Did you know that Big Cat Rescue fosters domestic kittens until they are old enough to be adopted? In the last 3 years our interns and volunteers have mothered literally hundreds of foster kittens!
This includes mommy cats with babies, bottle feeder kittens without mommies, kittens under 2 lbs. (the legal weight to spay & neuter them), and feral kittens that need to be socialized. Big Cat Rescue’s amazing interns – who live on property and ADORE kittens!! – care for the kittens from the time they arrive to the time they are brought back to the Humane Society for adoption. That’s a lot of love, nurturing, care and socializing!
When the kittens are old enough to have their first vaccines and have been SNAP tested (for Feline Aids and Feline Leukemia), they can spend their days in our Kitten Cabana while the interns are working at the sanctuary. Volunteers who have taken our Kitten Playtime Class can go into the Kitten Cabana to play with and socialize them. Playing with kittens! Yippee. Friendly kittens have a much better chance of being adopted. WATCH OUR KITTENS LIVE DURING THE DAY in the Kitten Cabana at http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-kitten-cabana
Big Cat Rescue provides the kittens with food, formula, litter, crates, carriers, bottles, toys, cat trees, catnip, heating pads, scales, nebulizers, intern housing, Internet for webcams and emergency care. If YOU would like to help support our Foster Kitten Program and “mother” our tiny charges, DONATE HERE
Or we can always use these supplies for our kittens: Purina Kitten Chow, plain clay litter (no clumping), wet food, soft blankets, towels, toys, beds, heating pads and kitten nursing supplies. Easy to order from our Amazon Wishlist.
SPAY AND PLAY – One more really cool thing…we put our mouth where are paws are! If you bring us an original receipt from your vet showing that you spayed or neutered a pet, or a receipt from an animal shelter showing that you adopted a spayed or neutered pet within the past year, Big Cat Rescue will give you a FREE PASS for our Day Tour. That’s a $36.00 value! If you are the kind of person who cares enough to protect your pet or feral cats from over population and all the horrors that go with it, then you are the kind of person we want to meet! See Day Tours for times and tell the Ticket agent you have a Free Pass to redeem.
“We applaud USDA for taking this first step to put roadside zoos and the public on notice that federal law prohibits using infant cubs for photographic opportunities and interactive experiences,” said Anna Frostic, senior attorney for wildlife & animal research at The Humane Society of the United States, “but it is imperative that the agency take additional action to prohibit public contact with big cats, bears and nonhuman primates of any age.”
As documented in the petition, dozens of facilities across the country routinely breed and acquire exotic feline species – all of which are listed under the Endangered Species Act – to produce an ample supply of cubs for profit. “Both animals and people are put in harm’s way when big cats are used for public contact exhibition – young cubs are particularly susceptible to disease, especially when deprived of necessary maternal care, and cubs quickly grow into dangerous predators that can cause serious injury to adults and children,” said Jeff Flocken, North America regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
In contrast to zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, “there are thousands of big cats in private menageries in the U.S., and these facilities do not have the resources or expertise to safely and responsibly care for dangerous wild animals,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society. Conservation professionals agree that endangered and threatened species like tigers, lions, and apes should not be bred for commercial purposes.
“The insatiable demand for cubs and baby primates used at interactive exhibits fuels a vicious cycle of breeding and exploitation. It is standard in this horrific industry to separate babies from their mothers, and then discard them when they grow too big for handling,” explained Adam Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA.
The mass propagation of tigers in the U.S. has resulted in a captive population that is nearly twice the number of tigers that exist in the wild. “Cubs used for petting, if they survive, typically spend many years living in substandard facilities and the few who are lucky enough to eventually end up at good sanctuaries typically arrive with medical issues caused by deficient care,” said Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue.
In addition to these animal welfare, public safety and conservation concerns, “the surplus of exotic animals in roadside zoos and other substandard facilities puts an enormous financial burden on the accredited sanctuaries that provide lifetime care for abandoned and seized animals,” according to Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals.
Investigations have revealed that using tiger cubs for photo ops and play sessions can yield over $20,000 per month for a roadside zoo, fueling demand for more and more cubs – but once the cats mature, their future is uncertain. “There is just not enough space or resources at accredited sanctuaries to support the demand created by this irresponsible breeding,” said Kellie Heckman, executive director of Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
Further, “the fate of captive tigers in the U.S. has serious implications for the conservation of tigers in the wild,” said Leigh Henry, senior policy advisor for Wildlife Conservation at World Wildlife Fund, “strengthened regulation of U.S. captive tigers will help ensure that captive-bred tiger parts don’t enter the black market and stimulate the demand that drives the poaching of wild tigers.”
While there is still much more work to be done to fully address the coalition’s petition to completely prohibit public contact with big cats, bears and nonhuman primates of any age, this is a significant step forward for the U.S. to improve its oversight of captive tigers and lead by example to encourage other countries, like China, to reduce the demand for tigers and tiger products.
