Today at Big Cat Rescue June 4 2013

Join us for Drag Queen Bingo

night at Hamburger Mary’s on July 1, 2013 RSVP Now as seating is limited to the first 200



Come in Safari, Drag, Costume attire for fun and prizes.  It will be like a mini Fur Ball where it is a night of Big Cat Rescuers all having fun to support the big cats.


Photos of Big Cats and Parties

4-Tigers_2110 Casino-Night_2053 Casino-Night_2058 Casino-Night_2059 Casino-Night_2071 DragQueenBingo_0439 DragQueenBingo_0440 DragQueenBingo_2092 DragQueenBingo_2096 DragQueenBingo_2100 DragQueenBingo_2101 Kittens_2049 Kittens-Food_2023 Tiger-Arthur-Amanda_2109 Tiger-Bengali_2080 Tiger-Bengali-Memorial_2079 Tiger-Sleepy_2026 Vet-Rambo_2019 Vet-Rambo_2021 Vet-Rambo_2025

Rambo getting his meds off a stick while recovering in Cat Hospital.



Why Big Cat Rescue Didnt Have a Fur Ball in 2011

Why Big Cat Rescue Didnt Have a Fur Ball in 2011

Charities trim fundraising events to reflect economic reality

ST. PETERSBURG — On the social calendar, the hint of cool weather promises a whirl of galas, banquets and soirees that raise money for a good cause.

Phantom Fur Ball to End Abuse

Phantom Fur Ball to End Abuse

But with an uncertain economy prompting corporations and individuals to be more discerning in their giving, some organizations are rethinking expenditures on lavish fundraisers, donor appreciation gatherings and expensive mailings.

In St. Petersburg, All Children’s Hospital Foundation announced it will not hold its annual Society Banquet this year.

“Our decision to do this was based upon the many comments we have received urging us to be the best stewards of the funds donated for the care of those we serve,” a letter said.

Instead of the annual event, the thank-you banquet for donors that costs the foundation $100 a head for about 300 attendees will now be held every other year.

“I think donors really want greater accountability for their gifts,” said Thomas Mundell, the foundation’s executive vice president. “That’s why we continually look at ways we can save money.”

He said donors have sent notes supporting the decision.

That’s not surprising to Sandra Miniutti, vice president of marketing for Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities.

“In recent years, donors have become more aware just how costly special events can be and just how little of their money ends up benefiting the charity’s mission after expenses,” she said.

“And I believe donors and board members are putting more pressure on charities to improve the efficiency of their fundraising events or drop them altogether.”

The All Children’s foundation isn’t the only charity making adjustments.

In Tampa, the Muscular Dystrophy Association canceled its fall gala. WEDU, a public TV station, put its Sojourn gala on hold. Big Cat Rescue, a sanctuary for unwanted, abandoned or abused exotic big cats, called off its tribal Fur Ball and replaced it with a Phantom Fur Ball, a non-event that encouraged supporters to make online donations.

“In these economic times, when doing fundraisers, people should be more cost-conscious and creative,” said Shirley O’Sullivan, who has helped plan many such events.

“I will not work for people who spend a lot of money on an event. Expensive invitations, expensive food, expensive decorations. I find all that to be a total waste.”

The Junior League of St. Petersburg has resurrected its Whale of a Sale, a popular rummage sale last held in 2000.

“We feel that now, more than ever, there are so many people that are hurting in our community and that everyone is looking for a little bit of economic relief,” said Donna Mainguth, the organization’s president.

“We’ve had wonderful galas in the past, we’ve partnered with other organizations, but this is more of a direct link to the community.”

The YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg also rethought its strategy a few years ago and brought back its Businesses Building a Better Community Luncheon after a one-year hiatus. Though an important fundraiser, the organization slashed the $1,000 price for a table of eight in half.

“Smart charities are constantly evaluating their special events and their approach to thanking donors,” Miniutti said.

“They want to ensure that the events really offer a return on their investment — which isn’t just actual dollars, but also a significant amount of staff time needed to pull off these fancy galas. And the return of investment for charities isn’t just about the actual dollars on the night of the event.

“These events also help the charity build awareness of its mission and brand. And it helps connect the charity to new potential donors.”

