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The Needless Slaughter of Domestic Bunnies at Big Cat Rescue

Subject: The Needless Slaughter of Domestic Bunnies at Big Cat Rescue
Sources:  BCR Website, BCR Facebook, ABC Action News, Youtube

Carole Lewis Baskin, CEO of Tampa's Big Cat Rescue has managed to anger animal lovers all over the world. This time it has nothing to do with the lies, deceit, and fraud committed daily at BCR.

This time it is regarding the disgusting practice of buying live domestic bunnies and feeding them to her collection of wild exotic cats. Some are fed while still alive, while others are first killed and bled to make frozen "bloodsicle treats" for her cats before then being devoured by lions and tigers that can exist quite well on commercially processed beef and chicken. Domestic rats are also fed alive or killed, along with baby chicks, to make frozen "treats" for Baskin's cats. Is it really essential that her cats have treats at the expense of thousands of animal lives?

Tampa, Florida's ABC Affiliate, WFTS-TV/ABC Action News, ran the story "Rescue Groups Collide Over Feeding One Animal to Another" regarding this practice at Big Cat Rescue: read more

This most recent outrage has nothing to do with the inability to understand that animals eat other animals to survive. It has to do with the total lack of compassion and respect, and the utter needlessness of this practice.

Baskin says that the rabbits are treated with respect and that feeding the rabbits to the cats is something no one enjoys. Why then are these staff members smiling gleefully as they hold freshly killed bunnies up as you would a trophy? Baskin claimed she had never seen this photo, yet it was posted on her website. She is actually proud of this!

In an attempt to explain this photo to a rabbit rescue, Carole claimed that she buys only frozen rabbits for her "permanent residents" and that only the cats being taught to hunt are fed live rabbits. She also claimed that these rabbits have been humanely euthanized and just go to sleep. Do these bloody rabbits look frozen or thawed out? Does it look like they just went peacefully to sleep? Or is it obvious that they have been freshly killed, cut and bled? Rabbits euthanized humanely and frozen do not look like this! Why would Carole buy frozen rabbits when she has a live prey room? Do you believe these lies?

Baskin's explanation for the smiling faces is that these staff members are "excited" to be feeding their favorite cats a special treat. Are these volunteers as sick as she is? Is it necessary to kill innocent animals for the staff's excitement or to provide treats for her cats? Where is the respect? Where is the compassion? Listen for the chuckle just after the staff throws this freshly killed rabbit to this first tiger.

UPDATE: Baskin has wisely removed this and all other videos of feeding her cats dead and live domestic rabbits from the internet. view video

What kind of sick people call themselves animal advocates while killing and gloating over the deaths of these domestic bunnies? Does the BCR staff get a kick out of watching them die? 

One of those pictured here appears to be just a child! What are they teaching children at Big Cat Rescue? Is teaching a child to needlessly kill, cut, and bleed a domestic rabbit not child abuse? Is encouraging him to smile and be excited about it not just plain sick? What is wrong with these people?

Is Baskin a sociopath...or an idiot? What is wrong with this insensitive woman that she would think it proper to post a photo of her volunteers smiling over the bodies of their freshly murdered bunnies on her website? Although Baskin claims that she buys the rabbits frozen, it is plain to see that these rabbits are not and never have been frozen. Does she not care about the people who love and rescue rabbits? Does she give no thought to the animal lovers who are understandably upset to see these precious lives snuffed out and gloated over?

Baskin also feeds these rabbits alive to bobcats she claims she is rehabbing and teaching to hunt so that they can then be released to the wild.  As true rehabbers will tell you, this statement is ridiculous. Bobcats, like feral cats, are born with an instinct to hunt, and while dead meat drags are occasionally used, compassionate rehabbers never use live prey. This is cruel and completely unnecessary. In the ABC Action News video we see Moses and Bailey, two of BCR's bobcats that have been there since 2003 and which, as she herself has said, will never be released. Why do they need to be thrown live rabbits if they are never going to be released to hunt?

Baskin throws the live bunnies in with the wildcats to be ripped apart and eaten alive with no thought to the fear and suffering of these gentle creatures. Baskin actually claims she does this to teach the bobcats to recognize their prey. How often is a bobcat going to see a white lop-eared rabbit in the wild? How ridiculous is this excuse?

Baskin says she can't use wild rabbits because they might carry disease. What does she think a bobcat is going to eat in the wild? Is the cat going to require a health certificate before he eats the wild rabbit? Are these are nothing but lame excuses to murder innocent animals for the staff's amusement?

Does Baskin really believe a bobcat is going to come across a tame, white, domestic, disease-free, rabbit to kill in the wild? Where is her heart? Where is her common sense? The video she has since had removed showed a tame domestic bunny running right up to the bobcat before being killed. How is that teaching a cat to hunt?

When Baskin cannot defend her actions she does what she always does; she comes up with nonsense explanations, pitiful excuses, ridiculous arguments, or more lies, as she has done in this case.

