AdvoCat 2008 06

Greetings Friend of Big Cat Rescue!

I hope you had a nice Father’s Day.  I am so fortunate to still have my Dad (and Mom) and the big cats here have benefited from his super-human efforts since 1996 when he first retired and came here to rebuild the sanctuary into the wonderful habitats it is known for today.  Big cats don’t belong in cages, but these cats can never go free because they were captive raised.  This issue shows you how we try to make their lives the best they can be and what we are doing, with your help, to save exotic cats in the wild.


Carole Baskin, Founder




  Cool Cats in the Hot Flats

Our snow leopard cat-a-tat was built in 1997 and featured a freezer box that is air conditioned 24/7 where the snow leopards could choose to go when it got too hot.  They could also lay in the doorway (as cats are known to do) and watch the world outside while having the cold air blowing on them.  Vern cleverly disguised these dens to look like a rock edifice and because of the cold air blowing on the back side of the rocks, the cats would often lay on the ledges to enjoy the coolness, no matter how hot outside.

Snow Leopard on Cool Ledge11 years ago these enclosures were our most noteworthy and still offer more comfort than most, but due to their shape and location, there was no way to expand them as we have done with most of our other cats’ cages. We have two snow leopards and three cage sections, but had no good way to shift the cats from one side to another.  In our last AdvoCat we reported the sad news that Shaquille, the black leopard had died and seeing his empty cage just broke our hearts every day.  We changed that sadness into something good for the snow leopards.

Shaq’s cage was huge and had two sections so that he could be shut into one side while we cleaned or worked on the other.  It sat very close to the snow leopard enclosure. It only took volunteers a couple of days to join Shaq’s two sections to one section of the old snow leopard enclosure.  Volunteers then spent days painting the cages, landscaping and hauling in logs and lots of stuff for Chloe the snow leopard to enjoy.  Finally the big day came for her to gain access to her new area.  See what she does here: and see how you can help save snow leopards in the wild.


  Sad Farewell to Buffy the Tiger

Tiger Buffy at Big Cat RescueSadly, Buffy the ex-circus tiger crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on May 28, 2008.  He was 22 years old.  Buffy was euthanized after diagnostics revealed that he was riddled with tumors, most of his teeth were decayed and he was in renal failure.  He had been eating at the coaxing of loving volunteers, and spent most of his latter days sleeping, but when he quit eating the tests were run to see if anything more could be done for him.  We wouldn’t let him suffer and put him to sleep when the tests showed no hope for recovery. Read tributes written by those who knew and loved this most incredible tiger:

  Dying to Be Held


Scared Baby TigerRobin and Thurman Hester wrote Big Cat Rescue asking for help, saying, “I am an Innkeeper in Mount Airy North Carolina where an organization called The Zoo (owned by Pat & Robert Engessor in Florida) visited a few days back and they had as part of their show an eight week old tiger cub that was being handed to person after person to have photos made and was crying as in pain the entire time. Additionally when the cat was placed back in the pen it was too ill to even walk and had severe dysentery. They would just rinse its rear and hand to the next person. The condition of this baby was awful and I am afraid for its life. My friend, as well as others, witnessed the condition of this cub. I am from Tampa and am familiar with your organization and hope you can assist.”

The only way Big Cat Rescue can assist is with your help. Most of these awful traveling sideshows originate in Florida because our current laws provide a haven for their abusive activities.  Our Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission is considering changes to our rules and these changes could end much of the exotic cat suffering nationwide.  The FWCC is only accepting public comments until July 4, 2008 so the time to act is NOW!

Send a quick and easy email to protect exotic cats here:

Read more about the proposed rule changes and Big Cat Rescue’s suggestions here:

Read Dying To Be Held, an article about how baby big cats are bred, used, & dumped:


  Growing Up Bobcat

What do we do when a baby Florida bobcat arrives that is still nursing? We find a domestic cat who is nursing kittens and hope she will “adopt” the baby bobcat.

Big Cat Rescue’s version of Growing Up Bobcat takes you day by day through the challenges of rescuing a baby bobcat, hand rearing her and teaching her all she needs to know so that she can one day be set free.

See Baby Bobcat Episode 1:

See Baby Bobcat Episode 2:

See Baby Bobcat Episode 3:

See Baby Bobcat Episode 4:

See Baby Bobcat Episode 5:

See Baby Bobcat Episode 6:

Help fund this important conservation work by donating here:

  Harrison Ford, Bo Derek and Our Coalition to Save Tigers

“If we can’t save the tiger from extinction, we can’t save anything!” was repeated in a myriad of ways over the past week in Washington, DC by conservation experts from around the world.  Einstein’s definition of insanity is to do the same thing, over and over and expect a different result.  That has been “conservation as usual” to use the slang Harrison Ford w/HSUS Tiger Kidsbantered about at this two day event that has been formally described as, “The most important conservation initiative undertaken in the history of the world to conserve wild tigers.”  What makes this initiative unlike all of the past programs is two fold.  39 major conservation groups, including Big Cat Rescue, have joined forces with one common goal:  Save the tiger in the wild.  There have been other joint efforts, but none this large and never before has an entity as powerful as the World Bank been a committed partner in saving wild places for wild animals.

Harrison Ford, one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, thanks to his latest Indiana Jones movie breaking records in theaters, is on the board of Conservation International and spoke at the June 9th launch.  Also in attendance were our friend, the beautiful Bo Derek, who won the Wildlife Guardian Award at the Fur Ball last year, and Robert Duvall.  HSUS brought Tiger Kids to the launch and this photo is from their participation as a ITC members.  See these celebrities up close and purrsonal in the most important roles of their lives in this video we shot and find out more about how the World Bank and the International Tiger Coalition plan to save the tiger.

  Fur Ball: Exotic Vacations and “Early Cat” Special

This year’s Fur Ball is already proving to be more exciting than ever before.  One of the most talked about features of our annual gala are all of the great trips and this year we are building on the terrific tour packages by customizing them for big cat lovers.  Past winners of these trips have raved about them and now, with Tigers in Thailand, the Great Cats of Africa and more, these tours are a great way to have fun and support the cats here and in the wild.

Taj Mahal Tigers in IndiaOutback just signed on to match the Sponsorship Kit Adoptions and American Momentum Bank, Jaguar of Tampa and Teasdale Worldwide have once again committed to being our King of Beast sponsors.  Major Media Sponsors once again include Cox Radio (six local stations you know and love,) Fox 13, the Maddux Report, and the Tampa Tribune. Our Leopard and Cougar Level Sponsors include so far, Adventure Outfitters, AvantGold, Collman & Karsky Architects and the Genesis Group.

You can still get your Early Cat Special if you buy your tickets before July 31, 2008.  Check out the trips and get your tickets at:


 Taking Action for Animals

Taking action for animals is what Big Cat Rescuers do every day.  Watch this new episode of Magnificent Obsessions starring our very own Scott Lope:

We will be attending the Taking Action for Animals conference, the leading national conference of the animal advocacy movement. Join us July 19-21, 2008 in the Washington, DC area for this special event designed to motivate, inspire, and teach advocates from around the globe.  Find out more and register here:

  International Cats International Languages

Love is the universal language and the one we speak best at Big Cat Rescue, but now our website, which is well over 5,500 pages of information, is available in Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.  Check out the Babel Fish box in the lower left hand side of every page of our site to translate the page into one of the supported languages.  The translations are far from perfect as this technology is still being developed, but we are happy to be able to reach so many more people around the globe. You can also order an hour long video of one of our multi-lingual volunteers, Marie, giving a tour in French.  By next week it should be available to watch online for free here:


  Ensuring the Future Financial Security of the Cats

Leopard JadeThere are two programs designed to insure the long term financial ability to care for the cats. One is our Legacy Society. This recognizes supporters who have included the cats at Big Cat Rescue in their estate planning. Sharon Spence Lieb recently became the 18th member of this caring group of people. For more info visit

The other is our Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. Started with a generous donation from the Reitzel Foundation a few months ago, and with recent donations by Jaguar of Tampa, Saab of Tampa, Sylvia Smith, Debra Guerino and one anonymous donor, the Endowment Fund is now up to $38,960. One wonderful feature of the Community Foundation is their “Challenge Grant” which adds 33% to your donations to the fund. To leverage your donation dollar by taking advantage of this matching grant, please visit


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