2008 Annual Report

2008 Annual Report

A Year in Video by Jamie Veronica

Big Cat Rescue is more than just a place that provides permanent care for big cats.  It is a movement;  a change in the tide of human perceptions and is the combined effort of more than 80,000 supporters.  If you are one of them, you are a Big Cat Rescuer and the following is the great work YOU did!  If you haven’t helped yet, you can do so now at the top right of the screen or here:  https://bigcatrescue.org/donate.htm

Big Cat Rescue’s Mission Statement:

To provide the best home we can for the animals in our care and to reduce the number of cats that suffer the fate of abuse, abandonment or extinction by teaching people about the plight of the cats, both in the wild and in captivity, and how they can help through their behavior and support of better laws to protect the cats.


With your help we are winning in the battle for compassion!

Up until 2003 the number of requests for rescues we had to turn down due to lack of space or funds had roughly doubled each year, to 312 that year. We feared it would double again to over 500 in 2004. Instead, it has steadily declined since then. Read why, and about the offers we made this year and why their owners would not agree to our terms. https://bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2008AbandonedBigCats.htm

At least one big cat sanctuary has dropped “Feline” from their name as the new laws have caused such a dramatic decrease in the number of unwanted big cats that they are turning their attention to other animals. We are on the brink of no more abused and unwanted big cats.  This change only happened because of you, and I just can’t thank you enough!

CFO, Howard Baskin was a finalist in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s CFO of the Year awards.

We became the first animal charity in the world to be qualified for and utilize Mobile Giving Foundation’s Text 2 Give program.  Text tiger to 20222.  We discontinued the service in Dec. 2011 however as the carriers were constantly requiring us to change the text everywhere the call to action was posted and we often did not have access to places that reposted our videos.

Animal Care

Rescued liger and 2 tigers HERE.

Hope the baby bobcatWhat do we do when a baby Florida bobcat arrives that is still nursing? We find a domestic cat who is nursing kittens and hope she will “adopt” the baby bobcat.  Big Cat Rescue’s version of Growing Up Bobcat takes you day by day through the challenges of rescuing a baby bobcat, hand rearing her and teaching her all she needs to know so that she can one day be set free.

See Baby Bobcat Episode 1: https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00194.htm

See Baby Bobcat Episode 2: https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00195.htm

See Baby Bobcat Episode 3: https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00196.htm

See Baby Bobcat Episode 4: https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00197.htm

See Baby Bobcat Episode 5: https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00202.htm

See Baby Bobcat Episode 6: https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00204.htm

See Baby Bobcat Episode 7: https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00209.htm

See Baby Bobcat Episode 8: https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00213.htm

See Baby Bobcat Episode 9: https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00216.htm

Watch for Hope to be released in the spring of 2009.

Big Cat Rescue planned Chance the bobcat’s escape for months. Last year a baby bobcat call came in as the third one in three weeks. He only had one eye and a lump on his belly the size of an orange. Big Cat Rescue was there to get him the medical attention he needed. Emergency surgery repaired the hernia in his abdominal wall. The swelling was the contents of his intestines and other internal organs that had spilled out of the muscled area and were rubbing away at the inner lining of his skin. The attending vet, Dr. Liz Wynn, believes that his hernia and missing eye were caused by some sort of trauma. The area where he was found is completely surrounded by development in West Tampa, but bobcats are often reported there and last year one was found as road kill. After months of recuperation and rehabilitation, Chance the yearling bobcat was released. Watch the movie and see his wild dash for freedom: https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00190.htm

As our population of exotic cats continue to age, we are dealing with more and more medical issues.  You may have seen some of these procedures on our You Tube site where we have dealt with abscesses, tumors and rotting teeth.  Our cats live about twice as long as cats would in the wild, so their parts begin to wear out, long before the cats are through with them.  Some of our 2008 surgeries have included draining a hemtoma on Windstar the Bobcat’s ear, removing a cancerous growth from Trucha the tiger and treating a bite wound after her sister bit her.  Removing a non cancerous growth from her sister, Modnic the tiger, pulling what was left of Indian Summer’s rotten teeth to stop the infection, treating a fracture to Cachanga Caracal’s front paw and removing rotting teeth from King the tiger.  Shiloh went in to the vet for an evaluation of his rotten teeth and was found to be suffering from bone cancer.  He is the 19 year old cage mate of Indian Summer and was put to sleep to end his misery.

