ZOO WARS~INVESTIGATIVE REPORT~Big Cat Rescue~Carole Baskin Lives for the Power and Bragging Rights
PLEASE NOTE-Carole Baskin has removed content from the Internet…If you follow a link and nothing can be found then she removed it or had it removed-What she forgets is much of it has been downloaded or she can be subpoenaed to produce the content for review-Obviously she received a tip off from someone in an agency where complaints have already been filed. -I wonder how much that cost.
This was not the first time Baskin put a Leopard(S) in that cage KNOWING she hadn’t received a variance-She believes that she is above the rules, regulations and laws as no one appears to be enforcing them….At least, not enforced on Big Cat Rescue and she’s never been caught before now. Baskin has the gall to challenge the law while at the same time promoting the Big Cat Safety Act-which is the long and short for another fundraiser within the Animal Rights Extremist/Terrorists community-Not knowing how they are being played!?! Pretty much the only audience Baskin has left to appeal to that she bought from Wayne Pacelle/HSUS.
Carole Baskin is exactly the kind of person who should NOT have big cats. Frankly, I am in shock she only received a warning and no one seized the animals as would have been the case with any other owner in Florida-The more I think about it, the more unacceptable I find that especially after seeing this:
Is Carole Baskin with all her money above the law-I should hope NOT-No one should be!!!
I’ve said it before and saying again-she’s done everything and doing everything she claims other owners have done when they haven’t and she has!!! Baskin lives for the power and bragging rights which attribute to the multi-million dollar business she is enjoying and thinking she is above the law and regulations. This is just more proof of it. Thank goodness someone notified Vernon Yates!!! And thank goodness he called the authorities who caught her red handed!!!
I hope this sheds more light on the situation as EXTREMELY SERIOUS!!!
STATEMENT: Back in the 60’s there was a garbage crisis in Tampa so Hillsborough County began dumping on private property until the incinerator was completed. Nick Nuccio was the mayor for Tampa at that time and it was his goal to upgrade the area to encourage development and for people to move there, which was successful but left some of the residence without compensation or clean up when they no longer needed to use private property for dumping.
The garbage became an increasing problem. Originally, it was believed that there were 60 sites used, but after further investigation, it turned out there were 169 sites used, with and without permission from the property owners-Making the property worth far less than what it should be.*
Desperate to get rid of the property, some owners sold their property ‘on the cheap’. Don and Carole Lewis purchased a dump site and called it Wildlife on Easy Street (WOES) which is now known as Big Cat Rescue (BCR)-This was a commercial animal breeding business as well as brokerage firm for the sale of animals they would purchase and sell later and used as a recreational property when they opened their doors to the general pubic including the rental of cabins with the express purpose for people to sleep with one of the cats where numbers of incidents occurred.* It continues NOW as a commercial recreational business no matter their original reason for purchase, was for private use for their big cat compound even though they knew that it was a landfill with a ‘burrow pit’ and then continued on as a commercial enterprise without zoning approval from the county and approval from other agencies, including the EPA on it’s creation when regulations were imposed on such properties.
The ‘lake’ is the tell all for what it contains. This has never been investigated and remains uninvestigated by any agency thus less the EPA with regulations that went into effect in 2000 for soil and water testing, clean-up, approval for the intended use and monitoring.
Not everyone was so happy about the change from Wildlife on Easy Street to Big Cat Rescue which, in itself, is not all that important-But when Baskin went for zoning approval, she never disclosed to the Hillsborough County Commissioners that it was once one of the 169 dumping sites in the 60’s and was never properly cleaned by anyone. Baskin never applied for EPA approval when the regulations went into effect. Nor did she advise volunteers or employees of what Wildlife on Easy Street/Big Cat Rescue once was although they saw her burning trash and debris. OSHA should be more than interested in this information as an agency is concerned with ‘human safety’!!!
