DC Fly In 2013

Big Cat Rescue and IFAW’s DC Fly In 2013


Marquee Big Cat Rescue DC

On November 17, 2013 Big Cat Rescue invited 15 of their most outspoken AdvoCats, who were in key congressional districts, to come to Washington, DC for two days.

The first day was spent going over the issues, talking points and making sure everyone understood the process and the intended outcome:  Getting their Senators and Representatives to commit to protecting big cats and public safety by co-sponsoring HR 1998 and S 1381, The Big Cats and Public Safety Act.

On the second day we split into the five states represented, Florida, California, New Mexico, Maryland and Pennsylvania and met with both Senators from each state and the Representatives from our supporter’s districts.  One member of Big Cat Rescue or IFAW went with each group to help them find the offices and to be there for moral support or to answer any questions, if the constituents were not sure of an answer.  IFAW also brought their lobbying firm, Pike and Associates, along to help.

The results were outstanding and it was well worth the cost to Big Cat Rescue and IFAW.  Non profits can spend roughly 5% of their budget on lobbying for laws that help them with their mission.  This was an expensive operation for us, but we kept it within our allowable guidelines, with room left over for our other expenses, such as the site.

Sanctuaries can only rescue a handful of the animals who end up in need of rescue due to the rampant breeding for the pay to play schemes promotes by backyard breeders and roadside menageries.  The only way to end the abuse and trade in wild animals is to ban the private possession.

Below are photos from the day and testimonials from those who took the time to fly in to D.C. for this historic event.


Blog Post about Big Cat Advocates Take the Hill 


Press Release

Big Cat Rescuers and AdvoCats Travel to Capitol Hill to Stand Up for Big Cats


Washington D.C. (November 20, 2013) – Big Cat Rescue’s founder and CEO, Carole Baskin, her husband, the sanctuary’s CFO, Howard Baskin, the sanctuary’s PR Managers, Susan Bass and 15 supporters of Big Cat Rescue from around the nation traveled to Washington, D.C. in partnership with The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to rally support for the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (S.1381/H.R. 1998). The federal bill is aimed at banning the private possession and breeding of captive big cats in all fifty states.


They joined other supporters from across the country to meet with a total of eighteen Congressional offices, including bill sponsors Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Congressman Buck McKeon (R-CA) to discuss the much-needed reform. Throughout the U.S., there are thought to be upwards of 10,000 captive big cats living in rural and urban locations. It is known that in the past two decades, reported incidents involving captive big cats have resulted in the deaths of 24 people – five of them children—and at least 200 maulings. In many cases, escaped animals have been shot and killed, often by first responders who are not prepared to handle a confrontation with a powerful lion, cheetah or tiger.


See quotes from the testimonials below.


A recent poll released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare revealed that 75 percent of polled voters across the country support the bill’s passage.


To learn more about the Big Cats and Public Safety Act go to:



Download the Big Cats and Public Safety Act brochure here.

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About IFAW


Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit


About Big Cat Rescue


Founded in 1992, Big Cat Rescue is the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats. They are home to over 100 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species most of whom have been abandoned, abused, orphaned, saved from being turned into fur coats, or retired from performing acts.




I signed on to support the November DC Fly-in (or in my case train-in), because I’ve observed first hand the treatment of big cats under private ownership.

I feel very strongly that non-accredited zoos, i.e., private owners, breeders and exhibitors should not be permitted to own these animals. The animals are universally subjected to cruel treatment that is alien to their natural instincts and habitat needs.

Big cats are majestic creatures, and to see them housed and treated as basically “junk or throwaway’s” is disgusting and heartbreaking.

That said, I was happy lend my efforts to lobbying Congress on behalf of the house & senate bills that deal with this issue. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity.

The visit was well-organized by IFAW & BCR, so that our time was effective and productive. It was also a pleasure to meet and chat with likeminded co-participants.

It is very interesting to see the legislative process in action. Is is often said that creating law is like sausage making. It was interesting to be part of the “ingredients,” so to speak.

I highly recommend participation in future undertakings to those that may be asked, based on legislators IFAW & BCR deem important to advancing these critical bills.

If you’re asked, say yes! You will not be disappointed and will end your day in DC feeling you made a difference and your was time well spent. That’s how I feel!

Dave Fiedler, PA


Yesterday two other Californians and I were provided an opportunity to meet with legislative assistants for Senator Barbara Boxer, Representative Doug LaMalfa, and Representative Tom McClintock at their offices in Washington D.C. We, as constituents and supporters of the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary and the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (HR 1998/S 1381), were accompanied by Anna Harbom, a policy analyst with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Our mutual purpose was to inform the legislative analysts of the need for and provisions of the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act and to request that their bosses help to advance the bill by co-sponsoring and supporting its passage.

This was a rare opportunity for us to actively participate in a vital effort to help the big cats and to protect the safety and well-being of both the big cats and the public by advocating for the bill to the people who are most likely to be able to influence the decisions of our legislators. As an animal advocate with a particular interest in big cats for as long as I can remember, I found this experience to be exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling.

So much of what we do to try to prevent the mistreatment of these magnificent cats does not engender any observable effect, at least in the short term, so it often feels as if we’re tilting at windmills and achieving little. We know our emails, tweets, letters, calls, and donations are always valuable and helpful, but we usually cannot see or hear whether we are making any real progress.

Meeting with the legislative analysts was both an opportunity to try to convince them, and therefore their bosses, of the need for the regulatory protections the bill will provide and an opportunity to interact with them and observe their reactions to our opinions and to the information we presented. I feel very good about how the meetings went, and I enjoyed the experience immensely.

In today’s busy world and generally contentious political environment, it’s rare, and therefore extremely gratifying, to be able to express your views to someone that close to the decision makers and to come away with the feeling that you’ve contributed to the success of your cause. It was great!

Mike Brazil, CA


I had a wonderful time on this mission! In spite of the fact that walking those looong hallways in the office buildings was very difficult for me. It was wonderful to visit our country’s capitol & meet the staff of so many members of Congress. The cordial reception we received was heartening. It proved to me that Congress does listen to what the people want. I sincerely hope we get many of those we visited to co-sponsor the bill we’re fighting for!

Lee Sides, NM



L-R:  Jerilyn, Breawna, Howard, Linda and Kathy from FL

Everyone was very gracious and receptive to what we had to say – we are voters after all!  All in all, this experience was fun and educational.  At the same time, I felt I was making a difference.
Cambridge MD



What an amazing experience it was at the “fly-in” last week. Thank you so very much for including me.

In thinking about it, and telling others about it, I realized what stands out the most is how much I learned. I learned from the IFAW folks and both of you about the real plight of our cat friends, and the larger scope of the issue – even beyond the overwhelming sadness of their mistreatment, pain, and exploitation. The conservation, safety and economic aspects addressed in our briefings only add to the need for this law, the Big Cats and Public Protection Safety Act.

It was also an extraordinary experience to learn about and participate in the lobbying process, and actually talk with representatives of my senators and congressman. Thanks to all of you who coordinated this activity for having me reasonably prepared! I just hope we had the desired positive impact.

Finally, I was fortunate to meet so many like-minded individuals from all over the country. What an interesting group of folks – and fun, too. I honestly feel I made some new friends and I hope to reconnect with them, and both of you, in the future.

Again, thanks for including me, and I hope I can be of use to the cause in the future.

Affectionately,  Penny



Carole Baskin on the lawn of the nation’s capitol


Dinner and preparation the night before in the Yosemite Room of the Hyatt



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