The Big Cat Rescue is a sanctuary in Tampa Florida for big cats. Since they are not a “zoo” the cat and welfare of the animals comes first and foremost.
I took a day tour on the weekend which was $29 per person. It seems like a lot but when you think of how much you spend to go to an amusement park for a day including parking and food, that’s nothing. The best part is that the money goes directly to the animals and their care.
If you love cats big and small I would highly suggest going. Not only is it great to know they are well taken care of, but some of these cats have very sad stories of how they were found.
Most of what the Big Cat Rescue does is they want to rehabilitate the cats and send them back into the wild, unfortunately not all of them can be sent back. Some of the cats are permanent residents. Here are a few of them:
The name Caracal is derived from a Turkish word “karakulak” meaning “black ear.” The Caracal was once tamed and trained for bird hunting in Iran and India. They were put into arenas containing a flock of pigeons, and wagers were made as to how many the cat would take down. This is the origination of the expression “to put a cat amongst the pigeons.” The Caracal is capable of leaping into the air and knocking down 10-12 birds at one time!
(taken from http://bigcatrescue.org/2011/caracal-facts)
Banjo a binturong – which for those that don’t know is also called a bearcat.. unfortunately my pictures of banjo were not that great so i borrow an image from wikipedia.
They are pretty ugly little things.. but they aren’t really bears or cats. They are omnivores and are nocturnal
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binturong for more information on them)
Amazing Grace the Ocelot was telling us that she was not happy to have visitors. She was making the kinds of noises you would expect from a demonic possession…I tried not to laugh because here you see this beautiful animal (who by the way is bred for their fur.. only the underbelly fur) and here’s this horrid noise sounding like a mad-as-hell-gremlin coming from it.
Tiger yawning.. they were being lazy.
Jumanji the black jaguar.
One of the florida panthers enjoying some enrichment time… with cinnamon. He was rolling around in it like a domestic cat with catnip.
A siberan lynx – though he looks like a bobcat he is not. bobcat’s have a white and black tail, the siberan lynx has a black spot on it’s tail.
Cameron the lion trying to rouse Zabu the white tiger.
The most interesting thing was seeing a real white tiger and learning for every white tiger (there are about 200 in existence) hundreds of colored tigers had to die. White tigers only exist through inbreeding, there are none in the wild for obvious reasons (they can be seen to easily by predators), and most don’t live past 2 years of age because of the genetic problems that come with inbreeding.
Zabu though beautiful has a hairlip and cleft palate, which means she has no upper lip to protect her teeth. For more about Zabu…
check out http://bigcatrescue.org/2011/zabu
Raindace the bobcat
Purchased from a fur farm in Minnestoa, when she was picked up the owners found out it was a fur farm for not just minxes and foxes but for cats as well and ended up buying the remaining kittens and cats and coming back to Florida with them.
(Taken from http://bigcatrescue.org/2011/raindance)
Part of what the Big Cat Rescue does is provide enrichment for the permanent residents. They get things they would not get out in the wild, like cinnamon, cat nip and christmas trees.
The main goal of the Big Cat Rescue is to educate people so they no longer want these wild cats as pets, stop the trade market for their fur and various parts and restore them back to their natural habitats.
(these signs are posted in several spots on the fences…I wanted to take a picture and add it to the facebook page and to this blog)
For more about visiting, the cats, or what to do to help them please visit http://bigcatrescue.org/
Note – After writing this article I spoke to another feline lover about the big cat rescue and she explained the reasons why she was boycotting them.
I wanted to present some of the facts that are involved in a some of the rumors.
Yes, they do feed live rabbits to the cats. Most of the cats are in rehabilitation for one reason or the other and will be re-released into the wild and though I am against the cruelty of animals feeding them rabbits is so they can learn to hunt.
Below is the link to their response on the feeding of rabbits.
For more addressing the issues with the big cat rescue see the link below.
In a quick search for cruelty and abuse in regards to the Big Cat Rescue I found an interesting clip from the local news (Tampa Bay)
And another clip in regards to what the former volunteers have had to say about the truth of the Big Cat Rescue.
I leave it to you to decide whether or not they are what they say. I for one will not be returning as I feel that they are not as truthful as they should be about the reports of the cats origins nor the conditions in which the animals were living in prior to being brought to the Big Cat Rescue. But that’s just me.