Nikita Lioness



Rescue 11/30/01

The Queen is Dead

For 20 years Nikita was known, the world around as the Queen of Big Cat Rescue. Her loyal subjects numbered in the tens of thousands who watched her daily on her cams and other LIVE webcams from Verkada and Nest.

We had to say goodbye to our beautiful Nikita on 11/23/2021 but she was surrounded by those who loved her including her vet, Dr. Justin Boorstein who loved her more than any other cat to live at the sanctuary.

Nikita’s mobility steadily decreased and she seemed painful so we asked Dr Justin Boorstein to come out the day before he’d planned to be here for vaccinations and health checks.

Just a few months shy of 21 Nikita lived a long, happy, and healthy life thanks to each and every one of you. She will be sorely missed and will leave a big hole in our hearts. I am so happy that she got one more turkey dinner which she ate and guarded throughout the day. Her last day was spent enjoying one of her favorite things.  – Jamie Veronica Murdock

Nikita’s Rescue Story

Nikita was found chained to the wall in a crack house during a drug bust in Tennessee. Because she had been confined to a concrete floor, she had huge swellings on her elbows that took months to heal.  She was so thin that you could carry her under one arm.  She would only eat white rabbits, so she had a plethora of nutritional issues to deal with as well.

The authorities took her to the Nashville Zoo at Grasmere, but she had been declawed and could not live with the zoo’s other lions.  They had to find a new home for her, so we received the call. Big Cat Rescue agreed to take Nikita in, as well as three other Bobcats who all arrived on 11/30/01.

Nikita has flourished under our care.  She has grown into a tall, lanky, healthy lioness.  She’s extremely playful and loves to roll on her back and grab her paws or try to do somersaults whenever she has visitors stopping by to talk with her.   Though we wish she had the freedom she deserves, we’re so happy that she survived her earlier ordeals to enjoy the blissful days we try to provide for her here.

Here is a list of pages on our site that you can find more information, photos, and videos of Nikita Lion.

See Chris & Gale setting up Piñatas for Cameron and Nikita the lions and Zabu the white tiger in this Wildcat Walkabout Video on April 25, 2014 –

Pumpkin time for Nikita Lion:

Nikita Lioness seized in drug raid! and

Nikita Lioness all grown up:

The walls start to go up on a new play yard for Nikita:

Nikita the lioness loves her new view and can’t wait for room addition:

The last couple wall go up:

Watch Nikita the Lion explore her new enclosure!

Photos of Gayle talking to Nikita Lion:

I wonder what Nikita is thinking while she watches the volunteers and Interns working?

LION VS Big Yellow Ball = Lion Wins! Watch our goofy lioness Nikita take on her new yellow boomer ball! Enrichment is an important part of our cats lives at the sanctuary they will never be free and wild, so we have to keep their minds stimulated with new toys and enrichment, ensuring the best quality life in captivity.

Another photo of Nikita:

Watch as our tigers and lions have fun destroying whole watermelons!

We didn’t think Nikita Lion would ever feel comfortable going into a confined space like one of our feeding lockouts, but she looks pretty content.

RNC visits Big Cat Rescue Lioness Nikita:

See photos – Dr Justin used a bent spoon to dislodge a stick that had gotten stuck across the roof of Nikita Lioness’ mouth.

Nikita Lion and her yellow ball
Nikita Lion and her yellow ball
Nikita Lion "I Haz Feets"
Nikita Lion “I Haz Feets”

Meet the rest of our exotic wild cats.

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  1. Thank you for taking such good care of Queen Nikita all this time and sharing her with all of us. I am devastated and so sorry for you loss and at the same time, so happy that she is not in pain anymore and free. Love Nikita so much.

  2. There are tears streaming down my face as I write this. I only “met” Nikita and started watching her live cam last year in the spring. It was a highlight of each day. She was my favorite BCR cat. I was hoping to come to Tampa to see her in person. This is very sad news but I am glad that she was rescued and had a long life thanks to the wonderful care of Dr. Justin Boorstein and the BCR staff. I have a magnet with her beautiful face on my refrigerator and I will remember her fondly when I look at it. Please accept my condolences at BCR.

  3. My condolences for everyone at Big Cat Rescue. Darling Nikita will be very deeply missed. She was such a unique and special lioness. The world is emptier without her yellow ball yoga and chicken snacks. I will remember her with love and respect.

  4. My wife and I send our condolences to the BCR staff and volunteers. We sponsored Nikita and were blessed to see her one last time on our private tour on November 13th.

    Thank you for your continued efforts to eliminate big cat ownership. We are very sorry for your loss. She was a wonderful ambassador for your organization.

  5. I’m at a loss of for words… Somehow it seemed Nikita would live furrever… You were so loved-beyond your wildest dreams ? and will be missed even more, if that’s even possible. The sanctuary will never be quite same without you. But I have to look up and know you are no longer in pain. You’re free as you were meant to be!! Run, run as fast as you can! Chase endless butterflies ? It’s truly your time to fly! We love you, miss you, and will never ever forget you…Our Queen… Sweet Nikita Lioness

  6. Eva Williams:”NIKITA! ? Let me say a few words. Nikita was performed by Julie Andrews. She have becoming a muppet in 2007 from “Nitika Talks.” She met celebrities like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Daft Punk, Daniel Radcliffe, & more. She becomes the queen of legend. Her favorite is chicken, & chocolate. Full of memories of her lifetime. Will all miss her tongue tricks, chocolate eater, roars, her singing, her broadway musicals, & more. All hail Queen Nitika! GOODBYE FRIEND!” ???????????????????????????

