Sunday, September 17, 2006

Video BCR #11

Watch our volunteers do what they do best at Big Cat Rescue HERE

Video BCR #10

Watch our volunteers do what they do best at Big Cat Rescue HERE

Video BCR #9

Watch our volunteers do what they do best at Big Cat Rescue HERE

Video BCR #8

Watch our volunteers do what they do best at Big Cat Rescue HERE

Video BCR #7

Watch our volunteers do what they do best at Big Cat Rescue HERE

Video BCR #6

Watch our volunteers do what they do best at Big Cat Rescue HERE

Video BCR #5

Watch our volunteers do what they do best at Big Cat Rescue HERE

Video BCR #4

Watch our volunteers do what they do best at Big Cat Rescue HERE

Video Operant Conditioning

Watch our Veterinarian, Dr. Liz Wynn, DVM demonstrating operant conditioning at Big Cat Rescue HERE

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Day In The Life Of A Volunteer Senior Keeper

My name is Barbara Frank and I am a Volunteer Senior Keeper at Big Cat Rescue.  I have been a volunteer for the past 2 ½ years. 
My family and friends often ask me, "So, what do you do ALL day at "the cat place?"  (that's what they call Big Cat Rescue, "the cat place"!), "Do you clean poop all day, at "the cat place"? (this is often said with a bit of cynicism).  So, here I am to tell you what my day was like at Big Cat Rescue on Wednesday, August 16, 2006.  I arrived at “the cat place” at 9:00am.  I was greeted by Scott, our Operations Manager, who assigns the volunteers their morning duties.  I was asked to clean the section where Cameron (lion) and Zabu (white tiger) live.  The area also includes two Asian Leopards (Jade and Armani), two black leopards (Adonis and Bagherra) and one small, feisty little bobcat named Alachua Bob.  I got my cleaning gear (bucket, brushes, trash bag, gloves and long stick called a scraper) and was off on my mission. I cleaned water bowls and refilled them, and cleaned feeding blocks.  Marcy (another volunteer Senior Keeper) cleaned the enclosures of poop.  We work better when we clean in tandem, not faster, just better.  I have to tell you how amazing it is, to be near Cameron when he is roaring.  You can feel the vibration in your chest as he roars.  I sometimes look at this magnificent creature when he roars and I get tears in my eyes.  I just can’t believe how awesome he is and how privileged I am to be in his presence. I see Zabu hiding in the grass, she is trying to stalk me, with not much luck ‘cause she’s white and you can see her a mile away!  I clean the Leopards and talk to them all.  I look them over carefully to see if everyone is happy and healthy.  I love being with all these cats.  Marcy and I go over to Buffy (Bengal tiger) and Sarmonti (Bengal tiger).  Buffy is such a flirt!  He chuffs (tiger talk for hello), rubs his head on the cage and follows you as you walk around his enclosure.  Sarmonti and I have some issues that we are working on.  He doesn’t seem to like me very much.  I keep my eyes glued on him and keep a rather large distance from him. He on the other hand is sleeping in his den (or is he watching me with one eye open?!!).  Cleaning is done and I go up front to see what’s next.  Maybe I shouldn’t have asked!  I get to help dig ditches.  There we were, Rob (Trainee), Adam (Keeper), Victoria (Intern from England), Scott (Operations Manager) and me. We have an area that has standing rainwater. We were to dig a ditch to allow the water to flow and drain off properly. Yes, that was fun!  The sweat was pouring down my face, mixed with my mascara, I was a lovely sight!  Sometimes I think, maybe I am too old for this, let the young volunteers do it.  But, my passion for “the cat place” prevails and I will do all that I can to be an active participant in all aspects. Lunch. Is it time for lunch?  No, not yet.  Guess what’s next?  You will NEVER guess, so I’ll tell you.  A WEDDING!!  Yes, a wedding at Big Cat Rescue.  I am the wedding coordinator, with mascara running, sweat drenching my clothes, mud all over me.  Today’s couple is Veronica and Mike.  They have chosen Big Cat Rescue as their “destination wedding”.  The people who choose to get married here are very, very special people.  They realize that their wedding dollars go directly to the care of our cats.  They want to make their wedding day memorable by being part of this truly amazing place.  This wonderful young couple exchanged their vows on our beach.  Our Founder Carole Baskin officiated, Jamie Veronica and Julie Hanan did the photography, and Brian Czarnik was our videographer.  I gave the couple and their 2 children (Haley and Justin) and brother-in-law (Chuckey) a private tour.  They were awestruck with flirtatious Buffy, enormous Sarabi (lioness), and stunning Cloe (snow leopard). We are so grateful for people like Veronica and Mike, who have the compassion and love for these animals as we do.  It’s now 4:00pm.  Did I hear lunch?  Nope.  Time to get ready for feeding.  Scott is in our food preparation building (food prep) getting medications ready for some of our cats.  I help by putting pills in some red meat.  We have to camouflage the pills in either red meat or chicken.  These cats are smart!  They know when medicine is about to come, so we have to outsmart them.  I get the food cart that I’ll be using to carry the buckets of chicken quarters, “mush” (a specially formulated zoo diet specifically for carnivores), medications, and chicken necks. Volunteer Senior Keeper Julie Hanan (who is also my good friend), John (intern) and I will be feeding Center Route.  THAT WAS THUNDER!!  We really have to get going if we want to beat the rain, and by the way, I’m petrified of lightning.  Julie and I divide and conquer. These guys are pretty food aggressive so for the most part I’m pretty scared, but I think that keeps me on my toes and I won’t let my guard down. However, I do love to feed them.  It’s a time that you can observe them and talk to them.  We finish our route and go back to food prep to clean the feeding buckets.  I AM TIRED!!  It’s 6:00pm and I finished early today.
 
