Excerpts from the Testimony of Carole Baskin, May 2012
Statement: In 1992 my late husband and I drove from FL to Delphos, Ohio to buy llamas at and exotic animal auction. While there I learned that exotic cats were being sold to taxidermists who said that they would kill the animals in the parking lot so that they didn't have to deal with them on their way home.
Truth: Carole's website statement is that these cats are "clubbed to death" in the parking lot. We spoke with many taxidermists and people associated with exotic animal auctions. We could not find a single case of a taxidermist buying a wildcat and killing it in the parking lot to take it home and skin or mount it. Every taxidermist we spoke with told us this simply does not happen. The act of clubbing a cat to death would cause senseless damage to a skin or a mount and a taxidermist's business comes from customers who bring them their already deceased animals; a practice that Carole is very familiar with as she has had many of the 130 cats who have died at her Big Cat Rescue skinned by her Bushnell, Fl taxidermist, Bo Reed.
Statement: Big Cat Rescue has been accredited for more than 11 years; originally by The Association of Sanctuaries which later became the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
Truth: Carole was turned down for accreditation twice by AZA and by ASA because of her commercial activity (over 25,000 paying visitors to her highly publicized tourist attraction each year) and finally managed to be accredited by TAOS (The Association of Sanctuaries) although not as a sanctuary as she claims, as she did not meet their sanctuary standards, again because she refused to close her gates to the paying public. TAOS actually created a special category just for her "rescue". Her association with GFAS basically means she now accredits herself.
Statement: Big Cat Rescue has to raise one and a half million dollars per year to care for the 100 + wild cats in our sanctuary, but only 17 of those cats are lions and tigers. Most of our cats are smaller exotics....
Truth: Big Cat Rescue actually does have mostly small cats that are cheaper to house and feed. Many of these, although marketed as "rescued from fur farms" were actually bought, bred, and sold as pets by Carole Baskin when she called herself "Wildlife on Easy Street". Others have been assigned horror stories and are displayed and marketed as abused and abandoned "rescues" and victims of the "pet trade".
Statement: We can only take in more rescues if we are sure that we can provide them with lifetime care, so even though we are asked to take dozens of lions and tigers every year we often have to say "no."
Truth: Carole is paid to board the cats retired from the circus and the last 3 tigers "rescued" were each sponsored for lifetime care. Of the other big cats, some were part of the 144 original cats purchased by Carole as pets or breeders. Big Cat Rescue had an excess of $800,000 last year and could well afford to rescue more big cats but prefers to take orphaned cubs (a draw at the gate) or high profile animals accompanied by a great deal of publicity and donations.
Statement: It costs Big Cat Rescue 10,000 per tiger, per year, to provide just food, shelter and vet care.
Truth: Other sanctuaries and owners of big cats tell us this number is greatly inflated and they are able to feed shelter, and vet their cats properly for much less, usually between 3 to 5 thousand a year for each BIG cat, though the majority of hers are small.
Statement: I only have six animals at Big Cat Rescue that are not cats. Even they are cat-like though, being a genet, civets and bearcats. I chose to focus on just rescuing cats because it is hard enough to learn everything necessary to provide for one type of animal, much less for the varied collections that are so prevalent in back yard collections, traveling acts and zoos.
Truth: Carole had llamas, lemurs, deer, and other animals that she dumped after being turned down twice for accreditation by AZA to become a zoo and decided the cats brought in more paying visitors. Her rabbits and chickens were fed alive to her cats.
Statement: I looked around the room at the taxidermists who were bidding on her because she was beautiful and would make a great den decoration. I began to cry and my husband began to bid. He didn't stop bidding until she was safe. We named her Windsong and she opened our eyes to an industry that we could not believe existed.
Truth: Windsong was not rescued from bidding taxidermists. She was purchased at an auction for breeding. You can see her kittens advertised for sale in old copies of The Animal Finders Guide.
Statement: I had to learn how to care for these animals the hard way, because after bringing Windsong the bobcat home from Ohio, I ended up the following year in a fur farm where they were breeding lynx to slaughter for fur coats. We came home with 56 lynx in 1993 and by 1995 had purchased every cat off every fur farm that we could find in the U.S. with the agreement that cats no longer be killed for their fur.
Truth: Carole called the fur farm and ordered the cubs, which she bought and then re-sold as pets, along with her book, "Exotic Cats as Housepets", by Carole Stairs Lewis (Baskin). Those she didn't sell she bred and then sold their kittens through the Animal Finder's Guide, as in the case of Raindance and Little Feather, in addition to Windsong. Carole did not buy every cat off every fur farm. Although the adult cats were ready to be harvested for their fur, Carole bought only the kittens that she could sell as pets or breed. For 20 years the public has donated money to her because of this self-serving, heart tugging lie. THIS IS FRAUD. We spoke to the owner of one of these former fur farms who did business with Carole. She said there never was any such agreement and that they continued to breed cats for fur until the death of her husband.
Statement: Sometimes the end result is not quite as tragic, but is still devastating. In 2010 a huge sanctuary in TX imploded and when it did there were 400 lions, tigers, bears and primates with no where to go. It took over a year to find homes for all of the animals but now the sanctuaries are busting at the seams with the animals who were displaced from this one facility.
Truth: This "sanctuary", Wild Animal Orphanage, was accredited, just as Big Cat Rescue is. Owner Carol Avestas did not have the marketing genius of Carole Baskin and was not open to the public to take in millions in donations with day tours, night tours, feeding tours, keeper's tours, kids tours, weddings, parties, and special events. Like Carole Lewis Baskin, Carol Avestas told many lies about animals being "rescued" and both donated animals and donated funds were unaccounted for. When this sanctuary closed and many tigers needed homes, Carole only stepped up when a sponsor agreed to provide the last 3 tigers with lifetime support, even though Carole begged thousands to "rescue" them. They are now at BCR.
Statement: When I started out in 1992 I purchased cats from fur farms and auctions to save them, but I quickly learned that it just fuels the trade.
Truth: Accredited sanctuaries do not purchase cats from fur farms and auctions to breed them and sell their cubs through The Animal Finder's Guide. Since Carole purchased, bred, declawed, exhibited, and sold these fur farm cubs, she is lying when she claims she began as a sanctuary or rescue in 1992. She bought and bred cats up until 2001, all the while claiming to be a "sanctuary" and she continues to collect donations for many of those same animals today by claiming they were "rescued". Carole herself tells you that "good sanctuaries do not buy, sell, breed, trade, allow public contact nor take animals off site other than to see the vet".
Carole Stairs Murdock Lewis Baskin violated everyone of her own rules for sanctuaries beginning in 1992 when she falsely claims she rescued Windsong (bought and bred to sell bobcat kittens) from an auction and became a "sanctuary". All the while Carole was begging donations from the public claiming the cats she bought, sold, bred, traded, declawed, exhibited, allowed public contact with, and took off site were cats she "rescued" from abuse and abandonment and that she was a "sanctuary". This is FRAUD.
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