Hoover Tiger at Big Cat Rescue

2016 Annual Report


This Annual Report still has a few figures outstanding to be complete.

This is a playlist of our most recent videos and an easy way to see what we have been doing at Big Cat Rescue.

Animal Care


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 94 cats who came to our attention as being abandoned, but it is important to note that 91 of them came from three failed zoos and “sanctuaries”. We were able to take in  16 new cats:  5 tigers, 4 bobcats, 2 cougars and 5 rehab bobcats.

We offered to take 6 more of the cats if their owners would contract to never own another exotic cat.  The cats we did not take were those whose owners refused or another sanctuary offered space first.  There is no point to our taking in cats just so an owner can go buy another cute cub to use and discard.

Another great result of more bans on private ownership is that the number of killings, maulings and escapes are on the decline in the U.S. as well.  In 2016 there was one person killed by a tiger in FL, one person mauled by a tiger in SD, one person mauled by a tiger in OR and one escape in UT.   There were killings, maulings and escapes in Russia, South Africa, Germany, Spain, Canada, Chile, San Salvadore, Malta, Australia and the UK.  Combined these events involved 8 tigers, 11 lions, 2 leopards and 2 lynx.  This year there were two killings of humans, 13 maulings, 12 escapes, 5 children attacked and four of the cats were killed.

2016 Abandoned Big Cats
Click image to see larger

2016 was a year of many cheers…but also quite a few tears.

We welcomed a record number of wild native Florida bobcats who needed rescuing for a wide variety of reasons.  Mr. and Mrs. Claws were rescued from Christmas Florida.  Mr. Claws was able to be rehabbed and released back to the wild this year.  Mrs. Claws was brain damaged and could not be released, but she turned out to be a great cage mate for Nabisco Bobcat.


Spirit Feather was another 2am success story! When this little bobcat was separated from her mom, and found in the middle of the road, good samaritans turned her in at a clinic in the middle of the state.  Her mother could not be found, but she did great in rehab and is set for release on Jan. 8, 2017.

Thor, a 2-year-old bobcat, was hit by a car and took the brunt of it to his face, requiring extensive jaw surgery and heroic measures to save one of his eyes.

Thor healed amazingly well and our rehabbers taught the kittens how to hunt and watched as they flourished into big, feisty bobcats. Except for Mrs. Claws, who is still being evaluated, all of these precious bobcats have been released back into the Florida wilderness. As we watched them go, we cheered and tried to hold back tears. These are the very best days at our sanctuary!

We were also able to rescue Chief Spotted Eye, Poseidon and George, three other native Florida bobcats, but both were too badly injured to survive.


It is because of YOU, our wonderful donors, that we can continue to rescue, care for and rehabilitate injured and orphaned bobcats across Florida. As news of our success grows, we receive more calls asking for our help. In order to do so, we want to relocate and expand our bobcat rehab area at the sanctuary. The new facility will include eight large rehab enclosures in a remote area far from people so the cats retain their wild instincts. The cost for this expansion is approximately $345,000.  By the end of 2016 three of the runs have reached completion.

We refer to Big Cat Rescue as a retirement home because so many of our cats are well over 80, 90 and even 100 in human years. Your financial support allows us to provide all of our cats with the very best nutrition and medical care. But not even our cats can live forever. This year we shed many tears as we said goodbye to several elderly cats, including our beloved Raindance, one of the very first bobcat kittens we rescued from a Minnesota fur farm way back in 1993. The other wonderful cats who left indelible claw marks on our hearts include Genie, the last of our sand cats. And Alex, an amazing tiger with the sweetest face who loved his enrichment and was a whiz at operant conditioning. And Narla, our much-loved blind and deaf cougar. And Bongo, a serval who lived to the age of 25.

But the hardest week was when we had to say goodbye to two of our precious tigers on consecutive days in May. There was not a dry eye at the sanctuary, and we know many of you grieved for Teisha and Bengali right along with us. Their stories are different but both represent the exploitation of big cats that is rampant in the U.S…and why we fight for passage of the federal Big Cat Public Safety Act.


Teisha lived at Big Cat Rescue for just 7 months, but touched our hearts from her first day here last October. She had been seized from a roadside zoo and was in very poor health. She had severe mobility issues with her back legs; our vets determined that her spinal damage and pain had been going on for many years. We tried to make her final months as comfortable and happy as possible. In the end, her spirit remained strong but her body failed her. We had to let her go. As she left this earth, Teisha was surrounded by the people who loved her. And we renewed our vow to keep advocating for captive tigers to end their suffering.

