Who Else Can I Donate Too?
We are asked this question several times a day, but don’t always have the time to give a completely in depth answer, so please forgive us for just sending you to this page. Our intent in doing so is to give you a much more complete answer than we could in an email and it frees us up to be doing the very work that you have been funding us to do. If you have asked for our advice, it’s because you already know and trust us, but even those who love and support our work often report they had no idea of the range of our work. If cats are your passion we are specialists in protecting them. Please allow me a few minutes to give you an overview of the range of our work and if you don’t see your particular interest mentioned, I’ll include some other suggestions.
Captive Big Cats
Big Cat Rescue has been rescuing and providing lifetime care to exotic cats of all sizes, from 3 pound Sand Cats to 750 pound Tigers since 1992. All of our cats’ bios are listed here: http://BigCatRescue.org/catbio More than 250 cats have lived out their lives here in peace and tranquility. We rescue cats as we have space and funds to do so but never take on more animals than we can provide for until the end of their lives.
Rescue and Rehab of Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue has the finest bobcat rehab facilities to be found. We have a long history of assisting bobcats who have been hit by cars, poisoned, shot or orphaned. More about our rehab work cat be found at http://BigCatRescue.org/bobcat-rehab
Domestic Cats and Kittens
Big Cat Rescue fosters domestic kittens, and often their mothers, through the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. We take orphans or mothers with young litters and raise them up until they are 2 lbs and are ready to be spayed / neutered and adopted. We provide round the clock infant care and take in the feral cats and kittens that other foster homes are not equipped to handle. We have been able to assist more than 275 cats and kittens on their road to permanent homes since 2014. http://bigcatrescue.org/kittens/
Big Cat Rescue has assisted groups including Animal Coalition of Tampa, No More Homeless Pets, Cat Crusaders and others by providing transport for spay day equipment and hosting groups for free at our sanctuary for their volunteer appreciation parties. We TnR a number of cats ourselves as well and fight for laws to protect those who are working to reduce the number of cats killed in shelters through aggressive spay / neuter programs.
Wild Cats in the Wild
In addition to advocacy work to protect wild places for wild cats, Big Cat Rescue donates to programs in countries where wild cats live. We have a staff member who seeks out the best work being done for wild cats. She wades through tons of information to suss out the programs where our donations can do the most good and is careful to be sure we are not supporting situations that may be doing more harm than good. You can see the places we have chosen to fund here: http://bigcatrescue.org/insitu/
When it comes to supporting big cat conservation, there is probably no one we trust more than Panthera, but with 80 million dollars in the bank, they don’t need our small sums, so we tend to focus more on the smaller cats who get far less funding.
Education About Cats
Big Cat Rescue provides a premiere website that gets more than 3.5 million visitors per year and has more than 10,000 pages of information on big cats and how to protect them. Our social sites have fans in excess of 2 million people and our live streaming events often reach half a million to a million people a day. We use the Internet and our social reach to educate people about what they can do to protect big cats. We have written and provide materials for free on how to run an effective sanctuary here: http://bigcatrescue.org/cat-care/
We have compiled our extensive staff and volunteer training into an online course that is available for $9 per month to anyone who is thinking about working with captive wild animals at ZooCollege.com and we provide the course for free to sanctuaries that are accredited or seeking accreditation.
Through our live web cams people from all around the planet can tune in to watch the behavior of captive cats, see how rehab cats are learning to survive in the wild and can even watch all of our veterinary procedures from a camera that is mounted over the operating table and in X-ray.
We focus most of our time and energy on educating adults because big cats will die out in the wild before the children of today are old enough to do anything about it, if we don’t act now. We do offer Adult and Kids Tours and Education Outreach and provide teachers with a way to put the cat in FCAT.
Advocacy for All Cats
We are the only sanctuary with a lobbyist who is working to end the trade in big cats. We were the first organization to actually hire a lawyer to represent a tiger. More about that at FreeTony.com
We provide an easy to use system that connects our supporters to the lawmakers and non governmental decision makers around the globe who are in the position to make our world a better place for exotic cats. You can see the array of current pending issues (go ahead and take action too while you’re there) at CatLaws.com All of the cute photos and videos we post all over the web are just to get people to come take action to actually protect wild cats. While big cats, or exotic cats are our primary focus, we often encourage action for measures to protect domestic cats too.
