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Important Facts You Should Know About Big Cat Rescue of Tampa Florida
The Trouble with Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue is a large ‘non-profit’ animal sanctuary in Tampa, Florida, renowned and acclaimed around the world for their work, 'rescuing' exotic cats from the pet trade, circuses, roadside zoos and the fur farms, as well as rehabilitating wild bobcats.
The Florida-based facility frequently receives and wins large donations, has ample public support, and for many, it is one of the leading voices on the 'plight' of exotic cats in captivity and their conservation in the wild.
Big Cat Rescue presents itself speciously, and the organization's successful Youtube channel routinely releases fun videos of their resident cat’s antics that highlight the amusing ways they encourage their animals to play.
Most importantly, their enclosures are of respectable sizes, filled with natural vegetation, and the cats appear healthy and content. Why would anyone have an issue with them, you might wonder?
- Big Cat Rescue is against zoos, including those that are a member of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (in which they were denied accreditation from in the past).
- Big Cat Rescue's founder purchased many of her current feline residents as private pets.
- Big Cat Rescue does not support breeding for conversation efforts.
- Big Cat Rescue supports federal bans on private possession of most pets other than dogs and cats.
For Prospective Interns and Those Interested in the Existence of Zoological Facilities
Big Cat Rescue Origins
In short, Big Cat Rescue is manipulative and has underlying ambitions that are not made clear to the majority their supporters, and the way that their philosophy came to be may be surprising.
"Why do people want to own big cats" many ask. Well, you can ask Big Cat Rescue's founder, Carole Baskin, this question.
Those who only recognize Big Cat Rescue’s surface appeal often do not know that Big Cat Rescue's founder started out as a prominent exotic pet owner.
Not only did Baskin collect and broker big cats, and not only did she seek to “one day have the largest private collection of exotic cats in the world” as one former acquaintance of hers puts it, she published articles in exotic animal news letters guiding and informing potential owners of big cat care.
It's too bad that she’s anti-captivity now, because I thought the articles were decent and informative. Also at her facility, Baskin rented cabins to people so they could spend the night with sub-adult bobcats and cougars. Yes, you are reading that correctly. See the following video.
“Nothing speaks tranquility like a leopard hanging in the branches or a tiger wading in the water. Nothing can quiet your soul like the purr of a mountain lion. We invite you to pull up a chair and have a lynx or a bobcat come sit in your lap while you stroke its luxurious fur...” –Carole Baskin
Rent a cabin with big cats
Baskin doesn’t necessarily hide this fact (doing so would be an impossibility, as the proof is blatant), but that information is reserved for people who care enough to do a little background checking.
However, she came under fire for apparently lying about one resident tiger, ‘Shere Khan’, who she claimed was abused by his original owner and could not walk when she obtained him.
Another video surfaced of her playing with Shere Khan as a cub in which he appeared active, healthy and alert, exposing her statement as erroneous.
On Big Cat Rescue’s main website, other animals were stated to have been rescued from abusive situations, yet some of the irate original owners have come forward to claim that their animals were sold to Baskin. One news station picked up the story.
Tiger at Big Cat Rescue
- What is 911 Animal Abuse.com?
Carole Baskin runs the intentionally misleading website 911 Animal Abuse.com
Big Cat Rescue Opposes Zoos...
Yet in their criticisms Carole Baskin does not provide any videos or photos of zoos outside of 3rd world countries to make her point about how barbaric such places are:
She also deliberately ignores the many beautiful enclosures of zoos and some private owners, except her own.
Aside from the lack of integrity in Baskin's claims, what profoundly bothers me about Carole’s former pet owner status and her original interest in achieving a massive collection of cats is that she is still achieving that goal.
Times have changed, and animal activism is the new trend. Circuses (outside of Cirque de Soleil) have diminishing attendance, and now even top zoos, with their lush vegetation and healthy animal populations, are coming under scrutiny by rabid and misguided activism.
Baskin has intelligently elevated her status from top animal owner to top animal rescuer, achieving respect and donations from organizations all over the world as well as the general public.
Her “sanctuary”, which is still by definition a zoo, is the largest accredited big cat facility. The facility possesses an incredibly rare white serval whose origins are also being questioned, as well as sand cats that were ‘surplus from a breeding program’.
While no longer does she breed, buy, or sell animals, her original plans seem to be moving along as strongly as ever but under a new guise
Caracal at Big Cat Rescue
Extinction of Big Cats in Captivity?
Carole Baskin now states that her ultimate goal is to close down her rescue and completely phase out big cats (and most likely other exotics that will be up to her determination) in captivity because these animals cannot live a respectful existence in such a setting... and then Big Cat Rescue’s videos pan to their collection of animals…living a respectful existence in captivity.
