26 USDA Violations & Endless Exploitation
Carole Baskin, CEO and Founder of Big Cat Rescue, wants you to believe that she began rescuing cats and providing them a better home in 1992. Lets look at excerpts from stories run by The St. Pete Times in 1998, 6 years after she claims she became a sanctuary, to discover whether or not there is truth behind her claim.
Below is a snippet from a St. Pete Times article published on September 11, 1998 (a year after Don Lewis' disappearance).
If Carole truly did become a sanctuary/rescue in 1992 as she claims, it sounds like the animals would have been better off left where they were. We were told that there were actually very few legit rescues because Carole was anxious to take any cat she could use for breeding. Here are excerpts from another article printed in the St. Pete Times.
Numerous injuries and escapes did occur at Baskin's so-called rescue.
So who do we believe? Carole Baskin who claims that she became a sanctuary in 1992 to rescue animals or the regional director for the World Society for the Protection of Animals who in 1998 said Baskin was little more than a backyard breeder exploiting animals and offering bobcat and cougar kittens for sale as pets?
Baskin also ran a tour business which featured cabins that could be rented for overnight stays with a cougar, bobcat, or serval in your bed. She used cubs that she bought or bred for this purpose and had them declawed for the safety of her guests.
In a 2001 LlOC (now FCF) newsletter Carole wrote:
Watch this DatelineTV report on Baskin's bed and breakfast to see Baskin's exploitation of cubs she bred and declawed for this income opportunity. Listen to the end of this video for confirmation that Baskin was in violation of the Animal Welfare Act and cited for improper care of her animals, a charge which she naturally denies.
After several cabin guests were bitten, Baskin decided it would be safer to exhibit her private collection of retired breeders and pets as "rescues". True sanctuaries in every sense of the word do not exhibit their animals for money, but Big Cat Rescue is not a true sanctuary. It is a highly advertised major tourist attraction masquerading as a sanctuary with well over 25,000 visitors a year.
Last year (2014) Baskin raked in close to $3.5-million dollars and had over $1-million in surplus. On December 19, 2011 a Tampa Bay radio station (DOVE 105.5) was running one of Big Cat Rescue's advertisements, asking people to visit their facility to see "over 100 rescued big cats".
Keep in mind that cats bought at fur farms and auctions to be re-sold or bred for income are not rescues, nor are the cats Carole was paid to take in or board. So where exactly are these "over 100 rescued big cats?"
2014 Big Cat Rescue Issued a Warning:
2014 FWC Division of Law Enforcement Unannounced Inspection:
Original Inspection Report
2010-2011 USDA Inspections:
2016 Cougar Bite Report: