2006 Annual Report

2006 Annual Report


See the 2006 Annual Report in Pictures by clicking here

Big Cat Rescue’s Mission Statement:

Big Cat Rescue’s dual mission is to provide the best home we can for the cats in our care and educate the public about the plight of these majestic animals, both in captivity and in the wild, to end abuse and avoid extinction.


Best CharitiesBig Cat Rescue qualified for the Combined Federal Campaign’s National book and was certified by Independent Charities of America as one of the Best in America.  This means that any government employee in the country can choose Big Cat Rescue from their 2007 gift guide next year to receive auto-deducted donations from their paychecks.  We have been longstanding members in the local campaign but this will expand our exposure from the suncoast area of Florida to the entire United States.

In January Ringling Bros. Circus announced in the Tampa Tribune that they had dropped tigers from their new show and that if the format was successful they intend to drop the big cats from their other acts as well.  The UK announced the end to tigers and other big cats in traveling shows. Jamie traveled to Guyana, South America to help set up an eco-tourism lodge to save jaguars, ocelots, jaguarundi, margay and others in their native habitat.  She began camera trapping and instructed local Amerindians in how to change the film and mail the results to us.  She has been camera trapping in the U.S. as well and has participated with wildlife offices to help catch poachers.  Read more about what we are doing to save cats in the wild at https://bigcatrescue.org/conservation.htm

Big Cat Rescue was welcomed into the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) bolstering its global Member Society network. WSPA now has 692 affiliated organizations in 142 countries and there are only 50 US members and most are Humane Societies. The WSPA is the world’s largest federation of humane societies and animal protection organizations. Through direct field work, campaigning, legislative work, education and training programs, WSPA strives to create a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty ends. We are proud to be inducted into this membership.

Animal Care

Operant ConditioningThanks to oversight by our Operations Manager, Scott Lope, and the devotion of more than 100 well trained volunteers, the cats continue to thrive.  Our enrichment program has advanced from once a week per cat to twice to three times per week per cat. Thanks to Jen Ruszczyk coming in before work, after work and on weekends, 57 of our 142 cats are now in the operant conditioning program with expertly trained volunteers. Thanks to Dr. Wynn, DVM and Dr. Wadsworth, DVM, our cats have been healthy and Cheetaro the leopard was neutered and Zabu the white tigress was spayed.

We rescued a Jungle Cat hybrid and reunited him with his owner.  Scott Lope and some volunteers rescued a local neighborhood from a marauding python and found a home for him as well.

Staff and Volunteer Training

Sharon Marszal went to eBay school and then trained Bridget Bolger as her replacement. The intern and volunteer programs continue to evolve and this year included interns from Canada, Wales, CA, MA, NY, OR, PA, & VA.

We hosted Tom McCarthy of the Snow Leopard Trust as he shared breathtaking photos of snow leopards that he has been studying in the wild for more than 15 years.  We support the Snow Leopard Trust through our gift shop sales of items made by the local villagers.  Big Cat Rescue is the second largest retailer for Snow Leopard Enterprises, despite the fact that many huge zoos are also retailers.  We hosted Snow Leopard Trust’s CEO Brad Rutherford subsequently and entered into a co-branding campaign where we sell, and allow the Snow Leopard Trust to sell, our Snow Leopard Screensavers with all of the proceeds going to snow leopard conservation. We shipped 100 of the screensavers to them as our donation and we continue to offer them in our gift shop and online.  Read more about snow leopard conservation at https://bigcatrescue.org/snow_leopard_save.htm

Several of our staff and volunteers attended the Carnivore Conference hosted by Defenders of Wildlife and were happy to get to spend some time with Jeff Corwin and Dr. Alan Rabinowitz.  The volunteers staffed a booth there to expose others in the animal world to the work Big Cat Rescue is doing for both captive and free roaming wildcats.  Three of our volunteers, including Susan Mitchell, attended a course in effective, mainstream lobbying sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.


We brought in two new Educators: Beth Kamhi and Coleen Kremer who work as a tag team to cover all of our educational outreach and field trip activities.  They provided 171 field trip tours for 5,263 students and hosted 60 summer campers on site.  Beth and Coleen were able to add mini camps during holidays to our already popular summer camp. They did outreach presentations to 60 schools and other educational venues reaching tens of thousands more people.  With help from our donors we were able to offer 43 of these outreach programs for free.

Tiger Cover PhotoOur new zoning from 2004 allows for a Natural History Museum so we took the remains of cats that have died over the years to be taxidermied so that these rare cats will still be able to educate future generations.  We filmed portions for an expose on the small cat and hybrid cat trade.  We created a new Education brochure and inserts with the help of some donors who specifically asked to help with our Education Programs.  With the help of AdvoCat, Robin Kitzmiller, we were able to put the Cat in FCAT by offering a complete online resource of K-12 study guides that teach the necessary skills for kids to pass the FCAT in Florida.  Pass it on to your favorite teacher here https://bigcatrescue.org/teachersresource.htm

Shere Khan was the cover cat for Big Cats the USBorne Discovery Internet Linked book by Jonathan Sheikh-Miller and Stephanie Turnbull.  This book was discovered in the Dead Zoo in Dublin, Ireland by Jamie Veronica while she was visiting there and is available world wide. Click on the photo to order your copy. AdvoCat, Lawanna Jones, created and we began distributing the Child Safety ID Kit at the Fur Ball and to the principals of all of the area’s schools.  We have approached a number of child protection organizations to achieve a cooperative marketing program of this important tool.

Laura Lluellyn-Lassiter joined our volunteer force and is known as an animal communicator.  She has helped give insight as to the true nature of the cats and produces her own blog called Cat Heart Whispers on our blog page.  She works with our cinematographer, Brian Czarnik, to produce regular episodes of Animal Talk that can be seen here https://bigcatrescue.org/podcats.htm  If people knew who these cats really are inside, they would not support industries that use them as props.

Click To Hear MeWith the professional voice talent of supporter, Bonnie-Jean Creais we were able to add audio options to our educational pages about the different species of cats. There are a number of reasons why this is helpful.  Children learning to read, can play the audio while reading the text to learn more difficult words.  The visually impaired can click on the large image link and listed to the information without struggling to read.  The audio can also be downloaded via subscription to our RSS feed at https://savethecats.hipcast.com/rss/animaltalk.xml that enables a person to listen to the information on their iPod or other portable player.

Our White Tiger page continues to be the most popular page on our site (after our main page) accounting for 7% of all of the visits to our 17,000 page site.  We believe that this has had a tremendous impact on the white tiger situation because the price of white tiger cubs (which can only be produced through severe inbreeding) has dropped from $30,000 to $3,000 and the American Zoological Association has come out publicly against the practice of breeding and exhibiting white tigers. Breeders are giving away adult white tigers because the public now knows the dirty little secret behind white tiger breeding.  If you don’t know it yet, check out https://bigcatrescue.org/white_tigers.htm


Ban big cat contact to save human & big cat lives
While escaped big cats are being shot in Ohio
Those who are responsible for breeding so many excess lion and tiger cubs are pimping them out at an OH mall GO »
AdvoCat News for October 2011
Meet 3 new tigers, see a purrsonal tribute to Steve Jobs, vote for us to win $25k and more GO »
Cubs Dragged From Mall to Mall.
Ask these mall owners to consider the lives these poor cubs endure and end big cat displays at their properties. GO »
YOU can be a part of the most thrilling rescue of the year! GO »
Most Important Comment Period Ever to End the Trade in Generic Tigers!
Ask USFWS to Rescind the Generic Tiger Exemption. You only have until Oct. 21 to Comment. GO »

With the help of our supporters sending 30,765 letters we promoted state bills to ban the exploitation of exotic animals and several federal issues to curb the breeding, buying, selling across state lines as well.  In 2006 sixty state bills were passed to protect animals and 11 were defeated that would have endangered animals.  Thanks to all of our supporters who sent 2,282 letters asking for it, the USDA enacted rules to prohibit declawing big cats, barred walking big cats on leashes, banned using expired medicines on exotic cats and prevents shooting cats as a form of acceptable euthanasia.  The USDA also stepped up their enforcement by shutting down 9 facilities this year as compared to only 3 in the prior two years.  Three more states banned private possession of exotics in 2006 and seven countries enacted laws to protect the big cats including the banning of circus acts, barring possession of big cats as pets and closing down canned hunts.

The API did an excellent under cover investigation into the private possession that is espoused by Phoenix Exotics and the Feline Conservation Federation HERE. Carole Baskin presented HB 1459 and SB 990 to Committees in Tallahassee on April 17th and 18th and she attended a luncheon with Senator Robert Byrd in Washington, D.C. She spoke at Capitol Advantage’s conference in D.C. on smart strategies for building advocacy influence.  As a result of the speech, the President of the American League of Lobbyist, Paul Miller, has joined our Advisory Committee and has agreed to donate his time to helping us end the abusive trade in big cats.  Attorney Jowita Wysocka has also agreed to donate her time to researching cases to help us promote Haley’s Act, a bill to ban contact with big cats.  She and Paul have both joined Big Cat Rescue and IFAW in starting the Big Cat Caucus.

