Tampa is home to Big Cat Rescue, a rescue for, well, big cats. Big Cat Rescue is home to cats that have retired from circuses or part of the exotic pet trade. We took the opportunity to join one of the tours of their facility.
Big Cat Rescue got its start when rescuing bobcats from a fur farm. It takes forty bobcats to make a fur coat, and they are usually kept and killed in a brutal fashion. There really is no humane fur.
Their cougars (or, as they are known in Florida, panthers) were having a mellow afternoon.
Bengali was a circus tiger, moved from city to city. He seems quite relaxed here.
He keeps it clean.
Big Cat Rescue’s odd couple are also retired circus cats: Zabu, a female white tiger, and Cameron, a male lion.
Cameron had to be neutered to ensure he and Zabu wouldn’t create a hybrid (a liger). Because of the reduced testosterone, he no longer can grow a mane.
Hybrids are a serious issue: usually, they are caught between competing sets of instincts, and have health issues. Jojo, a caracal/serval hybrid, has serious digestive system issues. While I would not want to create hybrids, I do think he’s a very striking cat.
Sabre is a melanistic leopard. He was a pet, but abandoned by his owner. Fortunately he made his way to big cat rescue.
Why do I find myself drawn to silly black cats?
He does have striking eyes.
Frosty is one of their many servals.
Many of these cats were pets, who, well, aren’t domesticated animal. they have no reason to be in someone’s house.
When such animals are surrendered by their owners, they sign a contract to never own another exotic cat.
My personal favorite was their caracal pair, Sassy…
Big Cat Rescue is a great organization, committed to the welfare of their cats. They advocate against the many ways wild cats, when put in inappropriate settings, are a problem. We need more folks looking out for animals in these circumstances. The humans are at fault, as they expect the cat to act in a tame fashion, millenia of instincts to the contrary. Unfortunately, too often, it’s the animal that is punished.