We had come across a photo being circulated on social media seeming to depicting Big Cat Rescue's Howard Baskin being confronted by police officers. Tracking down the origins of the picture was simple enough. It was posted on Facebook a group called The Tiger Encounter whose stated mission is to educate people on the plight of the tiger through animal performances.
After sending our inquiries to Felicia Frisco, the admin of that Facebook page, we were given the details surrounding the incident that led up to the photo shown above.
In a statement exclusively provided to us on Nov 30, 2015, Felicia Frisco said:
A couple years ago we were working a fair. All the sudden someone yelled and we saw a guy running from behind our trailers and trucks were no one supposed to be.
They yelled for the guy to stop, he didn't. He threw a chair down to block the path so we kept running after him. We screamed for security. They came, yelled for him to stop, but he wouldn't stop. He was running like if he stole something or just vandalize the trucks. He kept throwing chairs as he ran under the tent trying to block the way so my dad and security couldn't chase them. The fair manager and I cut him off in the building and stood in front of him with my arms out blocking him for security. He kept coming towards me and shoved me in the chest.
My dad jumped in front of him and he shoved my dad into the wall so my dad shoved him back. He then called 911 during all of this. While on the phone to 911, he kept saying, help me, the tiger trainers are beating me. After shoving my dad, he ran to the parking lot even though police were screaming for him to stop. They then brought the swat team.
The vehicle he went to was not his, he couldn't open the door. They made him go to his vehicle where he had the license plate covered. He was dressed in a CVS pharmacy outfit. We had no idea who he was until the police came to get his side of the story and he attempted to lie and say we beat him up and referenced the 911 call.
He made the mistake of touching me, my father, and friend of an off duty police officer who yelled at him to stop. He ignored and attempted to leave police which is why they brought the swat team. They were giving back the information to my dad and him when they mistook my dad for Howard Baskin. When they said that name my dad was not the familiar on who he was, but I heard it.
The police then knocked the towel covering his license plate off and it said Big Cat Rescue. They made him take off his hat and that's when we realized it really was Howard.
Howard and Carole were both told they were not welcome on the fair property prior to the fair starting. The fair was the one pressing charges against him. I don't know how far they went with the charges. They wanted to handle it, not us. Their lawyers were taking care of it, but Howard attempted to play victim when several people saw him, including an officer, lay his hands on me and my dad.
Unlike Big Cat Rescue's 911 Animal Abuse website, we have taken the liberty to attach links to all the sources we reference. Just click the dates or the bold underlined words.
April 12, 2018 - In a bizarre rant, Big Cat Rescue admits to most of the problems listed below while simultaneously claiming they're lies. Interestingly enough, they admit to an entirely separate jabbing incident that took place when Cooper, a wild bobcat, was being released. In their rant, they say, "This is Cooper’s release. Some of the young rehabbed bobcats leap freely from the crate. Others are shy and we have to urge them out of the crate. We may have touched him with a stick, to spook him out of the crate, but we would never hurt a cat."
They also admitted that a tourist that pays for their "volunteer vacations" program can possibly help during a surgical procedure.
December 13, 2017 - Big Cat Rescue takes in a male jaguar and female amur leopard from Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo without requiring the zoo to sign a contract to never own another exotic cat. In a reply to a Facebook comment pertaining to the acquisition of the cats, Big Cat Rescue said, "This was a unique situation for us to take cats without demanding the owner give up their permits."
Big Cat Rescue's statement conflicts with the time they offered the Dickerson Park Zoo the option of ridding themselves of a tiger that had its leg amputated. In a letter to the Dickerson Park Zoo, Big Cat Rescue said, "We do require that anyone who sends a cat to us must agree not to possess exotic cats in the future. Our offer to take Petra would not demand that you send all of your cats to us, or to accredited sanctuaries, but it would require that you contract with us to never buy, breed or bring in more exotic cats for life in the zoo."
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Dickerson Park Zoo are both accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.
October 8, 2017 - A 17-year old female white tiger named Zabu almost drowned in a small pond with volunteers helplessly screaming and watching from outside the enclosure. The tiger's mate, a male lion named Cameron, had to be sedated in order to try saving the drowning tiger.
August 4, 2017 - While live-streaming on Facebook, Carole Baskin filmed her daughter who is also the President of Big Cat Rescue using a some sort of stick to prod at a then 4-month old bobcat kitten named Cooper.
November 17, 2016 - During a Facebook live stream one of Big Cat Rescue's workers tried forcing a tiger out of a transport cage by poking at it using a prod of some kind. The camera would occasionally pan away from the tiger each time the worker had the prod in hand. The tiger could be heard clearly displaying its anger off camera, but fortunately some of the prodding was caught on video. Many worried fans of Big Cat Rescue commented their disapproval and suggested to leave the tiger in the transport cage until it was ready to get out on its own as it was likely scared. September 9, 2016 - A serval was found with a broken leg inside its cage. Big Cat Rescue claims to not know what caused the injury. When taken to see their veterinarian they started making paw paintings using the legs that weren't broken.
August 15, 2016 - Big Cat Rescue orchestrated a call-to-action on a restaurant called the Paramount Grill after learning they might allow their patrons to pet kittens to raise money to help in the transport of a rescued rhino. According to the Gainesville Sun, some of Big Cat Rescue's supporters ended up threatening the restaurant owner and his employees by sending death threats and bomb threats.
July 15, 2016 - Big Cat Rescue offers a new program called "Volunteer Vacations" where tourists can pay thousands of dollars to "volunteer" for a week. In the page detailing the program, Big Cat Rescue says, "You absolutely cannot touch the cats, unless it just so happens that one is sedated for medical procedures that particular week."
February 23, 2016- A volunteer is possibly bitten by a cougar. One of Big Cat Rescue's volunteers originally reported that she had been bitten by a cougar, but later changed her story claiming that she was injured by a sharp point on the enclosure housing the cougar.
May 19, 2015 - A bobcat kitten dies due to feline distemper. Big Cat Rescue allowed a nursing domesticated cat to feed the bobcat alongside its own kittens. All of the domesticated cats were apparently put at serious risk due to the baby bobcat not being tested for viruses prior to allowing it to be nursed.
December 6, 2014 - Big Cat Rescue admits that they were declawing their cats until 2005. They try blaming their actions on "breeders and dealers" even though Carole Baskin wrote a book explaining how she would never declaw a domesticated cat, but recommends declawing exotic cats. In her book she goes on to say, "The reasons for declawing are endless and the excuses for not doing so are not justified." Cat Care Book
December 5, 2014 - One of Big Cat Rescue's sandcats choked to death on a chicken neck. Volunteers were forced to watch the cat slowly die as they waited on Carole Baskin and her daughter to arrive on scene. On their website, Big Cat Rescue says, "Our policies don’t allow anyone to rush in with Canyon without Jamie or Carole present, because no one would have known that he was choking, rather than having a seizure, until they had their fingers in his mouth."
Sandcats are a tiny species of exotic cat that weigh between 3-8 pounds.
November 17, 2014 - The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement conducts an unannounced inspection of Big Cat Rescue and finds more than 70 discrepancies such as failing to maintain rusty enclosures, filthy water bowls for the cats, and improper record keeping.
Below are some of discrepancies noted in the report:
October 2, 2014 - Big Cat Rescue is issued a warning from the Florida Fish & Wildlife for housing leopards in an open top enclosure. There is evidence that Big Cat Rescue housed multiple leopards in an open top enclosure on numerous occasions putting the public in potential danger despite knowing the law.
September 30, 2011 - 10 News Investigators Raise Questions About Big Cat Rescue's Transparency.
March 15, 2011 - ABC Action News investigates Big Cat Rescue's controversial practice of feeding live domesticated rabbits to their bobcats. Rabbit rescue groups urged Big Cat Rescue to find an alternative practice since the domesticated rabbits hop towards the bobcats and don't act like wild rabbits.
2010 - Howard Baskin allegedly paid money to pet and have his photo taken with a tiger cub. By paying to pet the cub, he directly helped to fund Dade City's Wild Things' cub petting operation.
March 16, 2006 - With the testimony from former volunteers, Bay News 9 conducts an investigation into the dishonest fundraising practices of Big Cat Rescue.
PHOTO GALLERY OF BIG CAT RESCUE:
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