August 6 2017

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Big Cat Updates

Keeper Afton’s Coordinator Report for Friday, August 4, 2017

The section of Jasmine’s old enclosure was cleaned up so that Hoover can have access to it.
Joseph’s section closest to the barn was mowed and weed eated so that a platform can be built over the weekend. The lumber for that was delivered today. Also his big den was leveled where it was sagging from him laying in it.
Sticks and branches were picked up along the tour path and throughout the small cat sections.

Servie’s diet for tomorrow has an assortment of meats to see if it will entice her to eat better in the morning.

Projects for the weekend:

Cooper’s hospital cages needs to be taken to the cleaning slab and thoroughly washed. It is heavy!! Clean sweep and mop the recovery hospital.
There are a lot of big branches on top of cages. We will be shutting cats out of those sections and getting them down! Be sure to give them back full access when done.
Take the little thin rakes and clean up the pan roofs and gutters at the gift shop, Bar Jean’s house, and where the large golf carts are parked by volunteer sign in.

Joseph’s platform is finished, photos posting tomorrow!!! NOTE TO VIEWERS:  If you see Joseph on his brand new platform, PLEASE snap photos and email them to for Joseph’s platform story page.

In May, Feld Entertainment, the owner of Ringling circus petitioned the US Fish and Wildlife Service to allow 8 of their circus tigers to be exported to Germany where they would perform in another circus! BCR immediately posted an action alert asking supporters to submit comments in opposition to FWS granting this export permit. ADVOCATS ROCK! Thanks impart to your efforts, FWS received 14,822 comments with an overwhelming majority being in opposition to granting this export permit! There was so much public feedback that FWS temporarily re-opened the comment period this month (with the last day to comment being today). If you haven't already commented, please follow the steps in this action alert from our friends ADI to comment today. In related news, it has been confirmed that in February Ringling retired another group of their tigers to a sanctuary in Tennessee. Read more in this Washington Post article. Big Cat Challenge

The comment sections are always jam packed with people upset on social media posts of big cats and cubs being abused.  People express and vent their frustration and feelings about it on social pages in post comments but only a tiny portion of those same people are actually voicing their opinions where they can really make a difference.  I know venting on social media feels good, but lawmakers do not see that.  Therefore, venting only on social media post comments without the followup to lawmakers is really nothing more than just venting for human benefit  It doesn’t really help the cats and cubs who are suffering.

I cannot help but wonder why there are not thousands more Calls of the Wild being made.  Asking lawmakers to co-sponsor HR 1818, The Big Cat Public Safety Act will accomplish so much more than just venting on a social media post.

Please, Make the Call of the Wild at  There is really no reason not to.  It is quick, easy, and free.  The website will even dial your lawmaker’s phone number and connect the call to you phone.  The line of text to say will even popup on your screen in case you don’t know what to say.

Seriously, just go to and follow the simple steps and the rest is done for you.  Speak out where is matters.  Venting feels good for YOU but speaking out where it can make a difference will feel good for the all the cats suffering while waiting for the Big Cat Public Safety Act to be passed into law.

If not enough calls are made the bill will likely die again.  the the cats will have to suffer a whole additional year waiting for it to be re-introduced again.  YOU have the power to help stop the suffering.  Your words and your phone are the tools, use them.

Why, why, WHY are not thousands of people making the Call of the Wild, every day.  I KNOW there are tens of thousands of people in America who LOVE big cats and their babies and who are upset about babies ripped from their moms to be used as photo props then discarded into the exotic pet trade.  It must be because people don’t know how easy it is to make the Call of the Wild!

That brings me to August’s Month Long Big Cat Challenge

EVERYONE who does this will be entered into a drawing on September 1st.  Two winners will be drawn for a prize.

Christina was making the call and halfway through decided to record it.  She was kind enough to allow me to add text to her video to use as a sample here for YOU to see.

Keeper Corner

Looking forward to spending Saturday with this special guy. ~Keeper Matt Ruszczyk

Caring means sharing… Max and Mary Ann sharing a drink. ~Keeper Matt Ruszczyk

Keeper Mark Mira:  Apollo Lynx says, “I am cooler than you, sitting on my Coolaroo bed!”

Yesterday, Keeper Sarah Christine shared this with Keeper Brittany Mira: Just watering my tiger so he grows big and strong- our usual #Caturday morning ??

Cyrus Being Sneaky

Viewer Pix

Viewer Dusty Moccasins added to Keeper Desmond Fowles photo.  Cameron dreaming of his beloved Zabu!

S.A.V.E Award July 2017

Scratch’s Award for Volunteer Excellence, the SAVE Award

For outstanding volunteer service, the July SAVE Award goes to Sarah Dupree! Sarah does her keeper duties very well and efficiently and as a former intern knows what needs to be done throughout the day and often stays all day – she can always be counted on to help with food prep, a project, training or enrichment. Sarah often specifically comes in to help with tours during the busy times of year or if we have special groups on property. Finally her bright smile is infectious and she works well with everyone.

A donation of $1000 has been made in your honor to the African People & Wildlife Fund to save lions, cheetahs, leopards, and caracals.

More about the project: Northern Tanzania includes 30,000 square kilometers of grassland, Acacia woodland and Commiphora bushland. Cat species residing here include the most threatened population of African lions, as well as leopards, cheetah and caracals. Despite its size, this area holds only two protected areas, Tarangire National Park, and Lake Manyara National Park. Every week lions and other predators are being killed as they are forced to share their habitat with an increasing human population.

In this semi-arid landscape, the pastoralist Maasai people depend upon the availability of water and food for themselves and for the livestock herds that form their economic foundation. Patterns of seasonal rain create a constant movement of prey species in and out of those parks meaning lions and other predators rely on the community land outside of these parks for their survival.

For those born and raised in Tanzania, these predators are a threat to valuable livestock, particularly when livestock are left in vulnerable situations. When livestock are killed by wildlife, the herders retaliate, most often by chasing and killing the lions they find.

The program set in place by the African People & Wildlife Fund focuses on ensuring that wildlife have the habitat and food resources they need to flourish alongside growing human populations.

Living Walls: Unique, culturally appropriate and environmentally-friendly enclosures protect livestock from lions, keep lions out of the way of Maasai spears and contribute to habitat protection. The fence posts are made from native Commiphora limbs, that when planted will take root and flourish, so never need to be replaced. A Chain link barrier resists all predators- Commiphora grows in height and density, further deterring predators by providing a visual and physical barrier- Requires no upkeep throughout the year. Living Walls prevent nighttime raids of predators with a 99.9% success rate.

When livestock are protected, human-wildlife conflict is reduced. To date, no lions have been killed at corrals fortified with Living Walls.

Warriors for Wildlife: Warriors for Wildlife are local community members, facilitated by the African People & Wildlife Fund, who assist in our efforts around wildlife monitoring, big cat conflict prevention and enforcement of wildlife laws. The Warriors for Wildlife team includes 42 Big Cat Conflict officers who work to save the lives of livestock via rapid response in 20 communities, and 7 highly-trained Community Scouts who are deployed to combat poaching and other illegal activities. For Wildlife monitoring Program officers, assisted by community members, monitor the health of wildlife populations to measure program impacts.

BCR Website Updates

New Pages

Updated Pages Lessons

Recently I posted one of the free lessons from on a Big Cat Update and several of you expressed interest in seeing more of those.

Today’s lesson is: B01 Enrichment

This video is about 10 minutes long and is actually outdated but will give you some what of an idea.

Please Note! This video may be outdated, however, the text is more current.

WHAT: “Environmental enrichment is an animal husbandry principle that seeks to enhance the quality of captive animal care by identifying and providing the environmental stimuli necessary for optimal psychological and physiological well-being.” – Second Nature – Environmental Enrichment of Captive Animals.

Ways to enrich the animals: Provide animal with natural habitat, with choices (such as when/what/where to eat/sleep/etc.), with control (it’s their habitat), and with stimuli (something to do).

WHY: Wild animals cannot fully exhibit their natural behaviors in captivity. This can lead to unwanted psychological states such as boredom and aggression. It is our mission to give the animals the best life possible in captivity. This includes striving for optimal mental and physical states.

WHO: The Animals—All animals need enrichment. Different species need different enrichment. See the Approved Enrichment & Instruction List for what is approved by species.

The Volunteers—All volunteers are encouraged to participate in enrichment. Trainees and Partners may assist with making enrichment and observe enrichment being handed out. Keeper Trainees may observe from behind the barricade in sections they are permitted to clean. Partners must observe enrichment being handed out from the tour path.

Partners and Senior Partners may observe enrichment at any time, Partner Trainees must have a Partner or higher with them while observing. Yellow Level Keepers are eligible to take the Basic Enrichment Class and begin the certification process for handing out enrichment. Yellow Level Keepers are only permitted to hand out enrichment to the level of cat they are certified to clean. There are two separate certification sheets for Basic Enrichment; Red Level Cats and Yellow Level Cats. A Yellow Level Keeper who has completed the Enrichment Trainer Class is certified to lead enrichment and sign off on observations and should participate in coordinating enrichment sessions.

WHEN: Enrichment can be done at any time during the day with the exception of just prior to and during feeding time. Please keep in mind a Coordinator must be notified before enrichment starts. Keepers should also notify Partners and encourage them to tag along and observe from the tour path. There may be events such as worming or veterinary care that would prohibit enrichment. Duties including; cleaning and education (tours) are a priority. Remember to use appropriate enrichment for not only the species, but also the individual animal, the time of day, time of year, etc. Handing out enrichment during tour times is a great way to get animals active for the guests and to showcase to guests the importance of providing enrichment for captive animals.

WHERE: Enrichment materials can be found in the E-center, the cooler in Food Prep, and the enrichment cabinet in the rat room. Pre-made enrichment can be found in the whole prey freezer and the refrigerator in the E-center. Articles and books are available for loan in the E-center, by the sink.

Record Keeping and Forms: There are three forms to document the success of the Enrichment Program.

Enrichment Tracking Form: Always write down when you have given enrichment to an animal. Enrichment Tracking Forms are kept on the red, yellow, and green Enrichment clipboards in Food Prep. Extras and filled out pages are kept in the brown folders under the computer in Food Prep.

– Enrichment Evaluation Form: 1 to 5 scale that is used to evaluate how well an enrichment item worked. These should be used when implementing new ideas, but may be used at any point someone feels a reaction to an item should be documented.

– New Enrichment Approval Form: Use this form to submit new ideas for enrichment to the Enrichment Committee. New Enrichment Approval Forms require the approval of both a veterinarian and the President. Once a form has been approved, the form should be copied to the Volunteer Committee as well as included on the Approved Enrichment List. These forms can be found in the Enrichment Library in the E-Center by the sink.

Enrichment Observation Certification: Once a Yellow Level Keeper has completed the Enrichment Class, they will be given a Red Level Enrichment Observation Certification form to complete.

– Step 1: Observe a Certified Trainer hand out enrichment to 9 cats, no more than 3 sign offs per occasion.

– Step 2: Be observed by a Certified Trainer handing out enrichment to 6 cats, no more than 3 signs offs per occasion.

– Step 3: Be observed by a Certified Trainer making enrichment on 1 occasion.

– Step 4: Be observed by an Enrichment Committee member handing out enrichment to 3 cats on at least 1 occasion.

Making Enrichment

– Instructions on all approved enrichment items are found in the E-Center and here.

– Request food items such as mice, chicks, or produce from your Coordinator before taking them.

– Enrichment should be stored in the whole prey freezer, properly labeled with type and date, either in plastic bags or on a tray.

– Approved Enrichment items include; spice bags or tubes, blood-cicles, scented sprays, paper mache’, spices, catnip, catnip bubbles, cardboard boxes (staples and tape removed), pizza boxes, non-toxic finger paints, wrapping paper (must be paper texture, not foil or glossy), and tissue paper (type of paper used for gift bags), grass, and feathers.

Handing Out Enrichment

– Inform your Coordinator that you wish to do enrichment. Make sure you adhere to any special instructions given.

– Inform any Partner volunteers in the Main Office or Gift Shop or Keeper Trainees and encourage them to tag along and observe from the tour path.

– Choose one or more colored coded clipboards. You must regularly clean the animals at the level or higher that corresponds with the color. Example: Yellow Level Keepers regularly cleaning cougars may enrich animals on the yellow or red clipboards. However the Yellow Level Keeper must first be certified to give enrichment to Red Level cats before advancing to Yellow Level Cats.

– You must enrich every cat on a page. If there is a valid reason for not giving enrichment to a cat, please note it. Running out of enrichment is not a valid reason. Either make more, or stop at a filled page and put away your leftovers.

– Record who received enrichment on list. The list asks for your name, the date, and what type of enrichment was given next to each animal’s name. This is for the safety of the animal (in case they should be adversely affected) as well as record keeping (to record which enrichments are successful). Once you are finished with the top page on the clipboard, move that page to the back. If there are no columns left on a page, put it in the brown folder under the computer labeled “filled sheets” and replace it with a blank page. Your hand written notes should then be entered into the site observation area that looks like this:

– Please do not use all of the pre-made enrichment. If you notice the supply is low, budget your time to make more.

Some considerations you must keep in mind while implementing enrichment:

– Animals should have control/choice of the situation. Do not “make” the animal use an enrichment item.

– Purpose of enrichment is to occupy the animal—do not divert interest to yourself.

– Ensure the safety of volunteers and animals.

– Safety is stressed because enrichment can be very stimulating and often produces instinctual reactions that you are not prepared for. Also remember the safety of the animal. We inform a Coordinator about enrichment because they have knowledge of the animals that volunteers might not.

– When cleaning, please treat enrichment remnants the same as feces or other undesirable objects and remove them. The cats receive enrichment regularly and items should not be left for the animal to interact with at a later time.

– Enrichment items that are disposable such as bags, boxes, and tubes should not be removed and reused on another cat. This can spread infection between two cats. Disposable enrichment should be discarded once it is removed from the enclosure.

Check out Enrichment Certification Red Level form.

Check out Enrichment Certification Yellow Level form.

Check out Enrichment Certification Green Level form.

Additional Resource: Tools to use for determining enrichment goals.


Way To Go!!  Judy Willis has graduated Level 1!  She said it is hard to decide which lesson meant to most but if she had to choose, she’d choose Animal Observations.

Note to Viewers:  Please, let me know where YOU are in as it would be fun for everyone to know where everyone is.  It might be great conversation starters among students.  We’d love to hear what everyone thinks of the lessons.

Note to Viewers:  If YOU would like to take the three FREE Lessons at go to:  Zoo College is the only online, virtual training center, where you can test your skills against real life animal care challenges. The lessons you will learn have been tested and improved over more than 20 years in dealing with some of the most dangerous and majestic carnivores on the planet.  Big Cat Rescue provides the content for this zoo keeper training.  This is open to all ages and all educational levels.

 Viewer Videos From

Nikita Lioness being playful!

Here is a list of YouTube channels that feature videos of the cats here:

 Quick Links

As per viewer suggestions, Quick Links now has it’s very own page

Bookmarking it will help you find things quickly.  That will come in handy for:

  • Helping us answer questions on social media
  • Finding answers to some of Carole’s Facebook Live questions

 WANTED – Graphic Artists

Carole is looking for a graphic artist who really gets what we are all about and would would like to help us with some graphics for shirts.  If that is you or if you know someone like that, please have them email Carole at

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This post currently has 2 responses.

  1. Hairstyles Women

    January 11, 2020 at 8:21 am

    Very well written story. It will be useful to anyone who utilizes it, as well as me. Keep up the good work – looking forward to more posts.

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