2011 Annual Report

2011 Annual Report


A year in video below shows how YOU and Big Cat Rescue saved cats and gave them the best lives possible.



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 54,000 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:


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.


We are Caring for Cats and Ending the Trade




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 thanks to the passage of a federal bill and several state bills that restrict the ownership of exotic cats. This year there were only 15 big cats who came to our attention as being abandoned and we were able to take in 10. We offered to take all of the cats who were cougar size or smaller, if their owners would contract to never own another exotic cat, but the rest refused.  We just do not have enough Senior Keeper staff to take on more lions or tigers than the three we took this year.

List of Abandoned Big Cats Thru 2011
List of Abandoned Big Cats Thru 2011


Volgistics became our new time tracking service on Jan 1, 2012 and has replaced our use of Freshbooks.  Everyone seems to like the big buttons and easy check in and check out process.


Animal Care


Nikita Tiger Has Fun With CylinderBy the end of this year, 106 of our 119 animals are over the age of 12 and 89 are over the age of 15. This is well beyond how long they are designed to live in the wild and much older than most zoo cats.  This is a testament to the excellent animal care we provide, but we are dealing with many more age related illnesses and are losing more of our big cat friends every year.


Rescues:  With the help of some very special donors we were able to rescue Amanda, Arthur and Andre; 3 tigers who had been rescued in 2003 from NJ and sent to Wild Animal Orphanage in TX, which collapsed in 2010.  Max the baby bobcat came to us after the RI DNR seized him from an illegal owner.  5 servals, Zoul, Zouletta, Zimba, Santino and Doodles, who had been kept in a NY basement for 14 years were rescued.  Another serval named Kricket was also brought in from VA when her owner could no longer keep her.  We were also able to help with the placement of another serval, a bobcat and did a lot of rehab consultation work via phone and email.


One of those bobcats was Rufus who came in to a Rehabber on Dec 5 weighing 5 lbs, with a broken jaw, split canine and comatose.  They figured he had been hit by a car, but at 5 lbs couldn’t believe that he survived.  After he woke up from the coma he was pretty loopy, but they figured the impact had done brain damage.  They had to wire the jaw shut, tube feed him and removed the broken canine. He is now about 7 lbs, is eating solids on his own and doing much better but appears to be blind.  He was having bad and frequent seizures, but those have almost subsided.  They have asked if we can give him a forever home if his eyesight does not return and we stand ready to help.


On 12/21/11 we had another perfect USDA inspection.




Our website, underwent a painful renovation from a static html site to a WordPress CMS site during 2010 and 2011.  All of the page names had to be changed to fit the new system which meant a huge drop in traffic and initially a huge drop in inbound links, although, by the end of the year we had gained more than a thousand more inbound links than we had before, so it is going to prove a worth while move.  The site was completely down in the Spring and Summer, but has been stable since August 2011 now.


Our website is primarily an educational tool and according to Alexa we are ranked 464,891 worldwide and 128,777 most visited website in the U.S.  We have 1,104 other sites linking to us.


Our web site addresses local and global concerns about environment and has over 8,347 pages of information, movie clips, sounds, safe interactive online games with a conservation theme and photos. From 1/1/2011 until 12/31/2011 the site was visited 338,715 times, resulting in 764,943 page views.  In any given week the visitors will be from more than 200 countries outside of the U.S. as you can see from this breakdown:

United States 279,011, Canada 17,495, Poland 7,679, United Kingdom 7,610, Australia 2,848, India 2,123, Germany 1,578, France 984, and the Philippines 858to name a few.


The information provided has helped wildlife rehabilitators identify animals and obtain proper care instruction, helped officials in smuggling cases to identify rare species of exotic cats being illegally traded and those are just a few of the ways that we know the site has had an impact this year.  For search engine optimization reasons we launched  to make it easier for bobcats in trouble to find us.


We offer about 200 outreach and field trips per year and have committed to offering 12 of them for free each year to lower income schools, but have given 18 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.


Big Cat Rescue has been in the press 326 times, in 42+ states including AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, GA, FL, HI, IA, ID, IO, IN, IL, KY, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, VA, VT, WA, WI & WV and dozens of programs of national or international coverage or in countries other than the U.S.


Award Winning Sanctuary


CharityNavigatorPC Magazine Names Big Cat Rescue in Top 12 Favorite Charities 2011.  Big Cat Rescue, which takes in retired circus lions and tigers, also rescues other big cats from people who tried to keep them as pets, and otherwise offers sanctuary to large cats that are not eligible for release into the wild. It’s focused on educating people about the unsuitability of the animals as pets, working toward passing laws against roadside zoos, and shutting down breeding programs like the exotic pet trade. They also take in injured wild cats and rehabilitate them for release. The group has a video cam set up in the sanctuary, and they regularly post videos of the big cats. The cats eat a massive amount every day, naturally, so Big Cat Rescue relies on donations and paid tour groups to support them.—Arielle Rochette  PC Magazine


2011 Winner in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good  Big Cat Rescue was given a beautiful Toyota Tundra for being the top voted charity during their competition week.


9/2/2011  The Tampa Bay Business Journal awarded Big Cat Rescue in 3 categories:  Best Black Tie Event  Favorite Retreat and Team Building Venue and Second Best Fundraiser


The Tampabay Business Journal selected Big Cat Rescue as a semi-finalist for Non Profit of the Year for 2011.




The steady increase in legislation banning private ownership represents recognition by our society that private ownership leads to massive abuse.  Social values evolve.  It took decades to ban slavery in England and for women to win the right to vote in America.  Those ideas started out as “radical” and were held by a small minority.  Gradually more and more people understood and agreed until they became a part of our value system that we take for granted today.  The same trend is happening with private ownership of exotics.  Gradually more and more people are realizing that this simply leads to widespread abuse of these animals.  The best evidence of this is the accelerating trend in state laws.   Just since 2005 eight more states have passed some level of ban. Sweden, Austria, Costa Rica, India, Finland, Bolivia, Greece, China, the UK and Singapore have all banned or restricted the utilization of big cats in circuses-it’s time for the U.S. & South Africa to do the same!


14,539 new subscribers joined as an AdvoCat to speak out for the cats at in 2011 bringing our total number of AdvoCats to  54,447 who sent 134,431 letters to lawmakers and decision makers to protect big cats.



Animal Abusers Exposed, Shut Down and / or Fined


Big Cat Rescue enabled several under cover operations to gather evidence of exotic cats being abused, bred without regard for where they may end up, violations of the Animal Welfare Act that pertains to the cruel treatment of big cats and endangering the public.  This information was presented to the authorities along with affidavits and supporting evidence that we hope will bring an end to much of the suffering in the facilities we selected as being the worst abusers.

Inside Edition exposed Joe Schreibvogel of GW Park and the fact that at least 23 tiger cubs died at his facility.

The BBC’s Show called America’s Most Dangerous Pets with  Louis Therous suggested their show should have been named, America’s Most Dangerous Pet Owners.

Animal Planet’s Fatal Attractions interviewed Carole Baskin in Tigers Unleashed about dangerous exotic animal owners including Savage Kingdom’s Robert Baudy and Lost Creek where Haley Hilderbrand was killed by a tiger while posing with the cat for her high school yearbook photo.

Many of the worst breeders, dealers and tiger-tamer-wanabees were finally shut down.  The following is from 2008- 2010.  It appears that USDA did not pursue any of the exotic animal abuse cases in 2011.  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:  Dade City’s Wild Things‘ land owned by Kathy Stearns went into foreclosure and bankruptcy.

FL:  Amazing Exotics was 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.

FL:  In 2010 Jeff and Barbara Harrod of Vanishing Species lost both their USDA and FWC licenses.

FL:  In 2010 Thomas R. Cronin of the Shell Factory was sanctioned by USDA for improper handling of animals, poor sanitation and lack of vet care.

IN:  Great Cats of Indiana, formerly known as Cougar Valley Farms, Inc., owned by Robert B. Craig and Laura Proper had their license revoked by USDA.

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

KS: In 2010 Clint Perkins of Riverside Zoological Park lost his USDA license to exhibit tigers and was fined for violations.

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.

NV:  Victor Northrop, 48, of Henderson, Nevada, who allegedly accepted $10,000 for a rug made out of an endangered tiger after offering the item for sale on Craigslist for $12,500 lost the rug to the government during a confiscation action in July 2011.

OH:  Pearson’s L & L Exotics owned by Lorenzo Pearson was shut down by USDA following six years of violations.

SC:  In 2010 Robert Childress dba Quality Equipment was fined by USDA for lack of care for tigers.

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

TX:  In 2010 Jamie Palazzo of Great Cat Adventures had their USDA license suspended for 3 years.

TX:  Wild Animal Orphanage closed their doors in September 2010 after investigation the Attorney General for fraudulent fundraising practices.  363 animals, mostly big cats and primates, are being disbursed to other sanctuaries.  Three of the tigers are coming to Big Cat Rescue.

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


Fundraising and Marketing


We overhauled (OK, Jamie overhauled) our online stores at and on eBay and greatly increased our sales by doing so.

Final financial numbers will not be available until after our annual audit in the spring, but estimates will be posted here  after we reconcile the credit card statements. We currently operate 300+ social networking sites.


Big Cat Rescue was reported favorably in the news 326 times in 2011 which in a 19% increase over 2010.   Some of the national press included shows on  CNN,  MSNBC, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery and the History Channel in addition to such publications as USA Today, National Geographic and the New York Post and major media coverage in several other countries as well.


Google awarded Big Cat Rescue a grant of $40,000 per month in free AdWords. People who love animals love to share their photos and stories.  In 2008 Big Cat Rescue unleashed a Chat Big Cats community.   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 2,847 members and 34,359,740,539  videos, songs, photos and blogs posted to the site.  (blows my mind too!)  Get in on the action free at


Best Viral Video Award
Best Viral Video Award

YouTube.  We ended the year with 35,442 subscribers and 37,492,151 views.   By year end we had 323 videos posted on YouTube and other popular sites like google, Blip, MetaCafe, Revver and others.

YouTube Mini Clip Site:  DailyBigCat was launched Nov. 20, 2010 to provide a channel for the mini clips we upload directly from our iPhones.  By year end this site had 2,563 subscribers and 166,724 views.


Our MySpace account now has 7,551 friends. We surpassed 54,000 fans on Face Book .  We also enhanced our presence on and many other such sites.  We now have 500+ contacts in our LinkedIn presence here: 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.  We initiated a program with Capitol One so that you can choose one of our beautiful cats for your credit card image and 1% of all of your purchases will be donated to Big Cat Rescue at no cost to you.


Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats


Big Cat Rescue funded a $5,000 GPS tracking collar program that will be monitored by researchers with the Snow Leopard Trust. Founded in 1981, the Snow Leopard Trust is the world’s leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard. This collar will allow researchers to track a wild snow leopard in order to study its habits and territory needs.


A GPS tracking collar has been placed on one of the cubs of Khashaa, a female and mother snow leopard, within the study area. The cub, a male, is already pretty big at one and a half years old. We find this so exciting because it will help us begin to answer some of the unanswered questions about snow leopards, including information about dispersal patterns.


Big Cat Rescue has been working with WildTracks this year to provide images of our tigers’ paw prints for entry into their computer program which can determine who a cat is by their tracks when there are enough tracks submitted to use for comparison.  Learn more and see photos of the print collection at


Big Cat Rescue offered to sponsor the first ever Florida Panther Festival if they agreed not to use any live cats at their exhibits.  They did not take us up on the offer to sponsor the event, but did assure us that they would not exploit cats this way.  Our camera traps have been set in various locations to monitor wildlife populations and poachers in the area.


Helping Others


After delivering a couple of free webinars for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), Patty asked if we would host their first in person 2 day Workshop. Howard Baskin presented on our fundraising streams and the history of Big Cat Rescue, Jeff Kremer presented on donor recognition while giving the group of 20+ attendees a tour, Chris Poole spoke on social marketing and networking, Patty Ragan shared the value of hiring a coach, Kari Bagnall illustrated how to get the most out of a tabling event, Patty Finch taught grant writing, teaching your board how to be helpful and how to avoid “founder’s syndrome” and I shared how we use google Apps, how we manage over 100 top notch volunteers, why it is important to have a plan and stick to it.


Big Cat Rescue later hosted HSUS Sanctuary CEO’s for their annual retreat and gave them an inside look at how we operate.  In both the GFAS and HSUS workshops we shared our Intranet site along with all of our training documents and all of the assets to create a “sanctuary in a box.”  All of these tools are included on our website behind a $1.00 pay wall so that anyone who wishes to improve their facility has access to everything we do.   Big Cat Rescue also helped the Humane Society Legislative Fund in their work to end puppy mills because the same laws would protect cats and kittens from use in kitten mills as well.


Big Cat Rescue provided our service to Animal Coalition of Tampa in their efforts to send a powerful message to the Hillsborough County Commissioners on two subjects.  1. Was to fund the voucher program for spaying and neutering dogs and cats for low income owners.  2. Was to ban the cruel practice of chaining dogs.


As with every year we supplied Free Passes, Certificates for Feeding Tours and Keeper Tours, and Two For One Passes to many other animal causes to use in their fundraising efforts.  We donate primarily to those organizations that are providing services to cats of all sizes.  We do donate to some human related fundraisers as well, but animal causes make up 3% of all charities and yet compete for less than 1% of all donated dollars.


Then and Now



2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Revenues and Support
Contributions and Grants 619,528 741,961 745,222 1,164,678 1,182,688
Educational Tours and Activities 531,590 566,136 585,764 610,518 732,529
Bequests 133,584
In-kind Donations 34,786 5,830 3,400 10,726 40,669
Special Events 119,332 108,747 89,236 79,316
Rental Income from Operations 9,188 10,376 9,970 10,369 10,784
Investment Income 104,552 111,539 163,124 127,166 102,738
Gift Shop 90,308 97,431 111,209 109,441 136,186
Total Revenues and Support 1,509,284 1,642,020 1,707,925 2,245,798 2,205,594
Program Expense 800,511 848,255 894,238 1,130,303 1,385,590
Management & General 90,521 115,290 127,795 137,577 145,618
Pct of Total Expense 10% 11% 12% 10.09% 8.90%
Fund Raising 35,587 57,484 83,304 95,563 105,291
Pct of Total Expense 4% 6% 8% 7% 6%
Total Pct Mgmt/Gen & Fundraising 14% 17% 19% 17% 15%
Total Expenses 926,619 1,021,029 1,105,337 1,363,443 1,636,499
Change in Net Assets 582,665 620,991 602,588 882,355 569,095
Board Designated Reserve 200,000 200,000 200,000 200,000 200,000
Wall Fund Reserve 236,625 124,312 129,688 157,393 36,577
Endowment at Community Foundation 191,079 238,340 297,068 309,309

IRS 501 c 3 Determination letter


Officers and Members of the Board of Directors in 2011 and meetings:

CEO and Founder  Carole Baskin (not compensated by BCR) President and Chairman of the Board Jamie Veronica (not compensated by BCR for her role as a Director) Secretary & Treasurer Howard Baskin (not compensated by BCR for his role as a Director) VP Director Lisa Shaw (not compensated by BCR) Director Mary Lou Geis (not compensated by BCR) Pamela Rodriguez (not compensated by BCR), Darren Kipnis (not compensated by BCR), Vincent Pavese (not compensated by BCR), and Keith Lawless (not compensated by BCR).  These members met for quarterly board meetings at the sanctuary.  The board met 5 times in 2011.


Paid Staff:

Operations Manager & Volunteer Coordinator Gale Ingham Staff Manager, Editor & Creative Director Jamie Veronica Gift Shop & Guest Services  Honey Wayton Intern Recruiter & Data Management Chelsea Feeny Education Director Dr. Beth Kamhi and her assistant Willow Hecht Vernon Stairs Cage Builder and Maintenance Scott Haller Cage Building Apprentice and Maintenance Videographer and Social Networking Chris Poole Director of Donor Appreciation  Jeff Kremer Assistant to Operations Manager and Staff Relief Person Jennifer Flatt, CFO Howard Baskin, PR Susan Bass and  LaWanna Mitchell is an independent contractor who works remotely on web issues. All of our animal care is done by volunteers or by staff who also volunteer time before & after work.



Big Cat Rescue had 96 volunteers at the end of 2011 who clocked in 37556.09 man-power hours in addition to staff, 25 interns (12,700 hours) and Volunteer Committee member hours. Our interns came from 9 states and 6 countries. Volunteers and interns provided roughly the equivalent workforce of 24 more full time staff.


Staff and Volunteer Training

We want to say a special thank you to all of our staff & volunteers who have just completed their 10th year of service to the cats.


Get our Financial Reports:  Click here for IRS 990 and audited financial statement for Big Cat Rescue.

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