Most captive cats do not get the early nutrition they need for healthy bones and teeth because their owners pull them from their mothers to bottle raise them.  There is no substitute for their own mother’s milk and their natural diet in the wild.  While we try to supplement their diets and feed them whole prey, it is always too little, too late.  These great cats were not designed for lives of captivity.  Our hope and your help will ensure a future where wild cats live in the wild and not in cages. Read tributes to our cats who have passed on at: https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home

Only 4% of our budget is spent on fundraising, so that is why it is so easy to see where your donations go.  The cats got lots of cage enlargements and improvements in 2008.

Snow Leopard on Cool LedgeOur snow leopard cat-a-tat was built in 1997 and featured a freezer box that is air conditioned 24/7 where the snow leopards could choose to go when it got too hot.  11 years ago these enclosures were our most noteworthy and still offer more comfort than most, but due to their shape and location, there was no way to expand them as we have done with most of our other cats’ cages. We have two snow leopards and three cage sections, but had no good way to shift the cats from one side to another.  After Shaq the black leopard passed away, It only took volunteers a couple of days to join Shaq’s two sections to one section of the old snow leopard enclosure.  Volunteers then spent days painting the cages, landscaping and hauling in logs and lots of stuff for Chloe the snow leopard to enjoy.  Finally the big day came for her to gain access to her new area.  See her enjoying her new, enlarged space here:  https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00205.htm

It’s like musical chairs but with big cats!  Windstar moved into the waterfall cage next to Aquarius the Fishing Cat.  Of all of our bobcats, Windstar loves pools the most, so while his cat-a-tat was getting some upgrades, he vacationed with a lake side view and a fish filled private pond.  Now that his enclousure has been remodeled he has returned to his home with its window view into the President’s office.

Nyla leopard has been on the list to get an 8 x 12 concrete den, cleverly disguised as a fern covered hill, with a huge room addition since August of last year.  Her project kept getting pushed back due to the rescue of four tigers from a facility that was shut down by USDA in FL and 2 lions and 2 tigers who were rescued from Ohio.  Now Nyla has a hurricane shelter like all of the other cats and she is really loving it.

Snorkel was relocated up next to Auroara’s old one acre enclosure next to Shere Khan and China Doll. He will be on the tour path now and rescuers are sure that he will enjoy his new digs. Snorkel is very social and loves to snort and chuff at keepers when they clean his Cat-a-tat or when they are feeding him.

When rescuers released Snorkel into his new pad, he excitedly toured the perimeter, checked out his swimming pond, jumped on top of his den to get a better view of his territory and then chowed down on some fresh grass growing in the enclosure. All the while Shere Khan followed Snorkel, watching his every move. Keepers dug out several large weeds that were growing in Snorkel’s previous home and then loaded up Flavio into the tiger transport. What was old to Snorkel was brand new and fun for Flavio. He hopped right into transport and moved just one Cat-a-tat over. All the new smells will keep him busy for quite a while.

Moving all these tigers around does have a purpose. Now two empty tiger enclosures could be joined together to make a double tiger enclosure for Trucha and Modnic. The new enclosure gave them almost twice the room. At Big Cat Rescue there are a few empty enclosures that are set aside for projects such as these. This way as an enclosure needs to be maintained, repaired, replanted or whatever else, Keepers can relocate the resident feline to one of the empty Cat-a-tats. Because we rescued three more big cats this year, we only have one empty enclosure suitable for tigers and could really use a couple more spares for these moveabouts.

The operant conditioning program has become a crucial element in making these relocations go smoothly. Through the use of operant conditioning Keepers are able to get nearly any cat into transport or their feeding lockouts by simply rewarding the cats with their favorite treats.

Bobcat in TreeCleoCatra Bobcat has a new, duplex with elevated dens, lots of logs and thick green ferns and bushes.  When she moved out of her old, single sided enclosure, Vern was able to connect it to Cherokee Bobcat’s single sided cage.  Now Cherokee has a big duplex, giving her twice as much space as she had before.  She already had lots of ferns and foliage, but now she has a lot more room to run.

We took down a lot of dead pine trees and have planted lush landscaping in cat-a-tats that were renovated to be a new home for Mac the Cougar, Bobcats Bobby Blue Rose and Indian Summer.  When Indian Summer moved, her enclosure was connected to Bobcats, Running Bear and Little White Dove’s single cage.  That gave them a duplex and the best climbing tree in the sanctuary.  (Indian Summer is 19 and her climbing days have long since passed)  These younger cats (11 yrs) love to climb and now we frequently see them lounging high in their new tree house.

