26 Years of Saving Big Cats Thanks to YOU!
Some of the most impressive work to save big cats has been done by big cat lovers joining their voices to end abuse and pooling their resources to save exotic cats in the wild before they are all gone.
The Cats YOU Rescued
2018 has flown by and we are SO grateful and thankful for your continuing support of our cats and sanctuary throughout the year!
2018 will go down in our history as the year our rehabilitation program for wild-born native Florida bobcats was bursting with bobcats – 12 total, including a record 8 orphaned kittens. We began 2018 rehabilitating and later releasing four adult bobcats (Cooper, Teuci, Aphrodite and Noel).
In the spring we took in three orphaned bobcat kittens from two rescues and gave them names befitting St. Patrick’s Day (Clover, Lucky and Shamrock). And this summer we rescued five more orphaned kittens from four separate rescues and gave them patriotic names (Alpha, Bravo, Echo, Foxtrot and Tango). As we end 2018, all but three of the 12 have completed our rehabilitation program and been released back into the wild to live free…where they belong. We hope to release Alpha, Bravo and Tango early next year.
Thanks to you, we’ve started construction on the fifth and sixth enclosures for our rehab bobcats. When tiny kittens arrive, we slowly introduce them to others their age so they can grow up and learn to hunt together. Our happiest days at the sanctuary are the days we release the grown and healed bobcats back into the wild, to live and thrive as they were meant to do.
This has been an incredibly busy year at the sanctuary! We rescued some new cats and brought them to their forever home, started the process to rescue former circus tigers in Guatemala, began construction on two more enclosures for our rehab bobcats and even survived Hurricane Irma (all the cats are fine).
Savannah cats Beacher, Loki and Simba were rescued separately in November, December and June. Sadly, all were kept as pets until their owners finally realized hybrid cats are still wild and should not be pets.
We also added two older cats who were former pets. Hutch, a serval, arrived in February and has settled in great and Frankie, an inquisitive bobcat, just arrived in June. Cute story: We give our cats bloodsicles – the blood runoff from red meat mixed with water and frozen – as treats and as extra hydration for our older cats. Frankie received his first bloodsicle shortly after arriving at Big Cat Rescue and had a look of pure joy on his face! His little tongue couldn’t lick it fast enough.
Rescuing exotic cats is not for the faint of heart. Within minutes, we fall in love and they become family. We care for them, treat them with respect, cheer them on and feel heart wrenching pain when they let us know it’s time to go. We know you feel the same as you follow their lives via our cameras and social media sites.
This year we cried many tears for the cats who touched our hearts and left us with cherished memories. Among them was Sabre leopard, who left us at the ancient age of 25. Ironically he came here at three years old for a short visit, but his owner never returned. And our beloved gentle soul Zeus tiger passed at age 21. Zeus had a heartbreaking start in life, nearly starved and blind when we rescued him in 2014. We feel blessed to have been able to make his last four years his best.
We had to say goodbye to Mickey cougar too. If you received our 2015 annual letter, you’ll recall Mickey’s struggle to walk with two torn ACLs. He had the most indomitable spirit despite his debilitating pain. Our amazing vets performed two surgeries to help his twisted legs. But at age 14 (young for our cats), his body just wore out. I like to picture him now running full speed, finally free.
Our iconic lion Joseph passed at age 19, the last of his pride. He was a stubborn guy who melted hearts around the world. His roar was magnificent. We were blessed that he was ours for a while, now he belongs to the ages. Run free with your girl Sasha. We had Maya for only a year before losing her suddenly following neurological seizures. Even though she was older than most cougars live to be, we were all stunned.
We share these stories so you realize how many cats your gifts have saved! We often rescue elderly cats like Maya and cats with special medical needs like Mickey and Zeus. It takes more time and costs more money to care for these cats, but they are so worth it. We are so grateful for your donations, which allow us to say YES when we are asked to rescue exotic cats in desperate need!
Your donations helped us make big improvements to our Windsong Memorial Hospital including a new roof and awning, dental software, a new blood machine and upgrade to our ultrasound machine, new over sized washer and dryers for all the hospital and kitten laundry and more.
In this fast developing world, every day brings new innovations in the way we communicate and connect. Online resources and apps allowed Big Cat Rescue to reach more students across the country and the globe in 2018, increasing our number of distance learning programs.
We participated in phone and live video interviews with students from Palestine, Australia, Canada, England, Belgium, New Mexico, and from many U.S. states. Overall, we collaborated with nearly 100 students or student groups on their big cat related projects. Here are some highlights:
Big Cat Rescue’s Director of Outreach was invited to present to Wild Tiger’s Youth Council Workshop. Youth Council is a 9-month mentorship program for undergraduate science-students that aims to develop students with skills to build conservation leadership amongst youth and provide a support network for continued growth. Jennifer highlighted issues of big cats in captivity and the dangerous relationship between big cats bred for exploitation in the U.S. and those poached from the wild for the illegal trade in parts. She was invited to follow up on this topic with a guest article titled Helping Captive Tigers To Protect Wild Tigers, published on Wild Tiger’s blog in July.
Jennifer worked with a graduate student from Sweden on her study of alternatives to zoos and captive environments and was a guest lecturer on the topic of captivity and stereotypic behaviors via a video presentation for Biology students at Brown University.
The advanced Television Production students at Tenoroc High School in Lakeland, FL chose Big Cat Rescue for one of their monthly on-location shows. The class filmed their morning announcements at the sanctuary as well as segments on white tigers, cub petting, and our on-site kitten foster program. Check out the purrfect show at this link.
The sanctuary hosted a group of educators in town for the National Humane Education Conference at the sanctuary for a tour and discussion on how humane education can incorporate captive wildlife issues.
This year Big Cat Rescue joined the Nepris community as an industry expert. Nepris connects K-12 classrooms to professionals to expand students’ career exposure and bring real-world relevance to learning. Using Nepris virtual sessions, we’re able to live stream to dozens of students who are often in underserved and otherwise inaccessible populations in a single 45-minute session. In our first year, we connected with 393 students from 17 classrooms located in Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and several places in Louisiana and California. We also received a lot of great feedback from teachers about our presentation. This was our favorite:
“AMAZING! FANTASTIC! STUPENDOUS! (not enough adjectives to describe our joy) The class loved it. Me too.”
Locally, we hosted nearly 70 educational tours and presentations for school and community groups throughout the Tampa Bay area. More often than not, the presentations were aligned with fundraisers or advocacy campaigns initiated by groups and done in collaboration with BCR staff.
In an annual tradition, Big Cat Rescuers went out into the community in late November to participate in the Great American Teach-In (GATI). We had a lot going on at the sanctuary during the month, so it was an extra labor of service for our 10 fantastic Rescuers, a mix of staff and volunteers, who volunteered to speak to over 1,650 students at 21 schools in Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties. GATI is a unique opportunity to introduce kids to Big Cat Rescue’s work, the issues impacting big cats, and most importantly – empower them to be part of the solution!
2018 brought both unlikely and historic wins for both captive and wild big cats.
From holding back assaults to long-standing state laws and protections to jumping for joy over a historic win – there were many grounds to hold and reasons to celebrate. And we did it thanks to our outstanding AdvoCats!
Highlights from the year:
Just four days into the New Year we sent out an action alert for what was destined to be a historic win for animals. On January 4th, the New Jersey state legislature was set to vote on a historic bill to prohibit the use of elephants and other wild or exotic animals, such as lions and tigers, in traveling animal acts. But a snow day bought us time to reach out to advocates and solicit their support for this sudden opportunity. You see, Nosey’s Law was initially written to only prohibit elephants in traveling acts. But just before the 2017 holidays, it was amended to include other wild and exotic animals! Nosey’s Law would put an end to big cats jumping through rings of fire, leaping between pedestals, and performing other unnatural acts for entertainment. It would also be the beginning of a nation-wide movement to codify what society has already concluded – wild animals do not belong in the circus! In a sweeping victory, Nosey’s Law passed both state houses on January 8th. But New Jersey ‘s then Governor, Chris Christie, who had already made a name for himself by previously vetoing a humane measure that had overwhelming public support, made one last pass to thwart progress for animals by playing an uncommonly used card – the pocket veto. By refusing to sign the bill before he left office, Nosey’s Law, by default, was vetoed by the Governor’s office and a near victory fell through the cracks.
In February, the Missouri state legislature was moving quickly to undermine existing local bans on the use of wild and exotic animals in entertainment. Big Cat Rescue joined with many local and national groups in asking their supporters to speak out against the “Working Animal Protection Act” HB1907/SB917. Thanks to the efforts of animal advocates like you, the legislation died!
In March, Big Cat Rescue spoke out against a USDA proposal to contract third-party vendors to conduct Animal Welfare Act (AWA) inspections of USDA licensed facilities in place of USDA inspectors. We know these programs to be ineffective. Conflicts of interest and problems with transparency are inevitable when licensees are allowed to self-police. Our supporters submitted public comments opposing the ill-conceived plan and Carole, Howard, and Jen spoke at a public USDA listening session hosted in Tampa. They heard us loud and clear and rescinded the idea a few months later!
Two big wins for bobcats came mid Spring. On May 15th, the Indiana Natural Resources Commission struck down a proposal to open a bobcat hunting and trapping season. Two days later, the Ohio Wildlife Council voted to postpone a bobcat trapping proposal indefinitely.
