This month Porsche is unveiling their new SUV called the Macan – which means Tiger in Indonesian. When Big Cat Rescue recently learned that Porsche dealerships around the country planned to rent tiger cubs as part of the “entertainment” at their Macan launch parties, we knew we had to try and educate Porsche about why this is cub abuse.
We contacted Porsche North America’s headquarters in Atlanta and explained that Big Cat Rescue as well as other GFAS-accredited sanctuaries and reputable animal welfare groups such as PETA are highly opposed to the exploitation of tiger cubs for entertainment, PR and “shock value.” We explained to Porsche that tigers are endangered in the wild and using them as props to promote automobiles would send the very wrong message that exotic animals are ours to use at will.
We were extremely pleased to find that Porsche management quickly “got it” about the abuse to the cubs and immediately notified all of their dealers around the country NOT to include tiger cubs in their marketing promotions for the Macan. And after further discussions with Big Cat Rescue and PETA, Porsche has adopted a no-animal policy for all dealer activities!!
And a very special THANK YOU to Porsche for caring about tiger cubs and taking a responsible stance on wild animal exhibitions!
Big Cat Rescue encourages our supporters to visit their local Porsche dealer and test drive the new Macan. To read PETA’s press release, read on:
PORSCHE URGES DEALERSHIPS TO NIX TIGER CUB EVENTS FOLLOWING APPEAL
Company Shares Concerns With PETA, Big Cat Rescue Over Animals’ Well-Being, Customers’ Safety
Atlanta — In response to appeals from PETA and Big Cat Rescue citing animal welfare and public-safety concerns raised by Porsche dealerships’ reported plans to exhibit tiger cubs at unveilings of the new Porsche Macan, Porsche Cars North America has pledged to urge all of its U.S. dealerships to cancel any plans to display tiger cubs or any other animals at events.
In an e-mail to PETA, Porsche’s vice president of marketing, Andre Oosthuizen, told PETA that Porsche shares its concerns “when it comes to the ethical treatment of any animal, large or small, wild or domesticated” and “will personally make contact with every Porsche dealer to reinforce our appeal that no animals whatsoever be used in any dealer activity.”
“After hearing from PETA about how tiger cubs used for displays are torn away from their mothers shortly after birth, Porsche was quick to kick a ‘no live animals’ policy into high gear,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “By speaking out against cruel big-cat displays, Porsche has set an example of kindness and good business sense for other companies to follow.”
Baby tigers used for public display are typically only 8 to 12 weeks old—and the cubs displayed at a Porsche dealership in Tampa, Fla., earlier this month were believed to be only 3 weeks old.
In nature, tiger cubs stay with their mothers for two years, but tiger cubs used for display are generally taken away from their mothers when they’re just days old in order to “acclimate” them to human handling. The frightened, helpless cubs are continually carted from town to town and venue to venue—and when they grow up and are no longer profitable, they’re often left to languish in small cages or are disposed of.
Wild-animal displays also place the public at risk of injury and disease transmission. A bear cub recently used in a promotion at Washington University in St. Louis bit at least 18 people.
We are so pleased to announce that the Vacation Rotation Enclosure has been completed and Big Cat Rescues celebrated the grand opening of the new space with dozens of volunteers, donors, and the media. Everyone gathered early in the morning on July 30th to watch as Bengali the tiger was the first to explore the 2.5 acre enclosure.
After 11 longs months of hard work and $200,000 in cost the super sized enclosure inspired awe in the 18 year old tiger. Bengali made his way through a long tunnel connecting his enclosure to the Vacation Rotation Enclosure where he enthusiastically explored every square foot. He first checked out a large oak tree log and promptly scratch and marked it as his. Then he made his way over to the giant jungle gym and checked out the view of his domain from atop. Next he strolled over to the pond and took a long drink to cool off. After that he patrolled the perimeter, during which he make a few more trips to the pond. He has never had access to a natural body of water such as this and the muddy floor was a little intimidating to him. He is used to his concrete pool, so the squishy mud floor was a very different experience. After a long morning sniffing and marking Bengali finally retired to his giant cave den for a well deserved siesta.
Bengali spent a week in the new enclosure before giving way for 24 year old Flavio to have his turn.
Our sincere thanks to the many donors who so far have funded 80% of this project, and special thanks to major donors Reitzel Foundation, Larry and Pam Trissel, the Little Family Foundation, and David G. Nugent in memory of Barbara M. Nugent.
We are still $33,400 from meeting our fundraising goal for the construction of the Vacation Rotation Enclosure.
Bobcats Go Free
Leopards in a Barrel
What? You never played that game when you were a kid? Ok, so maybe it was monkeys…Anyhow, Sabre the leopard received a very unique enrichment item this past week thanks to a special request from our summer interns.
Many of our cats love to play with cardboard tubes scented with spices or other aromas. We use toilet paper and paper towel tubes, but recently received a large donation of some extra large cardboard tubes. These tubes were big enough for a leopard to get inside of and that is exactly what Sabre the leopard did.
He spent much of his time lounging inside his massive tube. However sadly with the daily rain showers at the sanctuary these cardboard tubes do not last very long before they become mushy and must be removed. Sabre was so sad when his tube was taken away. That is when the interns thought how nice it would be for him to have a permanent tube made of a more durable material.
