AdvoCat 2009 06

The summer months are usually a bit slower around the sanctuary.  The cats are more laid back, the school field trips are over for the season and tours are usually slower as families are away for vacation.  This year has been different. Things are just hopping around here and we see just as many out of state plates as local in the parking lot, so we aren’t sure what, if anything, the economy has to do with the increase in tours.

Summer camp starts up this week along with our first camp ever for young adults who want to learn about the really cool stuff we do like rehabilitation and tracking of wild animals.  There are some key issues both at the state and federal level that will greatly decrease the number of big cats who end up being abused and discarded if we are successful in our efforts.  We are seeing a LOT of positive change, thanks to you!

I was just checking out our new Luxe Line and what a fabulous selection of gifts and accessories!  Barbara really has an eye for the exquisite and looking is half the fun.


Carole Baskin, Founder



  Freckles Needs a Tooth Fairy

Freckles the Liger16 year old Freckles is one of the oldest Ligers around but she is one of the most recent arrivals to Big Cat Rescue.  At the time of her rescue we could see a big hole in her jowl, and feared that it would lead to her demise, but she was in such bad shape that we just couldn’t risk knocking her out to get a better look.  Being a cranky old cat, she wasn’t about to let us get a good look any other way either.  She was given antibiotics in case it was just an injury, but now that she has become more calm in her new setting we can see that the problem stems from several broken teeth.  Caged cats will often break off their teeth trying to chew their way out of their prison cells and when she was left behind to die in Mississippi she probably did just that.

If you have ever had a tooth ache, you can understand why Freckles has been feeling so irritable.  We have a vet who specializes in dentistry and is coming soon to do a root canal and as much dental work as he can in the short time we dare knock her out.  Will you be the tooth fairy for Freckles and help pay for this very costly surgery?

Donate HERE or here:


  Horrible Conditions for Big Cats in FL Need Your Voice

Skinny Tiger Cub in FLIf a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is the value of seeing 201 photos of the horrid conditions that lions, tigers, leopards, bobcats and other exotic wild cats must endure in Florida due to the Florida Wildlife Commission insisting that these animals be allowed as pets, props and worse?  Take a look at these conditions and then help us put an end to the abuse in Florida.

See the slide show:

Non Floridians cannot contact FL legislators, but you can write to Col. Julie Jones at and tell them what you think about the conditions they allow.

If you’re a Floridian, do something quick, easy and free to help:

  New Lease on Life for Shasta Serval & Others


One of the things our donors say they like most around here is that they can SEE where their money goes.  The cats are always the number one priority and several of them benefited from your recent donations.  Big Cat Rescuers turned lemons into lemon aid recently when a bunch of dead pine trees had to be taken down.  Operations manager, Scott Lope decided to DIY instead of spending money on a tree service.  Through a process he calls Rope and Brick the trees were felled, cut up and hauled by many a tough intern and volunteer into the cages of cats, like Nala the tiger, who got brand new forts and jungle gyms out of them.

We are always having to repaint and replant the cages so that the strength is maintained and so that the cats have lots of places to cool off and hide.  18 year old Shasta Serval not only got a new “lease” on an new pad that doubled the size of her old one, but she seemed to get a new lease on life as well.  She has been seen bounding around like a kitten going after bugs and lizards in her new enclosure.

Barbara Frank said weaving the palmetto leaves into a visual barrier between tigers was therapy for her, but what it meant for us is that we didn’t have to buy something expensive to hang between cages, and Snorkle the tiger got to come back up to the one acre Cat-a-Tat on the lake that he loves so much.  We had moved him out back when his (rather spoiled) tiger neighbors just wouldn’t quit “barking” at him.  Now that they can’t see him, we can all live in peace.  It is only because of our generous donors and hard working staff and volunteers that we can do so much for the cats.

See some of our grrrreat recent videos:


  Fur Ball Celebrity

Tim HarrisonTim Harrison, 2006 Educator of the Year winner, and author of Wildlife Warrior will be the celebrity guest at the Fur Ball and is donating copies of his book to our Table Sponsors.  Tim stars in the upcoming film directed by Michael Webber called The Elephant in the Living Room.  The film is about the controversial world of exotic animal ownership within the suburbs of the United States. “The Elephant in the Living Room” offers an unprecedented glimpse into the fascinating subculture of trading and raising the most deadly and exotic animals in the world as common household pets.

Check on some of the Fur Ball auction items you can buy before the event and get your tickets here:

  Gables Group Gives on a Grand Scale

Gables Residential is an incredible company that owns and manages commercial and residential real estate across the country.  Each year their regions select a non profit to help for a day on a massive scale.  Big Cat Rescue was fortunate to be chosen this year as one of the beneficiaries of this tremendous generosity.

They built roads, took out invasive species of plants, cleared fence lines and did a landscaping job that makes our Party Pavilion entrance look like a gated mansion.

See the slide show of the work crew in action at the sanctuary and find out more:

  PDKats Raises Close to $4,000 for the Big Cats

The Tampa Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa (PDK), the premier professional association for educators, in concert with the Hillsborough County School District, recently completed their first fundraising contest event for students called “PDKats.”

The goal for each school was to raise $250, the approximate cost of feeding the lions and tigers at Big Cat Rescue for one day. At the final tally a total of $3,783.95 has been donated, which is equivalent to the cost of feeding one tiger or lion for one full year!  More checks are still coming in.

Prizes were awarded for the best efforts thanks to generous donations of incentives by Jaguar of Tampa and the Sirata Beach Resort on St. Pete Beach. Both corporate sponsors are long time supporters of Big Cat Rescue.

The winning teacher was David Nelson from the PE Department at Davidsen Middle School, whose class raised $1,400. Brent McBrien, Principal of Davidsen, and Area 2 Director, Jerry Jackson were the other winners, but Mr. Jackson opted to defer his prizes to one of his other teachers, who he felt did the footwork in this effort, Ms. Jeni Rouse at Lomax Elementary.

We would like to offer our profound appreciation to Bonnie Kirstein of Davidsen Middle School for all her hard work coordinating this event, to Dr. Jacquelyn Masters, Principal of Seminole Elementary, and President of PDK during this event. Big Cat Rescue is fortunate to have friends and supporters like PDK, and the Hillsborough School District students, teachers and staff.

See the slide show here:

  Howard Baskin Named Citizen of the Year

Howard BaskinBig Cat Rescue’s volunteer Howard Baskin was named Northwest Hillsborough Citizen of the Year by the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce at their annual gala on 6/12/09.  Howard was honored with this award for work he has done with the Chamber, Rotary, Big Cat Rescue and as a Big Brother. Some of you know him as the person who keeps our finances straight (or the guy in the funny cat hats at the Fur Ball). In addition to serving on our Board and as our Treasurer and Advisory Board Chairman, he is on the Board of the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber and Chairman of their Performance Oversight and Monitoring Committee.  He is also on the Board of the largest Rotary Club in Tampa and Chairman of their Community Service Committee, where he organized projects to paint a senior living center, build an ADA ramp for a low income wheelchair bound senior, and build a special wheelchair that can be used on rough terrain for those who have lost their legs to land mines in war torn regions.  Through Rotary he also reads to underprivileged pre-school children at a day care center. Applying his Harvard Business School education and years of management experience at Big Cat Rescue has helped us grow financially and allowed us to build bigger enclosures, buy the best food for the cats, and build reserves to help insure that we can meet our obligation to care for these magnificent animals for the rest of their lives.

 An Event Offered to All Animal Based Charities

Think your organization is too small to host a big fundraiser?  Jack Talman and Rick Medina want to make it easy for you.

Animal Based Charities allows smaller animal charities to sell tickets to the event and submit items to the auction in exchange for half the proceeds.  With more than 40 rescue groups in the Tampabay area alone, this event will combine the efforts of many animal based charities to have an fundraiser that will have people talking about it for a long time to come.

When:  August 15, 2009

Where:  Crowne Plaza Hotel 5303 West Kennedy Blvd. Tampa 33609 (capacity 450 guests, great parking and atmosphere)

Who: Contact Rick Medina to apply as an animal based charity who would like to benefit from this magical night of giving or to find out ticket prices to support your favorite charity at 813-380-5674 or


  New Big Cat Employees Chelsea and Jeff

Jeff Kremer has been a volunteer for a long time and was recently hired to fill a new position at Big Cat Rescue.  As Director of Donor Appreciation Jeff will be the purrr-sonal liaison to our major donors.  He will be attending social networking, chamber and business group meetings and keeping Big Cat Rescue in the hearts and minds of our area’s business leaders.  He has also taken on many of the Fur Ball tasks that involve soliciting donations and he frequently can be seen giving private tours.

We are sad to lose a great asset in Kathryn Quaas but she is moving to D.C.  We hope to make the most of her close proximity to our nation’s leaders in her volunteer work there.  We hired Chelsea Feeny from our Intern program to take on our database management, intern screening and other admin jobs.  She has to move here from Iowa and is only bringing her cats and what will fit in her car.  We have a place for her and most of the furniture but still need a nice T. V., work desk & office chair, phones and kitchen appliances.  If you have some of these items that are in working order and good condition, please let her know:

  Sweet 16 Kiss Esmerelda the Serval


Esmerelda the ServalBig Cat Rescue was founded sixteen years ago in 1992 and to celebrate our anniversary we are going to celebrate the sixteen species of wild cat that reside at the sanctuary.

This month you can “kiss” Esmerelda the Serval.

November honored Windsong the Bobcat who started Big Cat Rescue and December’s cat – Hercules the Snow Leopard. February’s cat – Genie the Sandcat.  March’s cat – Nik the Tiger, April’s cat – Rambo the Jungle Cat. Last month you could “kiss” Aspen the Cougar.

“Kiss” Esmerelda today or “Kiss” them all:

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