Saturday, July 08, 2006

African Leopards of Big Cat Rescue

Jade and Armani are African Leopards. They are larger and have deeper voices than their Asian cousins. The African Leopard lives in the same range as the much larger lion. The only way the leopard can defend it's kill is to drag it up into the trees where the lion is less inclined to go. The leopard can carry a carcass three times her own size up into the branches.

Leopards are an endangered specie, as are most of the exotic cats. Poachers are still a real threat due to a lack of enforcement and the value of her pelt and flesh on the black market. Frequently the only punishment, if any, that poacher receives for killing an endangered specie, is the confiscation of the animal and perhaps the impoundment of his trap or weapon.

Asian Leopards of Big Cat Rescue

Shaquile is a sad example of how people make poor choices that result in animals being abused. Because people will pay money to see exotic perform on stage there are far too many people who will beat their cats into submission. Shaquile had been used in a nightclub act and when he wouldn't jump through the burning hoop his trainer would club him in the face.

When he was liberated by Big Cat Rescue his face looked like ground meat from the beatings.

His eye sockets were crushed causing him to tear constantly as a reminder of his past and of all the big cats who suffer for man's pleasure.

Asian Leopards Rescued by Big Cat Rescue

Shaquile is a sad example of how people make poor choices that result in animals being abused. Because people will pay money to see exotic perform on stage there are far too many people who will beat their cats into submission. Shaquile had been used in a nightclub act and when he wouldn't jump through the burning hoop his trainer would club him in the face.

When he was liberated by Big Cat Rescue his face looked like ground meat from the beatings.

His eye sockets were crushed causing him to tear constantly as a reminder of his past and of all the big cats who suffer for man's pleasure.

Bobcats of Big Cat Rescue

We will start our tour in Florida and work our way around the globe. The bobcat, named for her bobbed tail, lives in a variety of habitats including swamps, forests, deserts and mountains. Bobcats are great climbers and spend their days sleeping in the trees waiting for the cover of darkness to hunt. The bobcat is ferocius for her size, which is often not much bigger than a domestic cat, and is capable of hunting deer and wild boar, but her favourite foods are rabbits and rodents. In the southern states the bobcat has a short, dark coat and in northern climates she will have a lighter coloured, longer fur.

Bobcats Rescued by Big Cat Rescue

Raindance is one of the best known cats at Big Cat Rescue. The fur industry that produced her is a barbaric practice that is not regulated by any animal welfare law. Bobcats and lynx are kept in crates just large enough for them to stand up and turn around in. Their cages are filled with excrement and rotting food. The cats are not given any sort of medical care and cuts and bites and frostbitten ears become infected to the point of death in many cases.
Because it is the fur that is prized the cats are given no shelter from the freezing wind and rain so that their fur will grow thicker. The cats are raised until they are a year old and then slaughtered. Their precious belly fur, the white spotted fur that you see in coats and trimmed garments, is cut away for sale and the rest of the cat often ground up and refed to the living cats.

Big Cat Rescue Rehabs Bobcats for Release

If I had to be an animal, I would want to be a bobcat. They are fearless, adaptable, resilient and far stronger than you would expect from a 25-pound cat. They are being hunted for their pelts and sport despite their very important role in keeping the rat and vermin populations in check. They are being pushed from their homes by urban sprawl and often are killed or permanently injured when crossing busy roads to access their hunting grounds. This is when they enter my life.

A call comes in late on Monday from the West End Animal Hospital in Alachua County. A couple of saintly (and amazingly brave) individuals discovered an adult, male bobcat that had been hit by a car and lived to tell the tale. The cat wasn?t going to live much longer though, and had crawled in a hole to die. He was in such bad shape that the Good Samaritans were able to load him up in a dog carrier and drive him to the local vet who was known to take in wildlife. Vets who are willing to take in non-paying customers, who seem all but grateful for the care, are rare enough indeed.

