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Big Cat Rescue: Collectors or Rescue?

Subject: Collectors or Rescue?
Source: 1995 Article, St Petersburg Times

Carole Lewis Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, wants you to believe that she became a sanctuary rescuing abused and abandoned exotic cats in 1992.

Let's examine an article from the St. Petersburg Times written in 1995 by Lisa Frederick.

"The Lewises describe themselves as collectors motivated by a deep love for and appreciation of animals". Collectors? Was Baskin a collector who's desire was to own the largest diverse collection of exotic cats in the world, as she told many people during that time? Or was she a legitimate sanctuary who's only concern was rescuing abused and abandoned cats? This reporter gives us a clue in a quote from then husband Don Lewis.

"He (Don) is adamant about not accepting contributions from individuals or public agencies. "if I did, they would want to tell me how to run things," he explains in his deep Southern drawl." Don did not want to be a non-profit sanctuary. He did not want to take money from the public to support his cats. He was adamant about doing it on his own so that no one would have a say over what he did with his cats. It was Baskin who wanted other people, the donating public, to support her private collection. Could this be why Don wanted a divorce? Did Baskin find a way to have others support her growing collection of exotic cats by calling them "rescues" and herself a "sanctuary" in spite of her husband's opposition? Could this be why her husband disappeared after filing a restraining order against her, never to be seen or heard from again?

The article goes on to talk about the Lewises collection of exotic cats, mentioning "beautiful and rambunctious" tiger cub Shere Khan, bought from a breeder and later assigned a horror story to pull at the heart strings of the public, cougars Glory Glory and Hallelujah, bought at Lolli Brother's Auction for breeding, Leopards Nyla and Simba, bought as tiny cubs from David McMillan, Geoffry Cats bought from Wendie Wullf and David Langham, and a caracal breeder Crackle, who had three week old kittens at the time of this article. 

Does Baskin sound to you like a sanctuary for abused and abandoned cats in 1995...or a private collector and breeder looking for a way to have the public support her collection of cats? 

Baskin actually incorporated in 1995 as Wildlife On Easy Street for the purpose of breeding.

Baskin wanted very badly 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 and other rejections that she decided to become a non-profit "rescue" and let others support her private collection of cats.

Why does Carole Lewis Baskin continue to lie to the public about her motives, her origins and the extent of the buying, breeding and selling that went on at her facility for many years after she claims she became a sanctuary?

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