28 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
2020 started in January with the release of Romeo Bobcat. He had been rescued in 2019 and his pelvis had been shattered into six pieces, but thanks to our vets, vet care team and the rehab team, he healed fully and is back in the wild where he belongs. We rescued three more orphaned bobcat kittens in 2020, Grayce, Papi and Angel. Grayce came to us too late and there was nothing we could do to save her, despite heroic efforts, but Papi Bobcat grew up to be a fine young male, and he reclaimed his rightful place in the wild this year too. Angel Bobcat is still in rehab and doing great. She will be ready for release as soon as she is big enough to protect herself from coyotes and other large predators. She’s a fierce hunter and might just make the top five of cutest bobcat faces we have ever seen on camera. You can keep up to date on the progress of all our rehab bobcats via remote cameras at https://bigcatrescue.org/cams/
There were 17+ bobcats we tried to help throughout 2020 but were either dead on arrival, or we were unable to track down and catch. We submitted the carcasses on all of the deceased cats to the Florida Wildlife Commission’s biologists who are trying to discern the nature of the coronavirus that is killing Florida panthers and bobcats enmasse. The virus causes neurological issues making it impossible for the cats to walk. On Jan. 9 we picked up a male bobcat who had been struck and killed by a car in Odessa. On Jan. 17 we were called to relocate a bobcat and her kittens in Lutz, but worked with locals to explain that bobcats make lousy pets, but great neighbors. Jan. 18 we were called to relocate a FL panther, but explained why they belong here instead. Jan. 29 we responded to reports in Clearwater of an emaciated, wobbling bobcat and we set traps for weeks but never caught or saw the cat again. On Feb. 23 we picked up a bobcat who had been struck by a car in Brooksville and named him Shakespeare, but he died within 3 hours from his injuries. On Mar. 2 we drove to Riverview to set humane traps for an emaciated bobcat the homeowners had named Patrick, but he was never captured, nor seen again. On Mar. 21 we remotely assisted a rehabber in CT.
On June 26 we rushed to the scene of a bobcat who had been struck by a car in NW Tampa. We tracked him for days, but then lost the trail and never saw him again. July 1 we tracked and set traps in New Tampa for a bobcat who was neurological. We trapped him, but he burst the door off the humane trap as we approached, and we were never able to find him again. On Aug. 18 a neurological bobcat was picked up in Cape Coral and taken to another rehabber but died the next day. On Aug. 20 a woman in Tampa called because she was concerned to see 3 juvenile bobcat kittens playing in her yard, but we explained that mothers often are on the hunt for 24 hours at a time and to just let us know if she saw them again. She didn’t. Nov. 5 we responded to a caller reporting a bobcat with a piece of pipe stuck on his neck in Lakewood Ranch. We never found the cat. Dec. 10 we were called about a bobcat in Leesburg with severe mange. We offered to come trap the cat, but another rehabber did. We reached out to offer assistance, but they have not responded. In most of the cases where bobcats were seen but not captured we have sent letters to all of the surrounding homes to give them our contact info if they should spot the cats.
Saying Goodbye to Cats We Loved
We said a tearful goodby to these precious cats: Tiger Lilly Bobcat 24, Armani Leopard 22, Natalia Amur Leopard 19, and these sibling mountain lions; Artemis Cougar 14, Orion Cougar 14 and Ares Cougar 15. Artemis, Orion and Ares had been rescued from the wild when a hunter shot their mom and you will notice that even with the expert care given at Big Cat Rescue for their entire lives, they did not live as long as most of our cats do. Most of our cougars live into their late teens and mid twenties yet these siblings did not. We have seen the same thing with non releasable bobcats over the years; where the ones born in the wild rarely live past 14 or 15, while their captive born cousins live into their late teens and mid twenties. What is noteworthy about this is that cats in the wild are built for survival of the fittest during their lives in order for them to survive harsh conditions and still pass on their genes to the next generation of survivors. Cats who have been captive bred are selectively bred to be more docile and often for their unusual coat colors which may give them more years in a cage, but would not allow their species to survive in the wild. Captive breeding harms the survival of exotic cats in the wild.
