Joseph Lion Mane Blowing Vacation


hear big cats



Male Lion

DOB 8/19/98

Rescued 10/21/07

Died 3/1/2018

(euthanized after losing battle w/ pancreatic cancer)

Joseph the lion was rescued along with several other lions and tigers who had been bred to be used as photo and ego props.






Your Lion Eyes

When a lens luxated due to old age it became very irritated and had to be dealt with right away.  Dr. Miller, Dr. Wynn and Dr. Boorstein all came in to the Windsong Memorial Hospital to see if the eye could be saved.  Stay tuned.





What do you do when a lion needs a vet?







Call in a team of experts for a lion size house call.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Keepers reported that Joseph the lion wasn’t eating and was wobbling when he walked.

Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

It was a Sunday afternoon and there is no place nearby that we could take a lion for X-rays.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Justin Boorstein and his friend, Dr. Tim Jones sedated Joseph lion to draw blood and do a physical exam.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Jamie’s home made, lion size gas mask enabled the transition from drugs to gas.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Interns held the Y-stick on Joseph, in case he woke suddenly and pumped fluids into Joseph as he slept.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Justin Boorstein listened to the lion’s breathing and heart beat as Dr. Tim Jones kept an eye on the anesthesia.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Every intern had their job, from protecting the vets to logging each drug, each change in vitals and giving fluids.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

That is a lion size heart monitoring cuff!


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Fay Hererro Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Fay Herrero, from Odessa Equine Clinic brought out his portable X-ray machine to make sure there were no broken bones.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Fay Hererro Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Fay Herrero had been making house calls all day for horses, but this way probably his only lion call of the day.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Fay Hererro Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

The portable X-ray was not powerful enough to penetrate Joseph’s abdomen.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

We tried to find a vet with a portable sonogram machine, as well, but had no such luck.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Justin, Cody and Michael lift Joseph so the X-ray pad can be positioned under the sleeping lion.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Dr. Fay Herrero will be on speed dial until our own X-ray machine is up and running.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Fay Hererro Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Despite all of the diagnostics, we still do not know what is causing Joseph to feel bad.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

Hopefully his blood work, which usually takes a few days, will let us know how to proceed.


Vet Joseph Lion Dr Justin Boorstein Dr Tim Jones

When Dr. Herrero left he said, “You have an wonderful group of people here!”

A Lion Pride of a Different Stripe


hear big catsIt took the combined efforts of USDA, undercover agents and concerned citizens seven years to shut down Diana McCourt (aka Cziraky) and her Siberian Tiger Foundation. It wasn’t until her landlords, Donnalynn and Christian Laver were able to evict her from the property that Knox County was able to seize the six cats who had been used for years as props in Diana McCourt’s “tiger training” scheme.

By the end of the ordeal eye witnesses said that the cats were starving and they still have inadequate shelter from the elements.

Joseph the lion and Nikita the tiger, his best friendEven though McCourt lost her USDA license to operate the tiger-tamer camp in 2000, and permanently in 2006, she still continued to charge people to come into her back yard in Gambier, OH and pet the adult lions and tigers.

The cats would often be chained down so that people could touch them or have their photos made with the cats.

To make the cats more pliable McCourt had their teeth and claws removed. (Joseph still has his canine teeth) Despite the abusive violations to their bodies and mobility, the USDA investigation included eight allegations of attacks on visitors in an 8 month period.

Most cases that 6 years or more to prosecute so animals suffer most or all of their lives waiting for help to arrive.  The only way to put an end to the suffering is to end the private possession of big cats and eliminate the USDA loophole that allows people to keep big cats if they have a $40 USDA license.  It is too easy to get and too hard to lose to provide any sort of enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.



In May of 2007 Diana McCourt emailed Carole Baskin asking if she could move her operation to Tampa and bring her cats to Big Cat Rescue.  Our response was that her cats were welcome here but her brand of animal abuse was not.  By August McCourt had been evicted and Knox County was awarded custody of the four tigers and two lions.  Dean Vickers, the State Director for the Ohio branch of the HSUS contacted Big Cat Rescue and asked if we could take the cats, but six more big cats increases our annual budget by $45,000.00.

Sasha the lioness was used as a prop by the Siberian Tiger FoundationWhen Sarabi, our lioness died, her half acre enclosure was opened up so that Nikita our only other lioness could have the run of both half acre enclosures.  This large enclosure has an open roof and is only suitable for lions because they don’t climb, or very old, declawed tigers, who would be unable to climb.  Taking on two lions, age 9 and 13, who have a 20 year life expectancy means a cost of $15,000.00 annually and $150,000.00 in the long run.  Lions often end up in canned hunts, especially males who are coveted as wall trophies, so we felt certain our donors would help us rescue these two cats.  Our board convened and agreed that the lions would be rescued as soon as we could make travel arrangements for them.

Nikita and Simba the tigers who make up Joseph's prideCalling with the good news, that at least the lions would be spared, we were told by the landlord, who has been caring for the cats since evicting Diana McCourt, that the male tiger, Nikita, would be heartbroken that his best friend in the world, Joseph the lion, would be leaving.  As the conversation unfolded it appears that for the last 13 years, two tigers and two lions have shared a cage.  (Joseph only coming along in the past 9 yrs)  Instead of being elated for the lions, we now felt sick that they would be separated from the only pride (albeit tigers) they had ever known.  And thinking about how they would feel, of course, led to thinking about how the tigers left behind would feel.