The following letter in response to the zoning request, in 2004. This exposes this information to the authorities that it was a ‘burrow pit’ and dump!!! Not a single animal welfare agency has responded to the complaints for the welfare of the animals in residence at BCR even knowing this information. They have never concerned themselves with this as an extremely important matter with concern for human safety and just how this effects both the welfare of humans and animals. And although there are several reasons that have been pointed out including that all of this is a direct violation of the Animal Welfare Act and the protection of endangered species that is claimed to be rescued there, there’s not been anyone responding as if it doesn’t matter when it most certainly does.
There have been bus loads of children going to WOES/BCR. Exposing children and families to a potentially dangerous situation is unacceptable. They should never have been exposed to the possible chemical and gas leaks on that property-tourists coming to the state of Florida-volunteers, employees and employees in residence-people renting and staying in cabins and interns; all exposed to asbestos as it is a known fact, was dumped on that property and was improperly disposed of when Don burned debris and other garbage in an effort to clean up and clear the property and followed by Baskin doing the same following Don Lewis’s mysterious disappearance.
What is known about Asbestos Debris: “Fires leave a residue of ashes, half-burned materials and unburned materials that are otherwise destroyed or ruined. This debris is almost always removed from a fire site, and sometimes it contains dangerous asbestos. Only if a fire site is examined specifically for the existence of asbestos can cleanup workers be assured that none of the mineral is present.”
Housing Materials that can contain asbestos-roofing felt, vinyl floor title, taping compounds and plaster, pipe lagging, acoustic ceiling tile, block insulation.
During residential cleanups, homeowners and business owners sometimes handle asbestos-containing materials…most are not skilled in identifying asbestos-containing materials and are often unaware of proper removal methods.
The result is that neighborhood cleanup operations may create an accumulation of asbestos-containing waste in local landfills, creating a hazardous site that can impact even more people. Many communities have recognized the potential of fire asbestos-contaminated debris affecting the local environment.
Common Household Materials Containing Asbestos: Adhesives, Appliance components, Ceiling products, Cement board, Electrical insulation and panels, Heating and cooling systems, Gardening products, Flooring, Paints, Roofing, Table pads, Wallboard, Insulation, Fireplace decorations.
Stirring up asbestos-containing debris can result in airborne asbestos fibers and exposure is highly likely.
Without drainage; what about the other residents on Easy Street from the potentially dangerous runoff from the property? The ‘burrow pit’ now referred to as a lake* is a tell all especially when after a hurricane; had to be pumped out. Carole Baskin has always known that the lake was once a ‘burrow pit’ yet pumps this water into the facility for the cats and is more than alarming as the death rate of the animals increases. In my opinion this is INTENTIONAL ANIMAL CRUELTY as well as a VIOLATION of The Animal Welfare Act and should be of alarming concern for agencies in place for the direct concern for the welfare of animals and the USDI for protecting endangered species including animals that reside at BCR.
I can’t help thinking about the Lion Pavilion/Party/Reception building and the memorials to all that have died there-The evidence that BCR is a risk for the public and the animals.
Easy Street is no place for a bigger Big Cat Rescue
By JEAN CARSON
Published February 8, 2004
Do you think the controversy about Big Cat Rescue is about cats?
It is about putting a huge commercial activity in a neighborhood of single-family homes on wells and septic tanks.
County law requires a business to notify all property owners next to a site before the government considers a zoning change. Big Cat, formerly known as Wildlife on Easy Street, also notified itself and the county of its expansion plans.
Kind of proves low-density, doesn’t it? Not many people live on Easy Street.
I own the street, and have lived there since 1964. The sanctuary has existed, in various forms, since the 1990s.
Big Cat Rescue wants permission to create 64,000 square feet of buildings, plus 20 guest cabins and six caretaker homes. Included are two buildings measuring 20,000 square feet each. A gift shop, animal hospital and food preparation building are already in place.
There are no restrictions on the sizes of cabins or houses. Some of these also exist already. A newspaper article described one cabin as follows: “Each half of the building holds two guest bedrooms that share a bath, kitchenette and sitting area.”