We also said goodbye to our last bearcat, Bean (16), Zeus the Siberian Lynx (18), Angelica Bobcat (20), Fluffy Serval (22), The Great Pretender Bobcat (24), Little Feather Bobcat (23), Nairobi Serval (23), Doodles Serval (17), Santino Serval (17), Windstar Bobcat (18), Purr-sonality Serval (21), Kalahari Serval (19), Rusty Caracal (19), Sassyfrass Cougar (18), Jumanji Leopard (20) and Zouletta Serval (18).  It was a very, very hard year for us as these cats were such a huge part of our lives for decades.


Bengali was the last of 13 former circus tigers who arrived in 2000. At the time he didn’t even have a name. Bengali lived at Big Cat Rescue for 16 years and had such a big, funny purrsonality that he was the favorite of countless volunteers, interns, staff and visitors. There will never be another tiger like our Ben and he left a big hole in many hearts.

But, as the saying goes, “when one door closes, another opens.” Just one month before Bengali passed, we welcomed a former circus tiger from Peru named Hoover. We cheered as Hoover arrived at Big Cat Rescue on his 12th birthday! Watching him swim and frolic in his lake-access enclosure brings us such joy and heals our broken hearts all over again.  He was our first international rescue in 19 years.

There were also two exciting new developments at the sanctuary this year. First, thanks to the generous support of many donors, we completed and opened the FUN-cation Rotation enclosure, our expansive 20,000-square-foot vacation area for our leopards, cougars and small cats. The cats are really enjoying their vacations and exploring the many dens, platforms, trees, foliage and toys!


The second was the installation of several cameras by explore.org. Now people around the world can “visit” Big Cat Rescue and watch our cats 24/7! Viewers can see our lions and tigers go on vacation in the Vacation Rotation, keep tabs on lioness Nikita and tiger Hoover, and even watch live surgeries in our Windsong Memorial Hospital. You can find all of our cameras at www.explore.org/bigcatrescue

As 2016 comes to a close, we are so thankful for your donations, which allowed us to rescue and become the permanent home for 12 more exotic cats! In April we rescued Hoover, a former circus tiger from Peru. Kept in a tiny circus cage for most of his life, Hoover has really blossomed at our sanctuary and loves swimming in his lake.

Then in October, we took in bobcats Dryden, Kewlona, Nabisco and Smalls along with cougars Josie and Sassy from a troubled sanctuary in South Dakota that lost its USDA license. Sassy, the oldest of the group, will be 18 in January (over 100 in human years). During her difficult life, she has been bounced around to at least 4 different facilities. At some point the tips of her ears froze off. But her suffering is behind her now and we plan to spoil her for the rest of her life!

In November we rescued five tigers – Andy, Charaka, Gabrielle, Priya and Seth – from a failed sanctuary in Colorado.  Four of the tigers settled in nicely, but almost immediately we knew something was very wrong with 13-year-old tigress Priya.

She wouldn’t eat and her belly was distended. We rushed her into surgery and discovered an infected uterus and 20-pound mass that needed to be removed. Had our skilled vets not realized she needed emergency surgery, she would have died. Thanks to your donations, our amazing vet team saved Priya’s life and she can now enjoy her life in good health at Big Cat Rescue.

Foster Kittens

Newborn kittens who are brought to Animal Control are routinely killed because with their immature immune systems they do not survive in the shelter environment.  So we began a foster kitten program with our interns as the fosters in 2013  We have saved 427 kittens & cats from being killed.  We raise them until they are 2 pounds and healthy, then bring them to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay to be fixed and adopted out.  You can watch our foster kittens in their play room live every day at https://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-kitten-cabana

Long Healthy Lives

By the end of this year,  we have 77 exotic cats and 53 of them are over the age of 12.  45 of those are over the age of 15; and 20 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.

2016 Cat Census

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.

Sadly we had to say “goodbye” to these great friends:

2016 Deaths
Click to see larger

You can read their tributes here: https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home

Huge Improvements

2016 was a year for some amazing improvements that included:

The first three new rehab runs were funded and built.