Baskin has never admitted that this practice is wrong and unnecessary, but instead stated that she does not presently have any cats that are eligible for release so therefore is not presently feeding live prey. This is because the three bobcat kittens Baskin claimed to be rehabilitating have all died, reportedly of Parvo. Parvo is a preventable disease when animals are properly vaccinated, and they and their habits properly cleaned and cared for.

Carole's website posted video of these three baby bobcats with a heart tugging story and a donation button. This is a direct violation of her Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) rehab permit. She claimed that their mother was shot and killed, leaving them orphaned. We're told they were found by a man chopping down trees and taken to a veterinarian clinic.

At the clinic Baskin's crew was asked if they wanted blood and fecal tests run on the kittens and they declined, unwilling to spend the money to test for disease before illegally bringing Alabama wildlife into Florida.

Could the bobcat deaths have been prevented? How much money did Baskin raise for these three dead bobcats? Could the rabbit deaths have been prevented? How many domestic rabbits and rats needlessly died for the excitement of the staff and treats for the cats?

The rabbit rescues want these needless murders investigated and exposed nationally.

Apparently, only Baskin's money-making exotic cats are worthy of compassion and sanctuary at Big Cat Rescue. Rabbits, chickens, rats, and ex-husbands are expendable.

The Humane Society of the United States has ignored hundreds of emails sent to them regarding this deliberate and cruel practice of animal cruelty.

From: Heather Carpenter
Date: Monday, March 28, 2011, 1:37 PM


Thank you again for passing your concerns about Big Cat Rescue to the HSUS. I don't have any further information for you at this time. In addition, you should the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Thank you again.

Heather Carpenter
Executive Assistant to the President & CEO
t 301-258-3003 f 301-258-3077
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street NW Washington, DC 20037

PETA'S response to this deliberate and cruel practice of animal cruelty.

From: Kate Hendrickson (PETA Foundation)
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 3:17 PM
Subject: Your Inquiry to PETA

Dear Bobbi,

Thank you for contacting us about Big Cat Rescue and its practice of feeding live rabbits and chicks to big cats. This is a contentious subject that will not likely have a solution that satisfies everyone.

While the mission of Big Cat Rescue is to provide a permanent, safe refuge for tigers, lions, cougars, and other feline species who have been used in circuses and roadside displays or kept as "pets," the facility does also rescue and rehabilitate injured or orphaned wild bobcats for eventual release back into their natural home.

Bobcats are carnivores who eat rabbits, rodents, birds, and other small prey. Bobcats who have been orphaned (through car accidents, poaching, etc.) must learn how to hunt and catch prey before being released, or their chances of survival are greatly reduced. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission calls the practice the "best chances" doctrine. For those animals who are permanently incapacitated and unable to be released, PETA recognizes and accepts that predators need to eat meat. We have no quarrel with feeding carnivores animals who have been killed humanely.

PETA has been following the development of Big Cat Rescue since the mid-1990s, when the facility operated as Wildlife on Easy Street and held a U.S. Department of Agriculture Class B dealer's license, meaning that the preponderance of its business was breeding animals.

We were pleased when Big Cat Rescue stopped breeding animals and began to discourage both breeding and the private possession of exotic animals as pets.

We expressed concerns to founder Carole Baskin about the facility's boarding of Ringling Bros. circus tigers and its defense of Ringling's treatment of big cats. We also urged her to stop allowing visitors to "hand-feed" and "train" the cats. While it appears that direct contact between visitors and the animals has been eliminated, the cats are still subjected to daily tours, during which visitors encroach upon the animals' feeding times, as well as shows that display the "operant conditioning" used to train the cats.

In 2006, a Florida television station did an investigation into Big Cat Rescue and reported some deeply troubling findings, including that at least 30 of the 150 cats at the facility were not rescued but were actually born at the facility.

In the wake of this investigation, Carole Baskin resigned from the county's animal advisory board after being asked to do so by Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair. Blair said that he had "received an abnormal amount of questions and concerns from citizens and the media" about her. According to The Tampa Tribune, "In a file several inches thick with letters and Web site printouts, Baskin was accused of mishandling resources and misrepresenting herself and how she obtained Big Cat Rescue's animals."

As you can see, there is much work to be done. Please write a polite note asking that Big Cat Rescue close to the public and spend every minute attending to the complex needs of the animals it keeps:

Big Cat Rescue
12802 Easy St.
Tampa, FL 33625

To learn more about our campaigns to help animals used in entertainment and get tips on how you can get active to help these animals, please visit To make a donation to support our efforts, please go to

Thank you again for contacting us and for your concern for animals.


Kate Hendrickson
Membership Correspondent
PETA Foundation | Oakland, CA

ALDF (Abuse An Animal Go To Jail)

Response to this deliberate and cruel practice of animal cruelty. 

Subject: RE: Domestic Rabbits Being Tortured and Killed
Date: Monday, December 5, 2011, 6:17 PM


Thank you for contacting the Animal Legal Defense Fund. I understand your concerns. We do not have the legal authority to enforce a state code and this is not the type of case we can become directly involved with. We are located in California and do not have an investigative division. Have you contacted the Humane Society of Tampa or another local animal organization? You can do a search by zip code using this site,


Megan Backus
Animal Legal Defense Fund

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