(as first posted on That Design Gal)
I just have to tell you all about an amazing place that Chris and I visited when we were in Tampa, Florida. It is called the Big Cat Rescue, and it is a charity and sanctuary that saves exotic cats from roadside zoos and people who have these cats as pets.Their stories are absolutely heartbreaking with the conditions that they have been brought up in such as living in basements, cages that are too small that their noses gets scratched, being breed for fur mills, and being chained to concrete floors that the fur on their joints have been completely rubbed away. That barely covers the extent of the deplorable conditions that these cats have had to endure. As much as this yanks on the heartstrings, you have to be so very thankful that there are such wonderful people in the world that have made it their mission to reach out to these beautiful creatures to take care of them and give them a permanent home for the rest of their lives.
Please do not take this post as me on a soapbox about exotic cats. This is solely written as an informative post about these beautiful animals that have been saved and given a second chance at life. Although it is not the life that they would have in the wild, they have been given a chance to live their life out in peace and comfort while being loved and cherished by the volunteers and visitors. I had never heard about this sanctuary or even had a notion that there are people that would treat animals this way. I wish that there was more that I can do. So I’m hoping that spreading the word does a little something.
Here is the story of the cat that we “adopted”. “His name is Cheetaro and he is a Male Asian Leopard born 7/1/1998. Cheetaro arrived at the Big Cat Rescue in November 2003 for a roadside zoo. Cheetaro was confined to a corn crib with his mate and bred constantly so that his cubs could be sold. They braved the New England winters together where a chill factor of -18 wasn’t unusual. They had no way to escape the sleet and snow. They had only the shelter of the corn crib’s tin roof and a box. They had no choice but to survive by enduring their fate together. When the roadside zoo was closed in 2003, Cheetaro’s mate was sold off and Cheetaro, being male and of no value was sent to the Big Cat Rescue. Here he lays lazily in the sun on top of his cave mountain, or can hang out in his tree, but he has forever been separated from the mate he loved. One of the wiliest cats in sanctuary, he spends hours stalking the house cats, peacocks, and visitors from his large grassy cat-a-tat…Big Cat Rescue visitors are always captivated by Cheetaro as he sleeps or keeps watch on everything from high in his oak tree…That’s why we consider ourselves very lucky that we have many breathtaking photos of this ‘wild and crazy’ leopard lounging on the branches of his tree. This is his favorite spot. We can never make up for the life he had to endure, but we try every day to make life as enriching as we possibly can for him.” –Excerpt from sponsor packet.
If by chance there is anyone out that reads this and volunteers at the Big Cat Rescue or to any of the sponsors of this sanctuary, “Thank You” for all of the work that you have done! Just touring the sanctuary you can see how much these cats are loved and cared for. You all do such amazing work!
If you would like to know more about each of these cat’s stories, their website is: www.bigcatrescue.org
Thank you for reading this post.