Thursday, November 17, 2016

by, J.E. Rogers 

Last month, I visited my sister who lives in the Tampa, Florida area. I was searching for different sites that I hadn’t seen and came across Big Cat Rescue (BCR). BCR is an organization that I have been following for years on FB, and I hadn’t realized that they were located in Tampa. There was no question that I would have to visit their sanctuary. The sanctuary is located outside the city of Tampa, on Easy Street. Easy Street is a perfect name for the sanctuary since many of the big cats who live here are finally, literally and figuratively on ‘Easy Street’ compared to where they were.


So while I was there, I spoke with someone and asked if I could have the opportunity to interview them. They agreed, and this post is all about BCR. I spoke with Sue Bass, the Director of Public Relations and she generously offered information about Big Cat Rescue’s mission.

BCR has been rescuing exotic cats since 1992. It is a non-profit 501 c 3 sanctuary and is home to approximately eighty cats representing about ten different species. I saw a number of different species while there. I saw tigers, lions, leopards, cougars, bobcats, lynx, servals, and others.


I asked Sue how these cats come to BCR and she indicated that they arrive in different ways. Some come from businesses that have lost their license to have them or have been seized by the authorities. Some are retired performers. Other young cats were saved after their mothers were hunted and killed. Still, others are rescued from abusive owners – starved, abandoned, and people who could no longer care for them.

Sue explained how the sanctuary differs from a zoo. It might seem obvious, but there are surprising differences. First of all, zoos are for profit, and the BCR is non-profit. Zoos will allow people to walk through without supervision. At BCR you will receive a guided tour and your tour guide will provide you with information that you would not otherwise receive at a zoo. Unlike zoos, the number of people going through BCR at any one time is regulated. One thing that surprised me, and I never thought about this, is that animals in zoos are on display and then at night, in many cases, they are moved into tiny holding houses or cages for the evening. Cats are nocturnal, and therefore like to roam at night. The sanctuary does not put cats in a holding cage at night. The cats at BCR are kept in large fenced in areas in which they live 24/7. They are given a natural habitat to live in and are provided with ‘homes’ or dens in which they can come and go as they please.


So what is BCR currently doing to help bring focus to Big Cats? The answer: A LOT! There is currently a bill submitted to Congress, The Big Cat and Public Safety Act.

“This bill called the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act is the most important piece of legislation to ever be introduced to protect lions, tigers, and other exotic wild cats from being kept as pets and in miserable roadside zoos.” Big Cat Rescue

It also seeks to end backyard breeding and the abuse which accompanies the ownership of big cats by roadside zoos.



You can help support the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, by calling your congressman and asking him/her to back this bill, so it becomes law. It will be reintroduced to the new Congress and everyone’s call to their congressman will go a long way to bringing attention to this issue and getting this bill passed. It’s amazing how difficult it is to get a bill of this kind passed. You wouldn’t believe that legislators stand in the way of getting it passed. They believe it would have an effect on jobs. The bill aims to stop private ownership and breeding of big cats, as well as put an end to roadside zoos.

Amazon Smile charities will allow you to support the cats at BCR at no cost to you. Once you sign up, a portion of your purchases on Amazon will go directly to BCR. If you prefer, you can go directly to the BCR site and donate directly. Your donation is tax deductible, and the cats will appreciate it.

You can shop also support BCR by visiting and purchasing in their online store.

And most importantly, do NOT support petting zoos where the allure of petting wild cat cubs is used to attract you. Don’t pay to have your photograph taken with a big cat. By doing participating, you support them, and as long as they make a profit, they will continue.


There is so much more information on the BCR web site. More than I can cover in the week’s post. Take time to explore their site. I can’t cover everything that BCR offers regarding their care of big cats and their efforts to educate and inform the public. I urge you to peruse their website, ( There is a live cam, and you’ll be able to see what’s happening from moment to moment.

And if you happen to be in the Tampa area, take some time to visit the big cats. My trip and tour of the sanctuary was enlightening and unforgettable. I know that BCR does so much to help big cats, and I also know that they will, with your help, continue to do so.


My sincere thanks to Sue Bass for taking the time out of her busy day to speak with me and for the photos. It was truly appreciated.

Before you go, here’s a video from BCR that I know you’ll enjoy.

If you have enjoyed the post, please share. It means so much to the Big Cats, and to me. Thanks so much.


Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza, The Gift of Sunderland and
One Hot Mess, A Child’s Environmental Fable
Where Endangered Animals Heroes Roam the Pages!

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