Big Cat Rescue worked with local partners to fight these threats and signed onto coalition letters opposing bobcat seasons in both Indiana and Ohio. We activated supporters in those states to contact officials and attend public hearings to be a voice for the cats. In Ohio, advocates (a.k.a. AdvoCats) submitted letters to the editors of various newspapers. And Indiana AdvoCats called on Governor Holcomb to protect the species. Thanks in part to Big Cat Rescue supporters and AdvoCats in Indiana and Ohio, bobcats were victorious in two particularly tough fights. These wins are a testament to the power of people taking action!
In the 115th session alone, Congress mounted an unprecedented number of legislative assaults on the Endangered Species Act. This keystone law has saved some of our country’s most cherished animals from extinction, from the bald eagle to the gray wolf. And it continues to protect iconic species of cat, such as jaguars and the Florida panther. We joined the fight to save the ESA in August when the administration proposed a 3-part battle plan that would leave threatened and endangered species defeated. If ultimately approved, these rules would strip existing protections, prevent critical habitat designations, block imperiled species from receiving the protections they deserve, and completely gut protections for animals listed as threatened in the future. Over 2,700 supporters joined us in this fight by submitting comments to the US Fish and Wildlife Service in what turned out to be one of the most strongly opposed proposals of the administration. FWS has yet to come down with a decision, but whatever happens next, Big Cat Rescue will be on the front lines prepared to fight for our nation’s most critical protections for wildlife.
Along the same front, another chapter in the long saga to stop development in prime Florida panther habitat came in November. For a few years a group of landowners in Florida have been taking steps to develop a city bigger than Washington DC in prime panther habitat just north of the Everglades. Under the Endangered Species Act, the permitting process requires landowners to create a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), which must then be approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. But don’t let the name of this plan fool you! Part of the HCP involves an Incidental Take Permit. If approved, this permit would allow the landowners to “incidentally take” Florida panthers, gopher tortoises, sandhill cranes, burrowing owls, and 15 other protected species for the next 50 years on 45,000 acres in prime wildlife habitat! What does “incidental take” mean? It means that as a consequence of development, these animals can be inadvertently harassed, injured, pursued, shot, wounded, killed, trapped, captured, collected, or have their habitats changed or damaged so much that it kills them. We joined our friends at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in getting nearly 600 supporters to submit comments against the HCP and demand that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deny it.
The best things in life are worth waiting for… On December 14th, New Jersey became the first state to ban the use of wild and exotic animals in the circus and in traveling shows!!!
Big Cat Rescue worked to gain support for every iteration of Nosey’s Law, from sending action alerts to our supporters (prompting emails and phone calls) to having one of our very own outstanding AdvoCats directly involved in advocating for the bill’s passage. Congratulations to everyone involved and major kudos to our friends at Animal Defenders International and the Humane Society of the United States for their pivotal role in making this day happen! This is just the first domino to fall… many more states to come and dare I say it, an end to big cats in the circus is in sight! What a grrrreat way to end the year!
This year we continued to develop our relationships with law enforcement, some newly rooted others growing and thriving. That is especially true of our partnership the National Sheriffs’ Association.
We attended our first National Sheriffs’ Association Conference at the start of 2016. Many wondered what we were doing there. Most of our cursory conversations included an explanation that we were, in fact, a rescue organization for wild cats. (Keep in mind that companies who provide services and products to law enforcement commonly use big cats in their logos and names.) But once people understood who we were, it was surprising how many Sheriffs, and deputies immediately recalled a facility or private owner with a big cat in their jurisdiction and how many of thee cats were being kept in questionable conditions. Clearly, we were in the right place.
After that conference our Director of Outreach, Jennifer Leon, worked with the National Sheriffs’ Association to facilitate a resolution in support of the Big Cat Public Safety Act – recognizing “that the private ownership of big cats in America is a serious public safety problem which requires the passage of the ‘Big Cat Public Safety Act’ to ensure big cats only live in secure facilities that can properly provide for them and do not diminish public safety.” This resolution was the first of its kind and has been invaluable in our efforts to gain congressional support for the bill. You can link to the resolution from our website at https://bigcatrescue.org/lawenforcement/.
In February, Jennifer spent a week in Washington DC meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill and once again representing Big Cat Rescue at the National Sheriffs’ Association Winter Conference. This year our friends at the International Fund for Animal Welfare joined us in the exhibit hall. They provided signage and small toy tigers to attendees as a way of saying thank you to our country’s highest constitutional law enforcement officers for their support in ending the private ownership of big cats as pets. Of course, plush toy tigers are the only tigers that belong in homes! In addition to exhibiting, Jennifer had the unique opportunity to briefly address the NSA Executive Committee, Board of Directors and Past Presidents with our message of thanks. It was certainly the highlight of her trip and a wonderful moment for big cat advocacy.
Over the summer, Jennifer was invited to attend and present at the NSA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans on the topic of Law Enforcement and Captive Wildlife during the National Coalition on Violence Against Animals (NCOVAA) meeting. We were also asked to submit an article for the July/August 2018 issue of Sheriff & Deputy magazine highlighting a rescue where we worked with law enforcement. And we became an official partner of the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse.
Jennifer also represents Big Cat Rescue on the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance Advocacy Committee. Formed in 2017, the Alliance works to eliminate private ownership and the commercial exploitation of wild cats in the United States. The Advocacy committee produces content to support this mission such as position statements, white papers, and outreach materials. It also promotes public education, supports federal and local legislation, and responds to national stories involving wild cats in popular media. As the year closes out the committee is finalizing a toolkit that sanctuaries and their supporters can reference when responding to the exploitation of big cats in their community.
Over the summer former animal care intern Alayna Hanna rejoined our team for three months as the Outreach Intern. This unique internship opportunity offers students and advocates an inside look into the mechanics of coalition building, legislative advocacy, campaigning, research, and policy work. Alayna’s residency culminated in an Advocacy toolkit for AdvoCats who work to educate people in their community about big cat abuse. Alayna also helped garner support for Nosey’s law, researched big cat abusers and hunting regulations, and documented cub petting exploiters – information that will benefit both our educational and legislative efforts for years to come.
Big Cat Rescue’s honored standing as a leader in the Tampa Bay area is built around our community involvement and support. As in past years, we participated in a variety of free family events such as Rescue Weekend at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Gulfport’s Get Rescued, EcoFest, and many St. Francis Day blessing of the animals’ events at local churches.
One of our highest honors here at the sanctuary is to serve as host to Make-A-Wish recipients and their families. Over the years we have welcomed children of all ages for a special day among the cats. Although most of our Make-A-Wish guests have been in recovery or remission, we have on rare occasion, fulfilled a final wish, and we do so with both a heavy but grateful heart. Our admiration goes out to the wish coordinators at Make-A-Wish of Southern Florida who have worked with us to assure that children who dream of meeting big cats do not unwittingly support big cat exploitation or abuse by having their dream fulfilled by Big Cat Rescue, the only GFAS accredited big cat sanctuary in the state of Florida.
2018 marked our entry into the world of cat conventions. And what an exciting year it was! We always say, “a cat is a cat is a cat,” and we know that small cat lovers love big cats all the same. With that inspiration and the help of our friend Cat Man Chris, we ventured into Cat-centric conventions and shows on both the West and East coast and even here in Florida.
In May, our Director of Outreach, Jennifer Leon, joined by Senior Keeper and Zeus tiger’s best friend Rebecca Williams attended Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp in New York City. This two-day feline advocacy event focused on educating cat lovers on some of the biggest issues facing cats today brought in speakers and attendees from across the country. Our friends Cole & Marmalade (CAM) sent their dad, Chris Poole, along to table the event with us and explain to attendees how little cat fans can help big cats!
Jennifer was one of the first speakers on Saturday with her presentation Big Cat Rescue: Leading the Battle to End Big Cat Abuse. And what a great turnout! Attendees learned about Big Cat Rescue’s start, the cats that call our sanctuary home, the issues surrounding cats in the captive trade and how they can help. As one attendee kindly put it “this presentation alone was worth the price of admission”!
Jen, Rebecca, and Chris were overwhelmed with everyone’s kindness and support – it was two non-stop days of talking about the issues and meeting both new and long-time Big Cat Rescue fans. They even got to meet an outstanding BCR supporter and CAM fan who flew in all the way from Paris for the event! Having Cat Man Chris there with Big Cat Rescue was undoubtedly a draw. After posing for a picture with the famous cat dad, Chris was sure to encourage all of his fans to make the Call of the Wild! The Big Cat Rescue booth even had a visit from the cat whisperer himself, Jackson Galaxy! Jackson is a big fan of all cats, big and small, and seemed particularly impressed with our sanctuary’s on-site foster program for domestic kittens. We were sure to extend an invitation for him to visit us in Tampa and check out our Kitten Cabana.
Carole, Karma, Susan, and volunteer Rebecca represented the sanctuary at our first time at summer’s CatCon in Pasadena, California. And they were once again joined by Cole & Marmalade’s dad. Check out photos from this premier cat fan event in our August 6th Daily Update.
Without a doubt, we were most excited when the cat craze found it’s way into our backyard with the first ever KittyCon right here in our hometown of Tampa in late October. Big Cat Rescue was one of the main event sponsors, and we even hosted our own celebrity panel with Carole, Afton, Brittany, Lauren, and Jennifer moderating. Watch the full panel video at this YouTube link.
