Is Big Cat Rescue as Bad as the Zoos in Tiger King?

EVERYONE has been asking my thoughts on Tiger King. I’m a wildlife biologist with 17 years of experience and a long personal history of doing research on animals in captivity. In fact, because it’s currently spring break, I’ve already been blogging a lot about animal selfies, elephant rides, and sham sanctuaries (although this year no one is going because of COVID-19).

Tiger King is a docuseries on Netflix that explores the true crime story between two enemies: animal park owner “Joe Exotic” (Joseph Maldonado-Passage) and big cat sanctuary founder Carole Baskin. The premise is that Baskin wants to make it illegal for the private ownership and breeding of big cats, which therefore threatens Joe Exotic’s entire livelihood.

Tiger at Big Cat Rescue
Tiger at Big Cat Rescue. Posted with permission.

The series focuses on the true crime story between the main characters, but set in the context of private zoos and sanctuaries. The film does not take a clear side on the facilities in Tiger King. Both parties present both arguments against each other and it’s up to you to decide.

However, people featured in the film lie (in fact in the Wondery Podcast, Rick Kirkham said Joe lied even about having cancer), making it difficult for you to get an accurate understanding of what’s really going on. They throw around the word conservation without ever really explaining how their zoos or sanctuaries contribute to conservation of these big cats in the wild.

I’m here to help you all navigate this. I’ve organized my professional opinions on the facilities featured on the Netflix show Tiger King and listening to Wondery’s podcast Joe Exotic. I’ve been working in the field of animal conservation since 2013 and worked at a zoo (Disney’s Animal Kingdom) and an AZA accredited museum (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences). My Ph.D. focused on animal behavior and conservation genetics.

I’ve evaluated the facilities based on their contributions to conservation, education, and their animal welfare standards. I have not been to these facilities. My opinions are based on what I’ve seen from the documentary and the reporting from the podcast. Please read my blog post on zoos to understand the real ways that zoos contribute to conservation and education.

This is not about Carole Baskin. It is only based on what I think of the sanctuary based on the documentary, podcast, and doing some online research. My intention is to provide people with information so they can critically think through if the zoos or sanctuaries they visit are ethical.

First up, Big Cat Rescue…

Big Cat Rescue (Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Sanctuary)

This is only about Big Cat Rescue. I am focusing on Big Cat Rescue in terms of their contributions to conservation, education, and animal welfare standards.

Is Carole Baskin a Hypocrite?

Probably the question I get most frequently asked about Carole’s facility, the Big Cat Rescue, is: Is Big Cat Rescue just as bad as the zoos featured? Isn’t Carole doing the same thing?

In fact, in episode two, Rick Kirkham says “Carole is just as bad as Joe. They were both taking advantage of animals to make money.”

Let me address this very clearly: No!!!!!!!!! Definitely not.

Tiger at Big Cat Rescue
Tigers at Big Cat Rescue. Posted with permission.

The Big Cat Rescue is a million times better than the zoos featured in the program (check out my review of Joe Exotic’s Zoo and Myrtle Beach Safari. The biggest difference is as the documentary mentioned, the breeding of big cats. Just because an animal is an endangered species, does not mean that breeding it will help its conservation in the wild.

There are currently more captive tigers in the US than there are in the wild. These cats will never be released to the wild and AZA accredited zoos maintain genetically viable captive bred tigers, making any of these other breeding efforts unnecessary. You can read the full explanation in this post and recently another scientist wrote about this here.

Carole USED to be as bad as these zoo owners in the documentary. She USED to breed some species of exotic cats, but then she stopped. I am sure that some of her cats may be ones that she bred from her past, which is why this is confusing. As long as she doesn’t breed and advocates for the stopping of breeding, this is so much better than zoos that breed constantly.

However, the fact that she is no longer breeding and now taking in cats from other places such as roadside zoos, private individuals, and circuses, makes her better. She is also working to change laws to make big cat breeding for private individuals illegal, which would solve the problem of all of these big cats needing places to go.

