TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Here’s a surprising fact: there are more captive tigers in the US than there are wild tigers in the world. Sadly, most of the estimated 5,000 caged tigers here are mostly roadside tourist attractions. But what happens when those cubs eventually grow into 700-pound tigers? Here is the story of one woman on a big cat rescue mission.
When rescuers saved Zeus 3 years ago… he was half starved and more than half blind.
Now he, and a crew of more than 80 other rescued cats, like Jade the leopard, never miss a meal or a treat.
“They all get balls of mush. A golf ball, tennis ball, racquet ball, softball, baseball. Bobcats will sometimes like get a baseball.” Said Bethany Krug, a volunteer at the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary.
Carole Baskin has plucked exotic cats from horrible homes since 1992. Her 70-acre big cat sanctuary serves as a permanent refuge and home for animals literally scarred by misguided owners who thought they could tame these wild animals.
Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa shared “They are the most magnificent species on the planet and yet they are being chained, and whipped and beaten and kicked, shocked with electrical prods.”
While rescuing big cats is her passion, Baskin also fights to ban “cub petting” where tiger owners sell pictures taken with tiger cubs used as props … until, that is, peril overtakes profits.
She explained “It produces over 200 cubs a year. Once they are 12 weeks old and can’t be used any longer they then get dumped into the private sector as pets. And of course lions and tigers are horrible pets. So about the time they reach 200 to 500 pounds these people can’t get rid of them fast enough.”
Baskin’s mission isn’t cheap. It costs about four million dollars a year. Much of that for the 500 pounds of raw meat gobbled up every day by these felines.
“My goal is to put myself out of business and my happiest day will be when every single one of these cages is empty.” Baskin told Ivanhoe.
Baskin does not receive government grants. All of the money is through private donations and from the tour profits of her facility in Tampa. It costs about 10,000 dollars a year to care for one lion or tiger.
Contributors to this news report include: Emily Maza Gleason, Producer; Chris Tilley, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.