any ban, just about anywhere.

So, the long legal battles had to start over again until the daughter had a falling out with her mother and decided not to renew her USDA license. What usually happens is that there would now be no government agency checking in on the animals and conditions. These kinds of places would then enjoy the luxury of doing as they please with no one looking over their shoulder, and that would always lead to worse conditions for the animals.

By this time Terry Thompson in Zanesville, OH had set free 56 lions, tigers and bears in 2011 and state agencies woke up to the fact that it could happen in their states too. The NY state attorney’s office decided to send a message to all of the backyard breeders, dealers and pseudo sanctuaries that they would no longer turn a blind eye to the danger that these facilities pose to the public and launched the biggest seizure of wild animals in New York’s history.

USDA contacted the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and asked if they could place the JnK animals. GFAS made arrangements for all of the animals to be rescued, but then Jackie Wisniewski decided that she didn’t want to give them up and would wait and see if the NY Department of Environmental Conservation really would take action, or if they would, like they do in most places, just ignore the situation until someone was mauled or killed.  

On May 27, 2014 at 7:30 am Jackie Wisniewski found out the state of NY wasn’t bluffing.

IFAW logoWhat she couldn’t know, and we couldn’t tell you, is that the International Fund for Animal Welfare, IFAW, had taken the lead and arranged for the 11 tigers, 3 lions, 3 bears, and 2 wolves to be picked up and transported to Big Cat Rescue in FL via Loving Friends, Safe Haven Wildlife Rescue Zoo in NV, Wild Animal Sanctuary in CO, In-Sync Exotics in TX, the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in IN, and Animal Lifeline would transport the wolves to a facility in PA.  On July 3rd IFAW reimbursed the transport costs of $4,409.03 for Big Cat Rescue.

We couldn’t let the cat out of the bag until after the last animal was rescued from the site for fear of starting a media circus that could propel the owner into doing something dangerous to the animals or the rescue crews. We know that most people who will donate to help big cats want to fund a rescue, but once the cats are safe, they are off to the next exciting rescue.

We hope that you are different.

We went out on a limb because these cats were literally starving to death, and one tiger, Sasha, had died before we even arrived. (We had agreed to take four tigers, but when we got there Sasha was no longer alive and no one seemed to know anything about why or when she died.  Some said she was alive last summer, others said she was still alive in Feb of this year and others said she had been dead for years)  We had to give up the chance to involve everyone in the excitement of a rescue because these cats depended on us keeping quiet so the owner wouldn’t do anything foolish. We were able to load our tigers by 1PM on Tues. May 27, 2014 but had to maintain silent mode until all of the animals were safely on their way to other rescue sites.

What we saw during the rescue was unimaginable suffering and conditions that clearly threatened everyone in the area. No agency had been able to inspect the animals since December 2013 (nearly 6 months ago) and at that time they said the cats were well fed, but that the rotting carcasses, piles of feces and ramshackle cages were reason enough to seize the animals.  “Well fed” appears to be a judgement call because the 2009 video of the tigers showed them to to be far too thin 5 years ago, in our opinion.  JnK had a pile of citations for not allowing inspectors onto the property, but in many cases those are considered by the bad guys to be far less incriminating than actually answering the gate and letting inspectors see what they are doing.

Jnk-Tiger-Kimba

The cats were starving to death!

Their ragged fur, which was missing in places from laying in their own excrement, was stretched taut over protruding bones. Kimba the tigress, (born 8/94) seemed to have just given up and laid, unresponsive, in her den. Former volunteers there said she had been bred to Zeus for 4-6 litters of cubs in her life) It wasn’t until she saw that there was the promise of food, in exchange for pulling her aching body up into the transport wagon, that she came to life. Big Cat Rescue President, Jamie Boorstein, had locked Kimba in her den so that we could push the wagon up to the rickety door. As soon as she was released and given the scent of beef on a stick, she followed it right into the foreign transport box without much hesitation.

Zeus the tiger, (born 9/96 to Kimba) has limited vision and it looks like his retina may be separated in his eye, which can be extremely painful. Other tigers there had the same strange looking eyes, where the golden part of the iris has almost completely covered over the lens.  As soon as Zeus saw food, he RAN down the length of his cage, chasing Big Cat Rescue’s Operations Manager, Gale Ingham, who was racing  (outside the cage) toward the beast wagon that had been affixed to a hole that was cut into the side of his cage. Zeus was the largest tiger and the hole wasn’t really big enough, but metal piping made it impossible to make the hole any larger. Zeus didn’t care. He wanted that life giving morsel of food so bad that he squeezed, like liquid tiger, through the opening into the circus wagon. Jamie dropped the door and Zeus was on his way to a life of luxury that he couldn’t possibly imagine.