Sanctuaries exist because people cannot take care of these animals for one reason or another. For example, where are you going to put a tiger found in a New York City apartment? Lots of zoos won’t take animals hand-raised by humans.

People get tiger cubs as pets, they grow up, then they can’t handle them anymore. This is why sanctuaries are needed.

Carole says in one clip that she thinks that big cats do not belong in big cages – this means that she should want her sanctuary to end if she gets her way with legislation. Theoretically, she should want to end her own sanctuary.

Tiger at Big Cat Rescue
If Carole wanted to profit off of Big Cat Rescue, she would not be advocating for legislation to stop big cat breeding. This is not a photo from Big Cat Rescue. Person taking a photo of a tiger at Big Cat Rescue. Posted with permission.

Is Carole Using Big Cat Rescue to Become Rich?

In the documentary, Doc Antle says that “Carole wants to be the last man standing – it can be only her.” But Carole works with PETA and PETA is ultimately against animals in captivity. Because PETA understands that Big Cat Rescue is a non-profit sanctuary and against big cat breeding, that is why they support her; they know she is trying to stop that practice.

It doesn’t make sense for PETA to support her and for Carole to support legislation that would end big cat breeding if she were in it as a business to exploit big cats. It also doesn’t make sense for Carole to be aggressively trying to stop the breeding of big cats. Ultimately, that is where cats at the sanctuary come from.

Carole makes a little over $60,000 a year. The sanctuary is a non-profit and you can look up all of the financial information (like salaries) on the IRS forms found here. It doesn’t make sense for her to use the sanctuary to get rich because she already had millions from her real estate business and she is actively working on legislation to end big cat breeding. If that were to take into effect, there would be fewer and eventually no big cats to rescue, and her facility would eventually close down.

Update: I just finished the Wondery podcast (released today) and they included a clip of Carole saying that that is exactly what she wants – for no big cat to ever be in a cage and for her place to eventually shut down.

Now let’s talk about conservation, education, and animal welfare at Big Cat Rescue…

Conservation at Big Cat Rescue

Everyone in Tiger King threw around the word conservation. Conservation describes research and actions to try to save the species in the wild. Yet, as we saw from the documentary, there was not much tangible discussion about tigers or other animals in the wild. Really, it was only mentioned at the end of the documentary.

In an interview with the directors, Goode said “…There was a lack of intellectual curiosity to really go and understand or even see these animals in the wild. Certainly, Carole really had no interest in seeing an animal in the wild…. The lack of education, frankly, was really interesting — how they had built their own little utopias and really were only interested in that world and the rules they had created.”

Tiger from Tadoba National Park
Does the money from Big Cat Rescue benefit tigers like this one in the wild?

That may be true, but I personally think Carole’s focus was on stopping the breeding/cub-petting in the United States, which is not a conservation issue, but an animal welfare one. In fact, she said in the Netflix Tiger King series that she believes you can do one thing in life and your focus should be on one thing. Stopping big cat breeding was her one thing and I think she didn’t want to spread her energy thin working on too many things.

Update: Carole Baskin herself contacted me about this post and shared with me that the reason she wasn’t as interested in a safari to see the big cats in the wild is because she was worried it would make her job at the sanctuary harder. She feared she would constantly think about how unfair it is to all of the cats living in cages that they can’t be released to the wild.

That being said, Big Cat Rescue does do conservation work, even if Carole personally expressed no interest in going to see the animals in the wild. I care about conserving polar bears even though I’ve never been to the Arctic (although I would love to go).

Sanctuaries don’t necessarily do conservation work. They give forever homes to animals from abusive or neglected backgrounds, which does not contribute to conservation in the wild. However, some sanctuaries do support conservation work either indirectly or directly.

It looks like BCR donates tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to conservation organizations. Some of the amounts they disclosed on this page, while others they did not. They do however report exact numbers in their annual reports. In 2019, they donated $136,600 USD to cats conservation in their native range.