Long Healthy Lives
By the end of this year, we have 53 exotic cats and 24 of them are over the age of 12. 12 of those are over the age of 18, and 7 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.
Due to COVID-19 and the negative impact of Tiger King, Murder, Mayhem & Madness making it impossible for us to trust unknown interns on site, we had to give up our foster kitten work in 2020. It’s just not been the same without the dozens of precious kittens in our lives and we hope to resume soon.
Abandoned Big Cats 2020
In 2020 we fielded calls to place 14 exotic cats including 4 tigers, 4 servals, 2 bobcats, 2 hybrid cats, 1 Siberian lynx and were alerted to a Craigslist offering of a Geoffroy cat for sale. We reported the latter and referred 10 of the others to the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliances Rescue Coordinator. As part of this group, we refer incoming calls so that the cats can be placed at the nearest member location who has space and resources. Three of the tigers had been left behind by Jeff Lowe at the GW Zoo but we had Pat Craig, from Wild Animal Refuge on site to take them, and the 2 bears and 11 wolves that had also been left behind. In 2020 we did not take in any exotic cats because our sister sanctuaries were happy to do so and it freed up our resources for ending the trade at its root. All of our rescues were native bobcats for rehab and release back to the wild this year.
Battling Coronavirus COVID-19 at Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue is working to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus in many ways.
The Public and COVID-19 Concerns
We closed our doors to visitors on March 15, 2020 and are not having any visitors at the sanctuary. At some point we will resume doing small private tours, but we don’t know when and we plan to be very conservative in making that decision. We don’t know if we will ever resume doing general public tours again. Even after the virus concerns subside, the betrayal by the liars who produced Tiger King, and the lies viewers were told in the series, creates a concern about having visitors we do not know.
Fortunately people who already knew the sanctuary quickly recognized the lies in Tiger King and have been wonderfully supportive, both emotionally with your messages and with your donations. There is really no way to convey how much we have appreciated both of these kinds of support.
Cancelling all tours means we have lost 1/3 of our income. As a result, we have had to let go 10 of our 20 staff and contractors. Howard and Carole Baskin stopped taking a paychecks for most of 2020, despite the fact that all of us are having to do twice the work to keep the sanctuary running. With more than 50 hungry wildcats to feed, we have to work harder than ever to insure their safety and comfort. If you want us to email you if we resume offering tours please fill out this form. Notify Me. Thanks very much for your understanding and support at this difficult time!
We are ramping up all the ways to connect with you on our social sites too at Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok. We have a lot of volunteers who can’t go to work or school right now, so they are getting fresh air and sunshine while helping out our cats. This means more keeper videos to share with you, while you are on lockdown.
Our Staff and Volunteers During the Pandemic
Our volunteers are the ones who provide all of the cat care, and they are scanned for temperatures before getting out of their cars upon arrival. Everyone is required to wear masks while in common spaces, and when in close proximity, like on golf carts or working together. New interns are quarantined for 14 days before allowed on site. Some of our staff are working from home. Our weekly staff meetings are being held via Zoom. The staff and volunteers who are high risk for infection are helping out with our online presence during this crisis as a way to stay sane and help our supporters remain connected despite many being in mandatory self quarantine.
Our Cats During Coronavirus
We have filled our freezers, which can hold about 20,000 pounds of food, in case the production plants or transportation companies shut down. We’ve stocked up on fuel for our generators in our onsite storage tanks. In 2003, the first year Big Cat Rescue was able to break even financially, we began tucking away a little bit into an endowment fund. It’s money we can’t touch outside of an emergency and its purpose was to provide a pension fund for all of our exotic cats. We did it right after seeing tourism and donations come to a screeching halt in the aftermath of 9/11 and knowing what it was like to look at the faces of hungry cats and tell them there would be no food for them short of a miracle. (fortunately for us that miracle happened and no cats went hungry, but that’s a story for another day)
Thanks to our amazing donors the sanctuary’s cats have a fully funded pension that will provide food and vet care for them to the end of their days. We would have to shut everything down, end all of our work to save wild cats from abuse and extinction, and let all of our staff go, but there is money in the Community Foundation endowment fund to be sure the cats don’t starve. Even though we made the tough choices to ensure our cats’ futures, we face an immediate crisis now. In order to keep doing the important work we do, without depleting our savings, we count on your donations more than ever.
