June 25 2017

Avatar LaWanna | June 25, 2017 110 Views 0 Likes 0 Ratings

Big Cat Updates

Keeper Lynda's Coordinator Report for Sat 6/24/2017

I did a rare Saturday as coordinator and I felt like the planets were aligned today.

We had a good turnout of volunteers today so almost everyone who can do operant did it with their cats after cleaning. Everyone was so excited to try out their cats and start working with them.

Sarah B and MC and a couple interns tackled the area behind Kewlona and Dryden to clear out paths for keepers to walk.

Sarah spotted a big clump of burr plants and they got right on it and removed them all as well.

Later in the day, food prep was done early, so those not on PM tours cleaned up all the raked up piles by the new small cat vacation enclosure.

I saved the tiger row/island project for tomorrow as I see there are a lot of green shirt keepers expected.

The Holleys were also here and built a new platform in the new small cat vacation.

The hired workers were here to pave a walkway from the bridge to the tour path. They will probably be back tomorrow and need to have a volunteer or intern with them.

Cats all ate well

Becky and I had tried to shift Reise to FunCation throughout the day. Becky got her as far as Cheetaro's bubble and then came back to help w/ meds & late feeds. While we were doing meds and intern radioed that Reise had walked herself over.

Sarah B, Meg, and Becky worked with Carole to put up all the tunnels.

All the cats took their meds to boot!!

It was nice to work with the Saturday crowd.



48 card pack $5.00 Each card features a stunning color photograph of one of America's native species on one side and fun interesting facts on the other side. Great learning fun for all ages. Stunning photos on these cards. Great tool for learning that can easily travel with you on any adventure.

 Vernon Stairs Memorial Service

Vernon Stairs Memorial SignYesterday we unveiled the tribute sign to my Dad by the FunCation; his last project.

Howie has been working on this since last August, going through two different vendors and then having to insist that a section of granite that broke be re created for the sign. It’s a beautiful memorial and Dad would have hated all the fuss, but it was touching to see such a huge crowd of family, friends and volunteers come to pay their respects.

My brother, Chuck, managed to hold it together to share some insights about our father. He had to stop several places along the way, as emotion over flowed, but he was surprisingly in-control for the most part. Trundy video taped it and I’ve asked her to send me the file. Maybe, if she and the family are OK with it, I'll post it.  Chuck started out by saying that people would remember Dad for his smile, if they were ever lucky enough to talk with him long enough to see it. They would remember him for his work ethic, his love of family and his love of God.

Chuck went on to say that Dad was a runner. After his heart attack in 2011 and the damage done to his leg when the surgeons removed some of the veins to use around his heart, Dad could only shuffle along. In the 20 years he worked here, I’d only experienced him moving fast once. Chuck told of his time that he saw Dad run.

bobcat tractorI never knew it until today, but when Chuck first came to work here, he was using the bobcat to pull out invasive species trees called Brazilian peppers. Emboldened by the power of the bobcat, Chuck was taking larger and larger bites into the trees and pulling them out by the roots. He did that right up until the point that he flipped the bobcat over and was face down in the dirt. Not wanting to set the whole thing on fire, because he wasn’t sure he’d be able to escape the rollover cage, Chuck turned off the key. The sudden silence caused Dad to look up and see his son, upside down, in the deathly quiet bobcat.

Chuck said that Dad ran across the field like he’d never seen him run. He out ran Scott Haller who was 20 years younger. Turns out Chuck was fine.

Chuck went on to talk about how every time a family member needed Dad, to help them alongside the road with a broken down vehicle, or to help them with a repair, or to help financially, Dad was always running in to the rescue. Jamie and I had just been talking about the fact that we have no one to call any more. We didn’t realize how much we relied on him to fix everything, even when his body was so close to wearing out.

Thinking of Dad running reminded me of the only time in my adult life that I experienced him running. Twice as a kid he ran as I had run-ins with a coral snake (age 6?) and a water moccasin (age 9?) On this night we were both leaving the sanctuary via Easy Street after dark. If I had to guess, I’d say it was circa 2005-2007 because my life was being threatened by then, pretty regularly, by the breeders and dealers who were angry about the sea change they attributed to me.

Dad left first, made his turn off the dirt road to the right and then the U-turn at the light. I was approaching Citrus Park Dr., when I saw a kitten dart across Easy St. I parked, hopped out, ran to the side of the road and then leapt for the kitten. No sooner had I grabbed the kitten, a hand yanked me off my feet and out of the brush. I held onto the kitten for dear life; knowing that she would end up in traffic and be killed, if I let go. My thoughts were more on the kitten’s plight, than wondering what gorilla had just jerked me off my feet.


Mom, Dad and Baloo Bear (not the kitten from the story)

Dad, the kitten and I were all pretty stunned, as we came face to face. Apparently, after he had made the U-turn, across 4 lanes of traffic, he’d slowed down to see my car stop. He pulled off the road to see why. When he saw me lurch into the brush he thought someone had grabbed me. In the time it took me to leap into the bushes and nab the kitten, he’d run across four lanes of traffic, down Easy St and managed to have a grip on me like an iron vise.

Back to the unveiling today, Chuck called me up to help him lift the cover off and we hugged for a long time as I cried. Jamie had pulled back away from the crowd because she didn’t want people hugging her. She's always hated being touched.  Howie tried to lighten the mood by telling his stories about the first time he met Dad and how Dad had rolled his eyes when I introduced Howie. He didn’t know that was just a tick Dad had and wasn’t meant as an insult. Howie said he thought to himself that Dad was going to be a hard nut to crack.

Howie’s other story was about the rake named John. Dad liked to work alone. I’d hired several people over the years to work with him and he just hated it. He liked working with Scott though.  John was only good for holding up wire, so when John left, Dad would hold up the cage panels he was working on with two rakes; both named John.

Howie had come by with a tour one day and thought he’d show Dad some attention (which was the last thing Dad ever wanted). Howie said, “This is Vern,” and taking one of the rakes and pulling it loose from the wire to hold it up said, “and this is John.” Of course the wall fell on Howie and Dad’s heads at that time because “John” had been holding up the wall. Howie said teasingly to Chuck and me afterward that “Vern did NOT come running to help me!”

When you tour the sanctuary, and come to the FunCation, you will see the beautiful tribute to Dad in front of his last big project, and greatest achievement in cage building here. In the hours before his death I was able to show Dad an aerial view of his masterpiece.  I'm so glad he got to see it from such a perspective before leaving us.

Keeper Brittany shared a few snapshots for you.

Vernon Stairs Memorial Sign Unveiling Vernon Stairs Memorial Sign Unveiling Vernon Stairs Memorial Sign Unveiling Vernon Stairs Memorial Sign Unveiling Vernon Stairs Memorial Sign Unveiling

 Bobcat Rehab News

We need written permission to release Nova Bobcat on 40 acres (or much more) of privately held land in DeSoto County, FL.  Email me if you have or know of someone.  We can't release on state, county or city owned parks (go figure?!) so you have to own it or know the owner.  Cat@BigCatRescue.org  Nova says she's ready to take on the world!

Viewer Shawndi'srecent video of Nova:

Facebook Live Video Replays

Walkabout with Carole  (not meds, just a walkabout)

Carole Thanks Supporters While Watching Live Web Cams. See lovely Nirvana painting by April Howland of HowlandStudios.com, donated by: Crystal, Katherine, Brenda, Jaime, Chris, Susann, Kayla, Ruxandra, Kristine, Lori and Donna and in spirit by Matthew and Robin. Father's Day card by Kathy read. Letter from Lori and Rooney read.

Watch our big cats live anytime at BigCatRescue.org/cams or the shortcut that might be easier to remember is BigCatCams.com

 Happy Birthday Mickey

From Viewer Lesa Stratton:  HAPPY 14TH BIRTHDAY TO MY FAVORITEST BOY AT BCR!!!??? Make sure he gets a 'sickle and lots of love! ?

Mickey's Date of Birth:  6/25/2003

Mickey's Date of Rescue:  8/18/2014

Mickey Story, photos and video:  http://bigcatrescue.org/mickey/

Carole & Howie Presented

Note from Carole: Howie and I spoke at the Thought Leaders group at the Centre Club on Jun 23 about Financial Stability via Social Marketing.  There is more info at BigCatRescue.org/nelson   Later today I'll post a video of the presentation that Afton filmed. Right now the video on that page is must my rehearsal.

Carole mention the page BigCatRescue.org/nelson and my suggestion is, "check it out."  She lists the hardware and software she uses, she talks about staffing and procedures, etc.

People Often Ask

Big Cat & Public Safety Act

Question:  How can I find out of my Representative was a co-sponsor or not?

Question:  If my Representative is already co-sponsoring the bill H.R. 1818, what else can I do now?

  • Answer:  You can keep making the weekly Call of the Wild at BigCatAct.com but instead of asking your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 1818 ask them to CHAMPION H.R. 1818

Question: What is the difference between Co-Sponsoring and Championing?

  • Answer:  Co-Sponsoring means they will vote for it.  Championing means they will actively try to get their friends and colleagues to Co-Sponsor as well.

Go to BigCatAct.com to make the weekly Call of the Wild.

What is the Call of the Wild?  http://bigcatrescue.org/cta-call-wild/

Keeper Corner

Keeper Brittany Mira:  I'm so excited to have Little White Dove and Running Bear as my operant cats!! Who else is excited about their assigned kitties?!?!! Wherever Little White Dove is... Running Bear isn't far behind.