So, what do I do at ”the cat place” all day?  I can tell you, it’s not eating Lunch!!!!
 
Barbara
 


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Friday, August 11, 2006

Video BCR#3

Bengali the tiger gets a new waterbowl with the help of Scott Lope, Barbara Frank and a few of the volunteers and interns as Big Cat Rescue. This video is only 8 minutes long, but is about 100 MB as it is high quality film.

Click HERE to start the video download.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Beating The Heat - Big Cat Rescue Style

AP Report July 20, 2006:  Britain Endures Record July Heat  "Lions licked blood-flavored ice blocks in the zoo, judges went wigless in court, guards at Buckingham Palace ducked into the shade."
 
What's news in London is a typical day in Tampa at Big Cat Rescue.  With summertime temperatures consistently in the 90's and a humidity level that makes it feel so much more, our lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, lynx, bobcats, servals, caracals, ocelots, and little cats look forward to their regular frozen "sicle" treats.  Besides cooling them down, there's always something yummy inside as a special treat for them.  Our keepers become certified in handing out enrichment items of this type to our cats.  Tossing enrichment items into our big cats' habitats stimulates their hunting instincts.
At Big Cat Rescue, we use small paper cups to freeze treats like chicken pieces or beef pieces or even sardines in flavored water.  It's always fun to watch the big cats lick, lick, lick away at the "sicle" until they get to the treat inside.
 
Today's enrichment with one of our bobcats was more a sporting event than anything else.  With temperatures feeling close to 98 degrees, all the cats were receiving frozen "sicle" treats to help cool them down.  One of our bobcats had other ideas, though.  He took his frozen beef pop and turned it into a World Cup Soccer match.  He ran back and forth batting it as hard as he could so that it flew outside (through the 4x4 wire enclosure) and rolled back in the other side of the enclosure where he would already be waiting to swat it back the other way again.  Back and forth, back and forth, he scored goal after goal after goal. Who knew that a fur farm rescued bobcat could become such a fantastic soccer player?  Senior Keeper Julie Hanan who gave him his treat, just stood there holding her arms up saying "SCOREEEE!!!!"  He had turned enrichment into an athletic event!
 
