Whether they are wild big cats, or the sweet miniature predators – the domestic house kitties that grace our hearts and homes – they all need love, safety and protection. Carole Baskin, the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue (BCR) provides her cats with all of these crucial ingredients and deeply enriches their lives.
Located in a lushly forested area in Tampa, BCR is one of the world’s largest accredited sanctuaries for exotic wild cats. The facility once again has come to the rescue to save the lives of Kimba, Zeus and Kiesha, three desperately starving and needy tigers.
For some inexplicable reason, there are folks who believe that rescuing big cats and other wild animals is a glamorous and exciting endeavor. But the fact of the matter is that there is nothing further from the truth.
Rescuing exotic big cats properly requires housing the animals in the most natural surroundings, an enriched environment and providing excellent nutrition. Rescuing these cats must be done by people with a high degree of expertise, compassion, patience and knowledge about the needs of the species. Big exotic cat rescue is an extremely costly and time consuming undertaking; funds and other resources quickly become exhausted.
Since the majority of people involved in so-called ‘rescue’ lack the necessary training, they soon become overwhelmed. Their depleted funds are insufficient to provide decent and proper care for the animals. This leaves them faced with going out of business and shutting their doors on the cats. These are the exotic big cats born into captivity and who are kept by people who exploit them to hopefully make a huge profit.
When the big cats are no longer useful or making a profit, these unfortunate animals are passed onto private owners and continue to be passed down the road to yet another private owner. And the beat goes on!
The tigers recently adopted by BCR came from a facility called ‘JNK’s Call of the Wild Sanctuary’ owned by Ken and Jackie Wisniewski. The couple began rescuing big cats, wolves, bears and other species of wild and domestic animals. However, contrary to the philosophy of decent sanctuaries, they bred their animals to produce offspring. Soon they found themselves over their heads. The animals were housed in deplorable conditions; receiving little or no veterinary attention.
They fed the animals with the plentiful road kill found on local roads. BCR discovered half a dozen dead deer, a raccoon and a duck during the two days they visited the town. The carcasses were left to rot in the small animal cages, along with the accumulating excrement. The tigers and lions, (who are among the most fastidious creatures on the planet) were forced to live under these extremely gut-wrenching conditions, while at the same time, the USDA was in the process of citing the facility for years. No improvements were ever made.
It took years for the USDA to revoke JnK’s license. However, all it took was for a family member or friend to get a USDA license in their name, pay a $40 fee, and the process continued.
Fortunately, The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) stepped to help with the animals’ rescue. BCR loaded the three tigers in two hours and their 22 hour journey to their facility began.
It is with profound sadness that I must share the heartbreaking news, that while 20 year-old Kimba, a sweet, beautiful and deeply loved tigress did get to spend some happy, peaceful days at BCR, the deprivation she experienced over those many years took an extreme toll on her health. In spite of BCR’s heroic efforts to save her, the difficult and painful decision was be made to have her euthanized.
Zeus and Kiesha are settling in extremely well; enjoying their permanent loving home at BCR’s magnificent, spacious sanctuary.
The financial outlay for the rescue and transport was approximately $7,000; but that was just the beginning of the cost of the facility’s amazing, lifesaving work. What lies ahead is the extensive veterinary care, the cost of the high quality food and vitamins, joint supplements and pain management required to nurse these beautiful two tigers back to health.
The annual cost for food and veterinary care for just one tiger at BCR is a staggering $10,000. So you can only imagine the cost of the intensive care will be needed to bring these three rescued tigers back to health.
Watch the compelling video of the three tigers being rescued by BCR uploaded to YouTube by Big Cat Rescue.
You can help to defray some of the costs of Zeus’s and Keisha’s care by donating funds.
Share your feelings about this moving and inspirational story in a comment.