AdvoCat 2012 04

Celebrate Earth Day in a Wild Way
Pharaoh turns 13 this Earth Day!


April 22nd is Pharaoh the serval’s 13th birthday as well as Earth Day!  Celebrate this Earth Day in a wild way by purchasing our environmentally friendly or a in our


Or perhaps you would like to send Pharaoh, or one of our other feline friends with a birthday this month, a tasty gift of a turkey, chicken, or a hen dinner.  Celebrating birthdays this month are; Bongo the serval – 21, China Doll the tiger – 18, Breezy the bobcat – 16, Cleo-catra the bobcat – 16, Santino the serval – 14, Zouletta the serval – 14, Zimba the serval – 14, Doodles the serval – 13, Pharaoh – 13!


Gift shop purchases and donations fund the care of the cats here at Big Cat Rescue and are a great way to spread the word about the sanctuaries mission; Caring for Cats and Ending the Trade



Blind Bobcat Update: Rufus and Tommie
Rufus gets an MRI to determine the cause of his seizures

Last month we brought you the story of two blind bobcats Rufus and Tommie.  Rufus, a 2-month-old male bobcat, found on the side of the road presumably after he had been hit by a car in South Carolina and Tommie, a 3-month-old female, found wandering in search of food at a mine an hour north of Big Cat Rescue.


Rufus, now 6 months old, gave us quite a scare about a month ago when he had a fairly severe seizure.  He was rushed to Ehrlich Animal Hospital where he was sedated and examined. Unsure of the exact cause for the episode, Dr Wynn consulted with a nearby specialist.  Rufus was then taken to Blue Pearl to be seen by Neurologist Dr. Kimura.


An MRI was scheduled for later that afternoon.  Big Cat Rescuers Jamie Veronica and Dr. Boorstein escorted Rufus to the facility where the MRI was to be performed.  Nearly an hour after the procedure began and seconds before the first scan was completed a thunderstorm swept through the area and knocked out the power for several blocks.  A very long and stressful day ended in disappointment and Big Cat Rescuers took Rufus back to the sanctuary with no answers as to what had caused his seizure.


A few days later Rufus was once again escorted to a second MRI appointment.  This time the weather was great and five scans were taken of Rufus’s head.  The images showed that Rufus suffered from Hydrocephalus, otherwise known as water on the brain, a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) around the brain. CSF normally moves through the brain and the spinal cord, and is soaked into the bloodstream. Too much CSF puts puts pressure on the brain. This pushes the brain up against the skull and damages brain tissue. Hydrocephalus can be caused by a number of things including trauma, infection, or can be congenital.  Dr. Kimura prescribed a medication that will help decrease the amount of fluid and in turn will hopefully put an end to Rufus’ seizures.


Just a few weeks later Rufus is doing much better.  After his initial seizure, Rufus was having 3-5 minor seizures each day.  Since he has been on his new medication he has had a dramatic decrease in these episodes having only one daily and sometimes none at all.


Rufus’ medical bills have reached into the thousands and to help offset this cost to the sanctuary we asked for your support through the Rescue Rufus Fundraiser initiated in last month’s Ezine.  We are very happy to report that we have reached a grand total of $5,600!  We would like to send our sincerest thanks to all of the supporters who helped Rescue Rufus!


Tommie a female bobcat was rescued shortly after the arrival of Rufus.  She had been found wandering in search of food at a mine north of Big Cat Rescue.  She was emaciated and appeared to be blind.  Tommie, named after her rescuer Cemex Manager Tommie Deaner, was seen by Dr. Miller, a Board Certified Ophthalmologist. Her retinas had detached resulting in her blindness.  Her condition was most likely due to disease, but after a battery of blood tests still no answer has been found.  Tommie has tested negative for every known disease that could be the culprit, except for Lyme Disease.  Meanwhile she has been living in quarantine in our onsite Cat Hospital.  She has been on series of medications with the hopes of restoring her sight, none of which have been successful.  Otherwise Tommie is the picture of health.  She has doubled in weight since her arrival, her coat is sleek and glossy and her teeth are pearly white.  Unfortunately because she is blind and no treatment has worked she will not be a candidate for release back into the wild.  She will have a permanent home at the sanctuary.


Purr-fect Perches – Platforms for Cats Big and Small


Big Cat Rescue’s Enrichment Team has been hard at work constructing platforms and jungle gyms for several of our furry felines.


