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Internships or Volunteering with Big Cat Rescue (Tampa)

Updated on April 3, 2020
Melissa A Smith profile image

Melissa holds a bachelor's degree in biology and is a plant and animal enthusiast with multiple pets.

This article is intended for those who are interested in careers in the zoological sciences, which include working in aquariums, zoological facilities, nature centers, animal exhibition and education, management, training, and any other applicable fields.

It should be noted that interning or working at Big Cat Rescue of Tampa, Florida is a contradiction toward your interests and pursuits.

If someone support zoos and any other field with animals in captivity, and certainly if they seek to work in one, it should be understood that Big Cat Rescue may be an "animal sanctuary" but its founder staunchly holds the position that exotic animals should not be in captivity, period.

“At Big Cat Rescue we don’t believe that any exotic cat should be bred for life in a cage. “

"Big cats don’t belong in cages and we won’t quit until the rest of the world understands that these animals are just too magnificent to be caged for our amusement or education."

—Carole Baskin

While the founder of Big Cat Rescue Carole Baskin may be referring to big cats in this quote, it certainly wouldn’t make sense for her to support the caging of non-felines as well.

Carole Baskin readily explains to her fans and critics that her ultimate goal is to shut down the "big cat trade", ending the existence of big cats in captivity as well as her own rescue sanctuary. Don’t be fooled, this certainly includes zoos.

Of course, animal rights followers harbor more disdain for private pet owners and "road side zoos" over AZA-accredited zoos, and this is how they market their philosophy to the general public, but they want all zoos "phased out" as well.

In fact, a few years ago BCR uploaded a video on their youtube channel supporting an anti-pet bill which made some of their followers realize that they are indifferent towards the ban of all "exotic pets" large and small that may even extend to pet reptiles and rodents. Big Cat Rescue uploaded a video that supported the bill on their Youtube channel that was promptly removed after the bill did not pass (but variations continue to pop up).

Big Cat Rescue has the philosophy (and this has also been stated by Baskin) that keeping a wild animal in a cage is animal cruelty.

What do most people picture when they think of animal cruelty? Someone beating a dog with a bat? Factory farming? Carole Baskin and other animal rights followers put caring for animals in zoos into the same category. Cruelty denotes extreme harm. Animal cruelty is not acceptable in any form.


Big Cat Rescue Hypocrisy

Why would Baskin own a facility that commits "animal cruelty"?

Because the actual goals of sanctuaries like these are to gain control of the nation’s captive wildlife for many reasons; hubris, financial gain, acclamation; probably a mix of the three.

“Please do not support those who breed these majestic animals for a life of cruel confinement. No animal, especially a tiger, belongs in a cage.”

—Carole Baskin

Of course, zoos breed animals. Sometimes for conservation, and sometimes simply to produce animals the public enjoys viewing. Whatever the case may be, the majority of exotic animals and certainly big cats thrive in zoos when the proper knowledge and care is carried out.

Big cats in particular are guaranteed premature death in the "wild" as once they reach old age, their decreased hunting ability will force them to go hungry.

Carnivores like wild felines live a highly stressful existence to merely survive. They establish territories that they must fight for; there is no ‘freedom’ to meander about free of danger, seeking aesthetic beauty such as is implied by nature idealists.

Baskin, while claiming that her dream is to end the need for her sanctuary, is in the process of creating a 50-room dormitory for Big Cat Rescue's interns. It seems as though they do not have plans to shut themselves down anytime soon.

Sea lion exhibit at the Bronx Zoo
Sea lion exhibit at the Bronx Zoo | Source

A Zoo of the Future, BCR-approved


Myth: Big Cat Rescue Can’t Hurt Top Zoos

Big Cat Rescue’s rhetoric might be subtle regarding their obvious discontentment with zoos, and they may not even overtly state they want them to close, but the spreading of hateful anti-captivity messages is harming these places.

Top of the line AZA-accredited zoos like the Bronx Zoo, which is said to be one of the best animal facilities in the world, has seen budget cuts and intermittent drops in attendance. I’ve gone there since I was a child, yet lately I have seen the disablement of their popular skyride that transported visitors to the other side of the park, and the ‘World of Darkness’, a wonderful exhibit that was home to hundreds of bats and other nocturnal animals.

Attendance and financial problems at some zoos may be an issue for different reasons, however, an accompanying drop in visitors due to a portion of people not attending because they’ve been mislead into thinking that zoos are cruel will not help at all.

Animal rights activists are aware of this and attempt to indoctrinate the message that the whole idea of a zoo is an outdated and unethical practice that needs to be abolished like slavery.

Simply put, supporting Big Cat Rescue is aiding the effort to destroy your career and lifestyle pursuits. Carole Baskin would enjoy it if she and other sanctuary owners were the last individuals to own and work with these unique species.


If you want to work with animals other than kittens and domesticated bunny rabbits, this is an admirable goal that many people share. Don't let other people tell you otherwise. Organizations like Big Cat Rescue and countless others are harboring agendas to ensure that this will not happen, or that it will be entirely in their control. Please consider this when considering an opportunity to care for wild felines and other exotic animals at Big Cat Rescue.


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