Eight people can stay there. At $175 per bed, this is commercial. The plan also shows a dormitory. For how many people?
The previous owner badly abused these two 20-acre properties, using them for a borrow pit and dump. Don Lewis acquired the land and housed his personal collection of animals there. It stayed pretty much the same until late 1997, when Don Lewis disappeared. In 1998 it became a tourist attraction.
I must congratulate Carole Lewis, his wife, on her success.
We homeowners have made many concessions for our furry neighbors. Because we admire people who do animal rescue, we put up with the wild animal cries, the offensive odors and the continuously increasing traffic on Easy Street.
Big Cat estimates an average of 41 vehicles per day will visit the site, for a total of 82 trips. We challenge that as being too low. By their count, 75 school buses visited last year “at a nominal fee.” At a recent party they had 300 guests, staff, volunteers and service trucks. All entering and exiting on a privately owned, one-lane dirt road. They have several such events a year.
My husband and I maintained Easy Street from 1962 to 1990. In 1990, I told Don Lewis that his bringing in huge concrete slabs for the compound wall and cage bottoms was causing more damage than I could afford to repair. He offered to repair and maintain the road at the level we had established over the years. That hasn’t happened. Most of the ditches have been pushed in by the ever increasing traffic and people are driving on the tree roots.
The controversy is not about the cats. It is about putting a large commercial activity on a property ill-suited for it, without workable access. It is about having 29,930 vehicle trips (their estimate) past our homes every year. With the added buildings (their estimate), those trips would increase to 45,900 per year.
We think these estimates are low. Would you want this in your neighborhood?
– Jean Carson lives on, and owns, Easy Street in Citrus Park.
Commercial activity went on for years prior to 2004 and that zoning application; without zoning approval or approval from the EPA; ALL of which began after the disappearance of Don Lewis in 1997-There had been no zoning requests prior to this zoning request in 2004…Both Don and Carole Lewis have always been involved in real estate and KNEW that application for zoning should have happened with the business that began in the early years as a breeding and brokerage facility for animals to be sold as exotic pets and open to the public.
This link demonstrates that the zoning was never changed from residential before the request and for years an established commercial enterprise existed on that property. http://www.planhillsborough.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/web.pdf page 2
“This is a privately initiated Future Land Use Map amendment on property
located south of Gunn Highway on Easy Street. This amendment is part of the
April 2014 submittal group. The request is a change in land use classification
from Residential-9 to Urban Mixed Use-20.”
What about the permits for the cabins-Do they know she used homemade septic tanks for the cabins without a proper leach field?! Apparently they simply don’t care that Wildlife on Easy Street/Big Cat Rescue was (and remains) as an illegal business for at least 6 years prior to going before the county commissioners…I doubt that they would have approved the zoning change had they known but should have known…I venture to say Hillsborough County could and/or should become liable at some point without so much of any concern for the previous property usage although there are documents in county files with no one doing any research. No one asking a single question about how this properly had been previously used, current zoning or noticing that BCR should of had a zoning variance in place for it’s current usage as a major Florida Attraction long before 2004-that just doesn’t happen over night-yet that response was submitted that the business did exist already for many years-even as Wildlife on Easy Street and the numerous accidents that occurred already before the name change.* And with that name change Wildlife on Easy Street records magically disappeared-poof…No zoning requested or granted to Baskin for usage from 1998-2004 and none before that with the purchase of the property and intended use, exact date unknown however, Baskin claims that she became a rescue in 1992 after being a breeder, brokering animals, visitors, bus loads of children, families and cabin rentals from that property for years…WOW!!!
The bigger question; where’s the EPA clearance for properly cleaned and receiving EPA monitoring as required by law beginning in 2000!!! It’s now more than 14 years overdue!!! Would any other business have gotten away with this?!? I truly doubt that Bush Gardens would have gotten away without making application for it’s intended use and/or clearance from the EPA. I wonder what other businesses would think about this-Wildlife on Easy Street/Big Cat Rescue was built on a massive trash haven. Humans and animals are not considered disposable property-Laws and regulations in place for good reason.
