Thursday, October 9, 2014

Big Cat Rescue issued warning for leopard enclosure

Posted: Oct 07, 2014

A leopard roaming in a caged enclosure is creating a stir at a wildlife facility in Hillsborough County.
Vernon Yates, who is the founder or Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Pinellas County filed a complaint against the owner of Big Cat Rescue in Hillsborough County. "I get phone calls all the time about people doing wrong to animals," said Yates.

Yates maintains allowing the leopard into the enclosure is against state law. "Reasoning being is that Leopards are superb climbers. They carry their own weight to the top of the tree," said Yates
The Florida Wildlife Commission issued a warning to Big Cat Rescue about the situation. "If the leopard escaped, I'm the person they would call to come and capture it, if I could get to it before someone shot it," said Yates.

Big Cat rescue founder Carole Baskin has a completely different view of the situation.
She views the complaint from Yates as harassment and is the result of a long time and ongoing dispute.


Baskin says she has applied for a variance with FWC that will allow the leopard to be in the enclosure. Baskin says the cage is 6 gauge, double galvanized, wire panels with 4 " square openings. "The cage wall is nearly 20 feet high, consisting of an approximately 15 foot high side wall," said Baskin.

The Florida Wildlife Commission confirms they have issued a warning but will not comment further on the situation, citing an ongoing investigation into several complaints about Big Cat Rescue.
Baskin's daughter, Jamie Murdock has worked with her mother at Big Cat Rescue for most of her life.
"We had a dream to have this gigantic cage that we would let them in to let them run and play and be as free as there are going to be in captivity," said Murdock.


She believes the enclosure is safe for leopards. "They'd have to crawl 15 feet high, five feet backwards and one foot upside down and these are very old, arthritic cats," said Murdock.
Murdock says most of the animals at Big Cat Rescue are 15 years of age or older.

She says most cats in the wild live to be only 15, but cats in captivity can live into their 20's. Still, she maintains at that age, they aren't able to jump over fences that are 15 feet tall.

Big Cat Rescue has applied for an exemption from the state of Florida that will allow leopards into the enclosure.

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