It may not match the idealized view that Disney movies and films like Born Free create, but behind the “jail bars”, a big cat can be perfectly happy if provided enough space, proper diet, mentally stimulating activities (that should never include live prey), and veterinary care.
Why would BCR continue to house these animals in such ‘unfortunate captive conditions’ if they truly didn’t believe in it?
I believe that Big Cat Rescue's workers and Carole herself sleep well at night knowing these animals are being properly provided for. They know that the wild (which is disappearing) is not a bunch of rolling around in fertile green hills all day. It is stressful, and most or all wild cats die before they hit an old age.
- Captive Cats in Cages
- If Dolphin Captivity is Cruel, Winter Should Be Euthanized
More on BCR's anti-captivity stance
- zoo territory
Big Cat Rescue uploaded a video (now removed) that supported this bill
Ego, arrogance, and superiority complexes…these three aspects of the human condition likely have contributed to Baskin's motives and they are also traits she lambasts and accuses private exotic animal owners of having while she praises herself.
One great example exists in an article she wrote entitled “Who are Exotic Pet Owners”.
"What is almost universally shared by those who keep wild animals as pets, or props and even most of those who operate private zoos and sanctuaries is that they are uneducated, poor, unattractive, hot tempered, attention seekers. Marked differences in the genders are that men are usually slovenly, womanizing, have a criminal history or leanings, and are dependant on drugs or alcohol to manage their depression. Whereas women are most often blonde, fat, have low self esteem, are childless or estranged from their families, and prone to rages of jealousy."
This is most likely the reason Carole has deluded herself into believing that some of her animals, originally purchased as breeders, were gallantly rescued from scumbag owners. In addition, Carole’s ultimate goal will remove animals from 'the little people', and put her in control of all of them.
Carole has indeed touched upon an obvious truth that she does not inform the public about when she condemns animal captivity: most of the cruelty cases involving exotic animals occur with low-income or uneducated people. Big cat care is inherently an expensive venture and not being able to measure up financially is a recipe for disaster.
This is not an issue with animal captivity, but an issue with how animals are distributed. Animals like dogs and cats (pit bulls are famously neglected in some neighborhoods at a higher rate) are prone to the same exact conflict.
Lion at Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue has even supported a bill that would ban most non-domesticated pets on a federal level.
I don’t think anyone with reasonable intelligence actually believes that Carole would shut down her facility and be cat-less for the rest of her life (nor does it sound believable that the current volunteers would be pleased going back to working at animal shelters with domesticated cats and dogs); she just knows that the flow of animals will never truly disappear in her lifetime.
As the syndicated television star Judge Judy always often says “if something doesn’t make sense, it isn’t true”. When all the rights of everyone but her and a few other privileged people have disappeared, she’ll probably convert BCR into a ‘conservation center’ or something to that effect, joining the ranks of respectful zoos that are allowed to acquire and possess the rarest species. You can accomplish things like this if you have all the money, respect, and adoration in society.
Big Cat Rescue affiliates and Carole Baskin cite public safety as a reason to remove big cats from captivity. But what about attacks that are far more frequently committed by domesticated dogs? Ask Carole Baskin herself, she was attacked by a dog as a child and "never got over it".
Big Cat Rescue Vs. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums
To add to suspicions of the true intentions of her mindset, Carole’s ‘rent-a-cabin with big cats’ business was frowned upon by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (the BIG leagues for zoos and conservation centers), and her request for accreditation from them for her ocelot breeding program was denied.
Had she been accepted, one can’t help but wonder if her position would do a 180 °, as my observation that her change was due to her need to be on top in the captive big cat field is entirely consistent with every piece of information about her.
She would get to paint herself as a true hero, even above the accredited facilities she had failed to join ranks with in the past.
Pet Owners and Zoo workers
Carole has had fear-stirring letters sent to the neighbors of exotic animal owners (Class II in Florida). It is well-known that owners of larger exotic pets are not numerous, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, small groups mean small support. What chances do exotic pet owners have against Big Cat Rescue and the many other organizations conglomerating to phase them out?
This is happy news for Baskin and Big Cat Rescue associates however, as they continue to upload videos with their interns’ condescending remarks on the people they’ve obtained some of their cats from.
Speaking of BCR’s keepers and interns, working there it is a popular experience for people who are aspiring to be zookeepers, and this is a giant contradiction.
Despite all this, I used to be subscribed to BCR on Youtube as I enjoyed the enrichment and care videos, and I always did before I was aware of this topic.
I was forcibly unsubscribed from them when I was blocked for speaking my mind in the comment section (politely). To their credit, they put up with a lot of my ‘mind’ before pulling the trigger when things got particularly heated.
Yet unsurprisingly, condescending and hateful comments directed toward pet owners remain on the videos. Human nature will be human nature, I suppose. But, to leave on a lighter note....