We appealed to our supporters, asking if they would be willing to help us rescue all four cats who have lived together and the response was an overwhelming, “YES!”

Joseph the lion shares his dinner with Nikita the male tigerOn Oct. 19th Big Cat Rescue’s President Jamie Veronica, VP Cathy Neumann, Operations Manager Scott Lope and Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wynn, DVM flew to Columbus, OH to rendezvous with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) staff and a driver and vet tech from the Animal Sanctuary of the United States (ASUS) at the Columbus Zoo at 6 am on the morning of the 20th.  From there the entourage drove an hour to the Gambier, OH facility and met with the property owner and the Knox County Animal Control Officer, Rich Reed who had been granted possession of the six cats.

Within just a few hours all of the cats were safely loaded and on the way to Florida where they arrived at 6 am the morning of the 21st.  While the weary drivers slept, the Big Cat Rescue team unloaded Nikita, Simba, Sasha and Joseph into their new enclosure, which is a little more than half an acre of lakeside living with high grass, cave like dens and hills from which they can survey their new kingdom.

Joseph the lion sucks his thumb because of emotional scars from being taken from his mother too youngWe let you know that the rescue would cost us $34,000.00* and 294 of you responded.  As of 11/16/07 $29,435.00 has been raised to save these four cats. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) agreed to help rescue the last two cats and IFAW paid to transport all six cats to their final destinations. That saved us $4,000.00! We are now only $565.00 short of what this rescue will cost us in the first year. Thank you everyone who has helped so far!  If you haven’t helped yet, keep in mind that your donations are tax deductible and that these cats rely entirely on your generosity.

See slideshow of photos taken 9/26/07 in Ohio: Siberian Tiger Foundation


The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) agreed to help rescue and place the last two cats, Sierra and Ekaterina who are now at Wildcat Sanctuary.

Sierra the white tiger lives with Ekaterina and still needs a home too! Ekaterina the tigress lives with Sierra the white tiger and still needs a home too!
Sierra the white tigress Ekaterina the tigress

Should there be any surplus in the donations made to this rescue they will be used for the continued care of the cats.

More Info About and Photos of Joseph


Do lions cough up hairballs? Check out this specimen from Joseph:

Scroll down this link to see a video of Joseph eating his much loved vanilla ice cream:

Tigers, Lions, Leopards, all cat species can catch fleas, so at Big Cat Rescue we have to treat all of our 100+ residents with flea prevention just like your domestic cat at home every single month!:

Kids’ freebies featuring the lions of Big Cat Rescue:

Check out Joseph the lion doing some “gardening” in his enclosure:

Despite all the commotion today, Joseph the Lion just couldn’t care less. (scroll down to find the photo):

Joseph the Lion Before and After:

Download a free iBook or PDF, “The Lions of Big Cat Rescue”:

Scroll down this link to find a photo of Joseph entitled “Joseph the Lion makes his mark on Big Cat Rescue”:

Funny captioned photo of Joseph:

Photo entitled, “Joseph the lion is one of our best singers”:

See and Hear Cameron and Joseph lions roaring:

Come along with Carole Baskin using Google Glass while catching a bobcat, caring for an elderly tiger, shaving a bobcat, watching staff building the “Bobcat Tower of Terror,” talking with Simba Leopard on vacation, catching and sending Sabre Leopard out on his first vacation, checking in on the feisty little Cypress bobcat, a sneak peek at Genie the sandcat, Joseph lion taking a long, cool drink and more:

A page with a few videos about Joseph’s Rescue:

A photo of Joseph waiting on another treat:

Photo of Intern Heather drawing Joseph and Sasha lions:

Lion Facts:

Photo entitled, “Joseph and Sasha the lions are all sleepy eyed”:

Find a photo of Joseph and Sasha the lions on a lazy afternoon:

Watch as we let Joseph and his pride of another lion and two tigers into their new large enclosure:

Joseph’s Pride are two lions and two tigers that were rescued from a facility in Columbus, Ohio on October 19th, 2007:

A lion of a different stripe:

Chardonnay featuring Joseph the lion:

2016 June

2016 July

Similar Posts


  1. I live in Indonesia.. and here, there are a few zoo that neglect the Big Cats… perhaps because the meat to feed them are expensive, and also the habit here are not too keen to animmal… we are less civilized when it comes to animals.. people hate dogs because it is a moslem country.. and cats are everywhere, being huss here and there coz they steal meat and fish from kitchen and restaurants.. can someone check on Surabaya Zoo and Semarang Zoo for the big cats there?

  2. God Bless all of you there for saving all the animals. All of you there are very special people.

  3. Aww I didn't know Sierra and Ekaterina were from the same place Joseph's pride was. I'm glad all of them are safe now!

  4. Marvellous story. I follow all your posts and as soon as I am next in the USA will come and visit you and the magnificent cats you have rescued.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *