Attacks at Big Cat Rescue
Subject: Big Cat Attacks at Big Cat Rescue
Sources: St Petersburg Times, Court Documents, Releases Signed By Victims, Staff Who Lived Onsite
Carole Lewis Baskin, CEO of Tampa Florida's Big Cat Rescue, loves to report on statistics of big cat attacks. Baskin has one of the worst records of exotic cat attacks and escapes in the state of Florida, if not the country, although most were kept quiet and none are ever reported on her website where she so smugly posts accidents occurring at other facilities.
As with the buying, breeding and selling of exotic cats, Baskin likes to blame these attacks on her missing millionaire husband Don Lewis but as you can see, most of the incidents occurred after Don went missing in 1997.
Here is a partial list...the ones we've read or been told about by staff living on the property.
This North Carolina man (case # 97-08896-B) was attacked by a South American cougar named Tobi and was severely bitten on his left forearm after Baskin irresponsibly invited him to pet the cat which she claimed was "tame and friendly."
Mindy age 46 was attacked by Baskin's daughter's pet black leopard, Jumanji who was born at BCR. This very serious wound required 451 stitches to her right arm and removed the skin from her elbow to her wrist.
Leah required hospital treatment after being attacked by a cougar which almost scalped her. By this time Baskin had learned to have the victims sign a release and then paid them to keep quiet. We have a copy of the release signed by Leah Dixon.
Jennifer was bitten in the thigh by Baskin's pet snow leopard Hercules, bought for her by husband Don Lewis for her birthday. This bite went unreported.
This live-in lover of Baskin's daughter, was attacked by a brown lemur named Co Coa. The wound required stitches to repair his ripped ear. The attack was not reported and Daniel was ordered by Baskin not to talk about it.
Jason was injured by the same brown lemur, Co Coa. The wound in his arm took seven stitches. He too, signed a release and was told not to talk about it.
Jennifer Lowery was bitten by an Ocelot. (Case # 3632) It looks as though she sued and it was settled out of court. view document here.
2000 or 2001/Cabin Guest:
A cabin guest was bitten three times while interacting with a serval named Esmerelda after paying to sleep with the cat. He was made to sign a release, was compensated, and the injury was not reported.
Carolyn was bitten on the hand by a cougar named Casper. The injury was treated at a hospital and there was some permanent nerve damage. Carolyn signed the release and was ordered not to talk about it.
Sometime after Don disappeared a man and his child wandered into BCR through a broken front gate and a lynx tore the child's ear.
There were emergency instructions for staff members printed on the BCR website. Under the heading for what to do if a tour group member is bitten by a cat, the last instructions say; "have person sign release form and give them compensation, to make it legal. This must be done immediately before outside influences encourage them to sue."
These are just the attacks that we know of and this report does not include the many escapes of cougars, servals, lemurs and other animals at WOES. Carole Lewis Baskin was a completely irresponsible exotic animal owner when it came to safety protocol or properly training her volunteer staff. Unable or unwilling to handle her animals responsibly, Baskin then proceeded to cease with her cabin cat idea and public contact business and instead invent stories of abuse and rescue to exhibit her private collection of cats to the public for money. Baskin now advocates for passing laws against anyone...but Big Cat Rescue...owning the exotic animal of their choice.
It was after these many attacks and escapes that Baskin decided it was time to change the name of her self-proclaimed sanctuary from Wildlife on Easy Street to Big Cat Rescue. She then decreed that no one should be permitted to own or have physical contact with an exotic cat.
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