Most people probably think of Big Cat Rescue (BCR) as an organization dedicated to rescuing any "abused and abandoned" big cat in need. What if we said that's not true? What if we said that the CEO of BCR selectively "rescues" a cat she can get the most publicity and money out of? Would you still consider them a legitimate rescue?
Below are copies of actual emails going back and forth between the CEO of Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin (Easystwild), her Educational Director (herein noted as E.D.), and a crew member for the Jack Hanna Show (Rick Prebeg). It's interesting to note at this period of time, Carole Baskin was claiming to turn down 300 cats a year, but when the Jack Hanna Show wanted to film Carole actually rescuing a cat she had to ask her E.D. to find her a cat to rescue; and she was very specific about what cat she would or would not be interested in.
Carole Baskin was talking about putting together a 'free' tour consisting of a particular group of people to be at BCR when the phony rescue was filmed. She was willing to exploit the mentally handicapped, kids at risk, and elderly people all to gain notoriety.
For those of you who are still new here, Wildlife on Easy Street (WOES) is what Big Cat Rescue used to be called before Carole decided to convert her private collection of pets to "rescues" and charge people to see and support them. Why did Carole have to find a substandard facility that had a cat she could rescue when she claimed to turn down hundreds a year? She wanted a cat with a sad story because it would play out well on national tv. It's funny that she says the national exposure would enable her to do more rescues because up until that point, Carole's 'rescues' consisted mostly of cubs she purchased from fur farms, auctions, and private breeders or owners. These cats were then sold, bred, or made pets of and exhibited to paying visitors as rescues.
I guess the mentally handicapped folks were too busy? Sumner Matthes worked for In Defense of Animals and it was he who Carole asked her E.D. to contact to find a cat to rescue. Is seems as though Carole was trying to take control of the show to make it more about what she does, which is exploit her declawed cubs to sleep with her cabin guests. People were getting bitten by Carole's cats so she had to put an end to the sleepovers.
Big Cat Rescue has many tours day in and night out to make as much money as they possibly can. Carole had no problem exploiting her cats any way she could even if it meant putting the public in danger such as being able to hand feed an 800-pound lion. The "Barbary Lion" was actually owned by Susan Aronoff, one of the supposed witnesses to Don Lewis' will and power of attorney who later admitted to detectives that she never saw Carole's missing husband sign either one.
Is there any proof that Carole was giving any part of her BCR income to help conservation efforts in the countries she listed? We do know that before Carole's second husband disappeared in 1997 (after being denied an order of protection) he wanted to move their breeding operation out of the country and had bought property in Costa Rica for this purpose.
"Might have to "rescue"? Carole didn't have to rescue anything, since she had her E.D. ask Sumner Matthes if he knew of a cat that needed "rescuing". Even Rick knew this wasn't a legitimate rescue because he put the word rescue in parenthesis. Guess we can forget about the "crisis in Kansas" Carole previously mentioned as she now had to rescue a cat close to Tampa. Again, why would Carole have to "find" a "good" rescue when she was supposedly turning down hundreds a year?
Carole didn't want 7 tigers all at once, in fact, she didn't want a tiger at all unless it was a declawed female, as you will read in an email further down the page. Ringling Brothers paid Carole to board their 7 tigers and also paid for their cages to be built. For years Big Cat Rescue has claimed to be a sanctuary but true sanctuaries do not subject their cats to any form of commercial activity, so why would Carole want her E.D. to take a cat to Sam's Club in the year 2000?
Again, they had to confer with Sumner Matthes, of In Defense of Animals, to see what cats were in need of a home even though Carole claimed to turn down hundreds of unwanted cats. If Sumner had lions, tigers, and bobcats needing homes, why had Carole not rescued some of them before Jack Hanna came into the picture? Could it be because it wasn't about rescuing cats at all, but about publicity and notoriety? Could it be because Carole preferred cute kittens that she could declaw and raise in her house as pets and later charge people to pet them and feed them by hand? The E.D. goes on to list a number of upcoming events including a cat show in Jacksonville which BCR participated in.....more commercial activity.
In this email Carole is specifying the type of cat she wants to "rescue". She wasn't looking to rescue an abused or abandoned cat that was in dire need of a home. She wanted a female cat that was declawed (to be safely handled), one that she could "get enough mileage out of." Does that sound like someone who is interested in saving cats or does it sound like someone interested only in publicity, notoriety, and money? Is BCR truly about rescuing cats or is it about Carole's fame and fortune? Did Carole begin rescuing cats in 1993 as she claims, or only after being exposed years later? Did Carole lie about having to turn down hundreds of cats that needed to be rescued every year? If not, where were all of those cats when a film crew was coming?
We believe Carole settled on the two four year old cougars from S.C. to "rescue". They were just what she wanted, young and already declawed. Carole actually hoped to find one smaller cat to rescue (less to feed) but could only find 9 cougars out of the hundreds of cats she claimed to turn down. Why did Carole pick and choose the 2 she thought she could "get the most mileage from" instead of rescuing all 9 that needed a home?
Paperwork shows that the cougars named Sugar and Shadow, acquired from Deepwoods Exotics, were sold in 1995. We're told they were returned to BCR in 1998 when the owner became ill. Is it ethical to buy and sell cats when you are claiming to be a rescue or sanctuary?
Scott Lope, Carole's right-hand man, was conducting a photo-shoot. More commercial activity. It was all about exploitation and money. Money is what drove Carole Lewis Baskin, not rescue.