Formerly known as Wildlife On Easy Street, Big Cat Rescue began as a bed and breakfast that offered tourists the chance to sleep with exotic cats in rented out cabins. Now operating under the guise of a sanctuary, the roadside zoo continues to exploit their animals through various commercial activities.
July 4, 2019 - Another serval was found with a broken leg. Similar to a previous incident, Big Cat Rescue doesn't know how the injury occurred.
October 8, 2017 - A 17-year old female tiger almost drowns in a pond while horrified volunteers watch. The tiger's mate, a male lion, had to be sedated in order to try saving the drowning tiger.
August 4, 2017 - During a Facebook livestream, the President of Big Cat Rescue was filmed using some sort of stick to prod at a 4-month old bobcat kitten.
November 17, 2016 - During a Facebook live stream one of Big Cat Rescue's workers tried forcing a tiger out of a transport cage by poking at it using a prod of some kind. The camera would occasionally pan away from the tiger each time the worker had the prod in hand. The tiger could be heard clearly displaying its anger off camera, but some of the prodding was caught on video. Many worried fans of Big Cat Rescue commented their disapproval and suggested to leave the tiger in the transport cage until it was ready to get out on its own.
September 9, 2016 - A serval was found with a broken leg inside its cage. Big Cat Rescue claims to not know what caused the injury. While undergoing medical treatment, staff members began creating paw paintings using the legs of the serval that weren't broken.
August 15, 2016 - Big Cat Rescue orchestrated a call-to-action on a restaurant called the Paramount Grill after learning they might allow their patrons to pet kittens to raise money to help in the transport of a rescued rhino. According to the Gainesville Sun, some of Big Cat Rescue's supporters ended up threatening the restaurant owner and his employees by sending death threats and bomb threats.
July 15, 2016 - Big Cat Rescue offers a new program called "Volunteer Vacations" where tourists can pay thousands of dollars to "volunteer" for a week. In the page detailing the program, Big Cat Rescue says, "You absolutely cannot touch the cats, unless it just so happens that one is sedated for medical procedures that particular week."
February 23, 2016 - A volunteer is possibly bitten by a cougar. One of Big Cat Rescue's volunteers originally reported that she had been bitten by a cougar, but later changed her story claiming that she was injured by a sharp point on the enclosure housing the cougar.
May 19, 2015 - A bobcat kitten dies due to feline distemper. Big Cat Rescue allowed a nursing domesticated cat to feed the bobcat alongside its own kittens. All of the domesticated cats were apparently put at serious risk due to the baby bobcat not being tested for viruses prior to allowing it to be nursed.
December 6, 2014 - Big Cat Rescue admits that they were declawing their cats until 2005. They try blaming their actions on "breeders and dealers" even though Carole Baskin wrote a book explaining how she would never declaw a domesticated cat, but recommends declawing exotic cats. In her book she goes on to say, "The reasons for declawing are endless and the excuses for not doing so are not justified."
Cat Care Book
December 5, 2014 - A sandcat (a species that ways between 3-8 pounds) choked to death on a chicken neck. Volunteers were forced to watch the cat slowly die as they waited on Carole Baskin and her daughter to arrive on scene. On their website, Big Cat Rescue says, "Our policies don’t allow anyone to rush in with Canyon without Jamie or Carole present, because no one would have known that he was choking, rather than having a seizure, until they had their fingers in his mouth."
November 17, 2014 - The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement conducts an unannounced inspection of Big Cat Rescue and finds more than 70 discrepancies such as failing to maintain rusty enclosures, filthy water bowls for the cats, and improper record keeping.
Below are some of discrepancies noted in the report:
October 2, 2014 - Big Cat Rescue is issued a warning from the Florida Fish & Wildlife for housing leopards in an open top enclosure. There is evidence that Big Cat Rescue housed multiple leopards in an open top enclosure on numerous occasions despite being aware of the law against it.
2014 - It was discovered that Big Cat Rescue had an ad on their website detailing how they will pay people to leave comments on articles. Shortly after numerous people discovered the ad, Big Cat Rescue removed it.
September 30, 2011 - Mike Deeson of 10 News conducts an investigation into Big Cat Rescue.
March 15, 2011 - ABC Action News investigates Big Cat Rescue's controversial practice of feeding live domesticated rabbits to their bobcats. Rabbit rescue groups urged Big Cat Rescue to find an alternative practice since domesticated rabbits don't behave like the rabbits found in the wild.
2010 - Howard Baskin allegedly paid to pet and have his photo taken with a tiger cub at Dade City's Wild Things. A critic was added to Big Cat Rescue's animal abuse website after visiting the same facility. Does that mean Howard Baskin is an animal abuser?
March 16, 2006 - With the testimony from former volunteers, Bay News 9 conducts an investigation into the dishonest fundraising practices of Big Cat Rescue.
2006 - There were emergency instructions for staff members printed on the Big Cat Rescue's website. Under the heading for what to do if a tour group member is bitten by a cat, the last instructions say; "have person sign release form and give them compensation, to make it legal. This must be done immediately before outside influences encourage them to sue."
January 21, 1999 - A volunteer is bitten by an ocelot while walking by a cage and filed a lawsuit. The volunteer claimed that Wildlife On Easy Street (Big Cat Rescue) failed to properly train, manage, and supervise volunteers.
1998 - A cougar named Fleetwood almost dies due to eating a harness Carole Baskin had purposefully left on it. The cougar's intestines were laced and permeated with purple nylon and ruptured where the harness buckle burst through the intestinal wall, causing massive internal bleeding.
1998 - Dateline releases a video featuring a bed & breakfast where tourists can rent a cabin to sleep with an exotic cat. The exploitative roadside attraction was run by Wildlife On Easy Street (Big Cat Rescue).
September 15, 1998 - A woman named Leah Dixon required hospital treatment after being attacked by a cougar which nearly scalped her. By this time, Carole had learned to have victims sign a release. We have a copy of the release signed by Leah Dixon.
September 10, 1998 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture charged Carole Lewis, doing business as Wildlife on Easy Street, with violations of the Animal Welfare Act. APHIS inspectors found that Carole failed to:
September 2, 1998 - A volunteer needed 451 stitches after being mauled by a leopard. The attack resulted in the leopard removing the volunteer's skin from her elbow to her wrist.
December 3, 1997 - A man is "severely bitten on his left forearm” by a South American cougar and files a lawsuit.
1996 - The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) hired British veterinarian John Gripper to visit 21 facilities in Florida for their investigative report. One of the places he visited was Wildlife On Easy Street (Big Cat Rescue). The WSPA report claimed that most of the cats at Wildlife On Easy Street were kept 'in barren cages without any environmental enrichment'.
August 1996 - Two cougars escaped from their cages at Wildlife On Easy Street. According to Tampa Bay Times, one of the escaped cougars was caught within an hour while the second cougar was captured more than 12 hours later outside of the perimeter fence surrounding the roadside zoo
June 5, 1996 - In a letter praising some sort of ointment, Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, details the many human and animal injuries that have occurred at her facility. One incident is written as follows, "A 200 pound Leopard leaped 24 feet and was caught in midair by my husband, Don Lewis. The cat was smiling and had his mouth wide open as he flew through the air. As he landed, his top canine tooth caught on Don's neck. The weight and impact caused the tooth to slice deeply across my husband's throat. The gash was so bad that we thought surely his head would fall off, but Don, typical to his nature, refused to see a Doctor."
August 1994 - Two leopards are seized due to improper permits.
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