Canada Lynx of Big Cat Rescue

The Canadian Lynx can still be found in Canada, Alaska, and a few areas of the northern United States. Unlike any other cat ? this Lynx depends solely and almost exclusively, on the snowshoe hare. As hare populations rise and fall, so do the Lynx families.

Trapping continues to be one of the greatest threats for the Lynx. Candian Lynx are easily trapped and when done during times of low numbers it makes recovery of the population extremely difficult. Many states still allow trapping for the fur trade and do not have guidelines that require trappers to check their traps on a regular basis. A Candian Lynx caught in a steel jawed leg-hold trap will suffer for hours, or days, as a result of this horrific practice. They have been known to chew off their own legs to break free, only to die later from loss of blood. It takes 20 of these beautiful cats, suffering this way, to make one fur coat.

Canadian Lynx Rescued by Big Cat Rescue

Dances With Wolves is a sad example of greed and commercial exploitation. Most photos you see of exotic cats were taken on Game Farms where they charge up to $1500.00 an hour but guarantee the photographer will get that breathtaking photos that can be sold to books and calendars. The cats are often drugged and then wired into place with a tension wire around their leg or neck so that they can't move. Bushes and flowers are strategically placed so that the wires are hidden from view, but if you look at the horror in the cat's eyes of knowing she is trapped, these pictures you see all around you take on a haunting feel.

Caracals of Big Cat Rescue

The name Caracal is derived from a Turkish word "karakulak" meaning "black ear." They are native to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Caracals live in the drier savannah and woodland regions of sub-Saharn Africa, and prefer the more scrubby, arid habitats. They will also inhabit evergreen and montane forests, but are not found in tropical rain forests.

Caracals Rescued by Big Cat Rescue

Cachanga was born in an African zoo. In most third world countries the people have no respect for animals and the zoos are a place of torment for the imprisoned creatures. They are often kept in barren cells or pits and the locals amuse themselves by throwing things at the animals to make them move. Sometimes it takes years for the animals to learn to trust us.

Clouded Leopards of Big Cat Rescue

The distinctive cloud like markings give the Clouded Leopard his name.

This cat is very rare because the males tend to kill their females during mating. Even when defanged the males still often kill the females by crushing the vertibrae in their necks.

This causes a surplus of males with nowhere to go and that is where Big Cat Rescue steps in and provides a retirement home for these rare cats who have been removed from SSP breeding programs.

Cougars of Big Cat Rescue

The cougar ranges from Canada to the southern tip of South America. Adult males may range over an area of 200 square miles and can travel 15-20 miles per day.

Cougars primarily feed on large mammals and prefer deer and wild boar. Because they compete with hunters, almost 2100 cougars are still being killed each year.

They can run up to 35 mph but only for a few hundred yards. Their preferred method of hunting is to creep up as close to their prey as possible and launch a short spring attack. They are avid swimmers and can leap 18 feet up into a tree.

The Florida Panther is the only member of the cougar family that has been granted protected status because there are less than 60 left in the wild, making this small puma one of the most endangered animals on the planet.

Cougars Rescued by Big Cat Rescue

Casper was seized in a drug raid where he had been used by narcotics dealers to protect their stash. Frequently these cats are chained to walls in basements and garages and are feared as much by their owners as the people they were purchased to intimidate.

Their paws are often mutilated through declawing and they don't get the nourishment and sunlight they need as cubs so they suffer a lifetime of papershell bones that break from the slightest impact.

These great cats were meant to run free, to choose their own mates, and to be able to hunt the food they need to grow healthy and strong.

Drug dealers aren't the only criminals who try to make pets of wild animals. Anyone who breeds and sells a wild animal for profit at the expense of that animal's right to live free is just as much a criminal as Casper's owners were.

Fishing Cats of Big Cat Rescue

Pisces came from a broker as an unsaleable pet. Brokers breed, buy and sell exotic animals to the highest bidders. Often they do not know how to care for the animals or they refuse to spend the money necessary to keep them healthy because it cuts into profits.

Pisces was just barely alive when he was saved by Big Cat Rescue. He was emaciated; just a handful of bones and sticky, matted fur. With the right nutrition and care he has blossomed into a happy, healthy Fishing Cat.

The Fishing Cat is native to India, Indochina and Indonesia.

Wetland destruction is the greatest threat facing the Fishing Cat. A survey showed that more than 50% of Asian wetlands are faced with moderate to high degrees of threat and are disappearing at alarming rates. These threats include settlement, draining for agriculture, pollution, and excessive hunting, woodcutting and fishing.

The bulk of this cats diet is made up of fish, which they will not only swim and dive after, but they try and scoop them out with their paws as well. They are also believed to take other aquatic prey such as crustaceans, mollusks, frogs and snakes.

The Fishing Cat will also prey on terrestrial mammals such as rodents, civets, young fawns, wild pigs, and even domestic animals such as goats, dogs, calves and poultry. They have also been known to scavenge off of tiger kills.

Geoffroy Cats of Big Cat Rescue

Geoffroy Cats are strong swimmers that regularly enter the water. They have been recorded frequently swimming fast flowing rivers 100 feet wide. Their range is through the Southern half of South America.

The biggest threat has been the exploitation of his pelt for the fur trade, which sadly still exists. Like the leopard, the Geoffroy cat can be either golden spotted or melanistic, meaning black.

Being small and secretive very little is known about them in the wild.

Geoffroy Cats Rescued by Big Cat Rescue

Nico was unwanted by the time he reached adulthood and became unhandleable. Because they are only 8-10 pounds people mistakenly think they can tame and keep this little exotic cat as a pet. They weren't counting on the fact that all exotic cats, male or female, neutered or not, spend their entire day spraying.

Geoffrey Cats were once common in zoos and the private sector but this species has almost completely disappeared because of poor management. The zoos did not keep them on display because they were considered common pets. Pet breeders bred for profit and not for conservation so no records were kept as to the geneology.

Due to its endangered status and the difficulty of finding unrelated pairs, of known origin, the Felid Taxon Advisory group has advised the zoos to allow this exquisite little cat to disappear from captivity forever.

Jaguar of Big Cat Rescue 2

The Jaguars of Big Cat Rescue had some peace at the end of their lives and died at Big Cat Rescue in their 20s. These cats were refugees from a road side zoo. Unaccredited tourist attractions litter the country and are supported by the visitors who do not realise that their support is the cause of such immense suffering. The jaguars had been kept in small cages in a basement in such a place. They hadn't seen sunlight in over a year. Many of these places set themselves up as non profits and solicit donations siphoning away the charitable dollars that could have gone to real conservation and animal protection causes. Before you support a zoo or a sanctuary, find out if they are accredited by the American Zoological Association or The Association of Santuaries.

Jaguar Rescue by Big Cat Rescue

The Jaguars of Big Cat Rescue had some peace at the end of their lives and died at Big Cat Rescue in their 20s. These cats were refugees from a road side zoo. Unaccredited tourist attractions litter the country and are supported by the visitors who do not realise that their support is the cause of such immense suffering. The jaguars had been kept in small cages in a basement in such a place. They hadn't seen sunlight in over a year. Many of these places set themselves up as non profits and solicit donations siphoning away the charitable dollars that could have gone to real conservation and animal protection causes. Before you support a zoo or a sanctuary, find out if they are accredited by the American Zoological Association or The Association of Santuaries.

Jaguar Relaxing at Big Cat Rescue

The Jaguars of Big Cat Rescue had some peace at the end of their lives and died at Big Cat Rescue in their 20s. These cats were refugees from a road side zoo. Unaccredited tourist attractions litter the country and are supported by the visitors who do not realise that their support is the cause of such immense suffering. The jaguars had been kept in small cages in a basement in such a place. They hadn't seen sunlight in over a year. Many of these places set themselves up as non profits and solicit donations siphoning away the charitable dollars that could have gone to real conservation and animal protection causes. Before you support a zoo or a sanctuary, find out if they are accredited by the American Zoological Association or The Association of Santuaries.

