2012 Annual Report
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 79,000 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: http://bigcatrescue.org/donate
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” 85 big cats who came to our attention as being abandoned. Note that 69 of them came from failed pseudo sanctuaries. We were able to take in 7. 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 2012
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.
By the end of this year, 96 of our 101 exotic cats are over the age of 12; 80 of those are over the age of 15; and 19 of those are over the age of 20. 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.
We use operant conditioning to enable much of our vet care without the necessity of anesthesia, which is very hard on the cats, but despite that, 43 of our animals had to be sedated for vet care in 2012. We also performed 6 Necropsies: (most performed for interns, all with Dr. Justin), had 4 high ticket Special Surgeries at Blue Pearl, had 2 intricate specialized surgeries by Dr. Hay, 4 on-site dentals by Dr. Peak and vaccinated 84 cats, in addition to countless trips to Ehrlich Animal Hospital to have the cats treated by our volunteer vet, Dr. Liz Wynn.
Rescues: With the help of some very special donors we were able to rescue 5 bobcats, two Savannah Cat hybrids and two kittens that were reported to be bobcats, but who turned out to be tail-less Manx.
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 appeared to be blind and was having bad and frequent seizures, that ultimately cut his life short, but he touched all of us deeply.
On 12/12/12 we had another perfect USDA inspection.
3 of our Cat-a-Tats were expanded with room additions, four of them had major renovations and five tunnels were installed to join cages to give the cats more room, including our first overhead tunnels. We constructed new Outdoor Recovery Cage and made major renovations to the Hospital Recovery Cage.
We provided emergency rescue for a fox and a hawk, in addition to the bobcats.
Our website, BigCatRescue.org 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 has suffered some major issues and has had to be moved to larger and more powerful servers as our traffic is back up to about 1.5 million new visitors per year. Our website is primarily an educational tool and according to Alexa we are ranked 445,200 worldwide and 102,750 most visited website in the U.S. in 2012. We have 1,110 other sites linking to us.
Our web site addresses local and global concerns about environment and has over 9,213 pages of information, movie clips, sounds, safe interactive online games with a conservation theme and photos. In any given week the visitors will be from more than 200 countries outside of the U.S.
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.
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 125 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
Top Rated Non Profit at Great Non Profits
We have received this award every year since they started awarding it in 2010 due to the many great reviews we get from visitors and donors each year.
Named as Top Day Trip for Families
2012 CBS Tampa ranks BCR as one of the top “Day Trips for Families” http://tampa.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-day-trips-for-families-around-tampa/
Best Place to Work
Big Cat Rescue was nominated to The Tampabay Business Journal as one of the best places to work.
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 nine 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!
Wins for the Big Cats in 2012
Ohio Bans Private Possession of Most Exotic Cats: On June 5, 2012 the state legislature banned the private possession of dangerous wild animals, including most exotic cats. Those who have the animals must register them but cannot buy or breed more. The only exemptions for breeding are AZA accredited zoos (and ZAA for now, but that needs to change) and sanctuaries that are accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries can continue to rescue wild animals. Up until now Ohio was second (behind FL) in the nation for the number of killings, maulings and escapes by big cats.
Oprah Announces No Fur in Her O Magazine: The October 2011 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine announced its decision to never feature real fur in the magazine and only use cruelty free materials in its stories, including no leather or exotic skins. This decision was broadly embraced by the readership.
CA, West Hollywood Bans the Sale of Fur: West Hollywood, CA became the first city in the nation to ban the sale of fur. With a three to one vote (with one abstention) the City Council approved the ordinance. The rule faced opposition from the local Chamber of Commerce, whose main trade group, The Fur Information Council, happens to be based in West Hollywood. Nearly half of the 200 stores in town sell at least some fur items and it is estimated to account for approximately $2 million in revenue each year. The measure will take effect on Sept. 21, 2013.
NY, New York City Bars Ban Fur Clad Customers: Bar owner Johnny Barounis, a vegetarian, refuses to allow patrons wearing real fur to enter his trendy bards in Manhattan. His bards include Revision Lounge and Gallery in the East Village, the Back Room on the Lower East Side, and Auction House and Fetch, on the Upper East Side. ”We tell people, you are welcome to come in, but the fur stays out” said Barounis.
Holland: The Holland Circus will no longer include wild animals in their shows. Here is a link to the dutch article: http://www.nu.nl/binnenland/2992728/circus-renz-stopt-met-wilde-dieren.html
UAE Ajman: Jan 2012 became the first emirate to ban the keeping of dangerous animals in private homes. Last July, a two-year-old girl was attacked by a lion cub in Ajman and had to be rescued by a maid.
Greece: Feb 3, 2012 The Greek Government has banned the use of all animals in circuses following a campaign by ADI and the Greek Animal Welfare Fund (GAWF), backed by over 50 local animal protection groups across Greece. The new animal protection law also addresses a number of important issues concerning stray animals.
Bogata, Columbia and Paraguay Ban Wild Animals in Circus Acts June 2012: Hot on the heels of the news last week that the Colombian capital Bogota is to ban all animals in circuses, Paraguay has announced a nationwide ban on wild animals in circuses. Animal Defenders Intenational (ADI) applauds Paraguay for becoming the latest country to ban the use of wild animals in circuses under Resolution 2002/12 passed this week by the Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment (Secretaría del Medio Ambiente). Since ADI launched a major undercover investigation of animals in circuses in South America in 2007, a series of bans have swept across the continent as Governments have acted decisively to end the suffering of these animals. Bans are in place in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and now Paraguay. Legislation for a ban passed its second reading in Colombia earlier this year and legislation for a ban is well advanced in Brazil.
China July 20, 2012: Wildlife conservation and forestry departments of northeast China’s Heilongjiang province announced that visitors will soon not be allow to pay for pictures with Siberian tiger cubs in a tiger park.
When our Cap Wiz account came up for renewal on Dec 31, 2012 we switched to Voter Voice for our CatLaws.com site. At the time of the move we had 73,503 supporters in our AdvoCat database. We loved CapWiz, but VoterVoice promises all of the same great tools for half the price so we are going to try them out for 2013 and see how they compare.
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.
Dade City’s Wild Things had complaints about shoving 8-12 week old tiger cubs in the pool and forcing them to swim with patrons who pay 200.00 that resulted in the Florida Wildlife Commission initially taking the position that it was not safe, but then the FWC reversed themselves and said DCWT may continue, what many people find to be cruel abuse, as long as they didn’t shove the cubs back in the pool if they climbed out. Now DCWT staff hold the poor cubs by their tails so that they cannot reach the side to climb out, but the FWC, despite numerous complaints, has failed to shut down these activities.
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- 2013. It appears that USDA did not pursue any of the exotic animal abuse cases to conclusion in 2011 or 2012. 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: 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 but appears to still be in operation, despite losing his license in 2012.
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.
Fundraising and Marketing
Big Cat Rescue was reported favorably in the news 125 times in 2012. Some of our 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.
YouTube and Revision 3 were the big news this year. Revision 3, which is owned by Discovery, contacted us and asked us to be their first animal themed channel. Thanks to this partnership and cross promotions with Animal Planet, we are experiencing more than 1 million views per MONTH! By year end we had 359 videos and they received more than 15 million views in 2012. We ended the year with appx 53,000 subscribers and 53 million views.
Check it out here http://www.youtube.com/bigcatrescue
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 3,200 subscribers and 434,000 views.
We surpassed 79,000 fans on Face Book
If you search “big cats” our site comes up in position 2 AND 3 out of 363 million competing sites.
We also enhanced our presence on Care2.org and many other such sites.
We now have 500+ contacts in our LinkedIn presence here: linkedin.com/in/BigCatRescue Our MySpace account now has 7,418 friends. myspace.com/1BigCatRescue
Mavrix Photo began using our photos in Dec. 2012
We overhauled (OK, Jamie overhauled) our online stores at http://www.bigcatrescue.biz/ and on eBay and greatly increased our sales by doing so.
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 but in December of 2012 the underlying provider discontinued the free service.
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.
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.
We were the Diamond Sponsor for the Taking Action for Animals conference in Washington, DC where more than 1,000 animal activists converged to learn more about legislation to protect animals.
We were a sponsor for Animal Coalition of Tampa’s Stride for Strays, as we are every year.
One of Jamie Veronica’s photos was accepted by the Fish and Wildlife Service for publication in their 2013 calendar.
We were interviewed by Animal Planet and featured as experts in their series, Fatal Attractions – Tigers Unleashed and another upcoming episode.
An article on Hope the bobcat was featured in Nat Geo Kids Magazine, with a teaser on the cover.
Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
In 2012 Big Cat Rescue donated $1500 towards Panthera conservation programs and outfitting rangers in other countries on behalf of our volunteers.
After delivering a couple of free webinars for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), and hosting their first in person 2 day Workshop in 2011, Patty Finch asked if the board of GFAS could use our facilities for their meeting. We were delighted to meet the members of the board that we had not met before and were proud to show off Big Cat Rescue to all of them. Howard Baskin presented on our fundraising streams and the history of Big Cat Rescue and I shared how we use google Apps and how we manage over 100 top notch volunteers.
Big Cat Rescue provided our CatLaws.com service to Animal Coalition of Tampa in their efforts to send a powerful message to the Hillsborough County Commissioners on the subject of TNR. Trap, Neuter and Return.
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
Below are the audited financial statements of Revenue and Expense for the past five years. We pride ourselves in keeping our fundraising and administrative total expenses below 20%. Because our tour revenue exceeds our fundraising and administrative costs, 100% of donations go to Program Expense.
The majority of the increase in Program Expense in 2012 was the cost of lawsuits we filed in furtherance of our mission against what we believe to be one of the most notorious exploiters of tiger cubs. We prevailed in the lawsuit in early 2013. Without the generous support of our donors we could not have sustained this successful effort. Thank you!
Officers and Members of the Board of Directors in 2012 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)
Keith Lawless (not compensated by BCR)
Kim Mahoney (not compensated by BCR)
These members met for quarterly board meetings at the sanctuary. The board met 4 times in 2012.
Operations Manager & Volunteer Coordinator Gale Ingham
Staff Manager, Editor & Creative Director Jamie Veronica
Gift Shop & Guest Services Honey Wayton and Kim Dever
Project Manager Chelsea Feeny
Education Director Willow Hecht
Vernon Stairs Cage Builder and Maintenance
Scott Haller Cage Building Apprentice and Maintenance
PT Operations Manager and 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
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 93 volunteers at the end of 2012 who clocked in 37,715 man-power hours in addition to staff, 25 interns (12,700 hours) and 5,658 Volunteer Committee member hours. Volunteers and interns provided roughly the equivalent workforce of 24 more full time staff.
Interesting breakdown of volunteers: We 93 volunteers; 75 women and 18 men. The youngest 20 years old, the oldest 84 years old.
Between January 1, 2010 and September 10, 2012 Big Cat Rescue had 77 interns from 10 countries and 22 states.
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. Several of our staff attended the Safe Capture Course, as we do any time they are in Florida.
Get our Financial Reports: See our IRS 990 and audited financial statement for Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org/finances/