Big Cat Rescue has been an integral part of two wild cat coalitions: The International Tiger Coalition and the Big Cat Coalition. Through combining efforts we have been able to achieve huge wins for big cats all around the world. It’s been effective, as you can see at http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-bans-enacted/
Did you know that Big Cat Rescue and all of the properties owned by BCR and Carole Baskin are completely off the grid? In 2012 Big Cat Rescue began installing solar panels to harness the power of the sun and cut our dependence on fossil fuels. By 2015 we had partnered with Arcadia Power to insure that all of our power comes from clean energy sources, like wind and solar. Big Cat Rescue has rental properties and volunteer and intern housing off site that pay a little bit extra each month for energy to insist that it be green. CEO, Carole Baskin does the same with her home and her rental properties. In 2016 we took our commitment to a healthier planet a step further by becoming a green energy producer for SolarCoin. If you have known us since the 90s you will know that we have a robust ink and cell phone recycling program, that we are frequently sharing planet protecting strategies and that we recycle everything at the sanctuary.
If there is any work being done for cats that we don’t do, it’s only because we haven’t heard about it yet. Feel free to alert us in the comments below.
Other Good Places?
So maybe you don’t want all of your donations to go to cats, or to one place. That seems to be pretty common, based on the number of people who ask me who else would be good to fund. Personally, from what I know about funding animal work, it is a lot more effective to focus all of your time and energy in a certain direction, than to scatter resources with a shotgun type approach. That’s why Big Cat Rescue is laser focused on CATS.
There are two ways to determine if an organization is worthy of funding.
If it is a sanctuary, then it should be accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Period.
There is no reason for any legitimate sanctuary to not be accredited because the cost is minimal ($750 a year which won’t even feed one cat for 3 weeks) and the value is immeasurable. Donors have the assurance that an outside body is actually overseeing what happens and GFAS offers all kinds of training, resources and grants to help sanctuaries improve their conditions.
If it is an animal welfare group, or a sanctuary, then look to Charity Navigator. Be sure to compare the non profit you are thinking about to Big Cat Rescue’s scoring to know how they stack up. There are very few who even come close to our ranking.
Who You Shouldn’t Fund
Ignore the heart tugging plight of wild animals in foreign countries where you cannot find a legitimate sanctuary or non profit (see above) to vet them. Many con artists have figured out that people will send money if they see starving animals. There is a photo of a starving tiger that is still making the rounds and bilking kind hearted people out of their money many years after she was rescued and then died.
Slick mailing campaigns are the main stay for some of the worst facilities in America. As much as 90% of the money donated goes to the mail house that creates the stories, which are usually utter fabrications, and the remaining 10% goes to people who are not running legitimate sanctuaries. They are experts in parting people from their money and prey on the elderly who may not have the skills to check out the underlying organizations online.
Some places have a never ending stream of cubs and use them to part people from their money, because we all love cubs and want to protect them. The fact of the matter is that cubs aren’t discarded into sanctuaries until they are too big to be used as pay to play props, so if you see a place that always has cubs, you need to find out where they are coming from, and ask for proof in the way of USDA transfer forms. Some places will constantly allow the back yard breeders to discard their juvenile cubs on them, because they want to be able to handle the cubs too, but that just enables the bad behavior. Unless the babies are in a legitimate rehab and release program, and were born in the wild, and proven to be released to the wild regularly, then it is just a scam.
This last one is probably the hardest. There are some miserable conditions out there for captive wild cats, that are masquerading as sanctuaries or “rescue centers” (because they sell the animals, so they claim to rescue them from bad places and then send them to good places). Their pitch is, “If you don’t like what you see then donate and we will make it better.” That just isn’t true.
If they are taking in animals they can’t afford, or worse yet, breeding them, then there is no amount of money that is going to change them from hoarders to rescuers. The best thing you can do for the poor animals in their hands is to take careful notes, photos and videos and then write up complaints to the USDA, and state or local authorities so that they do not continue to add to the suffering they are already causing.
Thank you for taking the time to find out what we do and why we think we are your best choice if your intention is to help cats. At the link above you will find many ways to give; from outright donations, to donations that include signs to recognize your support, to making cat protection your legacy to finding great items you can buy and use that generate funds for the cats.