Lion Valentine

AdvoCat 2013 01

Nashville Serval Paradise Bound  – Music to Her Ears


Mid December we received a call from a man in Nashville who was looking for a home for a 3-year-old female serval. The serval, named Nala, was the pet of the man’s father.  His father had become deathly ill and was in the hospital and not expected to survive.

We explained to the man that when we agree to take in a cat that the owner contract with us to give up their exotic animal permit and to never again own an exotic cat as a pet.  Breaching the contract results in hefty fines.

The reason we insist on such an arrangement is because we do not want to simply put a bandaid on the captive exotic animal problem in our country, but rather, put a stop to the ownership of these animals one person at a time.  We find many people will not agree to our terms, which leads us to believe that they are merely tired of their adult pet and looking to get rid of it so they can acquire a new baby animal.

Nala Serval

When we did not hear back regarding Nala for nearly three weeks we thought for sure the man looking to find her a home intended to keep his options for owning exotic pets open.  However in the beginning of January he called us back.  His father had passed away and he was ready to sign the necessary paperwork.  Once all of the health records and permits were squared away, Nala was on a plane bound for Florida.

Nala arrived on Sunday, January 5th at Tampa International Airport.  She was met at the cargo warehouse by BCR CEO Carole Baskin, President Jamie Veronica, and volunteer veterinarian Dr. Justin Boorstein.  After a short car ride she was exploring her 2,000 square foot enclosure;  her new home at Big Cat Rescue.

Nala had been raised from a small kitten to adulthood indoors and had no outdoor enclosure.  It is not known if she was ever given the opportunity to explore the great outdoors, but from her amazed and cautious reactions it did not appear as though she had.  Her first few steps out of the crate were awkward as she felt the grass beneath her feet. She slowly ventured into every part of her enclosure wide-eyed, slinking low to the ground.

Nala has settled right in to her new life and surroundings.  She is warming up to her keepers and seems to thoroughly enjoy her new diet of varied raw meats (she had been fed a diet of canned cat food and then just chicken).  Thanks to supporters like you, Nala is living the good life!



You Can Help African Lions in Crisis


CatLaws.comThe African lion’s revered status as the king of animals has made it a target for trophy hunters, and an innocent victim of the cruel wildlife trade.

The latest lion population surveys show a troubling trend: The number of lions has declined by over 50% in the last three decades; In 1980, almost 76,000 wild lions could be found in Africa; now as few as 32,000 remain; Their natural range has been reduced by 75%.  Add in the loss of critical habitat and prey species, along with disease and other human and natural causes, and you can see why we must act now to save African lions.

Lions are the only great cat not protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). A listing under the ESA would put strict controls on the import of lion “trophies” by Americans, and would ban the commercial trade of lion parts in the U.S. Since over 60% of sport-hunted lion trophies are imported back to the U.S., an ESA listing would significantly curb this trophy trade.

On March 1, 2011, IFAW, one of our Big Cat Coalition partners, filed a petition to get lions listed under the ESA. On November 26th, the U.S. government issued a finding in favor of the listing, but before making a final decision, they’ve allowed for a 60 day public comment period. They will be hearing from the hunters for sure!  They need to hear from you.  We make it super easy below:


Please submit your comments in favor of an ESA listing for the lion by January 28th.


The lion trophy hunters will loudly protest this listing and organize as many people as they can to speak out against lion protection. It’s critical that we organize as many Americans as possible to stand up for lions and urge our government to protect them.

The International Union for the Conservation Nature (IUCN) has warned that the Earth’s species are going extinct at a frightening pace — 1,000 times faster than the natural rate. Too often a species is too far down the road to extinction before action is taken to save them.

We CAN save the African lion, but we must act now, while we can still make a difference.



Frosty the Serval Goes to the Dentist


White Footed Serval FrostyHere at Big Cat Rescue we implement an operant conditioning program to train the cats using positive reinforcement.  Desired behaviors such as sit, lay down, show paw, or open mouth are “caught” by using a clicker to make a sound which is immediately followed by a food treat.  Soon the cats learn that the click means they did something good and they will be rewarded for it if they do it again.  The behaviors learned during these operant training sessions help the staff and veterinarians to perform routine visual exams of the cats.

Our daily operant conditioning program has once again proven to be a critical tool in catching medical issues with our cats early on.

Recently an intern, who works with Frosty the serval, noticed something was wrong when Frosty had no interest in his morning treats.  He usually loves his treats and is an eager student when it comes to operant conditioning.  The intern reported his odd behavior immediately and staff confirmed that Frosty was acting unusual.  He would slowly take the treat in his mouth and then drop it to the ground.  While offering him these treats using an operant stick we were able to get a good look inside his mouth and noticed that his lower canine was broken.

Frosty was taken to Ehrlich Animal Hospital to see Dr. Wynn.  During his visit a routine exam was performed and the bad tooth extracted.  Frosty looked to be in otherwise good health and was returned to his enclosure the next morning. He is now back to his usual self and eagerly awaits his training sessions once again.

Thanks to the close observation of his keepers and the benefits of operant conditioning Frosty received the care he needed right away!



Rotation Enclosure Walls Underway – Limited Matching Funds Left


The 2.5 acre “Vacation Rotation Enclosure” that will allow our cats to take turns in a huge area with a pond and platforms is underway. Thanks to the wonderful generosity of the Reitzel Foundation, Larry and Pam Trissel, and the Little Family Foundation, the first $61,000 of donations for this enclosure are to be matched dollar for dollar! As of this writing donations of almost $47,000 have been matched so there is still time to double your donation.

The enclosure is being built as funds are raised. The 134 fifteen foot tall support poles are all in, the large central den is under construction, and 45 of the 440, five foot by sixteen foot panels, of cage wire have been installed. Many thanks to the supporters who have made this possible!



Extreme Makeover – Leopard Edition


Jumanji Enclosure Jumanji Enrichment

Jumanji the black leopard was the lucky recipient of a complete overhaul to his Cat-a-tat.  Big Cat Rescuers worked for two solid days clearing weeds and vines, raking leaves, removing sticks trapped on the enclosure roof, replacing old bedding with new soft hay and dirt, cutting down old dead trees and building an amazing jungle gym!

The project was the first assignment of new part-time Operation Manager Chris Poole.  Great job Chris and to every volunteer and intern that helped out with this overwhelming task!  Jumanji loves his new jungle gym and spends most of his day on the very top platform where he has the best view!



Big Cat Rescue Featured on Animal Planet


Discovery Communications took notice of Big Cat Rescue’s presence on YouTube and has partnered with us to cross-promote our YouTube channel,,  with Animal Planet’s.  If you visit you will now see Big Cat Rescued listed first in the list of featured channels that appears in the right side bar of the page and visa versa if you visit



Top 5 Most Shocking Incidents of Big Cat Exploitation


We hope by sharing a new list with you each month that you will join us in speaking out for the big cats and cubs that are exploited across this country every day. We encourage you to take one small action today and reach out via phone or email to contact the offenders listed below and politely express your concern. Together we can be the voice for the voiceless…together we can make a difference. Please join us in our mission of Caring for Cats & Ending the Trade.


No. 1 International jewelry retailer Cartier currently has an advertising campaign featuring adult leopards (Cartier refers to them as panthers) and cubs in major magazines such as Vanity Fair and Vogue. Cartier’s website and a response from a Cartier representative say the cats are trained by Thierry Le Portier and live on his “wild cat farm” in France. The Cartier representative claims “the leopards were treated with the utmost care.” This trainer has more than 50 big cats and has been exploiting them for over four decades in films and advertisements! Please let Cartier know customers do not want to see big cats and cubs used this way.

Phone: 800-227-8437    Email link:


No. 2 Sally Mere, the owner of a company called MY Promotions (Florida), which organizes arts and crafts festivals throughout the state, allows a non-accredited “sanctuary” called Lions, Tigers and Bears in Arcadia, Florida (not the accredited sanctuary by the same name in California) to bring a tiger in a cage to her art shows. When we tried to explain to Mere that true sanctuaries do not subject their cats to the stresses of traveling and being exhibited all day in tiny cages, she hung up on us. Please help us educate her.

Phone: 239-707-3467    Email:


No. 3 Related to No. 2 above, please contact the City of Punta Gorda (Florida) Public Works Department, which issues permits for arts festivals to take place in local parks. Lisa Hannon at the City of Punta Gorda says they have not had any complaints about the caged tiger at art festivals before. Let’s change that!

Phone: 941-575-3314  Email:


No. 4 A supporter contacted us about Cherokee Bear Zoo on the Cherokee Reservation (North Carolina) and tells us that a white tiger is confined to a concrete-floored cage the size of a dog run. There are also many bears housed in horrible concrete “pits.” With three roadside zoos on the reservation, it is likely that numerous animals are living miserable existences here. USDA has repeatedly cited the zoos for failing to meet minimal Federal standards. Won’t you please contact Michael Hicks, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and be the voice for this tiger and the bears?



No. 5 Cricket Hollow Zoo (Iowa) has been repeatedly cited by USDA for serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act. This zoo located in frigid Iowa is only open during the summer, yet their animals – including a number of big cats – live there year round. During a recent blizzard, local citizens became even more concerned about the welfare of the cats and other animals. This zoo also uses big cats for profit by charging patrons to hold and pet cubs. In 2011, owner Tom Sellner was attacked by one of his own tigers. Would you please help us raise awareness about the plight of the big cats at this zoo by contacting USDA?

Phone: 970-494-7478  Email:


If you hear about exotic cats or cubs being exploited in your area, please contact Susan Bass at As always you can keep up with the latest action alerts at Thank you!



Slow Motion Big Cats



Big Cats in Slow Motion … Watching this footage of tigers, lions, leopards and more in slow motion makes you really appreciate their beauty, agility and power!



Give the Purrr-fect Valentine’s Gift


Wild Thing Gift SetShow your sweetheart how much you love them and the big cats with the purr-fect gift. Order by February 7th and get a Wild Thing Gift Set just in time for Valentine’s Day.  For $25 you will receive a Wild Thing Gift Set which includes a beautiful glossy color Valentine photo of Cameron the lion and a cuddly soft big cat plush toy.

Didn’t order in time or worried this gift will not arrive by Valentine’s Day?  No need to fret.  You can order a digital version of the Cameron Valentine photo that you can download and print yourself for just $15.

Either option is a great way to share the love this Valentine’s Day with a unique gift that benefits the big cats.


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