**Enrichment - In the wild these cats have miles and miles of territory to explore.  They run, smell, taste and chase prey.  In captivity these cats have an enclosure to explore.  They see, smell, and taste the same things every day.  Animals in captivity can become bored and display negative behaviors.  They can pace, over groom or become aggressive.  Here, at Big Cat Rescue we have a very active Enrichment Program.  We enrich our cats daily, helping to alleviate boredom.  Our enrichment helps to stimulate our cats emotionally and physically.
 
Barbara and Julie
 
 


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Big Cat Rescuers unload a semi of cage wire, bring in new housing for the interns, discuss staffing issues and relay a peacock attack in this 15 min. video with music by Stacey Knights. See lots of great footage of the snow leopard, bobcats, black leopards, golden leopards and more.


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To watch a high resolution version click the link below http://media.libsyn.com/media/bigcatrescue/BCR1.wmv

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Big Cat Picture

This is a 60 minute film that reveals the plight of big cats, such as lions, tigers, leopards, bobcats and 18 of the 35 species of exotic and endangered wild cats in the wild and in captivity.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Beating The Heat - Big Cat Rescue Style

AP Report July 20, 2006:  Britain Endures Record July Heat  "Lions licked blood-flavored ice blocks in the zoo, judges went wigless in court, guards at Buckingham Palace ducked into the shade."
 
What's news in London is a typical day in Tampa at Big Cat Rescue.  With summertime temperatures consistently in the 90's and a humidity level that makes it feel so much more, our lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, lynx, bobcats, servals, caracals, ocelots, and little cats look forward to their regular frozen "sicle" treats.  Besides cooling them down, there's always something yummy inside as a special treat for them.  Our keepers become certified in handing out enrichment items of this type to our cats.  Tossing enrichment items into our big cats' habitats stimulates their hunting instincts.
At Big Cat Rescue, we use small paper cups to freeze treats like chicken pieces or beef pieces or even sardines in flavored water.  It's always fun to watch the big cats lick, lick, lick away at the "sicle" until they get to the treat inside.
 
Today's enrichment with one of our bobcats was more a sporting event than anything else.  With temperatures feeling close to 98 degrees, all the cats were receiving frozen "sicle" treats to help cool them down.  One of our bobcats had other ideas, though.  He took his frozen beef pop and turned it into a World Cup Soccer match.  He ran back and forth batting it as hard as he could so that it flew outside (through the 4x4 wire enclosure) and rolled back in the other side of the enclosure where he would already be waiting to swat it back the other way again.  Back and forth, back and forth, he scored goal after goal after goal. Who knew that a fur farm rescued bobcat could become such a fantastic soccer player?  Senior Keeper Julie Hanan who gave him his treat, just stood there holding her arms up saying "SCOREEEE!!!!"  He had turned enrichment into an athletic event!
 
**Enrichment - In the wild these cats have miles and miles of territory to explore.  They run, smell, taste and chase prey.  In captivity these cats have an enclosure to explore.  They see, smell, and taste the same things every day.  Animals in captivity can become bored and display negative behaviors.  They can pace, over groom or become aggressive.  Here, at Big Cat Rescue we have a very active Enrichment Program.  We enrich our cats daily, helping to alleviate boredom.  Our enrichment helps to stimulate our cats emotionally and physically.
 
Barbara and Julie

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Take a 25 minute walk with Lisa Shaw and Susan Mitchell and a few of our other great keepers as they hand out enrichment, in the form of mouse cicles, to the cougars and a few other exotic cats at Big Cat Rescue.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

**Bienvenue � Gros Chat Secours!

Who would have thought that our 3pm tour on Friday July 14 would need a French translator.  We had a group of  9 guests who spoke French.  Always willing to please our guests we called in our very own French Volunteer Keeper Marie. She left her place of business and quickly drove to Big Cat Rescue to help where she was needed.
Our French guests were thrilled and impressed with Big Cat Rescue. Educating people here and around the world about the plight of these animals is what we are all about. Many thanks to Marie who introduced them to our many residents and helped spread the word globally.
 
**Welcome To Big Cat Rescue!
 
Barbara


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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Children's Home Visits Big Cat Rescue

On Thursday, June 30, we hosted a special tour for twelve children from The Children's Home. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms brought the kids out as part of the new Wild Adventures Program that Chris has developed.  The children heard stories about our cats and how they became residents of Big Cat Rescue.  They were especially impressed when Operations Manager Scott Lope demonstrated Operant Conditioning with Bengali the tiger.  Placing "meat on a stick",  Scott encouraged Bengali to stand.  In this way, Scott explained to the children, we can observe the tiger's paws, tummy, teeth, etc.  This helps us to make sure our cats stay healthy.
It was one of the hottest days yet, but that didn't deter the kids from enjoying the Cats and their hero Chris.
...And, I received an autographed football!  Thank you Chris Simms.
 
***Operant Conditioning - is a type of learning in which behaviors are altered by the consequences that follow them. The behaviors are not forced, but "caught", reinforced and therefore trained.  We train only natural behaviors, no entertainment types of behaviors.
 
Barbara                  


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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Big Cat Rescue and Anderson Cooper uncover the multi billion dollar exotic pet trade.


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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

See how Big Cat Rescue and the Girl Scouts of America are working together for a better future.




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My Odeo Channel (odeo/7a5a07095294e679)
Watch lions, white tigers, and bobcats who were rescued by Big Cat Rescue.


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My Odeo Channel (odeo/7a5a07095294e679)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Subscribe to our Podcast

Subscribe to our Podcast here: My Odeo Channel (odeo/7a5a07095294e679)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Little Things That Make Us Smile!

Today, we had an "army" of dedicated volunteers, who came in on a very busy, very hot day to assist in any way they could.  We had volunteers escorting guests on tours, helping to park cars, getting guests signed in, manning the gift shop, and lets not forget cleaning enclosures.  We also had a large group of volunteers that worked in the scorching heat using our wood chipper to shred branches and clear an area by the lake. Our volunteers had to drink bottles and bottles of water just to stay hydrated and not get overheated.  Well, we ran out of water!  Our Operations Manager Scott Lope was about to send a volunteer out for water. Just then a Hillsborough County Sheriffs car appeared.  Uh-Oh, what did he want?  Nothing!  He just wanted to give us a case of cold water!  He said he knew how hot it was and didn't want our volunteers to get overheated. What a wonderful, considerate gesture that was. 
It's the little things, that make us smile .
Barbara


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Saturday, June 17, 2006

They Came, They Saw, They Conquered!!

We had the most AWESOME group of one day volunteers today.  They represented the firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers. The project coordinator was Karen Whirley, who brought 23 enthusiastic, energetic and STRONG volunteers. For over four hours,armed with machetes, loppers and yes, even chainsaws, they tackled a project that would have taken us days.  These volunteers cleared a large area of land that overlooks our lake.  Why? We use soil to cover our cats dens and to fill in areas in their enclosures that may have been washed away. They cleared the area because that is where we will get our land fill and growing on this soil were weeds and more weeds.  Very tall, very thick, very stubborn weeds!  They worked under the blazing hot sun.  They cut, chopped and dragged bushes, trees, and limbs, until we could once again see the lake. 
Our volunteers and staff are so appreciative to this wonderful group of people from PricewaterhouseCoopers.  Thank you, thank you to all of you.
They truly "Came, Saw, and Conquered".


