Murderer or saint? All the info on Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue
Carole Baskin, the founder & CEO of Big Cat Rescue, a nonprofit big cat sanctuary near Tampa, Florida, was recently brought into the limelight after being accused of murdering her husband. These allegations were initially made by Joe Exotic, a zookeeper with a years-long feud with Carole Baskin.
The feud between these zookeepers and the allegations made against Carole Baskin were covered extensively in Netflix’s Tiger King (2020). However, Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue didn’t get the positive attention it deserves.
What is Big Cat Rescue?
Founded by Carole Baskin & Don Lewis in 1995, Big Cat Rescue is a nonprofit animal sanctuary for big cats. The sanctuary started out with only one bobcat of which Carole & Don were in possession. Over the years, dozens of big cats were rescued by this couple.
Big Cat Rescue’s main goal is to end legal ownership of exotic cats regardless of their living conditions. This includes owning exotic cats as pets, circus acts, or even in zoos, a stance that has made Carole rather unpopular in the zookeeper community.
Why keep the cats?
In 2019, Big Cat Rescue was in possession of fifty-one animals, with no intention of ever releasing them into the wild. Although this seems contradictory, there’s a very good reason for it.
As explained in Big Cat Rescue’s blog post “GoFree”, the laws of nature are against releasing their cats into the wild: “The mother cat teaches them the ways of nature and that you should only kill enough to feed yourself and your family”, they explain.
The blog post goes on to describe situations in which cats raised in captivity are unable to find a balance in how much to kill, resulting in the feline hunters killing everything that moves.
Although Big Cat Rescue would love to release their cats into the wild, it seems it’s in everyone’s best interest just to make captivity as pleasant as possible for these felines.
Big cat living conditions
Since the cats have no option but to stay in captivity at Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin ensures peak living conditions for all of them.
Rather than simply focusing on size & structure, Big Cat Rescue goes the extra mile by making a stimulating environment for each species. These custom environments are designed to grant captive animals the freedom to express behaviors consistent with the wild.
Big Cat Rescue also provides three different types of enclosures for each cat: an outdoor enclosure, their primary housing space; an outside shelter area used in case of storms or extreme weather conditions; and lastly, indoor rooms designed for sick or injured cats.
Each of the enclosures possesses a specific design catering to that species’s needs. All of the enclosures are discussed in more detail in Big Cat Rescue’s “Exotic Cat Standards” blog post.
Why Big Cat Rescue?
Big Cat Rescue is hands-down one of the best choices for the rescue, recovery, and rehabilitation of big cats in North America. Despite recent controversies surrounding its founder Carole Baskin, this extraordinary big cat sanctuary is still going strong.
Big Cat Rescue contrasts with zoos in its eschewing of buying, selling, or trading big cats. Rather, they act as a retirement home for their cats, caring for their needs and nourishing them for the remainder of their days.