Big Cat Rescue has extensive online resources dedicated towards keeping the volunteers, interns, and staff informed of all policies, updates, contact information, and day to day operations of the sanctuary.
The BigCatRescue.me website is home to contact information, observation charts, policies, classes as well as a wealth of other important documents and information. Each volunteers is assigned a firstname.lastname@example.org email address that will be used to log in to BigCatRescue.me.
The Workplace app is very similar to facebook and is comprised of several groups and pages. Keep up to date with all of the sanctuary and social updates as well as communicate with specific groups of volunteers using this app.
Every volunteer must check the Important Updates page on Workplace prior to beginning their volunteer work for the day. It is here that vital information will be posted regarding animals that have been moved or locked in one side of their enclosure, as well as areas of the sanctuary that need to be avoided. This information will help you in locating the animals while you are cleaning, feeding, or otherwise working near the animals. The Coordinator or Operations Manager for the day must ensure that all Important Updates are broadcast via radio transmission and posted immediately to ensure new volunteers arriving at various times throughout the day are aware of any important information regarding the sanctuary and the cats.
The Coordinator is responsible for posting a Coordinator Report on Workplace for their day at the end of their shift. This report should include a briefing of the days events and should recognize the volunteers for their efforts that day.
An Emergency Contact, medications, allergies, and medical conditions are listed for each volunteer and intern in their digital Volgistics record which all Coordinators have access to via the Big Cat Rescuer Information Center. Ensure that this information is updated frequently in case there is an emergency. You can access your profile tab on the Big Cat Rescuer Information Center by logging in here; https://www.volgistics.com/ex2/vicnet.dll/?from=36622
Cell Phone Use
Preferably, cell phones are to be left in the volunteer’s car or in one of the storage cubbies at the Keeper Cafe. If the volunteer must have their cell phone while on property, absolutely no calls or texts should be made or answered while on the animal side of the barricades.
You must carry a BCR issued radio with you at all times while on the property and ensure that the radio is turned on and tuned to Channel 1. Each volunteer is responsible for keeping his or her radio in good working order. You will have to turn in your car keys in order to receive a radio at the beginning of your shift, and turn the radio back in at the end of the day in order to receive your keys back. Radios are stored in a cabinet in Food Prep and key hooks are available for storing your keys during your shift. Radios are also available in the Partner Pantry in the Gift Shop. Radios should be replaced onto their charger when returning. Radio transmissions on Channel 1 should be kept to a minimum. If more detail must be discussed use Channel 2 or 3. Radio transmissions must be monitored by the Volunteer Coordinator or Operations Manager throughout the day for questions or emergencies.
No person shall enter the property without having completed a “Release & Hold Harmless Agreement.”
At no time, under any circumstances, will any part of your person ever pass through the bars of the enclosure or come into direct contact with any animal at Big Cat Rescue. Nor shall you use any object to touch an animal such as a stick or pole etc. These are wild and dangerous animals that are unpredictable. If you were to be scratched or bitten the CDC has the authority to call for the euthanasia of the cat in order to test it for rabies. While all of our cats are vaccinated for rabies the use of rabies vaccines in wild cats is considered “off-label” and therefore not recognized as being effective in these species.
Morning Drive Through Safety Check
Every day, the first activity on the sanctuary grounds is to be the Operations Manager for the day driving, in a enclosed vehicle, around the inside of the property to check that all big cats including tigers, lions, leopards and jaguars are secured in their enclosures and to look for severe damage to enclosures or signs of escape. Only after that drive through and all big cats have been accounted for may Coordinators, volunteers, staff, or interns who live onsite have access to the grounds.
First Aid Kits
There are fully stocked first aid kits in the; Gift Shop, Food Prep, Keeper Cafe, Staff Office, Leopard Lounge, Enrichment Cabin, Tiger Tail Barn, Rehab Hospital and the Party House. Each kit should include an inventory list of items in the kit and should be checked monthly for low stock and expired medications. All supplies for the first aid kits are to be purchased by Big Cat Rescue. Volunteers are not permitted to donate first aid supplies nor store their personal medications in the first aid kits (this includes epi pens, if a volunteer requires an epi pen, this should be carried on their person at all times). The task of checking and stocking the first aid kits will be assigned to a senior level volunteer and overseen by the Operations Manager. Their is a trauma first aid kit located in Food Prep and Staff Offices and an AED machine located in the Gift Shop and Staff Offices.
If you do not recognize someone on the property as a volunteer or staff member, politely ask if you can help him or her. Explain that a volunteer or staff member must escort them at all times. Lead them to the Gift Shop and alert the Coordinator, Operations Manager, CEO or President.
No person shall run or horseplay on the property. Doing so can excite the animals and cause undue stress. The paths are un-level and the terrain is rooted and rocky doing so can also cause harm to yourself and others.
Smoking is permitted in the designated “smoking areas” only. The grounds are prone to dry conditions and smoking in undesignated areas is not tolerated as there is a significant fire risk.
No person shall enter any enclosure without direct permission from the Coordinator, Operations Manager, CEO or President. Prior to entering any enclosure the animal will be safely locked out of the section of the enclosure to be entered by the Operations Manager, CEO or President. The Operations Manager can “lock out” cats smaller than lynx. The President or CEO must be present to “lock out” cats that are lynx and larger. When entering any enclosure, the safety entrance door must be closed shut with a minimum of 2 snaps (one at the top of the door and one at the bottom of the door) prior to opening the enclosure entrance door to the side of the enclosure the animal is locked out of. This enclosure entrance door must then also be closed shut with a minimum of 1 snaps (in the center of the door). At no time should either door be left open, even if the enclosure is not inhabited by an animal (wild native animals could walk into and get locked inside of an empty enclosure).
Locking Out Small Animals
This policy is with regards to animals smaller than a lynx and must be followed each time an enclosure is entered. These procedures are to be performed by the Operations Manager, an approved staff member, the CEO or President only. Prior to entering an enclosure the CEO or President must first be notified. Prior to entering a small animal enclosure the animal should either be shut into their feeding lock out or into the side of their enclosure that will not be entered. In most instances food may be used to lure the animal to the desired location. The animal should only be shut in the feeding lock out if the animal does not have multiple sections to its enclosure. If an animal must be shut in the feeding lockout, it should be monitored carefully as the animal may become stressed as a result of being locked in this small area. If an animal needs to be shut away from their main water source for more than three hours an alternate water source must be provided.
After shutting the animal in the feeding lockout, other section of the enclosure, or secondary enclosure and before entering the empty enclosure to install the clip gate a red safety pole must be placed, from outside the enclosure, through the enclosure wall and then through the wire above the frame of the closed guillotine door. One end of the safety pole should be through the wire above the frame of the guillotine door while the other end of the pole rests through the wire of the exterior wall. The pole should be as close to parallel to the ground as possible in order to ensure that the pole does not slide out of position easily. The safety pole is a secondary precaution to prevent the door from being lifted up. The pole must be held or monitored by a staff member or senior keeper while the Operations Manager, CEO or President enters the empty (no animal) side of the enclosure to place a clip gate over the guillotine door. The staff member or senior keeper monitoring the pole must keep watch on the animal while the Operations Manager, CEO or President is installing the clip gate. Distraction may be necessary to keep the animal away from the guillotine door while the clip gate is installed. Another level appropriate keeper may be utilized to distract the animal away from the guillotine door.
Clip gates must be used on all animals regardless of size, species, temperament, or guillotine door conditions. The clip gate must be installed over the closed guillotine door to prevent the door from being opened or passed through or around by the animal. Clips should be used on all four corners of the clip gate to secure the gate to the enclosure wall surrounding the guillotine door. One clip should be placed in the middle of the clip gate securing the gate to the center of the guillotine door. When properly installed the clip gate should prohibit the guillotine door from moving in any directions and block any spaces that an animal could squeeze through between the frame of the guillotine door and the enclosure wall. In some cases an alternative to using a clip gate would be to secure the guillotine door to the enclosure wall with clips, one on each corner of the guillotine door. This method may only be used if the gap between the guillotine door and the enclosure wall is too small to allow for the animal to pass through. A clip gate is not required if less than 5 min. will be spent in empty section of enclosure, however, a safety pole must still be utilized and monitored for the duration of the 5 minute or less that the enclosure is entered. Finally a padlock must secure the guillotine door to the cage wall or used with a chain to secure the top frame of the guillotine door to the cage wall. Some enclosures have permanent swing clip gates that shut over the opening of the guillotine door. These can be swung shut, secured with four snaps one at the top, bottom, and spaced out on the sides and then locked with a padlock in the center. Exact locking methods vary depending on the style of door.
