AdvoCat News 2010 01

Happy New Year Friend of Big Cat Rescue,

It’s been so busy around the sanctuary that I haven’t had time to even think of a good New Year’s Resolution yet.  Are you still keeping yours?

One thing that we try to do around here is to make ourselves incrementally better and more efficient every day.  No matter how long we’ve done it, we are always amazed that there is still room for such improvement all the time.  Speaking of improvements, we have been making lots of them at Big Cat Rescue.

We’ve been fixing doors, updating our classes, painting cages, organizing our processes, weeding out safety areas, taking down dead limbs, renovating work space, creating more enrichment for the cats, stuffing dens full of pine boughs for warmth and we just completed 660 feet of 8 foot high wall to protect our cats.  This project was done just in time to also help shelter the cats from the cold winter winds that blow in from the lake next door.  We just experienced the longest, coldest temperatures that FL has seen in more than 50 years! I don’t know how, or WHY our Northern supporters deal with such extreme weather! Hope you are staying warm, because your continued support, whether it be financial, voting for us or spreading the word, is warming our hearts.

This Ezine only goes out monthly, so if you want to stay in the Big Cat loop, follow me on Twitter where you can get updates several times a day:


Cougar Rescue

Narla the CougarWhen Rob Loppi lost his battle with leukemia, Narla the cougar lost the only person in her life who had been willing to take responsibility for her lifetime care. He had gotten her as a 5 week old cub that he could bottle feed.  He later married, but when he died last May his wife decided she didn’t want to have to take care of his exotic pet and began looking for a place to dump the puma.  It is a variation on a story we hear over and over again.  Someone buys a cub, plays with them while they are fun, and then when their life changes they dispose of the cat.

Thanks to changes you helped us get passed, cougars are now considered “big cats” and as such cannot be sold or traded across state lines except between USDA licensees or if they are going to a sanctuary that does not breed, buy, sell or allow public contact with their animals.  Since the Loppi’s were pet owners, they did not have a USDA license and thus had to send the cat to a real sanctuary where she would be safe from being bred, sold or used as a photo prop.

The Captive Wildlife Safety Act, became law at a time in 2003 when we had to turn away 312 big cats and every other year that number had been doubling.  After the law passed (it took 6 years) the number of bred, used and discarded exotic cats began to drop.  In 2009 that number dropped to 50 big cats who needed rescue.  We offered to rescue 17 non tigers but only rescued 2 cats (Sophia and Desiree) because we require that if a person gives up a cat that they contract with us to never get another one.  Most people refuse.  Narla’s owner dragged her feet for months, looking for anyone who would take the cat without such a contract or health certificate, but finally gave in when she found no one else willing to take a 13 year old, spayed, declawed Mountain Lion. Read Narla’s story here:


Animal Planet Hero of the Year

Scott Lope, Director of Operations at Big Cat Rescue, is the 2009 Animal Planet Hero of the Year! He’s spent more than 10 years caring for the 100+ cats here at the sanctuary and is a hero to them and all of us, but now the world has acknowleged him for his countless hours of dedication.  His award came with a $10,000 donation from Animal Planet and Fresh Step to Scott’s favorite charity, which he designated as Big Cat Rescue.

Thanks to YOU, all of our supporters, Scott tells us he got more votes than the other nine candidates combined and he was in some very good company of fellow animal heroes.  These 10 had been chosen from 7000 nominees.

We celebrated Scott’s win at Whiskey Joe’s on Ben T. Davis Beach and gave out awards to many of our wonderful volunteers, including the Founder’s Award to Julie Hanan and the Volunteer of the Year Award to Mary Lou Geis.

Local supporters can listen to Duncan Strauss’ Talking Animals interview with Scott Lope on WMNF 88.5 in Tampa at about 11:35 am on Wed. Jan. 13.

Vote to Save Tigers!


Tiger in LakeHelp Big Cat Rescue win $1,000,000 for the cats!

Big Cat Rescue is one of 100 small nonprofits who are finalists to win $1,000,000 in an online voting contest sponsored by a major bank. If we win, funds will be used to support the 100+ cats at the sanctuary, end abuse of big cats in captivity and help save the tiger from extinction in the wild.

The voting is done on their Facebook page. It requires a few steps, but if you follow the instructions below it only takes one minute. We know you are busy, but are hoping you will donate that minute of your time to help us win.

IMPORTANT: Voting is only allowed January 15 – 22

Please join our facebook group at so we alert you when voting starts.


$10,000 Grant by Body Shop Foundation

Big Cat Rescue will now be able to greatly enhance the security of our cats thanks to the generous support of The Body Shop Foundation of the United Kingdom. We are delighted to be the recipients of a grant for $10,000 dollars to be used to install automatic backup generators to power our food storage freezers and well pumps for power outages and emergencies. Now, regardless of the conditions, we will be able to guarantee food and water for the cats! This is not only a critical issue for our residents; it will also bring peace of mind to our dedicated staff and volunteers, knowing that we can provide the necessities for the animals in our care even when the winds blow. Find out more:

Serval Got a Name for Christmas

Serval DesireeLast November we told you about a three legged Serval who was found laying alongside the road in the desert in AZ.  No one ever did come forward to claim this African wildcat and it is presumed that she was left to die by her uncaring owner.

We rescued her and brought her to Big Cat Rescue, but she was a mystery to us.  How old is she?  Who bred her and sold her into the trade?  How did she lose her leg?  Who left her to die?  What was her name?

524 of you pitched in a dollar each to give her a name and provide for her care.  The winning submission, by drawing, was by submitted by Elaine & John Robinson.  She got it just in time for the holidays too.

New Managers and Projects

There have been a lot of changes at Big Cat Rescue, but that’s nothing new.  Every time you come to the sanctuary you see all of the new enclosures, toys, cage enhancements and improvements because we are always looking to make each day better than the one before.  Scott Lope has decided to pursue his film career and cannot continue to cover the daily operations of the sanctuary when he never knows if he will be in Kenya, or China or some other wild filming location, so we have hired new Volunteer Coordinators to manage the daily operations and have new faces on our Volunteer Committee as well.

YOUR Name in Stone

Donor Recognition BricksGet Your Name on a Brick to Help Pave our Gift Shop Entrance!

Your name, or that of someone you want to honor, will be permanently engraved on a 4×8″ brick for $100 or 8×8″ brick for $200 which will be installed on the paths around our Trading Post for all visitors to see.

Click the image to see the brick path with these stones.

Circus Tiger Poll

A newspaper finally asks the question:  Should circuses do away with wild-animal acts? No registration necessary, just click YES here:

Here are the results so far out of 418 total responses:

  • Yes (373 responses) 89%
  • No (45 responses)  11%


Kids 4 Cats

Comedian DonorsComedian Donors, L to R, Bob Burr, Tony Gaud, Steve Lazlow, Catherine Larson, Robin Savage, Mary Tischbein, Joe Riga(not shown)

High School Student puts the Fun in Fundraising!

In September of 2009 we were contacted by Ms. Cheridyn Lucas, a High School Student in Pinellas, requesting a mentor for her Community Service Project. Cheridyn had lots of enthusiasm and big plans to do a fundraiser for Big Cat Rescue.  We have been the beneficiaries of a number of commendable efforts from children and young people through the years, but this was really a new experience!

Dr. Beth Kamhi and CheridynCheridyn originated a very unique idea and did the foot work and the follow through to make it happen.  This event was generously hosted by Snappers Grill & Comedy Club, in Palm Harbor on Saturday December 5, 2009.  Seven fabulous comedians came out in the daytime to entertain an enthusiastic audience of about thirty fans who came to see the show. We began with a short presentation from the Education Director to give some background about Big Cat Rescue’s mission, and then the fun really started. Did you know that comedians never see the sun under normal circumstances (did someone say Vampire)?  Or that your Ed Director, Beth Kamhi, used to be six feet tall until she got too close to a tiger one day? And that was just the beginning of two hilarious hours! The event closed with Ms. Lucas on stage to thank all the donors and participants, and her efforts were applauded by all! It was a great day and a very successful event with over $300.00 for the cats, spreading the word about our mission, and providing Cheridyn with a real life learning experience on making a difference. A Grrreat time was had by all!

More Kids 4 Kats

Lee AcademyThe Students of Lee Academy for Gifted Education

Lee Academy for Gifted Education has been a long time friend and supporter of Big Cat Rescue, with classes visiting often to tour the sanctuary with very well behaved students who ask the best questions! This year, teacher Jeff Floyd, contacted us to say that his 4th grade math class, who came out to Big Cat Rescue a few years ago, is starting a school store. The store is selling school supplies; pencils, paper, erasers, etc. as a yearlong project. As a group they decided that at the end of the school year they will donate the profits to help out the cats! We provided Big Cat brochures and materials to help publicize our mission at the store, and the students created posters as well so people will be aware of the cause that the kids are supporting.

Mr. Floyd purchased a sponsorship kit for Nikita the Lioness on behalf of his class, and he tells us that his wife, who is also a teacher, is even more excited to participate in “cash for cats” at Frost Elementary this year with her students. Apparently the enthusiasm is catching! So far, the store is doing very well and the students are really excited about the project.

We wish our friends at Lee Academy great success and a great learning experience. The cats are looking forward to the results at the end of the year, and to having the kids come out to visit again. We all have something great to look forward to!

Sweet 16 Kiss Rose the Caracal


Rose the CaracalBig Cat Rescue was founded in 1992 and to celebrate our 16th anniversary we are going to celebrate the sixteen species of wild cat that reside at the sanctuary.

This month you can “kiss” Rose the Caracal.

November 2008 honored Windsong the Bobcat who started Big Cat Rescue since then you could Kiss one cat per month including, Hercules the Snow Leopard, Genie the Sandcat, Nik the Tiger, Rambo the Jungle Cat, Aspen Echo the Cougar, Esmerelda the Serval, Sabre the Leopard, Cameron the Lion, Zza the Ocelot, Zabu the White Tiger and Dances With Wolves the Canada Lynx and Nakita the Lioness.

“Kiss” Rose the Caracal or “Kiss” them all:

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