Angelica the bobcat was the lucky recipient of not one but two platforms in addition to two ramps that provide access to a tunnel connecting her enclosure to a neighboring one giving her twice the space.  She is loving her new addition complete with furniture!


Cody and Missouri the cougars received lounging platforms thanks not only to the Enrichment Team, but also to Senior Keeper Phyllis Middaugh who earmarked a grant awarded to her for winning BCR’s Volunteer Excellence Award.


Lisa Shaw, another winner of BCR’s Volunteer Excellence Award made sure that TJ the tiger got an extra large set of platforms set at two heights to provide him with optimum viewing angles of the lake and his neighbor Bella.



Spring Breakers turn Big Cat Rescuers


University of Missouri's "Alternative Spring Break" Group

The month of March is one of our busiest of the year due to Spring Break. This year we were lucky enough to be chosen by the University of Missouri’s “Alternative Spring Break” program. Alternative Spring Break is a program where 12 students choose a place to help out and make a difference, all while having fun!  In the past they have been involved with current issues like degradation of the environment, urban poverty, and helping the physically disabled.


Collectively, the Alternative Spring Breakers raised about $4000 to cover all their expenses involved with their trip and were here for four days from early morning until late afternoon every day.  They were such hard workers! Just when you’d think they would be ready to throw in the towel for the day, they’d turn to us with all smiles and say, “What’s next?” They helped in nearly every area of the sanctuary, from preparing diets, assisting with tours and even cage building. It was such a pleasure having them here and we can’t thank them enough!


Warned in 1983 – AZA Finally Calls for an End to the Practice of Breeding White Tigers and White Lions


In June 2011 the board of directors for the American Zoological Association (AZA) formalized their 2008 ban on the breeding of white tigers, white lions or king cheetahs by their member zoos. Their report said, “Breeding practices that increase the physical expression of single rare alleles (i.e., rare genetic traits) through intentional inbreeding, for example intentional breeding to achieve rare color-morphs such as white tigers, deer, and alligators, has been clearly linked with various abnormal, debilitating, and, at times, lethal, external and internal conditions and characteristics, which are outlined in this paper.” This change in policy came more than 12 years after Big Cat Rescue first released Dr. Laughlin’s expose here:


Because of the inbreeding and resulting genetic defects the American Zoological Association barred member zoos from breeding white tigers, white lions and king cheetahs in a white paper adopted by the board of directors in July 2011.


It is noteworthy that the first person to speak out against the displaying of white tigers was William Conway, director of the NY Zoological Association, which later became known as the Bronx zoo when he said, “White tigers are freaks. It’s not the role of a zoo to show two headed calves and white tigers.” He warned AZA in 1983 of the harm to the zoo’s credibility in catering to the public’s fascination with freaks, but went unheeded until 2008 when AZA issued a request to their members to stop breeding white tigers and then later in July 2011 when the AZA formally adopted that stance as policy. Conway was attacked by Ed Maruska of the Cincinnati Zoo and other zoos that were profiting by inbreeding tigers to get white coats, but in the end Conway’s belief was validated. Read the AZA Policy Against Breeding White Tigers, White Lions and King Cheetahs



Eye of the Hunter – Florida Panther


Eye of the Hunter 24" x 36"Lithograph Print

The “Eye of the Hunter” is a symbolic painting designed to ignite the imagination with the question of who is truly hunting who? Look through his windows and see what his soul really has to say.


The Florida Panther was chosen because it represents the end of a species. They are very limited in numbers and fighting not only for their lives but their existence.


Karen Wilcox is dedicating 50% of her pre-print sales to be donated to the cats at Big Cat Rescue. Help us help Big Cat Rescue make the lives of these cats more comfortable, as well as create positive changes in legislation to protect these magnificent cats.


The “Eye of the Hunter” is a 24″ x 36″ lithograph print. Retail pricing is at $200, buying directly from the artist allows us to give you a pre-print discount of 50%.


For only $100 you can hang a symbol of aid in your home, support a local wildlife artist, and most importantly support Big Cat Rescue. “Everyone should benefit from art even the cats we all love. Help us support Big Cat Rescue.” – Karen Wilcox


Big Cat Vet Care Challenges Subdued


The Cat-a-comb in action

Providing veterinary care to more than 100 wild cats can be challenging so Big Cat Rescuers have to get creative.  Our Operant Conditioning program is crucial to providing such care in an efficient and effective manner.  Volunteers participate in this program in which the cats are given food rewards for doing simple tasks such as approaching the side of the enclosure, sitting or laying down, and even going into their food lockouts (a small cage attached to their enclosure that they are fed in) and allowing a door to be shut confining them in the lockout. The latter of these tasks has been extremely helpful to our veterinarians Dr. Wynn and Dr. Boorstein with their latest challenges of drawing blood and administering vaccinations.


Dr. Wynn was able to shut Bengali the tiger into his lockout and while he was happily accepting a constant supply of snacks from his keeper she was able to draw blood from his back leg without being noticed.  The bloodwork was sent to the lab for routine screening the results or which were great for a tiger his age (17).


To better facilitate routine vaccinations Dr. Boorstein constructed a device called the Cat-a-comb which is basically a comb made of 2×4’s that can be placed through the top of the lockout and pivoted to pin the cat to the side of the lockout.  Once pinned vaccinations and microchips can be given and flea treatment can be applied.  Big Cat Rescuers were surprised at how calm the cats were during this process and because of this the vet team is even able to perform a basic physical exam.  The Cat-a-comb has proven to be an extraordinary and stress free alternative to netting or sedating the cats for this routine veterinary care.  The only downside to the new contraption is its weight. Constructed of wood, the Cat-a-comb weighs nearly 70 lbs!  Thankfully Dr. Wynn has a friend who works with aluminum and has accepted our challenge of creating a lighter version of the device that will be just as strong.  We can’t wait until the new prototype arrives!


If you would like to help fund the veterinary care of the big cats by donating towards the purchase of vaccinations, medications, or flea treatments consider making a



Big Cat Rescuer Dr. B Participates in ACT Spay Day


Dr. Boorstein helps with spaying 70+ cats

Big Cat Rescue is proud to support local spay and neuter clinics with our Spay and Play Program.  This program rewards individuals that have their pet spayed or neutered with a free tour pass to visit the sanctuary.  So it was a natural fit to sponsor recent grad Dr. Boorstein to participate in A.C.T.’s monthly Spay Day in April. More than 70 cats were spayed on Easter Sunday thanks to the event.


Click HERE for information about A.C.T.’s Spay Days and Nueter-a-thons


Click here for Spay and Play de-tails



Big Cat Easter



Check out the hopping good time the big cats had with their Easter treats!



Big Cat Rescue – There’s an app for that!


We were very excited when we announced the Big Cat app for Apple in April 2011 and now we are even more pleased to announce the newly available Big Cat app for Droid!


A roaring round of applause goes out to Jim Kirkpatrick for developing the original Apple version of the Big Cat app as well as to Jim Junco for developing the Android version (at no cost to the sanctuary).


The Big Cat app puts more than 100 of our big cats in your pocket!


Stunning photos of lions, tigers, leopards, bobcats, servals and more exotic cat species than you probably even knew existed! You can use the images as wallpaper for your phone, email the images to your friends or read fun facts about each cat and learn their individual stories of how they were rescued.




Saving Big Cats by Changing Laws and Minds


Last month we told you about the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (HR 4122) which is the most important piece of legislation to ever be introduced to protect lions, tigers and other exotic wild cats from being kept as pets and in miserable roadside zoos.  You always find out about the important big cat news first because you are one of our most valued supporters, but we have to get the message out to others too.


So, Carole Baskin presented to the Massachusetts School of Law during their annual Animal Law Day on April 7 to about 100 attendees and then tabled the rest of the day to about 600 guests.  The presentation was on the Timeline of the Big Cat Crisis in America and what Big Cat Rescue has been doing to end the suffering and abuse of big cats, through our legislative and educational efforts.  The slide show was well received and three people actually came up to the podium in tears because they could not believe the horrible conditions that most big cats in private hands suffer.  This Power Point will soon be turned into a video so that it can be shared more broadly.


Because the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act is the key bill to ending back yard breeding and the resulting over crowding and neglect, Big Cat Rescue has decided to be the Diamond Level sponsor of the Taking Action for Animals Conference in D.C. this July 27-30.  We will be presenting in the training sessions of the conference on Volunteering, Fatal Attractions: Ending the Private Possession of Captive Wildlife and Winning Single Issue Campaigns.  This is THE conference to attend if you want to be surrounded by people who love and protect animals and to learn how you can be the most effective voice for animals.  We hope to see you there!


Meanwhile, lick the link to find out more and send a letter on the most important bill to protect big cats ever:  And if you really want to make a HUGE impact, please make a quick call too!


If you received this AdvoCat Newsletter via email and the links aren’t working, you can visit the page online here:

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