Jnk-Tiger-Zeus

The cages were rotted to the point of falling apart. Rusty screws held ragged sheets of plywood together for the dens and doors. If the tigers had any strength left in them, they could have burst through. This made for some tense moments, especially when it came to loading Keisha the tigress. (born 5/00 to Kimba and Zeus)

Apparently, the way cats had been fed, back when they were being fed, was they were locked out of their dens, the food tossed into the dens via a back door, and then they were let back into the den.

The part that has to be explained here is that the dens were made of crumbling plywood. Citations went back to 2012 for these unsafe conditions.  The doors had deteriorated over time to the point where a makeshift system was rigged to keep the tigers from just pushing the doors out of their rotted frames. It was made of curtain hooks that were shaped in a semicircle and screwed with tiny, and now rusted screws; one on either side of the door opening. Then 2 pipes were passed through the hooks to hold the doors shut. Jamie took a handful of the material and it turned to shards and dust in her hand.

The first attempt at capturing Keisha was to shut her in the den, then hook up the transport to a hole that was hastily cut into the side of her prison cell. With the other cats, Rescuers had been able to shut them out of their dens and lead them into the wagons, but Keisha still had life enough left in her to be frantic to eat, so as soon as her den door shut her out into the yard, she began clawing frantically to get back into the den where she thought the food would be. When a cat is focused on something, there isn’t much you can do to get their attention. Gale was waving the chicken and beef chunks on a stick and trying to get Keisha to forget about getting back into the den for food. It wasn’t working.

The area where Rescuers were working was so tight that the rope holding the transport door open had to be threaded into a vacant, nearby cage and operated from there by Big Cat Rescue’s CEO and Founder, Carole Baskin.  Jamie decided to pull the den door open and hold it open so that Keisha could see for herself that there wasn’t any food in there, but Keisha was afraid to climb into the hay filled beast wagon and sensed it was a trap.

In typical cat style, she would stretch her neck and one paw as far toward the juicy meat as she could, without committing her back legs. Gale let her come in and get a piece or two, to see that nothing would happen, and on the third offering Keisha was emboldened to climb all the way in.

Jnk-Tiger-Keisha

Keisha only has half an ear and a little bobbed tail. We think she lost them to the lions next door.

All over this compound the bears and big cats shared common walls of a material never witnessed by Big Cat Rescuers for housing big cats. The openings in the metal cattle panels were 8 inches wide and 6 inches high. It is incomprehensible that no human ever lost their life or limbs working so close to such dangerous wild animals, with nothing to prevent the animals from reaching the full length of their arms out to grab the passerby.

In the 2009 video above Jackie Wisniewski reaches her arm, all the way up to her armpit, to pet the cats and talks about how her staff and volunteers have to earn the cat’s trust to pet them this way, but then admits that the cats are always looking for a way to pull you into the cage.

In some places a new barricade fence had been erected (where previously there had been none) and it was so tight against the cage that there was NO safe way to walk around the enclosure. All of the animals had shared walls which must have led to some intensive fights and quite possibly the deaths of animals along the way. No one seemed to know exactly when or how Sacha the tigress had died.

The only cage to have a double wall (one with a space of about 3 feet between the walls) was the one between Keisha and 2 lionesses. Keisha and the lionesses both had common walls with Zeus, but it would appear that after Keisha lost her ear and tail, someone finally installed a double wall between the lions and Keisha. That one small measure has probably saved her life, but her tail healed in such a scarred and unusual way that it’s doubtful she had a vet attend to her wounds.  In the video you can see that her tail was missing as far back as 2009.

As each of the cats were loaded into their transport wagons they were rolled up into Loving Friend’s transport vehicle where they probably experienced air conditioning for the first time ever. Even though they loaded quite easily, they were all stressed out by the move and the chaos of the day, so the lower temp helped take some of the edge off. Within minutes Kimba was sound asleep in the deep, soft hay.

If anyone wouldn’t survive this trip, it would be Kimba. She just had so little spirit left in her. I checked on her several times to be sure she was still breathing, and seemed blissfully asleep.  Update:  17 Days later we had to euthanize Kimba because she could not recover from the ailments brought on by being kept in such filth and starved.  More here:  http://bigcatrescue.org/euthanize-tiger/

Zeus gulped down water before laying down in his big fluffy hay bed. These cats, like so many others across the country, were kept on rocks. There was no place for them to feel the soft earth, nor roll in the grass, nor enjoy the shade of trees or bushes. The only shade, or escape from the sharp edged rocks, was in their smelly dens and on a small table in each cage, but these cats didn’t look fit to jump up onto them. Zeus had been a big and powerful male tiger at some point in his life, but now you could see the remains of his wasted muscles and protrusion of his ribs and hips.

Big Cat Rescuers loaded tigers for 2 hours and the officer in charge commented that we worked together like a well oiled machine. Despite the rush to load the tigers and move out of the way for the next rescue group, there were some heart breaking moments. The worst for cat lovers was the owner said her cat had died, so she had thrown the cat into the cage that housed the 4 youngest tigers, who appear to have been born at JnK in 2004 and were probably considered favorites.