Every two years the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) hosts Taking Action for Animals (TAFA), the nation’s preeminent animal advocacy conference, in our nation’s capital. Advocates from across the country come together for this weekend-long event to learn more about key animal protection issues, network with like-minded professionals, and sharpen their advocacy skills. The conference culminates in a trip to Capitol Hill for Humane Lobby Day where attendees meet with their legislators to discuss significant animal legislation, such as the Big Cat Public Safety Act!
As in previous years, Big Cat Rescue was TAFA’s diamond sponsor, making the BCR logo prominent on conference materials throughout the weekend. It embellished chocolate tarts served for lunch, dessert medallions used to garnish our signature drink during cocktail hour (the Tigertini), and popped as the main image on the coveted TAFA tote bag.
Former and current Outreach Interns Diane and Alayna assisted Big Cat Rescue’s Director of Public Relations, Susan Bass, and Director of Outreach, Jennifer Leon, in manning our booth and engaging with attendees. They chatted with conference goers about the issues of big cats in captivity, helped them to make the Call of the Wild, and prepared them to discuss the bill when they met with their legislators on lobby day.
Howard addressed a packed room during the conference’s Saturday luncheon. Using two brief video clips, he got across a simple yet compelling call to action. “This is how the cats live at our sanctuary,” he said, queuing a highlight real of some of our most iconic residents enjoying sanctuary life. “And this is what we rescue them from” followed by clips from our rescue sites and undercover footage of cub abuse. The juxtaposition triggered tears and silenced the room. It doesn’t take much to show why the work we do is so critical. Howard’s daily session “How YOU can stop the abuse of big cats” drew quite an audience and rave reviews. It was easy to tell when his presentation concluded because attendees eager to make the call would rush the BCR table. Even Carole found herself working from behind the booth to help manage the crowd of supporters!
The 115th session of Congress comes to a close at the end of this year. Although the Big Cat Public Safety Act did not make it to a vote, it did have 144 cosponsors in the House and 6 cosponsors in the Senate – the greatest amount of Congressional support we’ve ever had!
This momentum came about thanks to our supporters making over 10,000 calls to federal legislators using our Phone2Action calling system! An all-time high for our Call of the Wild action! You too can make the call by just texting the word CATS to 52886!
Watch this How-To video we released earlier in the year to see how easy it is! (Note: this video was made before the Senate version of the Big Cat Public Safety Act was introduced but still shows how easy it is to make the Call of the Wild. The recording has since been updated)
Don’t fret; we will be reintroducing the Big Cat Public Safety Act into the 116th session of Congress sometime next year. – Jennifer Leon, Director of Outreach
12/28/18 Russia bans private possession of wild animals, bans contact with wild animals, and prohibits the killing of animals “under any pretext.” The Law on Responsible Treatment of Animals also outlaws shooting or poisoning stray dogs and cats. Homeless animals are to be captured, sterilized, vaccinated and released with a special microchip. Organizing animal fights and hounding beasts at other animals or people has also been made illegal. The law orders pets to be kept in proper conditions by their masters. It bans contact or petting zoos from being opened at the malls, which is a common thing across Russia, as well as hosting animals at bars and restaurants. The wild animals owned in violation of the law and without a proper license will from now be seized by the state. Having them in residential homes has also been banned.
12/17/18 Facebook and Instagram ban the sale of any live animal, pet, livestock and any part, pelt or skin from an animal, including fur! OMG!!!
12/14/18 New Jersey’s Governor Murphy today signed the bill banning wild and exotic animal circus acts. As a result of this unprecedented move, New Jersey has become the first state in the US to ban wild and exotic animal circus acts!
12/4/18 Chanel has agreed to ban fur and exotic skins from its collections, saying it wanted to maintain ethical standards. The internationally renowned French fashion house announced that it will stop producing garments and accessories made from animal fur, as well as leathery skins such as crocodile, lizard and snake.
10/31/18 Portugal has banned the use of wild animals in circuses by 2024 with a new law passed by parliament and applauded by animal rights groups. Lions, tigers, elephants, camels and zebras are among the more than 1,000 animals banned under the new law covering around 40 species. “Wild animals have no place in zoos. People should be able to enjoy themselves without animals suffering,” Bianca Santos, vice president of the AZP said.
10/3/18 Luxury clothing company Diane von Furstenberg has agreed to stop using fur and exotic animal skins in the brand’s designs and products.
9/6/18 Burberry bans fur! As Fashion Week begins in New York City today, the iconic fashion brand Burberry has announced that it will stop using fur in its products and phase out existing fur items. This announcement follows nearly a decade of engagement with the Humane Society of the United States, as well as recent fur-free announcements from Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Donna Karan, Armani, Hugo Boss and many others.
8/31/18 PSD Underwear’s CEO Curt Flaitz agreed to never use wild animals in their advertising campaigns again after he heard from so many Big Cat Rescue fans.
8/24/18 Largest lion bone carrier, Singapore Airlines, stops cargo from South Africa! Following a recent internal review, which took into account “increasing concerns around the world” regarding the lion bone industry, Singapore Airlines said it would discontinue the carriage of lion bones as cargo. In 2017 Singapore Airlines was the sole airline moving supposed lion bones from South Africa to Southeast Asia, according to the recent EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading report. Singapore Airlines cargo manager for Africa and the Middle East, Adil Nunis, confirmed that the company’s new position on the matter saying that “moving forward, SIA will not allow the carriage of lion bone shipments on all flights”. The airline’s decision to distance itself from the damned industry will have far-reaching effects, especially considering a new analysis of global wildlife trafficking seizures in the air transport sector.
8/1/18 Florida–based Circus Pages has elected to shut down rather than evolve into an animal-free circus that would appeal to modern, compassionate audiences. The circus’s closure follows years of PETA-supported protests across the country and notorious video footage of its animal acts. In 2016, a video was released showing Circus Pages trainers whipping and beating a tiger after he grabbed and dragged a trainer. And earlier this year, footage showed the circus’s trainers whipping a lion, forcing a lame elephant to carry riders while they wielded bullhooks (weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end), and vigorously shaking a dog forced to wear an elephant costume.
5/18/18 The Ohio Wildlife Council voted to indefinitely postpone a bobcat trapping season! Big Cat Rescue worked with partners in the state to oppose a bobcat trapping season and our supporters in Ohio took action by submitting comments, emailing the council, publishing LTEs, and attending the public hearing. It’s a great win for bobcats!
5/15/18 The Indiana Natural Resources Commission has removed a rule to open a bobcat hunting and trapping season after hearing from an overwhelming number of residents who oppose this unwarranted and barbaric practice.
4/23/18 After correspondence with Big Cat Rescue for a couple weeks about their recent television commercial featuring a real cougar, Farmers Insurance has agreed to NEVER AGAIN USE REAL BIG CATS in their advertising!
3/11/18 The Harbin Siberian Tiger Park is a thinly-veiled Chinese tiger farm that used to be promoted on Trip Advisor. Thanks to the persistence of one of our AdvoCats, Trip Advisor completely stripped the attraction from their site and updated their companywide animal welfare policy to prohibit attractions where animals are fed to other animals for “entertainment.” Now, you can’t even find the Tiger Park on TripAdvisor — it’s like it doesn’t exist!
3/2/18 Magistrate Judge Amanda Sandone ruled; After a “calculated and deliberately deceptive” plot to evacuate tigers from their zoo in the middle of an animal welfare lawsuit, a federal judge on Friday ruled Dade City’s Wild Things should never be allowed to possess tigers again. The ruling confirms that Wild Things owner Kathy Stearns, her husband, Kenneth, and son, Randall, violated a court order in July by transporting 19 tigers to Oklahoma to avoid a site inspection by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a 1,200-mile haul where one female gave birth and all three cubs died.
2/14/18 U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young has ordered a zoo operator named Tim Stark of Wildlife in Need, to stop declawing cubs, stop offering “tiger baby playtimes” or displaying any cubs under 18 months old, citing “irreparable harm” if the practices were to continue.
2/3/18 Safari Club International: The world’s largest hunting club, Safari Club International (SCI) has slammed the door shut on South Africa’s canned lion industry, announcing it will no longer allow captive bred lion operators to advertise or market captive bred lions (CBL) at its annual convention, and will reject all captive-bred lion entries for its record books. These canned hunts are where cubs, who are used in pay to play schemes end up, so we can only hope this decision will help put an end to that abusive practice too.
Get the full 2018 Outreach Report at https://bigcatrescue.org/2018-outreach-report/
Big Cat Rescue’s In Situ Conservation Work
2018 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Click the pins on the map, or the species on the left, to get all of the details!
SATPUDA LANDSCAPE TIGER PROGRAMME
The Satpuda Landscape Tiger Programme was established in 2005 and is the largest NGO working on tiger and habitat conservation in India. Satpuda Landscape Tiger Programme, developed by the Born Free Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University, brings together a network of Indian conservationists who are working in six tiger reserves across this very important tiger range. The Satpuda forests of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra offer perhaps the best hope for India’s remaining wild tigers. A handful of small organizations and committed conservationists work hand in hand with government officers and local communities to deliver long-term solutions for the protection of Satpuda’s biodiversity, both directly protecting wildlife and addressing some of the most urgent needs of the people that live close to tigers.
At one time there were 300,000 tigers across India and SE Asia. By 1916 this had dropped to 100,000, and by 2008 there were an estimated 3,500 tigers left in the wild. Numbers have recovered slightly to approximately 4,000 of which 2,500 are in India. With pressures, such as habitat loss, prey loss, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, still remaining, the survival of the wild tiger is hanging by a thread.
Throughout the entire Satpuda landscape, grazing has become one of the most serious threats to tigers. These pressures result not only in the degradation of habitat, but also in a sharp increase in human-wildlife conflict. In Tadoba-Andhari and its peripheral forests, 53 people have been killed by tigers in the last four years alone.
The key to saving the remaining cats and successful conservation will be finding solutions that align the interests of peoples with those of wildlife in the critical buffer zones and corridors of tiger habitat. The Satpuda Landscape Tiger Programme implements a variety of conservation activities to protect tiger habitats, mitigate tiger/human conflict, tackle wildlife crime, and monitor tiger ranging activity. Read more about their work here: https://savingindiastigers.org
THE RAINFOREST TRUST
Rainforest Trust is a US-based nonprofit environmental organization established December 8, 1988 in New York and focused on the purchase and protection of tropical lands to strategically conserve threatened species.
The Rungan River Peat Swamp Forest is a vast mosaic of threatened peat swamp and lowland rainforest in southern Borneo. The area supports substantial populations of imperiled endemic species, including all five species of Bornean wild cats. One of these species is the elusive Borneo Bay Cat; a camera trap recorded video of the extremely rare species, one of only a few recent records.
The Rungan River landscape is one of the largest regions of lowland forest in Kalimantan, Borneo, that is currently unprotected and at risk of destruction. In addition, the Kalimatan lowlands have been extensively cleared during the past quarter-century, primarily to expand plantation agriculture for palm oil and acacia plantations, so immediate action is required to protect this key area. These landscape changes have led to serious pressure on both habitats and associated species.
Rainforest Trust and local partners are seeking funding to permanently designate 385,000 acres as permanent protected area. At present an acre of Rainforest costs $2; The Rainforest Trust has a match for four times the impact, meaning for every $1 donated, an additional $3 is added. The $1,000 donation from this SAVE award, plus the additional $3,000 match means 2,000 acres of rainforest will be contributed and protected by Big Cat Rescue for this initiative. Read more about their work here:
CONSERVATION SOUTH LUANGWA
Conservation South Luangwa is a non-profit community based organization committed to the conservation of the local wildlife and natural resources. They aim to offer high quality support services to the Zambia Wildlife Authority and to South Luangwa community resource boards targeted at supporting the realisation of excellence in wildlife management and law enforcement in the South Luangwa National Park and optimization in the utilization of natural resources.
Special attention needs to be given to anti-snaring patrols in South Luangwa. The park and surrounding areas face rapid encroachment from human settlement and agriculture. Human populations have more than doubled over the past twenty years and as a result, there is a high demand for protein in the form of bush meat as well as opportunistic and planned commercial hunting forays. Snaring is easy, generates high returns and presents a very low risk to the poacher.
Over 10,000 snares have been removed from the bush by CSL supported scouts and more than 160 elephants, 25 lions, 20 hyenas have been immobilized and treated for snare wounds since 2005. To address this CSL has set up a specialized wild dog and lion anti-snaring team who use GPS locations provided by ZCP to determine where best to deploy effective anti-snaring patrols. Read more about their work here: https://cslzambia.org/wildlife-rescue-and-desnaring
BIG LIFE FOUNDATION
In 2018 Big Cat Rescue continued support of Big Life Foundation, an organization dedicated to, using innovative conservation strategies and collaborating closely with local communities, partner NGOs, national parks, and government agencies, to protect and sustain East Africa’s wildlife and wild lands.
The raising of livestock in Maasailand is a vital activity for the community’s subsistence. Predators are under constant threat from livestock owners who view them as a danger and kill them in retribution for livestock losses. Retaliatory killing is the major threat to Africa’s lion population today – the population is currently suffering a precipitous decline in numbers. Recent estimates show that, 20 years ago there were 200,000 lions in Africa and today there are less than 25,000 lions, with no more than 2,000 of these individuals residing in Kenya.
In 2003, in response to an imminent – and virtually certain – threat of local lion extinction, Maasailand Preservation Trust (MPT), in close collaboration with the local community, conceived a first-of-its-kind predator compensation Fund (PCF). The intention was to better balance the costs and benefits of living with wildlife and thereby replace conflict and retaliation with tolerance and cohabitation.
This novel conservation strategy remains one of the most far-reaching and effective projects yet conceived by MPT, the first project of its kind implemented in Maasailand.
Since inception, lion killing has virtually stopped on Mbirikani Group Ranch within a Maasai community of 10,000 individuals. Only 6 lions were killed by livestock owners on Mbirikani Group Ranch during the first nine years of the project, while, during that same period, more than 200 lions were killed on the neighboring group ranches where the PCF programme did not exist (at that time). The same Mbirikani Group Ranch community that now protects lions killed 22 in just 18 months prior to introduction of this innovative project. A key factor to PCF’s success is the requirement that the entire community must support the objectives of the programme or compensation will cease for everyone.
Read more about the project here: https://biglife.org/predator-compensation
MOUNTAIN LION FOUNDATION
In 2018 Big Cat Rescue continued support of The Mountain Lion Foundation, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting Cougars and their habitats. The Foundation works closely with legislative, governmental and conservation groups to heighten public awareness and educate policy makers on conservation issues such as hunting, habitat loss, workable wildlife corridors, harmonious human/mountain lion interactions, and the vital role of the mountain lion in a healthy ecosystem. MFL works to continue growing knowledge about the species, ecology, habitat use and threats and uses it in an effort to influence cougar management plans, laws and regulations.
One of many important specific initiatives headed by the Mountain Lion Foundation, is Secure Livestock Enclosures. In the United States more cougars are killed as a result of preying on domestic livestock than for any other intentional reason.
The Mountain Lion foundation provides vital assistance and guidelines for locals who want to protect their livestock, by giving them free construction plans, instructions and material lists for cougar proof enclosures, they also provide hand on assistance in their construction. By decreasing livestock, it decreases the human-cougar conflict and thus decreases the number of retaliatory killings. Read more about their work here: https://mountainlion.org/index.asp
THE THIN GREEN LINE FOUNDATION
In 2018 Big Cat Rescue continued support of The Thin Green Line Foundation. Partnered with the International Ranger Federation and are the only organizations dedicated to protecting rangers. Every day, Park Rangers risk their lives to protect wildlife and wild places from poaching and other threats. Sadly, it’s estimated that over 1,000 park rangers have been killed in the line of duty over the past 10 years – a large percentage of these are due to commercial poachers and armed militia groups. Park Rangers are generally under-equipped, underpaid, and often under-appreciated. We think they are heroes. And we work tirelessly to to provide them with the support they need to continue to protect threatened species around the world.
The Thin Green Line Foundation Protects Nature’s Protectors by providing vital support to Park Rangers and their communities who are the front-line of conservation. They work predominantly in developing nations and conflict zones, and with Indigenous Park Rangers within Australia and abroad.
The Thin Green Line Foundation is highly successful at delivering much needed support to Rangers, with a wide range of effective programs worldwide – from Kenya to Tanzania, Costa Rica to Guatemala, Thailand to Indonesia, and in many, many more places around the globe.
In the sad circumstance of a Ranger losing his or her life in the line of duty, TTGLF helps to ensure the widows and families are looked after into the future.
Through our work we aim to ensure that:
- Park Rangers are valued for their vital role at the front line of conservation
- Park Rangers, when in contact situations with poachers, have the ability to defend themselves
- Park Rangers are provided with decent working conditions and a living wage
- Park Rangers are provided with the skills and tools they need
- Park Rangers families and communities have on-going support when Rangers are injured or killed in the line of duty
Read more about their work here: https://thingreenline.org.au/story/
THE CONSERVATION FUND
The Conservation Fund is an American environmental non-profit with a dual charter to pursue environmental preservation and economic development. Since its founding in 1985, the organization has protected more than 7 million acres of land and water in all 50 states, including parks, historic battlefields, and wild areas.The Fund works with community and government leaders, businesses, landowners, conservation nonprofits and other partners to create innovative solutions that integrate economic and environmental objectives. The Fund also works with communities to strategically plan development and green space and offer training in conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.
In 1999, The Conservation Fund, purchased 12,600 acres which became part of the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Most recently, in 2014, The Conservation Fund, in partnership with USFWS and the Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, purchased a conservation easement on more than 7,400 acres where the presence of eight ocelots has been documented. Funding for the purchase of the conservation easement came from the sale of other, less strategic USFWS lands, as well as from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, America’s premier land conservation program.
The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is home to one of the two remaining ocelot populations in the nation, making it integral for conservation and recovery efforts for these endangered cats. Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is the largest protected area of natural habitat left in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Read more about their work here: https://www.conservationfund.org/
On November 3rd 2018 Big Cat Rescue had our annual Wildcat Walkabout event, where money raised by admission prices, was donated to 5 worthwhile big cat conservation projects. Each project was devoted to a different cat species; Lion, Jaguar, Cougar, Leopard & Black Footed Cat. The event raised $15,200 total! Below are descriptions of each project and links to read more about the organizations we supported.
NORTHERN JAGUAR PROJECT
The Northern Jaguar Project is a bi-national non-profit organization initiated by conservationists from Arizona and Mexico, with the aim of preserving core Jaguar populations and essential Jaguar habitat through the establishment, care and expansion of protected areas in the Northern Sonoran Desert in Mexico and the southwestern United States. Their aspiration is to restore habitat suitable for Jaguars and other threatened and endangered species, support wildlife research and educational programs, and to reduce conflicts between carnivores and humans. Habitat loss, hunting, federal anti-predator programs, and conflicts with livestock have precipitated rapid declines of the world’s jaguar populations, and the species is today considered endangered throughout its entire range. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands where, within the last 100 years, the jaguar has been virtually eliminated. While individual jaguars continue to be documented in the mountains of southern Arizona and New Mexico, recent field investigations have determined that the nearest breeding population of 80 to 120 jaguars exists in Sonora, Mexico, approximately 125 miles south of the border.
The NJP has acquired land, through donation and purchase, to not only protect jaguar habitat but to preserve migratory routes. The Northern Jaguar Reserve now covers 70 square miles of consistently rough, steep terrain, sculpted by hundreds of canyons and cliffs – ideal for jaguars, bobcats and mountain lions. The lands surrounding the Northern Jaguar Reserve form one of the largest unbroken expanses of wildlife habitat in northern Mexico. NJP is working to identify safe-passage corridors to return Jaguars to former U.S habitat along the international border, and the NJP Reserve is the major source for cats moving north, it not only provides a crucial safe zone but is the link between protected areas in Arizona, New Mexico and Sonora. On the U.S side of the border, jaguars are protected on more than 800,000 acres of national forests, wildlife refuges, and private ranches with conservation agreements that prevents their killing. As NJP continue to seek land to provide connectivity for the Jaguar to travel northward, it appears their efforts are working, with male Jaguars being photographed on both sides of the U.S-Mexico border in recent years.
In addition to land purchase the NJP has established a group known as Jaguar Guardians, who are employed to reside on the Reserve, to provide protection for Jaguars and other wildlife by maintaining a consistent physical presence deterring encroachment, poaching and theft. They are also the ones regularly retrieving data from the field, which includes managing a series of motion-triggered cameras to determine jaguar, deer, and javelina densities, monitoring felid tracks, collecting scat, recording wildlife sightings, and determining the cause of death of any carcasses that are discovered. A total of $2,500 was donated to this project. Read more about their work here: https://www.northernjaguarproject.org
SRI LANKAN CARNIVORE PROJECT
The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS) is a non-governmental organization committed to developing sustainable models for wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka. SLWCS aims to develop practical solutions that mitigate human-wildlife conflict, environmental damage, climate change, biodiversity loss and rural poverty issues. All of these are intertwined and must be addressed simultaneously to achieve lasting and meaningful conservation.
SLWCS has partnered with the Society for the Preservation of Endangered Carnivores & their International Ecological Study, to uncover the world of Sri Lanka’s medium-large carnivore communities. Work is currently underway to evaluate the status of seven carnivore species, including one greater and 3 smaller felines, the leopard, rusty-spotted cat, fishing cat and jungle cat.
The teams work includes updating the population and conservation status of the Sri Lankan Leopard, an IUCN “Endangered” species and thus a high priority species for conservation in the country. Compared to other Leopard species in Asia and Africa, the Sri Lankan Leopard has been subject to few rigorous surveys and field investigations.
With urban and agricultural development pressure advancing more rapidly in Sri Lanka, the need to know more about the threats faced by the islands carnivore populations is more urgent than it has ever been. The more learned about the ecological requirements of these carnivores, like the Sri Lankan Leopard, for example, one of the islands largest terrestrial predators, the more effective the development of conservation strategies used to create and connect protected areas. Similarly, smaller carnivores like fishing cats and rusty-spotted cats can also serve as flagship species for the protection of sensitive habitats, such as the country’s numerous reservoirs and coastal mangrove wetlands, or indicate a decline in ecological health.A total of $3,500 was donated to this project. Read more about their work here: https://www.slwcs.org/carnivore-project
MARA PREDATOR CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
The Kenya Wildlife Trust is Kenya’s principal predator conservation trust, focused on creating sustainable predator populations. Through tried and tested methods, they aim to ensure that lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs not only survive, but thrive. Since 2007, they have been raising money to help protect these iconic species and the landscapes that make Kenya truly unique.
At present Kenya’s predators are in trouble with big cat like lions, facing ever increasing threats from habitat loss, life threatening human animal conflict and an ecosystem under pressure. In 2018 KWT created the Mara Predator Conservation Programme, an initiative that brought together two flagship predator conservation projects, focusing on lions and cheetah, into one long-term conservation commitment. The Mara Predator Conservation Programme is based at the Tony Lapham Predator Hub in Olare Motorogi Conservancy, which borders the Maasai Mara Game Reserve with a study areas of more than 3000km².
With a focus on scientific research the Mara Predator Conservation Programme is able to identify and implement sustainable solutions to emerging conservation challenges and collect data relating to large predator population trends, predator mortality, predator dispersal, general ecology, wildlife and human behavior, predator genetics, endocrinology and epidemiology. Wildlife GPS Collars are one of the tools used to collect this data, sending information back on individually collared animals at regular intervals. A total of $3,500 was donated to this project.
The Mara Predator Conservation Programme has three overarching goals:
- To ensure that community members and landowners demonstrate increased understanding and appreciation of the role of predators in the ecosystem.
- To ensure that key stakeholders in the Greater Mara Ecosystem consistently utilize sound scientific information to inform conservation strategies.
- To support stable, healthy predator populations in the Greater Mara Ecosystem by providing scientific evidence for conservation action
Read more about their work here: https://www.marapredatorconservation.org
BLACK FOOTED CAT WORKING GROUP
The secretive and retiring Black footed Cat is the rarest of the African felids, listed in the IUCN Red list as vulnerable. In the larger part of their range they are protected, but hunting them is prohibited only in Botswana and South Africa. The total effective population size is less than 10,000 mature breeding individuals. Due to loss of its prey base through habitat degradation by overgrazing, indirect persecution by poisoning and predator control, the population is declining.
The Black-footed cat Working Group has the goal of furthering awareness and research for this rare cat, bringing together multidisciplinary expertise on the species biology. In 2008 the Black footed cat working group was formed to publish and share their findings. The group consists of 7 biologists and veterinarians and acts as a central information source for the species.
With 24 years running, it is one of the longest running small cat projects. More than 60 cats have been caught and collared over 100 times and what is known today about the species has been found during this field study in South Africa. The study collects data on the ecology of the species, like home range sizes, home range usage, social organization, food habits but also mortality, longevity, dispersal and reproduction of the population. The cats are captured using both netting and live trapping techniques. Once caught they are anesthetized and covered too with a blanket to shield them from light and sounds. Upon immobilization all cats are measured, weighed, examined for general body condition, parasites, and when possible blood is drawn. After fitting a small radio collar, the cats are placed in a safe area for recovery. All captured cats are released back into a den close to their capture location.
Big Cat Rescue first donated to this project in 2016. A total of $2,700 was donated to this project. Read more about their work here: https://www.black-footed-cat.wild-cat.org
SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS FUND
The Santa Monica Mountains Fund is dedicated to advancing research and conservation of the mountain lions and Bobcats that call the park home. Unfortunately, their future in the park is uncertain and the Fund is actively working with park biologists to learn what is needed protect these magnificent animals. Clear evidence shows that when large predators are lost, the balance of life in an ecosystem is severely disrupted and the diversity of other plants and animals begins an accelerated decline.Human impact is the largest threat to native species, and it comes in many forms including habitat loss, conflict with wildlife, and introduction of invasive species. The Santa Monica Fund protects native species by investing in scientific research that is used to determine management and policy decisions. They also work to raise awareness of species protection issues to help visitors and park neighbors understand how their decisions might affect the amazing plants and animals found within the mountains.
A known threat for these cats is Habitat Fragmentation. A single male mountain lion uses about 100,000 acres of natural habitat, about the size of the entire Santa Monica Mountains! If mountain lions cannot move between natural areas, their population will not survive, therefore it is essential to keep open spaces connected and create new wildlife corridors where needed. Recent studies also showed threats from rodent poisons. Eleven out of twelve mountain lions tested positive for two or more rodent poison toxins. Researchers found higher levels of toxins in wild cats that spent more time in developed areas.
Since the spring of 2002, park scientists have studied mountain lions in and around the park. The more known about their behavior, the better equipped they are to protect them. Mountain lions are radio-collared and then scientists use GPS to monitor their movement. A total of $3,000 was donated to this project. Read more about their work here: https://www.samofund.org
Gorongosa National Park is mozambique’s flagship national park, encompassing 4,067 sq.km and acting as a hub for ecotourism, scientific research, conservation and community engagement. After preliminary exploration it is one of the most beautiful and biodiverse landscapes in Africa, thanks to its varied terrain, richness of its soil and variety of different ecosystems. Within this park is the Gorongosa Lion Project, a long-term recovery and conservation of lions in the Gorongosa-Marromeu Lion Ecosystem.
In 2012 the Gorongosa Lion Project was initiated to begin the first-steps required to document the conservation status and ecology of the Gorongosa lion population, and identify and remedy threats to their recovery and persistence across the Greater Gorongosa Ecosystem.
