Big Cat Rescue is one of the largest accredited sanctuaries in the world entirely devoted to rescuing and providing a permanent home for abused and abandoned exotic cats. Located in Tampa, Big Cat Rescue is home to more than 80 big cats.
The cats in our care needed rescuing for a wide variety of reasons. Many were abandoned by owners who mistakenly thought owning a big cat as a pet was a good idea – until the cub quickly grew up, becoming dangerous and very expensive to care for. (It costs approximately $10,000 per year to provide proper food and vet care for one tiger.)
A number of our cats were abused by owners who used them for entertainment purposes, such as forcing the cats to perform in traveling circus acts. Others were saved from being slaughtered for fur coats. And still others came to us as orphaned kittens and cubs, after their mothers were hit by cars or killed by hunters.
The sanctuary currently has a wide variety of cat species, including lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, lynx, bobcats, ocelots, servals and caracals. Visitors to Big Cat Rescue can take a variety of guided, educational, walking tours. Experienced tour guides will share the individual stories of many of the cats and explain how our guests can help end the abuse of big cats. Each visit to the sanctuary is unique because each time different cats will be “front and center” greeting visitors as they pass by.
One of the cats visitors may meet during a tour of Big Cat Rescue is a cougar named Mickey. Mickey arrived at our sanctuary in August 2014 from Alabama, where he had been warehoused for years in a rundown backyard zoo. He was 11 years old and in extremely bad shape. He weighed just 75 pounds – about 50 pounds underweight. He also had rotten teeth.
But the worst of his problems were torn ACL ligaments in both hind legs, which bowed his legs and made his knees buckle when he tried to walk. He had been without vet care and in significant pain for at least a year. The arthritis in both knee joints turned out to be so advanced we were not sure surgery would be able to reduce his pain enough to give him a good quality of life. We consulted orthopedic veterinarians to determine what would be best for him.
But you know what those years of abuse and neglect couldn’t take from Mickey? His amazing spirit. He never once acted like he was in pain. From the start, he was social and interested in everything going on around him. Mickey refused to give up. And we certainly refused to give up on him.
Mickey had surgery on his left ACL last September. We held our breath to see how he would handle the long recovery process and physical therapy. He turned out to be the trooper we thought he would be! He tolerated all of his physical therapy sessions. He did so well in fact, that he was able to undergo surgery on his right knee a few months ago. Today, Mickey’s ability to walk is much improved; he’s a healthy weight and living life with dignity and peace at our sanctuary.
We want to end the abuse of big cats like Mickey in this country. As such, Big Cat Rescue is a driving force advocating for the federal bill – the Big Cat Public Safety Act – to pass in Congress. YOU can help change the laws in America to phase out the private ownership of big cats and ban the public from having direct contact with cubs by asking your House Representative to co-sponsor this crucial bill for big cats. Learn more and take action at www.stopbigcatabuse.com.
Big Cat Rescue is a 501(c) (3) non-profit charity. The sanctuary receives no government support and relies on tour revenue and the generosity of donors to support the magnificent animals that call our sanctuary home. We are proud to be accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries; rated 4 stars (the highest) by Charity Navigator; and certified by Independent Charities of America as a “Best in America Charity.” For more information about Big Cat Rescue or to schedule a tour, visit www.BigCatRescue.org .