In some cases enclosures are connected to one another with a tunnel. In most cases the tunnel will have a guillotine door on either end. To shut the animal away from a section of the enclosure using a tunnel both guillotine doors should be closed. The safety pole is to be installed above the guillotine door nearest where the animals is housed. The guillotine door furthest from where the animal is housed is the one that should be clipped and locked from the outside if possible or where the clip gate would be installed. If the animal is locked up using this method the same as above applies. The pole must be held or monitored by a staff member or senior keeper while the Operations Manager, CEO or President secures guillotine door or clip gate.
Once the animal is shut away and the clip gate has been installed and a lock placed an Empty Cage sign must be hung on the enclosure door entering the empty side of the enclosure. This is to signal to other volunteers, interns, and staff that the animal is secured away from this section of the enclosure and the section is safe to enter.
Even though the animal is now locked securely away, both the outer safety gate door and the enclosure door that enters into the empty (no animal) side of the enclosure must remain snapped shut at all times with a minimum of two snaps on the outer safety gate door (placed towards the top and bottom of the door) and one snap on the inner door to the empty side (in the center of the door) while work is being done in the enclosure. If the enclosure is left unattended all doors should be fully snapped closed with a minimum of four snaps (one at the top of the door, one at the bottom and two evenly placed on the side of the door towards the top and bottom portions of the door). Doors should not be left unlocked for extended periods of time or overnight. Door locks should be placed in center of the side of the door.
When the animal is ready to be permitted back into the entire enclosure the Operations Manager must inspect the empty enclosure. Once the enclosure has been double checked a staff member or senior keeper must monitor the safety pole and guillotine door while the Operations Manager, CEO or President removes the clip gate or unclips the tunnel. Upon exiting the enclosure, all enclosure doors and the safety gate doors must be secured with a minimum of four snaps (one at the top of the door, one at the bottom and two evenly placed on the side of the door towards the top and bottom portions of the door) and locked with a padlock in the center of the side of the door. The Empty Cage sign must be removed from the enclosure door entering the empty side. The CEO or President must then be notified that the animal now has access to the entire enclosure and it should be posted on Important Updates.
Locking Out Big Animals
This policy is for locking out and entering big animal enclosures. Lynx and larger are considered big animals with regards to this policy including; lynx, leopard, jaguar, lion, and tiger. The above policies regarding the process of locking up a small animal apply to locking up a big animal, with the exception of clip gates.
Big animals may only be locked up under the direct supervision of the CEO or President. The CEO or President will work directly with the Operations Manager or an approved staff member to supervise the process of locking up a big animal or will double check a big animal is locked out correctly using the safety comb in a tunnel prior to giving permission for the enclosure the animal is locked out of to be opened.
To lock out all big animals for cleaning, maintenance, or to prohibit access to a portion of the enclosure (with the exception of Gilligan, Dutchess, Priya, and Jasmine as they do not have tunnels connecting sections of their enclosures. These animals will continue to be locked out using small animal protocols) the animal must be shifted to a section away from the part of the enclosure to be entered by shutting off access to a tunnel. Both tunnel doors must be closed and the cables to the closed doors must be clipped to the empty tunnel where the red “Clip Here” signs are installed. The red safety pole must be placed through the enclosure wall and over the frame of the guillotine door nearest to where the animal is housed. The metal safety comb must then be installed in the center of the tunnel and out of reach of the animal. The metal comb consists of sets of two bars that are slid through the enclosure wire from one side of the tunnel through to the other side. Once all comb pieces are slid through the flat bar is then slid through the top of the end of the comb down to the bottom of the end of the comb using the aligning openings. A padlock must then be secured to both the top and the bottom of the flat bar to prohibit the bar from being pulled out in either direction. Once fully installed the comb should block access from one side of the tunnel to the other and be unable to be pulled out of the tunnel.
A safety comb is not required if less than 5 min. will be spent in empty section of enclosure, however, the animal must be shut a minimum of two guillotine doors away from the section being entered and a safety pole must still be utilized and monitored for the duration of the 5 minute or less that the enclosure is entered. Most big animals have more than one enclosure connected together with tunnels. The two guillotine doors on either end of the tunnel can be utilized to achieve this goal. Some animals do not have tunnels so two down guillotine doors can be achieved by locking the animal in one half of their enclosure and then also locking the animal up temporarily in the feeding lock out.