Patricia Massard took over the daily posting to the Big Cat Rescue Yahoo group, which now has 157 members and to all of our blogs at https://bigcatrescue.org/blog.htm

Fundraising and Marketing

Thanks to a couple of HUGE cat lovers, Big Cat Rescue got its first donation of $30,000.00 from a single family foundation.  Many other large donors stepped up this year as well with $10,000.00 donations each.  Through our participation in the Chrysler Birdies Championship we were able to get a matching grant in the amount of $10,000.00 and were one of the top performing charities in the league thanks to all of you who earmarked your donations to this program.  Thanks to Cynthia Montayre, the gift shop on-site and online grew exponentially.

WEDU awarded Big Cat Rescue as second runner up in to the Top Charity in their 16 county viewing area at their first annual Be More Awards.  We were originally selected because of our excellence in Marketing but were included in the overall Top 5 based upon the scope of what we do and the way we do it.  We have been chosen for inclusion again for 2007.  Howard Baskin joined the Downtown Tampa Rotary and has been a speaker at the Center Club.  We are attending a lot more Chamber meetings and joined the Governmental Affairs Committees in two of the Chambers.  We were featured in A Kid’s Guide to Giving (ISBN 1-58476-489-9) by Freddie Zeiler as one of 100 kid approved charities.  The Fur Ball had more than 500 attendees and netted more than $52,000.00.  As always it was THE party of the year!

TV Stars

Our most exciting innovations have been in the movie realm.  Big Cat Rescue was granted its own weekly, half hour, regular series on cable T.V. and will air its first episode soon.  Jamie Veronica, Brian Czarnik and Honey Wayton took the courses necessary to bring top quality nature films to T.V.  You can already see mini clips online at https://bigcatrescue.org/podcats.htm.  These mini movies, that run from 2 minutes to 1 hour in length, are available online at Google Videos, My Space, You Tube and VEOH.  Just type in “Big Cat Rescue” and you will find us in all of these hot social networking sites.  Brian Czarnik has been cranking out at least two episodes each week to keep the content fresh and has been responsible for the upkeep of these sites and several more behind the scenes.  All of these are available through iTunes now too.  People just can’t get enough of seeing their favorite cats!


Big Cat Rescue was specifically mentioned in the press 117 times (that we know of) in 2006.  This included such media as, The Washington Post, O, The Oprah Magazine, Associated Press, Geraldo At Large, Der Spiegel and Glamour Magazine.  Big Cat Rescue was also pivotal in supplying background information on the number of people killed and mauled by captive cats to reporters from ABC’s Prime Time 20/20.  Read all of the headlines here: https://bigcatrescue.org/news.htm

Thanks to coordination efforts of Julie Hanan and more than 50 volunteers, Big Cat Rescue provided a gift wrapping station at Borders Book Store for the weeks leading up to Christmas.  They raised over $5,000.00 for the cats and handed out thousands of brochures and newsletters.  This good-will effort cost our volunteers valuable family time during the holidays, but they did it to spread the word about the plight of the big cats.  Barbara Frank has become our Wedding planner and has hosted 12+ weddings at Big Cat Rescue, raising $8,000.00 for the cats this year.

Charity Guide

Big Cat Rescue is now featured in Charity Guide’s Directory of volunteer opportunities. Our organization appears in the “How to Make a Difference” section of Charity Guide’s article titled Big Cat Rescue: Save Exotic Felines. Charity Guide publishes an editorially reviewed directory of opportunities to make a difference – which influences the volunteering decisions of over half a million “would-be volunteers” per year. Inclusion in their directory is based on research and extensive evaluation.

Our database of visitors and supporters has grown to a little over 45,000 and Catherine Monroe has been crucial in keeping that list up to date.  Our Ezine recipient list has grown to more than 26,000 and AdvoCat, Christy Anderson, keeps them posted monthly on the happenings at Big Cat Rescue.  We were the recipient of a Google grant that gave us $1,187,258.63 in free advertising that resulted in over 200 million impressions and 2,800,000 click throughs to our website. At the peak of this grant period our website was receiving more than 1,000,000 hits per DAY.  We are now averaging about 30,000 page views per day, according to Google Analytics, and have a continuing grant for $15,000.00 a month in Google advertising.

Grounds Improvement

Cougar Cubs in PoolOur entire Board of County Commissioners voted in favor of Big Cat Rescue’s rezoning of 3 acres to allow for more onsite intern housing, overflow parking and access to a paved road.  This access allows us to move forward on the major zoning that we had approved two years ago because much of the actual building was contingent upon us securing alternative access.  This year we added room for four more interns and an indoor area where we can offer air conditioned facilities for parties and weddings at the sanctuary.  This indoor area is also used for our monthly meetings in inclement weather, and as an area where we can offer video showings, slideshow presentations and meeting space.  It augments our small E-Center so that we can accommodate larger school groups.  Before now, if children come for a field trip and it is raining, they have to stay on the bus, but now they can come inside, see a video about the sanctuary and then as soon as the rain lets up go out and meet the cats. This area is a 2800 square foot mobile home with a 1500 sf covered patio and decks.