It took four years of raising funds and a year of permitting hassles but only 2 weeks to build the first phase of the 10 foot high concrete wall that will one day surround Big Cat Rescue.  See photos of this imposing barrier and find out who helped:  https://bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/zoning.htm

The faithful followers of our site have probably noticed the new addition of pet related articles we have posted to benefit the lives of pets.  https://bigcatrescue.org/pets/000pets.htm

We launched a huge campaign to upgrade two of the largest and most expensive enclosures that housed Auroara, Shere Khan and China Doll the tigers.  See a slide show of the cage enhancements and the biggest of our cats having the biggest of times. https://bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/TigerCages.htm

As Big Cat Rescue has become more successful in ending the trafficking of exotic and endangered wild cats we have drawn the wrath of the breeders and dealers. Our lives have been threatened and our vehicles vandalized. Twelve tires on our van, trucks and trailers were rigged to explode at high speeds over a 3 month period.  We mounted surveillance cameras around the property and on the rehab cages so we can monitor the bobcats without exposing them to humans. https://bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2008cameras.htm


On March 27th, 2008 Big Cat Rescue was honored to host almost 100 visitors from a very special audience. The American Animal Hospital Association was visiting Tampa for AAHA’s 75th Anniversary Yearly Conference held this year in sunny Tampa, Florida.  This specialized group of attendees included veterinarians; practice managers; vet technicians, assistants and support staff; vet students, and family guests. Read more:  https://bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2008AAHA.htm

White Serval photo by Jamie VeronicaIn April Big Cat Rescue was the featured story at Encyclopedia Britannica. Anita Wolff had contacted Jamie Veronica to ask for permission to use some of her photos and she suggested they contact Carole Baskin about some of the legislative work we are doing. Encyclopedia Britannica devotes an impressive section of their site as a source of information, a call for action, and a stimulus to thought regarding humanity’s relationship with the animals with whom we share our planet. They support worldwide efforts to ensure humane treatment of animals, develop the understanding of their nature, promote their survival, and protect and restore the environment. We are honored to be a part of the great work they are doing to educate, inform and enlighten.  Read it here and see some of Jamie’s photos they have put to use:


Our Education Department had to raise their prices to cope with growing demand, but our financial return continues to escalate.  We offer about 220 outreach and field trips per year and have committed to offering 12 of them for free each year to lower income schools, but have already given 30 such free tours this year and expect that demand will continue to rise with the cost of transportation.  Even when we offer the tours for free, many schools cannot come because they cannot afford the $200.00 fee for their busses.  Our Education Department began writing grant proposals to raise the money needed for the buses.

Huge gaps in U.S. regulations for tigers held in captivity could make the big cats a target for illegal trade, wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC and World Wildlife Fund found in the first-ever comprehensive report on captive tiger regulations across the United States. The report, “Paper Tigers?: The Role of the U.S. Captive Tiger Population in the Trade in Tiger Parts,” found there are no reliable regulatory mechanisms to keep track of captive tigers in the United States. Big Cat Rescue provided investigators with crucial data and enabled them to see how the lack of protective laws and enforcement are exploited by animal abusers in the real world. https://bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2008TigerTrafficking.htm

Big Cat Rescue wants to end the need for big cat sanctuaries, but until that day comes we are involved daily in assisting other sanctuaries.  We help improve their ability to convey their message and assist with manpower, resources and guidance on issues such as fundraising, animal care, volunteer training and more.

On November 21st we began assisting the Parco Zoo Punta Verde in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy in a three-year study on Caracal caracal for the purpose of providing information on the species to expand the knowledge of the behavioral, social and pathological state of Caracal caracal in captivity and to create husbandry guidelines on species.

GoNomad.com posted letters from Big Cat Rescuers about animal interaction opportunities that exploit big cats as a way of educating tourists of the real issues involved in keeping big cats captive.

Modified our Children’s DNA ID disks so that they can be used in MO as well as FL and distributed 140 via the Assemblies of God in Springfield.

Cougar CubOnce a month all of our Big Cat Rescue Volunteers meet to share lunch, stories about the cats and to get the essential training they need to make Big Cat Rescue the haven it is for the cats. In April we had a guest speaker, Laurie Macdonald, Florida Program Director of Defenders of Wildlife, come and educate us about the issues facing the Florida Panther, bobcats, black bears and other native wildlife.  Our boots were lined up at the door as 70 or so of us sat on the floor, mesmerized by her slide show presentation that included some of our own cats as stand-ins for their wild cousins.

