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Big Cat Rescue: 26 USDA Violations and Endless Exploitation

Subject: 26 USDA Violations and Endless Exploitation
Source: 1998  Saint Petersburg Times Articles

Carole Lewis Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, Tampa Fl., wants you to believe that she began rescuing cats and providing them a better home in 1992. Let's look at excerpts from stories run by the St. Pete Times in 1998, six (6) years after she claims she became a sanctuary, to discover the truth behind this claim.


From the St. Pete Times, September 11, 1998 (a full year after her millionaire husband went missing)

"The wildlife sanctuary where a volunteer worker was mauled by a black leopard last week has for years been under investigation by the U.S.D.A. for improper care and handling of its animals. Wildlife on Easy Street (now known as Big Cat Rescue) has been charged with 26 counts of violating the Animal Welfare Act. The charges include failing to provide veterinary care to animals in need, unsanitary water receptacles, unsafe storage of food, shoddy records, shabby housing for the animals and trashy grounds."

If Baskin truly did become a sanctuary/rescue in 1992 as she claims, it sounds like the animals would have been better off left where they were! We were told that there were actually very few actual rescues, but that Baskin was anxious to take any cat she could use for breeding. Here are excerpts from still another article printed in the St. Pete Times.


"Trent (Neil Trent, regional director for the World Society for the Protection of Animals) called Wildlife on Easy Street little more than an elaborate showroom for owners trying to sell bobcat and cougar kittens. It smells of exploitation the moment you walk in. "(His) report found safety lacking at Easy Street, so much so that, "there is a very real risk of injury to the visiting public" and "a strong likelihood of an escape of a large cat into the neighborhood."

Numerous injuries and escapes actually did happen at Baskin's so-called rescue, although she reports none of these incidents on her website. Read report now >>

So who do we believe. Carole Lewis Baskin, who says she became a sanctuary in 1992 to rescue animals...or the regional director for the World Society for the Protection of Animals, who in 1998 says Baskin was little more than a backyard breeder exploiting animals and offering bobcat and cougar kittens for sale as pets?

Baskin also ran a tour business which featured cabins that could be rented for overnight stays with either a cougar, bobcat, or serval in your bed. She used cubs that she bought or bred for this purpose and had them declawed for the safety of her guests. In a 2001, Long Island Ocelot Club (LlOC), now the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) newsletter Carole wrote:


"Nothing speaks tranquility like a leopard hanging in the branches or a tiger wading in the water. Nothing can quiet your soul like the purr of a mountain lion. We invite you to pull up a chair, and have a lynx or a bobcat come sit in your lap while you stroke it's luxurious fur. You are in the cat's enclosure and it can choose to come be with you or not. When it does, you know that you have crossed over that invisible barrier into the mind of the most mysterious animal. Making that connection between human and creatures that are considered untouchable by most, is an epiphany experienced by the very few. It is during this meeting of the minds that people say, they have seen God or that they have felt their own spirit move in a way that it never has before. But this is just the very beginning."


Watch this Dateline TV report on Baskin's bed and breakfast to see Baskin's exploitation of cubs she bred and declawed for this income opportunity. Listen to the end of this video for confirmation that Baskin was in violation of the Animal Welfare Act and cited for improper care of her animals, a charge which she naturally denies. View the video now >>

After several cabin guests were bitten, Baskin decided it would be safer to exhibit her private collection of retired breeders and pets as "rescues". Most true sanctuaries do not exhibit their animals for money, but Big Cat Rescue is not a true sanctuary. It is a highly advertised major tourist attraction, masquerading as a sanctuary, with well over 25,000 visitors a year. Last year (2010) Baskin took in 1.7 million dollars and had an 800 thousand dollar surplus. Just today (12-19-2011) a Tampa Bay radio station (DOVE 105.5) was running one of BCR's advertisements, asking people to visit Big Cat Rescue to see "over 100 rescued big cats". Read the background on 170 cats and find out where most of these "rescues" really came from. Keep in mind that cats bought at fur farms and auctions to be re-sold or bred for income are not rescues, nor are cats you are paid to take in or board. Where are these "over 100 rescued big cats"?


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