Big Cat Rescue is the world’s largest and most species- diverse accredited sanctuary for exotic cats. It is a “non-profit organization that provides a permanent home” to these cats that often find their way to Big Cat Rescue due to abuse or neglect. Many owners underestimate the commitment necessary for these wild creatures. Thus many of those cats end up placing themselves or the owners in grave danger. “While” the exotic animal trade generates revenue of $2 billion in the US and $20 billion internationally, organizations such as Big Cat Rescue need to be there to salvage the animal under such abuse and to spread awareness of the heinous industry.
My adventure to Big Cat Rescue began with their “paws” extended openly for my visit. Interested in spreading the word of their work and the unfortunate truisms of the exotic pet trade, they invited me to tour the facilities and individually meet their cats, which, of course, remained “a hands-off” experience through the duration of the visit. Each cat, save a few that desperately require housing together for social purposes, is individually separated in a comfortable, beautiful enclosure- some even have waterfalls. Their picturesque homes are fashioned in a natural setting to instill a sense of natural environment to them.
The tour was made complete by having Jeff Kremer, Director of Donor Appreciation, provide me with ghastly truisms about the exotic pet industry, facts about the cats, and tear-drawing tales about how each of the cats came to find Big Cat Rescue as their home. I enjoyed meeting the cougars, migrating over to the leopards, making my acquaintance with Cameron and Zabu (the lion and tigress road-side zoo rescues), the servals, ocelots, and sand cats. I took a quick sad glimpse at a rescued liger, and then skipped along to become acquainted with other critters from Bengali tiger to binturongs, which are not part of the cat family, by the way.
Aside from working with the actual animals, Big Cat Rescue presents exhibits, such as the shameful legal size of a tiger enclosure in the state of Florida, to better exemplify to the public the dire need to end exotic animal ownership. They promote and integrate animal conservation, preservation, and awareness in communal teaching programs.
The visit was another sharp spur to my withers: the sadness of seeing creatures of such spirit caged because there is no other alternative for them only further fuels my cause to ensure that the untainted wild remains pure and free.