How Did Big Cat Rescue Get Started? -VR 180 3D

Hi! Welcome to Big Cat Rescue. I’m Howard Baskin, and I handle our administrative matters. And I’m Carol Baskin, the founder and CEO. And how about you come take a walk with us around the sanctuary? Big Cat Rescue started on November 4th, 1992. We were at an exotic animal auction, buying llamas to turn loose on big tracts of land to clear it, and this guy comes in with a bobcat who was just terrified. And I had done Bobcat rehab and released since I was 17 years old, I had never seen anybody try to make a bobcat into a pet. And the guy next to me started bidding on her, and so, I leaned over to him and I said, “When that cat grows up, she is gonna tear your face off.” And he said, “I’m a taxidermist. I’m just gonna club her in the head, in the parking lot, and make a den decoration out of her. Well, there was no way that that was gonna happen to that cat, and so, we brought her home that day. And, of course, as soon as she grew up, she was a horrible pet, as to be expected. She was terrorizing our German Shepherd. Terrorizing my daughter, and so, we decided this cat needed somebody of her own kind that would be tolerable of her energy and her ferocity. And so, we started calling around. And this guy said, “I’ll sell you a kitten, but you have to come up here in person.” So, we drove up to Minnesota and, when we got there, it turned out to be a fur farm. So, I asked the guy, “Was there this big of a market for these cats as pets?” And he said, “Oh, no, whatever we can’t sell this year, we’ll slaughter next year for their fur.” And so, we said, “How much for every cat here?” And came home with 56 Bobcats, Canada Lynx, and Siberian Lynx. And that was in 1993. That led to the rescue of 28 more off the fur farm the next year, and 22 off another fur farm the next year. And, then, people started calling and saying, “Hey, would you take my lion? Would you take my tiger?” And so, as they say, “If you build it, they will come.” And they were coming from everywhere. In the beginning, we didn’t know who to reach out to for advice. The zoos wouldn’t talk to us because we were part of “that horrible private sector” And we didn’t know how horrible that was, so the only people we could turn to for advice on how to build cages or how to care for these animals were the breeders and dealers. But, what we learned, once the internet came along, and we started going to trade shows for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, is that none of these cats can ever go free, and none of them serve any kind of conservation value. Big Cat Rescue’s mission is to put ourselves out of business. There shouldn’t be a need for a place that rescues exotic cats from horrible situations that people have put them in. What we mean when we say we want to put ourselves out of business is simply “to end having big cats in captivity as pets and at roadside zoos” so there are no cats being mistreated and therefore, no cats needing to be rescued by sanctuaries. Big Cat Rescue would, then, become a foundation supporting conservation of big cats in the wild, where they belong. What we are doing to make that happen is putting enormous time, energy, and money into what we call ‘advocacy.’ One critical element of that is the “Big Cat Public Safety Act,” a federal bill that would put an end to having big cats as pets, and to the cub petting and photo ops trade that drive so much of the excess breeding. Another major part of that effort is educating the public not to patronize cub petting exhibitors and roadside zoos, and educating venues not to allow traveling exhibits of big cats. Thank you for visiting the sanctuary with us, today, and learning about what we do. To learn more about ways that you can help, go to our website at [Music] -EDITED-ACP-DQ

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