Love is the universal language and the one we speak best at Big Cat Rescue, but now our website, which is well over 5,500 pages of information, is available in Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.  Check out the google Translate box in the lower left hand side of every page of our site to translate the page into one of the supported languages.  The translations are far from perfect as this technology is still being developed, but we are happy to be able to reach so many more people around the globe.


Thanks to all of you who wrote letters, attended town hall meetings and met with your lawmakers, the world is a little kinder place. Many of the worst breeders, dealers and tiger-tamer-wanabees were finally shut down.  Most of these collectors were fined or shut down by USDA or the state, or both in some cases:

CA:  Hesperia Zoo AKA Cinema Safari Zoo owned by Stephanie Taunton was put on probation and fined $30,000 by USDA.

FL: Horseshoe Creek owned by Darryl Atkinson was shut down by USDA and FL.

FL:  Wild Things’ land owned by Kathy Stearns went into foreclosure and bankruptcy.

FL:  Amazing Exotics appears to have been shut down.  It was notorious for allowing contact between large exotic cats and the public for a fee.  The head of their tiger-tamer-wanabee program was Ron Holiday (real name Ron Guay) who gained fame in the HBO movie Cat Dancers and the book by the same name.  His career in dancing with big cats ended when a white tiger he had raised from a cub killed his wife and his lover within a few days of each other in 1998.

IN:  Great Cats of Indiana, formerly known as Cougar Valley Farms, Inc., owned by Robert B. Craig and Laura Proper came under investigation by USDA.

IN:  Ervin’s Jungle Wonders owned by Ervin Hall was shut down by USDA for a three year term.

MO:  Wesa-A-Geh-Ya owned by Sandra Smith was shut down after a visitor lost his leg to a tiger.

MS:  Cougar Haven closed its doors for good, sending the last 3 big cats to Big Cat Rescue.

NC:  Metrolino Wildlife Park owned by Steven Macaluso was shut down by USDA.

NE:  Zoo Nebraska was ordered to find appropriate homes for their big cats and bears.

OH:  Pearson’s L & L Exotics owned by Lorenzo Pearson was shut down by USDA following six years of violations including the mauling death of his own two year old child.

TX:  Zoo Dynamics, owned by Marcus Cook was fined $100,000.00

Vets VisitYou can read the USDA reports and news stories at https://www.911AnimalAbuse.com

Better laws were passed:

CITES Decision 14.69: Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall
implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers; tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives. (Most of the tiger breeding in the U.S. is for photo booths and petting sessions. None of the breeding of generic tigers does anything to conserve wild tigers. Ask your lawmakers to uphold this CITES decision and end the breeding of tigers outside of the Species Survival Plans in AZA accredited zoos.)

MO: Effective March 2008 MO Wildlife Code changed as follows:

Safety:  Because of the inherent danger and potential liability associated with the possession of bears, mountain lions, wolves and their hybrids, the Conservation Commission now requires owners of these animals to identify each individual with a microchip embedded under the animal’s skin. The owners must also submit a blood or tissue sample for DNA analysis. All animals must be registered with the Department when acquired, born, at death, or when sold. This will aid enforcement of illegal sales of these animals and will help Department biologists distinguish escaped and released captives from wild animals.  MO Conservationist magazine Feb issue at magazine@mdc.mo.gov where Wildlife Code book for 2008 has been released.

Sheriff Kevin T. Harrison asks county to ban private possession of dangerous exotics.

December 11, 2008 Park Hills, MO bans most exotic animals, except small monkeys, within the city limits.

OK:  5/7/08 Gov. Henry signed Senate Bill 1463 into law last week. Sen. James A. Williamson (R-Tulsa) introduced the legislation which prohibits the use of computer-assisted remote control hunting of wildlife. The bill also makes it illegal to engage in, sell, offer for sale, assist in or provide facilities for computer-assisted remote control hunting. Thirty-eight states prohibit Internet hunting, and a federal bill introduced in the U.S. Congress – S. 2422 and H.R. 2711, the Computer- Assisted Remote Hunting Act – would end Internet hunting nationwide.