We know how important it is to maintain transparency and without tours we have decided to install 46 more LIVE cameras and have really stepped up our LIVE video offerings on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and other streaming platforms. We are working with Verkada on the camera installation and they have promised to reduce our Internet, Cable, WIFI and cell costs sufficiently to cover the cost of the cameras and hosting, while increasing our speeds, so it was an easy decision to make.
We had to let go our Director of Outreach and Advocacy, as well as our Public Relations Director due to budget cuts, but that didn’t slow down our Advocacy. Our online team, led by LaWanna Mitchell and assisted by Deb Quimby, have produced stunning results by recruiting, training, mentoring and leading hundreds of big cat lovers in efforts to educate the masses about why big cats belong in the wild; not cages.
This year marked the start of the 116th session of Congress and our fifth attempt to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act. Representatives Quigley and Fitzpatrick introduced our House bill H.R. 1380 on February 26, 2018 with substantial bipartisan support. In September 2018, we witnessed exciting momentum when H.R. 1380 passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee with a vote of 21-14! Days later, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal introduced a Senate companion bill, S.2561! On Dec. 3, 2020 the bill passed the House with 2/3 bipartisan support, 272 to 114. Senate Democrats then proceeded to “hotline” the bill to pass by phone vote, but the Republicans refused, so the bill died at the end of 2020. Don’t despair! Plans are to reintroduce in January 2021 and having had such a bipartisan vote in the House, and with both chambers and the presidency turning Democratic, the bill is sure to pass in 2021. You can help at BigCatAct.com.
Community Outreach & Events
Little did we know when we started the year doing outreach at the Synapse Summit 2020 Conference in Tampa, FL that it would be one of the last events of the year. Carole Baskin from Big Cat Rescue and Douglas Fajardo from Xennial Digital made a connection that ultimately led to the creation of Big Cat Rescue VR, an innovative, first of its kind, way to educate the public on the conservation of big cats. Watch this interview, conducted by Synapse’s CEO and Co-Founder Brian Kornfeld, to hear more about how this unexpected connection was made, why Big Cat Rescue VR was developed, and how to enjoy the experience yourself.
Synapse Summit is an annual conference, put on by Synapse Florida. Synapse Summit includes unique hands-on innovation experiences and activations, workshops and seminars with top experts and the latest thought leaders and innovators. Synapse Summit is where leaders from diverse fields connect – from cybersecurity and e-gaming, to financial services and healthtech, digital reality, marketing and the arts, and much more. As a result of our Innovation we were featured in Innovate.
Our last two events of the year were in January and February and were both events to show people the magic of seeing the big cats in 180 degree 3D in headsets. We set up headsets and lines of people all day were wowed by this new technology and how much better it was to see the cats so close without being at the sanctuary in person. The VR 360 Film Event at Dunedin International Film Festival was January 13th at the Caledonia Brewery in Dunedin. The second event was hosted by the Oldsmar Chamber of Commerce.
More Wins for Exotic Cats
2020-01-09 Craig Wagner and CJ’s Great Cats of the Wild Park were assessed a fine of $6,000 and ordered to stop violating the Animal Welfare Act.
2020-02-07 USDA suspended Dade City Wild Things license and imposed a $16,000 fine. Shortly thereafter the zoo was put on the market for sale and the trolly is on a car lot for sale indicating the Stearn’s are no longer in the zoo business.
2020-03-21 John Wallace’s USDA license for Springhill Wildlife Park in Texas was revoked.
2020-04-10 Cricket Hollow Zoo in Iowa lost their USDA license and had all of their endangered species seized and sent to sanctuaries.
2020-08-10 Doug Terranova Circus lost his request for an appeal of USDA’s findings of violations of the Animal Welfare Act and $10,000 in fines for doing so.
2020-09-18 Michael Todd of All Things Wild in Illinois was fined $100,000 by USDA and his license was terminated.
