Is Big Cat Rescue a Sham?

I made a post about Big Cat Rescue (BCR) 9 months ago. I said I admired the work of Carole Baskin (formerly Carole Lewis) the founder. BCR was called Wildlife on Easy Street (WOES). I have been constructively criticised recently about this post. I am pleased to be corrected when I am wrong. It has given me the motivation to look again at Big Cat Rescue and make my own decision as to whether the allegations that Carole Baskin lies are true. I will try to be as neutral and as objective as possible.

THERE ARE MANY COMMENTS ON THIS PAGE IN TWO SECTIONS. THEY MAKE INTERESTING READING. PLEASE SCROLL WELL DOWN TO SEE THEM.

Carole and Howard Baskin
Carole and Howard Baskin. Photo believed to be in the public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The Allegations

  1. A host of allegations are on this page of this site: rexano.org – link broken to specific webpage April 2013
  2. BCR don’t rescue cats they buy healthy cats and breed them (src: http://web.archive.org/web/20091126013220/http://www.wildliferescueandrehab.org:80/learnthetruth/index.html (broken link) and http://www.metacafe.com ) and then make money from them.
  3. BCR has suffered 10 USDA violations in April 1999 (src: as immediately above)
  4. BCR had a litter of cougars born on their property in 2001 (src: http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/Big.Cat.Rescue.Corp.813-920-4130/review/list).

Looking at some of the Allegations

I’ll look at some of the allegations from the link in the first numbered bullet (rexano.org – link broken to specific webpage April 2013) as this is the best prepared page containing allegations of deceitfulness and therefore the most likely to be true. I will address the first 5 allegations on the linked page above in the order presented.

  1. Carole Baskin writes “stupid” letters to the neighbours of people who keep dangerous animals under license to warn them of potential problems if they escape etc.. Comment: a copy of the letter is shown. On the face of it, it is true that she sent the letters. But is it silly or stupid in an absolute sense? No. It might be stupid to the author criticizing and it might seem a bit too forceful to some people but to others it might seem very appropriate. This seems to be a bit of mud slinging from someone who does not like Carole Baskin and her operation. I feel I should say that a lot of people want to possess exotoc wild cats and hybrids for various reasons (status?) but find that they are hard to keep. They don’t have the abilities or facilities. There have been many serval escapes as one example.
  2. Snow leopards were bought by BCR as pets or breeders (in 1998?). Two invoices and a newsletter are produced as supporting evidence. Comment: These animals were on the face of it bought as stated. They were however, bought from another wildlife sanctuary, MacCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary, a non-profit 501-(c)-3-wildlife rehabilitation facility licensed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Act, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior. McCarthy’s are a rescue sanctuary (see this page: http://www.mccarthyswildlife.com/about.html). This would then appear to be a transfer of rescue cats from one sanctuary to another. It could be argued that it should be a free transfer because BCR has to take on the upkeep. One of the cats, Hercules, is stated as being a gift from Don Lewis to his wife. Is it possible to give a gift of a wild cat to a wild cat rescuer and rescue a cat at the same time? It seems the answer must be, yes. Is is possible for the founder of a cat rescue operation to treat one of the cats in her charge as a pet? It would seem, yes. Is breeding captive wildcats contrary to wild cat rescue generally? No, this is now the norm it seems (and in any event BCR claim not to breed from Hercules). Also BCR say that Hercules was rescued because he was surplus to the survival plan of this cat species as declared by someone else.
  3. Another allegation is that BCR are calling their pet Snow Leopards ‘surplus to the Species Survival Plan. Comment: I think that Rexano simply got this wrong. BCR are saying, as mentioned above, that these cats were considered surplus by other sanctuary (McCarthy’s?). They claim to have rescued them from getting into the hands of unscrupulous breeders.
  4. The next allegation is that BCR had a video on YouTube showing how they bred wild cats and traded them etc. Comment: The video referred to has been removed, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Carole Baskin .” The allegation in any event would not seem to be automatically contrary to cat rescue.
  5. BCR is no longer (at 28th April 2008) a charity accredited by BBB because they mishandled complaints and they cannot use the BBB seal. Comment: The three complaints that they dealt with were answered on the BCR website. BCR criticised the complaints as false. This did not meet the standard of BBB. This is standard no. 20. There are 20 standards and the remaining 19 were passed by BCR. The seal is voluntary by the way. BCR are not seal holders (as at Nov 2009). BCR is listed on the BBB website (Nov 2009 – http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/#B). The list is of “enrolled charities”. The BB Wise Giving report expires Oct 2009. I presume that this means that the problem expires too.