Jungle Cats of Big Cat Rescue

The Jungle Cat, contrary to his name, is found in a variety of habitats but typically is not a frequenter of "jungles". Like the African wildcats and domestic cats, the Jungle Cat has been mummified and placed in tombs in Ancient Egypt. In India they prefer woodlands, open plains, grasslands, cropland and scrub. In Egypt they prefer swampy ground and reed beds.

Jungle Cats cats feed primarily on rodents, but also take hares, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, young chital and wild pigs. Being strong swimmers they will dive to catch fish.

In the wild, family groups of males, females and kittens have been seen together. In captivity, males are even more protective of kittens than females. The vocalization is a very loud "bark" as you would expect for a large breed of dog.

Jungle Cats Rescued by Big Cat Rescue

Rambo was owned by a woman who used him for hybridizing Jungle Cats and Domestic cats. When she died, her nine year old daughter went onto the Internet in search of someone who would rescue Rambo from ever being exploited this way again. Even a child could tell that this practice is wrong and that the cats involved are unhappy. Because this is a cat commonly used for such hybrid programs the zoos have lost interest in preserving this cat. 2/3's of all the Jungle Cats registered with ISIS live at Big Cat Rescue.

Leopard Cats of Big Cat Rescue

Weighing in at 6-15 pounds the Leopard Cat is the most common cat of Southern Asia. She has at least nine sub species and many scientists believe that these should all be considered distinct breeds. In captivity, they have lived up to 15 years, but tend to lose their teeth around the age of 10. Primarily nocturnal, they hunt both on the ground and in the trees. The primary diet consists of rodents, young ungulates, hares, birds, reptiles, insects, eels, fish, and occasionally carrion.

The primary threats facing the Leopard cat are deforestation and commercial exploitation. In the past as many as 400,000 Leopard Cats were trapped and killed for their fur in any given year. Depending on the sub specie their coats can be very short and plush to quite long as in these Amur Leopard cats at Big Cat Rescue. In the poor areas where they live, they are often killed and eaten.

This was also the first cat recently to be used by man in a hybrid situation in a quest for a new breed of cat. The Leopard Cat crossed with the Domestic Cat has produced a new breed of domestic ? the Bengal Cat.

This has removed potential breeding cats from conservation programs and has diminished the gene pool for helping to save the pure Leopard Cat. There are only 40 Leopard Cats in the U.S. and the Felid TAG has recommended that they be allowed to go extinct.

Lions of Big Cat Rescue

Nikita was seized in a drug raid and sent to the Nashville Zoo, but zoos don't want animals that are of unknown parentage. She had been chained to the wall of a crack house and was a skeleton of a cat. She had huge swellings on her elbows from laying on concrete her whole life. There aren't many lions, especially males, in real sanctuaries because when people are trying to get rid of them the owners of canned hunts will pay for them, often telling the former owners they are a sanctuary. Then people will pay $2000.00 to shoot the cat so they can stuff him as a tribute to their sportsmanship.

Lions Rescued by Big Cat Rescue

Nikita was seized in a drug raid and sent to the Nashville Zoo, but zoos don't want animals that are of unknown parentage. She had been chained to the wall of a crack house and was a skeleton of a cat. She had huge swellings on her elbows from laying on concrete her whole life. There aren't many lions, especially males, in real sanctuaries because when people are trying to get rid of them the owners of canned hunts will pay for them, often telling the former owners they are a sanctuary. Then people will pay $2000.00 to shoot the cat so they can stuff him as a tribute to their sportsmanship.

Ocelots of Big Cat Rescue

The Ocelot ranges from the Southern U.S. down through South America. The ocelot will cover a range of up to 35 square miles and because much of that is rain forest the ocelot has the strongest smelling urine of all of the exotic cats. When the ocelot sprays to mark their territory it has to be strong enough to withstand the constant rains. Wildcats mark their territories to warn other cats to stay away because a fight will mean certain death and the best way to avoid each other is to respect these boundaries.

