Sunday, March 21, 2010

Big Cat Rescue, Tampa, FL

While in Tampa, Roy and I visited Big Cat Rescue, a sanctuary for exotic cats.
It was very educational!

The sanctuary habitats aren't as extensive as a well funded zoo, but the animals appear healthy and content. I found the cages to be interesting in that within each animal's habitat there would be additional fencing that created rooms. It seemed like it would provide more stimulation for the animal than just walking the perimeter of one round cage. It was explained to us that the circular structures can withstand trees falling on them during storms better than straight fences. I believe they said the fences were designed to withstand a category 4 hurricane.

This holding pen is open to the main habitat. The cat's water is kept there so it is comfortable entering the pen. I assume the cat may be kept in the smaller pen during the cleaning of the larger area.

The tiger's den is made of cinder blocks and steel mesh covered with cement. Here's another example of the intertwining cages.

You can see the tiger in his cement pond in the background. It is within the cage, but has a nice view of the large lake outside the cage.

Here is the tiger pond minus the tiger.

This was a sad display. The brown wire cage to the right contains the legally "humane" floor space to contain two tigers. The exact measurements weren't stated, but it basically would give them just enough room to lay down and walk around in a tight circle. The cage to the left is an example of what would be provided for a person based on average human weight to area ratio comparable to the tiger's cage. The wire squares are 4" so I estimated the human's cage to be 3 feet x 5 1/2 feet. Imagine living in that limited space for the 20 year lifespan of a tiger!

The conclusion I came to after the tour was that while the sanctuary provides a better life for the animals they are able to rescue, it doesn't solve the ongoing problem. The biggest change must come about through political advocacy. Big Cat Rescue is active in changing the laws that effect the lives of exotic cats. Go to their website on our list of links to see how you can help!

Here is a link to a cute a UTube video Big Cat Rescue made of different exotic cats sounds: Big Cat Rescue Video
Full screen the video, turn up the volume, and let it download fully before playing!
You'll love it!