Is Big Cat Rescue a Sham? No, not on this evidence. OK to recap the above. I do not see malpractice or evidence that tells me that Big Cat Rescue is anything other than stated:

Stated Purpose: “to provide a good home for the limited number of cats that the sanctuary can afford to take in … and reduce the number of cats that suffer the fate of abandonment and abuse by educating as many people as possible about the conditions that lead to the plight of these animals. ” (BBB website – this page)

What I do see is some mud slinging. This is probably because Carole Baskin is a forceful women who has made some enemies. Although controversial, I think it fair to say that there may also be a sexist problem. Some men and women don’t like women who behave like men.

She has certainly alienated wild cat hybrid breeders because she is firmly against the practice. She has tended to be too outspoken against wild cat hybrids and made generalizations about them which have on occasions been misconstrued and which have not furthered her cause. But these are simply her views and she is entitled to declare them on her website. Alone, a declaration of a deep distaste of wild cat hybrid breeding is not sufficient to say that Carole Baskin is a liar and runs a sham of an operation.

I welcome comments. But please, comments should be supported by sound evidence if critical.

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Is Big Cat Rescue a Sham?

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Apr 08, 2012 Retard
by: Michael

Response to comment of Mar 31, 2012 saying that I am a “retard”. Judging by your writing skills it is you who is retarded but I would not call you that. I’ll just say that you are rude and impolite and you sound like an unpleasant person. The kind of person who likes to criticize without really researching the matter.

And I agree with Carole Baskin, anyone who makes nasty comments anonymously cannot be taken seriously. It is rather pathetic really.


Apr 08, 2012 Anonymous Comments Aren’t Credible
by: Carole Baskin

I invite anyone to research Big Cat Rescue’s inspection history as well as that of Joe Schreibvogel, the person behind most of the “Anonymous” complaints against us at the USDA’s website. You will find they actually fined him 25,000 for violations of the Animal Welfare Act and that he is currently under investigation for the deaths of 23 tiger cubs. If people are afraid to post their real names to their comments, then they aren’t credible. If they were telling the truth and didn’t have worse inspections to hide, they would use their real names so you could check them out too. Here is the site to check http://acissearch.aphis.usda.gov/LPASearch/faces/Warning.jspx


Apr 07, 2012 BCR USDA Violations
by: Anonymous

As your article mentions uses violations perhaps you should look at their record again. BCR in Tampa now has repeat violations on their record. Violations happen and catching items to fix is what audits help everyone do, but a repeat is just terrible.


Mar 31, 2012 whomever wrote this is a retard
by: Anonymous

you are dumb biased as possible a buying the animals is a purchase period not a rescue your another one of her wuacks trying to take up space online with blogs using keywords to fill in the negative pr that is being fought bavk against a criminal that makes fake rescue claims and collects donations for it the place is a dump rusty cages feces and full of usda violations she has breed has interactions with the public and purchased many of the residence there all the so called violations of not being a sanctuary she claims every one else is not a sanctuary for anyone can make good blogs you morons keep attadking the wrong people ill show how good good can get the only thingyoull see is all your. bad crap when you type bcr ill pay for a banner ad that tops her ads under the adwords campaign tired of you and her and all your self righteous bsleave everyone else alone and for god sakes clean that dump of a sanctuary up usda should shut you down gross!


Jul 03, 2011 Big Car Rescue Lies
by: Anonymous

bigcatrescuelies.blogspot.com

ask them to see the proof and they’ll send it to you…I’m now a believer


Jul 03, 2011 Big Cat Rescue Lies…and here’s the proof
by: Anonymous

bigcatrescuelies.blogspot.com

it’s all here. ask to see the proof


Apr 12, 2011 Domestic Rabbit Abuser and Killer
by: Anonymous

This so called “Sanctuary” tortures and kills live domestic rabbits. If there is any justice the current investigation by several FL authorities into BCR will result in arrest to her and the workers who are involved in this unnecessary and barbaric animal cruelty, and this place will be shut down for all the animals who died there under her care. Like all the rabbits that were fed to Bobcats and other big cats then the cats died from unprofessional rehab. No ethical or professional rehab tortures and kills domestic rabbits nor do they feed or kill them to feed big cats, let alone throw them live into Bobcat pens. CB you are a disgrace to any wildlife center, you disgust true animal lovers and rescues. BCR not only breaks Florida animal cruelty laws but also promotes animal cruelty and justifies it with lies and ignorance. I am sure the deceased rabbits you tortured and killed are looking down hoping that when you are in jail they will give you toys and popsicles then dispose of you.


Mar 30, 2011 Thank You
by: Anonymous

I would like to take a minute to thank you for doing all this research, it was really interesting to read; I recently found BCR through a research project, and after becoming a fan on facebook got caught up in someone’s mudslinging campaign; that’s not to say they made no valid points or that they don’t have the right to them, but I went to do more in depth research in case I missed something but turned up a lot of blanks. This was very useful to me and I thank you for sharing it with us.