11/22/2020 Damian Aspinall runs the Aspinall Foundation and two wildlife parks but in this article says that zoos serve no purpose and should be phased out over the next 30 years. Until now I have not seen any main stream media outlet give voice to my beliefs, other than a couple who mused at the thought of AR and VR zoos replacing the status quo last year. Aspinall states: “Zoo regulation should not be undertaken by “zoo people”, but by external experts including wildlife conservationists. To obtain a zoo licence zoos must do the following: all species in zoos that are not extinct in the wild or critically endangered should be phased out over the next 20 years, as well as any species with disease, hybridisation or lack of genetic viability. Every zoo should have an active reintroduction programme of the species they keep, and should phase out the species for which they have no reintroduction programme. In 10 years or less, urban zoos, or zoos less than 50 acres, should be closed, or only hold a maximum number of species of individual animals.
All health records, as well as hybridisation issues, should be open, transparent and made clear to the public, and full genetic profiles should be built up of all species. All animal shows must stop immediately. No animal can be locked out on permanent public display and must be given decent areas of privacy… to avoid stress. Animal training for research or veterinary reasons has to have specific goals and guidelines to avoid unnecessary interference in their natural behaviour. A minimum of 10 per cent of zoo gate receipts must be directly invested in in-situ conservation projects, including mandatory funding of in-situ conservation for species they hold and discretionary funding of other conservation efforts, all of which must be fully transparent. Zoos must justify that any amount over £250,000 spent on new enclosures is not better spent on protecting the wild. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/zoos-cruel-wildlife-conservation-species-a9056701.html
9/30/2020 France has said it will ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. Ecology Minister Barbara Pompili said, “Our attitude to wild animals has changed.” She also announced a ban on farming minks for fur and on keeping dolphins and orcas in captivity and went on to say, “It is time that our ancestral fascination with these wild beings no longer means they end up in captivity.” Bears, tigers, lions, elephants and other wild animals would no longer be allowed in travelling circuses under the ban. But the government said the rules would not apply to zoos and other permanent attractions or shows. The minister added that the government was considering creating a sanctuary for the animals currently in captivity.
9/21/2020 Fashion bans exotic skins from the catwalk. Five days before the Stockholm show, organizers said that fur and exotic skins had been banned from the lineup. Fur wasn’t surprising; among younger Western consumers, at least, fur has been steadily slipping down the rungs of popularity, prompting even luxury stalwarts like Burberry, Gucci and Prada to jettison the material in order to secure their holds on hearts and wallets alike.
Exotic skins, on the other hand, was new … ish. While London Fashion Week, one of the four major fashion weeks, banned fur in 2018. Signs abound that a fur-like reckoning is coming for exotic skins, partly buoyed by the pandemic, which may be linked to illegal wildlife trafficking. When Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger update their animal-welfare policy later this year, exotic skins will join angora and fur on its list of verboten materials.
“I think if people don’t connect the dots, we’re going to be repeating this pandemic,” Mr. Mathews said. “The way we treat animals is directly related to how this virus sprung out into the world. And it’s related to both food and fashion.” Roughly 60 percent of all known infectious diseases and 75 percent of all new or emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic in origin, meaning they’re transmissible from animals to humans, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
7/15/2020 Wales bans wild animal circuses. Scotland and England have already forbidden the use of wild animals in visiting shows. Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said the ban was “overdue” and the legislation represented a “significant step forwards for wild animals in Wales and beyond”.
5/14/2020 Not cats – but fur news. The discovery that ranched mink can become infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus may lend momentum to the Dutch national plan to phase out mink farming entirely by 2024. Dutch minister of agriculture, nature & food quality Carola Schouten revealed that COVID-19 had been found among mink on May 8, 2020 and is thought to have been contracted from human mink workers. Danish mink pelt production reportedly fell from 17 million to 12 million over the past three years, but Denmark is currently the global leader in mink farming–and the southern Danish border happens to be barely 100 miles from the northeastern border of the Netherlands, albeit with a strip of Germany between them. Thus any infectious disease developments in either Denmark or the Netherlands, involving any species, usually spreads rapidly from one to the other.
5/12/2020 In 2017, USDA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that asked the public for input on potential revisions to the AWA regulations to reduce regulatory burden and more efficiently ensure sustained compliance. After carefully considering the more than 47,000 comments it received in response, USDA issued a proposed rule in March 2019. The final rule incorporates feedback received through more than 110,600 comments on the proposed rule. The final rule may be viewed at https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2020-07837
It’s long, but the key elements are that every 3 years USDA licensees must reapply, rather than just be auto renewed:
…§ 2.11 Denial of license application.
(a) A license will not be issued to any applicant who:
(1) Has not complied with the requirements of §§ 2.1 through 2.4 and has not paid the fees indicated in § 2.1;
(2) Is not in compliance with the Act or any of the regulations or standards in this subchapter;
(3) Has had a license revoked or whose license is suspended, as set forth in § 2.1(d);
(4) Was an officer, agent, or employee of a licensee whose license has been suspended or revoked and who was responsible for or participated in the activity upon which the order of suspension or revocation was based, as set forth in § 2.9;
(5) Has pled nolo contendere (no contest) or has been found to have violated any Federal, State, or local laws or regulations pertaining to animal cruelty within 3 years of application, or after 3 years if the Administrator determines that the circumstances render the applicant unfit to be licensed;
(6) Is or would be operating in violation or circumvention of any Federal, State, or local laws; or
(7) Has made any false or fraudulent statements or provided any false or fraudulent records to the Department or other government agencies, or has pled nolo contendere (no contest) or has been found to have violated any Federal, State, or local laws or regulations pertaining to the transportation, ownership, neglect, or welfare of animals, or is otherwise unfit to be licensed and the Administrator determines that the issuance of a license would be contrary to
the purposes of the Act…
1/3/2020 Brussels schools no longer allowed to visit zoos. “As a government, we do not organise school visits to places where animals are kept trapped,” the city council told VRT NWS.
Where are the Tiger King zoo owners now?
Joe Exotic is still serving out his 22 year prison sentence after being convicted of 17 violations involving wildlife trafficking and shooting five healthy tigers in the head to make boarding space available for a circus. He was also convicted on murder for hire charges in a plot to have me killed. On 12/10/2020 the U.S. Department of Justice alerted Joe’s victims that an extra month has been added to his mandatory sentence, so it would appear he can’t follow the rules in jail any better than he could the rules of society.
Jeff and Lauren Lowe have lost their license to exhibit wild animals which includes showing them in person, via television or the Internet. On 11/19/2020 the Department of Justice filed suit against Jeff and Lauren Lowe for pages and pages of alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act and USDA’s Animal Welfare Act. Read the DOJ’s complaint here: http://911animalabuse.com/wp-content/uploads/2020-11-19-US-vs-Lowe-complaint.pdf On 12/30/2020 the Department of Justice filed a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order requiring that Jeff Lowe and Lauren Lowe comply with the Animal Welfare Act and give up all of the cubs under one year of age, and their mothers to legitimate sanctuaries to protect their health. The first document is the Motion and the second below is the reasoning behind the motion quoting such egregious neglect and abuse as to cause the deaths of big cats at the Tiger King Park.
The best thing about this lawsuit and the others faced by cub breeders is that it will finally create a legal interpretation that big cat cubs should not be separated from their mothers and should not be handed around as ego props based on it being a “take” under the Endangered Species Act and that doing so is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act. USDA has failed to enforce their laws for years, so the courts are taking charge and doing it. Whether the Big Cat Public Safety Act or the final order in this case comes first doesn’t matter much as both will definitively end the mass production of cubs for this one month window of abuse. That is well over 90% of the captive breeding of big cats who serve no conservation value due to being inbred and crossbred. Captive breeding provides a legal smokescreen for illegal poaching and sales of wild tigers and other big cats for their parts. Whichever comes first will end the era of abuse, once and for all. The only question is; Will it be in time to save the tiger in the wild?
Kevin Bhagavan “doc” Antle and daughters have been indicted. Bhagavan Antle, who is known as Doc and is the owner of Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, was charged with two felony counts related to wildlife trafficking and 13 additional misdemeanors, according to the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia. Tawny Antle and Tilakam Watterson, daughters of Mr. Antle, are also facing several misdemeanor charges in connection with animal cruelty and alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act. Thanks to a petition by PETA the USDA is requesting that exhibitors do the following: #1. Consult with their attending veterinarians in order to protect the health and welfare of big cats. (No decent vet would approve of cub handling displays) #2. Wear extra protective equipment and practice physical distancing when possible and the biggie #3. Encourage members of the public to keep at least 6 feet away from big cats (and optimally wear a mask when in the vicinity of captive big cats). This effectively ending all cub-petting displays.
Tim Stark and Wildlife in Need has had his USDA license revoked. On 2/3/2020 the judge ruled that “Respondents willfully violated the AWA (Animal Welfare Act) on multiple occasions. His AWA license number 32-C-0204 was revoked and he was assessed a civil penalty of $300,000 and another civil penalty of $40,000 for his violations. His animals have been seized and dispersed to other facilities. See the order USDA vs Tim Stark Revoke License
The work we do to protect wild cats in the wild is too vast to detail here, so you can see all of that at https://bigcatrescue.org/insitu/ Despite having to cut back on expenses this year we still donated $100,836 to conservation projects, protecting wildcats, globally. The donations covered projects, supporting 14 different wild cat species, across 20 different countries.
$1,000 to Snares to Wares, a non profit initiative within Michigan State University, dedicated to improving human livelihood and protecting wildlife in and around Pakwach, Uganda. The initiative simultaneously transforms human lives and addresses the problem of wildlife poaching by empowering local artisans to repurpose wire snares, into sculptures of the wildlife that would otherwise fail victim to snaring, such as lions, leopards and elephants.
$8,000 to the Urban Fishing Cat Project for their work conserving Fishing Cats in the urban wetland habitats of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
$1,000 to the Bhutan Foundation for their Jomolhari Snow Leopard Conservation Program. The Jomolhari Snow Leopard Conservation project is an integrated approach to conserve an important snow leopard region and bring benefits from conservation to local communities. Their aim is to encourage resident communities to actively participate in snow leopard conservation, which in turn can only succeed with their support.
$1,000 to Fauna & Flora International for the protection of Sumatran Tigers in Kerinci Seblat National Park. Since 2000, Fauna & FIora International has been working in Kerinci Seblat National Park, with the park authorities and local communities to strengthen tiger protection through forest patrols, undercover investigations and law enforcement operations to combat illegal trafficking of tigers and tiger parts. Kerinci Seblat National Park is the second largest national park in Southeast Asia, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its rich biodiversity and is a global priority for the long-term survival of wild tigers.
$7,536 to Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research in Bhutan. This project is to conduct camera trapping in the Bumthang territorial forest division, in order to assess distribution and threats to Marbled Cats and other small wild cats, in Bhutan. The data gained would support conservation plans for the cats and also conservation education activities. The funding provided was to purchase and deploy the camera traps.
$5,500 to Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation to produce outreach materials aimed at raising awareness for 3 small cat species in Nepal; the Marbled Cat, Pallas Cat and Rusty Spotted Cat.
$1,000 to Andean Cat Alliance for their work on conservation and conflict mitigation surrounding Andean Cats in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. Over the years Andean Cat Alliance has identified the most important direct and indirect threats to Andean Cat Populations, and as a result, currently have a number of ongoing conservation programs aimed at reducing them.
$11,000 to the Cambodia Fishing Cat Project, a non profit, non government conservation group, formed in 2016, after the first signs of Fishing Cats in Cambodia were found in over a decade. They are working to estimate population abundance and status of the Fishing Cats in Cambodia, in particular in Paem Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary, in addition to assessing threats, raising awareness and working with relevant stakeholders to develop conservation measures to protect this newly found population.
$1,000 to the Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation. The Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation is a Non-Government Organization working on research, communication, education and action taking, in an effort to improve coexistence between humans and wildlife. The funds donated went towards their Oncilla project which aims to establish itself as a long-term small cat conservation project in Costa Rica using the Oncilla as a flagship species.
$21,000 to The Corbett Foundation’s Human-Tiger Conflict Interim Relief Scheme. TCF have headed an initiative providing compensation to local people who have livestock losses, due to predation by tigers and leopards, in Corbett Tiger Reserve. The program began in 1997 and aims to prevent retaliatory killings of the cats and reducing human-wildlife conflict. Corbett responds to livestock losses within 48 hours to provide compensation following a kill.
$1,000 to Working Dogs for Conservation for their canine Law enforcement and Anti Poaching Program. The Serengeti Plain is home to more than 3 million animals, including elephants, rhinos and a host of animals that are vulnerable to poacher’s snares, including lion, leopard, buffalo, hyena, zebra, wildebeest, and giraffe. Every year 200,000 animals are poached in the Serengeti. In partnership with the Singita Grumeti Fund (SGF), WD4C has created a canine law enforcement unit in the western portion of the Serengeti ecosystem. The canine unit will complement SGF’s existing scout patrol camps and twenty-four hour observation posts by searching for contraband and tracking poachers.
$1,000 to the 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.
$1,000 to Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society a non-profit conservation organization, aiming to protect lesser-known and neglected wildlife species, in the Eastern Ghats region of South India. EGWS is developing a comprehensive understanding of the biogeographical distribution of Fishing Cats, and the implications of various human-induced activities on their survival. Similar to their work with the Fishing Cat, EGWS is undertaking a project focusing on the Rusty Spotted Cat, aiming to understand the distribution of the cats and assessing various sources of threat in their proposed project site.
$1,000 to the National Network Combatting Wild Animal Trafficking (RENCTAS) a non-governmental, non-profit organization founded in 1999, that fights for the conservation of biodiversity, and since then has won international awards and acclaim for its innovative approach to tracking and combating the global illegal wildlife trade. The group’s pioneering strategy is to use social media to track the sale and movement of animals out of Brazil, and turn over the data to law enforcement.
$1,000 to African Parks Foundation, a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks and protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities. African Parks focuses on effective law enforcement measures, conflict mitigation schemes, and community engagement in order to protect Threatened species such as lions, leopards and cheetah, along with providing them with the habitat and security of core areas the animals need in order to breed and thrive.
$10,000 to Peruvian Desert Cat Project. This initiative aims to study, protect and raise awareness about the importance of the desert cat in the Sechura desert and in the dry forest of northern Peru.
$10,000 from International Tiger Day July 29th 2020. Big Cat Rescue held a fundraiser to support a Cattle Shed Initiative in India. This Initiative also headed by the Corbett Foundation is in place to try and reduce tiger habitat loss and degradation, as well as human-wildlife conflict. There are a large number of villages located in and around tiger habitats, and local people are depending on the forest for grazing of livestock, wood for fuel, wood for cattle fencing and farming. This initiative aims to reduce the dependency of local people on forest resources by providing alternative materials for cattle housing.
Our Annual Wildcat Walkabout was different for 2020 and for the first time was completely virtual. A total of $16800 was raised on the day of the Walkabout, through ticket purchases, direct donations and merchandise sales. 2 In Situ conservation projects were the beneficiaries of this year’s event and the final total was split evenly between them.
$8,400 for Freedom for the Animal Actors (FAA) a small Chinese Non Profit, Non-Government organization. The circus industry in China continues to cause immense suffering for many thousands of tigers, lions, bears, macaques and other wild animals. Freedom for Animal Actors (FAA) has been working since 2015 to expose this practice via a nationwide campaign, raising awareness of this immense cruelty and directly opposing the activities of the circus operators.
$8,400 for Steppe Wildlife Conservation and Research, a Non-Government Organization, established in 2018, dedicated to the conservation of local wildlife, especially Pallas’s Cats in Eastern Mongolia. Their focus is on building local awareness and knowledge through community based tourism, education and research.
Final financial numbers are at this link and are typically updated by April of the following year.
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 http://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).
On social media we have surpassed HSUS when it comes to followers. 3,646,873 follow Big Cat Rescue on Facebook now, vs 2,542,000 who follow HSUS. We’ve also surpassed Wildcat Sanctuary this year who has 2,716,654 followers, and World Wildlife Foundation which has 3,417,931 followers. Black Jaguar White Tiger still has 3,872,999 followers but the posts are diminishing in numbers and popularity. I think BJWT’s fanbase will drop dramatically as people have learned that showing off, touching big cats, is what is killing them in the wild. Oddly, Facebook measures popularity by Likes, rather than Followers, but that doesn’t make sense. A like happens once, and is an easy metric to raise by running ads asking people to Like a page, whereas the followers are hearing from the brands every day and thus seem to be a better measure of reach to me.
Compare Our YouTube stats in 2019 to 2020
YouTube continues to send us a lot of traffic. By 2020 year end we had 1,310,000 subscribers and 583,907,040 views on our main channel. In 2020 YouTube revenue was $91,431.61
We had 38,100 subscribers and 3,868,660 views on our secondary channel called Daily Big Cat.
360 3D VR really grew this year with 573,652 views and 3,320 subscribers. Viewers of this content are most likely those wearing headsets. The site was created separate from our other channels so that those in VR could subscribe to a channel that only has 360 and 3D content. We also include the 3D content on our primary channel as well and it is beginning to outpace flat videos.
You can find all of our 360 and 3D 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 2,576,082 million likes and 3,646,130 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. Facebook launched subscriptions this year and by year end we had 2,100 people pledging .99 per month. People also did their own Facebook Fundraisers and from our Donate button on the page and in our posts. On Facebook alone 11,677 individuals donated $313,392 For the Cats!
Continued using FB ads to generate email sign-ups and for BigCatRescue.biz sales.
Twitter At the end of 2020 we reached 327,800 followers on Twitter with 45,100 tweets.
Pinterest 4,500 followers
LinkedIn 4,199 followers
Instagram 183,744 followers
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!
We launched on Tik Tok in 2019 and closed out 2020 with 2.5 million likes and 315,300 followers.
The BigCatRescue.org website
The internal tracking of viewers reports 1,900,854 views in 2020 vs 1,369,608 in 2019. Much of this decline over the past 3 years can be attributed to people refusing to leave Facebook to follow a link. As a result we’ve had to duplicate our most informative pages as Notes on Facebook in order for them to be read.
Amazon. 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 1000 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 http://bigcatrescue.org/alexa/
In the News
Big Cat Rescue was reported favorably more than 28,670 times in 2020. 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.
Mail List. Our mailing list is 92,000 supporters.
Visitors to the sanctuary: 6,741. We closed our doors March 15, 2020 due to COVID-19
WHO WE ARE
The Big Cat Board
The Board met 4 times in 2020. Board members are: Carole Baskin – Founder, CEO, Director | Howard Baskin – Secretary, Treasurer, Director | MaryLou Geis – Director | Darren Kipnis – Director | Keith Lawless – Director | Lynda Licht – Director | Kim Mahoney – Vice President, Director | Jamie Veronica Murdock – President, Director
Paid Staff and Contractors:
We had to let go of half our staff due to budget cuts to survive both COVID-19 and the false portrayal of us in Netflix’s Tiger King, Murder, Mayhem and Madness. For most of the year, Howard and Carole Baskin continued to work full time, but with no pay. By year’s end the paid staff & contractors included: Afton Tasler, Brittany Mira, Carole Baskin, Deb Quimby, Erin Carden, Gale Ingham, Howard Baskin, Jamie Veronica, Katie Nikic, Lauren Buckingham, LaWanna Mitchell, Victor Alonso and Ysabel Cruz.
Big Cat Rescue had 85 volunteers at the end of 2020 who clocked in 37,615.43 man-power hours, in addition to 29 interns did 30 sessions (12 weeks each) who clocked 18,000 man-power hours. Between 14 full time paid staff, 1 part-time staff and volunteers we averaged the equivalent of 62 full-time staff.
Between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2020, Big Cat Rescue provided $334,950 in scholarships to provide housing, transportation, utilities, food, training and entertainment to 43 interns for 50 three month sessions arriving in Tampa, FL from 8 countries and 15 states.