The ocelot is one of the best known South American cats because for many years she was the mainstay of the fur trade. At one time, more than 200,000 ocelots per year were killed for their coats. Today, with laws prohibiting hunting for the fur trade, there are no more Ocelot coats for sale.

Ocelots and Margay are the only cats who can descend a tree face first. They are perfectly designed for living most of their lives in the trees. Ocelots have a small litter size, one of the longest gestations and growth rates among the small felids, and a high infant mortality rate. Add this difficulty in sustaining its own population with deforestation and habitat destruction, and the survival of this beautiful little species becomes even more difficult.

Ocelots Rescued by Big Cat Rescue

Purrfection is an example of how exotic cats who were bred for the pet trade hindered true conservation efforts. Brokers and breeders will tell you that the are breeding exotic animals to save them from extinction but none of them are involved in real Species Survival Plans.

The ocelot was considered such a common pet in the 60's that the true conservationists did not prepare for the fact that these cats were being bred and cross bred with no consideration of their origin. No records were kept saying if the cat was Mexican, where it would know not to go near poisonous snakes, or if it were Costa Rican where non poisonous snakes are a staple in the Ocelot's diet. No offspring from these generic cats could ever be returned to the wild.

Pallas Cats of Big Cat Rescue

The Pallas Cat is small and weighs 5 to 9 pounds. He can be found through Asia from the Caspian Sea and Iran to Southeastern Siberia and Tibet. One of the largest remaining populations reportedly live in the central part of Mongolia, where as many as 50,000 cats were killed per year for their pelts in the early 1900?s. Approximately 10,000 per year were killed in the 1980?s. In 1988, hunting was banned and trade has since essentially ceased. Now the principal threat to the Pallas Cat is the poisoning of it's prey, the Pika, which is considered to carry plague and is competition for precious grasslands.

Sand Cats of Big Cat Rescue

The Sand Cat lives in sandy and stony deserts from the Sahara through the Middle East to Turkestan. This tiny feline is less than 12 inches tall and weighs 4 to 8 pounds. This little cat still faces the threat of being collected for the pet trade, or for being hunted for sport while they are laying out sunning themselves. The Sand Cats of Big Cat Rescue were sent to the U.S. by the Saudi government during the Gulf War to protect them from extinction. It is unknown at this time, to what extent, the war affected the Sand Cat population. Dispite their diminuative size they are very fierce and do not make good pets.

The sand cat is one of the more difficult cats to study in the wild. The feet are covered with a thick layer of wiry black hair, which insulates the footpads against extremes of heat and cold, and allows for easier movement through the sand. Their foot coverings allow them to walk on sand without sinking, leaving their paw prints nearly invisible.

They have learned to crouch down and shut their eyes when a light is shone on them, which prevents the light from reflecting their eyes for tracking. That, combined with their protective coat color, makes them blend right into their habitat. They also bury all of their excrement making it impossible to find and analyze so their diet can be studied.

Servals of Big Cat Rescue

The name Serval is derived from a Portuguese word meaning "wolf-deer." Native to Africa, Servals are found in well-watered savannah, long-grass environments, and are associated with reed beds and other riparian vegetation types. They occupy a variety of habitats all associated with water sources. Servals range up into alpine grasslands and can penetrate deep dense forests along waterways and through grassy patches, but are absent from rain forests.

Much like the big bad wolf in "Little Red Riding Hood" the Servals big ears are "the better to hear you with!" Unequalled in the cat world, the serval?s hearing allows it to locate, through echo-location, small mammals moving through the grass or underground, and to hunt her prey without seeing it until the final pounce. Primary prey items for the Serval includes rodents, birds, reptiles, fish, frogs and insects. Servals have a hunting success rate of 50% and as such are the most successful of all cat species. She also has the ability to leap vertically and catch prey such as birds, right out of the air. They do this by "clapping" their front paws together and striking with a downward blow.

