Luke Richardson of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning Can Strike the Same Place Twice.

Luke Richardson of the Tampa Bay Lightning loves Big Cat Rescue.  He comes here so often, he can just about lead the tours himself.  See one of his recent visits in the video below:


Big Cat Rescue had special guests from the Tampa Bay Lightning. All-Star defenseman Pavel Kubina visited the sanctuary with his family, who were in town from the Czech Republic. Also on the tour were Lightning forward Nikita Alexeev and trainer Adam Rambo. Thanks to trainer Mike Griebel for organizing the tour and special thanks to Pavel for his donation and tickets for the volunteers.

These cats were raised together at a road side zoo with the intention of cross breeding them to create white ligers. The zoo owner, who also ran a small circus, died recently and the zoo was shut down by the Boston Anti Vivisection League. Big Cat Rescue, with the help of Jaguar of Tampa, was able to rescue two Jaguars who had been shut up in the basement of this facility for more than a year and has the opportunity to rescue the two cats above if Cat-A-Tats and a monthly allowance for food are provided. It costs 500.00 per cat per month to care for big cats like these and their cages would cost $10,000.00. They can live for 20 years so taking them in now could mean a very long commitment of time and money.

Being raised together, these cats long for each other’s company. With proper birth control methods this can be done at Big Cat Rescue. Unfortunaely, if Big Cat Rescue is unable to take the cats they will most likely be split up. Male lions are the most prized kills in canned hunts and because it is legal and the ranch can get $2000.00 for the opportunity to shoot this lion as he sits in a transport cage, someone will take him for that purpose. The white female will most likely go to a back yard breeder who will breed her for the white cubs he can sell and the golden cubs will be killed at birth. She will know the anguish of having her cubs ripped from her and knowing that they are mistreated and killed with nothing she can do to stop it.

There are less than 17 accredited rescue facilites in the U.S. that will take in big cats and we are the largest. All of the sanctuaries are full. If
we don’t take them there are very few other options available to the
cats, but we have a commitment to the 100 + cats already in our care
and cannot take on the responsibility of two more big mouths to feed
without your help.

Thanks to many of you we were able to rescue them.


Lighting Strikes Big Cat Rescue

Two months later, 19 year
veteran defenseman Luke Richardson, who joined the Lighting last year,
honored us with a visit.  He
visited with Operations Manager and season ticket holder Scott Lope,
with tigers China Doll and Shere Khan in the background arguing over who
gets the first autograph.

Luke Richardson

TampaBay Lightning
player, Luke Richardson, has been to
Big Cat Rescue so many times that he practically gave the tour himself
on T.V. and it aired before the Lightning Ice Time show
on the Sunsports


Luke Richardson and Scott Lope

Back to Big Cat Rescue Celebrities

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio Protects TigersIn St. Petersburg, Russia Leonardo DiCaprio pledged $1 million to World Wildlife Fund to benefit wild tigers. DiCaprio is a member of the board of directors. His difficult trip to Russia involved a commercial jet plane that caught fire and turned back to New York, and then a smaller plane, rocked by Atlantic storms that ran out of fuel and had to land in Finland’s capital Helsinki for refueling before eventually making it to St. Petersburg.

In a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Putin, DiCaprio, who is half-Russian, said he first became interested in tiger conservation when tiger experts from the WWF, one of Big Cat Rescue’s partners in the International Tiger Coalition, had addressed him.

“Mr. DiCaprio has not just come to us, but simply burst through the frontline. Excuse me if you may, but in our country people usually say – that’s what we call a real man,” Putin said. “And I think that if people with such character would be responsible for defending nature or a tiger in this particular case, we’re destined for success.”

World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick, who has backed the tiger forum during the organizing period, told participants the World Bank is working with tiger range countries and nongovernmental organizations to save wild tigers. Our favorite Zoellick quote is, “We want to see poachers behind bars, not tigers.”

Back to Big Cat Rescue Celebrities

Hell’s Kitchen Chef Robert Hesse

Hell’s Kitchen Chef Serves Steak Tartare to the Tigers!


Chef Robert Hesse from Hell's Kitchen

On Thursday, April 14th Chef Robert Hesse from the FOX TV hit Hell’s Kitchen visited Big Cat Rescue, the world’s largest accredited sanctuary dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of exotic cats.


Chef Hesse is one of the most popular contestants from the Hell’s Kitchen series, and has used his notoriety to help the less fortunate.  Read the rest of the story and see more photos at:


On Thursday, April 14th Chef Robert Hesse from the FOX TV hit Hell’s Kitchen visited Big Cat Rescue, the world’s largest accredited sanctuary dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of exotic cats.


Chef Hesse was an astounding fan favorite in Season 5 of Hell’s Kitchen, and one who many thought would glide into the finals. Hesse was Chef Gordon Ramsay’s favorite to win as well; however an illness kept him from going further in season 5. After two million plus fans requested Hesse’s return, Ramsay acknowledged the demand and brought Hesse back in Season 6.


Chef Hesse is one of the most popular contestants from the Hell’s Kitchen series, and has used his notoriety to help the less fortunate.


“I got into a lot of trouble as a kid, having little guidance I found myself on the wrong side of life, somewhere I didn’t want to be.” Hesse states and adds “I want to give back to organizations that help steer children in the right path.”


Chef Hesse continues to support the Eckerd Youth Alternatives, the largest children’s charity in the Tampa Bay area.


So in a perfect convergence of like-minded goodwill, Chef Hesse and his family visited Big Cat Rescue in support of the 100+ magnificent animals that call the sanctuary home. Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit educational sanctuary, is devoted to rescuing and providing a permanent home for exotic (i.e. wild, not domestic) cats who have been abused, abandoned, bred to be pets, retired from performing acts, or saved from being slaughtered for fur coats, and to educating the public about these animals and the issues facing them in captivity and in the wild.


“It was a privilege to meet Chef Hesse and introduce he and his family to the magnificent animals that call Big Cat Rescue home” said Jeff Kremer, Director of Donor Appreciation with the nonprofit sanctuary. “It was inspiring to hear of Chef Hesse’s continuing commitment towards helping those in need, both in the human as well as animal world that we share in.”


Big Cat Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, rated Four Star by The sanctuary receives no government support and relies on its educational activities, such as tours of the facility and the generosity of donors to support the magnificent animals that call the sanctuary home.


For more information visit: