Hope you had a Happy 4th of July!
This AdvoCat looks pretty long because I have tried to include the entire story on this page, rather than linking out to other pages. Our website is going through a major overhaul and should launch next week. During the transition we are trying to make as few additions to the old site as possible. The new site is going to load faster and have a lot more interactivity. You should be able to see the new site at bigcatrescue.org late next week.
The summer is usually our slow time but this year there have been so many big projects and improvements going on that we just can't include them all in a monthly report. We are so fortunate to have you helping us care for the cats and helping us end the trade.
This Ezine only goes out monthly, so you can "stalk" us on Twitter where you can get updates several times a day:
New Tour Times
Our dual mission is to care for our cats and end the trade. Both of our goals are accomplished, in part, by the guided tours of our sanctuary. These provide the income necessary for us to feed the cats and give us the opportunity to inform the public about the plight of the cats in the wild and in captivity and, most importantly, in what they can do to help end the suffering, abandonment and abuse. We strive to find a balance between being a peaceful sanctuary and an education center. Since 1995 we have offered appx. 20 tours per week but were closed on Sundays which is when most people are off from work and could visit.
As of July 1, 2010 our new schedule provides for 15 tours per week, but now there are 3 more of our more profitable tours (Feeding and Keeper Tours) which generate more income for the cats from fewer visitors and we are offering both Adult and Kids (under 10) tours on Saturdays and Sundays. We are closed on Thursdays to the public.
We believe this new schedule will give us more time during the week to get our maintenance and cat care projects done and will give us the ability to reach more people and raise more money with fewer intrusions into the cats' lives. Being open on Sundays will enable more people to volunteer and that will allow us to better cover tours, outreach events and all of the daily cat care. Check out our new tour times here:
Snorkle the Tiger Dies 1989-2010
As a cub, Snorkel spent his early years forced to pose as a prop with people for their photos. Then he ended up caged for years at a family owned circus. Luckily, he found a true safe haven at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL in 2005. Watch as he finally enjoys a taste of the wild and, for the first time in his life, was able to run...still much less than he truly deserves.
Help WWF, The International Tiger Coalition and Big Cat Rescue tighten regulations to protect captive tigers in the U.S and prevent the increased demand for tiger products that put wild populations at risk.
Sign WWF's petition to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking them to use their authority to close existing loopholes in the permitting and monitoring of captive tigers in the U.S. so that backyard breeders cannot continue to breed, use and discard cats like Snorkle.
SIGN THE PETITION HERE: http://bit.ly/aC1IFN
See his tribute video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdJB_uZ0VtU
Post a tribute here: https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home/snorkel
Join Us at Taking Action for Animals
Is Taking Action for Animals the right conference for you?
Here are a few reasons we think it might be:
1. Undeniable energy of a collective good -- you are not alone.
2. Professional conference promoting mainstream solutions.
3. Magnificent downtown DC location.
4. Help us push for legislative reforms during Lobby Day.
5. Take-away tools for real action.
6. Empowering youth with the new Student Summit.
7. Largest conference of its kind.
8. See Hal Sparks perform and hear from great speakers.
9. Recharge your advocacy battery.
10. Past attendees are raving:
"I have been to a lot of conferences related to animal welfare and this was the best conference I have ever attended. It was first class from start to finish and an absolute blast to attend. The energy could have propelled the Hyatt to the moon." - Karen Benzel
Big Cat Rescuers go every year and we will be there again this year. Join us!
Paintings by Big Cats at the Fur Ball
The Fur Ball (Oct. 8, 2010) is always an exciting night of safari costume formal attire, great food, music, fun trips and superb art but this year the featured artists are the cats of Big Cat Rescue. See them working on some of the beautiful paintings that will be auctioned that night at the YouTube link. Our Senior Volunteer, Barbara Frank is converting their art into jewelry that features the cat on one side of the pendant and a miniature of their art on the other side.
The Fur Ball is made possible by our King of Beast Sponsors: American Momentum, Jaguar of Tampa and Malcolm Out Loud and Major Media Sponsors: ABC Action News, Accent Magazine, Cox Radio, Tampa Bay Business Journal and Tampa Bay Magazine
Alex the tiger had a blast while creating this beautiful rendition of Smashing Pumpkins. (Non toxic children's paints were used)
These treasures will be in short supply so be sure to get your tickets to the Fur Ball now:
Cats Painting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHbYLYkWkOk
PurrFection Ocelot Ear Surgery
When PurrFection the Ocelot developed a hemotoma on her ear she needed emergency surgery to alleviate the swelling. It's been raining for days on end and we didn't want her to suffer so Big Cat Rescuers braved the weather to get her the vet care she needed. When you operate a sanctuary for big cats it is a non stop commitment. That means feeding, cleaning, enriching and providing top notch vet care no matter how miserable the weather. Watch this video of the day in the life of Big Cat Rescuers.
eBay Give at Checkout for Big Cat Rescue
eBay is featuring Big Cat Rescue in the rotation in Give at Checkout during the eBay Giving Works Spotlight on Helping Animals. From July 26th to August 1st, Big Cat Rescue will be included as a featured nonprofit in eBay checkout, where buyers will be able to donate $1 (or more) when they make a purchase on eBay with PayPal.”
If you add us as a favorite nonprofit from your About My Nonprofit page, you can remembr to include Big Cat Rescue every time you check out!
eBay has chosen Big Cat Rescue for this promotion because of the large number of direct seller and community seller listings benefiting our organization. (Thanks everyone!) You can help by selling your stuff on eBay and naming Big Cat Rescue as a partial beneficiary, or by buying from our supporters on eBay who have already done so, or just by choosing us at check out time between July 26 and August 1, 2010 when you buy anything on eBay.
Equipment Needed & Provided
Freckles the Liger is having trouble walking, but at 435 lbs we can't take her to a regular vet clinic for X-rays. Just getting her into a transport, loading her into a truck or trailer and getting her in to a horse clinic is a huge undertaking since the only carrier we have that is big enough for her is a circus wagon. We need specialty transports, on wheels, that will fit through the doors of most buildings. We can build these with access to the right materials.
What would really help out is to have our own portable, digital X-ray machine. ($125,000.) That way cats like Freckles never have to leave the safety and security of their Cat-a-Tat and we can find out what is going on with them under the skin. Your Donations Help!
Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Megan Meyers, DVM of the Odessa Equine Clinic we were able, through the use of her equipment and expertise to get X-rays of Freckles back legs and spine. She came on a moment's notice to bring her portable devices and braved an awful rain storm to do it. Watch for the upcoming video and more on the story!
Meanwhile, preparing for lifesaving veterinary care for Chloe the Snow Leopard, Dr. Liz Wynn, our veterinarian was trying to revive some ancient equipment she would need for this and other procedures. Our obsolete WelchAllyn® examination equipment needed parts, so we set out on a search. After internet searches and shopping turned up few options, an email to WelchAllyn® corporate headquarters went out asking their advice on getting parts to repair these items. It is not an uncommon experience for an email to a big company to just get lost in cyberspace, right? Not this time!
A couple of weeks later a response came from Dorothy Rizzo, Senior Account Rep for Specialty Markets offering to help. Model numbers were few and far between on the equipment, so Ms. Rizzo requested pictures to help identify what we had, so we took those and sent them along. The reply came quickly and said “thank you this should help - please be patient as I won't be able to look at all of this until next week sometime, but will get to it and see what we can come up with for you! Stay tuned!”
Imagine our surprise two weeks later when we got a very nice package in the mail from WelchAllyn® Veterinary division. Instead of parts to revive our obsolete exam tools they sent us over $2,000 worth of brand new equipment. Enclosed was a kind letter signed by Ms. Rizzo, “Hopefully these items will assist you and your team with the rescue and rehabilitation of animals. Congratulations to you, your staff, and volunteers of the organization for the work that you all do!
“It is a wonderful thing to experience the gift of inspiration to keep doing the work of Big Cat Rescue, along with material items or technical assistance. Sometimes kindness arrives in the most unexpected ways. Our heartfelt thanks are extended to Ms. Rizzo for going “above and beyond” in her customer service, and to WelchAllyn® for donating valuable and needed care for the cats.
Kids 4 Cats
Youth is no obstacle to making a difference. For instance our student supporters from Lee Academy for Gifted Education learned a lot of math, business, and social skills while helping the big cats in a big way.
This group of fourth grade students, under the guidance of teacher Jeff Floyd, ran a year-long fundraiser and decided on Big Cat Rescue as the beneficiary of their efforts. At the beginning of the project Mr. Floyd wrote us to ask; “This year my 4th grade math class, who I brought out to Big Cat Rescue a few years ago, is starting a school store. The store is mainly going to be supplies; pencils, paper, erasers, etc... But we have decided as a group that at the end of the school year to donate the remaining proceeds to your organization to help out the cats. Is there a certain process I need to take in order to do this?”
We started right off with Nikita, the Lioness sponsored by the group as their official mascot at the beginning of the project. Mr. Floyd came by for brochures and educational materials about Big Cat Rescue which the students distributed to customers at the school “store” so patrons would know how the proceeds would be used. As the school year was winding down, on May 26th, 31 enthusiastic students and teachers visited the sanctuary. The eleven kids at the heart of the project were among them along with their teacher, Mr. Floyd. After a wonderful educational tour where the cats got to meet their benefactors, the students presented BCR with a very impressive $500 donation! That’s a lot of pencils and paper these students transformed into the cost of feeding a tiger for five weeks!
This donation helps us directly in “caring for cats”, and the awareness our young supporters gain and share about wildlife issues makes all the difference in “ending the trade”. Thank You to all of our supporters at Lee Academy for Gifted Education.
Protect Bobcats, Foxes, Coyotes, & Maybe Even Your Pet
At the June 2010 Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) meeting, the commissioners unanimously decided to "do the right thing" and institute a complete ban on "penning of wildlife." Thanks to your help and support - no longer will packs of dogs relentlessly chase bobcats, fox and coyotes in pens. No longer will they have the opportunity to, day after day, hour after hour, run down terrified bobcats, fox and coyotes in fenced enclosures and often rip them to shreds.
But, we still need your help. The details of the language used to prevent these atrocities is very important so that the bad guys can't exploit loop holes. Find out how your letter can help here:
Big Wins Thanks to YOUR Letters
I know you are asked to sign a lot of letters, but it is only in doing so that the animals are getting the protection they need. Here are a few of the wins that YOU made happen in 2010 if you sent one of the 21,592 letters from our CatLaws.com site.
FL June 23, 2010: Thanks to thousands of letters from Big Cat AdvoCats, the Florida Wildlife Commission agreed to change the wording of their Nuisance Wildlife rules so that bobcats who are trapped as nuisance wildlife may not be killed, but rather must be released. While our 2,000+ letters asked that bobcats be removed from the list of nuisance wildlife, we are still thankful that the FWC has decided to at least spare the life of bobcats who are trapped this way. We will continue to educate the FWC and the public as to why bobcats are so necessary to our ecosystem so that they may soon be removed from the list of animals that may be trapped.
FL June 23, 2010: Animal AdvoCats vs Animal Terrorists. The FWC agreed to ban the practice of "fox penning" which was a blood sport in 16 locations in FL where foxes, coyotes and bobcats would be trapped or purchased from trappers to be turned loose in fenced areas for the purpose of training hunting dogs. Packs of dogs would be turned loose in the pens and scored on how persistent they were in chasing the wildlife. The FWC had rules that required hiding places for the wildlife, but investigators found that the operators would often block the access to the safety areas so that the foxes, coyotes and bobcats could be cornered and ripped apart by the dogs for the amusement and betting opportunities of the dog owners. For the first time in the history of the FWC meetings that we have attended since 1993, there were more animal advocates than animal terrorists in the room to testify. 52 concerned citizens spoke up in favor of a ban while only 20 animal abusers / hunters spoke up in favor of continuing the blood sport as part of their "cultural heritage and God given right." As more of these egregious practices are exposed, we expect the number of main stream Americans who show up and speak up to increase.
FL June 3, 2010: Thanks to thousands of letters from Big Cat AdvoCats, the legislature amended Florida Statutes 379.374 Bond required, amount. (2) No person, party, firm, association, or corporation shall possess or exhibit to the public either with or without charge or admission fee, any Class I wildlife, as defined in s. 379.303 and commission rule, without having first guaranteed financial responsibility, in the sum of $10,000, for any liability which may be incurred in the possession or exhibition to the public of Class I wildlife. The commission shall adopt, by rule, the methods of payment that satisfy the financial responsibility, which may include cash, the establishment of a trust fund, an irrevocable letter of credit, casualty insurance, a corporate guarantee, or any combination thereof, in the sum of $10,000 which shall be posted with the commission. In lieu of the $10,000 financial responsibility guarantee required in this subsection, the person, party, firm, association, or corporation has the option to maintain comprehensive general liability insurance, with minimum limits of $2 million per occurrence and $2 million annual aggregate, as shall protect the person, party, firm, association, or corporation from claims for damage for personal injury, including accidental death, as well as claims for property damage which may arise. Proof of such insurance shall be submitted to the commission. Effective July 1, 2010. In 2009, there were 111 Class I possessors in FL who managed to escape the bond requirement because they claimed they were not "exhibitors." This new language was necessary to close the loophole in the 2007 law so that all "possessors" of Class I animals must post this minimal bond.
OH July 1, 2010: After animal advocates gathered 1000’s of signatures for a proposed ballot initiative to put an end to animal abuse in Ohio, a deal was struck between The Humane Society of the United States, Ohio agriculture leaders and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland that will lead to major animal welfare improvements in Ohio on a raft of issues protecting exotic, domestic and farmed animals. The agreement includes recommendations from all of the parties for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Care Board, the Legislature, and the Governor to ban the acquisition of dangerous exotic animals as pets, such as primates, bears, lions, tigers, large constricting and venomous snakes, crocodiles and alligators. Ohio is now on track to go from having some of the weakest animal welfare laws in the nation to being a state with much stronger protection for animals, thanks to the signature gathering efforts of advocates through the country.