Master keeper Gale discusses Mickey the cougar’s release and rehabilitation on this episode of #DailyBigCat.
Toronto Jays and Wall Street Journal
At least the Jays had the good sense to take down the photos, once they found out that people who love animals think this is nothing more than animal abuse. Big cat cubs belong with their mothers. They aren’t ego props. Shame on the WSJ for not doing a simple Internet search on the subject of pay to play cubs before condoning this cruelty.
Back in the 90’s we were home to three snow leopards, but Florida is no place for a cat who was designed to live above the permafrost line, so we built air conditioned caves for them. They were zoo surplus to the Species Survival Plan, but we do not believe in breeding cats for lives in cages, so we kept them separate. Vern converted a big freezer box; the kind you see on semi tractors, into a 3 compartment den with air conditioning that ran 24/7. He covered the trailer body with concrete work, made to look like rocks. The a/c blowing in the dens also made the rocks cool to the touch, so the snow leopards could be outside, but stay cool, as well.
The last of our snow leopards passed away in 2011 and when we shut off the air conditioner it was with the belief that it would never be used again. Snow leopards almost never end up in the exotic cat trade and the only other cat that might require such cooling would be Canada Lynx, but they too, are so rare and so fragile, that they rarely end up in backyards and basements. When we received a call in 2013 that there were two Canada Lynx who had been abandoned in Kansas, we just figured they had been misidentified and would turn out to be bobcats.
If you followed us during that rescue then you know that Skipper and Gilligan did turn out to be Canada Lynx and came home with us, along with their companions, Lovey, Thurston, Mary Ann the bobcats and Ginger the serval. During quarantine we discovered that Skipper and Gilligan had hook worms and they were treated, but their cages were now contaminated and would have to undergo extensive treatment with salt to kill any of the worms in the soil. Once we were sure that Skipper and Gilligan were no longer hosting the parasites we began to prepare the old snow leopard enclosures for them, so that they could have access to the air conditioned dens.
Skipper moved first and now Gilligan is joining him.
Gale had to use a LOOOOONG rope on the door to Gilligan’s feeding lockout because he would spook and run at the slightest hint that she may shut the door. Once she trapped him in the feeding lockout, the volunteers and interns brought the transport cage and lined it up to the guillotine door.
Usually we can cover the cage we want the cats to go in with a sheet and they will seek refuge in the dark. That allows us to drop the door and secure them in the carrying case. It worked with Gilligan, but a tree had grown in the worst possible spot and we couldn’t line the door up to be flush. Gale used the sheet to trick Gilligan into thinking it was a wall, but when push comes to shove, and we have to get the door in place there were a few tense moments when we thought he might bolt out toward her.
There isn’t any footage of that because we had to drop the camera to help secure the door of the crate.
Gilligan was then driven to the West – Boensch (pronounce bench) Cat Hospital where he was weighed for future reference and taken to his new enclosure. He weighs 33 pounds. Once released into his new cat-a-tat, Gilligan was a little nervous. Skipper got up on his high platform next door so he could watch all the action. Within a few minutes though Gilligan was checking out his new air conditioned den, his platforms and all the fun, new stuff to do and explore.
It costs close to 2 million dollars a year to support the cats at Big Cat Rescue and the best kind of donations are the ones we know we can count on regularly. We have a number of ways that you can pledge a monthly or annual gift to the cats, so that we can continue to rescue and provide top notch care. Check out the many ways you can help at BigCatRescue.org slash donate.
On June 8, 2014 both of our vets came out to re evaluate Kimba the tigress, as she just isn’t eating as well as Zeus and Keisha. They were deliberating over what would be the best and safest course of action for Kimba because she is 20 years old and extremely frail. We didn’t think she would even make it through the rescue and transport to FL as she was so starved and depleted. Kimba would only eat a few morsels of food and then stop, so they decided to try and feed her several times a day to try and build her strength up before risking sedation.
On June 10, 2014 Dr. Wynn came out to try and just lightly sedate Kimba. Just enough to check out her teeth, look for masses and draw blood for diagnostics. We had to block off her den so that she didn’t go in it after being sedated. We wouldn’t know when it was safe to go in, unless we could test her for a blink response, so we used lumber to block off Kimba’s cave.