These conservation organizations conduct research on cats in the wild as well as provide support to reduce their threats such as anti-poaching efforts. I am familiar with some of the organizations listed and they are legit and do great conservation work.

In addition to funding conservation projects, they do take in and rehabilitate bobcats and release them back into the wild. Although this is definitely a nice thing to do, it won’t help conservation.

Bobcats are amazing, but they are a species of least concern; they are not threatened or endangered. It’s analogous to rehabilitating squirrels or raccoons (which again, is a very nice thing to do). Also, unless these animals are tracked after release, we don’t know if they survive. It’s possible Big Cat Rescue could be spending hundreds to thousands of dollars rehabilitating bobcats that even after their injuries heal, do not survive in the wild.

Big Cat Rescue releasing a rehabilitated bobcat back into the wild of Florida.

One of the ways that sanctuary animals can help out the conservation of their wild counterparts is by acting as “ambassador animals.” When the public sees animals at Big Cat Rescue, they may be more inspired to donate to organizations that research and conserve these animals in the wild.
In 2019, Big Cat Rescue had 10 tigers and 1 lion. Would this $110,000 be better spent on conserving tigers and lions in the wild?

Given that feeding sanctuary animals costs a lot of money, some people argue that spending money on conservation efforts might be a better use of money. For example, rather than have 20 tigers alive as ambassador animals ($200,000 a year to feed), you could have five ($50,000 a year), but still try to raise as much money as you would to feed the 20. This would mean people would have to euthanize otherwise healthy captive exotic animals, which of course is really sad.

Big Cat Rescue also receives a significant amount of money from grants. Grants are not easy to get and require you to thoroughly explain what you are spending your money on, how it will help conservation, education or animal welfare. This increases their credibility as a non-profit.

Education at Big Cat Rescue

According to Big Cat Rescue’s 2019 annual report, staff visited 27 schools to talk about the animals at Big Cat Rescue, their mission, cub petting, and how people can help conserve the animals in the wild. They also have some virtual platforms for teachers. As you saw in the documentary, they obviously have tens of thousands of visitors a year, and I assume they offer educational information on these tours (although I can’t say 100% for sure).

It seems like most of their education is focused on big cats in captivity (and not necessarily conservation or science), but again, I don’t know. They do not seem to have educational information on the species of animals they have at their sanctuary on their website, but they do have profiles of the animals and where they came from.

Animal Welfare at Big Cat Rescue

Aren’t the Cages Small?

This is the second biggest misconception about Big Cat Rescue. In one of the scenes featuring Joe Exotic’s Internet show, he accused Carole of having small cages. He holds out his hand and says something like look at this. “That mountain lion is sticking its head through a hole in the fence to drink water.” It was actually a lynx or a bobcat though – not a mountain lion.

Yes, it was sticking its head in a small hole, but THIS IS NOT THE WHOLE ENCLOSURE! Sorry for yelling.

These small “cages” like the one below are the “lockout” section of a much larger enclosure. There is a moving door in between so they can temporarily put the animals in the small cage, while they clean the much larger enclosure. These lockout areas protect the volunteers from the big cats. You can read more about their cages here.

The shots of "small cages" that you see in Tiger King are lockout cages.
The shots of “small cages” that you see in Tiger King are lockout cages. These are parts of larger enclosures. There isa section in between to temporarily lock out the cat from either side so the staff can get to areas of the cage safely.

At one point, Joe Exotic said the cages were rusted, but I think it’s just the paint on the cage as you can see in the photo below.

Another concern was that Carole was kind of like a big cat hoarder and had lots of animals. I was imagining she had like a hundred tigers. But as of 2019, Big Cat Rescue has 58 animals, 10 of which are tigers. The enclosures range from 1,200 square feet to 2.5 acres according to the cats’ size (smaller cats have smaller cages). You can see the tigers have a lot of space from the photo below.