And so Big Cat Rescuers took a large plastic barrel and cut the ends off making a lasting tube that Sabre could have forever. Sabre was especially grateful and immediately rubbed on and rolled the tube back and forth before finally plopping down inside. A huge roar of thanks to our thoughtful and creative interns!
Bobcat Kitten Moves to Outdoor Enclosure
Newest arrival Khaleesi the bobcat is doing great! Last month we told you about this orphaned female bobcat kitten who found her way into our rehabilitation program. Khaleesi has received her first round of vaccines and has been moved to our outdoor rehab enclosure where she will continue her training. She will learn to camouflage herself in natural surroundings, climb trees, find den sites, and hunt during her time with us. Once she is ready she will be released back into the wild where she rightfully belongs.
33% Match On Your Donations To Endowment
Our Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay is designed to insure that we can meet our commitment to care for the cats we take in to the end of their lives. Currently the Community Foundation has a wonderful program where we set a fund raising goal that we have to meet over three years, and when we get to 75% of the goal, their Matching Fund puts the remaining 25% of the goal into our Endowment account. This translates into a 33% additional matching funds for each dollar you donate to the Endowment. So, a donation of $100 from a supporter earns us an ADDITIONAL $33.33 from the Matching Fund!
This is a great way to leverage your donation and have even more impact for the cats. To donate by check to our Endowment and earn the match please make the check out to Community Foundation of Tampa Bay but still send it to us at 12802 Easy Street, Tampa, FL 33625. You can put Big Cat Rescue in the memo section for record keeping, but that is not necessary. You will receive a receipt for the tax deductible donation from the Community Foundation, which is a 501c3 non profit like Big Cat Rescue.
Thanks for helping make sure the cats can receive the best possible care for their entire lives!
Bella the Tiger Has Cancer
Bella is a 17 year old female tiger who was rescued along with TJ from a breeding facility that was shut down by the USDA in 2006. Bella is quite friendly and happily pounces over and chuffs at her keepers before flopping down and rolling the grass. While Bella was happily rolling on her back her keepers noticed a mass on her abdomen about the size of a tennis ball. So volunteer veterinarians Dr. Wynn and Dr. Boorstein sedated and examined Bella with the assistance of Big Cat Rescuers. While under sedation Bella received a full physical examination. Her body condition was good for a tiger her age weighing in at approximately 230 lbs. Her blood was drawn and a biopsy of the mass was collected.
Sadly, the mass turned out to be cancer, (adenocarcinoma) and now Bella is losing interest in eating so, by the time you read this, she will hopefully have made the walk out to the Vacation Rotation Enclosure so that she can experience some sense of freedom in her final days!
100% of the profits from the sale of the Dragon Fruit Lip Butter go to charity so the greater the sales, the greater the funding. The more votes we get, the greater the amount of funding we receive!
Big Cat Rescuers Go On “Shore Leave”
Thanks to the ROARING generosity of The Royal Manticoran Navy, the Official Honor Harrington Fan Association, representatives from Big Cat Rescue recently tabled and spoke as part of the 35th Annual Shore Leave Science Fiction Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland.
The Royal Manticoran Navy is comprised of an international group of incredibly talented and passionate animal advocates who have generously supported Big Cat Rescue’s fiscal and advocacy initiatives for a number of years, including approximately $3000 raised during Shore Leave 2013.
The group celebrates the literary works of David Weber and the universe he created in his Honor Harrington series of books, which boasts over 3 million copies in print. Mr. Weber has had more than 13 of his titles appear on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Shore Leave 2013 included such notable celebrities as William Shatner (James Kirk, Star Trek), Brent Spiner (Cmdr. Data, Star Trek, Next Generation), Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary’s Dr. Helen Magnus; Stargate G1/Atlantis’s Col Samantha Carter) and Saul Rubinek, Eddie McClintock and Neil Grayston (Warehouse 13).
We hope by sharing a new list with you each month that you will join us in speaking out for the big cats and cubs that are exploited across this country every day. We encourage you to take one small action today and reach out via phone or email to contact one or more of the offenders listed below and politely express your concern. Together we can be the voice for the voiceless…together we can make a difference. Please join us in our mission of Caring for Cats & Ending the Trade.
No. 1 The Midland County Fair (Michigan) has tiger “trainer” Brunon Blaszak’s tiger show at the fair this week. A news article in the Midland Daily News claims Blaszak is “educating those watching the show about the plight of the big cats.” Please help us educate fair manager Trish Steele and Midland Daily News reporter Kelly Dame that exploiting big cats in a circus show is no life for the cats and sends the wrong message to fair goers that it is ok to own big cats and use them as entertainment. Contact Trish Steele at 989-835-7901 and email@example.com. Contact reporter Kelly Dame at firstname.lastname@example.org and her editor Jack Telfer at email@example.com and 989-839-4240.
