Happy Earth Day!
I am so happy that spring is finally here. This was the coldest and most miserable winter that Florida has seen in 50 years and I am SO glad it is over. Everywhere you look the plants are springing back to life. Where there were only withered leaves and branches like sticks, there are now bright green buds. The cats are springing to life as well. After a long cold spell they all think it is mating season. We don't allow breeding here, but the air is filled with the sounds of the cats calling out for mates.
The sounds are both beautiful and sad. I love the sounds of their voices, but my heart breaks for them that they were born and raised in captivity and thus can never go free. It's just not right that they are confined to cages, but I can take solace in knowing that you are helping us end the trade.
Their playful antics in some of our stories and videos below are evidence of their determination to make the most of the lousy hand they have been dealt due to people visiting places that breed them for life in cages.
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: http://twitter.com/bigcatrescue or join more than 14,000 of our facebook fans.
Big Cat Easter Fun
Watch our lions, tigers, leopards, servals and other big cats have fun with their Easter eggs in this great YouTube video by Chris Poole:
Another fun video was Nakita lioness with her new yellow ball:
Tigers Trading Places
What if you were locked in your bedroom for the rest of your life?
That is the fate that befalls exotic cats who have been bred for life in cages. To allieviate the boredom Big Cat Rescuers do all kinds of things, thanks to your generous support, such as the Easter eggs in the video above, weekly portions of whole prey (not fed live) and trading places. Sometimes we trade out toys so cats get different stimulus and sometimes we trade out cats around the sanctuary so that they get new neighbors and new surroundings.
Just since the last AdvoCat King got a big addition to his Cat-a-tat that included this field of flowers. When King died Flavio got to move into King's old domain and you can see him lounging in the flowers and grass in the photo here. We moved Nikita and Simba the tigers from their 1/4 acre field into a 3 acre forest with lake access. That enabled us to shift Joseph and Sasha lions down into that 1/4 acre field so that we could prepare the lion's old 1/4 space for Freckles the liger. After moving her yesterday, she holds the crown for scariest cat to move!
We still have a number of moves planned and are preparing to rescue a new bobcat. Her owner is in foreclosure and she has no where to go. We still have a number of cats who are awaiting room additions and will need to build another Cat-a-Tat for this bobcat. Each room addition costs about $1500, plus dens and pools. You can make it possible with a donation here: Let Me Help Give Cats More Space
Contest Winners...and losers Kiss 'em all
The 2009 Photo Contest winners have been posted here:
The winner of the all expense paid Animal Lover's Dream Vacation was Joanna Salamon. The contest begins again and the drawing will be March 15, 2011. http://bigcatrescue.org/trip.php
We didn't win the $10,000 prize in the recent Razoo Contest. We came in very close, but not enough to win.
The good news is though that even though we only asked you to donate $10 each in that round you still ending up sending us a combined contribution of $10,972.00.
Thank you VERY much for each of you who gave $10 or more in that contest. That helps us keep these big cats fed!
Nico the Geoffroy Cat is the April cat to "kiss" or kiss them all here:
Win a Rolex for Father's Day
The year 2010 is the Year of the Tiger and Big Cat Rescue is celebrating in a big way with the 11th annual Fur Ball on Friday October 8th, 2010. Join Big Cat Rescuers for an evening of wild fun and a feast fit for a king (of the jungle that is).
Proceeds from the Fur Ball will fund both the ongoing care of more than 100 big cats that reside at the 45-acre sanctuary in Tampa, FL as well as the tiger conservation efforts of the International Tiger Coalition.
Get your tickets now!
Buy your tickets between now and June 14, 2010 and get a free Raffle ticket to win a Rolex with each ticket purchased.
We are limiting the number of raffle tickets to 500 so this is a great way to get your tickets to the Fur Ball and possibly win the Rolex watch just in time for Father's Day. Need not be present to win.
Just buy raffle tickets here: http://bigcatrescue.org/rolex.htm
Save a Snow Leopard
Cloe the snow leopard had a very bad urinary tract infection and while in for diagnostics we discovered HUGE kidney stones in her left kidney. No wonder she felt so bad! We have been working to get the infection under control and Dr. Wynn has contacted Dr. Allyson Berent, who is experienced in exotic animal lithotripsy (breaking up the stones using sound) but the vet and her team are in NY. They are willing to donate their time and bring two of the three machines needed for the procedure and have only asked that we pay airfare, hotel, food and transportation.
Florida Veterinary Specialist has offered to donate the use of the fluoroscopy machine which the vets have not been able to secure yet. We expect all of this to cost $2,500. Would you help us save Cloe the snow leopard's life?
You can donate online here: http://bigcatrescue.org/donate.htm
Or call Chelsea at 813.962.1492 or mail to Big Cat Rescue 12802 Easy St. Tampa, FL 33625
Be an AdvoCat
No matter who you are or where you live, there are lots of things you can do to help save big cats. One thing you could do that would be very helpful and only takes a few words is to set up a google alert. If you google that term "google alert" you will see how. Make it for "big cat rescue" or for other terms that matter to you like "circus" or "fur coats" or "baby tigers" or whatever. Then, every time those terms show up in the media, you can go to the post and see if there is a way to post a comment.
It means setting up hundreds of accounts on people's blogs, newspapers, etc. so that you can post, but you can't ask for a better platform. This way you are talking to people about the issues right when they are thinking about them and you can change the discussion by giving them facts from our web site. In some cases you can even link them to our website, which is the best kind of incoming link and raises our rankings in google so that when people are searching big cat terms they find us. For the places that won't let you post a link you can write BigCatRescue dot org so people can type it into their browser. It isn't as good as a link, but is the next best thing.
Want more tips like these on how you can help? Sign up for free to be a Big Cat AdvoCat and get the inside scoop on how you can help here:
Big Cat Memorials
Whenever you walk into our memorial garden, you see plaques for all the amazing animals who were once with us at Big Cat Rescue. Now, we've developed a new site dedicated to them as well. Their photos, their life stories, the thoughts and memories of the volunteers who knew and loved them are all posted on this new website. Even if you didn't know them each personally, even if they were here before you were, you might be interested in reading about them and seeing who they were because each one of them contributed a piece of their soul to our sanctuary.
Comments may only be posted by our Volunteers and AdvoCats.
Each one of the cats who have come to Big Cat Rescue had a story to tell. You can keep the spirit of their message alive by remembering them in our cemetery with a memorial marker that includes their photo, dates of birth and death, and your name as their forever sponsor.
These markers are 8 x 8 inch black marble with the photo and text engraved by laser so it will never fade. For a donation of $500.00 you can have your name added as the forever sponsor.
If you would like to be the Forever Sponsor of
Anastasia Siberian Lynx 1992-2009
Rocky Bobcat 1997-2009
Tarzan Jungle Cat 1993-2009
Adonis Leopard 1990-2010
Shanghai Leopard Cat 1991-2010
Crystal Jungle Cat Unknown-2010
India Tigress 1996-2010
King Tiger 1990-2010 you can make a donation of $500.00 online here:
Great Non Profits
In partnership with GuideStar, Global Exchange and EcoFlight the 2010 Green Choice campaign will identify the top-rated environmental nonprofits. If Big Cat Rescue has at least 10 positive reviews (4 or 5 stars) by April 30, 2010 we will receive exposure to potential donors via the GreatNonprofits Top-Rated Environmental Nonprofits list, and via GuideStar, the premier site for philanthropic research on the web. Would you take a moment to post a 5 star review?
One of the ways the exotic animal breeders and exhibitors who cause so much misery try to thwart our efforts to stop the abuse is by posting negative reviews with untruthful statements. As long as they keep saying bad things about us we know we are being effective in ending the trade. It takes a lot of 5 star reports to overcome their one star ratings of us and to let the public see that they are just self centered animal abusers who would say such hateful things about a non profit that is doing such good work. Your comments, however brief really help!
Big Cats Vanishing in More Ways Than One
On Feb 9, 2010 Barbara Harrod, who with husband Jeffrey Harrod owns Vanishing Species, entered a no contest plea to state charges that she kept animals in unsanitary conditions, used cages that were too small and engaged in other wildlife violations. Judge Ginger Lerner Wren found Barbara Harrod guilty on all 5 counts and she was ordered by USDA to find suitable homes for her 7 tigers, 7 cougars and 2 leopards.
The Sun- Sentinel also did several stories on the Harrods and Vanishing Species that began as follows: "An arthritic tiger failed to receive proper veterinary care. Small mammals housed in a shed died when the air conditioning broke down. Tigers disappeared without proper documentation."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said she has failed to comply with a federal consent order to move all big cats off her site. The order was issued after inspectors found animals' food contaminated with maggots, inadequate veterinary care, and tigers left unprotected from sun and rain. The agreement signed last year gave her until July 31, 2009, to get big cats off her fenced compound along Southwest 136th Avenue in Davie.
However, visits by federal inspectors over the past several months found big cats still there and repeated violations of the laws requiring adequate care for the animals.
As recent as March 29, 2010 eye witnesses reported that Jeffery Harrod had a 3 week old baby cougar who was very ill with watery diarrhea. The caller was very concerned that this kitten would not live and contacted state and federal authorities, but they have ignored the situation. The sad fact is that even when local and federal courts rule against this kind of abuse, they rarely follow up with any enforcement. See the shocking photos, videos and court records at this link and then ask that the authorities do their jobs! http://bit.ly/9mOG6W
A Tour Guide's Life
Bill began volunteering in 1996 and was the longest serving volunteer who was not related to me for the last 14 years. I really like this photo of Bill because it reminds me of what he considered to be one of his finest moments. If you just calculate 14 years of Friday afternoon tours, Bill probably influenced well in excess of 14,500 people with his passionate tours.
Social scientists say that each of us typically influences 150 other people in our lifetimes. His reach, just from his tour guests, through their circle of friends meant that he easily reached more than 2,000,000 people with the message that these cats should not be bred to be pets, props or parts. That's a lot of influence!
But what Bill told me was his greatest achievement for the cats was something any one of us could do in a moment of time. The difference is, that Bill wasn't afraid to rock the boat. He wasn't afraid to be scorned. He wasn't afraid of anything, as far as I could tell, but what I know about fearless people is this; they experience fear, just like anyone else, and they determine that what they want is more important than caving in to their fear, and they go for it.
What Bill did was to end the selling of fur at the MacDill commissary. Here's how he did it. He walked in one day and saw that they were selling fur trimmed garments. He asked to speak to the person in charge of buying. He told them about Raindance and some of the cats at the sanctuary where he donated his time. He explained to the buyer where fur comes from and he told them that it upset him to shop in a place that would support such abject cruelty to animals. That's all it took. The buyer agreed that they would no longer sell fur and went to his regional directors and asked that they do the same in the rest of the commissaries. It only takes one voice. Bill did his part. He made a difference.