Joe does show videos of the cages being overgrown in the documentary, which I personally don’t think is a problem because it gives the cats more habitat structure and that they are small. There is one scene with a tiger is in a cage that looks small, but this might be a portion of the enclosure. It’s hard to tell.

Big Cat Rescue’s tiger cages are much larger than those recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, so if you think those are small, then you should also be advocating that the AZA increase their standards.

Tigers at Big Cat Rescue
Tigers at Big Cat Rescue. Posted with permission from Big Cat Rescue.

Big Cat Rescue allows visitors, which could potentially stress the animals out. According to their website, they raise their prices to keep it under 28,000 people. But they also report numbers up to 30,000 on the website.

The only bad thing I could find on Big Cat Rescue was a couple of incidences of them poking a bobcat and a tiger to get them to move between cages. This is from a site run by Doc Antle and in my opinion didn’t look like that big of a deal. I watched the videos and it did not look like animal abuse.

This website has a full listing of all of the alleged abuses. Again, I don’t see anything serious here. For example, a serval was found with a broken leg in its cage. My dog randomly strained her shoulder and my husband and I have no idea how it happened! We take amazing care of her.

The biggest problems were from her past – obviously the breeding and it looks like she declawed cats which is awful.

Big Cat Rescue gives their cats enrichment like this ball.
Big Cat Rescue gives their cats enrichment like this ball. Ethical zoos give their animals enrichment. Posted with permission.

Other Concerns

In the series, an informant wanted to take Carole down and turned over a massive amount of documents to Joe Exotic. I did find that strange and wondered why they wanted to take her down, but nothing seemed to come of it in terms of animal abuse. We didn’t hear anything specific. All of the accusations on Big Cat Rescue Watch are things that Big Cat Rescue discloses (for example on their Facebook page).

Really my only other concern was her voluntary staff. On Big Cat Rescue’s website, they have 18 full time staff, but no professional keepers. I found that odd, but given her experience handing captive big cats herself, maybe that is why. Maybe she considers herself the head keeper.

She even said “I don’t pay people for animal care because people will do that for free.” I am sure experienced people volunteer their time, but I do think she should have at least one full time person for animal care.

I don’t have a problem with her using volunteers for animal care. In the documentary, she explained that they had to work their way up before doing any work involving the cats and that seems very reasonable and responsible.

So that’s it! I know lots of people personally dislike Carole, but it’s really unfair to say that Big Cat Rescue is anything close to Joe’s or Doc’s Zoo. From everything I can see, it is a legit non-profit sanctuary taking in unwanted big cats. You can also check out Big Cat Rescue’s rating on Charity Navigator, an independent organization that evaluates charities on things like transparency and finances. In fact, Big Cat Rescue has the highest score possible.

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33 thoughts on “Is Big Cat Rescue as Bad as the Zoos in Tiger King?

  1. Hi miss Stephanie,
    This is a nice article about Bug Vat Rescue and the tiger king. I have been to Bug Vat Rescue and it is a nice place. Yes not having cats in cages is best, but where would these cats go?
    As for having volunteers do the animal work, they are trained and it is easier to get people to come in and help the cats then it is to have volunteers do the mail room.
    They have vets there every week, more if needed.
    You say about not having a professional zookeeper, the volunteers spend more time with those cats then any keeper gets to spend with their cats. With having a lot of volunteers some are doing food prep, some are cleaning cages, some are building enrichment, all at the same time, were as a zookeeper has to do all of this things by themselves. The cats don’t get a lot of keeper interaction.
    Those cats have eyeballs on them all the time.

    Thanks for a really nice article.

    1. Right – if we didn’t have sanctuaries, the animals would have to be euthanized, which some people argue is more humane. I don’t necessarily think that and wrote another post about the importance of sanctuaries. There are really good sanctuaries that I definitely support. However, I think it does depend on the sanctuary. There are definitely sanctuaries where euthanasia might be a better option. I visited one in Kenya and the cages were so small. Even though the animals came to the facility injured or orphaned, it might have been more humane to euthanize them.