No. 2 The Chesterfield County Fair (Virginia) will have a new “white tiger encounter show” at the fair this year from August 23 – 31. Please help the fair’s management understand that the white tiger is not an endangered species. The white coat is the result of a double recessive gene and only occurs through severe inbreeding, such as father to daughter. Ask the fair to CANCEL this show and not allow big cats to be exploited for profit at their fair. Contact fair president Kenny Chandler at kc1861USA@yahoo.com and 804-908-1861. Contact fair manager Julia Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org and 804-405-9234.
No. 3 The New Jersey State Fair (New Jersey) ended last Sunday but it’s not too late to let the fair’s management know that big cat lovers do not want to see a tiger cub and Canadian lynx at the fair next year. Please let Executive Director Barbara Wortmann know that you don’t want to see Jungle Habitat bring wild cats to the fair in the future. Contact her at email@example.com and 973-948-5500.
No. 4 Ventura County in Malibu (California) has conditionally approved the request by tiger merchant Irena Hauser, who owns 5 tigers, to house them in a residential area of Malibu despite the outcry and concern of many area citizens. We understand Hauser plans to use the tigers in the movie industry and transport them for filming purposes, putting the public at even greater risk every time the tigers are transported. Please contact Case Planner Jay Dobrowalski at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know you oppose Case PL 13-0011 and the private ownership of big cats.
No. 5 Last month, the Uncle Sam Jam (Michigan) had a white tiger exhibit at this extremely loud event which featured monster trucks, fireworks, carnival rides and blaring rock bands all weekend. A supporter who contacted us said the noise level was incredible. Would you please speak out for this tiger and let the event staff know that their event is no place for a tiger? Contact the event manager at email@example.com and 586-493-4344.
If you hear about exotic cats or cubs being exploited in your area, please contact Susan Bass at Susan.Bass@BigCatRescue.org. As always, you can keep up with the latest action alerts at CatLaws.com. Thank you!
I was about nine years old and was perched in the highest branches of the pine tree next to our home on Knollwood Dr., in Charleston, WV, looking out toward the airport where my father was the private pilot for Gov. Arch Moore. It was my favorite spot. I could see for miles across the hills and valleys. I was watching planes take off and land at long intervals. I was bored out of my mind.
“God,” I implored, “never let me be this bored again.”
Well you have to be careful what you ask for because I don’t think there has been a boring moment since.
Today was one of the weirder days.
At 1:24 am the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office called me (apparently) but my ringer was off, so they called our Operations Manager, Gale, and said that a caller had reported a white tiger loose on Van Dyke Road and they wanted her to see if our tigers were all here. Gale did the rounds, even though we only have one white tiger, just to be sure that all of the cats were accounted for. Thankfully, she didn’t bother me with it and let me sleep.
At 8:52, 8:56 and 9:00 am I get (and miss) three calls back to back from Tallahassee, but I am out cleaning litter boxes and the caller didn’t leave a message, so I am unaware, until just now, that these calls were in my “Recent Calls” list. Probably the Florida Wildlife Commission. 850 717-14XX
At 9:06 am I get a call (also missed) from the Homestead area 305 247-8000 and they didn’t leave a message this time, but I see that the same number did leave a message at 1:25 am, saying that they were a Deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office reporting a white tiger sighting on Van Dyke Road in NW Tampa. I find it odd that a sheriff’s deputy in Tampa would have a Homestead area code, so I call the real Hillsborough County Sheriff.
I tell them who I am and about the call and the Captain said they did get such a call last night, but that he has no idea who called me or why they would have a Homestead area code on their phone. No one else has reported the white tiger and we all just figure it was a drunk or a prank caller. Our enemies, the people who abuse big cats for a living, think it is fun to annoy us and the local police with their stupidity on a regular basis. I told him that we have a new, high power dart rifle if they do see a cat and that we would be happy to help them capture the cat alive.
I texted Gale after the call and that’s when she told me that she had been called in the middle of the night and had done her head count.
At 11:11 am I get a call from 813 735-93XX and it is a young man who is telling me that he was the caller to the Sheriff last night and that he had been to Big Cat Rescue with his girlfriend and hoped that he had not gotten us in trouble. I told him that all of our cats were in their cages, so there was no trouble to be in. He then told me that he loved Big Cat Rescue and that he was sober when he saw the white tiger running along side Van Dyke Road at Lakeshore. He said that he often sees white tailed deer along this stretch of road and that he was no big cat expert, but that it was definitely a cat, with a body about five feet long, and it was white.
He said that after visiting Big Cat Rescue, he knows that people often have such pets and he felt like it was important to let someone know it was running loose. He said he was really embarrassed to make the report because he could barely get up the nerve to even tell his girlfriend what he had seen. I told him he did the right thing.
He said he had checked the news this morning, fully expecting a huge media blitz over the discovery of a white tiger, but was surprised that no one else seems to have seen the cat. I told him that it’s pretty hard for a white tiger to hide, but if the owner knew the cat was out, maybe they had managed to round it back up. Unfortunately there are thousands of big cats in private hands and very little government oversight.
Curiosity got the better of me, so I called the Homestead number and the person who answered was not a Hillsborough County Sheriff, but rather runs a seedy little roadside zoo called the Everglades Outpost where they have been known for their cub petting display. I know the name because I have a photo of someone petting a full grown white tiger at the Outpost.
So, now I am wondering, why the Everglades Outpost would call me, pretending to be a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy reporting a loose white tiger in Tampa when they operate a zoo 200 miles away?
2:30 pm A few hours after reporting this to USDA and the FWC my Inspector says that the Sheriff’s office often will mask the area code of their cell phones, and it is likely just a coincidence that the number on my phone matches the Everglades Outpost. Apparently there were 9 HCSO deputies, 1 Helicopter w/ 2 occupants, and 3 FWC personnel involved because of this crazy call. A huge waste of taxpayer dollars and yet another reason why the U.S. needs to ban the private possession of big cats. Not that there was a privately owned cat involved, but if it were not such a likely scenario, there would not have been such a huge number of people and resources called to action.
This was my response:
When I made these screen shots, I see what you mean. The Sheriff’s office main number is 813 247-8000 so perhaps it is just a coincidence that the fake area code 305, attached to that number would just happen to be a place (Everglades Outpost) 200 miles away with a white tiger petting scheme.
What are the odds of that?
OK, so it sounds like this was all just because of some local report. That is a lot less suspicious to me, then.
Here are the screen shots of the calls. I can’t figure out how to save the voicemail to send to you, but if that really was a H.C. Sheriff’s Deputy, then you probably don’t need it.
5:18 pm a frantic woman calls and asks if I can tell her the name of their local, big cat rescue, because “there are two black saber panthers under a bridge in Burbank, California.”
Is there a full moon?
Africa Con in Conservation
All Cub Petting in Africa Enables Canned Hunts of Big Cats
In this episode we investigate the so-called “green con”, where volunteers are paying exorbitant amounts to come to South Africa to hand raise lion cubs under the impression that they are doing it for conservation. Activists allege that most of these cubs end up in a “canned” hunt or as breeding robots for farms.
We also focus on the alleged abuse of the permit system for the breeding and hunting of lion and ask whether the country needs to have standardised regulations across all provinces.
Part 2 looks at the lion bone trade which has grown hugely over the past few years. Many people know about how the rhino is being poached for its horn, which is used in traditional medicines in Asia, but few know that lion bones are also being used as a replacement for tiger bones in tiger bone wine in Asia, since the tiger numbers have plummeted so drastically. There are concerns that the trade, which is now just a by-product of the hunt, will eventually spill over into wild lion populations.
Big Cat Rescue does bobcat rehab and release of native, Florida bobcats. The video playlist below shows the great lengths we will go to in order to save bobcats and give them a second chance at living free. Search our site for the word “rehab” to see more.
In 2005 Big Cat Rescue released a native bobcat back into the wild. While this is done frequently by Big Cat Rescue for bobcats who were adults when they arrived, it was the first time that we had raised an orphaned baby to be released. Her mother had been killed by man and she was found near death in a parking lot. She arrived at Big Cat Rescue, wrapped in an American flag and spent her first few days in an incubator in intensive care. This interview was between freelance writer Christy Anderson and Jamie Veronica, the President of Big Cat Rescue and the person responsible for raising this baby bobcat to once again live free.
• Why did you rehab her?
When Faith first arrived at Big Cat Rescue, she was estimated to be about 4-6 weeks old. She was emaciated, dehydrated, and extremely weak. The very night that she came to the rescue the decision had to be made as to whether she should be raised to live a life in captivity or to be released back into the wild. Everything that rescuers did from this moment forward would affect either of these options. This was a very tough choice. On the one hand she would be raised to be trusting of humans so that her life in captivity would be one of tolerance, on the other hand she would be raised to be wild, with bare minimum human contact so that she could be released back into her natural habitat when she proved ready. The former was an easier path, but would ultimately end up with another sad bobcat in a cage for 20 years, the latter would be a challenge and the end result was not a guarantee.
Big Cat Rescue had never rehabilitated such a young bobcat; the cub would need to be taught how to hunt and to find water, and shelter. If she did not prove to be a good candidate for release she would be doomed to spend out her days in captivity fearful of humans. The decision was made to raise this young cub for release. Big Cat Rescuers had faith in her will to survive and be free once again. Once this choice had been made, the young bobcat was appropriately named Faith.
• How did you know she was ready, What told you?
Faith pulled through her initial few days under intensive care at Carrollwood Cats, she trudged on through weeks of medical rehabilitation for injuries and sicknesses that she had when she arrived. She became healthy and active and most importantly developed an attitude with her caretakers; she was fearful of humans and disliked their mere presence.
She was moved from indoor housing to an enclosure outside that neighbored that of Bailey, a resident bobcat at Big Cat Rescue. Bailey and Faith quickly grew attached to one another. Bailey taught Faith how to vocalize with others of her kind. This was a unique interaction to observe from afar.
Faith was immediately introduced to a diet of whole prey, she survived on dead chicks and mice and readily accepted these forms of sustenance. Once she became more active these killed whole prey items were hidden in her enclosure under logs and in the grasses, so that she would have to search them out.
The next step was to encourage hunting behaviors. A mother bobcat will bring back wounded prey to her cubs allowing them to make the kill. This develops their skills as successful hunters. To simulate this the rescuers hung a small dead bird from the roof of her enclosure. The bird swayed in the breeze and bobbed about as if it were alive. After a very long time watching from the security of her den, Faith finally emerged and quenched her curiosity. She batted playfully at the bird, but with each swat she became more serious until she jumped onto it and switched from a curious cub to a focused hunter. She managed after several attempts to release the bird from its binding and they both hit the ground with a thud. She quickly snatched up the prize and slinked off to her secluded den to feast. This was more than what could have been hoped for, not only did she recognize a prey item, but she took it down, and she quickly concealed herself to eat. All of these things were very exciting steps in her long journey of rehabilitation.
The next challenge would be to teach her to hunt live prey. After much conversation and thought the rescuers designed a hunting box for Faith. This box was an ordinary dog kennel with a large hole cut into the top of it. Live mice were placed in the crate and Faith could observe them from the top of the kennel and jump in to catch her dinner. The mice however could not escape the confines of the crate, allowing her as much time as she needed to capture her prey. Once again Faith met this challenge with skillfulness and once again the stakes were raised.
The hunting crate was replaced with a small yard with walls made of slick plastic. This “hunting yard” was about 1/3 of her enclosure. The yard provided more room for her prey to hide in the brush and escape her grasp. And again Faith exhibited a fantastic ability to catch her dinner.
• How old was she?
Faith was released on April 21, 2005 when she was nearly a year and a half old. Young bobcats will stay with their mothers upwards of two years learning everything they need to know in order to survive in the wild. Faith was released early due to the time of the year. In the spring all of the baby birds and bunnies and other yummy bobcat treats are just leaving their nests and are often helpless in their first few weeks. This would be the ideal time to release an adolescent bobcat back into the wild. She would have plenty of opportunity and would be more likely to successfully provide for herself.
• Where do you do it?
When the time came to release Faith, the rescuers called in a favor to their good friends at JB Starkey’s Flatwoods Adventures. This 200 acre wildlife park comprised of oak and cypress forests interspersed with fields of palmetto and pine would be the ideal habitat for a native Florida Bobcat. Starkey’s land also borders more than 19,000 acres of protected Florida habitat giving Faith even more room to roam at will. The property is home to an abundance of native wildlife including wild pigs, swamp rabbits, deer and the choice prey of bobcats, wild turkey.
• What was it like to see her go?
When the day finally came to release Faith emotions were running high. Several staff, volunteers and interns convoyed to the release site to witness what every person in the animal field longs to see, a wild animal that has been given a second chance to be free. More than 18 months of special care went into the successful rehabilitation of Faith and opening the door to the crate exposing freedom was the ultimate satisfaction. As Faith bounded towards freedom a bittersweet feeling took over onlookers, a sadness to say goodbye and see her go and a swelling pride in knowing that she was going to make it.
• Have you had any sightings of her to this point?
Big Cat Rescuers check in frequently with the staff at Starkey’s for updates on any sightings that may have occurred. In the past, guests visiting the park on horseback and jeep tours have seen other bobcats released by BCR, but no one as of yet has sighted Faith. This is completely expected though as she is new to this environment and may not yet be comfortable in her surroundings. She will most certainly keep a very low profile in the first several months out on her own.
The afternoon before Faith was released she was tranquilized so that Big Cat Rescue Veterinarian, Dr. Stacie Wadsworth DVM, could do a full workup to assess her health. She was administered vaccinations to give her a head start on the health issues she may face and was micro-chipped with a Home Again chip. These chips are small capsules that are injected into the skin above the shoulder that are permanent and can be read with a special scanner. If she were captured by wildlife officials she could be identified as having come from Big Cat Rescue. Faith’s ear was also “tipped”. This is a common practice in the feral cat community to identify cats that have already been captured and spayed or neutered. Faith’s ear was tipped so that she could be easily identified as a bobcat that had been rehabilitated and released back into the wild. After all of these crucial procedures were completed she was crated for the night so that she would be ready to go at first light to be released.
Since her release, several “Faith Tracking” expeditions have been led by staffers and interns at the park. A long creek bed in the center of the oak forest provides several great places to search for bobcat tracks. On these expeditions evidence of bobcats has been found quite frequently including tracks in the mud, leftover kills that have been buried, and tree scrapings. While she has not been sighted there is an abundance of signs that Faith is doing just fine.
• What was learned?
There was not very much information available detailing how to raise a bobcat cub to adulthood for release into the wild, therefore much of what the rescuers did came by way of creative thinking, a little luck, and a lot of faith. Inventive contraptions were designed to teach Faith how to hunt her own food and were constantly updated and remodeled to meet her skill level and to challenge her in new ways. Enclosure design became an important aspect so to prepare Faith for her natural habitat and the advantages as well as disadvantages she would soon face. The complexity of implementing these things was in keeping Faith’s contact with humans to a bare minimum.
• Would you do it again? Was it successful overall?
Faith was the first bobcat that had been raised from a small cub to be released back into the wild by Big Cat Rescuers. Her life was one of trial and error and an unforgettable learning experience all the while. Though her rehabilitation was quite difficult due to the uncharted territory covered it turned out to be completely successful. With the data and experience collected throughout her rehabilitation rescuers are now confident that this extreme task could easily be tackled again.