Note to Viewers:  Newcomers may be asking, "What does 'operant cats' mean?"  Well, here at Big Cat Rescue we do what is called Operant Conditioning with the cats.  That helps us keep a close eye on how the cats are moving and enables us to catch things early if anything is wrong.  It is kind of a close observation tool.  Keepers are assigned specific cats and their observations are logged for coordinators and vets to see.  It is how we know, say if a cat is chewing funny, or has a swollen paw, or something like that.

Learn more about this at  http://bigcatrescue.org/operant-conditioning/ and at http://bigcatrescue.org/operant-conditioning-at-big-cat-rescue/

Here is a sample video:

By the way:  This is a video like the ones you will find at ZooCollege.com which is our website that shares our keeper training with the world.  ZooCollege.com costs only $9 per month and is available for everyone, all ages, INCLUDING YOU!  You can cancel any time.  If you think it is interesting, there are three free video lessons there you can take.  Enjoy, and PLEASE, let us know what you think.


TJ Tiger Tribute Customize Ladies' V-Neck Tee

TJ Tiger was greatly loved and everyone has some fond memory of him splashing in the lake at Big Cat Rescue. Customize this memorial tribute to him with your own text.

You could add stats about him found here: http://bigcatrescue.org/TJ/  or maybe: I Loved TJ Tiger or: BigCatAct.com... whatever you want to say on your very own customizable product.

When you select your item, choose the size and color and then click the pink button that says CUSTOMIZE to add your text to personalize the item.

Please understand that customized items may not be returned, unless there is a flaw in the craftsmanship.

TJ Tiger’s life will not have been in vain if your efforts result in a society that will not tolerate breeding wild cats for life in cages.

  • 4.5-ounce, 100% ring spun cotton
  • 90/10 cotton/poly (Heather Grey)
  • Missy contoured silhouette with side seam; Rib knit 1/2 inch rib knit collar
  • Decoration type: Digital Print
  • Made by Anvil

Facebook Live Contest

When you purr-ticipate in Carole’s Facebook Live contest you need to put your answers in the special form at BigCatRescue.org/win


Question:  In Afton's recent tribute video for TJ, what appears to be TJ's favorite candy bar?

Answer:  Mr. Goodbar (it was the decoration of the enrichment box he chose from his platform in the video)

Winner:  Crystal Marrs

 Game Fundraiser

Castle Cats is a free mobile game about managing a guild of cat heroes on their quest to save the kingdom of Catania from the Evil Pugomancer! Right now there is a Charity Event going on in-game where 15 cat celebrities have joined in as heroes of Catania to make the world a better place! With every Waffles, Cole, Marmalade, Alice or Finnegan purchase $1 will be donated to Big Cat Rescue!

Note from Keeper Afton:  Jen and I are playing the game.  It is very kid friendly.  Chris's cats Cole and Marmalade are involved as you can see them in the pictures attached.

Cole and  Marmalade have chosen Big Cat rescue as their chosen charity.

Also the cat Waffles that chose us as their charity is pretty famous like Cole & Marmalade.

Here are some screenshots from the game.

Download Castle Cats (iOS and Android) here: onelink.to/y8cecg

 Cole & Marmalade's Corner

 TJ, the Aquatic Tiger Update

In building the book I am up to page 18 now, so we will be ready to go to print within, hopefully the next 10 days.

I NEED Something From Viewers, ASAP!!!!!  

Many of you will remember the day TJ refused to get up and come across the lakeside enclosure to eat so the keepers went all the way around to the back side an poked the feeding stick up under the shade wall in the back.  One of you sent me a photo of that.  What I need to know is are there any more photos out there of that and did anyone get video of that?  I'd like to make a web page to accompany the book to play videos, like that one.  If you have photos of video footage on that funny TJ Moment, please email me at lawanna.mitchell@bigcatrescue.org

ALSO, the day he chased a bird, chased or ignored a squirrel, things like that.  ONLY you guys can provide me with those things for the book and its accompanying web page.

I missed a lot of those special TJ Moments so to make this tribute to TJ complete, I NEED YOUR Photos, videos, and text commemorating those special TJ Moments.

Reminder:   This book will be a Limited Edition as we are only ordering a small number of them  We will base the number ordered on how many of you reserve a copy.  Honey and Jamie will have it posted int he gift shop soon.  When it sells out it will be gone.  If you want to be on the list to be notified of when it is put in the gift shop email me.

Again, the book is a printed hardback with 40 pages filled with info about TJ and LOTS of photos.  The book will be $35.

 Viewer Videos From Explore.org/bigcatrescue

Here is a list of YouTube channels that feature videos of the cats here:

  WANTED – Graphic Artists

Carole is looking for a graphic artist who really gets what we are all about and would would like to help us with some graphics for shirts.  If that is you or if you know someone like that, please have them email Carole at cat@bigcatrescue.org

 Quick Links

As per viewer suggestions, Quick Links now has it’s very own page http://bigcatrescue.org/quick-links/

Bookmarking it will help you find things quickly.  That will come in handy for:

  • Helping us answer questions on social media
  • Finding answers to some of Carole’s Facebook Live questions

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