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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Garage Sale Turns Trash To Cash

Long time volunteer Kym Marszal has graciously turned her garage into a weekly "Big Cat Rescue Fundraiser".  She collects "trash and treasures" from volunteers and supporters and spends her weekends with bargain seeking customers.  Not only is she helping to raise funds for our Cats, but she is spreading the word about our Sanctuary and our mission.
To date she has raised over $250.00.  We would like to use this money for something that we can all see and appreciate.  Who needs a new "boomer ball"?  If anyone has ideas or suggestions, please send an email to me.  Remember, this is an ongoing event, so as long as we donate our "treasures" to Kym we can all take part in deciding what treats our Kitty's will get.
 
**A big thank you to Kym for donating her time and energy to this worthwhile project.
 
Barbara


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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Midnight Rescue

March 22, 2006 11:21 pm: I had just gotten in from a three hour meeting of the Animal Advisory Committee where we had wrestled with the long range goals of Animal Services and how we would be able to stop the flood of animals in the front doors to be euthanized because people didn’t want them any more. How could we fund education and aggressive spay / neuter programs in a county government fraught with cut backs? How could we stop the killing of 34,000 healthy dogs and cats each year in an environment of thought that could only do more of what wasn’t working by building more places for people to bring their pets to die? It was a topic worthy of the energy we had all put into it tonight, but at the end of the night all we had managed to do was suggest that an outside consultant be paid to tell us how to do it and we would leave funding the implementation to another day’s discussion.

Being away from my computer for 3 hours means a pile of emails will have collected and standing at my desk I began to sort through them. I really wanted to go to bed, so not sitting down seemed to me, as if it say, I was not committed to answering all of this mail, but would see if there was anything that just couldn’t wait until morning. Then the phone rang.

The voice on the other end was shaky, female and began, “I got your number from the answering machine, and I’m sorry to call so late, but I have called everyone I can think of and Fish and Game said they would send someone yesterday, but they never did, and the trapper said he will just euthanize the cat, and the cat is scared, and I am afraid he is going to die, and if I let him loose someone is going to shoot him. It’s a big cat. I think it might be a Florida Panther. It weighs 90 pounds, is three feet long, had VERY big teeth and his paws are as big as my hands. I caught him in my garage. He has been tearing up cats in the neighborhood and some are missing. I think he ate them. I caught him in the trap with some cat food. He just fills up the entire trap…”

I don’t know how long she went through her description before I spoke. There was no hurry to speak as she was just flowing with information. I jotted down the details as I silently pondered her authenticity. I have been outspoken against people breeding and selling exotic cats and have committed much of my time to trying to stop the trade. I had become the target of a segment of our society that is comprised largely of drug dealers, criminals and those just too ignorant or uncaring to see that their participation in the industry causes such suffering for the animals. In their chat rooms they had suggested more than once that the only way to stop me was a bullet. Was this call in the middle of the night a set up for just such an opportunity?

Was this woman’s voice shaking because she was lying and involved in something that could send her to prison? The notion of a 90 lb. Florida Panther, in a dog trap, in a garage, in a waterfront community like Apollo Beach, was pretty far fetched. Is that why Fish and Game had not responded, or did she just say she called them first so that I wouldn’t? I queried her more, asking the same questions in different ways. If she was lying she would get tripped in her own tale and if she wasn’t she would surely think that I was an idiot who just couldn’t get the picture.

After a while I decided that no one could have made up a story like hers and told her I would be sending our Operations Manager Scott and our own licensed trapper to see if she changed her mind about wanting someone to come right away. Her only concern was if our trapper was of the same conviction as the one she had called earlier and I assured her that we would not kill the cat. She gave her contact info and it all matched up with the public records. She was in a high rent district that was not consistent with where most of our opponents live. I called Jamie to wake her up.

Groggy she answered the phone. She had been too exhausted to sleep, but had finally managed to drift off when she heard my voice saying, “Get up. We have to pick up a Florida Panther in Apollo Beach.” She said to wait out front and she would be ready in three minutes and she was.

As she climbed into the truck she asked me to repeat what it was we were doing again and why. If this was a 90 lb cat we would have to pick up the van from the sanctuary and have an enclosure ready upon our return. The woman was afraid for the cat because she couldn’t open the trap to give him water and he had been in it for a couple days. We needed a place we could release the cat so that he could stand up (which she also said he couldn’t do in the tiny trap he was wedged into) and get a drink.

As we switched out gear to the van Jamie called Scott to alert him that we needed a cage ready. He prepared our rehab cage because it is far removed from the tour route and the other cats in case this was truly a wild cat and as a quarantine measure.

On the one hour trip to Apollo Beach Jamie and I placed bets as to what was in the trap. Would it be a dog? A raccoon? A neighbor’s oversized tom cat? A bobcat? Partly this was due to the barrage of such sightings that turn out to be such animals and partly in our nervous aversion to what the real implications of this trip could mean to our lives. Jamie was armed with a Mag Light and has become something of an Amazon in strength due to her daily life of outside work at the rescue. I have a history of deflecting harm thanks to an overly protective Guardian Angel and hardly ever even consider my own safety but I worried for Jamie. She is the permit holder to pick up a native animal and had to be there. She knows the element of enemy we are up against. A master of disguise and undercover surveillance she has been face to face with those who use and abuse these animals. If anyone knew the dark void of greed, ego and selfishness that these exotic animal breeders and dealers shared it was Jamie. We were ready for whatever the night might bring.

I was somewhat relieved to find at the end of our route the homes were in the million dollar range. At least gun fire would probably cause an investigation. The caller met us at the door and holding back her dogs waived us to enter the garage. I quickly scanned the room to try and determine if there was anyone lurking and to get a feel for what kind of person we were dealing with. I wasn’t too thrilled with the notion of being thrust into the garage; was that so we wouldn’t make a bloody mess on the carpet?

Opening the garage door I saw the trap that was virtually busting at the seams with brown fur. Glancing around the garage I didn’t see anyone or anyplace anyone likely could be hiding. I know Jamie’s observation skills were far more adept and that she could also go on for hours describing exactly everything in the room to its most minute detail after a five minute visit. The woman rejoined us and shut the door behind her. She was no match for us and I began to un tense every muscle that had been as tight as piano wire for a battle.

She described the cat again; as if we couldn’t see him and detailed discovering the cat a week before and all that she had done to try and find help. Finding no one who cared, she borrowed a trap and set out to catch the cat herself for fear that someone would shoot him. Finally she turned to Jamie and asked, “So, what is it?”

Jamie responded that it was a Jungle Cat and I interjected that it was the biggest Jungle Cat I had ever seen. We gathered a written statement from the woman, interviewed her mother who owned the home, took photos and settled the 26 lb. Jungle Cat into the back of the van for the hour ride home.

2:13 am we arrived back at the sanctuary and the only way to get the cat to the rehab cage is to carry him across 2 acres of underbrush on a foot wide path lit by only a flashlight. I carried the flashlight and Jamie hauled the 36 pounds of cat and trap. Jamie turned him loose in his new enclosure and unlike most trapped cats he just moseyed out of the trap and strolled around the Cat-a-tat checking out the brush bama, the cave and the swinging platforms. She gave him water and secured the cage.

The next day we called Fish and Game, now known as the FWCC, to report the incident. We checked the lost and found while Dr. Wynn checked the cat over to try and tell, without sedating him, if he was a male, neutered or not and what was up with those huge paws? We had filmed an interview for a documentary into the small cat and hybrid cat business and the producer called saying she needed a few more break away shots. I told her about the rescue and offered to let her document what happens when these animals escape.

The minute she saw the cat she said it was a Stone Cougar and that there was a hybrid dealer a couple hours away who was trying to make himself famous by breeding a Chaussie (Jungle Cat / Domestic Cat cross) that looks like a cougar. Purposely inbreeding causes traits such as the polydactyl feet to make the paws bigger and the stunted, dwarf like legs to make the cats’ body style more closely resemble a cougar. The Jungle Cat is used for its brown coloring and hybrids are typically larger than either parent, so this would give the desired size for the pet owner who wants something big enough to beat up the neighbor’s Rottweiler.

This cat’s escape, or release, sums up the hybrid issue. The first generations are large, mentally confused, and often exhibit the worst of both species rather than the best. Hybrids are marketed as being miniature wildcats with all of their beauty and mystique while being easy to keep; eating cat food and using a litter box. What is most often created is a rather ordinary looking cat with no house manners who will fight you to the death for the defrosting meat in the sink. Children and pets are particularly in danger and there isn’t a house that can contain them, or in which anyone who can smell will want to live. They are often relegated to lonely lives in back yard cages or are turned loose to fend for themselves on whatever neighbor’s pets they can catch.

This cat probably sold for $2500.00 and was just a way to make some money to his breeder. This cat once was a new buyer’s prized possession. This cat knew what it meant to live in fear on the street with no one who cared if he lived or died, except for a woman who was determined that he would not be shot for killing the neighbor’s cats. This cat may now spend 20 years in a cage because he is too big and too dangerous to be kept as a pet anymore.

This cat is the one with a story to tell and you can help him tell it: Exotic cats were not meant for life in cages. Please don’t support the exotic pet trade; including the hybrid pet trade.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Canadian Lynx Reintroduction - With the help of Dances With Wolves and Shatia

Dances With Wolves and Shatia are beautiful Canadian Lynx (view their pictures on our website) who have been longtime residents at Big Cat Rescue.  I was recently asked to participate in a project that will hopefully help with the reintroduction of the Canadian Lynx in the state of Colorado. I am very excited at the possibility that "our girls" could help their wild and free counterparts to propagate and thrive.
This is a letter that I would like to share with you about how Dances With Wolves (I call her Woofy) and Shatia will participate in this goal.
 
Written by:  Kerry Fanson
   Dances With Wolves and Shatia are working hard to help biologists understand more about Canada Lynx physiology.  What's their role in the project?  They poop!  Biologists have found that certain hormones are excreted in the urine and/or feces after they carry out their job in the body.  These hormones are critical players in reproduction and also influence an animal's response to stressful events.  Kerry Fanson, a graduate student at Purdue University, is analyzing  these fecal hormones in order to describe basic patterns of hormone expression in Canada Lynx.  While the information obtained from this study will be helpful to captive lynx, it also has broader importance.  In 1999, the state of Colorado initiated a large-scale Canada Lynx reintroduction.  However, it took 5 years before the cats began to successfully reproduce, and biologists are not sure what caused this reproductive suppression.  By comparing hormonal data collected from captive lynx with hormonal data collected from reintroduced lynx, Kerry will be able to see if there were physiological changes that caused this reproductive failure.  Ultimately, the information obtained from this study will help biologists better understand how the reintroduction process impacts the individuals involved.  With this information, conservation biologists will be better prepared to carry out reintroductions, and hopefully the success of these endeavors will improve.
 
** I will keep you updated on the progress of this project.  Many thanks to Woofy and Shatia.


 Barbara 


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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Big Cat Rescue - Rescues Fish!?

When Senior Keeper Brian and Trainee Beth were on a mission to spruce up the tiger pools, little did they know that their task would entail the rescue of fish!  While bailing out buckets of water from Bengali's pool, they discovered not one, not two, not even ten little fish, but about thirty scampering about the pool!  Unseen to the naked eye, these little guys surfaced when the water was stirred up.  Both Brian and Beth persevered in their heroic attempt to rescue these fish.  They released them into our lake, and they happily swam away.
 
Proving, once again, that Big Cat Rescuers love and respect for all nature prevails!


