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Mar 14, 2009
Did you know the only way to produce a white tiger is through severe inbreeding of brother to sister, father to daughter and mother to son?

Did you know that there is no such species as a Royal White Bengal Tiger?

If you didn't know that, don't feel bad, you were deceived just like millions of others.  Read on to learn the truth about white tigers, white lions, tabby tigers and other genetic aberrations. 



To see a 5 minute video clip about the rescue of the white tiger on this page, some baby cubs and others click HERE.  Click to see the video called White Tiger Myth Buster.

Kenny the White Tiger died in 2008Over the years many people have asked us to take white tigers off their hands, but in every case it was only so they could breed more babies to use, so we declined. For years we have railed against supporting facilities that breed and exhibit white tigers because of the abuse involved in producing them. White Tigers can ONLY exist in captivity by continual inbreeding, such as father to daughter, brother to sister, mother to son and so forth. The white lions and golden tabby tigers are merely a product of this practice of inbreeding for white coats as well and are not being bred for any sort of conservation program either. ALL white tigers are cross eyed, whether it shows or not, because the gene that causes the white coat always causes the optic nerve to be wired to the wrong side of the brain.  That is why white tigers are such a favorite of the tiger-tamer-wanabees;  they are far more dependant upon their masters.  (See genetics and time line of the inbreeding below)

The myth of the Rare White Bengal Tiger was an illusion meant to deceive the public into thinking that these cats were endangered and being preserved for future generations. The truth of the matter is that they aren’t even pure Bengal tigers, but rather are all the offspring of an original Siberian / Bengal cross breeding. The inbreeding results in many defects, early deaths, still births and, as could be expected, the cats are not very bright which is why they are preferred for entertainment purposes.

To quote from Dr. Ron Tilson, Conservation Director of the Minnesota Zoo and manager of the world renown Tiger Species Survival Plan, "The white tiger controversy among zoos is a small part ethics and a large part economics. The tiger Species Survival Plan has condemned breeding white tigers because of their mixed ancestry, most have been hybridized with other subspecies and are of unknown lineage, and because they serve no conservation purpose. Owners of white tigers say they are popular exhibit animals and increase zoo attendance and revenues as well. The same rationalization can be applied to the selective propagation of white lions, king cheetahs and other phenotypically aberrant animals."

"White tigers are an aberration artificially bred and proliferated by some zoos, private breeders and a few circuses who do so for economic rather than conservation reasons."

"However, there is an unspoken issue that shames the very integrity of zoos, their alleged conservation programs and their message to the visiting public. To produce white tigers or any other phenotypic curiosity, directors of zoos and other facilities must continuously inbreed father to daughter and father to granddaughter and so on. At issue is a contradiction of fundamental genetic principles upon which all Species Survival Plans for endangered species in captivity are based. White tigers are an aberration artificially bred and proliferated by some zoos, private breeders and a few circuses who do so for economic rather than conservation reasons."

As for breeding tigers of any color, Ron Tilson says, “For private owners to say, ‘We’re saving tigers,’ is a lie,” Tilson says. “They are not saving tigers; they’re breeding them for profit.”

Tilson says the exotic animal market is a multimillion dollar industry, ranking just below the illegal drug trade and just above the illegal gun market.

Tilson says tigers are the most charismatic animal on earth. Their appeal is universal. “They are the alpha predator who used to kill and eat us,” he says. “We cannot help but be in awe of their power and grace. Tigers represent everything fine and decent and powerful. Everything those people would like to be. It’s all an ego trip—big guns, big trucks, and big tigers.”


...most have such profound birth defects, such as immune deficiency, scoliosis of the spine (distorted spine), cleft palates, mental impairments and grotesquely crossed eyes that bulge from their skull...

Consider this: Only 1 in 4 tiger cubs from a white tiger bred to an orange tiger carrying the white gene are born white, and 80% of those die from birth defects associated with the inbreeding necessary to cause a white coat. Of those surviving, most have such profound birth defects, such as immune deficiency, scoliosis of the spine (distorted spine), cleft palates, mental impairments and grotesquely crossed eyes that bulge from their skull that only a small percentage are suitable for display. Due to these birth defects the white tigers often die an early death.  According to some tiger trainers, only 1 in 30 of those white cats will consistently perform. The number of tigers that have to be produced and disposed of in order to fill the public’s desire to see white tigers on display is staggering.

Big Cat Rescue has never taken in a white tiger before because we did not want to enable people to dispose of their “defective” cats and cause so much more suffering and abuse by having an easy dumping ground for the cats who didn’t serve them.

Even though Zabu is black and white, the decision of whether or not to rescue her was not. When Zabu and Cameron’s plight came to our attention we had to think long and hard about whether or not we would have a white tiger on our tour. We didn’t want to be perceived as using a white tiger to draw visitors.

Many times on our tours we tell guests about the fraud that has been promoted to the public about white tigers and talk about all of our golden tigers who ended up unwanted and abandoned at our door because they were the wrong color. Now we were considering turning away a white tiger because she was the wrong color. In her case the facility was being shut down and by rescuing her we were not enabling the owner to breed more and we were keeping a cat of prime breeding age from falling into the hands of people who would breed her to death.

Every year we have to turn away hundreds of big cats. Please do not support those who breed these majestic animals for a life of cruel confinement. No animal, especially a tiger, belongs in a cage.

Carole Baskin, Founder Big Cat Rescue

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Posted: Mar 14, 2009 5:53am
Mar 10, 2009 New York Post feature on The Lizard King


In 1981, National Geographic ran a feature story on the illegal wildlife trade, including a photograph of a Thai animal dealer named Mr. Dang wearing a Burmese python, one of the most popular snakes in the US pet trade, one that usually retailed for about $80.

But Dang's snake was an albino, a striking yellow and white, and it caught the attentions of many. His albino snakes were stolen, sold through a New York importer to a reptile smuggler in South Florida, who partnered with an Oklahoma snake breeder and made more of them, selling the offspring for $4,000 each. The breeder, Bob Clark, would later appear on the David Letterman show; Britney Spears would wear one of his creations on stage. That was the beginning.

Reptiles today are a huge industry - an ad for "investment grade pythons" is no joke. Later this month, the largest reptile show on earth, the National Reptile Breeders' Expo, will take place in Daytona Beach, Florida. Companies supplying both your local pet shop and giant pet superstores, like PetSmart and Petco, will all be there, buying and selling. The old glass aquarium is out. Collectable snakes are kept in multi-drawer cage systems, like rare coins. The Internet has opened not only door-to-door delivery of reptiles but also of their food. Companies like Gourmet Rodent and Mice-on-Ice ship frozen mouse pinkies and rat jumbos across the country. Others mail fruit flies and crickets.

Boxes of live cobras are (legally) traveling in the back of that minivan next to you on your way to the beach. Endangered tortoises from Madagascar are (illegally) flying overhead via Federal Express labeled as books.

Yesterday, in a little town called Hamburg, in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, dealers gathered inside a field house behind the town fire hall to buy and sell reptiles. Hamburg's event is what reptile people refer to as a "hot show," hot being slang for venomous. It's illegal to sell venomous snakes in many cities, including New York, so four or five times a year those with a hot bug travel to Hamburg to buy green mambas, spitting cobras, rattlesnakes. The alligators that turn up now and then in New York apartments are bought at shows like Hamburg.

Amazing as it may sound, you can learn how to care for your new venomous pet by picking up the August issue of the industry's leading magazine, Reptiles. The feature story is, "Tackling the Taipan: Proper Care for One of the Deadliest Snakes." One bite from an Australian taipan carries enough venom to lay cold 50 sober adults. Luckily, the hot trade is a tiny fraction of the multi-million dollar reptile industry.

Yes, there's money in reptiles. After that National Geographic photograph, breeders discovered ways to genetically create new colors. In a skin-based version the 1950s hot-rod car era, designer reptile breeders genetically customize pythons, turning brown and black snakes orange and white, pulling spots sideways to form stripes. They name their concoctions Killer Bee, Spinner Blast and Dreamsicle, and they sell the rarest of these for $100,000 and more. Million-dollar homes have been built on snake money.