Big Cat Rescue, the World’s Largest Accredited Big Cat Rescue Facility
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625 813 920-4130 bigcatrescue.org
All but one of the close up photos in this presentation are not Faith as she was kept away from people and only monitored by surveillance cameras during her time at Big Cat Rescue.
Read another bobcat rehabilitation story from 1999
Read about more about our rehab and release success.
Read about bobcats rescued in 2007 or watch as one of them returns to freedom below.
For Big Cat Rescue to give these bobcats a second chance at life we need your help!
REHABILITATION OF THE WILD CAT
On 10/6/99 we had a successful bobcat release from Big Cat Rescue. Judy Watson had been caring for the male bobcat who had been hit by a car in Brandon and after months of recovery he was set free this past Wednesday. He had to have very expensive hip reconstructive surgery, but as you can see from the photos, he’s as good as new. This is our second successful release in the past year of Florida Bobcats. In photo above is Judy Watson and Jason Bearse. Photo by Volunteer Anissa Camp.
Refuge helps wildcats heal
When injured animals need some rehab, they can get it at Big Cat Rescue in Citrus Park. A fund-raiser is planned to pay for their upkeep.
CITRUS PARK — With all his snarls, fangs and spunk, you’d never guess this bobcat had been hit by a car and endured major surgery.
But that’s exactly what happened to the young feline recovering at Big Cat Rescue, a refuge for roughly 150 exotic cats including cougars, tigers, leopards, servals, and lynx just south of the Citrus Park Town Center.
A man driving along Pinecrest Road in Brandon last month found the unconscious animal on side of the road, said Dr. Richard Funk of Care Animal Hospital of Brandon Inc. “I was tickled pink to look at it.”
Funk said the 24-pound cat was beginning to come to when the man, who was not identified, arrived at the hospital.
“He was a less-than-happy kind of hurting bobcat,” said Funk, who used a syringe at the end of a six-foot pole to sedate the animal, still in the cab of the truck.
“With the door just slightly open, I poked him in the butt and waited until he went night-night,” Funk said. “At that point, I picked him up and and brought him into the clinic and assessed that he had a broken pelvis.”
Judy Watson, education director of Big Cat Rescue, then took over the rescue, transporting the injured animal to Florida Veterinary Specialists in Carrollwood.
There, Dr. Preston Stubbs repaired the fracture with a specially designed plate and screws.
The surgery was successful and the cat was released to Big Cat Rescue the next day, said Tammi Fischer, spokeswoman for Florida Veterinary Specialists.
Soon after the surgery, the cat was “doing extremely well, standing on all four legs,” Watson said. “He has a real bad attitude and is acting very normal.”
Bobcats are three to four times smaller than the endangered Florida Panther, and can sometimes be glimpsed running through orange groves.
Funk said he generally treats one or two bobcats a year, mostly males who tend to wander more than females and who often get forced from their territory by more dominant males.
“We try to fix up as many animals as we can; squirrels, rabbits, hawk owls,” Funk said. “If we don’t do it, nobody’s going to and they’re dead.”
Care handles wildlife cases for free.
“The reason we did this is he’s only a year-and-a-half-old bobcat, a very young male with a lot of life left in him,” Watson said.
Doctors estimate it will take several months for the cat to heal. Then Watson’s real work begins.
“Sometimes it takes longer to find a release site than to rehab him,” Watson said.
Watson is planning another fund-raiser at Big Cat Rescue to help defray the $1,500 bill at Florida Veterinary Services.
Such events at the sanctuary have become more commonplace since the Co-Founder turned up missing nearly two years ago. His wife, Carole Lewis, was left to run the sanctuary amid finances muddled by her husband’s disappearance.
Family Day, scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. July 3, costs $10 for adults and $5 for children. Guests will be able to view the animals and talk to volunteers about the various cats there.
For reservations and directions, call 926-2907
Successful opossum release on January 21, 2000 and recorded on the Jack Hanna’s Wild Adventures show. Thanks Judy!
Rehabilitation in General
Depending on where you live, you could one day, be called upon to care for an injured wild cat. The Bible says that God knows when the sparrow falls, and I believe that God knows how to get help to his injured cats. Perhaps His reasoning is more geared toward making better people of us by coaxing us into caring for something other than ourselves, but whatever the reason, if you keep big cats, the day will come when you will be called upon to care for a non domesticated version of felid. This has been very emotionally rewarding for us and has helped us to better grasp the reality of what life is like for most wild animals.
The more I see of the condition of wildlife, the more I am amazed that any of it still exists. The indomitable spirit is the life blood of these animals and the phrase, “survival of the fittest” takes on renewed meaning. No wild animal has ever come to us that was not eaten up with worms, fleas, mites and ticks. Add to this the fact that they are almost always on the brink of starvation and haven’t an ounce of body fat. Just when it looked like nature was going to do them in, they have come in contact with man. They have been trapped, or shot, or hit by a car and now broken and bleeding they are cursing us with every breath as we step in to alleviate their pain.