We built a new Cat-a-tats for Alachua Bob and Nairobi the Serval. With the help of a lot of donors we completed the new Cat-a-tats for the orphaned cougar cubs.  Shatia and Dances With Wolves, the Canada Lynx, both got new cage additions and a gateway to each other with the hopes that these two old females can one day live together.  Flavio’s pool had to be rebuilt and the waterfalls for both he and SARMOTI had to be rebuilt.  Hurricane shelters that double as safety cages were started for Banjo, Bean, Mocha and Thing, the bearcats.  Many of the cages were painted to prevent rust and lots and lots of flowering bushes were planted around the cages to attract butterflies and to provide shade as they grow up and over the tops of the enclosures.

We built up the paths and dug out and landscaped retention ponds to alleviate muddy paths for next rainy season.  We shored up our sinking wall along the lake side and improved the road so that we can drive entirely around the property for better patrolling purposes. We began construction on a wall of memories for the cemetery.  The stone wall has marble plaques that are laser engraved with the names and photos of cats who have passed on.  These also bear the name of the Forever Sponsor who donates 500.00 two the purchase of the plaque.  See how you can be forever remembered here at https://bigcatrescue.org/foreverremembered.htm

Helping Others

Katrina HelpWe provided offsite housing for Humane Alliance members who have come here to help ACT set up a low cost spay and neuter center and offered to transport animals to and from the clinic once a week for the rescue groups.  We hosted team building events for the Emergency Animal Response Service group and gave them 150 free passes to give to all of the volunteers who help in times of disaster nationwide.  We donated to all of our favorite animal causes (too many to list) giving them Expeditions and Free Passes to auction off to help them raise money to provide services for domestic pets.  The Humane USA PAC (the nation’s largest political action committee for animals) hosted its Kids, Cats & Candidates day at the sanctuary.  We donated an Expedition to raise money for our long time supporters Mario & Lenore Infanti who are facing health issues.

When our beloved tiger, Nini, died Brian Czarnik wanted her to live on and so we sponsored a tiger in the wild in Way Kambas Park.  The money donated will help protect the tigers in this critical reserve.  We worked with the Smithsonian Institution in a project to examine the population biology of small carnivores in Gabon, West Africa and Borneo.  We hosted a party and raised more than $1000.00 to aid the campaign that would require the government to provide emergency plans for people who won’t leave their pets. This bill became law in 2006 and will protect America’s pets in times of disaster.  We also sent proceeds from our Fur Ball to Lewa Conservancy in S. Africa and invested in creating eco-tourism in Guyana, South America to protect the wild cats in that area.  At the request of the World Wildlife Fund in Poland we have provided photographs for them to use in creating a handbook for border guards to prevent the illegal trade in exotic cats and their pelts.


park benchMerrill Kramer took over our ink recycling program and reports income of roughly $2,000.00 per month now.  You can learn how your old ink cartridges can save cats here https://bigcatrescue.org/ink

Jim Haaf, art director of the Jaycees showed his support for our mission without even asking as is evidenced by this wonderful park bench that we discovered alongside the road.  When Howie called to find out who to thank, he discovered that they have donated two of these lovely benches to us.  We are so grateful to all of our supports who look for unique ways to express their devotion to our mission.

Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Chris Simms brought a group of children from the Children’s Home to visit Big Cat Rescue.

Officers and Members of the Board of Directors in 2006 and meetings:

Founder, CEO, and Board Chairperson   Carole Baskin (not compensated by BCR)

President and Director Jamie Veronica (not compensated by BCR)

Vice President & Director Cathy Mayeski (not compensated by BCR)

Secty and Director   Jen Ruszczyk (not compensated by BCR)

Director Brian Czarnik (not compensated by BCR)

These members met for monthly board meetings at the dates and places below:

Buc's Chris SimmsMonthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 1/7/2006
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 2/4/2006
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 3/4/2006
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 4/1/2006
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 5/6/2006
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 6/3/2006
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 7/1/2006
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 8/5/2006
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 9/2/2006
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 10/7/2006
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL: 11/4/2006
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 12/2/2006

Paid Staff:

Operations Manager  Scott Lope (compensated but not a member of the board)

Gift Shop Manager Cynthia Montayre (compensated but not a member of the board)

Administrative Bridget Bolger (compensated but not a member of the board)


Big Cat Rescue had 107 volunteers in 2006 who clocked in 32,000 man-power hours in addition to staff and Volunteer Committee member hours.  Roughly the equivalent workforce of 16 full time staff.

See the 2006 990’s HERE

See the 2006 Audited Financial Statement HERE


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