AdvoCat News 2011 09

Please Comment on Proposed Rule Change Aimed at Saving Tigers


Save the Tiger – Your Comments are Needed

The US Fish and Wildlife Service wants to hear from you.  Please take just 30 seconds to visit their site and comment on a proposed rule change that will help protect tigers.  This rule change will require that individuals breeding generic (not pure-bred) tigers will have to follow the same strict regulations and permitting processes that are currently required of Species Survival breeding programs.  There is an enormous illegal trade in tiger parts and products made from their parts and we have no way to know how many of the thousands of tigers that languish in private hands in the U.S. in squalid conditions are being killed and sold into this very lucrative illegal trade. The reason we don’t know how many tigers there are, and where they are, is that in 1998 the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) created a rule that exempted “generic” tigers from the permit and reporting requirements that normally apply to endangered species.  All tigers bred outside of AZA accredited zoos are considered “generic”.  Lack of reporting makes it very easy to kill a tiger and sell its parts without detection. Increasing the supply of these tiger products builds the market for them and creates greater incentives for poachers to kill the rapidly shrinking population of wild tigers. To have any chance of saving the tiger from extinction in the wild we must control and track their breeding in the U.S. to be sure our tigers are not going into the illegal trade.

You don’t have to be eloquent.  Just let them know you are FOR the new rule rescinding the generic tiger exemption.  (This is the main point and really all you need to say.)  If you like you can point out, as FWS says in their explanation for rescinding the rule, that breeding generic tigers has no conservation value and that we should control breeding so trade in their parts does not further threaten the survival of the tiger in the wild.  Please use your own words – comments that appear to be “form letters” have less impact. The proposed rule is open to public comment until September 21, 2011.

To submit a comment on the proposed rule change click HERE

To read more about the issue visit


Sassy Caracal Gets Spayed

Sassy the caracal wasn’t acting like her usual self one night at feeding time and her Keepers took notice.  Sassy is very food aggressive and is always waiting, impatiently, in her lockout for food each night.  This particular evening she showed no interest in her dinner. Her behavior was reported on the observation logs which are checked daily by staff.  Arrangements were made to take Sassy to Ehrlich Animal Hospital the very next morning.  Big Cat Rescue President Jamie Veronica and Senior Keeper Barbara Frank escorted Sassy to the clinic where she would be seen by Big Cat Rescue’s vet Dr. Wynn.  X-rays showed her intestines filled with feces and a fluid filled mass that was blocking her colon.  Exploratory surgery revealed Sassy’s uterus was infected and was the cause of the cyst.  She was spayed and the fluid was drained.  Sassy is currently recovering in our onsite Cat Hospital.  Once her sutures have been removed she will be moved back out to her enclosure and reunited with her pal Rusty. (Rusty is neutered. It is our policy to house cats in pairs only if one has been spayed or neutered.)


Modnic Tiger has Surgery

Dr. Hay of Veterinary Surgical Services removes tumors from Modnic the tiger’s mammaries and cervix

Modnic the tigress went in for surgery because it looked like her uterus was falling out.  Having been bred, nearly to death at Savage Kingdom, and the fact that she was diagnosed with mammary cancer, we weren’t sure there was much hope of saving her. We didn’t want to do the very extensive and invasive surgery required to spay her if the cancer had already spread to her lungs.  Only an X-ray of her chest could tell us if it had.  We do not have that kind of equipment in our onsite cat hospital and  the portable X-ray we have borrowed in the past can have a hard time producing clear images through larger areas of the body. We called our friend Dr. Hay of Veterinary Surgical Services who agreed to let us bring Modnic to his clinic.  This trip was a big deal and the first of its kind for Big Cat Rescuers.  Preparations were made in advance, with the assistance of Big Cat Rescue’s primary veterinarian Dr. Wynn, to have Mondic loaded into a transport the day before so that she would be ready to go to see Dr. Hay the next morning.  A convoy of three cars including the transport trailer hit the road for the 15 minute drive.  Founder and CEO Carole Baskin and President Jamie Veronica were joined by Dr. Wynn, Operations Manager Gale Ingham and Media Producer Chris Poole.  Shortly after arriving Modnic was sedated and X-ray were taken of her chest. The first X-ray showed a cloudy area on her lung and we were devastated.  Even though we were fully prepared for this to be the case, it was still an awful moment.  We all just stared at the screen…silent. Then one of the vets said, “Sometimes, in a big animal, if they are laying on their side for a while, it can squish the lung on that side a bit and make the area look cloudy because it isn’t fully inflated.  How about we prop her up, let her take a big breath and try to get a shot that way?” This time the cloudy area was gone and Modnic was whisked into the surgery room.

The tissue that was falling out of her vagina wasn’t a collapsing uterus, but rather a huge, fist sized tumor.  Dr. Hay snipped it off and cauterized the bleeding before turning to the two lowest teats with cancerous bulges, each about the size of an orange.  Usually, in cats, if one teat is affected they all are, which would mean cutting her open down both sides from chest to abdomen, but they couldn’t detect any masses other than these two. Four hours and two surgeons later, Modnic’s tumors were removed, she was stitched up and heading back to Big Cat Rescue.  She will spend a couple of weeks recovering before she is moved back out into her enclosure. Your donations ensure that we are able to provide top-notch veterinary care to all of our residents.  A surgery of this caliber will most definitely cost a lot more than a thousand dollars.  In our August AdvoCat we brought you the story of Sassyfras the cougar and the surgery to repair his hernia.  This surgery costed a total of $1,500. You can donate towards the care of the big cats by visiting our Donations page of the website.