Times staff writers Amy Scherzer and Mary Jane Park contributed to this article. Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.
[Last modified: Nov 11, 2011 10:41 PM]

By Waveney Ann Moore, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Saturday, November 12, 2011


Why Big Cat Rescue Didn’t Have a Fur Ball in 2011

Our main reason for not holding the Fur Ball in 2011 was so that we could dedicate our resources to ending the abuse of big cats more effectively as part of a coalition.  We have had great success in getting more than 60 malls to agree not to host the abusive displays of cubs.  The bill to ban traveling acts that use wild animals was introduced.  PetsMart agreed not to allow wild animals like tigers to be brought onto their properties in the US and Canada.  The USFWS agreed that the generic tiger exemption should be rescinded and so did more than 15,000 citizens who wrote in.  We are working to close the 8-12 week window during which USDA currently allows cub petting.  We could not have been nearly as successful with all of this if we had spent the past several months party planning.


You can help us achieve our goals by donating to our Phantom Fur Ball 



Phantom Fur Ball 2011

Phantom Fur Ball 2011

Phantom Fur Ball to End Abuse

Phantom Fur Ball to End Abuse

Every year the Fur Ball is a bigger and bigger success as the annual gala for Big Cat Rescue but this year we aren’t going to have one…not a real one, anyway.

Here’s why:

The Fur Ball is often referred to as THE fundraising event of the year because it is always a huge party, full of fun things to do and with only a brief few moments of thanking sponsors from the podium.  The rest of the night is full of free drinks, festive Safari Formal gear that everyone dons for the occasion, contests, auctions, drumming circles, cigars and decadent foods and deserts.  It takes many, many months of planning to make sure that each Fur Ball is better than the one before.

We love seeing all our Big Cat friends expressing themselves in creative ways and love the fun and camaraderie but it is always tempered by the knowledge that while we are having fun there are thousands of big cats languishing in tiny, filthy, barren jail cells.  Every week we see evidence of the animal abusers breeding more and more cubs to use in pay to play sessions, such as cub petting and photo opportunities with cubs.

This year we decided to focus all of the time and energy that would have gone into creating a big gala into ending the abuses at their root.

We hope that you will understand and help us put an end to the suffering by making your Phantom Fur Ball ticket donation to go straight to ending the abuses that cause big cats to end up in need of rescue.

You can pay any price for this ticket that you choose, because it is all a donation to the cats and will not result in a real ticket to a real event.


The magic that happens everyday and how you can support it

The magic that happens everyday and how you can support it

TAMPA, Fla. – The sights are stunning to say the least: a tiger swims gracefully, a lion shows off its fearsome teeth and cougars play chase.


Big Cat Rescue is a wildlife sanctuary in the heart of Tampa but it can’t do the work all on it’s own.


On Saturday, Action News contributor, Sean Daly got a look at the magic that happens everyday and how you can support it.


The vision for Big Cat Rescue started with one disturbing trip in 1993. Founder Carole Baskin says she and her husband were interested in raising a couple of bobcats.


The couple found someone selling the cats in Minnesota. Baskin says when they arrived, they discovered a fur farm.


The couple bought all 56 cats in the facility to save them from being killed.


Today, the sanctuary tries to educate people about why keeping exotic animals as pets is a bad idea. In their experience, most people get exotic cats as kittens. Those kittens are manageable for about two years, then they toughen up and cost a lot more to feed. At that point, people start to abandon the exotic pets.


Baskin says some of the abuse and neglect they’ve seen is heartbreaking.


Baskin admits that during the early years of the sanctuary, she and her husband didn’t really know what they had gotten into. The couple bred some of their cats, believing it was necessary to perserve the species.


Now Baskin wants to make sure no one else makes that mistake.


Big Cat Rescue encourages laws that forbid breeding or owning exotic pets. They’ve also been asked to help draft legislation.


Every year, Big Cat Rescue raises money for their cause with a Fur Ball.


This year’s event takes place Friday, October 9th at the A La Cart Pavilion in Tampa.


You’ll enjoy live music, a gourmet dinner and live and silent auctions. You can even bid on paintings created by some of the big cats.


Individual tickets to the Fur Ball are $150. You can also reserve a VIP table for parties of 10.


For more information, visit the sanctuary site at


Help us put an end to big cats being kept as “pets” here:







BIG CAT RESCUE – Fur Ball 2010

Big Cat Rescue’s 11th annual Fur Ball was a roaring success! Thank you to everybody who attended, donated and volunteered, together we are helping to make a difference in the lives of big cats around the world!

And our 2010 Fur Ball Video



Big Cat Rescue does a Year in Video for the Fur Ball each year. This year’s great video was created by Chris Poole.



Big Cat Rescue’s 11th annual Fur Ball was a roaring success! Thank you to everybody who attended, donated and volunteered, together we are helping to make a difference in the lives of big cats around the world!