Mar 21, 2011 thanks
by: SEO

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Sep 27, 2010 I did my own research also
by: Joe Exotic

Now if you want the truth go there and see just like I did, I made a site of my own called www.911animalabuse.org and there is a live video to show the rat hole she has, the lies they tell and the proof of documents to show she is fake, a lier, and makes money off of her animals she bought. check it out for your self….


Sep 07, 2010 Maybe
by: Michael

Response to last comment. Maybe she has to? In order to defeat the “animal terrorists”. There are two camps. One likes to use animals for personal gain and the other likes to work for the welfare of animals. In which camp do you genuinely reside? In which camp do you think Carole Baskin resides?

Michael Avatar


May 06, 2010 Carole Baskin
by: Scammed by BCR

CArole Baskin will slander people, bash them and lie for her own gain. Stay away from her because she will only cause you turmoil and pain. She will lie about your circumstances for her own gain.

A Nightmare.


Apr 10, 2010 I know know the truth
by: Joe Exotic

Don’t know what happened to the first comment or what, maybe it is just slow. But I visited BCR my self just a couple of weeks ago and OMG, what a mess this place is in. Yes it should be considered a Scam and a back yard zoo. This place is a wreck, now I know why she picks on me so much because she is jelous. and yes I filed a complaint with the USDA and put my complaint public on www.animalsluts.org so lets see if something is done about it. Lord knows PeTA wont because she is a primary donor to them. She got $20,000.00 to better the life of a black Leopard from Panther International, and look what a crap whole it is living in. Carole, now we have the truth so why dont you just stop slamming everyone else before We put YOU out of business.


Apr 10, 2010 Now we know the truth
by: Joe Exotic

Ok,I couldn’t understand why Carole Baskin picked on me and others so much. So I took a trip to Florida and OH MY GOD! What did I find, a pit whole of a so called Sanctuary, park, zoo, or what ever she wishes to call herself but it is the worst display of effection for animals I have ever seen. Why does she pick on me? Jelous, because my park is amazing compaired to hers. I took photos and logged a complaint, and put it all on line just so she knows I am not one of those who do everything behind someones back.

You may go to www.animalsluts.org and see her big mess yourself.

Wow, Carole, you took $20,000.00 from the Panther International to help the Black Panther living in crap but, you live like a Queen? Know lets talk Scamsuary…….


Apr 10, 2010 Ya Right
by: Anonymous

Gee a whole web page dedicated to carol baskins lewis?

Either you are some wacko believer follower or carole, caroles friend, or daughter. Very biased report. What about the allegations of where her husband is? How bout where are the usda sheet which we have all seen about where the majority of the cats came from her own backyard the usda sheets are littered with born or purchased more so then transfered. Please spare us your pathetic attempt to glorify her actions. She exploits animals for profit. Period. If she was everything she claims to be not like. Then she would be closed to the public and there would be no night tours and all the other crap that goes on there when do the animals get a break from the public that place is 24 7 money train.

You don’t love animals either!

Hi Carole!


Feb 28, 2010 Is Big Cat Rescue a Sham?
by: Lynn Culver

Big Cat Rescue is presently doing what the title implies, taking in felines that, for various reasons, have lost their homes. BCR chooses high-profile cases that generate positive press and donation dollars.

Carole Baskin is misleading in their re-write of their own history. Carole Baskin is inaccurate and deceptive in her attacks of other facilities and owners. Carole Baskin is ignorant about conservation issues surrounding captive and wild conservation and does serious harm to felines.

When Carole wrote letters to stir up hatred and fear, of owners, and big cats, it harmed conservation. It put animals’ lives in jeopardy. Florida Fish and Wildlife regulates facilities and has detailed requirements for caging, handler experience, and nearness to neighbors, liability insurance, and much more. Neighbors have far more to fear from the countless dangers of city life, and accepted employment risks, than the regulated containment of these felines on private property.

Concerning the snow leopards, they were purchased from a licensed breeder. Whether this breeder is also a tax-exempt sanctuary is beside the point. The highly endangered snow leopards were transferred from AZA zoos to a facility that held all the proper federal licenses. Offspring were born at that facility and sold to the Lewis couple, which, at that time, portrayed themselves as licensed, experienced, professional breeders of wild felines, qualified to own and breed such large, endangered, and specialized feline.

I remember when Carole attended the LIOC convention with her recently declawed snow baby Hercules. Back then, WOES still operated with mixed goals, including amassing the most varied collection of exotic cats, and breeding rare cats for sale, as well as taking in some cats that needed another home.

Calling snow leopards ‘surplus’, by no means makes them ‘surplus’. Endangered species are all valuable. However in closed breeding pools, such as those managed by the AZA, some duplicates of genetic representation need to leave the pool to make room for other genetic representation, and these genetically valuable individuals get incorporated into another separate gene pool outside the AZA. Having two gene pools is redundant protection.

