2004 Annual Report


The biggest advance in our history was this year when we went from “Tampabay’s Best Kept Secret” to a Household Name in the local area. This was due largely to the great media exposure donated by six local Cox Radio Stations. Hillsborough County gave us big green directional signs in 5 locations to direct visitors to our door. For the first year ever, in our 12 year history, we were able to cover all of the sanctuaries expenses from its own income! Thank you everyone! Howard Baskin was able to find a reasonable CPA, Marsha Weiss, and an accountant who completed an audit for our finances for grant writing purposes. This enabled us to apply to the Combined Federal Campaign and to apply to the online version of The Better Business Bureau called Give.org. Christy Anderson launched our first E-zine that carries AdvoCat issues to 5000 subscribers and links to our electronic version of The Big Cat Times. Jamie finished a movie that was nearly five years in the making called “The Big Cat Picture“. This has been widely distributed and 2 minute clips on every species of wild cat has now been added to our website from the movie. We wrote a 20 year plan and began taking steps to reach our goal of eliminating the cause of so much suffering and abuse.

Animal Care

lion vs tiger ligersWe took in five new tigers and a lion, but had to turn away 114 big cats. We submitted our anesthesia machine parts to have one usable unit rebuilt.  We built 5 new Cat-A-Tats with pools and dens and another multi-acre enclosure with dens and a pool.  Built new dens for Esmerelda, Tobi, and Little Feather and cage enhancements for Sultan, Canyon, Genie, Maharajah, Bailey, Scratch, Baby Cakes and Hercules. Shere Khan and China Doll got a hurricane shelter and we repaired cages that were badly damaged from the four hurricanes in six weeks. The Enrichment team is growing stronger and more professional in their collaboration with others, such as Disney, to help write a comprehensive Enrichment Guide. Operant Conditioning has been led by Jennifer Ruszczyk with marvelous results. The cats are learning their cues and are much easier to handle for check ups. All of the volunteers have retaken their animal care classes this year and have re certified their credentials via testing. Dr. Liz Wynn, DVM has been donating time every week as a liaison to Dr. Stacie Wadsworth, DVM. We began using Truly Nolan for regular flea spraying and for rodent control with marvelous results.

Staff and Volunteer Training

Attended the USDA’s Big Cat Symposium.  Jamie Veronica attended AZA’s weeklong college course, Managing for Success. Jen, Howard and Carole attended and presented Operant Conditioning and Cage Building at The Association of Sanctuaries’ annual conference in Stone Mountain, GA. Susan Mitchell attended Karen Pryor’s Clicker Expo and spent some time with Gary Priest from the San Diego Zoo and quite a bit of time with his top trainer of cats.  Susan also completed the Safe Capture course that some of our staff attended last year. Our volunteer program was overhauled to create an administrative branch for the first time in our history. We now have red through green level requirements on both the Keeper side and the Partner (admin) side and the proud recipients of those levels of accomplishment.

We began our first Intern program with three interns. Cathy Mayeski has been lion vs tiger ligersscreening applicants from around the world and by the year’s end we have had 3 successful graduates from the program and two of them moved here to stay in the volunteer program. By the year’s end we have 6 full time interns and by next year hope to have 12-15. They have come from Wales, Canada, Brazil, Spain, Peru and all across the U.S. The interns work all day, six days a week for three months in exchange for housing and the experience of a lifetime. They are a volunteer force unto themselves and now have their own Den Mother, Gale Ingham who keeps them busy and makes sure they get the most out of their time at Big Cat Rescue.


Hired Kathryn Quaas as our new Education Director and started offering regularly scheduled kid’s tours every Saturday at 9 AM. Summer Camp 2004 was a big hit. We created, with the help of creator LaWanna Jones, and a grant from Ken and Terri Pereira, an interactive CD called The Truth About White Tigers and distributed 1000 free copies. With the help of PeTA we were able to distribute 1000 copies of their CD about veganism. Produced a new screen saver called 12 Tigers that has tiger photos and facts. Created an online game with the help of Point 2 Nature that children will be able to access online for free. It is a memory game of matching the cats with their fur and their sounds for fun fact rewards. Created hundreds of pages of online games, puzzles, calendars, lion vs tiger ligersfree screen savers, quizzes, polls and colouring activities for children of all ages. These interactive games are part of our campaign to reach the schools and day care centers with activities to teach children about animals and to inspire awe and respect for their beauty and their rightful place in nature. Our Big Cat Expedition continues to be our most pervasive educational tool and Susan Mitchell has trained countless people in the Operant Conditioning program portion that we offer to illustrate the medical needs of the cats and how we meet them. Our tours continue to increase and this allows Denny Mitchell, Brian Czarnik, Bill Lewis and many other great tour guides to educate people about the plight of these animals in the wild and in captivity. The most frequent response that we still hear from guests is “I had no idea!”.


