Why Animal Exploiters Attack Big Cat Rescue Online
Big Cat Rescue is the largest sanctuary devoted exclusively to big cats that is accredited by GFAS, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. BCR has been held out by GFAS as a model of excellent sanctuary management, both financially and operationally. We have held seminars on our practices for other GFAS sanctuaries and for the sanctuary managers of one of the largest animal welfare organizations in the world.
Charity Navigator is the leading independent evaluating body for nonprofit organizations. BCR has earned their highest ranking (100%) and their highest 4-star rating for “sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency” every year since we were first evaluated by them in 2010. Per their rating letter “Only 7% of the charities we rate have received at least 4 consecutive 4-star evaluations indicating that Big Cat Rescue outperforms most other charities in America.”
The Independent Charities of America has certified Big Cat Rescue as one of the Best in America Charities every year since 2008.
GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews for nonprofit organizations, has named Big Cat Rescue as one of its “Top-Rated Charities” every year since the beginning of its ratings in 2010. Those who tour BCR give the experience very high ratings on TripAdvisor, Yelp and other social media rating sites. We have at this writing over 2.2 million Facebook followers and our BigCatTV.com YouTube videos have received over 300 million views.
So, why when you Google Big Cat Rescue do you see some pages devoted totally to trashing us and when articles appear that we comment on do you see a few people commenting repeatedly trying to get you to go to those sites?
If our mission was simply to care for the animals we take in those pages would not exist. But our two-part mission is much broader. Our first duty is to give the best home we can to the roughly 50 wild cats we can provide a home for at the sanctuary. But the second part of our mission, to which we devote enormous resources, is to impact the lives of thousands of animals by working to end the widespread mistreatment of big cats in captivity. We do that by taking on the bad guys who are causing these animals misery. We do it in the following ways:
- Advocating for stronger regulations. For instance, we have actively worked with a number of the major animal welfare organizations to submit to USDA a 70+ page petition documenting why cub petting is abusive and why USDA should change its rules to forbid it as part of USDA’s mandate under the Animal Welfare Act to create rules to ensure humane treatment of animals.
- Advocating for laws banning private ownership of big cats in roadside zoos and as pets. We have testified at hearings and organized grassroots campaigns to support state bans. But most of our effort has gone into being one of the leading entities urging Congress to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act that would phase out ownership by roadside zoos and big cats in backyards as pets. Federal bills typically take a number of sessions of Congress to pass, building support momentum over a period of years. At the end of the 2012 session the bill had 60 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. At the end of the 2014 session support had almost doubled to 119, over 25% of the legislators in the House. The bill was introduced in the 2016 session in September 2015. In 2018 we had enough co-sponsors and support to pass the bill, but the Republican chairman of the committee would not allow it to be heard. We have reintroduced it in 2019 and now that the chairman of the committee is a supporter of the bill, it is being heard. You can read about the bill HERE and help by easily contacting your legislators HERE.
- When we detect situations we view as abusive like ripping tiny tiger cubs from their mothers at birth so ‘exhibitors” can make money forcing the often sleep deprived cubs to be petted or even swim with customers, or other traveling displays or circus style acts using big cats, we ask supporters to email and call the venues that allow these displays to show the venues that the majority of people view these as abusive. With the amazing help of our “Advocats” who take the time to make these calls and send these emails, we have gotten the owners of over 200 malls and fairs to no longer allow such displays. Major corporations like Citigroup and Porsche have agreed not to have such displays at corporate events after we educated them about the evils of these displays.
- Our Founder and staff are regularly interviewed as experts for news stories on issues related to big cats in captivity and we proactively comment online, sometimes positively and sometimes correcting articles that fail to accurately portray the plight of the big cats.
Being a leader in the fight to stop the abuse puts a target on the back of Big Cat Rescue and its Founder. The people who make money exhibiting big cats and selfishly wanting to own them as pets have no arguments that resonate with the public to justify their greed and selfishness. The only defense they can come up with is to try to discredit Big Cat Rescue online by posting lies. The fact that so much time and energy is put into these websites trashing BCR is a testimony to the fact that we are being EFFECTIVE! If we were not, would they spend the time?
A large portion of the bashing brings up the early history of BCR, which we transparently provide right on our own website and in a large sign in the tour waiting area at the sanctuary. In the first few years in the early 90’s, before Carole came to know better, some animals were purchased and bred here. We now lead the fight to end that private breeding. You can click these links to read about the sanctuary’s history and evolution of thought.
