Thanking Big Cat Rescue

What do you do when you are a small animal shelter in the Florida Keys and the local police call you to come pick up a lion? Fortunately, Stand Up for Animals, a nonprofit organization based in Marathon, found the answer: Call Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue. This nonprofit cares for abandoned and neglected big cats, many of whom are victims of roadside zoos or the exotic pet trade.

In our case, the animal happened to be not a lion, but a Serval, a medium-sized, cheetah-like cat meant to be running on the savannahs of Africa rather than locked in a tiny carpeted condo.

“Servie,” as she was called, was caught in the half-world nightmare that so many exotics fall victim to – not able to bond and enjoy human companionship in a home and unable to live in the wild.

Her owner could no longer care for her, and we certainly did not want to destroy her or turn her over to a roadside zoo. With the help of a veterinarian, our organization located Carole Baskin, the director of Big Cat Rescue. Within 24 hours, Carole’s daughter, Jamie, was on her way to the Keys to pick up the frightened and confused animal.

Today, Servie is adjusting well to her new life in a roomy enclosure at Big Cat Rescue, enjoying the smell of grass and fresh air and the feel of warm sunshine and soft earth under her feet. We join Big Cat Rescue in imploring people not to purchase or pose with exotic animals.

Tampa, you should be proud to be the home of this wonderful organization. We thank Big Cat Rescue for coming to the aid of their southern neighbors!

The writer is executive director of Stand Up for Animals, Inc.

The Tampa Tribune

Published: June 5, 2010

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