  7. Run free without that constant pain in your feet my lovely Nikita! Forgive us for the sins of our fellow humans. You were so beautiful are sweet. Your keepers and those of us who gazed at you from a distance will miss you and never forget you. Thank you BCR keepers, staff, interns and volunteers for the dedication you show in your strategic planning always for the best outcome for the cats, not the ease or the cost but THE BEST OUTCOME.
    Hugs to you all and to my fellow viewers and contributors.
    Let us give thanks for the time we have had together.

  8. Love you Nikta they gave you so much care and love. You light up their lives and mine. So hard to say goodbye. My boyfriend and I discovered BCR 15 months ago. Condolences to everyone?????????for Nikta

  9. I will miss you so much Nakita my heart aches so bad ?? You are free now and no more pain thank you BCR for all the love and care you gave her. She was one of a kind and loved that roar of hers but she is running free now…will not be the same without you but you deserve to be free and now you are ❤❤❤???

  10. Oh Nikki, what an amazing being you were. Loved the way you walked with we keepers as we cleaned your enclosure and then would run and play. The funny way you held your back feet and doing your lion summersaults! I have missed you these past years and continued to watch your antics from afar. Then the huge respect you commanded at feeding. You took over the reign from Sarabi and did her proud. I loved the sound of you girls answering Cameron’s roars! Thankfully you are now free from pain and can run the savannahs unhindered. Be blessed beautiful, wonderful, and powerful girl!

  11. My heart hurts hearing this news. I had the humbling honor to “meet” Nikita on a tour in December 2019. I had been telling her story to people who were asking about this sanctuary I was excited to visit. She certainly lived up to my expectations and then some. Thank you for giving her the true royal life she deserved, especially after such a traumatic and abusive start to life. I will miss hearing her roars on the various cameras set up through the sanctuary. I am so grateful for the BCR family for the care you gave her and all the cats on site. Royal Lioness, the fields of Heaven are yours… Run free, Nikita.

  12. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing an animal that you loved and cared for is heartbreaking. As you stated before she is now running free with no pain. Thank you for taking care of all the cats. Bless you all.

  13. Sweet beautiful girl. You had such gorgeous honey colored eyes and you were so loved. Run free now sweetheart as you were always meant to be. I love you.

  14. So sorry for your loss. I’m heart broken, I know all of you are way beyond that. I’m so happy we got to see her several times. Run free queen Nikita. She one of my cats I sponsored.

  15. Dearest Nikita, well heaven just gained another angel. Rest in Peace. I had the sincerest pleasure getting to see you in person a few years ago, and as I thought you were magnificent. Loved hearing your call at the sanctuary. Now run free to your pride on the other side!

  16. I was Nikita’s sponsor and I am so sorry that she has passed but she had a wonderful life a t BCR and she will be dearly missed Run free sweetie and chase those rainbows

  17. Nikita Lioness is my favorite at BCR. She has a tremendous story to get there, serious health problems at the beginning but has flourished under the love and care of everyone at Big Cat Rescue. Bless each and everyone that has contributed to the well- being of this wonderful lioness!

    1. Sweet Nikita hung on until today, Nov 24, 2021.
      She has crossed the bridge Carlena.
      I know you were concerned about her back in February.

  18. I feel So bad for Nikita as she does Nothave Cameron eitherAnymore and to add to that somethings not with her either Zabou the white tiger is not around to be with her either Guys you really need to give her extra Attention because she doesn’t have Cameron or Zabu

  19. The most inspiring story that against all odds and in the hands of good care, not only did she lived she blossomed into a beautiful Lioness all because you cared.

    Big Cat Rescue – Tampa FL

    Thank you for giving me the sites to go and tell her story, she gives me so much hope and to never give up. <3 Thank you.

  20. I can see why she adopted him. She seems to, identify with him, probably wants to be petted but that's really not a good idea. I'd bet part of her food time issues isn't just because of her nature, its because she was starved when in captivity before being brought to the rescue. Do lions like to eat deer?

  21. A cat is a cat is a cat. They all respond better to a loving environment and a gentle hand. She sounds like she's quite a character, she just needed a home for people to see it. May her and her kitty friends flourish, they will under Big Cat Rescue's knowledgeable loving care.

  22. I am a fan of The Big Cat Rescue Center and enjoy all of the video's that u all post for us to view, Nikita is lucky that she has a great place to live and lots of people that love her thank u for sharing her story she is truly a beauty…………..

  23. I’ve been wondering; what percentage, do you think, of big cat owners are your odd, everyday, dangerous-animal-obsessed person, and what percentage of owners are criminals with several other crimes under their belt? Is that kind of a number impossible to determine?

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