Win Club Seats to a Buccaneers Game

Enter to win a pair of Club Seat tickets to a Bucs Game! These club seats are valued at $590 per pair and ticket holders enjoy benefits such as an exclusive separate entrance, padded seats, and access to the Club Lounge! A winner will be chosen 3 days before each scheduled game, there are eight total games in the raffle. All non-winning tickets will roll over and be entered into the next drawing. For instance, if you purchase 5 tickets, and are selected as a winner, your 4 remaining tickets will be entered automatically into the next drawing. Raffle tickets are 1 for $5, or for a better deal, 10 for $20.  Get your raffle tickets today its “FUR” a good cause!  Visit Bucs Ticket Raffle to see the official rules and to purchase tickets.


Bengali Tiger on the Move

Bengali the tiger is living it up in his new digs.  He was recently moved to a half acre enclosure, next to Joseph and Sasha the lions, on the tour path.  Being the attention loving ham that he is, Bengali’s life will surely be enriched by the tour guests oohing and awing over him.  Bengali was eager to move and once freed into his new space he spent several hours checking out every square inch which includes a two level platform so that he can survey the land and of course a swimming pool!  Big Cat Rescue provides several forms of enrichment to the cats to make their lives in captivity as enjoyable as possible.  Enrichment items include paper spice bags, food puzzles using cardboard tubes and boxes, frozen treats from yogurt cup to 5-gallon bucket sized, durable plastic balls and “tires” and more.  These are all great ways to enrich the cats, but each receives a limited amount of attention.  Moving the cats around provides weeks or months of excitement.  Not only is the enclosure different, providing a variety of things to explore, but the surroundings are new as well including the views from the enclosure and the neighbors.  So as a result a cat being moved into a new enclosure is not only enriching for them, but for all of the surrounding cats too!


$25,000 Grant from Community Foundation

It costs over $250,000 to feed all of the big cats living here at Big Cat Rescue each year.   Considering the average lifespan of an individual cat is 15-20 years, the cost of food alone is a huge commitment.  With that in mind we decided to open an agency endowment with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay several years ago.  Since opening the endowment, we have participated in two Challenge Grants.  The way these work is we set a financial goal and once donations from our supporters reach 75% of the goal, the Community Foundation matching grant fund puts the remaining 25% into our Endowment Fund.  Our most recent goal was $100,000.  Thanks to the many of you who donated toward it, we reached the $75,000 mark in record time and recently were presented with a matching grant check for $25,000.  Commenting on how quickly we achieved the goal in both programs, David Fisher, President and CEO of the Community Foundation, said “Big Cat Rescue is setting the pace in Hillsborough County.”


The Elephant in the Living Room

Now available on DVD. Click here.

The Elephant in the Living Room is a documentary film about the controversial American subculture of raising the most dangerous animals in the world as common household pets.  Director Michael Webber follows the journey of two men at the heart of the issue.  One, Tim Harrison, Big Cat Rescue’s Guardian Angel Award winner, a man whose mission is to protect exotic animals and the public, and the other, Terry Brumfield, a man who keeps his two pet African lions in a broken down horse trailer after one escaped and begins chasing cars on the highway.

The film has received more than 12 awards including the 2011 Genesis Award. It has also been rated the #1 Most Watched Documentary on iTunes, Amazon, Sony Playstation, and Xbox.

Purchase the Elephant in the Living Room on DVD in our online gift shop or from the Elephant in the Living Room website (if you use the code “bcr” a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Big Cat Rescue) .

You can also help spread the word about this ground-breaking film by Liking the film on Facebook.


Click  to see more Phantom Fur Ball merchandise

Phantom Fur Ball Cafe Press

Big Cat Rescue will soon be home to three more tigers, Andre, Apotha, and Misha, and we need your help to fund their transportation from Texas to Florida.  This year we are hosting our first ever 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 three very special tigers! So far we have raised $8,279 of our $30,000 goal to fund the rescue.  You can make a donation in any amount (every dollar counts!) to save the lives of these tigers by visiting our Razoo page.  You can also show your support of the Phantom Fur Ball in style, visit our Cafe Press store and check out more than 40 items featuring the Phantom Fur Ball artwork. 30% of each item purchased goes directly to the cats.



TBBJ Awards

The Tampa Bay Business Journal has just announced the winners of their very first Best in the Biz: Readers Choice Awards.  We are so excited to share that we placed first in two categories; Favorite Black-Tie Event for the Fur Ball and Favorite Retreat/Team-Building Venue.  We also placed second in Favorite Fundraising Event. Nominations were received from all across the TBBJ’s seven-county coverage area. A survey containing 56 categories and more than 750 businesses was posted on the Best in the Biz: Readers’ Choice website.  Nearly 6,000 individuals participated in the survey.  We would like to send our sincerest thanks to all those who voted Big Cat Rescue – Best in the Biz!


Hal celebrates his 18th birthday with special treats – his name spelled out in chicken necks and a frozen fish cake

Big Cat Birthdays

Some very special big cats are celebrating their birthdays this month.  Serengetti & Kalahari the servals and Mac the cougar are turning 15, Angelica the bobcat is turning 16, and Hallelujah the cougar is turning 18!  You can make each of these cat’s birthdays extra special by sponsoring them. donations help us to provide the cats with delicious food, spacious enclosures, cozy dens, and fun toys to play with.  Sponsorships are available in gift amounts from $25 to $5,000 and make great gifts for any occasion.

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