Snow leopard genetics should be bred, and should be maintained; they should not be selfishly acquired and held at sanctuaries. I disagree with Carole’s decision to purchase them and later not to breed them but still keep them, because she is actually harming the future survival of the private sector gene pools of snow leopards. Once she changed her mind about conservation breeding, she should have transferred the snow leopards to a licensed facility or zoo that does maintain and breed this species.

There is certainly a compelling reason not to remove snow leopards from the gene pool. They are critically endangered and should never have spent their lives at Big Cat Rescue. They were never a rescue.


Feb 01, 2010 another promo for Carole lewis Baskin’s cause
by: Anonymous

I’ll give this much to Carole, she spends a lot of time and effort campaigning herself and trying to clean up her past but to those of us that know the truth it won’t work. Just like one of the other comments, I know what you are up to. Just like deleting my comments on you 911 animal abuse site that did not go along with you smear campaing towards other sanctuaries you know absolutely nothing about. Try truly rescuing animals that need the help Carole and not just the one or two with big publicity (or high profile cases). We are all tired of your lies and bashing. Remeber you may have a lot of money to bash other people but what goes around comes around.


Feb 01, 2010 This is probably another carole baskins run site like the 911 animals abuse site dam she is good
by: Anonymous

Another carole baskins site where she smells like roses and does nothing wrong where’s your husband burp said the lion. Anyway biased reporting from either baskins, her kin or a crazy supporter. Let’s get real who really spends there time creating elaborate blogs about sanctuarys without getting paid no one. NICE TRY CAROLE AND FRIENDS. The real topic is how on earth can you kill your husband take over all his money and get away with it only in america. Dig into that blogger. NOONE spends this time for another person unless they are another nutty tree hugger hypocrite like carole. Crap look at all those links over there. Your investigation appears totally biased and you fail to mention the new report busting her breeding and the videos collecting donations on cats that she breed with fake abuse stories. She rescued most of these cats from loving homes and there is a paper trail to prove it she won’t let you see the usda sheets they are available to the public though. Anyways my comment will be deleted since it is not in you best interest. BYE Carole and friends


Jan 07, 2010 not even close
by: joe exotic

You did a wonderful job on this site, but the problem with carole is she is slinging mud at people she really knows nothing about, it is about who can raise the most money and she must think slamming me she can get more donations pulled to her side. She does not even know me nor does she know what my place looks like in real life, if she did she would be ashamed of her own place. I do nothing now that she dont do or did do to make a better place for her animals. I admit to everything I do and not ashamed of any of it. I just dont see what she gets out of taking so much energy bashing me vs caring for her own cats and facility open to the public. We all do what we have to, but none of us hurt animals. The funny thing is she takes all her information off of peta’s website which we all know is wrong. Come see my place, lets set down and look at the facts and the records, and I will prove you are very wrong. Pass up that invite and than lets see who has something to hide. I saw Carole on bay news 9 busted on tv in the act of lying. This is your invite Baskin, come to okalhoma and lets see who rescues and lets see who lives high off the hog off of the animals donations.

Joe Exotic


Nov 23, 2009 Good of you to visit.
by: Michael

Hi Carole, thank you for visiting and commenting. It is nice of you.


Nov 23, 2009 Thanks For Researching This Topic
by: Carole Baskin

Your webpage came to me via a google alert and I was pleasantly surprised to see that you took the time to research the allegations and evidence. I try to make sure that I can fully back up any statement that I make so it was nice to see that you took the time to weigh the facts and present your conclusions.


60 thoughts on “Is Big Cat Rescue a Sham?”

  1. Lots of vitriol here but you seem to be the only one to make an effort to be objective. Regardless of how righteous and passionate one feels about a topic, or in this case a lot of them, objectivity is most important because once the discussion goes off the rails it’s hard to bring it back and maintain a clear understanding. I found it all very hard to follow. There needs to be an in-depth process to fact check everything and leave conclusions to the end, rather than start from conclusions and just gather or omit evidence to support them. I respect that, especially in what is a very messy story to say the least. Every time someone assassinates your character in this effort I’m obliged to discount their allegations and hold their “evidence” in abeyance. They’re only hurting their arguments and wasting the readers’ time.

    Reply
  2. Please don’t defend this women, I was planning on a visit and googled reviews, the information I found was quite disturbing. This establishment exploits the ‘Big Cats” to provide the owner a lavish lifestyle. Its really disgusting. And her husband ‘disappeared ” his children say he may have been fed to the animals at this so called “sanctuary” its just all so disgusting.

    Reply
    • Thanks Janet. I wrote this article years ago and at that time did not find evidence to really substantiate the claims that BCR was a sham. I think too that she has changed. But I might do some more work on this.

      Reply

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