 Barbara 


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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Bobcats Moses and Anasazie Go Swimming!

Speaking of her recent tour, Senior Keeper Julie Hanan said "Sometimes our tour guests don't realize just how special a moment is as they are guided around".  Julie stopped her tour when she saw Moses and Ana romping in their new enrichment pool.  She started taking pictures and her tour group realized they must be experiencing a "Kodak Moment" and they began snapping away, too!  Julie says "It was the perfect opportunity to show the guests first hand how great our enrichment program is and Moses and Ana certainly felt like celebrities!"
 
* "Enrichment" - is an animal husbandry principle that seeks to enhance the quality of captive animal care by identifying and providing stimulus necessary for emotional and physical well being.


 Barbara 


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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Tiger S.A.R.M.O.T.I. Wows Tour!

When Volunteer Keeper Pat O'Shea brought her tour group to Sarmoti (Bengal Tiger) his back was turned to the crowd. She told her group that Sarmoti wanted the group to see the "flashes" on the backs of his ears.  After she explained what "flashes" were, she said "Okay Sarmoti, you can turn around now".  AND HE DID!  The tour group applauded which is just what he was looking for, said Pat.
 
*Flashes or Eye Spots - white spots on the back of ears.  At night they might act as a "follow me" signal for cubs. Also, used as a diversion to fool other predators into thinking the cat is looking in their direction.  Most predators prefer sneaking up from behind rather than attacking  the front of the cat. 


 Barbara 


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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Injustice in our own country

Dusk was settling in; cold and drizzly damp, the kind of cold that just makes your bones ache. A single mom was bathing her toddlers before tucking them into bed for the night. Their bellies were full and their eyelids beginning to feel heavy as she hurried to dry them so that they wouldn't chill while she was gone. She had to go to work and there was no one she could call on to keep her babies safe while she made a living for the four of them.

It didn't used to be so bad. The neighborhood was a safe place when she was born here but now, three kids later, a lot more people had moved in and they weren't good neighbors. Some of them were downright evil and she made a point to try and make herself invisible when she saw one of them coming.

Usually the bad ones were pretty easy to spot. They were bawdy, smelled of alcohol and cigarettes and drove noisy trucks with beds full of howling, chained dogs. As long as she kept to the shadows they were usually too drunk to notice her. As she quietly sang her babies a lullaby she shuddered at the thought of what would happen if one of these barbarians found her children alone.she couldn't think about that; she had work to do and she had to keep her mind on the job. The family was counting on her.

When the last of the little ones had drifted off to sleep she stepped out into the moonlit chill. She was still trying to shake off the awful scenes that her imagination had just conjured up when she stepped on a twig, snapping her attention into the moment. As she looked up she found that she had caught someone else's attention as well. She froze, hope against hope that she had not been noticed, but he was close enough she could see in his eyes that she had made a fatal mistake.

Her mind raced as she assessed the severity of the situation: He was big. He towered over her and she could smell the beer on his breath. She didn't have to see the gun pointed at her to sense his lack of respect for life. She knew his kind and had witnessed the cavalier way they extinguished lives in their lust for blood. They killed the innocent and the unarmed to prove that they were men. He was too close. If she ran he would find the kids. Her love, a mother's love, would not even think of saving herself and leaving her young ones in the hands of such a perverted mind.

But what could she do? Perhaps she could bluff her way out of this. She had learned enough about this kind of man to know that they are all cowards at heart. If she could make herself look fierce enough perhaps he would run. If he did, she resolved that home or no home, she would pack up her brood and leave town in the very next instant.

With all of the courage she could muster she raised her slender, 100 lb frame to look as commanding as she could and shrieked, with a sound that would make your blood run cold, her threats of what she would do if he came one step closer.

Laughing at her pathetic attempt to deter him, he fired the gun point blank into her. The impact at such close range spun her around and he fired again, read more...