Which of course, has been blood in the water to smugglers. Emboldened by snake money, they've traveled the world, hunting rare tortoises, poaching unique frogs, bringing them home for collectors: $30,000 for a baby Komodo dragon; $20,000 for a Madagascan tortoise. Before this generation's era of wealthy private collectors, the biggest money in smuggling came from America's largest zoos. In the late 1970s, the National Zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo, the Dallas Zoo, the Bronx Zoo and others helped fund the exploits of Philadelphian Hank Molt, one of the country's most ingenious reptile smugglers. Molt brought saltwater crocodiles home from Asia in his suitcase, and he paid off corrupt overseas zoo keepers to steal from their own collections. Molt's smuggling was so outrageous (a member of his gang tried to bury evidence in the New Jersey Pine Barrens) that after he was caught President Jimmy Carter called for a brand new wildlife section to be created in the US Justice Department, the same office at the cutting edge of environmental crimes prosecutions today.

Python eating alligator in FLPost-9/11 airport security has cut down on hand-carrying smuggled reptiles. Today, smugglers doctor paperwork to bring in reptiles, usually as part of large shipments. The real trouble today is not illegal reptiles, it's the legal ones. Many of the biggest wildlife traffickers in the world use legal reptile operations as fronts for criminal syndicates dealing the world's most precious species. Cheap little frogs and lizards in your local pet shop have for years come to the US through the fingers of kingpins in Southeast Asia and Africa who trade snow leopards, rhinoceros horn and rare birds. The media often compares the illegal wildlife trade to the multi-billion-dollar trade in illegal drugs and guns, but the truth is nobody knows how big illegal wildlife trade is because we don't have international law enforcement cooperation on wildlife smuggling the way we do on drugs and guns. Even worse, in the US, the elite undercover squad dedicated to stopping wildlife crime recently shut down.

Chances are you have dabbled in the illegal trade yourself. Cheap and disposable, baby turtles and green iguanas have long been considered the Bic lighters of the pet trade. A few weeks ago, one of the largest reptile import-export companies in the world, Strictly Reptiles of Hollywood, Florida, was convicted of selling baby turtles. The potato chip-sized reptiles that often are sold together with a plastic lagoon bowl and a shaker of dried food have been illegal to sell to the general public in the United States since 1975 because of a link between the mouth-sized pets and salmonella in children. But that hasn't stopped their trade. You can find a baby turtle for sale at county fairs, Italian markets and most any beachside shopping strip in the country.

Bryan Christy is the author of "The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World's Greatest Reptile Smugglers," published this month by Twelve.

To sign up for Daily Newsletter Alerts, please visit

Copies of The Lizard King and the 50 page report called Paper Tigers? were sent to the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commissioners and top level staff to illustrate the need for a ban on exotics in Florida.

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Posted: Mar 10, 2009 5:37pm
Mar 10, 2009
The  AdvoCat  Newsletter   Big Cat Rescue February 2009   Donate

Happy St. Patrick's Day Friend of Big Cat Rescue!

Maybe it is just the luck of the Irish, but we were green before it was cool to be green.  I'm not Irish, but our President, Jamie Murdock has roots in Ireland and all of us, especially the cats, are lucky to have you who care. 

Green buds are popping out all over the sanctuary and we have a lot of green fun for you in this issue that includes some of our lucky cats, another contest you could win and how easy it is to be green.

May the luck of the Irish be with you throughout the entire year! 


Carole Baskin, Founder


spacer  Matching Funds and $10,000 Prize!         

Razoo Donate To Big Cat Rescue on Secure Site Powered by Network for GoodThe Reitzel Foundation has generously established a matching grant under which they will match dollar for dollar any donations made to support our most recent rescue of Freckles the Liger and Alex and Cookie the two tigers up to $25,000. This means your donation has double impact! Meantime, the site we use to take your secure donations has a contest under which the charity that gets the most donors in March wins $10,000. If you can, please take this opportunity to help fund this rescue, have your donation doubled by the matching grant and help us win the $10,000 by contributing what you can today. Our sincere thanks to the Reitzel Foundation and to you!

spacer  Hope the Bobcat is Green!

For all of you who have been anxiously awaiting the next episode about Hope the baby bobcat who was rescued as a kitten and raised by a domestic cat family, your wait is over!  Hope is a Florida bobcat who is being trained to go free this spring.  See this latest video of a very green looking bobcat.

        Sweet 16 Kiss the Tiger spacers

Kiss a TigerBig Cat Rescue was founded sixteen years ago in 1992 and to celebrate our anniversary we are going to celebrate the sixteen species of wild cat that reside at the sanctuary. November honored Windsong the Bobcat who started Big Cat Rescue and December's cat was Hercules the Snow Leopard. February's cat was Genie the Sandcat.  This month you can "kiss" Nik the Tiger.  He may be foolin' but Nik says, "Kiss me.  I'm Irish!"

spacer   Join Us on Facebook & Add Our New App

Mobile GivingJoin me on Facebook! If you are already on Facebook, search for Carole Baskin to find my page.  Get in on the all the news and write on my wall.  Help us fund the rescue work you love by typing your mobile number in the Big Cat Rescue Donations application on the left side of the page. You can also help the cause, by telling your friends.

If you have a page on Facebook click here to install the Big Cat Rescue Donations application on your own page ( This application lets your friends feed the big cats with their mobile phones...and it looks pretty cool too.

If you don't have a Facebook page, follow the link below to get yours and be my friend!

Or send an email to to join us.  Be sure to join our Big Cat Rescue group too: 

Don't forget, that anyone with a U.S. cell phone can easily support the big cats.  Just text the word TIGER to 20222. A $5 donation will be added to your mobile phone bill. *

        Big Cat Camp Ages 16 - 18

Summer Camp Adults Big Cat RescueHave you always dreamed of a career in animal care? Are you passionate about conservation? Have you wondered what it’s like to do research in the field? For the first time ever young adults ages 16-18 can explore their interests and learn from our Keepers, Staff and experts in person. Join us in small workshop formats designed to give a real taste of life in the animal care and conservation world. Three different session topics will be offered with “Big Cat Tracking Academy”, “So, You Want to Be An Animal Keeper?” and “Modern Conservationist” on the agenda for this summer season.

This camp will fill up fast, so reserve your "spots" now!

        Tiger in a Shed and a Bobcat in Box 

Tiger in ShedA tiger has been kept in a shed, in a small concrete floored cage for more than 3 years. She interrupts her constant pacing, only to stand up and look out the small window at the world who has forgotten about her.  Outside there is a tiny chain link box barely more than two feet wide and maybe eight feet long.  Inside, on a toxic mulch floor, paces a bobcat.  No where to go and nothing to do, the pitiful bobcat paces back and forth, back and forth...waiting for help to come.

The owner is in the hospital and her volunteers say that she may die there.  If she does, she is the only permit holder for the cats and the state could come in and euthanize the cats, or send them to another awful facility where they will be treated just as badly or worse.  There are no decent facilities in FL that are willing to take them and Big Cat Rescue doesn't have room. We have to be responsible to the cats we have already rescued and cannot take on another big mouth to feed.  We offered to take the bobcat if she would quit trading in cats, but she refused. 

This woman runs Animal Rescue Kingdom in Ocala, FL.  Even though she exhibits her tiger, she has never complied with getting a USDA license, nor in posting the FL bond.  She and another couple are both on her board and on that of Vanishing Species Wildlife.  USDA just fined Vanishing Species and found them unfit to care for their big cats, demanding that they find new homes for the tiger, lion and cougar they house in Davie, FL. Horrible facilities like this abound in FL because, unlike other states, our FL Wildlife Commission makes their rules outside of public will.  They aren't elected.  They know that more than 90% of the public is opposed to this kind cruelty, but they have been unwilling to stop it.  Please help us end the breeding and trade in big cats, at least in Florida.  Get involved here:  Even though the FWC probably won't listen to you, we can then take the case to the Governor who appoints the Commissioners, but we need to be able to let the Governor know that we all tried.  Please copy us with your letters so we can present them to him too.