We reviewed the Captive Wild Animal Coalition‘s proposed sanctuary standards and wrote and submitted the sub section specific to felid care based upon a compilation of our own standards, those of ACE and Florida’s Fish and Game.  We assisted Animal Control’s approach to the State of Florida in an effort to require owners of dangerous exotic animals to post on their property the dangers that exist and to allow the public to easily determine if their neighbors are harboring dangerous animals.  We began promoting a page on our site called Support Legislation and AdvoCats. We parntered with Capitol Advantage to create the first and only online presence in the Animal Welfare industry that is promoted on MSN, Yahoo, AOL, Congress.gov, PBS, the LA Times and E-the-People. In just the first days of creation is already responsible for about 30 letters per day going out to legislators on important animal issues that are currently pending including: Stopping canned hunts, prohibiting steel jawed traps and asking USDA to quit issuing licenses to people who are circumventing the new 2004 law that prevents the sale of big cats as pets. We noted a drop in the number of big cats being abandoned. Every year the number of big cats in need of shelter was doubling and by 2003 we were turning away 312 exotic cats. After the passage of the Captive Wild Animal Safety Act in Dec. 2003 that prohibited the sale across state lines of big cats as pets that number dropped to 114 abandoned cats in 2004. We posted a composit of all state laws and enabled viewers to go directly to their state’s online regulations. Our founder became a major donor to the only Political Action Committee fund for Animal Welfare issues called HumaneUSA.

Fundraising and Marketing

We purchased a new Point of Sale system with cash register and inventory software.  Implementing this software has enabled us to better track inventory, sales and trends. On May 19 our web site received 29,724 page requests to be our largest day ever. By the end of the year our site is currently averaging about 100,000 hits per day. Jamie and Howard attended Scott Moller’s Fundraising Seminar in Tampa and Howard, Carole and Jen attended Scott Moller’s Fundraising Seminar in Stone Mountain, GA. Scott Lope and Daniel Capiro have been working closely with players of the TampaBay Lightning to raise awareness. Thanks largely to the lion vs tiger ligersthousands of dollars in radio air time donated by six Cox Radio stations, our Fur Ball attracted 850 guests and we netted 50,000.00 as well as had a Roaring Good Time. Jamie created our first Holiday Card with a collage of the cats for our use and for sale in the gift shop. The Adoption Kits have been so successful that she has had to order them by the hundreds from a printer, rather than printing them one page at a time on her computer as she has done in the past. Our online giftshop sales soared from $7,914.00 in 2003 to $32,351.00 in 2004. We began monitoring news alerts at Google for exotic cat issues and proactively writing in to the media. We were in the press 63 times compared to 35 times in 2003. Our newsletter The Big Cat Times (formerly Cat Tales) is now in color and goes out quarterly to 23,000 supporters.

Grounds Improvement

At our January zoning hearing, 96 people wrote letters of support and 47 attended the hearing and spoke in support of the fine work we are doing on a global level. At the second hearing more than 200 supporters came to stand before the Board of lion vs tiger ligerscounty Commissioners in favour of Big Cat Rescue’s planned development. In the past we had to haul 30 bags of trash, twice a week to the end of the road. This year we managed to get our very own dumpster on site. We moved the golf cart shed, tore down the old green barn and re-routed the fencing to increase parking area. We repainted the cabins, food prep, painted the E-Center and repainted several of the cages. We installed new signs on the buildings so that they are consistently called by name in our documentation and training manuals and to avoid confusion. Sentry Signs enabled us to put new signs on most of the cats along the tour path that states their name, species, date of birth and how they were rescued.

We began a fence improvement campaign called the Catter-Wall. Two marble lions were donated for our front gate and we may have someone willing to donate a new front entrance next year. Food Prep was tiled and had gutters installed all the way around. Kiss Cote was applied to the Leopard Cat-A-Tat as a rust preventative trial model in March. The roads were reinforced to prevent inaccessibility to certain areas in the rainy season. We started the process for adding a 4 bedroom, 3 bath dormatory for interns. We upgraded to broadband and now have a wireless Internet connection available for guests.