We completely changed the gift shop point of sale software from a PC version of Quickbooks to a mobile iPad version of Shopify. This change allowed us to take advantage of more payment methods and better security with chipped cards and ApplePay. This will also allow better communication between our physical gift shop and our online gift shop. Another benefit is the ability to scale up if we need more registers or scale down when we are slower. We can take advantage of better communication between devices and less hard wire cabling we were having to do with our other system. This project took 3 months and a lot of data entry to convert to new naming and organization of products.  Shop online now at BigCatRescue.biz  

The 22,000 Fun Cation was completed for leopards and smaller cats to be rotated through for 2 week vacations.

Award Winning Sanctuary

Great Non Profits
Big Cat Rescue awarded Top Rated status 2016

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.

2016 Give Day Tampa Bay

Big Cat Rescue was the top fundraiser, with $268,487 donated over the course of the day.

Charity Navigator

We again received Charity Navigator’s highest four star rating and are the highest rated wild animal sanctuary in their numeric scoring system.

Outreach: Education & Advocacy


We hosted 63 educational tours to school and community groups last year, and gave dozens of off-site presentations to students, scouts, and business groups throughout central Florida. Many of those presentations were scheduled in culmination with fundraising campaigns or advocacy projects initiated by the groups and completed in collaboration with BCR staff.

As technology becomes more accessible to broader audiences, so does our ability to educate children and adults outside of our community. 2016 saw a notable increase in our distance learning activities. We participated in nearly 40 school project interviews via Skype, FaceTime, and other real-time video aps with students from across the country and globe including Ohio, New York, Texas, Alaska, Canada, England, India, Hong Kong, and Switzerland.

Overall we assisted over 150 students or student groups with their big cat related projects ranging on topics from the exotic animal trade to species-specific conservation efforts, and big cats in the circus to tiger farming.

On the same day as five tigers were on the tail end of their road trip to our sanctuary in central Florida, Big Cat Rescue volunteers and staff members were checking-in at schools throughout Tampa Bay to participate in this year’s Great American Teach-In. Equipped with poop buckets, used Boomer balls, tooth replicas, and paw reliefs, our rescuers spoke with children about the day-to-day work that goes into providing the best care we can for 77 cats. All in all, we shared stories with over 1,700 students at 28 schools in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties. That’s a Big Cat record! During the Great American Teach-In, and on every day of the year, we hope to inspire tomorrow’s leaders to also be today’s AdvoCats.

An organization called, “The NYC Journalist & Author Outreach” asked for a list of all our free iBooks.  They are giving away 100 iPads to college journalist students and are loading them each with 100 iBooks AND featured it in their Christmas e-newsletter that went to colleges across the country.

ZooCollege.com launched 4/7/2016 and by the end of 2016 there had been 446 enrollments at $9.00 per month.  This is the same training that Big Cat Rescuers get (without the actual certifications from performing the tasks) We started work on digitizing our training in 2009.   We also had our first person to take the course and pay $3,500 to do a week long Volunteer Vacation.

iBooks Downloads in 2016: 9,876

1,930 The Elusive Sand Cat
1,260 Lions
1,200 China Doll Loves Pumpkins
985 Meet JoJo
702 Black Footed Cat
665 Black Panthers: Fact or Myth
505 Big Cat Attacks
488 Who Is Big Cat Rescue?
469 Big Cat Care
458 Tigrina or Oncilla
358 Shaquille Shattered Dreams
342 The Bobcats of Big Cat Rescue
208 What Do You See?
140 The African Wild Dog
45 Caracal Lynx
45 The Dunking
34 Black Leopard, Jumanji
30 A Leopard Named Armani
12 Common Myths That Fuel the Cruel Big Cat Selfie Trade

Amazon Kindle Downloads in 2016: 1,546

169 The Elusive Sand Cat
300 Lions
204 Black Footed Cat
284 Big Cat Attacks
29 Shaquille Shattered Dreams
356 The Bobcats of Big Cat Rescue
25 What Do You See?
31 Caracal Lynx
74 The Dunking
33 Black Leopard, Jumanji
41 A Leopard Named Armani

PDF are easily 5 times the amount of iBooks and Kindle combined.


2016 was a phenomenal year of action for our AdvoCats. Our AdvoCats Facebook group grew to 482 members and with their help we were able to gather undercover footage to expose big cat abuse. AdvoCats also met with their legislators to get support for the Big Cat Public Safety Act, tabled on behalf of BCR at community events, organized protests, gave speeches, gathered signatures, hosted movie screenings, and fought for local legislation to protect wild cats.

We are always working to reach un-tapped and nontraditional audiences to further educate the public about the plight of captive big cats and encourage those who can support legislation to protect big cats. Big Cat Rescue was proud to be the headlining exhibitor at this year’s Taking Action for Animals, the country’s foremost conference for animal welfare. We were also proud to be represented at various events and conferences including the National Animal Care & Control Association annual conference, the PAWS International Captive Wildlife Conference, and the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17).

Within the state, Big Cat Rescue has led efforts to improve the lives of captive big cats as well as their wild counterparts. Throughout the year our Director of Outreach represented BCR at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission [FWC] meetings where she advocated for an end to cub petting, stronger enforcement of big cat related regulations, and for investigations of some of the state’s worst big cat abusers. We have also been among the strongest voices fighting to preserve protections for the Florida Panther.

This year we launched our Outreach Internship [OI] program (formerly known as the Legislation and Advocacy Internship [LAI]) (https://bigcatrescue.org/outreach-intern/). The OI works with our Director of Outreach in promoting legislation, advocating for the welfare of big cats, and educating the public on the issues facing exotic cats, specifically private ownership and exploitation. Among the highlights of this year’s program was the successful International Tiger Day campaign managed by LAI, Diane Dotson. Thanks to her work BCR sold 124 “Extinction Bites” t-shirts and raised $3,348 for the International Tiger Project, which implements on-the-ground conservation work in Sumatra. LAIs also represented BCR at conferences, spoke at FWC meetings, and assisted with both local and federal legislation.

Community Outreach

Big Cat Rescue continues to be a valued member of the Tampa Bay community. We participated in a variety of free family events such as Gulfport’s Get Rescued, EcoFest, VegFest, and three St. Francis Day blessings. We’ve had the honor of speaking to various philanthropic clubs and collaborating with local organizations to benefit big cats and community.

BigCatRescue.org gets about XXX million unique visitors per year. Our website is primarily an educational tool and according to Alexa we are ranked 146,731 worldwide and 42,163 most visited website in the U.S. in 2016 which was more than doubling of our site’s popularity over 2013. We have 1,161 other sites linking to us.

Our web site addresses local and global concerns about the environment and has over 10,174 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 and helped officials in smuggling cases to identify rare species of exotic cats being illegally traded. Those are just a few of the ways that we know the site has had an impact this year.


The steady increase in legislation banning private ownership represents recognition by our society that private ownership leads to widespread 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.  Internationally 40 countries have banned or restricted the utilization of big cats in circuses.  It is time for the U.S. & South Africa to do the same!

In June Big Cat Rescuers attended the National Sheriffs’ Association’s annual conference in Minneapolis with this message: “tigers, lions and other exotic cats kept in people’s homes, backyards, and roadside zoos pose a serious and completely unnecessary risk to public safety, law enforcement, and first responders.” As a result, the Membership of the National Sheriffs’ Association passed a Resolution in support of the Big Cat Public Safety Act. We are grateful to the National Sheriffs’ Association for recognizing that the private ownership of big cats in America is a serious public safety problem, as highlighted in our article about big cats and public safety that was published in their July/August issue of Sheriff & Deputy magazine.  To learn more visit https://bigcatrescue.org/lawenforcement

On the local level we have been engaging with AdvoCats and partner organizations to promote state laws and local ordinances to ban big cats in circuses, end bobcat trapping, and establish restrictions on public contact with big cats.

We invited our on-site guests to call their Senators and Representatives asking them to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act this year, resulting in 7,550 calls made from guests at Big Cat Rescue (over the past 2-year session) plus many more that were made from home afterward.

Online our supporters took these actions to protect big cats:

2016 Alert Actions

Wins for the Big Cats in 2016

LSU opened a dialogue with Tigers in America, Big Cat Rescue and Wildcat Sanctuary to discuss the idea of replacing Mike the tiger with a tiger who is actually in need of rescue, rather than buying another cub.

Dade City’s Wild Things is being sued by USDA and PETA.

Carson Springs was prohibited from carting baby Geoffroy Cats out to a restaurant for customers to handle.  More people were outraged by the idea of these kittens being mistreated than responded to any other alert in 2016.

96 Reps and 7 Senators signed on to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act.

Maine enacted tougher restrictions on the possession of wild cats.

4,151 people asked USDA to stop allowing the cruel practice of ripping cubs from their mothers to be used as pay to play props.

More Evidence of a Changing Society

10/12/16 Tripadvisor Bans Sale of Tickets to Cub Petting Schemes.