The lion is currently in a race for its survival across Africa. In just 50 years, lions in the wild have declined by 70% and have been extirpated from 80% of their historical range. Increasing human expansion and loss of habitat, retaliatory killings for livestock losses, incidental snaring and poaching, and unsustainable trophy hunting practices are all taking their toll on the species. Conservation efforts such as those underway in Gorongosa are critical to the survival of this magnificent species in Mozambique and beyond. Gorongosa was once home to hundreds of lions and our mission is to make Gorongosa a lion stronghold once again. Between 50-70 lions live in the Park today and research work is currently underway, led by Paola Bouley, to accurately document, protect and restore the species to its full capacity in the Park.
The GLP is currently investigating potential limiting factors including prey composition & abundance, genetics, disease, and human impacts (including snaring, poaching, and park boundaries). One technique used by the project is GPS radio collars. The Collars cost around $2,500 and can save lives. The collars allow for the tracking of individuals, obtaining essential information for research but also alerting if individuals are in danger from trapping, poaching etc. The collars improve safety for the remaining population. Read more about their work here: https://www.lions.gorongosa.org
The Freeland Foundation is an International Non-Government Organization, headquartered in Bangkok, that works in Asia on environmental conservation. The organization combats the illegal wildlife trade and habitat conservation, addressing threats to endangered species, like tigers, including poaching in protected areas, smuggling, and the subsequent sale and consumption of Wildlife. Freeland’s global team of law enforcement and development experts, work alongside government officers, local communities, students and other NGO’s in Asia, Africa and America to educate, empower and catalyze action to investigate and arrest wildlife/poaching syndicates, even when local law enforcement is too corrupt to do its job.
In October 2018, Big Cat Rescue donated $5,000 to their mission “Tyger” Initiative, following a lead on an active poaching gang in Southeast Asia. The donation was time sensitive, as the Freeland Foundation needed urgent funding to help authorities track down and stop the poachers. Over a 4 week period, the poachers had struck 3 times, killing tigers and selling their parts. Freeland had obtained information on one of the poachers in addition to one of the buyers. The initiative was set to track the poachers across 3 international borders. In previous investigations, the Freeland Foundation, had bad been successful in breaking up some of Asia’s biggest wildlife trafficking rings and arresting kingpins previously thought to be untouchable, so with the donation from Big Cat, hopes were they could catch these poachers too, and fast. Read more about their work here: https://www.freeland.org/stop-wildlife-trafficking
Endangered Wildlife Trust
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is a registered 501(c)3 Non Profit Organization dedicated to conserving threatened species and ecosystems in southern Africa.
Carnivores are traded both as living and dead specimens e.g. Leopards are traded for hunting trophies, cheetahs as exotic pets and lions for photo props/canned hunts. Trade needs to be well regulated to ensure that it does not impact negatively on the survival of the species. In South Africa it has been shown that the regulation and policing of trade in carnivores is inefficient and that in many cases trade is detrimental to the survival of the species. The Carnivore Trade project focuses aims to change this through monitoring, regulation, awareness and training.
Read more about the Carnivore Trade Project here: https://www.ewt.org.za/CCP/ccp.html
Guardians of the Wild
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) initiated the Guardians of the Wild Project in 2001, with the goal of assisting the government in creating a strong, well-equipped and motivated force of frontline rangers, to curb poaching and habitat degradation in key tiger habitats.
As few as 3,000 tigers survive in the wild. The few tigers that do remain live in vast inaccessible forests protected by forest and park rangers who often lack proper training and equipment, and who are outmanned and outgunned by gangs of poachers seeking to kill wild tigers and sell their skins and parts on the black market. Being a park ranger in India, Nepal or Bhutan is not the same as being a park ranger in the USA, where field staff have the training and equipment they need to survive and accomplish their missions, and help is just a phone call away. Dense swamps, marshlands, thick tropical forests, vast savannas, and the world’s highest mountain peaks form impenetrable barriers that make resupply and rescue virtually impossible. Rangers on the front lines in South Asia risk serious injury and their lives from road accidents, animal attacks or conflicts, disease outbreaks, attacks by insurgent groups, drowning, and a host of other menaces. And, there’s the constant threat from poachers. Well armed and motivated, poaching gangs roam the vast, often times roadless landscape, taking a variety of animals with them as they seek the ultimate payoff – a wild tiger. In recent years, criminals have upgraded their techniques and equipment, making it even more difficult for the under-equipped forest staff to curb illegal activities. To date 110 wildlife rangers have been killed in the line of duty, while 10 have been seriously injured or disabled.
The Guardians of the wild project has a multi-pronged strategy abbreviated as TEAM, which stands for Training, Equipment, Awareness and Morale Boosting. In Collaboration with India’s state forest department, the project provides rangers with in-depth training in the basics of investigation, preparing and filing legal cases against offenders, current threats to wildlife and human- wildlife conflicts, and crime prevention techniques. Upon successful completion of the program, personnel are given kits to help them in field work. The kits are assembled based on the needs of the field work area. Since the project was introduced, over 16,000 forest personnel have been trained and equipped, in more than 150 protected areas across India. Because of its success, the governments of Bhutan and Nepal have requested the assistance of the project in their own countries, where rampant poaching threatens tiger survival. In the areas where Guardians of the Wild project has been introduced, many wildlife populations have increased and wildlife crimes have decreased. Read more about the Guardians of the Wild Initiative here: https://www.wti.org.in/projects/wildlife-crime-control-division/
Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy
The Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving land, protecting natural areas for birds and wildlife and providing access and education to their local communities. Disruption of landscape connections for species movements and range changes is one of the greatest stressors to ecosystems. Movement is essential to species survival, whether it be day-to-day movement of individuals seeking food, shelter or mates, juvenile dispersal, seasonal migration or recolonization after a local population is eliminated. Maintaining and enhancing connectivity is essential to support ecosystem functions, such as predator-prey relationships and gene flow.
The Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy established the Hahamongna to Tujungi Wildlife Corridor Initiative, with a goal of linking the San Gabriel Mountains at Hahamongna Watershed Park to the San Gabriels at Big Tujunga Wash for Wildlife Passage, a 20-mile long corridor. This project will bring to life an additional 13,400 acres of habitat by connecting with the 700,000-acre Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains. Predators such as Mountain Lions and Bobcats can then live in these urban hills with ready access to others of their species in the abundant range of the San Gabriels, assuring genetic diversity. Los Angeles is one of only two megacities — Mumbai, India, is the other — where large predatory cats live in an urban setting. Threats to the Los Angeles metropolitan area mountain lion population are growing. Typically, a mountain lion requires 200 square miles of habitat to support it, but they are living in dramatically closer quarters in these urban islands. This leads to inbreeding in these isolated genetic pools.
The Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy is seeking funding to:
- Track collared & tagged mountain lion
- Establish GIS capacity to update maps and database information
- Use their biological study and data to set priorities for conserving land within the corridor
- Engage partners from the conservation community
- Educate about the corridor
- Reach out to educate communities near the corridor about the wildlife living among them, the benefits of habitat restoration and human-animal conflicts
Read more about their work here: https://www.arroyosfoothills.org
BORNEO NATURE FOUNDATION
The Borneo Nature Foundation is a not-for-profit conservation and research organization that works to protect some of the most important areas of tropical rainforest, to safeguard wildlife, the environment and indigenous culture in Borneo. They support and empower community-led initiatives to protect forest and biodiversity, including anti-logging patrols, fire-fighting teams, environmental education and the replanting and restoration of damaged forests. All field programs include high-quality scientific research as a basis for protecting and managing the forests. In addition they providing training and capacity building for local students, researchers, conservation-area managers and local partners to implement successful conservation projects.
The Borneo Wild Cat Initiative was started in 2008, focusing on key questions about wild cat density and abundance in an under-studied habitat, whilst investigating and mitigating threats facing them. The Bornean tropical forest contains a guild of five felid species: Sunda clouded leopard, bay cat, marbled cat, flat-headed cat and leopard cat . Two are endangered, two threatened, and their presumed primary habitat is rapidly being lost and/or altered in the region.
To date their research has confirmed that the Sabangau Forest supports populations of four of the five Bornean cats, including the largest predator on Borneo, the clouded leopard; plus the leopard cat, flat-headed cat and marbled cats. It has been estimated, from camera trap sightings, that there are around 128 clouded leopard individuals in Sabangau. This means that the population in Sabangau makes up over 5% of the total world population. Conducting studies on Borneo provides the chance to study clouded leopard and small felid guild in the absence of tigers and large canids. The Borneo Wild Cats Initiative is the first long-term, intensive camera-trapping study of clouded leopards and other felids in Indonesian peat-swamp forest aiming to increase knowledge on ecology, behaviour and conservation status.
Read more about their work here: https://www.borneonaturefoundation.org/enresearch-in-action/borneo-wild-cats/
OSA CONSERVATION – COSTA RICA
Founded in 2003, Osa Conservation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting globally significant biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula, in Costa Rica, through the implementation of ecosystem stewardship, enhancing scientific understanding, providing education and training, and creating sustainable economic opportunities.
Osa is one of the last landscapes in Central America that can still sustain five species of wild cats in the region: Margay, Ocelot, Jaguarundi, Cougar and Jaguar. The incredible region of the Osa, with its intense diversity and endemism is at risk, with old forest growth declining, putting pressure on biodiversity, as the forests become increasingly fragmented and degraded. Within the Osa forest, these cats face threats from habitat fragmentation, decrease of natural prey and increasing conflicts with humans and livestock. In 1999 the Osa was declared one of ninety “Jaguar Conservation Sites” of the world and one of the most important places for conservation of this species, which is critically endangered in Costa Rica.
To better understand the conservation needs of wild cats and their prey, Osa Conservation initiated the Camera Trap Network for the Osa Peninsula in collaboration with National University of Costa Rica (UNA). This monitoring program is comprised of camera traps placed on properties throughout the Osa Peninsula- ranging from Corcovado National Park, local eco-lodges, private landowners and Osa Conservation properties and Piedras Blancas National Park. As part of the Osa Camera Trap Network, the cameras are placed in areas with high probability of cat presence. They take pictures based on a motion sensor so every time an animal passes by photographic evidence is obtained that we can be used to learn about population trends.
The aim of the Camera Traps was to identify the key priority conservation areas in addition to estimating the current density of Jaguar in the Osa Peninsula, estimating abundance of terrestrial mammals among the different protected areas in the Osa Peninsula, Identifying anthropogenic and environmental factors affecting the distribution and abundance of terrestrial mammals in the Osa Peninsula and evaluating the biological corridors in the Osa Peninsula. Read more about their work here: https://osaconservation.org/projects/wildlife/osa-camera-trap-network/
INTERNATIONAL TIGER DAY 2018 BENEFICIARIES
For International Tiger Day 2018, a fundraiser was held to raise money for two organizations doing great work for cats in the wild. The first was the Corbett Foundation, who we have donated to on a recurring basis over the years, supporting there open wells initiative in India. The second was a new project headed by WWF & TRAFFIC. Big Cat Rescue matched the profit of purchases of our International Tiger Day Merchandise, along with any donations made on the merchandise page, dollar for dollar up to $5,000. A total of $4,793 was raised, but we made up the difference, to donate a total of $10,000 between the two projects. Learn more about the WWF/TRAFFIC Initiative below:
WWF/TRAFFIC “Super Sniffers” Initiative
The illegal wildlife trade is a rapid growing global industry, run by highly organized criminal networks, with an estimated worth of $19 billion per year. India plays a significant role in this illegal network, particularly as a source of tiger bones, used traditionally for Chinese medicine, and tiger skins, that command a high price on the international market. Illegal trade is often perceived as a lower risk Illegal activity by poachers and traders but puts the population of Indian tigers at high risk.
Since 2008, TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade and monitoring network, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), have embarked on an important journey to help raise and train sniffer dog squads to strengthen anti-poaching and anti-trafficking measures, of forest departments and other enforcement agencies, concerned with wildlife protection in India. Dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell that is almost one thousand times more sensitive than a humans, often giving them the ability to discriminate between the faintest odors and detect smells from both living species and raw materials, despite smugglers efforts to mask them. The dogs not only increase efficiency and detect hard-to-find substances but their presence also provides a strong deterrent to traffickers and helps raise awareness in the public about the illegal wildlife trade.
Sniffer dogs are often employed at airports, shipping ports, transport centers and national parks, working alongside trained handlers, to quickly scan cargo, luggage, packaging, vehicles or desired areas for illegal contraband. The dogs undergo grueling training to be able to detect not only wildlife products, but to also locate animals that have sustained injuries, which helps authorities get hold of poachers swiftly. Once trained the dogs, popularly known as “Super Sniffers”, are deployed into one of seven states in India that are home to large tiger populations. Up until the end of 2017, 56 dogs were successfully trained and deployed through this program. Read more about the great work being done, here: https://support.wwfindia.org/super_sniffer/index.php
Snow Leopard Trust
In January 2018 Big Cat Rescue donated to the Snow Leopard Trust. Understanding the ecology and habitat needs of any species is a key building block to create and maintain successful conservation programs. In order to protect snow leopards, it is first imperative to identify the resources they use within their home ranges and varying landscapes, in addition to how they interact with each other, as well as other wildlife. The Snow Leopard Trust conducts groundbreaking ecological research across 5 of the 12 countries Snow Leopards inhabit, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Pakistan. These 5 countries together contain over 75% of the worlds population of wild snow Leopards.
In Mongolia, specifically, they have created a Long-Term Ecological Study that is focused on growing knowledge of Snow Leopard behavior and patterns of land use. Through this study they have been able to continuously monitor wild snow leopards, including their spatial behaviors, predation patterns, prey preference, disease ecology and a most importantly form a determination of population size.
As with many species, human-animal conflict is an ongoing problem, as humans increase land use, decreasing the availability of land for wildlife, decreasing prey availability and increasing mortality threats such as poaching, deforestation and mining.
To further protect snow leopards, the snow leopard trust works on a larger landscape level, finding ways for snow leopards to coexist with the people sharing their habitat. Many families living in snow leopard habitats are herders who live on less than $2 a day and depend on their livestock for food and income. Occasionally snow leopards will kill livestock, as they are an easy prey source, and members of the community resort to retaliation killings or poaching of the big cats. Therefore the snow leopard trust saw an immediate need and is working to initiate community based conservation programs to break the cycle of poverty and create incentive for herders to protect the wildlife and ecosystems. Read more about their work here: https://www.snowleopard.org
Lion Landscapes is a non profit organization dedicated to lion conservation in Africa. The Laikipia and Samburu region of Kenya supports the 3rd largest lion population in the country, despite the presence of people and livestock throughout the region. In recent years Laikipia’s lions have faced increased danger; unprecedented influxes of many thousands of livestock and people from other regions has threatened the viability of the area for lions. Some lions have been killed directly due to conflict with incoming livestock owners. There is less food for lions because wild prey has also been killed directly or out-competed by tens of thousands of incoming livestock. The biggest threat to lions is that they have been exposed to large numbers of poorly defended livestock, and lions that have never killed livestock have started to view livestock as prey.
Past experience has shown that livestock depredation behavior in lions, once learnt, is a longer term problem that will not be resolved when the large numbers of livestock and people from other areas go home. Rather, now visiting livestock are leaving the area, lions are facing a period of nutritional hardship, and some lions are turning to kill resident livestock, that they previously co-existed with without incident. In short, an alarming number of Laikipia’s lions have developed a dangerous habit – people whose livelihood is threatened by lions often respond by killing the lions.
Luckily long term research in the area has shown that conflict between lions and people can be effectively managed by collaring and monitoring lion movements, and giving livestock owners access to real time lion movement data. This allows livestock owners to be proactive and keep their livestock away from lions, or increase their protection of livestock when close to lions.
One adult lioness in each pride, and one adult male in each male coalition is collared with a GPS collar that sends us hourly locations for the lion. Access to lion movement data is given to livestock owners that maps the lion locations on google earth. Even if livestock owners don’t have the same technology as all of us, almost all of them have access to smartphones and a cell network.
In addition to the data from the GPS collars, Lion Landscapes has developed a predator system. This system responds to chips in the lion’s collar by setting off alarms and lights when the collared lion approaches livestock within a certain distance.The harmless deterrents used (lights and alarms) often stop a lion attacking on their own but the system also ensures that human boma guards are awake and ready for the lion when it arrives. Read more about their work here: https://www.lionlandscapes.org/collaring-for-coexistence
Furs for Life
The leopard is likely the most persecuted large cat in the world. Extinct in six countries and possibly extinct in six additional countries, leopards have vanished from at least 49 percent of their historic range in Africa and 84 percent of their historic range in Eurasia. The species is threatened by illegal killing for their skins and other body parts used for ceremonial regalia, conflict with local people, rampant bushmeat poaching, and poorly managed trophy hunting.
In southern Africa, as many as 2,500 leopards are killed each year for their skins. With fewer than 5,000 leopard remaining in South Africa, this illegal killing poses a significant threat to their survival.
Many leopards are killed so their skins can be used by local religious groups, such as the Shembe, for ceremonial garb. Leopard furs are a crucial element of traditional dress during the Shembe Festival, an annual gathering of Shembe members. After discovering that as many as 15,000 illegal leopard skins were being used, Panthera initiated the Furs for Life Leopard Project in 2013.
Working with digital designers, Panthera created high-quality and affordable faux leopard skin capes. More than 14,000 capes have already been donated and another 4,000 are set to be distributed by 2018.
The Faux skins are gaining increasing acceptance as viable alternatives to real leopard skins. Panthera’s research has indicated that the use of real skins has already decreased by 50% preventing hundreds of Leopard deaths each year.
One of these alternative skins can be purchased for just $30, meaning a SAVE Award donation of $1,000 funds 33!
Read more about this project here: https://www.panthera.org/furs-for-life
Audubon Canyon Ranch
Audubon Canyon Ranch is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit environmental conservation and education organization, founded in 1962. Today, Audubon Canyon Ranch acts as guardian of a system of nature preserves spanning 26 properties in California. ACR works to improve global environmental health by conserving and stewarding valuable natural resources, managing for ecological resilience, providing scientific solutions to ecosystem management, and teaching generations of conservationists in ways that strengthen natural and human communities.
Living with Lions is a community-based mountain lion research and education project in the Mayacamas Mountains of Sonoma and Napa Counties that will increase scientific and public understanding of mountain lions, identify priority habitat areas for conservation, and increase appreciation for these important top predators. By expanding their knowledge of mountain lion behavior, population size, feeding habits, home range, and movements, ACR can contribute to their conservation and the protection of the habitat critical for mountain lion survival while minimizing conflict with humans.
ACR’s principal investigator on the Project is Dr. Quinton Martins, a leading expert on large mountain cats and a skilled predator trapper. Together with a team of ACR staff and advisors, Dr. Martins is studying the movement of mountain lions fitted with GPS collars within a study area that encompasses approximately 1,000 square miles, primarily in the Mayacamas Mountains (areas east of Highway 101 and west of 29) in Sonoma and Napa Counties. Living with Lions will lead to a better understanding of mountain lion ecology, connectivity in this fragmented landscape, and identification of priority areas for conservation.
ACR believes that conservation is successful when people feel personally connected to nature. Mountain lions are such an iconic and charismatic species, inspiring awe, curiosity, and sometimes fear in a way that few other animals do. Through cutting-edge research, ACR continues to lead regional conservation and, through a greater understanding and appreciation of our natural world, create a better environment for all communities.
S.P.E.C.I.E.S – Ocelots in Trinidad
The Ocelot is one of 13 species of wild cat native to the western hemisphere and one of 10 felids inhabiting Latin America. The Ocelot occurs from the lower Rio Grande Valley to extreme south Texas and the Sky Islands of southern Arizona. Following the 2017 Wildcat Walkabout Big Cat Rescue made a donation to support the non-profit organization S.P.E.C.I.E.S, who was undertaking the first comprehensive effort to study ocelots in Trinidad. The history of the ocelot on Trinidad is unique for several reasons. It is the only place that the ocelot has evolved in the absence of larger mammalian carnivores, on Trinidad it is the largest predatory mammal.
Among Neotropical small felids, it is second only to the jaguarundi in distribution expanse, and is classified by the IUCN as a species of “Least Concern”, the lowest priority for conservation among the world’s threatened and endangered species. But on Trinidad, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest the ocelot population may be declining, and its future may be threatened by human activities. More importantly perhaps, Trinidad hosts the only population of ocelots on a continental island, making it the most geographically isolated of all ocelot populations. Because Trinidad has been isolated from the mainland for approximately 11,000 years, much of its biodiversity is unique.
The study aimed to look at the ecology of Trinidad’s ocelot population, define its place in the evolutionary history of the ocelot as a species and develop an integrative plan for its long-term conservation. The study is investigating the impacts of deforestation, illegal hunting, urbanization, and different types of agricultural land use and intensity on ocelot habitat suitability, population density, and the diversity of prey species available to the predator. S.P.E.C.I.E.S are also collaborating with local institutions to promote greater awareness of the ocelot’s needs among the public of Trinidad & Tobago, build individual capacity and organizational capacity to monitor ocelots, and develop an island strategy for habitat connectivity and conservation across based on the needs of the species. If the ecological needs of ocelots can be better understood, it is possible to more precisely define the types and intensity of human activities that are compatible with an increasing or stable ocelot population.
In May 2018 BCR received the below update on this project. In the previous months S.P.E.C.I.E.S researchers have been very busy undertaking multiple surveys, encompassing three separate study sites: Arena Recreational Forest, Asa Wright Nature Center, and Nariva Swamp. These study sites represent some of the most important potential ocelot habitat on the island and the early stages of this project has been more successful than it could have anticipated. One of the benefits of these surveys was to help increase graduate student involvement, leading to more thesis topics that will advance ocelot research.
Incoming observational data has shown that agouti, which is a main prey item for the ocelot, are showing strong population numbers. The strong agouti population is important because it demonstrates that hunting agouti for bush meat does not seem to be affecting the overall population numbers and, thus, not negatively impacting one the ocelot’s favored prey items. Also recently, a “Bioblitz” was held on the island by the University of the West Indies. The goal of a Bioblitz is to observe as many species as possible in a given amount of time. In this case, the Bioblitz lasted four to six weeks and resulted in some of the first data on ocelots and other wildlife of Trinidad. Read more about their work here: https://egret.org/living-with-lions
Get the full 2018 In Situ Report here: https://bigcatrescue.org/insitu/
Long Healthy Lives
By the end of this year, we have 61 exotic cats and 37 of them are over the age of 12. 27 of those are over the age of 15, and 14 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.
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 720 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 playroom live every day at https://explore.org/livecams/big-cat-rescue/big-cat-rescue-kitten-cabana
Abandoned Big Cats 2018
Last year was the lowest report of cats being abandoned in recorded history! This is largely due to more states passing bans and partial bans and a growing awareness that big cats don’t belong in backyards and basements.
2018 Facebook Fundraisers Raise $368,423.00 For the Cats!
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.
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 9%. Because our tour revenue exceeds our fundraising and administrative costs, 100% of donations go to Program Expense (saving big cats).
Click here for 2018 IRS form 990 and audited financial statement.
Compare Our YouTube stats in 2017 to 2018
YouTube and Discovery continue to send us a lot of traffic. Thanks to this partnership and cross promotions with Animal Planet, we are experiencing more than 8.2 million views of our YouTube videos per MONTH! By 2018 year end we had 774,057 subscribers (up 19%) and 352,620,896 views (up 13%) on our main channel and 28,727 subscribers and 8,706,157 views on our secondary channel called Daily Big Cat. This was our most popular video in 2018 racking up 7.5 million views in 2018! More views and more subscribers means more money for the cats. In 2018 YouTube revenue was $91,847.24
360 3D VR. We entered the realm of 360 and 3D Virtual Reality in 2018 and created many terabytes of amazing footage. You can find all of our playlists by checking out:
360cat.tv points to a list of our Facebook 360 videos
360bigcat.com points to our main YouTube playlist of 360 videos
360bigcats.com points to our DailyBigCat YouTube playlist of 360 videos
Our Facebook fans have grown to 2,316,494 million likes and 2,258,178 million followers. Our Facebook efforts reach millions of people in a single week! Some of the best news comes from the fundraising we have been able to do on Facebook which is made especially sweet since Facebook covers the credit card processing fees, so the cats get the full benefit of the donation. These donations come from people doing their own Facebook Fundraisers and from our Donate button on the page and in our posts. In 2017 there were 6,205 donors who gave a total of $172,045.93 and in 2018 there were 15,050 donors who gave a total of $368,423.00.
Below is the last 28 days of 2018:
In August 2017 Big Cat Rescue was included in Facebook’s prelaunch of Watch Shows. We host three Shows that have been seeded with past videos as we continue to add new ones weekly.
Continued using FB ads to generate email sign-ups and for BigCatRescue.biz sales. Started 2017.
Twitter At the end of 2018 we reached 328,000 followers on Twitter.
Pinterest 4,263 followers
Google Plus https://plus.google.com/+bigcatrescue has 550,479 followers and Google has announced they will be ending this social experiment.
LinkedIn 2,047 followers
Instagram jumped from 5,095 posts to 7,723 posts and 77,900 followers to 95,100 followers thanks to hiring Brittany Mira in 2018 to take over this social site and our Amazon store.
We are on SnapChat again as bigcatrescuer since we cannot access our original account at bigcatrescue. Our Snapchat activity and followers also boomed this year, with hundreds of viewers per snap!
The BigCatRescue.org site appears to have dropped from more than 4 million visits in 2017 to 2.3 million visits in 2018. It’s hard to know if this is really a decrease though, as Google has insisted that we create separate AMP pages for all of our site there is no way to combine desktop and mobile traffic accurately.
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/
Roku. Watch more than 900 episodes of Big Cat TV waiting for you for FREE in the Channel Store! Now you can check us out on Binge TV too! 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.
Alexa. Now you can find us on Alexa and can even make a donation by saying, “Alexa, make a donation to Big Cat Rescue.” You can add Big Cat Briefing to your daily briefings and hear daily updates from the sanctuary. You can play a game by enabling the skill called Big Cat Rescue and you can can play a name that cat sound game by enabling a skill called Big Cats. There are even two skills to help you pack for a trip (Travel Checklist) or for school or college (School Checklist). Find out more at https://bigcatrescue.org/alexa/
Minds. We started posting on Minds which is a social sharing platform that utilizes blockchain (our newest fascination) and rewards users with crypto currency tokens that can be redeemed as ad spend. It proclaims better security without restricting posts, except as required by law.
In the News
Big Cat Rescue was reported favorably more than 1,600 times in 2018. 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.
Mail List. Our mailing list is up to 97,993 supporters.
Visitors to the sanctuary: 30,577
Who We Are
The Big Cat Board
The Board met 4 times in 2018.
Paid Staff and Contractors:
We hired one of our AdvoCats, Lori Duska, to answer our phones remotely. This has resulted in better customer service when it comes to ticketing and directions to the sanctuary and helped immensely with donations as well.
Big Cat Rescue had 126 volunteers at the end of 2018 who clocked in 34,984 man-power hours, in addition to 39 intern sessions (12 weeks each) who clocked 26,642 man-power hours. In total these volunteer man-power hours provided roughly the equivalent workforce of 30 more full-time staff. Between 16 full time paid staff, 2 part-time staff and volunteers we averaged the equivalent of 47 full-time staff.
Between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018, Big Cat Rescue provided $214,368.00 in scholarships to provide housing, transportation, utilities, food, training and entertainment to 24 interns for 32 three month sessions arriving in Tampa, FL from 4 countries and 15 states.