Simba is a male Asian spotted leopard born on 6/6/94. He came to Big Cat Rescue on 8/4/94 with his sister, Nyla, as a bottle fed baby. Simba had the misfortune of being born the wrong sex. Backyard breeders always want more females than males. Since his sister Nyla was cross eyed, he was not a good candidate for breeding and was unwanted.
Seeing what a beautiful leopard he has grown up to be, we are fortunate that we were able to take him in to save him from a long life of breeding.
Simba has always had a predisposition for the female volunteers who care for him. This was never more evident than when he was recently relocated to a cat-a-tat near Reno, a former circus performing leopard. Though bigger than Reno, Simba spent most of his time hiding away in his den until he was coaxed out by a female staff member who sat with him and reassured him that everything would be all right. The term “big scaredy cat” never fit anyone more on that day than it did Simba.
He quickly adjusted to his new surroundings. He just needed the reassurance, as we all do sometimes, from someone who cares deeply for him.
Simba has arthritis in his old age and is being treated with pharmaceuticals, supplements and laser therapy.
The leopards at Big Cat Rescue are definitely some of the funniest cats at the sanctuary! They’re often “break dancing”, playing with enrichment, stalking tour guests and just being goofy! But remember despite how cute and cuddly they may look sometimes, they are still very much WILD and their mood can change very quickly from fun to ferocious!
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.
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:
DOB 5/13/94 – 3/11/2015 Alexander’s father was supposed to be a sterile first generation hybrid so we did not expect Alexander. Alex is one of our more friendly and outgoing bobcats. Whenever keepers are near, he will get right up and begin to follow their movements watching with intense curiosity. Alex was placed with Windsong, who was more reserved than he. His enthusiasm was contagious and soon Windsong became friendly towards keepers as well. Alex is also a bit of a clown and will often do silly things like pouncing at a pile of leaves or a stick on the ground for no apparent reason other than to get a chuckle from anyone who may be watching at the time. After four years of living together with Windsong, the two surprisingly produced Windstar. Although these hybrids are supposed to be sterile, all of our bobcat hybrids were immediately neutered to prevent any more accidents.
Most of our bobcats were rescued from fur farms where they were being raised to slaughter for their fur. Some were being sold at auction where taxidermists would buy them and club them to death in the parking lot, but a few were born here in the early days when we were ignorant of the truth and were being told by the breeders and dealers that these cats should be bred for “conservation.” Once we learned that there are NO captive breeding programs that actually contribute to conservation in the wild we began neutering and spaying our cats in the mid 1990’s. Knowing what we do about the intelligence and magnificence of these creatures we do not believe that exotic cats should be bred for lives in cages. Read more about our Evolution of Thought HERE
Common Name: Serval Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata) Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Family: Felidae Genus: Felinae (Leptailurus) Species: Serval (L.s. constantina)
Barbary Serval thought to now be Extinct
Misc: The name Serval is derived from a Portuguese word meaning “wolf-deer.”
Size and Appearance: Often referred to as the cat of spare parts, this unusual, but beautiful cat is among the feline family’s most successful. It has a small, delicate head and extremely large ears set on an elongated neck, long slim legs (hind legs longer than front), long slender body and a short tail. The ears are black on the back with a distinctive white spot, and the tail has 6 or 7 black rings and a black tip. The coat color is pale yellow with black markings, either of large spots that tend to merge into longitudinal stripes on the neck and back, or of numerous small spots, which give a speckled appearance. These “speckled” Servals from west Africa – called servalines – used to be considered a separate species Felis brachyura, until it was demonstrated that the speckled pattern was just a variation or “morph”.
Habitat: Servals are found in well-watered savannah long-grass environments, and are associated with reed beds and other riparian vegetation types. They occupy a variety of habitats all associated with water sources, they range up into alpine grasslands and can penetrate deep dense forests along waterways and through grassy patches, but are absent from rain forests. They will make use of arid areas in extreme instances, and have occasionally done so in parts of south-western Africa.
Distribution: sub-Saharan Africa, with small populations in south-west Africa, and a reported relict population in North Africa (no recent sightings confirmed).
Reproduction and Offspring: After a gestation of approximately 73 days, females produce a litter of 1-5 kittens, with 2 being the average. They weigh in at around 8.5-9 ounces at birth, and it will take 9-12 days until their eyes open. They begin to take solid foods around the age of 3 weeks, and are independent between 6-8 months, but may remain in their natal ranges. They attain sexual maturity between 18-24 months, and it is at this time that they will be forced out of their mother’s territory.
In captivity, Servals have lived past 20 years at Big Cat Rescue and up to 19 years in other facilities.
Social System and Communication: Servals are solitary animals, and social interactions are limited to periods of mating. Each sex maintains its own territory. Hear our chirps, purrs, hisses, snarls, calls, and growl sounds HERE
Hunting and Diet: Much like the big bad wolf in “Little Red Riding Hood” the Servals big ears are “the better to hear you with!” The serval’s sensitive hearing allows it to locate small mammals moving through the grass or underground, and to hunt its prey sometimes without seeing it until the final pounce. It also has the ability to leap vertically and catch prey such as birds, right out of the air. They do this by “clapping” with their front paws together and striking with a downward blow. Primary prey items for the Serval includes rodents, birds, reptiles, fish, frogs and insects. Servals have a hunting success rate of 50%.
Principal Threats: the main threats to Servals are leopards, dogs, and of course, man. Because of their beautiful pelage, they are a prime target for poachers. Their skins are sold as young leopards or cheetahs, which are much scarcer. The pelt trade for they are sold is mostly for domestic ceremonial, medicinal purposes or the tourist trade rather than for commercial export. There is also the issue of preserving the land that makes up their homeland, which is destroyed by human encroachment or from annual burning of grasslands. Some tribes hunt and kill the Serval for their flesh, which is considered a delicacy.
Status: CITES: Appendix II. IUCN: Not listed.
Felid TAG recommendation: Serval (Leptailurus serval). Common in nature and captivity, this species is important for institutions with zoogeographic themes, as well as for educational uses. Most specimens probably can be traced to a subspecies. Currently, there are more servals in zoos than recommended by the RCP. The PMP target population is 80 individuals. 91% of the population is of unknown origin and not suitable for breeding. The first stud book ever was published for this species in 2003.
How rare is this cat? The International Species Information Service lists 292 in zoos worldwide, with 130 being in the U.S.
Information reprinted With Permission from the IUCN Wild Cats Book.