Serval Rescue by Big Cat Rescue

Esmerelda was a trophy pet. She and her mate were the exotic pets of a millionaire and were used to impress his guests, but when her mate fell ill to cancer and the chemotherapy caused all of his fur to fall out, their owner dumped them as if they were yesterday's trash. Her mate lost his battle to cancer many years ago. Our vet suspects the cats' diet, human grade beef and chicken, is key to so many exotic cats dying from cancer. The hormones and antibiotics that go into food that is mass processed for humans kills smaller animals more quickly than it does us. Unfortunately, cats are carnivores and can not survive on a vegetarian diet.

Siberian Lynx of Big Cat Rescue

The Siberian Lynx is native to Asia, Europe, and the former USSR. She resembles the Canadian Lynx and Bobcat, but her tail is black all the way around as if it were dipped in ink. The Siberian Lynx can weigh upwards of 50 pounds. She depends on large rodents and small deer for food, but is capable of killing reindeer that are three times her size.

These Siberian Lynx are enjoying some of the enrichment provided by Big Cat Rescue volunteers. They love to chew and pineapple tops are a big favourite. All of the cats on Easy Street get boxes full of enrichment that often includes spice, perfume, whole prey and fruit as a means to temporarily alliviate the boredom of life in a cage.

The largest threats facing the Siberian Lynx are the destruction of her prey base, loss of habitat and the increasing urbanization of western Europe. There is still some hunting of the Lynx for the pelt trade, but it is believed to be restricted to less than 1,000 per year from China and 2,800 per year from Russia. At it's peak the fur trade claimed the lives of 12,000 of these cats per year from the wild and many more were raised in fur farms and slaughtered for the fashion industry.
Siberian Lynx are particularly difficult to house because of their excessive chewing. Dens and shelves are destroyed in no time.

Siberian Lynx Rescued by Big Cat Rescue

Natasha and Willow were refugees from two fur farms but were raised together as kittens and are inseparable today. Though solitary in the wild, captive lynx seem to prefer having a buddy.

Natasha came with a group that was rescued from a fur farm in the U.S. Willow came from a fur farm in Canada along with several other sick and dying kits that had been crammed so tightly into wire crates that they looked like little squares of fur.

Cats like them often end up as the fur trim on coats and gloves, or they are doomed to game farms where a person can pay to shoot them with a camera or a gun if the price is right.

Snow Leopards of Big Cat Rescue

Hercules and Cloe are considered surplus to the Specie Survival Plan. That happens when one group of cats in the plan are more prolific than the rest and an imbalance is caused in the optimal breeding program. These cats are removed from the Specie Survival Plan as breeders until other bloodlines catch up.

All too often these surplus SSP cats end up in the hands of unscrupulous breeders who are only breeding for profit. Because the cats are rare they can fool people into thinking they are helping with conservation projects by buying their cubs. Big Cat Rescue provides a safe haven where these surplus cats will NOT be bred and sold.

Snow Leopard Rescues of Big Cat Rescue

Hercules and Cloe are considered surplus to the Specie Survival Plan. That happens when one group of cats in the plan are more prolific than the rest and an imbalance is caused in the optimal breeding program. These cats are removed from the Specie Survival Plan as breeders until other bloodlines catch up.

All too often these surplus SSP cats end up in the hands of unscrupulous breeders who are only breeding for profit. Because the cats are rare they can fool people into thinking they are helping with conservation projects by buying their cubs. Big Cat Rescue provides a safe haven where these surplus cats will NOT be bred and sold.

Tigers of Big Cat Rescue

Shere Khan is a Siberian/Bengal cross breed and was one of the hundreds of unwanted golden cubs that result from breeding for the white colouration. Because he was born the wrong colour he could not be sold and by the time he was four months old he was pressed against every side of the pet carrier that had been his home since birth. Up to his belly in feces and old food, his baby teeth had rotted through his face from the lack of a proper diet. He could only drag his back legs when he was taken in by Big Cat Rescue. Now thanks to the loving care of staff and volunteers you can see he is more than 700 pounds of very healthy tiger.

Tiger Rescue by Big Cat Rescue

Shere Khan is a Siberian/Bengal cross breed and was one of the hundreds of unwanted golden cubs that result from breeding for the white colouration. Because he was born the wrong colour he could not be sold and by the time he was four months old he was pressed against every side of the pet carrier that had been his home since birth. Up to his belly in feces and old food, his baby teeth had rotted through his face from the lack of a proper diet. He could only drag his back legs when he was taken in by Big Cat Rescue. Now thanks to the loving care of staff and volunteers you can see he is more than 700 pounds of very healthy tiger.

White Servals of Big Cat Rescue

In the wild there have been melanistic, or black Servals, reported. In captivity there have been only four incidents of White Servals and the three living cats reside at Big Cat Rescue. The White Serval is not an albino but a genetic mutation that would never exist in the wild. Their health is very fragile. They have green eyes and one spot of normal coloured golden fur somewhere on their bodies. As you can see, being white, they could never sneak up on prey.

As rare as this cat is, there is no reason to breed it because it will never have the opportunity to live free. To breed it only as an oddity to attract customers would be a shame. We were offered 75,000.00 apiece for these White Servals, but declined and neutered them to insure that no serval would ever be killed at birth for having been born the wrong colour. This has been the legacy of the White Lions and White Tigers and WILL NOT be the future of the Serval.

Big Cat Rescue offers Tours of our Big Cat Sanctuary

Do you see yourself looking over the vast Serengeti plains, searching the horizon for a glimpse of a pride of Lions, or a Leopard lounging in the trees? Do you imagine yourself in India, riding an elephant through the high grass with your eyes peeled for the elusive Tiger? Have you ever thought how great it would be to hike through the rainforest, listening to the tropical birds, ever on the lookout for a Leopard or an Ocelot high in the canopy? Have you ever been to the zoo and wanted to be closer to the exotic cats? so close you could touch them? You don?t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to make these dreams come true. The world?s largest and most diverse collection of exotic cats is right here in Tampa, Florida at Big Cat Rescue.

This 45 acre, wildlife sanctuary is home to 150 cats representing 19 species and sub species of wild cat. All in one place you can see Lions, Tigers, Geoffroy Cats, Jungle Cats, Servals, Caracals, Snow Leopards, Bobcats, Lynx and more. Watch Tigers swimming in the lake or see them run full speed through their 3 acre cat-a-tat. Get so close to them that you can feel their hot breath on your skin.

Big Cat Rescue Introduction Video of Tigers, Lions & more Big Cats

Welcome to Big Cat Rescue. You have just found the world's largest and most diverse collection of rare and exotic cats. Here you will meet and learn all about lions, tigers and bearcats!

Care of our cats. The narrow mission of Big Cat Rescue is to provide the best permanent home we can for the abused, abandoned and retired cats in our care. We do this by building enclosures in a very natural habitat with foliage and shelter on our 45 acre site, by providing the best nutritional and medical care possible, and by having active operant conditioning and enrichment programs to provide for their physical and psychological well being.


Education. The broader mission of the sanctuary is to reduce the number of cats that suffer the fate of abandonment and/or abuse and to encourage preservation of habitat and wildlife. We urge people to behave in a way that will support these goals by teaching people about the plight of the cats, both in the wild and in captivity. We accomplish this through educational guided tours, educational programs for young people, and by maintaining a website that is the world's largest and best resource for information about exotic cats.

Big Cats Being Exploited by Animal Abusers

Big cats deserve better than a life of exploitation on display in cages. Big Cat Rescue caught these exploiters red handed.

There are too many people who are making their living carting exotic big cats around in circus cages. They call themselves educators. They claim to be exhibiting and breeding these unfortunate animals to save them from extinction and raise public awareness. They often claim non-profit status to avoid paying taxes on the money they gouge by deceiving the public.

