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Big Cat Rescue: Breeding Farm or Non Profit Sanctuary in 1999?

Subject: Breeding Farm or Non Profit Sanctuary?
Source: 1999 News Account Fort Worth Star, 2008 Interview with Howard Baskin, Animal Finder's Guide

Carole Lewis Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, Tampa, Florida wants you to believe that she became a sanctuary to rescue exotic cats in 1992 with the purchase of her first bobcat, Windsong, who was then bred and her kittens sold through the Animal Finder's Guide. But newspaper reports from 1999, seven years later, tell a different story.

On March 28, 1999, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram printed an article by Linda Goldston; San Jose Mercury News titled "Breeding Farms Multiplying Under Guise of Non-Profit Animal Sanctuaries". The second "pseudo-sanctuary" listed is Baskin's.

"In Tampa, Florida Carole and Don Lewis' Wildlife on Easy Street (now Big Cat Rescue) asks donors to include the refuge in their wills for a chance to "give these creatures a better life" and boasts of having been "blessed" with 17 newborn cubs last year". Many of them, lynx and bobcats mainly, will be sold, and a two-hour video made by the Lewises, Exotic Cats as Housepets, can go with them for only an extra $28.00."

Goldston goes on to say that "On websites, pseudo-sanctuaries appeal for donations with a heart-tugging combination of horror stories and past treatment of their animals and pictures of them in serene, natural settings."

This is exactly what Carole Lewis Baskin has done for many years. She was exposed for some of these lies about the origins of her cats by Bay News 9's Chris Hawes, but we think the public needs a reminder.

Carole Lewis Baskin tells all the world that all the breeding stopped when her millionaire husband "disappeared" in 1997. Why then would she boast about being "blessed with 17 newborn cubs" in 1999? Is it ethical to lie about becoming a sanctuary rescuing animals in 1992 to sucker the public out of donations when there is proof of her breeding right up until 2001? Is it ethical to lie about cats bought as breeders or born at BCR and even assign them horror stories to appeal for donations?

In a 2008 interview, Baskin's husband is quoted as saying that "a few cats of other species were purchased in those early days, and there was a limited amount of breeding." In a two year period between 1993 and 1995, USDA papers show at least 50 cats were purchased and 20 kittens were born. We have no confirmed numbers for 1996 and 1997 but now in 1998 she was "blessed" with 17 kittens?  Does that sound like "limited breeding"? Does 50 cats bought in three years sound like "a few"?  read article

Is Carole Lewis Baskin so politically and law enforcement connected that no one will put an end to this fraud? How many small, legitimate sanctuaries are struggling to care for animals while this huge money grubbing tourist attraction is allowed to operate under these lies that they are the biggest and best and that all of their cats have been rescued, abused, or abandoned?

Baskin did not become a sanctuary or a rescue in 1992 as she claims. She incorporated as a breeder in 1995 and bred and sold exotic cats as housepets until 2001. View the articles of incorporation here.

Baskin wanted very much to become a zoo but was twice turned down for accreditation by AZA. See the story in 2001 in her own newsletter. It was after this rejection that she turned against zoos, other private owners, and everything she once believed in to become a  "rescue" by claiming her cats were "victims of the pet trade", "abused" and "abandoned."

Baskin became a non-profit sanctuary (2003?) so that others could support her private collection of exotic cats, something her 'disappeared' husband was vehemently against. Since then she has done just enough rescues (mostly of kittens, smaller cats, or tigers someone has paid her to "rescue" or board, and always accompanied by a great deal of publicity and pleas for donations) to appear legit. But the lies about her motives, origins, and her cats continue to this day.

So was Baskin a sanctuary/rescue, or a breeding farm in 1999 as this article claims? She was most definitely a breeding farm. And If she was a breeding farm in 1999 she could have been neither a legitimate rescue nor a sanctuary in 1992, as she has claimed for 20 years.

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