That was easier said, than done.
The wonderful thing about our enclosures is that the dens are so nice and cool, with the mounds of earth on top, but it makes for a challenge when we try to keep the cats out. We don’t think Kimba can see very well. She manages to get up and down from her perches, but seems to do it by feel.
Once we got her down off her platform, and safely locked away from it and the den, she was sedated. We use a cocktail of drugs to make it as easy on the cat going down and coming back up as possible.
Someone had butchered her paws in an attempt to declaw her and she has claws growing in every direction out of her feet. It must have been just brutal to have to walk on rocks her whole life with those claws growing out every which way.
Kimba was given extra fluids even though she wasn’t a dehydrated as you would expect for a cat who was likely in renal failure. There were no obvious issues with her teeth and no masses that could be felt from outside, or in her mouth or throat.
Kimba will be kept inside the cat hospital pending results and to see if the cool air perks her up enough to eat more. She is shedding a lot and we are combing out the dead fur to help her stay cool. We use a long back scratcher to do it and she really likes it.
Kimba’s blood work show her kidneys to be pretty bad. Only one other cat was as bad and that was Sophia the cougar. She lived a year and a half after rescue but it was touch and go for a long time. https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home/sophia-cougar but Sophia was several years younger.
Kimba’s blood work also indicates that she is suffering from a urinary tract infection, which can cause kidney values to spike, so she is being treated with injections for the UTI. She is also getting an appetite stimulant and several bags of fluids, sub q, each day. She is being fed every two hours and only takes a couple bites, but she is eating at each meal and as her UTI begins to subside, she will feel better and hopefully want to eat more. She doesn’t seem to mind the injections and fluids and just chuffs and rubs her head up against the cage wall affectionately.
We hope to put her back outside tomorrow in a little better condition.
Meanwhile Zeus and Keisha seem to have a new lease on life and are visibly doing better every day.
Daily Big Cat Video May 20- June 11, 2014
Zeus, one of our newest rescued tigers, chases Karma on the golf cart as she brings a new feeding block out to Kimba tiger. Keisha tiger is being calm during all of the fuss over Kimba and had just been chasing some ducks. The vets, Dr. Wynn and Dr. Justin Boorstein, check on Kimba and weigh the pros and cons of sedating her. They opt to try and get a little more food in her and then 2 days later try to sedate her, but have a hard time getting her to come down from her platform. Once they do, they find that she is only 170 lbs. Our smallest tiger ever before was 225 pounds. Kimba has a big frame, but is just all fluff and no meat on her bones.
Zabu gets a rocket ship for enrichment, but decides she’d rather lay in the shade than try to launch it.
Big Cat Rescue is a finalist for Non Profit of the Year in the Tampa Bay Business Journal Awards.
Video from Animal Care Expo of the event, the location in Daytona Beach and key note speeches by Wayne Pacelle and Jackson Galaxy.
Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve Safe For Now
Late last week, a federal judge denied the National Park Service’s request to dismiss a case brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians to reduce damaging off-road vehicle use in Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve.
The suit asserts the Park Service violated the Endangered Species Act, its own off-road vehicle management plan, the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws by designating hundreds of miles of new trails for off-road vehicle use in the preserve without first assessing potentially destructive impacts on endangered Florida panthers and other rare and vanishing Florida species, as well as other sensitive water, soil and vegetative resources. Read more at the Mountain Lion Foundation.
Illinois’ Lion Protection Bill Passes the Legislature
Senate Bill 3049, introduced by Senator Linda Holmes (D – Aurora) has successfully passed out of the Illinois Legislature and is now sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.
SB 3049, which passed on the last day of session, places Gray wolves, American black bears, and mountain lions on Illinois’ protected species list, and eliminates the current practice of allowing people to shoot them on sight with no questions asked. Read more at the Mountain Lion Foundation.
Mexico City has a pending ban on circus animals. The law, aimed at stopping animal abuse in circuses, was passed by the city council Monday but is still awaiting signature from Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera.