Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, Tampa Florida, would like for you to believe that she began rescuing animals at her sanctuary in 1992. A USDA press release dated September 10, 1998, 6 years later, refers to her as an animal dealer with numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Baskin could not have been a rescue and an animal dealer at the same time, so let's look at what the USDA, the agency overseeing the care of her animals, had to say.
In other words, the place was a dirty trash strewn dump and the animals didn't even have clean water receptacles. And this was just one inspection. Baskin would like you to believe that this was all the fault of her husband, the missing millionaire Don Lewis, but although Don's name may have been on the USDA license, he had been missing for over a year at the time of this inspection.
So just what was Wildlife On Easy Street (now known as Big Cat Rescue) in 1992? An animal sanctuary rescuing abused and abandoned exotic cats as she claims? Or a substandard breeding facility composed of badly maintained cages run by an animal dealer who could not even provide the basic needs of her personal breeders and pets?
According to USDA acquisition forms, in the short time period between 1993 and 1995, there were at least 110 cats bought, sold, or born at Wildlife On Easy Street. Baskin herself admits in her early Safari Guide that she paid for all but a few of her 144 cats. Are we to believe that she bought these cats to rescue them? What about the ones she bought and then bred? Are they rescues too? Was Carole Baskin an animal dealer or an animal rescue?
Baskin now publicly admits that she used to be a breeder, all the while insisting that she began as a rescue. But nowhere does she describe the extent of of the buying and breeding of the cats or the fact that she portrays them all as being rescued from abuse or abandonment. Nowhere does she admit that horror stories such as those of Shere Khan and Shaquille were invented to pull at people's heart and purse strings.
Would Baskin's financial supporters be as eager to donate if they knew they've been lied to for 18 years? Would they believe that Baskin became a rescue in 1992 if they knew the extent of the buying, selling, breeding, and even declawing that went on there for years? Do these donors have a right to know the truth?
View the 1995 articles of incorporation showing that the Lewises incorporated for the purpose of breeding. Carole Basking can't truthfully claim to have been a "sanctuary" in 1992 when her facility was incorporated for the purpose of breeding exotic cats in 1995.