      Thank you for pointing out the information about the vet services. I will add that to my post.

  2. I really do like this article. Since you took your information from the series and podcast, it does limit your knowledge base, so I understand some if your conclusions.

    Some of there volunteers and interns are in the animal care field. They do have several vets that regularly donate their time, so much so that they routinely have “medical Monday’s” when one of the vets does weekly rounds, and they do have daily observation logs that any volunteers there can contribute to, even if they don’t have a Certified full time animal care person on hand. Many upper level keepers have a minimum 5 years experience there, and a few of them even help with the era with the medical procedures so I assume there’s some appropriate training earned to do that. (Run blood tests, take xrays, take ultra sounds, etc.) vets have routinely come in at short notice to perform emergency procedures.

    They very much have qualified people even if they don’t have a specifically named paid position for just animal care.

    As for their rehab: they do take identifying photographs of the cat’s markings to compare with should s cat show up on a trail cam or otherwise. They’ve successfully identified several of their cats this way.

    They also can rehab the endangered native Florida panther, but they’ve yet been called in to do so. Sounds like most wild ones that get injured end up going to zoos instead of rehabilitated, which is frankly quite sad.

    And a side note: yes they bring in lots of visitors each year, but the series deceptively used footage from a once a year single day event (lasts about 4 hours). Otherwise it’s guided tours that need only 2-3 volunteers to take 20 guests or less through a standard tour path. (Not all cars are along the tour path, as several cats don’t like people for various understandable reasons.) those hundred of volunteers are needed over the course of a week or month, not a daily need for everyone.

    But thankyou again for this. It shows that most of the evidence is already there in the series and podcast, if only people knew how to filter the pertinent facts the way you did.

    1. Thank you so much for clarifying this information! Yes, it is hard to tell everything from the series obviously and even a website. I will adjust my post to tell readers to check out the comments below from volunteers who have first hand experience and update some of the other info.

  3. I have been to Big Cat Rescue. It was such an eye opening experience. The grounds were so well kept. The animals are, in my opinion, in the best environment for their situation. The volunteers are very well informed. I suggest anyone in the Tampa area to visit.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I just finished the Wondery podcast and the reporter also says the same thing in the last episode. He said that Big Cat Rescue was nothing like how Joe Exotic described it. I will add this to my post.

  4. Thank you for your positive and thoughtful overview. Just a little detail from someone who knows this first hand. Not taking a paycheck from the organization does not make you NOT competent in animal care. Big Cat Rescue has a very strict program with many regulations and mentoring. The majority of their animal caretakers have been there for 10+ years. Most AZA accredited zoos don’t have keepers that have that many years of experience.

  5. I have been to Big Cat Rescue about 4 times.I love them for everything they do. We all make mistakes If Carol did some bad things she has changed and is going great things. I love Big Cat Rescue. I give what I can to help. I refuse to watch Tiger King and I tell all my friends not to watch it either! Leave Big Cat Rescue alone. They great to all the cats they have.