Helping Others

 We covered ad costs for The Association of Sanctuaries annual conference in March to insure that the people who need the training will know it is available.  We lion vs tiger ligersalso paid expenses for three of the speakers on Cage Building, Operant Conditioning and the No More Homeless Pets approach to companion animal abandonment.  We shared the secret to our high search engine placement with TAOS and CWAPC and members of both organizations. We joined the Sanctuary Workers And Volunteers Association SWAVA and provided material for them to launch their campaign. We send out news alerts to everyone in our new Yahoo group and in the TAOS Yahoo group and include a Tip of the Day feature in which we share ideas that have worked for us. We gave permission to Florida’s state government site, at their request, to use our photos to illustrate why we should protect the Florida Panther.

Charities that we donated to this year:  100 passes to No More Homeless Pets Adopt-a-thon and gift certificate for a Big Cat Expedition, 50 passes and gift certificate for a Big Cat Expedition to Florida Voices for Animals, 50 passes to Clearwater High school’s Project Graduation, 100 passes to Dress For Success, 300 passes to The National Humane Societies spay/neuter and adoption programs.  Big Cat Expedition to Clearwater Chamber of Commerce’s annual fundraiser. Donated a Big Cat Expedition and several Two for One Passes to Animal Coalition of Tampa for their Spay Day fundraiser. Big Cat Expedition for two and 200 passes to the Tampa Museum of Art. 1000 passes and a 1500. Expedition Package was donated to the Global Understanding’s Carousel Ball. There were many, many more that we donated to this year that we did not keep stats on.

We offered to let No More Homeless Pets – HC and Florida Voices for Animals utilize our legislative program in a manner that is branded for their constituents.


lion vs tiger ligersCarole Baskin represented The Association of Sanctuaries at the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition’s conference in San Francisco and was made The Association of Sanctuaries liaison to The Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition.  She served as the interim President of the Association of Sanctuaries in 2004.

2004 was a grrreat year and we are looking forward to an even better 2005!!!

See our 990 0nline HERE. Get a copy of our Audited Report HERE.

The narrow mission of Big Cat Rescue is to provide the best permanent home we can for the limited number of abused, abandoned and retired big cats that the sanctuary can afford to take in. However, the sanctuary must turn away over 100 cats per year and the number is growing.

The broader mission, therefore, is to reduce the number of cats that suffer the fate of abandonment and abuse by educating as many people as possible about the conditions that lead to the plight of these animals. We do this through our tours of the sanctuary, our school education programs, our 2100 page website that receives viewers from all over the world, by supporting species preservation efforts, and by providing a hands-on experience for interns from around the world.

We hope, by setting an example and teaching about how animals should be treated, that this will carry over into how we humans treat each other as well, and in doing so make the world a better place for all living creatures.

Our Officers and Board of Directors

lion vs tiger ligersCEO Chair of BOD and Founder  Carole Baskin

President Jamie Veronica

Vice President & BOD Cathy Mayeski

Secty/ Treasurer  Vernon C. Stairs

Director and Operations Manager  Scott Lope

Director and Coordinator Brian Czarnik

The current board of directors will serve until December 31, 2005. Between now and then, staggered terms of four years and five years each will be set by the existing Board of Directors to insure the uninterrupted good work of Big Cat Rescue.

The financial audits for 2004 are posted here and include total income in the past fiscal year, expenses in the same program, fund raising and administrative categories as in the financial statements, and ending net assets.

If your charity doesn’t make this information accessible on line, perhaps you should ask why.  We are proud of the way we have utilized your donations and think you should know how your money has been spent.   The following figures reflect the fiscal and calendar year 2004.

Gifts and Contributions cash:232,597.
Program Service Revenue:314,143.
Inventory Sold: 48,076.
Rental Income: 31,718.
Interest & mortgages 85,041.
Events income: 39,631.
Total income for the year751,206.
Animal Care:363,798.
Employee Benefits:       74.
Payroll Taxes:   4,650.
Accounting Fees:   3,525.
Legal Fees:       17.
Supplies: 39,322.
Telephone: 14,232.
Postage & Shipping:   4,911.
Equipment Maintenance:   9,970.
Printing & Publications: 50,583.
Travel:   1,476.
Conferences:   3,443.
Depreciation: 18,116.
Total Expense for the year574,906.

Excess for 2004    $  176,300

Net Assets at the beginning of 2004       $ 1,142,039.

Net Assets at the ending of 2004            $ 1,318,339.

While this accounting appears to show a gain, it does not take into consideration money spent on capital improvements and set aside for more capital expenditures.  Our complete 990 is available online at Guidestar.org under Big Cat Rescue. Neither the Founder nor any of her family nor friends are paid by Big Cat Rescue.

Big Cat Rescue 12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625 813 920-4130   If the 990 for 2004 is not available online, you can request it by mail or fax by emailing: Info@bigcatrescue.org

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