One of the things our opponents love to rant about are cats who were born at Big Cat Rescue. In addition to the links above, which explain why ANY cats were born here, it’s most important to note that as of 2019 there are 4 still alive. They are a larger percentage of our population than ever before because they have always had excellent care, so they live longer. The youngest is 20 and the oldest are 23. There is 1 bobcat, 1 ocelot, 1 serval and a leopard. That means we haven’t bred cats here in 20 years, we also never bred any lions or tigers, and yet the very people who make the most noise about our past mistakes are still breeding lions, tigers, and other big cats.
Opponents complain that we don’t talk a lot about them being born here, and the reason is that people see us as a model sanctuary. If they don’t process our entire message they might think that if BCR ever bred wild cats, then it must be a good thing to do. We want to be sure they don’t leave here or our website, thinking it’s OK to breed wild animals for life in cages; because it’s not.
BCR has been covered positively by the press over several thousand times (click here to see our media coverage). However on three occasions some years ago, in 2006-7 and 2011, the exploiters convinced reporters to print their lies. The latter time the report was based primarily on the exploiter we had sued earlier that year. Because the exploiters constantly drag out those stories and repost them online, we have gone point by point through the lies in them at the sites below:
2011 https://bigcatrescue.org/channel-10-repeats-big-cat-abusers-lies/ (based largely on lies of the exploiter we sued that year)
Some of the handful of attackers are people who run roadside zoos like:
Joe Schreibvogel Maldonado Passage of GW Zoo in Oklahoma (the one we sued and who is in prison after being convicted of 2 counts of murder for hire to kill Carole Baskin, and 17 wildlife trafficking counts) – see TigerCubAbuse.com
Kathy Stearns of Dade City Wild Things in Tampa – who has now been barred from possessing tigers. See TigerCubAbuse2.com
Eddie Serio of Black Jaguar White Tiger in Mexico – see 911animalabuse.com/black-jaguar-white-tiger/ This is probably the most successful of the scamtuaries. Serio has duped millions of people into thinking he is saving animals when in fact he has a steady stream of cubs showing up in his closets, with no real explanation of where they keep coming from, where their parents are, or where they go when they aren’t fun to play with anymore. If he were really rescuing the cats and cubs, there would be videos of the rescue missions and he’d be asking you to help stop those breeders so more cubs aren’t born into cages. He’d fix his cats so they wouldn’t breed and add to the problem, but he refuses to do so.
He’s sending entirely the wrong message by allowing contact with the animals because seeing images like that is what makes people pay to play with cubs, which is what drives almost all of the abuse. As for loving animals, one video shows this jerk kicking an animal just to torment the owner who entrusted the animal to him and now wishes she had never heard of him. As one example of his nonsensical attacks on Big Cat Rescue, he has been distributing a screen shot from our 990 tax form that shows that the line item Animal Care and Educational Programs is 18% of our total expenses and claiming “only 18% goes to the animals” trying to imply we do not use donor funds properly. Pretty funny from a guy who offers no transparency as to revenue or expenses and dupes people into supporting his exploitation.
The line item he points to only includes direct costs like food, veterinary care, maintaining the cages. Does Serio think running a sanctuary just means buying some food and building some cages and having a vet come by? Of course not – he knows better. This item does not include any of the salaries that it takes to run the sanctuary, the insurance, the new cat hospital we built, utilities, housing for the interns we train to in both animal care and the issues, the gift shop that helps fund the sanctuary, the efforts we make to educate the public about the plight of the animals in captivity (e.g. that places like Black Jaguar are NOT sanctuaries and are sending the wrong message), the legal expense we have incurred suing one of the most notorious tiger cub exploiters, or the expenses associated with our effort to pass a federal bill that would end private breeding and possession of big cats to end the suffering that results from private ownership. Serio also points to family members on our staff. We are proud of the fact that we are a family of hard working people dedicated to the cats who work for very reasonable salaries. We are so proud of the way we handle donor funds that we post all of our tax returns and outside audits of those returns here: https://bigcatrescue.org/about/finances/
Charity Navigator is the organization most respected worldwide for judging whether nonprofits are good stewards of donor funds. Big Cat Rescue has received their highest four-star rating five years in a row, something only 7% of the thousands of nonprofits they rate achieves. Who is a better judge of governance and stewardship of donor funds, Charity Navigator or Eddie Serio? If Serio were rated by Charity Navigator, would he manage to get one star?
Another one of Serio’s lies is telling his duped followers that Big Cat Rescue pays people to write positive reviews of the sanctuary. See https://bigcatrescue.org/pay-for-reviews/
The funny thing about Serio’s attacks is that when he sends his lies about BCR out to the millions of people he has duped and they actually take the time to learn what we do, many realize they have been duped and become supporters of ours. That is the silver line in having to deal with his nonsense and false attacks.
Another lie the animal abusers like to tell is that Big Cat Rescue is not a sanctuary. They use this screenshot to mislead their believers, even though we have been addressing this since 2007. We were able to get Florida lawmakers to enact a $10,000 bond requirement to protect people who may be injured by those exhibiting big cats. At that time, the only way to legally own a Class I animal, like a lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar or cougar was to be an exhibitor. The Florida Wildlife Commission has always taken the position that the citizens of the state cannot tell them what to do. They took advantage of the fact that the legislature used the term “exhibit” to create a new category of dangerous animal owners they called “sanctuaries.” They thought that it would exempt those owners, the powerful circus lobby, who often warehouse animals off site when not on the road. We went back to the legislature in 2009 and had them change the word from “exhibit” to “possess” so that everyone who possesses a Class I animal now has to post the bond.
As you can see, the bad guys take some kernel of truth, and then twist it and lie to you so that you will believe them. How many lies do you have to catch them in?
A few other attackers are individuals who may or may not be using their real names to post their attacks. They appear under some of the names below and spend enormous amounts of time building websites and blogs full of nonsense and posting online to try to direct people to them. These include:
|Juan Garcia Big Cat Rescue Watch||Tim Stark||Joe Exotic Schreibvogel||karencatsz|
|Barbara Hoffmann TopCatsRoar||Jeff Lowe||Kathy Stearns||Alejandra Gonzalez|
|“Doc Antle” of T.I.G.E.R.S||REXANO||Lynn Culverfirstname.lastname@example.org|
and others, or other aliases.
No doubt there are people who read the trash posted by those who wish to continue to exploit big cats and do not look further. Thank you for coming to this page to learn the truth. Very simply, as noted above, the repeated posts by these attackers are a clear sign that our advocacy work to stop their exploitation is having an impact. If it was not threatening to them, they would not take the time to falsely try to damage our reputation.
See what our cages are really like:
More Lies the Bad Guys Tell
People like Eddie Serio of Black Jaguar White Tiger tell their minions to post one-star reviews about Big Cat Rescue even though they have never been here. They, and others like them, tell their fans that it’s because Big Cat Rescue pays for good reviews. Find out how they mislead you with an image that actually proves they are lying here: https://bigcatrescue.org/pay-for-reviews/
BigCatExploiters is a website that seems to have been created in 2016 but all of their “Latest News” appears to have been posted on 4/5/19 (just a couple days after Joe Exotic’s conviction). It’s all the same stuff they have been regurgitating for years and a few new lies.
October 8, 2017 – A 17-year old female white tiger named Zabu almost drowned in a small pond with volunteers helplessly screaming and watching from outside the enclosure. The tiger’s mate, a male lion named Cameron, had to be sedated in order to try saving the drowning tiger.
We posted a video about what happened, using our live web cams that captured the sound, if not all of the action:
August 4, 2017 – While live-streaming on Facebook, Carole Baskin filmed her daughter who is also the President of Big Cat Rescue using a some sort of stick to prod at a then 4-month old bobcat kitten named Cooper.
This is Cooper’s release. Some of the young rehabbed bobcats leap freely from the crate. Others are shy and we have to urge them out of the crate. We may have touched him with a stick, to spook him out of the crate, but we would never hurt a cat.
November 17, 2016 – During a Facebook live stream one of Big Cat Rescue’s workers tried forcing a tiger out of a transport cage by poking at it using a prod of some kind. The camera would occasionally pan away from the tiger each time the worker had the prod in hand. The tiger could be heard clearly displaying its anger off camera, but fortunately some of the prodding was caught on video. Many worried fans of Big Cat Rescue commented their disapproval and suggested to leave the tiger in the transport cage until it was ready to get out on its own as it was likely scared.
This was the arrival of 5 tigers from the tiger breeding mill in CO. We did touch one tiger with a stick from behind. They don’t like being touched and will move away from the lightest brush of a twig and in this particular case the twig was so tiny that when it touched the cat if crumbled. This is the video of the cats’ arrival. They had to all come off the trucks and to into their enclosures for their own safety, and so the transporter could leave. We actually have had one cat, who wasn’t going to leave the transport for any reason and we ended up strapping it to the cage and letting him come out on his own, resulting in thousands of dollars to ship the crate back to the transporter later.
September 9, 2016 – A serval was found with a broken leg inside its cage. Big Cat Rescue claims to not know what caused the injury. When taken to see their veterinarian they started making paw paintings using the legs that weren’t broken.