When the animal is ready to be permitted back into the entire enclosure the CEO or President must first be notified and a time/day scheduled when either the CEO or President are available to inspect the empty enclosure and safety entrance. The CEO or President will then give access to the animal with the aid of the Operations Manager or approved staff member or granting permission for the Operations Manager and another senior keeper or staff member to give the animal access.
Permanent clip gates that maintain barriers between animals sharing access to tunnels are utilized or in some cases guillotine doors are secured to the enclosure walls. These will only be opened or closed and secured by the Operations Manager, the CEO or President. A staff member or senior keeper may assist in this process only under the direct supervision of the Operations Manager, the CEO or President. Big animals must be shut a minimum of one guillotine door away from the tunnel guillotine door prior to opening or securing the clip gate or guillotine door with clips and a lock to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Operating Guillotine Doors
All big animals larger than lynx, as well as a selection of more aggressive smaller cats, have guillotine door cables that either clip to the safety entrance of the enclosure and are indicated with a red “Clip Here” sign or to a pole that is installed just outside of the enclosure when in the open position. When in the closed position a second location on the safety entrance will be marked with a second “Clip Here” sign. If the guillotine door is not near a safety entrance there will be “Clip Here” signs on the tunnel which the animal does not have access to. Whenever doors are raised or lowered they should always be clipped onto these safe zones where there is no possibility of placing your hands on the enclosure wall where the animal is.
Notification of Animal Access
If an animal is locked away from any part of their enclosure or given access to a previously restricted part of their enclosure a radio transmission must be made notifying onsite volunteers of the change. If an animal is locked away from any part of their enclosure prior to feeding time and will not regain access to the feeding area before feeding time, or if an animal will be locked away from part of their enclosure overnight, a radio transmission must be made notifying onsite volunteers of the change and a notice must be posted on the Important Updates so the volunteers and staff are aware of the situation. Once the animal that was locked away on a day previous is given full access a radio transmission must be made notifying onsite volunteers of the change and a notice must be posted on the Important Updates so the volunteers and staff are aware the animal has regained access.
Proximity to Enclosures
At no time, under any circumstances, should any part of your person ever pass through the bars of the enclosure for any reason. Tongs and long handled brushes are utilized for cleaning and should be the only items to pass through the bars of the enclosure. All big cats including tigers, lions, leopards and jaguars as well as a selection of aggressive small cats are to be shut out of their feeding lockouts prior to food being put in and during the lockout cleaning process. Your hands, arms, as well as your entire body should be out of reach of any animal at all times by maintaining a safe distance from the enclosures.
Any person feeling under the weather should contact the Coordinator to reschedule their volunteer time. Showing up for a volunteer shift while feeling under the weather puts staff and other volunteers at risk of infection. Until the U.S. has reached herd immunity to COVID-19 or its strains, all volunteers and staff are to have their temperatures checked before entering the property and are to wear masks when they are in buildings where others are present, or if they are within 6 feet of each other or a cat. The only exceptions to the mask indoors rule would be where the same 3 or 4 people work with each other daily indoors, provided no one else is in the building, provided those people are practicing mask wearing and social distancing in their personal lives as well. Volunteers, interns or staff having contracted COVID-19 must produce a negative result test prior to returning to the property.
All prescription medications must be disclosed at time of applying for a volunteer position. If during the volunteer career medications that affect one’s ability to work safely around the animals are prescribed these must be updated in your Volgistics Record and reported to the Volunteer Committee immediately. Medications (including over the counter) with side effects that include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision or other debilitating effects should not be taken or in effect during cleaning, feeding, operant or enrichment.
Alcohol and Drugs
No person shall enter the confines of the property where the animals are housed for 8 hours after having consumed any alcoholic beverages or prescription medications (or illicit drugs) that affect one’s ability to work safely around the animals. The use of illicit drugs are not condoned and if their use comes to the attention of the Coordinator, Operations Manager, CEO or President it is grounds for immediate dismissal.
Physical and Mental Capacity
Due to the physical demands of the Partner positions, the following criteria must be met to maintain Big Cat Rescue’s safety standards; 18-years old and possess a valid driver’s license, physical and mental capability to safely perform Partner tasks, possess vision and hearing at adequate levels, possess adequate literacy and verbal comprehension of English, give complete disclosure of any prescription drugs. Any Partner unable to meet these physical demands may be assigned specific duties to accommodate special needs. Due to the physical demands and safety protocols of the Keeper positions, the following criteria must be met to maintain Big Cat Rescue’s safety standards; 18-years old and possess a valid driver’s license, physical and mental capability to safely perform Keeper tasks, capable of walking and standing for extended periods of time, capable of lifting and carrying at least 50 pounds, possess vision and hearing at adequate levels, possess adequate literacy and verbal comprehension of English, give complete disclosure of any prescription drugs, allergies, and physical limitations. Pregnant volunteers will be assigned duties within the Partner Department and must refrain from having contact with the animal areas and raw meat as well as from heavy lifting or strenuous activities. Keeper volunteers may serve no more than 25% of their minimum required hours each month off-site. If the volunteer serves hours in excess of the minimum required hours these additional hours may be served either an on-site or off-site capacity.
No animal abuse of any kind will be tolerated and is grounds for immediate dismissal. Teasing is also cause for dismissal this includes encouraging stalk and pounce behaviors with the animals.
Food, Toys, Enrichment
No food, toys, or enrichment shall be offered to any animal without approval from the Coordinator, Operations Manager, CEO or President. Some food, toys, and enrichment may get knocked out of an enclosure and end up in between one enclosure and another. Sometimes native wildlife may carry these items from one part of the property to another. There is no telling which animal the particular item was meant for and tossing it back in could have detrimental results as several cats have dietary and enrichment restrictions. If food, toys, or enrichment are found outside of an enclosure report it to the Coordinator and collect or discard as instructed.
Shifting and Moving
No animal shall ever be removed from its enclosure without the express consent of the CEO or President. Animals may be removed from their enclosure by the CEO, President, or someone given specific permission by one of these two people. No animal shall ever be shifted from one section to another section of its enclosure without the direct supervision of the Coordinator, Operations Manager, CEO or President.
No person shall make modifications to any enclosure without direct instruction from the Coordinator, Operations Manager, President or CEO. This includes opening doors that are in the closed position. If any door is in the closed position the volunteer must radio for their Coordinator to request permission to open the door. The Coordinator should only give permission to open the door if they have been instructed to do so by the Operations Manager, CEO or President. In some cases an animal may be shut out of a particular section because work is being done near by or if there is a hazard in that particular section.
All animals living in enclosures with sections that are open air (not roofed) are to be locked in the roofed sections of their enclosures prior to or as soon as possible during severe storms, hurricanes, & tornado watches and warnings, if there have been several days of heavy rain or if winds reach 30 mph or higher. These cats should remain locked up until the storm has passed and the winds have died down. They should not be given access until the perimeter of every open air enclosure has been checked for damages and integrity by the Operations Manager, CEO or President. Once checked and approved the Operations Manager will either give the animal access to the open air section or will instruct the Coordinator who may then instruct specific assigned volunteers. If the open air section has sustained damages the animal will be locked out of the section and repairs made.
Emergencies should be reported immediately by the witnessing volunteer to the Coordinator using appropriate radio transmissions. The Coordinator will report the emergency to the Operations Manager, who will report it to the President and the CEO. If the emergency is animal related and the President or CEO are both unreachable, one of the veterinarians Dr. Boorstein or Dr. Wynn may be contacted directly.
Big Cat Rescue Veterinarians should only be contacted by the Operations Manager, President, or CEO unless it is an emergency and none of these individuals are able to do so.
Injured Animal or Animal in Distress
If you discover an animal that has been severely injured or is very ill (large bleeding wound, broken leg, unable to stand, very lethargic, etc) call your Coordinator over the radio to your location using the key word immediately. Minor injuries (hot spots, small cuts, slight limping, etc) can be reported on the Cat Name Observation Logs. If an animal is in distress due to being stuck (head through wire, paw caught, etc.) back away from the enclosure giving the animal plenty of space. Crowding the animal can cause it to panic and hurt itself. Call your Coordinator over the radio to you location using the key word immediately. If an animal has grabbed anything that it should not have (cleaning tools, hose, venomous snake, non-approved enrichment etc.) utilize one of the following to get the animal to release whatever it has a hold of; loud noises (yelling, stomping, banging scraper or bucket, etc.), bucket of water, water hose spray to the face, or lure the animal away from the object with food if already available. Call for your Coordinator over the radio to come to your location using the key word immediately. Continue distracting or scaring the animal away from the object until help arrives. If the animal leaves the object and follows you, shut them into a different section. It is especially important that the animals do not ingest non-food items as when they do it often will require surgery to remove the item.
Locating Animals in the Enclosures
It is very important that as you clean the enclosures and feed the animals, you see each animal that belongs in the enclosure (even if it is just the reflection of their eyes in the den). This is essential to discovering if the animal is sick or injured and most importantly, to ensure that the animal is in fact in its enclosure. Most animals can hide very well in plain sight, look through the grasses and foliage carefully. In rare cases animals that stay in their dens most of the time will have a flashlight hanging on their enclosures that can be used to spot their eye shine. If you can not find an animal in its enclosure do not wait until you are done cleaning or feeding to report it to the Coordinator or on the Observation Charts, report it immediately using a radio call. If the enclosure has not been compromised and you cannot find the animal, call your Coordinator over the radio. If the Coordinator is unable to locate the animal the Operations Manager should be contacted. The Operations Manager will then contact either the President or CEO if the animal is sick, injured, or has escaped.
Radio Call – Unable to Locate Animal
“Coordinator’s Name this is Your Name, could you please come to Animal’s Name/Species enclosure immediately?” (It is important to say the species in cases where we have multiple animals with the same name) (saying the phrase immediately emphasizes that it is an animal emergency) Radio call example: “Afton, this is Sam, could you please come to Max Bobcat enclosure immediately?”
Inspecting Enclosures and Reporting Compromised Enclosures
Prevention of an escape is critical. The number one way you can help to prevent an escape is to be vigilant, when cleaning or working on enclosures, by inspecting the integrity of each enclosure. Check the bottom rows of wire for rusting, the seams of the enclosures for hog rings, the areas where tree branches grow through the roof wire for holes and the perimeter of the enclosure for erosion or holes dug by other animals. Extra attention should be given to inspecting tree branches and erosion following a storm. All of these issues should be reported to the Coordinator and on the Maintenance Observation Chart. The Coordinator should be contacted immediately if any of the mentioned issues are such that an animal escape is imminent. It is at this time the enclosure would be deemed “compromised”. If the enclosure is compromised to the point that an escape is likely for a cat smaller than a lynx, remain calm and quiet and stay to monitor the compromised area until your Coordinator arrives. If big cat enclosure (lynx or larger) has been compromised, remain calm and walk (not run) to the nearest secure location (Kitten Cabana, Out House, Gift Shop, Tour Waiting Area, Food Prep, Leopard Lounge, Intern or Staff Housings, Cat Hospitals, Project Trailer, Everything Else Trailer, Emergency Response Center, Enrichment Cabin, Party House, Tiger Tail Barn or an enclosed Vehicle). Remain inside until the Coordinator has given the “All Clear” announcement over the radio.
Radio Call – Small Cat (smaller than a lynx) Enclosure is Compromised
“Coordinator’s Name this is Your Name, could you please come to Animal’s Name/Species enclosure immediately?” Radio call example: “Lauren, this is Tom, could you please come to Servie Serval enclosure immediately?”
Radio Cal – Big Cat (lynx or larger) Enclosure is Compromised
Attention all personnel, Code Yellow or Green (depending on the clearance level for the escaped species), Animal’s Name enclosure has been compromised. Animal’s Name/Species was last seen Location. Radio call example: “Attention all personnel, Code Green, Jinx Leopard enclosure has been compromised. Jinx was last seen in his den nearest Chaos.”Preventing Animal Escapes
Attempts should be made to prevent animal escapes in progress whenever possible and if able to do so safely. If an animal is in the process of escaping (climbing, digging, etc.), preventative escape strategies can include loud noises (yelling, stomping, banging scraper or bucket, etc.), bucket of water, water hose, using a fire extinguisher or pepper spray as well as luring the animal away from where it trying to escape with food. In an event such as this radio for your Coordinator immediately and attempt to prevent the escape using the mentioned measures only if your safety is not at risk.
Animal Escape Protocol
If an animal escapes, the immediate goals are: ensure public safety, ensure staff, volunteer, and intern safety, ensure animal safety and finally recapture the animal. All four goals should be accomplished simultaneously. If you have spotted an escaped animal you should immediately make the appropriate call over the radio and then follow the protocol depending on the size of the animal. In the event of an escaped animal, regardless of the size, all volunteers, interns, the public and the staff (not participating in the recapture) should walk (not run) to the nearest building or secure location (Kitten Cabana, Out House, Gift Shop, Tour Waiting Area, Food Prep, Leopard Lounge, Intern or Staff Housings, Cat Hospitals, Project Trailer, Everything Else Trailer, Emergency Response Center, Enrichment Cabin, Party House, Tiger Tail Barn or an enclosed Vehicle) and secure themselves inside. Once inside one person from each group should radio the Coordinator to notify them of their location and who they are with. Remain in the secure location until the Coordinator has given the “All Clear” announcement over the radio. It is of utmost importance that everyone present during an animal escape, whether in a secure location, or assisting with recapture, remain calm and follow instruction and protocol carefully. If the ideal plans will not work in a situation, you must use common sense, but never risk your safety or the safety of others.
Small Animal Escape (Smaller than a Lynx)
If you spot an escaped animal that is smaller than a lynx remain calm and call the appropriate code over the radio. Try to follow the animal, without spooking it. Every animal has a flight distance in which it will remain calm unless you approach too closely. Be aware of how the animal is reacting to you and give it as much space as possible while maintaining a visual of the animal. Be especially careful if the animal is near a perimeter fence or an enclosure housing another animal. Do not make any sudden movements and lower your radio volume so communications do not startle the animal. Never chase an escaped animal, especially if it is near a perimeter fence or the enclosure of another animal that could harm it. If the animal is approaching you in an aggressive manner, back off and observe from a greater distance. Keep the animal in sight until help arrives. Follow instructions carefully once help arrives.
If you spot an escaped animal that is a lynx or larger, your safety comes first, but the ideal plan is as follows. Remain calm and call the appropriate code over the radio. Walk (not run) to the nearest building or secure location (Kitten Cabana, Out House, Gift Shop, Tour Waiting Area, Food Prep, Leopard Lounge, Intern or Staff Housings, Cat Hospitals, Project Trailer, Everything Else Trailer, Emergency Response Center, Enrichment Cabin, Party House, Tiger Tail Barn or an enclosed Vehicle) and secure yourself inside. Do not try to follow, run away from, or walk near a dangerous escaped animal. Do not turn your back on the animal, instead back away slowly and quietly until you are safely away from the animal. Once you are in a safe location, notify the Coordinator of your location over the radio. Remain in the secure location until the Coordinator has given the “All Clear” announcement over the radio.
Radio Call – Escaped Animal
Attention all personnel, Code Yellow or Green (depending on the clearance level for the escaped species), Name of Animal and/or Species, is at Last Seen Location.” Radio call example: “Attention all personnel, Code Yellow Nabisco Bobcat at Kitten Cabana.”
Radio Call – Safe in Secured Location
“Coordinator’s Name this is Your Name, myself and Others Names are in the Name of Secure Location. Radio Call Example: “Becky this is Tara, John and I are in the E-Center.”
DART – Dangerous Animal Response Team
Recapture or euthanasia of an escaped animal will be performed by the Operations Manager, President, CEO, or the veterinarians. Trained senior level staff or volunteers may be requested to assist by the Operations Manager, President or CEO. While moving about the property in response to the escape, you must do so in an enclosed vehicle (van, truck, car, etc). A golf cart is NOT an enclosed vehicle. The most senior trained person on the grounds at the time of the incident will be the person in charge of handling the emergency as the Emergency Coordinator. This person may be the Coordinator, Operations Manager, President or CEO. In the event of an escaped animal the Emergency Coordinator will evaluate the situation and make the call as to manually capture, chemically immobilize, or euthanize the animal. Dosing charts are shared online between the Operations Manager, President or CEO and the veterinarians. Chemical immobilization may be performed with the consent of one of the veterinarians in an emergency situation. If the escaped animal is “small” recapture may be attempted with traps, nets, or immobilization. If the escaped animal is “big” recapture may be attempted with immobilization. However if the animal is in immediate danger of harming someone or another animal it will be euthanized (shot). Any animal, regardless of size, that is breaching the perimeter fence of the property will be euthanized (shot).
Securing the Property During an Escape
Someone near the main entrance to the property must close the front gate and shut down the power to the gate using the main shut off. The main shut off is located on a post next to the motor that runs the gate. Their is an outlet and a light switch, switch the light switch to the “Off” position (the opposite position than you find it in). Someone should remain outside the main gate to turn away people that approach the gate or meet support personnel. This person should remain in a vehicle at all times. Someone near the rear entrance to the property must close the back gate and shut down the power to the gate using the main shut off at the breaker panel on the wall.
Supplies for recapture of an escaped animal are located in three areas; the Emergency Response Center, the Recovery Hospital, and the Windsong Memorial Hospital. The Emergency Response Center is unlocked at all times. The hospitals and med cabinets within are locked at all times. The Coordinators, Operations Manager, President, CEO, and Veterinarians have access to the hospitals.
Emergency Response Center
Windsong Memorial Hospital
Notification of Law Enforcement
In the event of an escape from the confines of the property, in accordance with state law, wildlife officials and local law enforcement will be notified by the Emergency Coordinator. Law enforcement will be utilized to secure the area to ensure the safety of the general public and may be called upon to kill an animal that has breached the perimeter fence or is in immediate danger of harming someone. Big Cat Rescue personnel will handle the recapture, immobilization, or euthanasia of animals that are still on the property.
Radio Call – All Clear
After the emergency is over, the “All Clear” notice will be announced over the radio by the Coordinator. Once this announcement has been made it is safe to resume normal activities. In most cases following the “All Clear” announcement their will be a debriefing meeting called by the Coordinator that will include everyone who was on the property at the time of the emergency.
Every month the Safety Officer will post either a safety notice which is mandatory reading on the Important Updates page on Workplace. Safety drills will be held periodically and will consist of a scenario such as an injured guest or volunteer or an animal emergency. Emergency radio transmissions will be broadcast and all personnel on property are required to participate and respond in accordance to the protocols stated in this training class. The Animal and Emergency Protocol class is required to be completed every 6 months by all volunteers, interns and staff.
In the event of a human related emergency involving erratic behavior, illness or injury the person afflicted or a nearby witnessing person should call their Coordinator over the radio for help. For instance if there is a guest causing a disturbance, someone is on the property without permission, someone is very ill or has passed out, or someone has been injured severely the Coordinator should be called and the phrase “Coordinator Check” used. The Coordinator should respond to the call and drive a golf cart to the location of the call. If a person is ill, passed out or injured a witnessing person should assist the individual using their training from the first aid class until help arrives.
Radio Call – Human Emergency
“Coordinator’s Name this is Your Name, I need a Coordinator Check near Illithia’s enclosure immediately.” Using the phrase Coordinator Check alerts the coordinator that the emergency is related to a human instead of an animal. Using the word immediately reiterates that it is an emergency. Radio call example: “Lynda this is Oscar, I need a Coordinator Check near Illithia’s enclosure immediately.”
Depending on the severity of a particular situation and the instincts of the volunteer, intern, staff member, or Coordinator, 911 should be called. If 911 is called from a landline, after dialing, the phone may be left unattended off the receiver so the caller can get back to tend to the emergency. Responders will automatically be dispatched to the location even if the caller does not speak to the operator. If 911 is called from a cell phone, the caller must give the operator the address to which the responders should be dispatched to. Due to the closure of our original access road Easy Street responders can get confused when trying to find our main entrance. In addition some map apps do not have correct routes for finding our rear entrance. In either case it is better to stay on the phone if possible to ensure that responders have the correct guidance and can arrive in a timely manner. For responders directed to the main entrance instructions should be given to drive to the end of Citrus Park Lane until the reach the dirt road just past the Marriott and to follow that road to our front gate. For responders directed to the rear entrance instructions should be give to not turn on Meadowdale, but to follow North Meadowview until they reach our back gate at 8013 N. Meadowview Circle.
QUALIFIED TEACHERS FOR THIS CLASS ARE:
All Coordinators as well as Karma Hurworth, Pam Rodriquez and Sue Reed