This was most true in a recent case, when just after midnight on Christmas Eve we received a call from my brother, Chuck Stairs, who was on call as a Deputy Sheriff. He said a wild cat had been injured in an auto accident, but that it was still very much alive. Half dressed my husband and I grabbed flash lights, nets, blankets and a carrier and raced to the scene. When we arrived she had dragged herself into the brush a few yards off the highway and four deputies were searching with flash lights. Since we live in Florida, we could assume that a wild cat sighting could be a 15 to 20 pound bobcat or a 50 to 80 pound cougar, and not much else. As Our Co-Founder and I pushed our way into the brush, the startled cat let out a howl that sent all of the deputies, except for my brother who had cared for our cats, back out to the road. In the quivering light I could see the cat, a bobcat, all rolled up into a ball on her side. I put my net down over her to keep her from crawling further into the woods. Our Co-Founder slipped his net under her and picking her up thusly, we were able to slide her into the carrier.
We rushed her to a nearby vet who advertised a 24 hour service and waited for thirty minutes for a vet to arrive and let us in. The bobcat was now deep in shock and had balled up in a most uncomfortable looking way. She stared straight ahead and was breathing very shallowly. The veterinarian who arrived had never handled a wild cat, although the clinic catered to exotics, and she told us that there would be nothing anyone could do for the cat until after the holidays (three days later). She injected the bobcat with three cc’s of Dexamethazone 9 mg for shock and sent us home. Not knowing if there were any internal injuries or broken bones we located our regular vet nine hours later who took a series of x-rays showing that there was no indication of internal bleeding nor of any broken bones or vertebrae. Our vet, Dr. Stacie Wadsworth, believed, based upon these findings that the injury was a temporary paralysis cause by a severe blow to her head. She had cuts over one eye and had apparently made contact with the car or pavement with her head. Our vet sent her home with four days worth of injections, to be given twice per day. She prescribed 3 cc injections of the steroid, Dexamethazone and 100 units of sub cutaneous fluids to be administered twice daily.
We modified a large SkyKennel pet carrier to be her temporary home. We built a frame out of two by fours and covered it with plastic coated 1 inch mesh wire, so that it would fit down snugly into the bottom of the carrier. On top of this we piled fresh hay so that the cat could lay down comfortably without the risk of having to lay in her own urine. We attached a feed dish and a water dish to the front grate, but she would not be using those for a while. When we had to tend to her we could easily detach the top of the carrier and take off the door. If she were not paralyzed this would not have been possible.
The bobcat had loosened up from her tightly balled condition and she was now able to move her head to focus on us as we worked on her. In a language that only bobcats speak, she told us repeatedly that as soon as she was able to stand up she was going to kill us all. You would expect this while you are giving shots and IV fluids and even while helping her to eliminate waste and cleaning her up with baby oil to keep her skin from chaffing, but the whole time she is eating and drinking, she is still growling and hissing and threatening to tear us to shreds. When you give of yourself to a wild animal, it is only because it is the right thing to do, not because anyone, especially the animal will ever say thank you.
It is very difficult to get a wild cat to eat in captivity. In the wild, they will only eat what they have killed themselves. We cut her food into easy to swallow strips and with gloved hands and long bar-be-que tongs dangled the strips of chicken, turkey, gizzards, hearts and red meat over her nose. More than anything, she was snapping at the food out of ferocity and the side benefit was that she was swallowing it and getting the nutrition she needed. She began consuming full meals this way, all the time pretending that she was just biting out of anger and not that she was really hungry. She doesn’t chew her food, so we were able to worm her with her food and when her belly filled with gas we were able to sneak a little tagamet into her food to help with the heartburn. We filled a rabbit type water bottle with sterile water and let her bite at the steel nipple to get water into her. She was taking enough water this way, by the fourth day, that we discontinued the sub Q fluids.
At each feeding, which is twice per day for her, we use a warm wet paper towel to massage her anus and lower abdomen. After she has eliminated we soak a paper towel in baby oil and thoroughly clean the fur, so that there is no chance of urine burning her skin. We have also been turning her from side to side, so that she does not get sore. By the third day she had use of her front paws and is able to strike out and hit what she is aiming for. She can kick well with one back leg and just barely with the other. To keep her from smacking us around, we drape a thick towel over her head and legs while giving her shots, cleaning her or turning her and while she is eating, we only uncover her face. Twice she has pulled herself around on her own and each time we turn her we can detect a little more mobility than the time before.
A few things to keep in mind if you should find yourself caring for a wild cat are:
Take care of yourself. Make sure you have your rabies and tetanus vaccines and wear gloves and protective clothing.
Protect your other cats. Do not let the injured cat in contact with your own animals. Keep in mind that germs can travel under doors and through the air vents to other rooms. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after exposure to the wild cat and wash all clothing, towels etc. in bleach before allowing your animals in contact with them.
Protect the wild cat from your domesticated stock. The greatest threat to the wildcat is some little house cat sneezing on him. Domestic cats and domestic exotic cats have had the benefit of vaccinations to protect them from the five big cat killing viruses, but the wild cat has no natural immunity and has never been vaccinated. If the animal can withstand it upon arrival we vaccinated with the Fel-O-Vax LV-K IV which is a killed cell vaccine protecting against Panleukopenia, Calici, Rhinotracheitis, Chlamydia, and Feline Leukemia Virus. A second dose must be given ten days later and a third dose would be great, ten days after that. By doing so, you will probably add more than a year to the cat’s life once it has been returned to the wild.
