Susan Bass, Director of Public Relations Big Cat Rescue
Tell us about Big Cat Rescue: Big Cat Rescue is one of the largest accredited sanctuaries in the world entirely devoted to rescuing and providing a permanent home for abused and abandoned exotic cats. Located in Tampa, we are home to more than 60 big cats.
The cats in our care needed rescuing for a wide variety of reasons. Many were abandoned by owners who mistakenly thought owning a big cat as a pet was a good idea – until the cub quickly grew up, becoming dangerous and very expensive to care for (it costs us approximately $10,000 per year to provide proper food and vet care for one tiger).
A number of our cats were abused by owners who used them for entertainment purposes, such as forcing the cats to perform in traveling circus acts or be used as photo props for cub petting schemes. Others were saved from being slaughtered for fur coats. And still others came to us as orphaned kittens and cubs, after their mothers were hit by cars or killed by hunters.
What’s the mission? Big Cat Rescue has a dual mission. The first part is to provide the very best home we can for the cats in our care. The second, and equally important part of our mission, is to educate the public about the plight of big cats both in captivity and in the wild. Big Cat Rescue is an integral part of a coalition of national and international animal welfare groups working to enact the Big Cat and Public Safety Protection Act (HR 1818/ S 2990), the most important Federal bill EVER to protect big cats.
Once this crucial Federal bill is passed into law by Congress, it will ban the private possession and most if the breeding of big cats in America. The bill will ensure that tigers, lions and other dangerous big cats – which are currently kept by the thousands as pets and exploited in roadside zoos and traveling exhibits – do not threaten public safety, diminish global big cat conservation efforts, or end up living in deplorable conditions where they can be subjected to mistreatment and cruelty. To learn more and to ask your Senators and Representative to co-sponsor the bill, visit www.BigCatAct.com.
Founded in 1992, Big Cat Rescue is a 501(c) (3) non-profit charity. The sanctuary receives no government support and relies on educational activities, such as tours, and the generosity of donors to support the magnificent animals that call our sanctuary home. We are proud to be accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries; rated 4 stars (the highest) by Charity Navigator; and certified by Independent Charities of America as a “Best in America Charity.” For more information about Big Cat Rescue or to schedule a tour, visit www.BigCatRescue.org.
How long have you been with the organization? Eight years as a staff person
What type of cats do you have? The sanctuary currently has a wide variety of cat species, including lions, tigers, leopards, jaguar, cougars, lynx, bobcats, ocelots, servals and caracals. Visitors to Big Cat Rescue can take a variety of guided educational walking tours. Experienced tour guides will share the individual stories of many of the cats and explain how our guests can help end the abuse of big cats. Each visit to the sanctuary is unique because each time different cats will be “front and center” greeting visitors as they pass by.
Where do you source your gift shop items? Our gift shop items come from more than 60 vendors, including our staff. President Jamie Veronica provides jewelry with our cats on it, and photos of the cats that can be purchased as prints or downloads. Other volunteers have also provided handmade items. We source shirts and hats through a number of vendors, including the Snow Leopard Trust, Duck Company and others. We get a lot of our stuffed animals from Aurora. Games from Late for the Sky. Print on demand from Printful. And some bracelets, cat ear tiaras, etc. direct from manufacturers in China.
Do the proceeds benefit your cats? How so? Profit from the sale of gift shop merchandise go toward the care and feeding of our big cats.