Black Leopard Jinx - Photo by Brittany Mira

Male Black Leopard
Exact DOB Unknown estimated 1999 
Arrived August 2015

Jinx the Black Leopard came to us amidst a four-year-long legal battle. He was seized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and temporarily housed at Big Cat Rescue along with Jasmine Tigress, Dutchess Tigress, and Sapphire the White Tigress for the duration of court proceedings. Little did we know, that would take nearly four very long years!

He is known to stalk keepers and guests and as he locks in on his target, he stays focused! He can easily hide within plain sight and has earned himself the nickname “Flat Cat” by many of his keepers. Although he can be quite intense and scary, as he should since he is a leopard; he also has an incredibly silly and playful side too. You can see the level of intelligence he has in every move he makes! Jinx is very smart when it comes to operant conditioning and even tries to train his keepers.

Jinx has an absolute blast shredding pumpkins!

Jinx has an absolute blast shredding pumpkins!
Jinx has an absolute blast shredding pumpkins!

This handsome boy is always alert; nothing escapes his attention.  

This handsome boy is always alert; nothing escapes his attention.  You can see his intelligence in every move he makes.
Jinx Black Leopard photo by Brittany Mira

Jinx Discovers What Enrichment Is

May 2019 video by Afton Tasler, Big Cat Rescue’s Media Producer.  Meet Jinx, a 20-year-old male black leopard. He and three tigers have been living at the sanctuary for the past four years under our Witness Protection Program. Now that we are able to share them with you, check out his favorite enrichment item.

Announcement Day Finally Arrives 5/1/2019

We are excited to introduce our four newest permanent residents to you! Jinx the Black Leopard, Jasmine Tigress, Dutchess Tigress, and Sapphire the White Tigress have officially been signed over to Big Cat Rescue following a four year long legal battle between the Ohio Agricultural Department, the state of Ohio, and their former owner from Tiger Ridge Exotics, Kenny Hetrick.

Fab4 Witness Protection Cats

We have very little history or information on these beautiful cats, including birth dates. What we can tell you is that they have spent the last few years happy, healthy, loved, and deservingly respected! Their futures are as bright as they can be given that they will remain in captivity. With your support, we know that these four, like ALL of our other cats, will have all of the love and support they could possibly want or need!

Thank you for your ongoing support of our cats and our sanctuary. It is only because of the donations we receive from donors like you that we can continue to rescue and care for big cats. If you’d like to be one of the first to support the lifetime care of these four beautiful cats, you can do so here: https://bigcatrescue.salsalabs.org/2019givingday/index.html

Join us LIVE on Facebook throughout the day May 2, 2019, as we introduce these precious cats to you for the very first time. https://www.facebook.com/bigcatrescue

Jinx thinks he can give Running Bear Bobcat a run for his money on making silly faces 😂😹

Jinx thinks he can give Running Bear a run for his money on making silly faces
Jinx Leopard

Rescue History

In October of 2011, the Zanesville Massacre occurred. This was a historical event that changed the lives of many animals, people, and laws in the state of Ohio. Terry Thompson, a private owner of dozens of big cats and other wild animals, opened their cages and set them free amongst the town and ultimately to their deaths. He then followed suit and committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Terry Thompson put authorities in a position they should never have been in. They were forced to shoot and kill 38 big cats and 10 other wild animals. Amongst those lives lost were 18 Tigers, 17 Lions, and 3 Cougars. As a result of this tragic massacre, Ohio took the initiative and passed a state-wide ban on the private possession of big cats in June of 2012.

Like all such bans, those who already owned big cats would be grandfathered in so long as they followed protocol. They would be required to register their cats with the state by filling out a form that stated how many cats they owned and what species they were. They ban also stated that those who owned these big cats were to never purchase another exotic cat or breed the ones that they already had. This ban came with a grace period of two years to follow through and get their animals registered. Most people had complied with the ban, and many of those who did not, quickly did so once the Ohio Department of Agriculture began enforcing it.

Tiger Ridge Exotics, Kenny Hetrick, felt that the law did not apply to him and thought that by hiring a team of attorneys to fight it, he could get the ban overturned. He refused to report how many dangerous wild animals he owned. His facility has had a long history of reported violations leading up to the seizure of his animals. These violations include failure to provide adequate vet care, repeated failure to provide the animals with proper diets, failure to provide animals with clean water, failure to provide animals with clean, dry enclosures, and failure to comply with federal safety requirements.

In October of 2014, two years after the ban was put in place, Hetrick was served a notice from the Ohio Department of Agriculture giving him 10 days to surrender his animals or he would face criminal charges. On multiple occasions, Hetrick made it known that he would rather euthanize the animals instead of making the state required upgrades in enclosures and care for his animals or have the animals taken from him.

In January of 2015, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) seized 11 wild animals from Kenny Hetrick. Those animals included 10 big cats (1 Lion, 6 Tigers, 1 Black Leopard, 1 Liger, and 1 Cougar) and 1 Kodiak Bear. These animals were initially housed at the states temporary holding facility in Reynoldsburg.

There were 4 different vets that had visited Tiger Ridge on behalf of Leo the Lion’s declining health. The documentation from an inspector of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) goes as far back as August of 2014 (a year previous) of Leo being weak in the back end and having difficulties walking and all four came to the same conclusion; Leo needed to be euthanized. Hetrick decided that he knew better and let Leo continue to suffer.

Sadly, Leo the Lion never knew peace outside of Tiger Ridge. He was euthanized in the states temporary holding facility after experiencing complications due to his chronic hip issues. Their medical staff observed prolonged lateral recumbency, loss of appetite, increased rate of breathing and a decreased ability to move. The only humane choice to make was to end his suffering and assist him in crossing over the Rainbow Bridge.

A few months later, the Ohio Department of Agriculture won temporary custody of the remaining animals until permanent custody could be decided upon. Those animals were split up and sent to three different facilities, including Big Cat Rescue, whose import papers were signed 8/25/2015, to be cared for properly awaiting the end result.  Of all three facilities who were providing care for these animals, Big Cat Rescue is the only one who is doing so without requirement of a boarding fee or any other ODA fees.

When we agreed to take these cats in, provide for them, and protect them during the litigations, there were several things we had to agree to. The most important was that we could not share photos, videos, or any information with the public. With that in mind, we changed their names upon arrival. The names that we provided them with will continue to remain the same going forward. New identities and new lives only make sense coming from their backgrounds.

Kenny Hetrick vowed to fight the state of Ohio on this ban and win back custody of his animals. He took his battle with the state all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court, which maintained in 2018 that the ODA had acted appropriately in seizing the animals. The ODA continued to move forward and filed a lawsuit for permanent possession of the animals. This would be the final step before legally awarding custody to the sanctuaries involved in caring for these beautiful animals, like Big Cat Rescue. Kenny Hetrick did not fight this final lawsuit and his deadline, April 29, 2019, has now come and gone.

Finally, on May 1st, 2019, these magnificent cats that we have been caring for these past few years have officially been signed over to Big Cat Rescue! It has been a long journey traveled for all involved, with many restrictions, but we are excited to finally introduce them to you!

Ohio, which was once known as the breeding capital for exotic animals, took a strong stand and these cats were caught on the legal end of things. However, we also received other cats from Ohio due to this ban. Sheena Serval was the first surrender to the state to our knowledge. We also received Teisha Tiger, Zucari Serval, Cyrus Caracal, and Chaos Caracal in a result of this ban going into place.

Too many big cats out there are suffering at the hands of human greed and emotion. Senseless lives were lost in the Zanesville Massacre and the publics eyes were opened. Now it is up to us to teach the public that we are the only ones who can change the endgame for these species. So many are on the brink of either endangerment or extinction and we need to speak up now before it is too late.

You can learn more about Kenny Hetrick here: 911AnimalAbuse.com

May 2019 Announcement & History Recap

After four years of being on witness protection, we are excited to announce that all four big cats will be staying at Big Cat Rescue permanently. Learn their background story and why we could not share them until now.