TripAdvisor and its Viator brand will discontinue selling tickets for specific tourism experiences where travelers come into physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species, including but not limited to elephant rides, petting tigers, and swim with dolphin attractions.

Hundreds of Animal Attractions Where Tourists Come into Physical Contact with Captive Wild Animals or Endangered Species Will No Longer Be Bookable on

TripAdvisor or Viator

With endorsements from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), TripAdvisor to create a wildlife tourism education portal for travelers in partnership with top accredited trade groups, conservation organizations, academic experts, tourism experts, and animal welfare groups, including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, ABTA – The Travel Association, Global Wildlife Conservation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), Sustainable Travel International, The TreadRight Foundation, Think Elephants International, Asian Elephant Support, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and World Animal Protection.

10/12/16 Tripadvisor Bans Sale of Tickets to Cub Petting Schemes.  

tripadvisor cub ban


TripAdvisor and its Viator brand will discontinue selling tickets for specific tourism experiences where travelers come into physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species, including but not limited to elephant rides, petting tigers, and swim with dolphin attractions.

Hundreds of Animal Attractions Where Tourists Come into Physical Contact with Captive Wild Animals or Endangered Species Will No Longer Be Bookable on TripAdvisor or Viator

With endorsements from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), TripAdvisor to create a wildlife tourism education portal for travelers in partnership with top accredited trade groups, conservation organizations, academic experts, tourism experts, and animal welfare groups, including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, ABTA – The Travel Association, Global Wildlife Conservation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), Sustainable Travel International, The TreadRight Foundation, Think Elephants International, Asian Elephant Support, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and World Animal Protection.  Read more:

10/5/16  Romania has banned all trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynx and wild cats in a surprise decision that gives Europe’s largest population of large carnivores a reprieve from its most severe and immediate threat.

10/2/2016 At CITES the only cat species to get any real protection was the Cheetah, with stronger measures to prevent cubs from being stolen from their mothers for the pet trade.  Efforts to uplist lions to Appx 1 failed, and the Florida Panther was downlisted to Appx 2.  Tigers gained some ground as nations urged an end to tiger farming.  Big Cat Rescue President, Jamie Veronica and Vet, Dr. Justin Boorstein, attended CITES along with Judy Mills and several of our Big Cat Coalition partners.

6/17/16  A new draft law passed by the United Arab Emirates’ Federal National Council (FNC) has proposed a ban on the ownership of wild and exotic animals in the country.  The law follows a ruling made in November 2014 by Sharjah’s ruler Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, which prohibits people in the emirate from owning dangerous predators as pets. The ban on wild and exotic animal pets will aim to regulate the possession and trade of predatory and dangerous animals. The only places where such animals can be kept will include zoos, wildlife parks, circuses, breeding and research centres. If seen in public with a leopard, cheetah or any other exotic animal, owners can face fines between Dhs 10,000 and Dhs 500,000.

4/21/16  The N.H. Fish and Game Department on Wednesday withdrew its proposal to re-establish a bobcat hunting season. In a 9-1 vote at the Statehouse on April 1, the legislative committee objected on the grounds that a bobcat season would violate the federal endangered species act and that the proposal was not in the financial best interest of the public.  The money Fish and Game would have made from selling all 50 bobcat permits in its proposal totaled $5,000, while the cost to implement the hunting season was estimated to be between $15,000 and $20,000 per year.

Geoffrey Jones, chairman of the Stoddard Conservation Commission, said following the bobcat season proposal was an eye-opening experience for him in terms of how Fish and Game operates.  “As we’ve all found out, people are pretty upset, and they’re not only upset about opening a season on a species that’s still in recovery, but I think people are upset about the process,” he said.  Jones said he didn’t think the Fish and Game commission ever listened to people’s concerns.

Fish and Game received approximately 6,000 comments, with just about 250 in favor of the season, but voted to hunt bobcats anyway.  Changes need to be made in how the department runs to represent the interests of all people, according to Jones. “We’re so relieved that New Hampshire’s bobcats and lynx are safe from hunters and trappers,” Collette Adkins, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney and biologist, said. “At public expense, these bobcat seasons would have benefited only the few who’d like to kill these beautiful animals for sport or ship their pelts overseas to China for profit. The state heard loud and clear that people value these cats in the wild and don’t want to see them cruelly trapped or shot.

4/20/16 Florida is still working on changing their rules, but sent this letter to licensees:  

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has determined that newborn and infant nondomestic cats four weeks (28 days) of age or younger (neonate or neonatal) have special handling and husbandry needs. Please see the attached letter and Tech Note from APHIS regarding these requirements.  Any question you have in regards to these new guidelines may be addressed to USDA’s office in Raleigh, North Carolina at 919-855-7100, or in Fort Collins, Colorado at 970-494-7478.

USDA Tech Note- Neonatal Nondomestic Felines.pdf
USDA Letter – Neaonatal Nondomestic Felines.pdf

4/20/16  After the successful launch of The Jungle Book, Disney points to their policy of not using captive wild animals for their movies.  “We’re not allowed to actually shoot exotic animals that are kept in captivity for movies. You can do cats and dogs, but you can’t do anything like a tiger or an elephant … you can never get them in a trained environment,” Rob Legato, a veteran visual effects artist who worked on Jungle Book, told a crowd at a panel during the National Association of Broadcast conference.  The aforementioned policy outlines that Disney productions are, in general, not allowed to use exotic live animals outside of a zoo, sanctuary habitat or natural environment. It applies pretty much across the board — television or film productions, photo shoots, any media broadcast, special events — with only occasional exceptions, providing the said animal is not an ape or other large primate.

4/17/16 Jim Kellogg resigns from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, protesting the appointment of non hunters to the commission, and stated “I’m not willing to accept the changing world,” he said. “The animal rights people who don’t favor hunting and fishing have more horsepower than they did before.”  The shift away from having a board that is only comprised of hunters, when less than 1% of CA’s population are hunters, started under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed commissioners who supported efforts to protect marine life off the California coast.

4/16/16  The California Fish and Game Commission denied a proposal by the California Trappers Association to repeal the bobcat trapping ban that was put in place last year. The commissioners* stayed firm in their decision to support the hard-fought bobcat trapping ban.

4/5/2016 USFWS announced that they are rescinding the generic tiger loophole. Big Cat Rescue has been pressuring the USFWS since at least 2007 to rescind this loophole and on 8/22/11 after a meeting with the USFWS the Generic Tiger issue was published in the Federal Register for public comment and got over 15,000 comments in support of our request to ban the breeding of non purebred tigers. Read more.

4/5/2016 Iran becomes the 9th country to ban animal acts in circuses.

4/3/2016 USDA cracks down on abuse of cubs under the age of four weeks.  In response to a 2012 legal petition filed by The Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, Detroit Zoological Society, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Born Free USA, Big Cat Rescue, Fund for Animals and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued guidance making clear that exhibitors violate the Animal Welfare Act by allowing members of the public to handle or feed infant exotic cats like tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars or leopards.  Read more.

1/2016 Animal Planet cancels Yankee Jungle and announced that it would seek “to elevate the scientists” in its programming and cast its shows as more educational. “One day we just came in and looked at each other and said, ‘You know, no more bearded guys in the kitchen with f******g pigs running through the living room,’” David Zaslav, the head of Discovery Communications, which owns Animal Planet, told the Washington Post at the start of January. “Let’s get back to who we really are.” Rich Ross, a network exec recently told the New York Times that “we can get ratings by doing things the right way.”

A Year of In Situ Projects

Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats

In 2016 Big Cat Rescue donated $50,833.96 to conservation programs in the wild, aiding 24 different cat species

$1,000 – To the First-ever study on the ecology and behaviour of the Sand Cat in Morocco

$5,000 – To the Corbett Foundation in India, for a project to install chain-linked fencing around open farm wells to prevent accidental drowning of animals such as tigers & leopards

$2,000 – To the Urban Caracal Project in South Africa, establishing baseline information about the caracal population in the Cape Peninsula

$800 – To the Black Footed Cat Working Group in South Africa, collecting data on the ecology of the Black-Footed Cat

$1,000 – To the Pallas Cat Study and Conservation Program in Russia, aiming to collect data pertaining to the true conservation status of the species

$1,500 – To the Tanzania Lion Illumination Project in Africa, who install lion lights on livestock bomas as a predator deterrent in the hopes of decreasing human-lion conflicts

$2,020 – To the Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation for their ongoing research with small wild cats

$3,500 – To the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve in South Africa, for the purchase of a GPS to track a rehabilitated and released African Serval

$5,000 – To Mohd-Azlan J. Azad at the Wildlife Conservation & Ecology Lab at University Malaysia Sarawak, for their research on small Borneo Wild Cats

$2,575.36 – To the International Tiger Project in Sumatra, for their work conserving the sumatran Tiger and rainforests in which they reside

$1,000 – To the Felidae Conservation Fund, to support their research project, examining Jaguarundi distribution in the US-Mexico Borderlands

$1,000 – To the Fishing Cat Working Group, for their continued work in Sri Lanka

$1,000 – To the Sky Island Alliance researching ocelots in Arizona, USA

$1,000 – To the Andean Cat Alliance, working on obtaining information about the presence and distribution of the Andean cat allowing for effective species research and conservation in Argentina

$4,700 – To the Thin Green Line Foundation who work worldwide to provide rangers on the frontline of conservation with essential anti-poaching equipment and training, and financial support to the widows and orphans of park rangers killed in the line of duty.

$1,000 – To the World Wildlife Fund and their work on better understanding the status, conservation needs and implementing protect for the Iberian Lynx in Spain and Portugal

$1,000 – To Alvaro García-Olaechea through the Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation for  his study on the Pampas Cat in Peru

$1,000 – To the Mara Cheetah Project in Africa for their work studying the status and needs of Cheetah in the Greater Mara Ecosystem

$1,000 – To the Oncilla Project in Brazil, who are developing previous work involving the Oncilla, Margay and Jaguarundi in the Interior Atlantic Forest. All 3 species are included in the brazilian and IUCN threatened species list

$1,000 – To help fund safe enclosures for injured small wild cats in Sri Lanka

Our Wildcat Walkabout on October 1st was a huge success, raising a total of $12,738.60 towards our year total of $54,833.96 . Funds were raised through the donation of the $25 admission cost to the sanctuary, along with any additional guest donations, and allowed us to assist 5 additional In situ projects.

$2,300 – To Ewaso Lions in Africa, who work to conserve Kenya’s lions and other large carnivores by promoting coexistence between people and wildlife. Donation made from funds raised at Wildcat Walkabout

$2,788 – To Rocky Mountain Wild who are working to conserve the Canada Lynx, in particular building wildlife corridors connecting key canadian lynx habitats and implementing a species safety net to advance conservation of the species. Donation made from funds raised at Wildcat Walkabout

$2,361 – To the Wildlife Conservation Society for their work with Jaguars across Latin America. Donation made from funds raised at Wildcat Walkabout

$2357.60 – To Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit for their Clouded Leopard project in Borneo, aiming to advance understanding and enhance conservation, whilst determining the best ways to keep the species from Extinction. Donation made from funds raised at Wildcat Walkabout

$2,932 – Towards educational outreach at the 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES in Johannesburg, South Africa. Big Cat Rescue joined several other Animal Welfare organizations including Born Free at the 12 day conference to highlight and educate attendees about the importance of ending Tiger farming. Donation made from funds raised at Wildcat Walkabout

Fundraising and Marketing

With three days notice, before the 4th of July holiday weekend, our ticket seller, Zerve, announced they were shuttering their operation.  We had to scramble to keep ticket sales going and partnered with PeekPro.com  Over the course of the year we had 29,755 visitors, generating $969,493.00 in ticket sales.

Reviews Zerve 2016 July 4

In the News

Big Cat Rescue was reported favorably in the news 250+ times in 2016. (Due to our switch to Pressly, we don’t have stats from Jan – May) Some of our national press has 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. Big Cat Rescue has been in the press 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.

YouTube and Discovery’s Revision 3 continue to send us a lot of traffic. Thanks to this partnership and cross promotions with Animal Planet, we are experiencing more than 3 million views of our YouTube videos per MONTH! By 2016 year end we had 379,039 subscribers and 173,597,247 views on our main channel.

2016 YouTube BCR

and 17,742 subscribers and 4,138,221 views on our secondary channel.

2016 YouTube DBC

Our Facebook fans have grown to 2.2 million likes and 2.1 million followers.  Our Facebook efforts reach over 8.2 million people in a single week!

Facebook reaches over 8.2 million people in a single week

Started using FB ads to generate email sign ups and for BigCatRescue.biz sales.

Twitter & Snapchat

At the end of 2016 we reached 60,000 followers on Twitter. Our cameras with Explore.org and work with ADI to rescue Hoover have been some of the year’s largest draws to our ever growing twitter-sphere. Our Snapchat activity and followers also boomed this year, with hundreds of viewers per snap!

Pinterest 3,127 followers

Google Plus https://plus.google.com/+bigcatrescue has 570,991 followers

2016 Google Plus

LinkedIn 1,516 followers

Instagram 3,195 posts and 63,000 followers

2016 Instagram

A huge shout out to everyone who has donated items from our Amazon wishlist and who has chosen Big Cat Rescue as their charity of choice in https://smile.amazon.com/

Got Roku?  If you do, then you have more than 700 episodes of Big Cat TV waiting for you for FREE in the Channel Store! Series include our best videos from each year going back to 2007. Big Cat Vets, Cat Chat Show, and Big Cat Rescuers, our weekly big cat reality show.

Final financial numbers are at this link.

Big Cat Rescue has an Endowment Fund to provide a secure future for the cats. The Fund resides at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.  Periodically the Community Foundation offers a matching program where the nonprofit sets a fundraising goal and when 75% of the goal is reached, the Community Foundation provides the remaining 25%, which effectively is a 33% match of the funds provided by donors.

Got ink?

Planet Green Recycles E-Waste to benefit Big Cat Rescue. They recycle Inkjet Cartridges, Cell Phones & Accessories, GPS & Radar Detectors, Calculators, eBook Readers, iPods/MP3 Players, Digital/Video Cameras, PDAs, iPads/Tablets and Video Game & Consoles.

As of today, recycling with Planet Green has generated $861.70

Evolve Recycling recycles E-Waste as well. They recycle only Inkjet Cartridges and Laser/Toner Cartridges.

As of today, recycling with Evolve has generated $1539.30

Grand Total of $2401.00 to help the cats!

See if your used ink cartridges can help at BigCatRescue.org/ink

Helping Other Animal Groups

We donated countless tickets to other animal rescue groups to use in their fundraisers.  We often will host volunteer appreciation parties for them at no cost as well.

For many years we have created a “sanctuary in a box” to re-create our own Intranet site for other sanctuaries to use.  With the launch of ZooCollege.com we provide that in a DIY environment and provide FREE access to ZooCollege.com for free to legitimate sanctuaries, their staff and volunteers.

We have worked with a coalition of other good sanctuaries to build capacity during multi facility rescue operations and to share resources.  Big Cat Rescue has begun the process of creating BigCatTrust.com as a hub for this group and is funding the creation of the site and its hosting and maintenance.

We are so pleased to provide assistance to organizations that are saving big cats (and little cats) across the globe!

Survived Hurricane Hermine 9/1/2016

…oh, and started using SnapChat again as bigcatrescuer since we cannot access our original account at bigcatrescue.  We have 100 followers.

Vernon Stairs Tribute 8/26/1941- 8/26/16

Vernon Stairs was our Master Builder from 1996- 2016. He designed, built and maintained all of the cat-a-tats and facilities.  He is remembered daily by the animals, staff and guests for his work and will be remembered for many years to come in the lasting improvements he has made to the quality of life for each of the animals.   https://bigcatrescue.org/vernon-stairs/

Then and Now

Visit https://bigcatrescue.org/about/finances/ to get copies of our 990’s and Audited Statements.  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.

2016 Finances

Click here for 2016 IRS form 990 and audited financial statement and annual report.

IRS 501 c 3 Determination letter

Who We Are

The Big Cat Board

The Board met 4 times in 2016.

Paid Staff and Contractors:


Big Cat Rescue had 92 volunteers at the end of 2016 who clocked in 38,783 man-power hours, in addition to 74 intern sessions (3 months each) who clocked 27,091 man-power hours. In total this amounted to 65,874 man-power hours provided roughly the equivalent workforce of 32 more full time staff.  This figure did not include volunteer hours of the President and CEO which is about 5,000 hours more.  Between paid staff, part time staff, contractors and volunteers we averaged the equivalent of 46 full time staff.

We have 92 volunteers; 74 women and 18 men. The youngest 18 years old, the oldest 88 years old.

Between January 1, 2014 and September 1, 2016 Big Cat Rescue provided $991,452.00 in scholarships to provide housing, transportation, utilities, food, training and entertainment to 103 interns for 148 three month sessions arriving in Tampa, FL from 16 countries and 27 states.

Staff and Volunteer Training

Several of our staff attended the Safe Capture Course, as we do any time they are in Florida.

Continued turning our volunteer training classes into video classes.

Our Programs Manager attended a conference on human resources.

See the last 12 years in annual reports:














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