Male Cougar DOB unknown – 7/14/04
Casper , a male western cougar, found refuge at Big Cat Rescue in 1996. He had been seized in a drug raid by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission and taken to Lion Country Safari, who in turn went on a search to place the cougar as it did not fit into the African theme of the park. Big Cat Rescue agreed to take Casper in and give him a permanent home.
Casper had been robbed of his right to live free, to roam the great wide open spaces of the West, to find a mate to continue his blood lines, to hunt his own food. All this had been taken from him and he was forced to protect a drug dealer’s house. Chained inside never to feel the warm sunshine on his face or the soft breeze through his coat. He was mistreated and both physically and emotionally abused. It was as if Casper knew exactly what he had been deprived of his whole life and he understood that he was not treated properly.
In his first few months at Big Cat Rescue, he was terrified of and aggressive towards any volunteer that would approach him. He nervously watched as volunteers would clean his cage each day perched on top of his den box with his ears back, growling. He was very possessive over his food like each meal could be his last.
With so many cats at Big Cat Rescue, Casper could have easily blended into the back ground to be left alone as one of the “abused cats that do not like people”. After completing his tasks for the day as a new volunteer at Big Cat Rescue, Daniel Capiro would visit Casper . Sitting by the cage day after day, hour after hour, Daniel would gradually move closer and closer. Eventually Casper grew ever more trusting and comfortable around his new friend. Daniel continued with the visits and began feeding Casper his dinner each night. Over the years Casper made a complete recovery. He loved people and would happily pounce up to greet any one that happened by. He had the loudest purr amongst the Cougars living at the sanctuary. He loved to play in the hose when it was hot outside. For the first time in his life, Casper knew happiness.
On a soggy day following a summer thunder storm, Casper was curled up in his den and when he did not come out to see his best friend, Daniel, the staff grew concerned. In an unbelievable moment as he slept, Casper had been struck by lightning. He had not awakened and while he never knew what happened, this heartbreaking tragedy will not soon be forgotten by the many volunteers, supporters and the one person that made his life in captivity bearable, Daniel Capiro. Working with animals there will always be those few that are sick and cannot be helped, but to lose a perfectly healthy and happy one is hard to accept. In honor of Casper , a fund is now set up for donations that will specifically be used for cage improvements.
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