Black Panther or Black Leopard

Jinx and other black leopards like him are often called Black Panthers. Since the 1960s, it has been considered politically incorrect to call a black cat a black panther. The big black cats are either black leopards or black jaguars and are not referred to by black panthers by anyone who knows anything about cats. Some people claim to have seen black cougars, which are sometimes referred to as Florida Panthers (despite the fact that they are not in the Panthera category) and thus extrapolate the term black panther, but Florida Panthers are always tan.

The term Black Panther is a term commonly used to refer to many things. It can relate to animals whose coloration is entirely black, which may have originated from the Latin name Panthera. It is also used as a nickname for the British criminal Donald Neilson, a comic book superhero in the Marvel Comics Universe, and an underground newspaper. It is known as a Chinese rock band and a song sang by Mason Jennings.

The Black Panther is the common name for a black specimen (a melanistic variant) of any of several species of cats. Zoologically speaking the term panther is synonymous with leopard. In North America, the term panther is commonly used for a puma; in Latin America, it is most often used to mean jaguar.

Melanism is most common in Jaguars (Panthera Onca) and is due to a dominant gene mutation. It is also common in Leopards (Panthera Pardus) and is due to a recessive gene mutation. If you were to look closely at either one of these cats, you will see that they still have all the standard markings hidden by the surplus of the black pigment Melanin. Cats with melanism can co-exist with littermates that do not have this condition. In cats that hunt mainly at night, the condition is not detrimental. White Panthers also exist, these being albino or leucistic individuals of the same three species.

It is probable that melanism is a favorable evolutionary mutation with a selective advantage under certain conditions for its possessor since it is more commonly found in regions of dense forest, where light levels are lower. Melanism can also be linked to beneficial mutations in the immune systems.

You can learn more about why Black Panther’s do not exist here: Bigcatrescue.org/black-panthers/

Things You Can Do 

Make the Call of the Wild

Make the Call of the Wild and help us pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act, Bill H.R. 1380, on behalf of cats like Jinx. Text the word CATS to 52886 or visit BigCatAct.com and learn more about making a difference for these majestic creatures.  

We can unite and ensure that our voices are heard in place of those who cannot speak for themselves. These cats are suffering each and every day… Will you make that call?

Sponsor Jinx the Black Leopard

Did you know you can sponsor/adopt Jinx for as little as $25.00?All kits include the following appreciation gifts:

  • A four-page color fact sheet about your chosen species
  • Big Cat Rescue logo window decal
  • Registration Card you use to select the cat of your choice. The card has the link to our website to see the cats and their bios
  • 8×10 color photo of the cat you choose to sponsor with the cat name and your name as sponsor printed on it

If this interests you go to https://big-cat-rescue.myshopify.com/products/leopard-sponsorship

Your Purr-chase of Jinx Black Leopard Gear helps support the care of the cats

You can find shirts, tote bags, mugs, necklaces, mousepads and so many more fun items featuring Jinx in our online gift shops. Go to reach gift shop linked below and search “Jinx.” Your PURRchases of Jinx Gear helps us provide for all the cats at Big Cat Rescue and work toward ending the abuse and exploitation of big cats. https://big-cat-rescue.myshopify.com/search?q=dutchess+sapphire+jasmine+jinx

Jinx Photo Album on Facebook

We are working on building a Facebook Photo Album for Jinx now. We will be adding more photos. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.467458190658893&type=3

Jinx Black Leopard Photo Album
Jinx Black Leopard Photo Album

How to Donate at NO COST to YOU!!

You can donate to the cats at NO COST TO YOU when you select BCR as your charity on Amazon Smile and shop Smile.Amazon.com instead of Amazon.com. It is exactly the same as regular Amazon EXCEPT when you use the Smile URL Amazon donates .5% of your purchase to BCR. It’s added up to over $125,000 for the cats! Please visit BigCatRescue.org/amazon-smile for how to sign up and let us know you did so we can thank you. 🙂


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