In Photos: Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Tampa, Florida
Big Cat Rescue is a privately owned cat sanctuary, taking in unwanted pets or mistreated circus animals. It seems a surprising number of people decide to get a pet tiger or lion, then less surprisingly realise it’s not that easy to care for.
Many of the animals are brought in by the owners. The less fortunate animals are pretty much left to die in backyards or even cages, until the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary is called in, often by a concerned neighbour.
Many of those domesticated animals have had claws or even teeth removed so they don’t harm their inexperienced yet wary owners.
The whole sanctuary is run by volunteers, one of whom showed us round. They’re all very passionate, which leads to a lot of depressing stories of ill-treated cats.
Seeing a black panther in the bright Florida sunlight I was interested to learn they’re actually spotted, just like a leopard or cheetah, but the brown spots on black fur are barely visible most of the time.
The guides apparent favourite animals was a huge white liger, which spent most of the time we were there playing with a heavy rubber ball.
One of the last cages we walked past housed a tiger that was taking a poo. One group of Americans were weirdly offended that an animal might want to relieve itself, saying “Oh don’t look kids, that’s disgusting – that shouldn’t be allowed”. I’m guessing they don’t having animals at home.
Whilst walking back to the main building we passed by the owner. It seems she’s very hands on, which is refreshing – she was up a ladder repairing a wire when we saw her.
They’ve got a website at http://bigcatrescue.org with daily updates and videos. That’s also where to reserve a place on the tour. It was $29/person when we went, but seems to have gone up to $36 since then.