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Volunteers at Big Cat Rescue Help Exotic Cats

Updated on August 10, 2014

Volunteers at Big Cat Rescue Help Exotic Cats

Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida is one of the largest big cat sanctuaries in existence. It was founded in 1992 by Carol Baskin and is accredited by the USDA and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Carol Baskin and her husband are real estate investors, and the facility is housed on a 45 acre tract of land they acquired in a foreclosure. Big Cat Rescue is a non-profit organization that relies solely on donations and volunteers to fund its operations. A three month internship is offered to prepare volunteers who would like to assist with the care of the big cats. Their volunteer workforce includes nearly 100 staff members.

Big Cat Rescue: The Beginnings

The sanctuary began by accident when Baskin rescued fifty six bobcat and lynx kittens from a fur farm. She became known for accepting unwanted cats and began to dedicate much of her time to caring for them. Over the years, large outdoor enclosures have been built to house the cats in a natural environment amidst the wooded property with a lake. Big Cat rescue is currently home to more than 100 tigers, bobcats, lynx, leopards, cougars, lions and other exotic cats. Many of the cats are abandoned pets or have been rescued from fur farms, circuses or roadside zoos. A large number come to the facility abused or neglected.

Big Cat Rescue's Goal

The goal of the sanctuary is two-fold. They provide care and a safe environment for the cats to live out their lives. The cats receive food, sanitary living conditions, toys and medical care. They also educate the public about concerns that arise for exotic cats held in captivity as well as dangers they face in the wild. Big Cat Rescue is committed to changing laws governing ownership and trade of exotic cats. They do not breed, buy, sell or trade the cats.

Tours of Exotic Cats

Big Cat Rescue recently added a rotation enclosure that includes a pond, den, platforms and toys for the exotic residents. It was designed to be a vacation from their permanent enclosures. A Bengal tiger assisted with the ribbon cutting ceremony. Big Cat Rescue offers a variety of tours including private tours, feeding tours and night tours. They also host special events and educational programs. The sanctuary is known for holding fundraiser events for exotic animals not in the care of their facility. Big Cat Rescue’s recent Tampa March for Lions event raised $7000.00 for continued efforts to ban lion hunting.

The Small Cats of Big Cat Rescue


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    • Karen L Parker profile image

      Karen L Parker 3 years ago from Florida

      Hi Melissa,

      Yes, I tend to agree with you. Carole has done outstanding work with exotic cats, and she should be praised for her efforts. But I don't necessarily agree with her on everything. Now, things have changed. During her tours, there is a strong emphasis being placed on non-human interference with these cats. There are plenty of other people that feel that way. I believe there are plenty of responsible pet owners that take very good care of their big cats. It may be that she has seen so many of these animals abused and abandoned that it influences her beliefs.

      If I was going to mention the tours, I probably should have mentioned that Big Cat Rescue is on Easy Street in Tampa. Thanks for your input.

    • Melissa A Smith profile image

      Melissa A Smith 3 years ago from New York

      Hi, I frequently research and write about Big Cat Rescue as well. I'd just like to point out some missing information, the sanctuary, formally known as Wildlife on Easy Street, started out as a private exotic pet collection as well. The owner, Carole Baskin, wrote guides (pretty good ones!) teaching other private owners to care for exotic cats. I firmly believe that such animals can be owned properly and should never be phased out.