        Recycled Pets 

In February Big Cat Rescue invited Hillsborough County Animal Services to set up their Adoptable Pet Mobile at the front gates to the sanctuary during the busiest tour day of the week. The bus housed 9 domestic cats and kittens that were looking for a home. While several visitors stopped by the bus and met the cats, none of these homeless kitties ended up being adopted. We plan to invite the Adoptable Pet Mobile out again in the near future, so keep an eye out on our website for upcoming dates. It’s important to the big cats to help out their little cousins. If you have space in your heart and are looking for an addition to your family consider adopting a pet from one of the many animal shelters and rescue centers that are out there.

        St Patrick's Day Contest Cards and Screen Savers

Send cards and be automatically entered to win if you send the most cards! 

There are now 688 St. Patrick’s eCards and a total of 2,543 eCards to choose from.

Irish CatPrizes are store credits for (not cash). Spend your store credit on anything in our online gift shop you want. What could be greener than a Big Cat Shopping Spree?

1st Prize -$75 store credit
2nd Prize - $50 store credit
3rd Prize - $25 store credit

The contest runs through St Patrick's Day.  It's free and it is lucky fun for everyone.  

spacer   Around the Sanctuary                      

There is always way too much good stuff happening at the sanctuary for me to put it all into a monthly newsletter. Parry the bobcat who was hit by a car and left for dead has been released back into the wild.  One more lucky bobcat got a new lease on life thanks to you and Big Cat Rescuers.  Angie the southern bobcat was moved next door to all of the other southern bobcats and is loving the new neighbors. 

Big Cat Rescue was chosen as the charity to man the beer stations at the Super Bowl and several preceding games.  The volunteers for these events worked their "tails" off and raised $6,950.00.  Woo Hoo!!!

Sophia the CougarVern revamped the empty jaguar cage to accommodate a tiger, by adding a tiger size den.  Snorkel got to try it out first.  In addition to our key staff, who are always involved with big cat moves, random Green Level Keepers are chosen to help if they are there that day.  There are always cages to be painted, trees to be trimmed and lots of dirty work that has to be done.  If you are here doing that stuff, you will likely be here on a day something exciting happens, and get to participate. Doug & Marie were the lucky ones this time.  They got to see Snorkel happily load into the transport and pass by all of the other excited tigers.  The cats know that that the transport means you are going to a new, fun place, so they all vie to be the one.  Along with Scott, Jamie, Chris and Dr. Wynn, they were able to see Snorkel run around his new cage, play with his new ball and do the army crawl through the old jaguar den that was left intact so that he would have the hill over it to climb. 

Shere Khan & China Doll moved into Snorkel's 1 acre enclosure, so that we could do routine maintenance on their 3 acre cat-a-tat.  They acted like they had gotten a huge upgrade, rather than a downsize, with all of their romping and playing.

Sophia the cougar continues to get better every day.  It has been amazing to see her recovery when we were all sure her time here would be measured in mere days.  More on her and new photos here:

March 14-21, 2009 is Florida Panther Week and March 21st is the Save the Florida Panther Day.   See panther cousins at Big Cat Recue in Julie Hanan's video HERE


Help the Cats Today
phone: 813 920-4130 fax 920-5924
Mobile Giving FoundationText TIGER to 20222 to Donate $5 *A one-time charge of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill. Standard messaging rates and additional fees may apply. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. US Subscribers only.             
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Posted: Mar 10, 2009 5:31pm
Mar 9, 2009

Allowing the private possession of wild cat/ domestic cat hybrids is like strapping a nuclear war head to the feral cat problem. See Super Feral

I get e-mails every day, asking what I think of hybrids as pets.  The hybrids in questions are usually Bengal Cats (leopard cat and domestic cross), Chausie or Stone Cougars (jungle cat and domestic cat cross) and Savannah (Serval and domestic cat cross) and Safari Cats (Geoffroy Cat and domestic cat cross).   In the case of Stone Cougars the polydactyl feet and dwarf body style which are typical of severe inbreeding are encouraged to make the cat look less cat-like. Some people ask about Pixie Bobs, but I don't know of any compelling evidence that suggests they really have any bobcat blood.  Sometimes, when people are talking about hybrids, they are talking about lion/tiger crosses or serval/caracal crosses and much of what is true about the domestic crosses is more so of the wildcat hybrids.

In a nutshell, it is an irresponsible thing to do and there is no redeeming reason to cross breed these cats nor to support those who do by buying one.  It almost never works out for the individual cat and in the rare case that it does, the number of animals that had to suffer in order for this one rare cat to exist is staggering.   

While the rest of this article refers to Bengal Cats, the same is true of all of the hybrid cats. Some people have beautiful, fifth generation Bengal Cats that are reported to eat cat food, live quietly with domestic and use the litterbox fastidiously.  This may well be the case, but the breeders tend to keep breeding back to the wild Leopard Cats in order to get the exotic markings.  The idea was to glean the best of both worlds:  a fabulously spotted or striped cat with all the gentleness of thousands of years of domestic history.  Unfortunately, what more often happens is that you get the ordinary cat coat and a wild personality.   

Even after 5 generations, that wild personality is a dominant trait and while it is marketed as being just like having a tiny tiger in your home, most people don't know what that really means.  As someone who is not trying to sell you a $2000.00 kitten that you will one day take to the dog pound out of frustration, let me tell you what it is like to live with a hybrid. 

We have a bunch of them that were former pets.  We have had to turn away many, many more because most of them cannot run free outside and have to have the same cages as bobcats and cougars.  They all spray.  Male or female, neutered or not, first generation or fifth generation; I have never met one that didn't spray urine all over everything in their path.   

They bite.  Even in play, even if they love you, they bite and I have scars all over my hands to prove that their love nips will leave you bleeding.  They want to eat your other pets and they don't care if it's a German shepherd, they are going to be constantly looking for a way to take the dog down.  That is why many of them can't run free on Easy Street.  They pick fights with 500 pound tigers.  I have even received reports from Florida's Game and Fish Commission of them stalking little old ladies and I have been called in to trap and remove them.  This discarded pet now lives on Easy Street, but most are not this lucky.  

The creation of a non protected species, by hybridizing the endangered leopard cats with the non endangered domestic cats has also created a huge market for the fur of these hybrids. Check out any of the big fur dealers, like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and they will try to sell you the idea that their furs are from killing Lippi Cats (sometimes called Lipi Cats) in China. Of course that is absurd. There is no such thing as a Lippi Cat. The fur patterns on these coats can only be from truly endangered cats or from the Bengal Cat hybrids. In either case it is sad (and sick) but hybridizing cats has made this a lucrative market. So much, in fact, that the Bengal Cat is commonly called, the Money Cat.

I get hate mail from hybrid breeders every time I say anything about the fact that many times domestic cats are killed by the wild cats in the mating process, or that the conditions the breeding cats are often kept in is deplorable, or the physical ailments that many of these neurotic offspring suffer from, or the fact that millions of animals are being killed in shelters every year while people are still supporting the breeders. So many breeders claim that they only breed 4th and 5th generations, but don't seem to get the fact that you can't get a 4th generation without a lot of suffering in the first three.  By the time a person breeds enough cats to get to the fourth generation they have created approximately 50 cats who will end up being slaughtered for coats or killed because of their behavior problems. I stand amazed at the number of people who just don't get this and how they manage to pretend that they are not the cause of the suffering if they purchase a fourth generation cat. The cats can't speak for themselves though, so the daily hate mail is just the price of speaking the truth for them.  Please consider all of the suffering that you can eliminate by not succumbing to the urge to own something wild.  Your sacrifice can make the world a better place.   

For the cats,  Carole Baskin, Founder


Please Don't Ask Us To Take Your Bengal Cat or Savannah

We get hundreds of letters each year from people who bought a cute little Bengal Cat kitten and who can't wait to get rid of them when they reach adulthood.  We do not take in Bengal Cats and don't know anyone reliable who does.  The Bengal Cat Rescue Network is the only place we have found online who offers to take in unwanted Bengal Cats and we cannot speak for their integrity or policies, but have listed a link to them here to help you try to find a home for the cat you have discovered is now spraying everything in sight and who is attacking your pets, children and spouse.  The Bengal Cat Rescue Network.


Before You Buy a Hybrid or Purebred Pet

As I read this, I thought that so much of this sentiment applies to what we witness in our rescuing of wildcats. “DON’T BREED OR BUY WHILE SANCTUARIES FILL UP” - just changing a few words…it’s what we try to educate, too. (Having put in time volunteering at a shelter’s euthanasia department, crying my way home every day, believe me, this all rings very true and deserves sharing far and wide). These are some of the very same issues our staff deal with every day, too.

"I think our society needs a huge "Wake-up" call.

As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all...a view from the inside if you will.

First off, all of you breeders/sellers should be made to work in the "back" of an animal shelter for just one day.

Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don't even know. That puppy or kitten you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it's not cute anymore.

So, how would you feel if you knew that there's about a 90% chance that pet will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the pets that are "owner surrenders" or "strays," that come into my shelter are purebred.

The most common excuses I hear are;

"We are moving and we can't take our dog (or cat)." Really? Where are you moving to that doesn't allow pets?

Or they say "The dog got bigger than we thought it would." How big did you think a German Shepherd would get?

"We don't have time for her.” Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs!

"She's tearing up our yard.” How about making her a part of your family?

They always tell me: "We just don't want to have to stress about finding a place for her. We know she'll get adopted, she's a good pet." Odds are your pet won't get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is?

Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn't full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies.

Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it.

If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk or give them a loving pat. If not, your pet won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose.

If your pet is an adult, black, part exotic, or any of the "Bully" breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those pets just don't get adopted.

It doesn't matter how 'sweet' or 'well behaved' they are. If your pet doesn't get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed.  If the shelter isn't full and your pet is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long.

Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment.

If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles, chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don't have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.

Here's a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being "put-down:"

First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk - happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to "The Room," every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it's strange, but it happens with every one of them.

Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the "pink stuff." Hopefully, your pet doesn't panic from being restrained and jerk. I've seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams.

They all don't just "go to sleep," sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves. When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage.

What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You'll never know and it probably won't even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right? I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head I deal with everyday on the way home from work.

I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much further than the pets you dump at a shelter.

Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.


Hate me if you want to. The truth hurts and reality is what it is. I just hope I maybe changed one person’s mind about breeding their pet, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a pet. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say "I saw this and it made me want to adopt.”




Savannah cat breed banned in Australia

August 03, 2008

An exotic breed of cat has been banned, with environment minister Peter Garrett calling it an extreme risk to native wildlife.  So-called "Savannah" cats are a cross between domestic cats and an African wildcat known as the serval.

They tend to be spotted with slightly larger ears than other cats and have become popular with some cat-lovers.

But environmentalists fear they retain the strong hunting instincts of their African ancestors and could interbreed with millions of feral cats already in Australia, which have wrought havoc on the country's indigenous wildlife.

"The risks associated with allowing this cross-bred cat into the country, when we already have up to 12 million feral cats wreaking havoc on native fauna, are simply too great," Mr Garrett said.

"That is why I have banned the import of these cats immediately."

He said the Savannah cat posed "an extreme threat to Australia's native wildlife".,22606,24120808-5005962,00.html


Read some real letters that we receive from people who own a Bengal Cats and know what it is really like.

  Bengal Cat May Be Killed for Biting Neighbors Just a pet to owner, a threat to others Officials think a cat that attacked two people is part wild and want to test it for rabies. Problem is, they'd have to put it to sleep first.

Published June 1, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG — Melissa Russell was taking her usual Saturday morning walk when a striped cat named Czar yowled and lunged at her. Then he then bit her in the calf.“I was shocked,” said Russell, 78, of Snell Isle.

An hour later, 6-year-old Cole Fisher stopped to pet Czar. The cat bit him in the thigh, said his mother, Lana. Now the county wants to seize Czar to test it for rabies. Officials think Czar is part wild, an exotic Bengal. No rabies vaccines are approved for hybrids or wild animals, so a rabies test requires killing the cat first.

But Czar's owner, Jo Ellen Janas, 53, won't give him up. She insists Czar is a domestic cat, not a Bengal.

This week, the county filed a petition for an injunction to force Janas to hand over Czar. “It's a tough deal,” said Dr. Welch Agnew, the county's assistant director for animal services. “We never want to take somebody's pet, but we've got victims out there.”

Both families said Janas was apologetic after learning of the attacks, which occurred May 20. Janas assured them Czar had been vaccinated for rabies and mailed copies of his veterinary record. That's where Russell saw that Czar was classified as a Bengal, an exotic hybrid created by breeding a domestic cat with an Asian leopard.
She alerted animal services.

On May 24 , a county animal services officer went to Janas' home on Brightwaters Boulevard to take Czar and get him tested for rabies. The test requires putting the cat to sleep and removing his brain to check the stem for antibodies.

If Czar does not have rabies, Russell and Fisher can discontinue their rounds of rabies shots, Agnew said. The total series is one dose of immune globulin and five doses of rabies vaccine over 28 days. But Janas won't turn over her beloved pet. Her attorney, Russell Cheatham, said Thursday that the cat was misidentified as a Bengal on its medical records. It is a domestic cat, he said. “If there was a less drastic means than killing her pet, it would be a different situation,” he said. “But it's a problem because it may not be necessary.” Cheatham said his client is searching for a lab that will run a DNA test on Czar to prove he is not part wild. Janas is keeping the animal confined to her home, he said.

Meanwhile, Russell received her second round of rabies shots Thursday, and Fisher received his first round. “I've been extremely worried,” Lana Fisher said. “It's just devastating that we have to put him through this.” Both families said that though the incident has been difficult, they don't want to pursue legal action against their neighbor. “We are Christians,” Russell said. “I have no bitterness.”

The county is not so forgiving.

“We have a suspected rabid animal that is allegedly running loose and attacking people,” said Michelle Wallace, an assistant county attorney. “It could be out running loose again, and who knows? We could have a rabies outbreak.” A court hearing is scheduled June 7. More than half the 2,700 reports of bites or scratches in the county every year involve dogs. Usually, domestic dogs, cats and ferrets suspected of rabies are issued a 10-day home quarantine, Agnew said. If they have rabies, they typically die within that period.

“But that's not true for wild animals,” he said. “The only test that's 100 percent accurate is a postmortem test.” Raccoons are the primary source of rabies in Florida. A rabies outbreak spread by raccoons a decade ago prompted animal services to begin taking preventive action. In March, it dropped fish-meal-coated rabies vaccine from helicopters.

My Cat Has Projectile Diarreah

I could not agree more with your philosophy re hybrid Bengals.  I had a Siamese and a Tonkinese together. Both reached the age of 20+. The Tonk was fantastic, the Siamese so stupid she could not have had more than 3 brain cells ... but sweet and devoted. After they passed, I swore no more pets.  Then, I saw a neighbor's Bengal and immediately fell in love with it.  I still resisted.  That lasted 2 weeks. I ended up purchasing 2 F4 standards, beautifully marked and full of glitter. They were gorgeous and from a famous line. One was so sweet, wouldn't stay away from me at the kittery, I had to buy her.  The 2nd was purchased to keep the 1st one company. Big mistake, the 2nd one was wild as could be and was returned within 3 days.  I subsequently found out my returned one went to a breeder who ultimately returned her because she was uncontrollable ... truly WILD!