Keep in mind that one day this animal may have to be returned to the wild. You don’t want this cat to approach humans because most people don’t take it very well. Keep your contact with the cat to a minimum and if possible do not let them make the association between people and food. We try to feed the cat from a position where it is hard for her to see us. We try to keep her bedded in straw and natural fibers that do not have the human scent upon them. We don’t talk to her much or pet her or try to play with her and we don’t let other around her. She doesn’t listen to the radio or TV all day, although we do give her a cage full of birds to look at in an attempt to get her on her feet.
Try to find a safe place for the animal to be returned to the wild. Typically, wild cats are not happy in captivity, so if it is feasible to return the cat to the wild, it should be attempted. Try to find a place where they are protected, such as a State Park, or a place so isolated and desolate that the cat will never encounter another car, hunter or trap. A river or lake will usually provide the resulting prey that a cat needs.
The cat needs to be in optimum condition before attempting any return to the wild. Even if you can eliminate man as a menace to the cat you must consider the fact that hunting grounds for cats are dwindling and each cat in an area already has an established range which they protect fiercely from other cats, especially males. When you drop a cat off in the woods, you don’t know whose territory that is and whether or not there are any vacant territories around. A bobcat keeps a five square mile territory and will protect his or her turf to the death. Your displaced cat must be in a condition capable of dealing with the sort of fight that is sure to ensue.
November 1998 we were able to successfully release a Bobcat who was previously hit by a car in Brandon, FL breaking both and front and back leg and fracturing the pelvis.
Did you know that there are at least 10,000 big cats kept in private hands in the U.S., but that no one knows exactly how many or where?
It’s a dangerous situation – for people and animals – when tigers, lions and other big cats are kept as backyard pets or in roadside zoos. When things go wrong, as they too often do, police officers, veterinarians, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders are forced to make life-or-death decisions.
We will never forget the Zanesville, Ohio tragedy, when a backyard exotic animal owner released 38 big cats and 18 other dangerous animals and then took his own life. To protect the surrounding community, law enforcement had no choice but to kill most of the animals. This type of situation happens time and time again.
Thankfully, today there is a solution.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) has introduced the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (S.1381). Spearheaded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the bill aims at banning private possession and breeding of tigers, lions, and other captive big cats in the United States, while requiring current “owners” to register their big cats. The identical House version of the bill was introduced in May by U.S. Representatives Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA).
You can help both big cats and first responders by urging your senator to co-sponsor the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (S.1381).
First responders have to risk their lives when a person is killed or mauled by a big cat, or after a big cat escapes.
A few months ago, a young woman was attacked by an adult lion while she was cleaning his enclosure. Tragically, the young woman died, and the lion had to be killed by authorities.
The incident took place at a facility that breeds and frequently transports its big cats for public display.
IFAW’s big cats database shows that since 1997, incidents involving the animals have resulted in 22 human deaths including five children; and over 200 people have been mauled or injured.
And yet private ownership of big cats remains legal in many states.
Things need to change. You can help IFAW make it happen.
Ask your U.S. senator to co-sponsor the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act today.
IFAW North America Regional Director
Grand Opening of the Vacation Rotation Enclosure at Big Cat Rescue
Bengali, an 18 year old circus tiger was the first to be released into the 2.5 acre Vacation Rotation enclosure.
Join us tonight at Hamburger Mary’s for Bingo
This event helps us do great things for the cats, like the Vacation Rotation enclosure.
Alert Recipients: An NFL player just bought a tiny tiger cub.
We need your voice to speak up for this cub today!
During the past week there has been extensive national media coverage reporting that Arizona Cardinals football player Darnell Dockett has purchased a tiger cub as a pet. He’s been boasting about it during interviews with ESPN and other media outlets. And tweeting photos of the poor cub on Twitter.
We are extremely concerned that an NFL player, who should be a role model for young people, is instead promoting the dangerous, irresponsible and abusive practice of owning an exotic cat.
It is also concerning that Dockett has been quoted in the media regarding his intent to bring the tiger cub to an Arizona Cardinals training camp practice.
To make matters worse, it seems Dockett also owns a pet alligator and recently tried to purchase a monkey. It is very disappointing that a professional athlete such as Dockett is fast becoming the “poster child” for owning inappropriate pets and making extremely poor choices when it comes to pet ownership.
Big Cat Rescue contacted the Arizona Cardinals organization to speak to them about whether they plan to allow Dockett to bring the tiger cub to practice and whether they condone his ownership of the cub. Nobody with the team bothered to return our calls or emails.
In reviewing statements Dockett has made about owning exotic animals, it seems clear to us that he doesn’t care about their welfare or safety. Reaching out to him directly would likely be a waste of time and the attention could even have the undesired effect of encouraging his selfish and arrogant behavior.
So instead, we’d like to ask you to appeal to the Arizona Cardinals organization on behalf of this tiger cub. Politely let the Arizona Cardinals know that animal lovers in America do not want to see a professional football player own a tiger cub as a pet and exploit it as a prop for his “image.”
Thank you for speaking out for this defenseless, voiceless cub!