UT:  Internet Hunting Banned.  Gov. Huntsman signed Senate Bill 164 into law. Sen. Michael Waddoups (R-6th) introduced the legislation which prohibits the use of a computer or other device to remotely hunt an animal.37 states now prohibit Internet hunting, and a federal bill introduced in the U.S. Congress – S. 2422 and H.R. 2711, the Computer- Assisted Remote Hunting Act – would end Internet hunting nationwide.

USDA roared out in support of Haley’s Act HR 1947 but Congress never took the time to hear the bill in 2008.  https://bigcatrescue.org/laws/zPDFlaws/USDAcommentHR1947.pdf

Iberville, LA:  Referring back to a law that has been on Iberville Parish’s books since 1993, the LA Wildlife and Fisheries Dept. finally banned the notorious Tiger Truck Stop from using live tigers as a public display. Thanks to Sky Williamson and more than 11,000 letters from Big Cat Rescuers, the Tiger Truck Stop was finally ordered to remove the last remaining tiger from this truck stop cage in Grosse Tete, LA. This should have ended a sad history of 21 years of tigers in small concrete cages in the middle of this busy truck stop, but the owner filed a lawsuit to keep Louisiana’s Wildlife and Fisheries from doing their job.  At year end we are still fighting to Free Tony the tiger at FreeTony.com

Directing the traffic to the legislative sections had to be more creative however, because by and large, people don’t want to think about politics.  The cat’s stories and their photographs had to be compelling enough to overcome this typical aversion to political matters and we feel that we have had considerable success in doing that since we have been able to track 728,656 visitors to our legislative pages in 2008.  1,653,788 legislative pages were viewed in 2008. 1,743,210 visits to our main web site bigcatrescue.org resulted in 5,794,358 pages being viewed.  Combined visitors were 2,471,866 who viewed 7,448,146 pages or 6,772 visitors per day who viewed 20,406 pages per day.  Our peak day in 2008 was May 13 with 9,340 page views on bigcatrescue.org alone.

The most popular campaign was to free Tony the Tiger from the Truck Stop and accounted for one quarter of all letters sent.

Carole filled in for Allen Green at the Public Interest Land Air Water conference that attracted 3,500 people from all over the U.S. who care about issues such as wildlife trafficking, climate change and other important issues concerning our planet’s health.

At the Sept. 17-19 Florida Wildlife Commission hearting in Jacksonville discussed public comments on the Captive Wildlife Rules.  Of the 1,700 comments our supporters were 1,430 of them.

44,460 letters were sent via our CatLaws.com site in 2008 which is up 25% from last year.  We now have 42,826 members registered to help us with email campaigns.  That is up 9,542 in 2008.

Big Cat Wins Abroad:

Brazil:  12/11/08 After ongoing efforts by many animal organizations an animal group in Brazil has successfully lobbied and a law has been passed banning all animals in circuses there.

Johor, Malaysia Bans ALL Commercial Hunting:  The Johor government banned all forms of commercial hunting.  Johor is home to the Endau-Rompin National Park, the second largest national park in Peninsular Malaysia. The state will lose some money in licensing fees — in 2006, it issued more than 2,000 hunting licenses — but that pales into insignificance when compared with the benefits of such a move. Johor wants to save the tiger. The ban would also help the Department of Wildlife and National Parks to collect data, train staff and curb wildlife crime. Classified as an endangered species, the tiger is fully protected. But its food is not. The ban should ensure that the population of animals that the tiger preys on — such as wild boar and deer — will increase. If the tigers have sufficient food, they are also unlikely to wander into areas with human habitation.

Australia:  August 3, 2008 Environment Minister Peter Garrett immediately banned the import of Savannah cats into Australia upon learning they were a cross between a Serval and domestic cat.  He said the Savannah cat posed “an extreme threat to Australia’s native wildlife.”

Australia:  Craig Bush, the “Lion Man” was ousted from the Zion Wildlife Gardens by his mom.


Fundraising and Marketing

Big Cat Rescue was reported favorably in the news 70 times in 2008.   Some of the national press included shows on Animal Planet, Discovery and the History Channel in addition to such publications and Encylopedia Britannica and Women’s World Magazine and major media coverage in several other countries as well.