Lets just say that my Bengal has been a monumental pain regardless of how cute and precocious she may be. She wakes up at 2:30 a.m. so I haven't had a decent night's rest in a year.  If I don't play with her she starts her ungodly whining, yodel, squeaking, whatever cat calls that could wake the dead. Without question, this is the smartest creature I've ever encountered. The easy problems were breaking her of the habit of jumping into the shower with me every morning, trying to swim in the commode, etc. ... she's obsessed by water; and, pulling door stops out of the wall to use them as fishing rods(?) in her water bowl. I kid you not, have photos. Around 5 a.m., if I don't play with her, she bites my ankles until I do.  Love bites but still annoying. That's the funny side. She's got me trained well!

The sad side is she has Irritable Bowel Disorder (IBD) which the "breeder" said she didn't, then said she cured (I returned her after 2 weeks) and then took her back, then put me onto a raw chicken diet which I ultimately decided was too dangerous. Plus, it didn't work. After much $$$$$ was spent at Vets, she was finally placed on 5 mg prednisolone qd and a high fiber diet. The diet gives her gas which is so foul I nearly gag. Fortunately, her stools firmed up. Don't ask about her litter box ... at least it's always within 2" of it if she misses.  But, I'm much concerned because there is strong evidence of intestinal bleeding. After passing her stool, there is a fair quantity of mucous which is obviously blood tinged. I will not submit her to experimental surgery. I also have huge issues with putting an animal down unless its in pain.  I suspected the breeder would have and my taking her back was probably because I couldn't see her put down. So, I have her, I love her, I could kill her at times if you know what I mean. But, you are so right, this should not be a breed.

I say the above so you'll know I have some limited experience with this breed.

You raise a valid issue.  Had I known what I know now I would never had done anything to promote the continuation of this breed. Having done some literature searches, IBD seems common with Bengals; and, its not really curable. I can't even handle the issue of coats its so barbaric.

However, I see another problem that arises from the breeders. Done so purely to increase their incomes. The breeders deny IBD is a problem, they swear their lines are free of it, its just finding the "right" diet.  For me that's pure PR.  They also use the words active, intelligent, etc., to cover up that they are often wild and can "flip" on the owner in a second.  Mine is sweet, definitely F4, great, really great line but if I pick her up the wrong way or startle her ... my blood flows and they're not minor scratches!!!

I wish there was some better way to alert potential owners prior to their purchase.  I hate the thought of such gorgeous creatures burdened by IBD their entire lives. As well, emotionally, they don't know who they are from one minute to the next ... domestic or wild.

Some thoughts. My best, Frank

My Savannah Cat Eats the Furniture

Hi!  I'm a volunteer with pet rescue here in Orlando. Recently I was contacted by a woman who asked me to help her find a home for her two year old F1 male savannah. She says that kitty is very affectionate and loving and great with her clients, but he's nearly destroyed her home/ office. He eats the furniture, tears large chunks out of the towels and sheets, and chews through anything made of plastic, rubber, or vinyl (he also knows how to open doors-not a good thing). She's covered everything in cayenne pepper powder but that still doesn't help. I'm sure you're familiar with this problem (which is one of the reasons you don't advocate the breeding of hybrids) and I wondered if you have any suggestions. I'm sure that if I offered this cat up for adoption many would step forward to give him a new home, but finding a qualified home could be a real challenge. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you!

Bengal Breeders Often Don't Tell Buyers The Truth

Reading about hybrid cats on your website inspired me to e-mail my experiences.  I purchased a snow Bengal kitten nine months ago.  My main concern is that the breeder/seller does not inform the buyer of what they're getting into when owning a hybrid cat.  They're part wild, and will need extra supervision.  They will be destructive in your home.  I had to get rid of fragile items, plants, certain decorations on the walls.  Before I buy anything for my home, I have to consider what my hybrid will do to it.  Basically, I don't buy anything for my home anymore.  It is really important that people understand how destructive they can be before they buy one.  I personally feel not understanding their capabilities is what leads to giving the pet up to shelter, or resale of the cat.  It saddens me to hear that people give these cats up because they bond with the person that purchases them.  More so than regular cats.  I'm always pulling my hybrid off my other two cats.  She can be a bit of a bully.  I had long deep scratches covering my legs the first 6 months.  Biting and scratching is hard to break, but can be done.  She no longer scratches, but she loves to bite. 

The most common in Bengalis (it is more common to have it than not) is irritable bowel disease, which means a life of projectile diarrhea.  Our cat was having non-stop diarrhea, sometimes with mucus in it.  The smell was terrible.  It would reek through out the entire house daily.  I guess this is the main reason I'm e-mailing.  I hope this information will help others.  The reason these cats have diarrhea is that their metabolisms is high, so they need different food than a normal house cat.  I started feeding ours one boiled boneless skinless chicken thigh every morning, and one can of high quality cat food "Pet Promise" that I would dish out through out the afternoon and evening.  It's important to feed them the canned cat food also.  They need the vitamins that the chicken will not offer.  Due to their faster metabolisms, they eat more than a normal house cat.  Ours eats twice the amount of regular house cats. Tina            

Urinating outside litter box

I have a 3 1/2 year old male Bengal who started urinating outside of the liter box in the house when he was just past 2 years old.  We started him on daily doses of prozac for this behavor problem.  Over the course of a year we increased the dosage 2 times and he was almost at the maximum dose and we got an email
from the breeder who suggested we try the Depo-Provera injections.  We got King to the vet for the first injection and started slowly decreasing the other medication until it was gone.  We were not supposed to take King back for another injection until 1 month later but before that time was up he was back to unrinating in the house.  We took King back to the vet for the second shot and it seems like the urinating is worse.  We are faced with the choice of finding him a new home with someone who can deal with this behavor or putting him to sleep.  I am so disappointed that the breeders of these cats don't tell people that this is very common.  Please email me with any suggestions or thoughs...Thanks, Wanda

  Bengal Cat Biting Child

Just wondering if you know of a rescue organization for Bengal Cats.  I know yours is for big cats, but just thought I would try.  Friends of mine have e Bengal  Cat that is about 3 or 4 years old, their daughter is mentally handicapped.  I think she bothers the cat and the cat has been biting her.  They are beside themselves and don't know what to do.  We have looked everywhere for a home, but so far to no avail.  Just thought I would check to see if you have any ideas.  They live in the Orlando area. Thanks, Sally

Bengal Cat Doesn't Get Along

Do you know anywhere I can take my Bengal cat to find a good home? I need to find her one, she is the cutest thing but doesn't get long with my other cat- I figure she'll be easier to find a home for since she is exotic. Sandy

Tritrichomonas Foetus May Cause Bloody Diarrhea

I got Tess (a Bengal Cat)  last November and since then she has had 5 bouts of bloody diarrhea. I knew when I got her that the breed has "digestive problems" and didn't mind taking care of her at all in spite of this.  My breeder suggested Panacur and it seemed to help during the first 4 bouts but this 5th time it didn't help much.  I had heard about Tritrichomonas Foetus and did some research on the internet and found two persons who found out their cat(s) had this TF ... obviously this is just recently recognized in cats and detection of the micro-organism is very difficult and a culture needs to be done.    I contacted one of Tess's vets with the information and she ran a test and called me 10 days later and said, "Yes, Tess is positive!"     There is a treatment which has only been available since January of this year and she is now on this.    I had to order it special from a company on the internet.    She has to take 2 capsules every day for 14 days!     Needless to say, I am really happy that I found this out and am glad that I didn't settle for the diagnosis and wasn't willing to just "watch her" Janice in PA

Bloody diarrhea of Bengal Cats

Carole's note:  I posted this because it may help some cats, but I have had many reports that it did not help.

"I recently was made the most beautiful gift of a female bengal kitten, she is extremely sweet and playful - and yes a little wild.

When I discovered that she had diarrhea which was on occasion blood tinged, it reminded me of my patients wheat or gluten allergies (I am an Acupuncturist). Gluten is a protein found in cereal that is highly allergenic. It can cause irritation of the intestine in varying degrees and can lead over time to malabsorption problems, and because it is a protein, Kidney problems. It is most of the time misdiagnosed by MDs, and the patients go trough a lot of suffering until they learn how to adjust their diets.

I then decided to feed my cat gluten free cat food. This was a major project, I studied the ingredient labels of most cat foods and discovered that in most cat food there is gluten: wheat gluten, corn gluten, barley gluten etc.

Finally I found a brand "Wellness" that is grain free, and I started feeding this product along with the dryfood of this brand. The diarrhea stopped. My
cat dosn't like it quite as well as the junk cat food, but she is only just like us: we like potato chips, which are not good for us. Please post this on your website. Maybe that helps. Greetings, Beatrice Moncrief"

It isn't the cat's fault

Hi, After checking out your website regarding Asian leopard/Bengal cat hybrids (which was very enlightening and informative), my mom had a long phone conversation with Honey at Big Cat Rescue today. She was very helpful. Thanks! She encouraged us to email your organization explaining our current situation.

I purchased a 4 month old F1 ALC/SBT hybrid from a breeder in April of this year. I am a vet tech and met the breeder through my work. I thought that her kittens were beautiful and she informed me that she had 1 kitten left from a littler and that he was the most beautiful kitten that she's ever had. The breeder also said that he was very sweet and loving. I met the kitten and thought that he was the most amazing looking kitten and took him home on the spot. The first week away from his mother was HELL (lots of yelling and screaming) but we got through it. I neutered him and had a 4 paw de-claw done right away. I did not want him spraying in my apartment.

He was fine for the first few months. He and my 2 year old Siamese got along fairly well. The Bengal mostly annoyed the other cat with his kitten behavior. His only problem was that he would steal my socks and chew them up.

As time went on he started doing more annoying things, stealing silverware from the sink, taking my pens and pencils and chewing plants. He then started knocking things off of shelves on purpose. I'm not sure if he likes to watch them fall or if he likes the sound that they make when they crash. He also started chewing and shredding the rest of my clothing and towels. I have had to hide everything in closets.

In mid August we moved to a new apartment and got a puppy. He HATES the dog. She doesn't bother him at all, but he goes out of his way to growl, hiss and spit at her. He even tries to hunt and attack her while she is sleeping in her crate.

He also started attacking my other cat after we moved into our new place. He starts out playing nicely with the Siamese and then goes way too far. My other cat lets him know that he's done playing, but he won't stop. I have to split up cat fights at least 3 times during the night. I have been loosing a lot of sleep over this. My other cat is now afraid of the Bengal and begs to be locked in a closet where the Bengal can not get at him.

In the past couple weeks the Bengal has become very food aggressive. The cats share the same kind of food but have separate dishes. The Bengal will not let the Siamese come within a 2 foot radius of the dishes if there is food in them. I now have to feed them separately.

I have lived in my new place for 2 months now and have not unpacked a single box because I am afraid that the cat will ruin the rest of my things. I have tried to hide my clothes in closets, but every time I come home from work I find out that he has learned how to open the closets and has chewed up more clothing. I now have to barricade the closets with heavy objects.

About 2 weeks after I moved into my new place I noticed a funny smell in the corner of my living room. It turned out that my Bengal had been using one of my boxes full of my stuff as his new littler box. There is nothing wrong with his litter box and there is no medical reason for him to not be using his box, but he won't use it anyway. He has been peeing in about 5 different spots throughout my place and has decided to poop 1 foot from the entrance to his box, not in the box. I've tried to use behavioral modification meds on him but they were not successful. I can't catch him to rub it on his ears, he won't eat the flavored treat meds and I can't hide it in raw meat.

I have talked to the breeder about his litter box issues, attacking the other cat and the destroying of my things and clothing. She told me that they aren't ‘knick-knack' cats. She didn't tell me that on day 1 when I got him. She then told me that I have a few options. I can try meds (I did.), I could ‘re-train' him or I could find him a new home.

I don't know of anyone that would want a destructive cat that can not be handled and I do not think that ‘re-training' him will help him stop destroying my things or attacking my dog.

I am at the end of my rope and feel that my last option is euthanasia. I realize that he is not a domesticated cat and cannot live as a pet in someone's home. It is hard for me to have this as my last option. I had made tentative plans to put him down this weekend until I found out about your web site. It's not his fault that he is this way. Do you know any other options for him?

Thank you for your time and consideration. Name witheld by request

Carole's Note: The owner found a Bengal Cat Rescue group willing to try and place the cat so he will not be euthanized.  If you do the math above you will see that he had become this problematic by the time he was only 10 months old.  Usually it is a year and half before they become intolerable in the house.  99.9% of the mail we get indicates this is typical of the hybrids regardless of what the mix is. We get hate mail from the breeders, who don't want this information available to you, and occassionally a letter from a pet owner who has a cat that is four or more generations removed from the wild who just isn't bright enough to figure out that the only way to get a watered down Bengal is by creating many unfortunate cats like this one along the way.  We love cats and don't want any of them to suffer just so a few people can make a buck or stroke their own ego. 

Midnight Rescue

March 22, 2006 11:21 pm:  I had just gotten in from a three hour meeting of the Animal Advisory Committee where we had wrestled with the long range goals of Animal Services and how we would be able to stop the flood of animals in the front doors to be euthanized because people didn't want them any more.  How could we fund education and aggressive spay / neuter programs in a county government fraught with cut backs?  How could we stop the killing of 34,000 healthy dogs and cats each year in an environment of thought that could only do more of what wasn't working by building more places for people to bring their pets to die?  It was a topic worthy of the energy we had all put into it tonight, but at the end of the night all we had managed to do was suggest that an outside consultant be paid to tell us how to do it and we would leave funding the implementation to another day's discussion. 

Jungle Cat RescueBeing away from my computer for 3 hours means a pile of emails will have collected and standing at my desk I began to sort through them.  I really wanted to go to bed, so not sitting down seemed to me, as if it say, I was not committed to answering all of this mail, but would see if there was anything that just couldn't wait until morning.  Then the phone rang.

The voice on the other end was shaky, female and began, “I got your number from the answering machine, and I'm sorry to call so late, but I have called everyone I can think of and Fish and Game said they would send someone yesterday, but they never did, and the trapper said he will just euthanize the cat, and the cat is scared, and I am afraid he is going to die, and if I let him loose someone is going to shoot him.  It's a big cat.  I think it might be a Florida Panther.  It weighs 90 pounds, is three feet long, had VERY big teeth and his paws are as big as my hands.  I caught him in my garage.  He has been tearing up cats in the neighborhood and some are missing.  I think he ate them.  I caught him in the trap with some cat food.  He just fills up the entire trap…”

I don't know how long she went through her description before I spoke.  There was no hurry to speak as she was just flowing with information.  I jotted down the details as I silently pondered her authenticity.  I have been outspoken against people breeding and selling exotic cats and have committed much of my time to trying to stop the trade.  I had become the target of a segment of our society that is comprised largely of drug dealers, criminals and those just too ignorant or uncaring to see that their participation in the industry causes such suffering for the animals.  In their chat rooms they had suggested more than once that the only way to stop me was a bullet.  Was this call in the middle of the night a set up for just such an opportunity?

Was this woman's voice shaking because she was lying and involved in something that could send her to prison?  The notion of a 90 lb. Florida Panther, in a dog trap, in a garage, in a waterfront community like Apollo Beach, was pretty far fetched.  Is that why Fish and Game had not responded, or did she just say she called them first so that I wouldn't?  I queried her more, asking the same questions in different ways.  If she was lying she would get tripped in her own tale and if she wasn't she would surely think that I was an idiot who just couldn't get the picture. 

After a while I decided that no one could have made up a story like hers and told her I would be sending our Operations Manager Scott and our own licensed trapper to see if she changed her mind about wanting someone to come right away.  Her only concern was if our trapper was of the same conviction as the one she had called earlier and I assured her that we would not kill the cat.  She gave her contact info and it all matched up with the public records.  She was in a high rent district that was not consistent with where most of our opponents live.   I called Jamie to wake her up.

Jungle Cat RescueGroggy she answered the phone.  She had been too exhausted to sleep, but had finally managed to drift off when she heard my voice saying, “Get up.  We have to pick up a Florida Panther in Apollo Beach.”  She said to wait out front and she would be ready in three minutes and she was.

As she climbed into the truck she asked me to repeat what it was we were doing again and why.  If this was a 90 lb cat we would have to pick up the van from the sanctuary and have an enclosure ready upon our return.  The woman was afraid for the cat because she couldn't open the trap to give him water and he had been in it for a couple days.  We needed a place we could release the cat so that he could stand up (which she also said he couldn't do in the tiny trap he was wedged into) and get a drink. 

As we switched out gear to the van Jamie called Scott to alert him that we needed a cage ready.  He prepared our rehab cage because it is far removed from the tour route and the other cats in case this was truly a wild cat and as a quarantine measure. 

On the one hour trip to Apollo Beach Jamie and I placed bets as to what was in the trap.  Would it be a dog?  A raccoon?  A neighbor's oversized tom cat?  A bobcat?  Partly this was due to the barrage of such sightings that turn out to be such animals and partly in our nervous aversion to what the real implications of this trip could mean to our lives.  Jamie was armed with a Mag Light and has become something of an Amazon in strength due to her daily life of outside work at the rescue.  I have a history of deflecting harm thanks to an overly protective Guardian Angel and hardly ever even consider my own safety but I worried for Jamie.  She is the permit holder to pick up a native animal and had to be there.  She knows the element of enemy we are up against.  A master of disguise and undercover surveillance she has been face to face with those who use and abuse these animals.  If anyone knew the dark void of greed, ego and selfishness that these exotic animal breeders and dealers shared it was Jamie.  We were ready for whatever the night might bring.

I was somewhat relieved to find at the end of our route the homes were in the million dollar range.  At least gun fire would probably cause an investigation.  The caller met us at the door and holding back her dogs waived us to enter the garage.  I quickly scanned the room to try and determine if there was anyone lurking and to get a feel for what kind of person we were dealing with.  I wasn't too thrilled with the notion of being thrust into the garage;  was that so we wouldn't make a bloody mess on the carpet? 

Jungle Cat HissingOpening the garage door I saw the trap that was virtually busting at the seams with brown fur.  Glancing around the garage I didn't see anyone or anyplace anyone likely could be hiding.  I know Jamie's observation skills were far more adept and that she could also go on for hours describing exactly everything in the room to its most minute detail after a five minute visit.  The woman rejoined us and shut the door behind her.  She was no match for us and I began to un tense every muscle that had been as tight as piano wire for a battle. 

She described the cat again; as if we couldn't see him and detailed discovering the cat a week before and all that she had done to try and find help.  Finding no one who cared, she borrowed a trap and set out to catch the cat herself for fear that someone would shoot him.  Finally she turned to Jamie and asked, “So, what is it?” 

Jamie responded that it was a Jungle Cat and I interjected that it was the biggest Jungle Cat I had ever seen.  We gathered a written statement from the woman, interviewed her mother who owned the home, took photos and settled the 26 lb. Jungle Cat into the back of the van for the hour ride home.

2:13 am we arrived back at the sanctuary and the only way to get the cat to the rehab cage is to carry him across 2 acres of underbrush on a foot wide path lit by only a flashlight.  I carried the flashlight and Jamie hauled the 36 pounds of cat and trap.  Jamie turned him loose in his new enclosure and unlike most trapped cats he just moseyed out of the trap and strolled around the Cat-a-tat checking out the brush bama, the cave and the swinging platforms.  She gave him water and secured the cage.

The next day we called Fish and Game, now known as the FWCC, to report the incident.  We checked the lost and found while Dr. Wynn checked the cat over to try and tell, without sedating him, if he was a male, neutered or not and what was up with those huge paws?  We had filmed an interview for a documentary into the small cat and hybrid cat business and the producer called saying she needed a few more break away shots.  I told her about the rescue and offered to let her document what happens when these animals escape. 

Jungle Cat at Big Cat RescueThe minute she saw the cat she said it was a Stone Cougar and that there was a hybrid dealer a couple hours away who was trying to make himself famous by breeding a Chaussie (Jungle Cat / Domestic Cat cross) that looks like a cougar.  Purposely inbreeding causes traits such as the polydactyl feet to make the paws bigger and the stunted, dwarf like legs to make the cats' body style more closely resemble a cougar.  The Jungle Cat is used for its brown coloring and hybrids are typically larger than either parent, so this would give the desired size for the pet owner who wants something big enough to beat up the neighbor's Rottweiler. 

This cat's escape, or release, sums up the hybrid issue.  The first generations are large, mentally confused, and often exhibit the worst of both species rather than the best.  Hybrids are marketed as being miniature wildcats with all of their beauty and mystique while being easy to keep; eating cat food and using a litter box.  What is most often created is a rather ordinary looking cat with no house manners who will fight you to the death for the defrosting meat in the sink.  Children and pets are particularly in danger and there isn't a house that can contain them, or in which anyone who can smell will want to live.  They are often relegated to lonely lives in back yard cages or are turned loose to fend for themselves on whatever neighbor's pets they can catch. 

This cat probably sold for $2500.00 and was just a way to make some money to his breeder.  This cat once was a new buyer's prized possession.  This cat knew what it meant to live in fear on the street with no one who cared if he lived or died, except for a woman who was determined that he would not be shot for mauling the neighbor's cats.  This cat may now spend 20 years in a cage because he is too big and too dangerous to be kept as a pet anymore. 

On April 27 Sparticus, the Jungle Cat hybrid was re-united with his family.  According to his owner, they had been vacationing and their home broken into.  All of their pets had been set free and they had been unable to find Sparticus.  Someone saw his story on our site and alerted the owner who was able to identify the cat by his microchip number. 

This cat is the one with a story to tell and you can help him tell it:  Exotic cats were not meant for life in cages.  Please don't support the exotic pet trade; including the hybrid  pet trade. 

Super Feral  6 June 2007

Wild-domestic fashion pets sneaking past quarantine leaves native animals at risk Serval-cat “supercat” shouldn't be let in without scrutiny A loophole in Australia's biosecurity system means hybrid African Serval-domestic cat crosses can be imported into the country with no assessment of their potential to decimate native wildlife.

Chief Executive of the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, Professor Tony Peacock, pointed out the loophole to the Quarantine and Biosecurity Review in Canberra today. “Hybrids of wild animals and domestic animals are a stupid American trend to breed more and more exotic pets” says Professor Peacock. “No one anticipated such animals when our quarantine laws were formulated, so we apply a definition that a fifth generation wild-domestic cross is legally a “domestic” animal and so escapes proper scrutiny”.

“Fourteen of these wild-cross cats are currently in quarantine on their way to Australia and have apparently passed all Federal requirements. We hope the Queensland Government will classify them Class 1 Pest Animals under State Legislation and ban them, but this sort of thing should be a Federal responsibility. An Adelaide breeder is advertising animals available in 2009”.

“This loophole will effectively lead to fitting a nuclear warhead to our already devastating feral cat population. So-called “Savannah cats” are more than double the size of domestic cats and can jump two metres from a standing start. Haven't our native animals got enough to contend with?”
The practice of hybridising wild and domestic animals deserves much more scrutiny itself. An American breeder describes the issue on her own website:

…it can be extremely difficult to accomplish the Serval to domestic cat breeding. Whether it be the Serval male to the domestic female (which is most often the case), or to attempt a female Serval to a domestic male ... because the Serval body type is so much longer and taller, this makes the pairing physically quite challenging. Add to that the differences in behavior between a wild cat and a domestic cat, and in some cases, too much aggression on the part of an intact adult Serval ...

“I think anyone that forced a mating of an African Serval and a domestic cat in Australia would find themselves in serious discussion with animal welfare authorities” said Professor Peacock. “It is certainly a practice we shouldn't condone by allowing people to import this new style of fashion animal. We need to update our quarantine rules to keep up with this exotic pet trend”.

The same loophole would allow a variety of hybrid cats and potentially wolf-dog hybrids if they pass disease regulations.

“The Quarantine and Biosecurity Review provides a great opportunity to point out anomalies that need attention. This issue has arisen from the practice of breeding new animals that did not exist when laws and regulations were framed.”

“Our native animals are at risk because of a fashionable desire to own an exotic pet. The impact on these vulnerable species will remain long after the fashion dies out” said Professor Peacock.
Fashion breeds of cat bred through mating wild cats:

"Bengal Cat" hybrid with Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis (SE Asia, 6.8 kg) (already in Australia)
"Savannah Cat" hybrid with Serval Leptailurus serval (Africa, 20 kg)
"Safari Cat" hybrid with Geoffroy's cat Leopardus geoffroyi (S. America, 4 kg)
"Chausie" hybrid with Jungle Cat Felis chaus (Asia, 16 kg)
"Serengeti cat" Bengal cat/ Asian Short-haired cat hybrid

See Big Cat Rescue's concerns:

Prof Tony Peacock
Invasive Animals CRC
Ph: 0402 036 110
University of Canberra, Canberra ACT 2601


If you find this information helpful, consider helping the cats.

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Posted: Mar 9, 2009 6:42pm
Mar 1, 2009

The  AdvoCat  Newsletter      
Big Cat Rescue     January 2009

In this issue:
  • Rescued a Liger
  • Keeper Walkabout
  • Sweet 16 Sandcat
  • Annual Report
  • Changes to Ink Recycling
  • Faces of Big Cat Rescue
  • Thank You eBay Sellers!
  • Valentine's Day Cards
  • Truck Stop Tiger Rescue

Greetings Friend of Big Cat Rescue!

I have just one new year's resolution:

A world where all wild cats live free.

We won't be able to achieve this in just one year, because cats born in captivity cannot go free, but like most of your new year's goals, you can only achieve them one day at a time.  Success comes to those who are willing to put forth that daily effort for a worthy goal.  Please join with us by adding the goal of all wild cats being able to live free to your new year's list.  Even if it is the only goal we ever achieve, think about what that would mean to the planet and mankind!

Carole Baskin, Founder

Rescued a Liger & 2 Tigers

Read about the recent rescue of a liger and two tigers.  It was exciting, start to finish and too many photos and details for this small space so check it out at the link below.

TEXT MESSAGE DONATIONS NOW AVAILABLE: Donations of $5 can now be made quickly easily by texting TIGER to 20222.  See bottom of page.

To help us care for them donations can be made online at

Keeper Walkabout

This is the second in a series of Keeper Walkabout notes about our staff and volunteers. As I walk about the sanctuary each day I often think how much our supporters would love to see what we see on a daily basis. It is so sad that these cats are in cages, but inspirational to see them make the best of it.

This is an effort to convey the daily life at Big Cat Rescue. Come with me and get a peek at the lives of 36 of our cool cats and 15 of our cool keepers:

Sweet 16 Kiss the Sandcat

Big Cat Rescue was founded sixteen years ago in 1992 and to celebrate our anniversary we are going to celebrate the sixteen species of wild cat that reside at the sanctuary. November honored Windsong the Bobcat who started Big Cat Rescue and December's cat was Hercules the Snow Leopard. This month you can "kiss" Canyon the Sandcat.

Annual Report

2008 was a wild ride. If you are new to Big Cat Rescue our Annual Report is a great way to get an overview of what we are doing to save wild cats in captivity and in the wild.  If you have been with us for some time, it is a grrrreat stroll down memory lane.

Changes to Ink Recycling Program

OcelotNew Big Cat recycle program in place - please discontinue using the USPS plastic bags - the cartridges will not arrive at the vendor.

Over 2500 supporters like you have participated in the bag program, generating over $1000/month, enough to care for two of our tigers for a year.

Our ink recycle program will continue, but with cartridge prices down and postal rates up, it is no longer economical for our vendor to accept ink cartridges via the postage paid small bags we have been using. However, they can economically receive ink jet cartridges via prepaid FedEx labels if they receive at least 15 cartridges at a time. They will supply prepaid FedEx labels that can be put on any box and have a phone number to call for a free FedEx pick up. An up-to-date list of cartridges they accept is found at:

If you are willing to help in this way by saving cartridges until you collect at least 15, please let Merrill know. We will have the vendor send three prepaid FedEx labels to your postal address.

We are hoping that the FedEx label program will continue the success we had with the USPS bags and appreciate your help in continuing the program if you can.

The vendor only accepts inkjet cartridges, not laser toners and cell phones. We hope to have a NEW program in place shortly for the return of both cell phones and large toner cartridges. Please be patient with us during this unanticipated transition!

If you are willing to help by using the FedEx labels, please include your postal address in your email back to to expedite getting your labels shipped to you.

Faces of Big Cat Rescue

See the faces of compassion at Big Cat Rescue.  We currently have 84 active volunteers and you can see them in this new slide show and meet them from links on the page below.  Thank you Julie Hanan for updating all of our photos and Jamie Veronica for creating the cool flash presentation.

THANK YOU eBay Community Sellers!

eBay has a non-profit component called eBay Giving Works. Through this, Big Cat Rescue and many other charities may use eBay to promote items for reduced fees.

CaracalBut another large purpose of eBay Giving Works is to allow other eBay sellers to choose a registered charity to automatically receive a portion of their eBay sales.

In 2008, Big Cat Rescue had 640 community sellers through the eBay Giving Works program. These sellers raised over 2,800 dollars for Big Cat Rescue by selling through eBay! We would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You and let our community sellers know how grateful we are for their donations.

If you are a community seller who provided address information through Mission Fish, you will receive a 2008 thank you note and tax receipt for the total we received from your efforts.

If you are not a Big Cat Rescue Community Seller through eBay but are interested in becoming one, it only takes five easy steps!

1. When selling an item on eBay, under the “Choose how you'd like to sell your item” tab there is an eBay Giving Works option.
2. If you are already a community seller for Big Cat Rescue, the icon will show up automatically. Otherwise click on “Or, select another nonprofit you love”.
3. In the “Nonprofit name or key word” search box, type in Big Cat Rescue.
4. When Big Cat Rescue shows up, hit the "Select" button.
5. You automatically return to your “Choose how you’d like to sell your item” tab with Big Cat Rescue selected. All you have to do choose the Donation percentage you want Big Cat Rescue to receive when your item sells!

eBay Giving Works also provides benefits for sellers who participate in the program – check out what you receive in return at

Thank you again to all of our community sellers who have chosen to include Big Cat Rescue in their nonprofit giving through eBay!

Valentine's Day Cards for FREE

Get the jump on Valentine's Day!  Set up your Big Cat Valentine Card to launch on Feb. 14 to all your sweeties.  1,900 cards to choose from that cover most of the holidays including Birthday, Mothers day, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, St . Patrick's day and Valentine's, Day.

It's free and it is virus free fun for everyone.
Tony the Truck Stop Tiger

Help us rescue Tony the truck stop tiger. He has spent 8 years confined to a small concrete cell next to the gas pumps at a busy truck stop in Louisiana.  The Wildlife and Fisheries Department tried to seize the tiger and send him to an accredited sanctuary, but the owner filed suit to stop them.

We had to pay $4,500. to rent the transport to bring Freckles, Alex and Cookie across country, but we can outfit our own rig for $5,000.  You can help enable all future rescues by donating to this trailer renovation:

Speak up for Tony the tiger and ask that he be sent to Big Cat Rescue.  See the video and find out how you can rescue Tony here:

phone: 813 920-4130 fax 920-5924

Text TIGER to 20222 to Donate $5 A one-time charge of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill. Standard messaging rates and additional fees may apply. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. US Subscribers only.            

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Posted: Mar 1, 2009 4:27pm


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Bobby Rose
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Tampa, FL, USA
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