    1. We do all make mistakes. I used to ride elephants and go to the circus. When you know better, you do better.

  6. Yeah. Is this supposed to be an eloquent, subjective review of BCR? When you answer the first question you replied with a “No!!!!!!!!! “. If you’re in no way affiliated with this organization or have any partisan views, why so much exclamation? Furthermore, the next question you answer is by explaining that BCR is a “million times better” than the rest of the big cat shelter/zoos. That’s an unnecessary amount of hyperbole for an objective expert opinion.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I can see how you are confused and I will clarify my unbiased opinion. I went into the show with no bias or knowledge of any of the facilities. In fact, I had no idea what the show was about. People just kept telling me I have to watch it and wanted to know my opinion on it. After watching the show, I knew right off that bat that BRC is not as bad as the zoos featured for the simple fact that they do not breed cats. This is based on my expert opinion from years of working in conservation and knowing how captive populations are managed in the Species Survival Program. Zoos that are not AZA-affiliated breed for profit and the animals never contribute to the conservation of the species in the wild. I should have a post out about cub petting today that will go in depth about this issue. This was all obvious just from watching the show. That being said, even though not breeding is better, there are some sanctuaries that unethical and perhaps it is better for the animals to be euthanized. I once visited a sanctuary in Kenya and although all of the animals were orphaned or injured, the cages were so small, I wondered if it was more humane for them to be euthanized. I also wanted to double check to make sure BRC really doesn’t breed, that they animals are actually rescued. I looked into BRC fully prepared to give them a negative review if the cages were small, unkempt, etc, but that is not the case. They are above the AZA minimum standards, so if dislike the BCR, then you also have to be against other ethical zoos that have the same enclosure sizes. In this post, I provide details on what makes an ethical sanctuary: For the zoos featured in the documentary, I will give them a similar review and point out all of the ways they contribute to education, conservation, and animal welfare. This is how I will evaluate them: Thank you for your feedback. I appreciate your comment.

  7. Can you please clarify and explain the following:

    In a recent article, it has been revealed the “non-profit” has now more than $13 million in profit. Here is the article:

    It seems misleading to write “Carole makes a little over $60,000 a year.”
    This is a common tax dodge executives do.

    If nothing is shown in full force in the “Tiger King” is the power of language to manipulate and distort.
    This really makes for a very strong change in my opinion of PETA for being aligned in any way with BCR.

    I’ll leave by quoting the article on their IRS forms below.

    “The 990 form for Big Cat Rescue shows Carole paid herself $65,617 for 2019, while Howard was awarded $73,262 for his role of treasurer and secretary, claiming they work 60 hours per week.”

    “Carole’s daughter, Jamie Murdock, who is listed as the charity’s president, was also paid $76,120”

    “The charity made more than $5 million in revenue last year, spending $2,739,802 on animal care, while $138,405 was also given out in contributions and grants to various wildlife causes.”

    “But the documents show Big Cat Rescue added $1,839,239 to the pot in just one year, with the net assets for the nonprofit now at a staggering $13,288,463.”

    1. Just add further context around these numbers:

      “The $138,405 given out in contributions”: The net assets on the record are roughly 96 times greater.

      BCR “hires” a total of 82 volunteers a year.

      I am sorry, but these need to be jobs. Wages need to be paid. There is a reason why we have minimum wages, and with the danger of this line of work, some kind of health care protection.

      “Since 2015 the charity has received almost $20 million ($19,231,755) in “public support”

      You are the expert on Tigers, but this is an awful abuse of people. Any organization that has over 13 million in cash reserves, and uses free labor, while only donating the smallest of amounts to actual conservation, is a dumpster-fire.

      If BCR is ever going to have any kind of integrity going forward it must be removed from the owners.

      1. I have worked for various non profit organizations in my life. One thing I can tell you us that it is necessary to have cash reserves for unforeseeable situations. The amount mentioned is appropriate. This reserve is actually important now to continue caring for the cats in since BCR needs to continue caring for these cats now when there is no revenue from tours since the sanctuary has been closed to the public since the Covid outbreak three months ago. Their executive salaries are also in line with other not for profits. Also, all paid employees spend additional time volunteering to help in direct care of the cats. There is nothing wrong with people choosing to do volunteer work that they want to do and it is a common practice in many charity organizations. These are called in kind donations. I volunteer at my county animal shelter. That does not mean I don’t deserve to be paid but I feel rewarded in the volunteer experience sand I like doing it.

        1. Thank you so much for your insight Anne! Yes, I agree there is no problem with volunteering either. I was surprised they set it up to look that way in the series.

  8. I have been to BCR for a private tour. I can say from recent in-person experience that the grounds were lovely, the enclosures are enormous (the cats have more square footage than my family does), well taken-care of (I didn’t see any overgrown areas), and definitely not rusty. They paint on some sort of rust-colored paint that (I think) is a rust-inhibitor. The tours are definitely educational. We were given all sorts of scientific information about the cats, and heard a lot about the advocacy (Big Cat Act, etc). And yes, you are correct that the cats are fed in their “lockout” area. This is for the safety of the person feeding them. It’s truly a well-run place, and I can say that having been there. I do believe some of the staff members spend a great deal of their time on animal care (one I know of for sure ends up feeding the cats quite a bit), but yes, volunteers do the bulk of the care. I don’t get the big deal with her not paying volunteers. When has anyone ever gotten paid as a volunteer? That’s just weird to be upset about that.

    What’s really sad is how BCR has been forced to cease their tours for the time being, which severely lowers the income raised to care for the cats. The cats are the ones who will suffer most. They also had to let a bunch of staff members go as well. I do hope that BCR is able to rebound from this and that the cats won’t suffer.

    1. The problem is, as you state “volunteers do the bulk of the care.”

      A volunteer is no longer the appropriate term one a certain amount of hours (say 20 a week) is crossed. At that point it is labor. It’s a job. Look up the UBER lawsuit.

      The organization should not depend on unpaid labor as primary care. This lowers the standards for workers everywhere. Additionally, any employee (aka volunteers) should be able to benefit from a company’s health care.

      At some point, someone is going to get seriously injured. It’s an “If” but when.

      What kind of medical insurance does BCR offer? If the answer is none, I certainly hope that the volunteers know they can easily go bankrupt personally, while this “Non-profit” sits on over 13 million in its bank account.

      1. It’s probably likely that a single volunteer is not doing most of the work, but rather lots of volunteers donating several hours here and there. Volunteering is volunteering – you don’t have to do it. They willingly volunteer their time. She isn’t forcing anyone to do it. It’s really common in nonprofits and the biggest concern is that is that it is discrimanatory. For example, in my field, it can prevent people of low income from entering our field. You need experience to excel, but if you can’t afford to volunteer, you won’t go far in the career. Science is already biased against women and people of color too.

  9. So what is this? You don’t reply to posts that clearly prove you wrong? How Doc Antly of you. Well I guess you’ll have to ignore this comment too.

    THANKS for providing support to an animal rights nut zoo that wants to eliminate captive felids not just from evil private zoos and owners but also from your beloved AZA facilities with your “unbiased” perspective (that clearly isn’t, as I’m looking through your posts you constantly agree with animal rights positions even when it is entirely irrational).

    “I just finished the Wondery podcast (released today) and they included a clip of Carole saying that that is exactly what she wants – for no big cat to ever be in a cage and for her place to eventually shut down.”

    Ha. Her place will never shut down. Even if they remove all the cats from the United States there are plenty of cats to “rescue” from overseas:

    Her cages will ALWAYS be full but if she gets her way, no one else will have one, as is outlined in a 20 year plan she wrote:

    “Zoos will no longer exhibit large exotic cats, from pumas to tigers, due to the public’s increasing intolerance for seeing these majestic creatures imprisoned.”

    “Sanctuaries will see a significant rise in the need for their services because the zoos will trying to rid themselves of the cause of so much public scorn by dumping their unwanted cats into the only place allowed; i.e. accredited sanctuaries.”

    “2025: Most of the cats displaced by the closing of zoos will now have died out. The few left will be in tightly run and closely watched sanctuaries. The public will no longer allow exotic cats to suffer in anonymity.”

    So Carole Baskin will go to the grave having gotten rid of exotic cats from every other facility and her place will be the last one left with cats that will die out, she’ll get the recognition and still have had her cat collection for her whole life. Pretty sweet deal for a narcissist.

    “Carole makes a little over $60,000 a year.”