Girlscouts and Big Cat Rescue

This PSA for the Girlscouts and Big Cat Rescue was aired nationally.

Mountain Lion Orphan Rescue

When a hunter shot a mother mountain lion in her den three little cougar cubs were orphaned. This is the amazing story of their rescue and their life on Easy Street at Big Cat Rescue.

Big Cat Rescue Needs Volunteers Like You!

Big Cat Rescue is a unique sanctuary dedicated to the care of abused, orphaned, abandoned, unwanted, and elderly wild & exotic animals. The operation of this facility is very costly and relies heavily on an active volunteer organization to help offset some of those costs, as well as allowing us to provide a better life for the animals.

The Big Cat Rescue Volunteer Program consists of two distinct departments with diverse skill levels and responsibilities designated by shirt color. These levels are designed to enhance volunteer strengths and meet the varied needs of the sanctuary.

Volunteers begin in either Keeper Training to learn animal husbandry or Administrative Training to learn tour guiding and guest relations. Much of the initial training consists of the basic knowledge needed to be a valued volunteer. As a trainee advances through the program the trainee will learn specific skills pertaining to a particular department.

Introduction to Big Cat Rescue

This is a two minute tour of the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary that is home to more than 150 lions, tigers, leopards, bobcats and more endandered exotic cats.

Big Cat Rescue Discusses Extinction of Exotic Cats

Why is the extinction rate so high?

Habitat destruction by man, such as in the case of the tiger.
Lack of genetic diversity such as is represented in the Cheetah.
Introduction of competing species and parasites by man. On islands, such as in Hawaii, we can get a clue as to why island species are so vulnerable to extinction by competition from non-native species.
The human species has overexploited resources.
As man encroaches on wild animal habitat he kills off the prey base that supports the predator and the animals turn to domestic livestock for food. Killing for competition for food is far more common than poaching for medicinal trade or for furs.

Of the cat species we are working with at Big Cat Rescue, these are all of the wild cats that are accounted for in captivity at Big Cat Rescue (WOES private sector) and the International Specie Information Service (ISIS mostly zoo populations). It is imperative with small numbers like these that the public and private sectors work together to increase genetic diversity and stronger bloodlines for future generations.

Big Cat Rescue's Mission

Our Mission at Big Cat Rescue is to stop the commercial exploitation of exotic cats. The single largest cause of abuse and abandonment in the U.S. are people who try to make pets of these wild animals. 85% of the great cats seeking shelter are the result of their being sold as pets and those that were used for entertainment or edu-tainment. Many people claim to be educating the public about conservation by dragging exotic cats into schools and malls on leashes, but they really do it because they make a living doing that. When these cats reach adulthood they become unmanagemable and thus unprofitable and are uncerimoniously dumped at auctions, into canned hunts, sold for their parts into the Asian medicinal trade, or relgated to basements and cages to breed yet another unfortunate generation.

Big Cat Rescue Races to Set Nature Back in Balance

In a world that is frought with economic and human crisis, there is very little being done to protect wild animals and the wild places they need to survive. Big Cat Rescue is involved in International programs to help promote conservation of habitat for all wild cat species. Our purpose is to rescue the cats we can and to put an end to the causes of so much suffering and abuse.

Time is running short and we need your help!

William Beebe phrased it best when he said, (pause) "When the last individual of a race of living things, breathes no more, another Heaven and another Earth must pass, before such a one can breathe again."

Big Cat Expedition at Big Cat Rescue

Think you?ve seen & done it all? No where else can you get this close, interact with such a wide variety of animals, and support a great cause at the same time.

Big Cat Rescue is excited to tell you about an opportunity that is sure to feed your beastly appetite for adventure.



Our new Big Cat Expedition- A Big Cat Adventure" is the most exclusive behind the scenes experience you can find in the animal world. If you are an animal lover and want to see the inner workings of a real animal sanctuary, then this is the experience you have been searching for. No where else can you participate in the interactions with the wide world of cats so closely.