A Look at Big Cat RescuePublished February 27, 2012
Big Cat Rescue = by Jo Singer
It’s hard to believe that a big cat sanctuary of this magnitude is located so close to the heart of cosmopolitan downtown Tampa. But once you make the right-hand turn off a busy thoroughfare and start driving down the bumpy dirt road leading to the entrance gate, the civilized world as you know it virtually fades into oblivion.
Since the facility is closed to the public on Thursdays, and my veterinarian and a young man about to graduate from veterinary school accompanied me, Carole Baskin, the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue gave us an extensive behind-the-scenes tour. One of our stops was watching the preparation of the 500 pounds of meat required to feed the cats daily. And as we wended our way around the sanctuary, listening to Dr. Erin, John and Carole sharing information about feline nutrition and feline veterinary medicine greatly added a rich dimension to our journey.
Carole always ends her email with; "for the cats". And at Big Cat Rescue, anything that has to do with the rustic 55-acre sanctuary is done "for the cats."
Big Cat Rescue began in 1992 when Carole and her then husband Don mistakenly believed that bobcats would make great pets. So off they went to buy some bobcat kittens. But much to their horror, when they arrived at what they soon discovered to be just a "fur" farm, in order to prevent the babies from becoming fur coats, they ended up purchasing all of the 56 kittens. It was then that rescuing exotic big cats became their mission.
Now home to tigers, lions, cougars, bobcats, servals, ocelots, lynx and many other big cat species, each of the over 100 cats-in-residence has a name. Big Cat Rescue is the largest accredited sanctuary of its kind in the world with a two-fold mission; rescuing abused and abandoned big cats and educating the public about the plight of these beautiful animals both in the wild and in captivity.
The sanctuary, a non-profit 501(c)3 facility, lovingly cares for and protects over 14 species of big cats. The cats are housed in spacious enclosures that are built to resemble their native habitat as closely as possible. There are tunnels connecting many of these enclosures, allowing social interaction and companionship between cats of the same species.
To help keep the cats happy and to reduce boredom, interesting objects and structures are strategically placed in their enclosures. The cats take advantage of their comfortable dens and hiding places in addition to the abundance of trees on which they can stretch and climb.
Many of the enclosures have pools in which the cats can enjoy a cooling dip; and for warmth on those chilly winter nights, heated pads are provided.
But you can only get a” taste” of Big Cat Rescue by checking out their website. Once you personally visit the sanctuary to see these beautiful cats and the phenomenal work Big Cat Rescue is doing “for the cats”, your experience will never be forgotten.
Have you visited or plan to visit Big Cat Rescue? Share your thoughts about Big Cat Rescue with a comment.