As hungry as those tigers must have been; something must have registered in their heads that this was just too awful to consider. Time may have finally caused them to overcome their disgust at being fed another cat, had they not been rescued today, so the bloated body of the domestic cat laid there in a haze of flies.

As soon as the tigers were all loaded and their transport cages were strapped down for the 22 hour trip, Big Cat Rescuers and JT and Laura Taylor of Loving Friends were on their way back to Tampa.

The cost of the transport and rescue was approximately $7,000, but that is just the beginning. Getting these tigers back on the road to health will mean vet care, and specialists for the eyes. It means a lot of high quality food, vitamins, joint supplements and probably a good deal of pain management. Just one healthy tiger costs Big Cat Rescue $10,000 per year, just for food and vet care and these neglected tigers will need much more intensive care. Even though they are safe and will never go hungry again, it is only because people like you will open your hearts to these precious creatures. Please let them know that you are there for them, for now and forever, with a monthly gift of whatever you can afford.

Please donate here:  http://www.razoo.com/story/Nytigers/  You can make a one time gift or the much more needed monthly gift at that link.

See the photos here.  Video to come.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1s8s8pelynafw6t/AAACsyg5IKLM_sFxnxO3CohPa

 

In this 2007 video Jackie claimed Zeus was 850 lbs

 

By 2014 they look to be less than 400 lbs. for Zeus and less than 300 lbs for the females.

IFAW Footage of the Rescue in Five Parts

Big Cat Rescue was not allowed to film during the rescue, so what footage we did manage to get was from cell phones in pockets.  Below is footage that looks much better than ours and details the rescue from JnK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos of Tigers Arriving at Big Cat Rescue

 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6ox6jsln2d86wla/AADV0hXh_4KBA_l7jSFFEteGa

 

Kimba Tiger Starving On Arrival

Kimba-Tiger-Day1a

 

 

 

AdvoCat 2015 12

AdvoCat 2015 12

Happy Holidays from Big Cat Rescue

 

We have so much to be thankful for; wonderful people like you who help ensure that our big cats stay fed, our AdvoCats all around the world who work for laws to end the abuse of big cats, our Big Cat Rescuers who donate their time to caring for the cats, running the sanctuary and educating our guests, and to live in paradise.  This issue is our gift to you!

 

Holiday Goody Gifts for YOU!

Big Cat Rescue has teamed up with Explore.org who is hosting LIVE STREAMING video of the cats. See tigers playing, swimming, sleeping, and eating.  Watch Nikita lioness as she plays and sleeps.  Watch adorable funny kittens playing.

FIRST: Go to http://Explore.org/BigCatRescue to see the live streaming videos and use the “Snapshot” feature there to take your own photos of the lions, tigers, and kittens.

EVERY photo submission gets YOUR NAME placed in a drawing for a free t-shirt.

SECOND: Submit your photos to us before midnight on Christmas Eve.  The T-Shirt Winner will be announced on Christmas Day.  We will pick 30 photos to include in a special edition screensaver that we will give away Christmas Day.  Find out how to submit your photos here, where it says, Win A FREE Big Cat Rescue T-Shirt http://chatbigcats.com/newsletter-gifts-december-2015/

Video Updates Since the Last Mews Letter

Bobcat Release Site Needed in Highlands County FL

State law requires that bobcats be released back to the same county where they were picked up for rehab.  Rain and Dancer came from Highlands County, so we need a release site that is in excess of 40 acres (the more land the better) where the owner will give us written permission to release them.  If you have land, or know a land baron, please email Cat@BigCatRescue.org and let us know.

 

Can’t Get Enough of the Big Cats?

Now you can watch them LIVE on explore.org/bigcatrescue  Check out each of the webcams below:

Nikita Lioness

Vacation Rotation

Feeding Station

Kitten Cabana

Windsong Memorial Cat Hospital

Bobcat Rehab

AdvoCats Come in All Sizes

Our AdvoCats come in all ages, from all over the US and the world. Eleven year-old Alexander P. proves that anyone who cares about big cats can make a difference. For the past two years Alexander has supported Big Cat Rescue through our Buy a Brick program by collecting donations rather than gifts for his birthday. This school year, he and his fellow classmate are organizing a school fundraiser to sponsor one of our very own bobcats in honor of their school mascot.

Alexander_BigCat_2

Just this week, Alexander’s family surprised him with an early Christmas gift – a trip from Maryland to our sanctuary in Tampa, FL! During his visit Alexander learned more about the issues of private ownership and about our federal bill, the Big Cat Public Safety Act. Wanting to voice his support for big cats, Alexander plans on visiting the Capital next year to meet with legislators and tell them just how important this bill is to him.  Thank you for all that you do for the cats, Alexander!

Jennifer Leon, MPA Director of Outreach