Nala was known for flying through the air to catch birds and squirrels, so we assumed she landed wrong from one of her “flights.” Whenever cats are sedated, if we have time while blood tests are running, we will do paw paintings for the volunteers who have named that cat as their favorite cat. More about that here: https://bigcatrescue.org/paw/
August 15, 2016 – Big Cat Rescue orchestrated a call-to-action on a restaurant called the Paramount Grill after learning they might allow their patrons to pet kittens to raise money to help in the transport of a rhino. Some of Big Cat Rescue’s supporters ended up threatening the restaurant owner and his employees by sending death threats and bomb threats.
None of us threatened the restaurant and we always admonish people to be polite because no one listens if you are screaming and being emotional. We don’t even know if the claim that someone made such a call is true. This was actually one of our successful advocacy efforts where at first the owner ignored, but after seeing the public reaction he cancelled the appearance of the breeder and her wildcats. The purpose of the fundraiser is irrelevant. Taking cats, in this case Geoffroy Cat kittens, off site for people to pet them is mistreatment of the animals and sends the wrong message, encouraging people to buy exotic pets.
July 15, 2016 – Big Cat Rescue offers a new program called “Volunteer Vacations” where tourists can pay thousands of dollars to “volunteer” for a week. In the page detailing the program, Big Cat Rescue says, “You absolutely cannot touch the cats, unless it just so happens that one is sedated for medical procedures that particular week.”
This is the link to our page on volunteer vacations. If we were doing a surgical procedure, the visitor might have been able to help. Only one person actually has ever decided to take this vacation and there were no surgeries then. https://bigcatrescue.org/volunteer-vacations/
February 23, 2016 – A volunteer is possibly bitten by a cougar. One of Big Cat Rescue’s volunteers originally reported that she had been bitten by a cougar, but later changed her story claiming that she was injured by a sharp point on the enclosure housing the cougar.
When the volunteer showed us, and law enforcement, the tiny cut on the tip of her finger and all of us went out to the spot on the cage where she said it happened, we discovered a sharp edge of the galvanizing material that was the most likely cause. She had insisted her hand wasn’t inside the cage, and there’s no way the cat’s teeth could have been on the outside of the cage to cause that kind of an injury.
December 6, 2014 – Big Cat Rescue admits that they were declawing their cats until 2005. They try blaming their actions on “breeders and dealers” even though Carole wrote a book explaining how she would never declaw a domesticated cat, but recommends declawing exotic cats. In her book she goes on to say, “The reasons for declawing are endless and the excuses for not doing so are not justified.”
On this one they try to mislead people into thinking this was happening in 2014, but the fact of the matter is true that 2005 was the last time we declawed a cat because our attitude toward it had changed as we learned more.
December 5, 2014 – One of Big Cat Rescue’s sandcats choked to death on a chicken neck. Volunteers were forced to watch the cat slowly die as they waited on Carole Baskin and her daughter to arrive on scene. On their website, Big Cat Rescue says, “Our policies don’t allow anyone to rush in with Canyon without Jamie or Carole present, because no one would have known that he was choking, rather than having a seizure, until they had their fingers in his mouth.” Sandcats are a tiny species of exotic cat that weigh between 3-8 pounds.
It wasn’t just that Jamie or I had to be there, but at that time we were the only ones close by with a key. No one could get in the cage to rescue the cat. We detailed what happened here: https://bigcatrescue.org/canyon/
Note that you would NEVER see incidents like this or some of the others on this page from any other facility. It is testimony to our transparency, and if the bad guys want to twist it like you see on this page, so be it. We accept that rather than not be transparent.
November 17, 2014 – The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement conducts an unannounced inspection of Big Cat Rescue and finds more than 70 discrepancies such as failing to maintain rusty enclosures, filthy water bowls for the cats, and improper record keeping.
This was a bizarre event and to this day we do not know what was behind it. Short answer is three inspectors came together and spent hours determined find things to write up. Afterward we received the ridiculous report we went through it line by line proving them wrong to senior personnel. This is a great example though of the kernel of truth. There were no “filthy water bowls.” In fact, here is language from the report:
“All animals appeared to be healthy with food and fresh water provided. All enclosures had the proper enrichment, shelter and are maintained in sanitary conditions.”
What they claimed was that the metal boxes that hold the water bowls were made of wire that was below the required gauge. However, there are two systems of wire measurement, kind of like metric vs. inches but not exactly. They were using the wrong kind of gauge and were wrong about the wire.
There was also no improper paperwork. Even less than a kernel on this one. They did not issue a violation, just said we should note that on our rehab cages we need to put the name or other identifier of the cat on the cage so that it matched the records. Our record keeping has never been criticized.
Now that all of these lies have been set straight, the animal abusers will create more, because that’s what they do.