Exotic cat advocate named Hero of the Year
Updated: Friday, 18 Dec 2009, 11:39 PM EST
Published : Friday, 18 Dec 2009, 11:39 PM EST
TAMPA – A local hero to exotic cats is the new Animal Planet Hero of the Year, announced Friday night on the Animal Planet cable channel.
Scott Lope of Tampa's Big Cat Rescue says he's thrilled to win the award, which started with more than 4500 entries. A panel of judges chose the top ten, then it was up to the public to choose the winner through on line voting.
President and General Manager of Animal Planet, Marjorie Kaplan says "Lope epitomizes what it means to be a responsible member of the animal kingdom."
For more than ten years, Lope has overseen the daily operations of Big Cat Rescue, a sanctuary for big cats that have been abandoned, abused or rescued from fur farms.
As Animal Planet's Hero of the Year, Lope wins a trip for two to a destination of his choice. He says he's considering a trip to see elusive jaguars in Central America or perhaps some of the last extremely endangered tigers left on the planet. The sanctuary is a winner too, receiving $10,000.
Lope says it's a huge honor to win, not just for the visibility, but to know that people take an interest in what he does.
"I guess the thing that's a little emotional for me is that you can make an impact, that you can impress on people what you're doing, then you get one more person or a couple more people to help, and get people to really buy into this, that you can help animals and what you do can make a difference. That's what it's all about," he said.
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
Free ways to join us and help the big cats:
Vote for us at VoteCats.com
Twitter: Follow Me and be invited to enter our Animal Lover's Dream Vacation Giveaway! @BigCatRescue