The Fur Ball netted over $110,000.00!  Over 550 big cat supporters had a blast at the Fur Ball; dining, dancing, shopping in the Bargain Sale, tasting and voting in the cake contest, playing the Wheel of Fur-Tune casino table and bidding in the silent auction and live auctions. Spirited bidders in the live auction won exotic trips see lions in South Africa, tigers in Thailand, visits Paris, Brussels and London and golf at St. Andrews.  Roger and Wilhelmina Hopper  won the mountain condo vacation in the costume contest.  The men’s and lady’s Rolex watches donated by AvantGold were won by Trey Ashmore and Linda Colon.  The Wheel of Fur-tune raffle prize of $1000 Gift Certificate to AvantGold went to Richard Bosley and the King of Feasts cake contest prize went to Cakes Plus.  Watch the video of the night’s fun and see if we caught you on film in the photos posted under the video. https://bigcatrescue.org/000archives/2008furball.htm


We had 24,734 visitors this year, compared to a comparably sized zoo that hosts 700,000 visitors annually.  With our annual budget approaching a million dollars a year, we have to be creative in our fund raising, so we turned to the 1,743, 210 web site visitors to bigcatrescue.org and on Valentine’s Day asked them to shop in our new online store at https://www.bigcatrescue.biz/  On July 30th we began cross promoting the online store throughout our main web site.

Watch this new episode of Magnificent Obsessions starring our very own Scott Lope.  Lion Feeding Frenzy premiered with lots of interest sparked with each airing.  Scott has also been featured as the big cat expert in Untamed and Uncut and Monster Quest in the U.S. and U.K.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button On 2/9/08 we added this Social Bookmarking option to every page of our site to encourage visitors to add us to their social networks.

People who love animals love to share their photos and stories.  On March 1st Big Cat Rescue unleashed a Chat Big Cats community.  It offers unlimited storage space for members’ photos, videos and music.  Members can post their own blogs, or join in our forums and contests. It is a YouTube/ MySpace styled community made up entirely of animal lovers. By year end there were 785 members and nearly 2,500 videos, songs, photos and blogs posted to the site.  Get in on the action free at https://www.chatbigcats.com

In late December, 2008, we qualified for google Adsense ads to run on YouTube.  We ended the year as the 6th most viewed Non Profit of all time and the 8th most subscribed Non Profit with 4,265 subscribers and 111,015 channel views.  By year end we had 139 videos posted on YouTube and we began using TubeMogul to post to other popular sites like google, Blip, MetaCafe, Revver and others.  https://www.youtube.com/bigcatrescue

Our MySpace account now has 6,291 friends, 254,024,879 people in our network and our site has had 34,443 profile views. https://www.myspace.com/1BigCatRescue

We took our cats’ faces to Face Book: https://apps.new.facebook.com/causes/68903 and enhanced our presence on Care2.org and many other such sites.  We added 134 contacts to our LinkedIn presence here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/BigCatRescue If you live in the Tampa bay area, look for Big Cat Rescue videos on Brighthouse Channel 340 in the Pet Performances section.  Some of your favorite videos, like Hope the baby bobcat are playing there right now.

Big Cat Rescue now has an Endowment Fund to provide a secure future for the cats. The Fund resides at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. Thanks to the generosity of our donors we were able to qualify for a 33% matching fund by raising $150,000.00.  The Community Foundation granted us a $50,000.00 match and this brought our total to $200,000.00 that can generate income to provide for the cats in years to come. https://bigcatrescue.org/communityfoundationoftampabay.htm

We initiated the Legacy Society. This recognizes supporters who have included the cats at Big Cat Rescue in their estate planning. For more info visit:  https://bigcatrescue.org/legacy.htm

We began offering Instant Bingo in our gift shop and created free bingo to play online as well as a site for non US members to play charity bingo where the big cats win every time the player loses.   https://www.bigcatbingo.com

On 7/31/08 our Google grant went up from $10,000 a month in free ads to $40,000.00 a month at a cost of only $1,500.00 to us.

Our Ink Recycling new supporter count was up 324% increase over September 2007 thanks to 235 new ink recycling supporters!!!  This came following a 1/2 page ad about it in the fall issue of The Big Cat Times.

On Sept. 15th we began distribution of newsletters from Dunedin to Sarasota in 20 CVS, Bally’s, Sears, Blockbuster and Albertson’s stores at a cost of $150.00 a month.  Read all of the back issues here: https://bigcatrescue.org/cat_tales.htm

Placed first paid ads in Cat Fancy, CATS, Dog Fancy and DOGS to appear in Dec. issue.

In November we began accepting American Express and Discover credit cards.

Thanks to your votes Big Cat Rescue was awarded the People’s Choice Award by WEDU, our local PBS affiliate. More than 80 charities competed in a 16 county radius for this award, but Big Cat Rescue took 31% of the vote.  This is the second year in a row that Big Cat Rescue has taken home this coveted prize. We have been advised that we are finalists again for the award in 2009.

In the lead for America’s Best Animal Shelter.  Winners to be announced in 2009.

Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats

Harrison Ford w/HSUS Tiger KidsBig Cat Rescue was welcomed into the International Tiger Coalition, which is a group of 39 organizations committed to saving the tiger, based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild.   The goal is 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years.  There are less than 3,000 in the wild currently and we are losing one per day due to poaching.  We persuaded ITC to keep US tiger farming issue as part of their mission to eradicate because legalized trade puts even more pressure on wild populations.

What makes this initiative unlike all of the past programs is two fold.  39 major conservation groups, including Big Cat Rescue, have joined forces with one common goal:  Save the tiger in the wild.  There have been other joint efforts, but none this large and never before has an entity as powerful as the World Bank been a committed partner in saving wild places for wild animals.

Harrison Ford, one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, thanks to his latest Indiana Jones movie breaking records in theaters, is on the board of Conservation International and spoke at the June 9th launch.  Also in attendance were our friend, the beautiful Bo Derek, who won the Wildlife Guardian Award at the Fur Ball last year, and Robert Duvall.  HSUS brought Tiger Kids to the launch and this photo is from their participation as a ITC members.  See these celebrities up close and purrsonal in the most important roles of their lives in this video we shot and find out more about how the World Bank and the International Tiger Coalition plan to save the tiger. https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00206.htm



On 4/4/08 we had another perfect USDA inspection.

We were “green” before it was cool with our recycling, water restrictions and other steps we have taken to walk softly and leave only footprints, but things are going to get a lot greener, and yellower and purpler. Our friends at Biological Research Associates lovingly relocated 2000 pickerelweed, golden canna and gulf coast spikerush.  They spent an afternoon transforming the lake bank and by summer you should see a green three foot swath of native plants that flower in yellow and purple like irises and canas. Kevin Atkins, PWS Senior Project Scientist and Vice President of Biological Research Associates, who once worked with Belinda Wright in the wilds of India to save the tiger, has a deep affection for the big cats.  In reference to wild excursions and his upcoming trip to Africa he commented, “It’s a beautiful planet.” https://bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/2008Greener.htm

With more than 100 big cats on 45 acres, we are always in the process of refurbishing and replacing old cages.  Landscaping is another ongoing project whether it be hauling off tree limbs lost in a storm, to mowing acres of grass, to installing beautiful plants to give the cats shade, privacy and the excitement of the butterflies. Most of the trees and flowers at Big Cat Rescue were donated and this video thanks John Deere, Tampa Bay Nursery, Babs of Garden Magic, our volunteers and those of you who make it possible. https://bigcatrescue.org/video/00192.htm

Helping Others

Big Cat Rescue offered a $5,000 reward for information resulting in the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for shooting a young, female tiger to death. Her body was found next to an apartment complex and I-35E in Dallas, TX on Christmas Day. This was our first offer of a reward to solve a crime and it generated leads but no convictions.  See the video report:  https://bigcatrescue.org/video/b42008/5000reward.htm

We donated thousands of dollars worth of our tours to other worthy animal non profits including Animal Coalition of Tampa, Boxer Rescue, the Humane Society, the Lakeland SPCA, the Largo SPCA, National Humane, and many, many others.

America’s injured veterans have found Big Cat Rescue a place of tranquility where they can surround themselves with beauty and grace;  a respite from all that they have endured protecting our country.  It started with one group and now they come to visit quite frequently.  It’s on the house and we provide lunch when we can as well by asking donors to contribute.  They have done their part in keeping Americans free and we are doing our part to fight for that same freedom for the big cats.

Offered to provide mounted cougar and a native bobcat who was road kill to the Florida Conservation Commission to use in their exhibit at the fairgrounds, if they would stop using live cats.

Then and Now  Our CFO, Howard Baskin, compiled a ten year snapshot of the sanctuary and its growth.  This is just a comparison between 1996 and 2007.

Wildlife on Easy Street to Big Cat Rescue 1996 2007
Visitors 85 24,574
Total Expenses $1,686,386 * $926,619
Total Income $0 $1,509,284
Total Net Assets $148,455 $2,760,047
Spent on Program Services 100% 86% **

*funded by Founder        ** 14% spent on Management and Fundraising combined

Officers and Members of the Board of Directors in 2008 and meetings:

CEO and Founder  Carole Baskin (not compensated by BCR)

President and Chairman of the Board Jamie Veronica

Vice President & BOD Cathy Neumann (not compensated by BCR)

Secretary Jen Ruszczyk (not compensated by BCR)

Treasurer Howard Baskin (not compensated by BCR)

Director Dr. Liz Wynn, DVM  (not compensated by BCR for her role as a Director)

These members met or plan to meet for monthly board meetings at the dates and places below:

Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 1/5/2008
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 2/2/2008
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 3/1/2008
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 4/5/2008
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 5/3/2008
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 5/31/2008
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 7/5/2008
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 8/2/2008
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 9/6/2008
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 10/4/2008
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL: 11/1/2008
Monthly board meeting, Tampa, FL; 12/6/2008

Paid Staff:

Figures from 2007 as the final reports for 2008 are not in. Check back after April 15, 2009:

We went from 3 paid staff to 7 and now provide worker’s comp insurance.  We are working to offer health insurance if enough of our staff opt for it.

Operations Manager & Volunteer Coordinator Scott Lope $35,000.00 incl. bonuses

Staff Manager, Editor & Creative Director Jamie Veronica $24,700.00 (compensated but not for her work as a member of the board)

Gift Shop & Guest Services  Honey Wayton $22,800.00

Intern Director & Lead AdvoCat Tiffany Deavor $25,000.00 Replaced by Kathryn Quaas in 2008

Education Directors Dr. Beth Kamhi & Coleen Kremer $14,000.00 combined

Vernon Stairs Cage Builder and Maintenance $35,600.00

Jessica Allen took Bridget’s place in Feb.  Chris took Brian’s place May 1.

LaWanna Jones hired as an independent contractor 3/1/08 to work on web issues.  Debra Scott was hired as an independent contractor to do CapWiz alerts in July.

All of our animal care is done by volunteers or by staff who also volunteer time before & after work.


Big Cat Rescue had 110 volunteers in 2008 who clocked in 39,902.57 man-power hours in addition to staff, intern and Volunteer Committee member hours.  Roughly the equivalent workforce of 23 more full time staff.

2008 The S.A.V.E. award for Scratch’s Award 4 Volunteer Excellence.  The recipients were January – Becky Gagliardo, February – Rich Bluder, March – Mary Lou Geis, April – Sherry Levesque, May – Erin Newman, June – Scott Milshaw, July – Shiloh Grant, August – who?  , September – Rachel Pipitone, October – who? , November – who?  and December –  who?  Winners of the S.A.V.E. award are allowed to direct $500.00 to the cat project of their choice.

The Volunteer of the Year Award is Big Cat Rescue’s most prestigious award.  It is also the hardest award to bestow as we have the best volunteers in the world and so many of them deserve our highest honors and praise.  This year’s recipient was announced at the 2008 Fur Ball by Cathy Neumann, our Vice President.  Because of her outstanding service Cathy won the award herself so frequently that the only way to get her out of the running was to name the award after her and let her present it each year.  This year’s winner was Becky Gagliardo.  Check out Becky’s hero page to find out more about her. https://bigcatrescue.org/hero/beckygagliardo.htm

Staff and Volunteer Training

On Jan. 25 Coleen Kremer, Dr. Beth Kamhi, Scott Lope, Jamie Veronica, Honey Wayton, Tiffany Deavor, Jen Ruszczyk, Jessica Allen, Barbara Frank, Dr. Liz Wynn, DVM, Howard Baskin and Carole Baskin met for a four hour crash course in People Mapping by Dr. Mike Lillibridge.https://bigcatrescue.org/000news/0articlesbybcr/PeopleMap.htm  Jamie Veronica and Dr. Liz Wynn completed the Safe Capture Course on Sept. 15, 2008.

We want to say a special thank you to four of our staff & volunteers who have just completed their 10th year of service to the cats:  Bill Lewis, Mary Lou Geis, Cathy Neumann and Scott Lope.  You can read about them and their achievements on our Hero pages:  https://bigcatrescue.org/hero/000hero.htm

See the 2007 Annual Report https://bigcatrescue.org/000archives/2007annualreport.htm

Coming Soon: Financial information that includes (i) total income in the past fiscal year, (ii) expenses in the same program, fund raising and administrative categories as in the financial statements, and (iii) ending net assets.


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