These web cams are usually on domestic cat kittens that we are fostering for adoption, but are sometimes on the exotic cats in our on site Cat Hospital so that we can monitor their progress when they are recovering. We do not breed exotic cats. Find out why no legitimate sanctuary breeds animals.
Bean was sedated because he was losing his appetite and we thought the culprit may be cancer as he also had a mass that had developed on his foot. We sedated him and removed the mass, and at the time his blood work appeared to be pretty average for an animal his age. We did not find any other possible causes for his inappetence at the time of his exam, so it was thought that perhaps the mass on his foot was painful and that may have led to him not wanting to eat. The mass was removed and tested negative for cancer.
Normally we would have liked him to recover indoors for at least a week before going back to his enclosure, but he was so unhappy in the hospital that we decided to move him back out early. During this time he also had been refusing to eat. Sometimes the animals can get very upset about being kept in a new environment and will refuse to eat. However, when he was moved back out to his enclosure he still refused to eat. We believed that this was most likely due to having been captured, sedated, and kept inside for a couple days and that by moving him back outside it would pass.
When it did not we decided to set up a hospital sized cage for him attached to his own enclosure. This way we could provide him the fluids and medications he needed. (Because he was not eating, he was not taking his meds.) We have to give the fluids and medications a minimum of 2-3 days to take effect. During this time and because he had been refusing to eat we also had to syringe feed him a little food. This was done once a day at the same time as his fluids and meds. The reason this is so important is because if an animal does not eat for a certain period of time their gi tract can actually stop working and even if the animal starts to feel better they will not eat. By giving him some food via syringe it keeps his stomach and intestines functioning until he hopefully would feel better. Syringe feeding is always a last choice after offering a big variety of foods multiple times a day either on a plate or via a long stick. We typically will only syringe feed an animal in this type of situation 2-3 days. Today is Bean’s third day of receiving fluids, medications, and syringe feeding. He still has not turned the corner and so our vet will be examining him later on today. It is likely that we will have to euthanize him as we cannot let him continue to go on without eating. While we are very sad about this outcome, we know that we have done absolutely everything we could have done for him.
If you have followed Thor Bobcat’s rescue. He was a FL bobcat who was hit by a car. He broke several bones in his jaw and face. After having these breaks repaired he absolutely refused to eat. He went days without eating and became very weak. We feared that despite receiving the care he needed to repair his injuries that Thor did not have the will to go on. After trying all of our usual tactics of lots of different kinds of meats both on a plate and at the end of a stick we resorted to syringe feeding him a meat slushie. We did this for a few days and he bounced back and began eating on his own. He is now very strong and healthy and will be released back out into the wild in the coming months.
So as you can see, syringe feeding is sometimes necessary to give the medications a chance to work and to keep the digestive system functioning. Sometimes it works, and other times it does not. When it does work it is completely worth it and saves the animal’s life. When it does not work at least we know there is nothing else we could have done for the animal.
President of Big Cat Rescue –
A permanent sanctuary for big cats &
rehabilitation center for native FL bobcats
We are a sanctuary, not a zoo, so our animals come first. We do not allow people to wander around unescorted. Our tours are all guided and provide an educational experience that includes the plight of big cats in the wild and in captivity and what you can do to save them. You will be expected to follow these Tour Rules.
In Florida, weather is always an issue. In the summer it rains frequently, but often only for a few minutes. If you have paid for a tour and get rained out during your tour, we will give you a free pass to come back. Because the cats are spooked by umbrellas, they are not allowed but you should bring a rain coat or poncho if it looks like rain. Tours will be canceled during lightening storms. Paths are frequently muddy so closed toed, old, comfortable shoes are recommended.
You may bring your own cold drinks or buy ours but either way, be prepared for the heat.
You are welcome to take photos and video on the tour, but leave the tripods at home, or purchase a private tour. We ask everyone on the tour to stay together, no smoking, no cell phone calls and respect the tour guides warnings so that you have the best possible experience.
If you are traveling with pets, you cannot bring them onto the property. Florida law (and common sense) prohibit you from leaving them in your car, even with the A/C running.
A few years ago Vernon Stairs was using the weed whacker back in the heavy brush behind Cameron the Lion and Zabu the White Tiger’s cage when he accidentally stepped into a fallen bee’s nest. The hundreds of stings he endured would have killed most people and certainly would have killed our cats. You can imagine our trepidation when we discovered three HUGE hives on the sanctuary grounds!
We were really torn between wanting to insure the safety of our cats and our workers and being aware of the fact that honeybees are dying off at an alarming rate, due primarily to the use of pesticides.
According to Einstein, if the bee disappears then man only has four years left to live.
Barbara Stairs got busy (dare I say, like a bee?) to find someone who could rescue and relocate the bees. She followed a lot of leads that led no where before being funneled through the University of South Florida and out to some previous students who just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE BEES!
Bryan and Erica started a honey bee rescue and honey product Facebook group called Urban Buzz. They are just getting started, but have a lot of knowledge about bees and a strong desire to preserve the important role they serve in nature. You can see how expertly they relocated the bees from our trees to their hives in the video below: