AdvoCat News 2011 08

Phantom Fur Ball to Rescue Tigers

Phantom Fur Ball to End Abuse
Phantom Fur Ball to Rescue Tigers

We decided not to hold our annual Fur Ball this year so that we could focus our attention on stopping the abuses the big cats face, at their root, through legislation.  This does not mean, however, that we do not desperately need the funds that are usually generated from the event.  Each year the proceeds from the Fur Ball go towards the care of the cats that we rescue.  This year is no different and in fact, at the time of writing this issue, we are coordinating the rescue of 3 tigers.

Andre, Apotha, and Kyle, two males and a female tiger, are in need of a new home.  They were rescued along with 21 other tigers from terrible conditions nearly 8 years ago and have lived at a sanctuary in Texas ever since. Unfortunately, last year, this sanctuary was forced to close its doors and find new homes for the 300 animals in their care.

Big Cat Rescue has agreed to rescue the 3 tigers but we need your help to make this rescue possible. Help fund the rescue of Andre, Apotha, and Kyle by making a donation of any amount towards the Phantom Fur Ball.  Instead of getting all dressed up and making your away across town to go to our usual Fur Ball you can enjoy a night on the couch in your comfiest attire while helping us save these 3 very special tigers!

You can see photos of the tigers and  make a donation here:


A 50th Birthday Wish to Save Tigers

Big Cat Rescue Founder Carole Baskin had only one wish for her milestone birthday and that was to let the US Fish and Wildlife Commission and the USDA know that the public cares about big cats and wants their suffering to end.  She asked that instead of cards or gifts Big Cat Rescue volunteers compose hand-written letters to both agencies asking for two crucial changes in legislation.

First, to close the 4-week window in which the public is permitted to come into contact with tigers.  Currently tiger cubs between the ages of 8-12 weeks are exploited through out the country.  Breeders charge the public to play with these cubs and to have their photos taken with them at a variety of locations including fairs, malls, and parking lots and it is all legal.  The problem is once these cubs have aged past this window they are no longer of use and are discarded. Closing this window of time will put an end to the suffering of thousands of tigers.

Second, to remove the generic tiger breeding loop hole which currently exists in the law.  Presently the law requires that an accredited facility acquire a permit to breed pure-bred tigers for conservation purposes. However the way the law is written if a tiger is not a pure-bred and is instead a cross between two sub-species of tiger then there is no permit required.  This loop hole makes it easy for disreputable back yard breeders to churn out a never ending supply of tigers.  These tigers are bred and sold as pets, profited on through public interaction, and slaughtered for their parts.

You can grant Carole’s birthday wish and save tigers from a life of abuse and suffering with a few easy clicks of the mouse at  For a more profound impact hand write a letter and send it to the addresses provided at the site.


Cougar Hitches Ride with Big Cat Rescuers

Cougar hitches a ride to new home.

When a big cat collector in Poetry, Texas died she left behind 20 lions, tigers and mountain lions. The conditions where 12 of these cats had been kept were just horrific, each cat locked away in a cramped and filthy stall in a barn. With no access to the outdoors and had been kept in the barn for nearly 10 years. The remaining 8 cats were housed in small outdoor pens.

A nearby sanctuary in Texas for big cats stepped in to provide emergency care for 8 of the cats and relocated them immediately to their facility. The remaining cats were rescued by facilities located in Indiana and New Jersey.

The Texas sanctuary asked the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries to help them find permanent placement for some of the cats that they did not have room for.  A former volunteer of Big Cat Rescue runs an excellent facility out west and had a 4,000 square foot enclosure waiting for him, but she couldn’t make the trip to pick him up. Thanks to a five part collaboration of sanctuaries, GFAS and our supporters a cougar named Abel would soon be on his way to his new home at Safe Haven Rescue Zoo in Nevada.

Big Cat Rescuers, Jamie Veronica, Gale Ingham, and Honey Wayton, loaded up the van with a transport cage and supplies and hit the road. Their first stop was Texas to pick Abel up from his temporary home.  He was very calm and loaded into the transport cage purrr-fectly.  Abel was a quiet and content passenger.  He looked through the windows at passing cars and the changing scenery, took lots of naps, and occasionally amused himself by shredding his blanket into tiny pieces.  (Rescuers monitored him closely to ensure he did not eat any bits of fabric). Rescuers drove straight through the night stopping only for fuel and a quick detour to pick up some raw chicken!  Nearly 27 hours later the group arrived at Safe Haven.

The Big Cat Rescuers and Abel were greeted by the eager staff at Safe Haven and within minutes Abel was freed into a temporary enclosure.  This temporary home spans more than 4,000 square feet and the new enclosure that will be constructed for him will be 10,000 square feet.  Abel immediately toured his new space checking out the tall grasses, rocks and logs, toys, spacious den, and even his new neighbors, a tiger and two lions.  Finally Abel has a safe and comfortable place to call home and will receive the love and care he deserves.

During the week long trip Big Cat Rescuers traveled 5,500 miles.  The estimated cost of the trip was 50 cents per mile resulting in nearly $2,800 in travel expenses.  See more photos of his trip and his new home here:


How to keep 100+ Big Cats cool and happy!

Click the photo of Joseph eating watermelon to watch a video about the Enrichment Program at Big Cat Rescue

Summertime in Florida remains hot and humid, which requires a great deal of resources in seeking to keep the cats cool and comfortable. Volunteers and staff continue to install new multilevel platforms in numerous cat-a-tats, serve up frozen watermelon, honeydew melons, sardini-martinis and other treats to enrich the animals’ lives. In 2010 Arlene Hoffer, one of the sanctuary’s most dedicated supporters, generously donated $15,000 to create the Magnificent Thomas Big Cat Rescue Enrichment Fund.

Named in honor of her feline companion, this fund supports the purchase of enrichment items that provide for the cats physical and mental wellbeing.

You too can help make sure that the big cats stay happy and content by contributing directly to the Magnificent Thomas Big Cat Rescue Enrichment Fund.


Palm Civet has Eye Surgery

Dr. Miller of BluePearl operates on Calvin’s eye.

Big Cat Rescue’s Keepers are trained to observe each and every animal daily and to be able to identify when something is wrong.  Calvin’s keepers noticed that his right eye had suddenly become cloudy and was bulging from the socket.  They notified staff right away who reported it to our volunteer vet.  Dr. Wynn came out for a visit and knew right away that she needed to call Dr. Miller, an Ophthalmology Specialist with BluePearl in Tampa. The lens in Calvin’s eye had shifted and was causing him discomfort.  Dr. Wynn arranged for Calvin to go to BluePearl for corrective surgery.  Dr. Miller performed a battery of tests on 16-year-old Calvin prior to surgery to ensure that the eye could still see.  Had it not, the simpler procedure would have been to remove the eye.  Calvin’s eye was visual so he was taken to surgery to have the damaged lens removed.  The surgery lasted about a half hour and was a success.  Calvin was sent back to the sanctuary to recover in the onsite Cat Hospital and was prescribed antibiotics and eye drops that had to be administered daily.  We are happy to report that Calvin’s eye has healed very well and his vision was saved. He is now back in the comforts of his outdoor home.


Casino Night for the Big Cats

Last year, after the success of their first Casino Night to benefit Big Cat Rescue and one other charity, John and JoAnn Nestor knew they had a winner.  But, they did not know how big a winner until this year when the event netted twice as much, over $8,000, to support the cats at Big Cat Rescue! The casino tables and staff were provided by DanMar Productions, the same wonderful folks who have appeared at our Fur Ball.  So, of course, they brought along the custom built Wheel of Fur-tune that features photos of our cats on the betting spots on the table.  A portion of these funds go to sponsor Simba the tiger, who was declawed and defanged and used for “photo ops” for years before she found a peaceful home at Big Cat Rescue.  A few weeks after the event, BCR’s Howard Baskin presented JoAnn and President John Rurkowski with a framed photo of Simba and her story that now hangs in their office. Charles Rutenberg Realty has over 3,500 agents in Florida, Illinois & New York.  If you live in a market they serve, please consider thanking them for their support of our cats by giving them a chance to serve your real estate needs.


A Calendar, a Car and “Cougars”….Oh My!

Cougar Calendar & Cats Roar Magnum Project

Led by longtime BCR supporter Kathleen Slaven, some of the Tampa Bay area’s most attractive and gracious women who tongue in cheek refer to themselves as “cougars” have generously devoted their time and talents to create a sexy but tasteful calendar that features each model in a unique setting. While some people think that a cougar is a derogatory term used to describe women who only prefer younger men, nothing could be further from the truth in this case. Kathleen and the wonderful members of her organization describe a Cougar as any woman over 40 that is excited about living their life as a smart, sexy and independent individual. The calendar is a testimony to each woman’s timeless beauty as well as their desire to make a positive difference in both the animal as well as human world that we share.

Proceeds from the 2012 Cougars of Florida calendar will go to help meet the sanctuary’s significantly increased food costs. It will be available for purchase online beginning August 14th for $14.95 at:

In a very exciting development, the Cougars of Florida have teamed up with John David Callison, founder of the Cats Roar Magnum project. John’s 2005 Dodge Magnum Show Car is highlighted by a $20,000 African cat themed custom paint job, created by artist Mike Lavallee (Killer Paint/ Overhauling fame). Following an extensive makeover made possible by some very generous sponsors, the estimated value of the Cats Roar Magnum car is approximately $120,000. This amazing car will be shown at events across the United States. Following an extensive tour of automotive shows, John and his colleagues plan to auction the vehicle and have generously offered to donate 50% of the proceeds in support of the sanctuary’s efforts.

To learn more about the exciting developments of the Cats Roar Magnum Project, follow John and his
sponsors on Facebook:


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