    While also making a decent salary from her ‘side hustle’ in ADDITION to her earnings from her real estate dealings/disappeared husband while being able to spend millions caring for her pet collection which is considered to be non-profit work. Pretty sweet.

    “The enclosures range from 1,200 square feet to 2.5 acres”

    Most of the enclosures are in the 1200 sq. feet range, and yes, for big cats. This comes right from their website (“Minimum of 1,200 sq. ft. per enclosure for compatible large felids.”) The 2.5 acres enclosure is NOT A PERMANENT ENCLOSURE FOR ANY CAT. It is a vacation cage! Cats spend no more than 2 weeks there at a time. Yet I keep seeing this figure represented as though a number of cats are housed in that size with is just disingenuous.

    1. I am sorry for the delay in responding. I am currently under a deadline with my book and did not have the time at the moment. I always respond to comments and I love to interact with my audience, even if they disagree with me. You can believe that if you want about Carole. Given that most people have never heard of these facilities, it just seems like a stretch, but it’s plausible. I will ask Big Cat Resuce about their vacation cages. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

  10. Your entire essay could be summarized to 2 lines:

    >I’m a scientist. I’m smarter than you!
    >BCR good, everyone else bad! John the Savannah owner is what’s wrong with the US!

    P.S Mr. Exotics is a criminal and should stay in prison – that’s where he belongs.

    1. Oh no! That is really not how I wanted it to come across. I definitely do not think I am smarter than you. And getting a Ph.D. is not all about being smart; in fact, it’s more about perseverance and working hard. I mostly emphasize that I have a Ph.D. because I do have years of experience in these issues and also talking with conservation professionals in the zoo world. These are really complicated issues and there are not always obvious answers. I was annoyed that Tiger King did not have experts in it. The people may have training in captive animals, but they do not have training in how these animals behave and survive in the wild. I tried to provide that perspective. I did find that BCR is good. They are rated very well on Charity Navigator and I could not find any real substantiated evidence that would suggest they are a bad sanctuary. They are not the only good sanctuary in the world, and my favorite is actually the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. I write about this in my sanctuary post: Unfortunately though, in the Tiger King documentary, Big Cat Rescue is WAY better than the zoos/animal parks featured. I can not recommend any of them at all because they all participate in activities that compromise animal welfare and even conservation. Thank you for your comment! I will keep this in mind for future blog posts.

  11. Is Carole Baskin a skilled con artist? I think so.

    The will of Carole’s missing husband was forged, and she received the lion’s share of his assets. Who do you think forged that will?

    Big Cat Rescue (BCR) brings in millions every year. Yet many of the cats were not rescued, as they claim. They were bought. Carole is scamming people into paying for her private zoo.

    Source for forged will:

    Source for lying about rescues:

  12. I am just shocked by the claims made by a sanctuary that loves and cares for animals so much and has so many millions in reserve that you cannot move to a bigger property to give them more space!! I would love to know why BCR cares about the property in Oklahoma if it is so terrible and do you still have animals in those enclosures? I guess that is okay since BCR owns the property now. Maybe if all of you stopped breeding the animals before you got a conscience this would not be a problem.

    1. Hi Marty – they are a pretty big property already, larger than the standards set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The property in Oklahoma is MUCH MUCH smaller – way below AZA standards and they actively breed big cats. She cares about this property because it is cruel to keep animals in this condition and she wants to stop the breeding. You can read my review of it here: Carole spends most of them money from Big Cat Rescue lobbying trying to get a law passed that would stop private owners from captive breeding big cats. She bred cats decades ago, but no longer breeds them. This makes more sense than moving her animals to a different location because if you don’t stop the breeding, you just have an endless supply of big cats with nowhere to go. This is why Joe killed some of his tigers. Yes, Carole did recently acquire Joe’s Zoo in a legal battle, but she does not own the animals. The animals are all owned by Jeff Lowe and he will move them somewhere else. She will not put animals in those cages. I am not sure what she will do with the property though.

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