Once again in the news that the county allowed the zoning to change (no mention that this should have occurred years prior):
Citrus Park: Big cats get to expand den
The owners of the Big Cat Rescue win approval for a long-term expansion plan to better care for the 170 exotic cats there.
By JACKIE RIPLEY
Published February 27, 2004
CITRUS PARK – The 42-acre animal sanctuary known as Big Cat Rescue will be allowed to quadruple the amount of building space on its property despite complaints from neighbors who say the expansion will put too much traffic on their rural road.
In a 5-1 vote, Hillsborough County commissioners approved a rezoning request that, over time, will allow the sanctuary to add a museum, gift shop, snack bar, office, clinic, educational classrooms and additional residences for caretakers.
Carole Lewis, the founder and chief executive officer of Big Cat Rescue, formerly called Wildlife on Easy Street, said the plan could take years to complete. But she wanted to make sure the sanctuary will be able to grow in the future.
“It’s a long-term plan,” said Tampa attorney Ted Taub, who represented the sanctuary during a Hillsborough County land use meeting Tuesday. “This is a vision.”
County Commissioner Pat Frank voted against the proposal, and Commissioner Ronda Storms wasn’t present for the vote.
The cat sanctuary is at the end of a private road called Easy Street, located off Citrus Park Drive across from Westfield Shoppingtown Citrus Park. It houses lions, tigers and other exotic cats that have been rescued from zoos, circuses and private owners.
Lewis said she wanted the expansion to better care for the roughly 170 exotic cats in residence there.
However, Jean Carson, who owns Easy Street and has lived there since 1964, opposed the expansion, contending that traffic on the one-lane dirt road already has damaged the root systems of trees lining the road. The proposed improvements, she said, would put at least 46,000 vehicles a year on the country lane.
Easy Street has been a bone of contention since the start of the rezoning process.
As a condition of the rezoning approval, county commissioners required that Big Cat Rescue bring the dirt road up to county standards, or find an alternative access route. That requirement, however, would only be triggered when Big Cat Rescue expands its restaurant, snack shop or gift shop.
County commissioners also required that Tampa Bay Water review any plans for waste disposal if the sanctuary adds a lab to its proposed medical clinic. And commissioners prohibited a pole sign advertising Big Cat Rescue.
“Hard feelings don’t help the overall community,” said Commissioner Jim Norman, who suggested some fence-mending between Carson and Big Cat Rescue. “I know you’re all good people.”
There is no drainage on that property-no ground preparation was ever done with current cages and the new ‘Vacation Enclosure’ Pictures tell the truth-Whether a hurricane or one of the daily downpours, enclosures at Big Cat Rescue go under water:
How about a video:
“Simba leopard loves vacation rotation but he just HATES the water and recent downpours have left him surrounded by the shallows! But being the good boy he is, Simba is coaxed by Keeper Marie into coming off his island and taking his meds.”
“Big Cat Rescue is the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats. We are home to approximately 100 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species most of whom have been abandoned, abused, orphaned, saved from being turned into fur coats, or retired from performing acts. Our dual mission is to provide the best home we can for the cats in our care and to educate the public about the plight of these majestic animals, both in captivity and in the wild, to end abuse and avoid extinction.”
Yesterdays occurrence of placing a Leopard in an unapproved enclosure for a Leopard, with no top wasn’t the first time this was done and has never received clearance from FFW or the USDA to do so. Furthermore there is massive flooding in the cage. Shimba was sick and receiving medication. This cat should have been placed in isolation and properly cared for demonstrating that Baskin is NOT an expert and has little regard for proper procedures for sick animals as BCR is not properly equipped to provide proper vet care procedures yet is a multi-million dollar business.
Complaint filed against Big Cat Rescue over leopard
TAMPA — Big Cat Rescue, the sprawling 67-acre Citrus Park sanctuary that is home to more than 100 lions, tigers, leopards, bobcats and other wild felines, was issued a warning by state wildlife officers after someone submitted a photo of a staffer allowing a leopard into a caged area with an open top.
The complaint was filed by Vernon Yates, a wildlife trapper and rescuer from Pinellas County who also runs a shelter for big cats and other species. He said the photo was taken by an unidentified person who either volunteers or works at Big Cat Rescue.
“There is a person who works there who from time to time, calls me with stuff that goes on there,” said Yates, who owns and operates Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Seminole. “I usually laugh it off. I say, ‘If you ain’t got proof, it never happened.”
Yates said he received the photo and sent it on to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“Florida statutes clearly state you can’t put leopards in open-top cages,” Yates said. “Leopards are cunning and they are superb climbers and if a leopard gets out, we all know who they’re going to call to catch it. Me.”
In a statement released earlier Tuesday, Yates was critical of Big Cat Rescue and its founder and CEO, Carole Baskin:
“It is shocking that Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue would endanger the lives of their neighbors as well as their own employees and volunteers in this way. It is shocking that they would endanger the life of the leopard itself in this way since there is a very real risk that the leopard would be hurt or killed if it had escaped. “It is ironic that Big Cat Rescue frequently criticizes other zoos claiming that Big Cat Rescue is better able to handle exotic cats.”
Baskin admitted wildlife officers came out to look at the cage last week but shrugged off the complaint, saying other wildlife caretakers often take aim at a Big Cat Rescue. She said that’s because they’re jealous that her sanctuary keeps cats in large environments that are similar to their habitat and they’re upset that Big Cat Rescue is leading the charge to pass a federal law that would clamp down on big cat breeding, abuse and the keeping of cats in small enclosures.
She said the state inspectors last week told her there did not seem to be anything wrong with the two-and-a-half-acre pen, dubbed the Vacation Rotation enclosure because cats are rotated in and out of the area.
“They issued a warning, not a citation because they believed it was clear that no harm was intended and no harm would have come of the situation,” Baskin said.
She said the law changed after the enclosure was built. The change now requires enclosures to be topped if leopards are to be kept there. At the time the enclosure was built, it met all the state requirements, she said. [Bloggers Note: This is NOT true-A top has ALWAYS been required for Leopards in Florida]
Baskin filed a petition for an exemption. In the petition, she described the enclosure as large enclosure which has a 15-foot fence with a 5-foot cantilever leaning inward at the top and encircling the pen. At the end of the slanted portion is a “curtain of wire.”
“If a cat were to climb, upside down, for the five feet of the cantilever,” she wrote, “this draping of a wire panel keeps them from being able to get a paw out past the wire and over to the top of the cantilever.”
She also said the leopards who are rotated in the pen have been declawed, including the one depicted in the photograph.
“That leopard can’t even climb up on a foot stool,” she said. “He’s already back in his own enclosure, which is 1,200 square-foot cage with a roof over it.”
The larger enclosure is an open space through which the cats are rotated, she said, to give them a two-week change of scenery and a little more room to prowl around. Until she hears about the exemption, leopards will not be allowed back there, she said.
Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit that began rescuing exotic cats 22 years ago, is an accredited sanctuary for exotic cats that is home to about 100 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species, most of which have been abandoned, abused, orphaned or retired from performing acts.
Baskin said other wildlife keepers filing complaints on Big Car Rescue is nothing new.
“Every week or so, I get some false complaint,” she said. “I have to address it, and lots of times I have to respond to the media as well. It’s just ridiculous.”
State wildlife officers declined to discuss specifics of the matter.
“We issued a warning, not a citation,” said commission spokesman Gary Morse. “The warning just says they have been warned and this needs to be fixed. It’s just a record that we talked to them and that there is an issue.”
“If someone brings to us a petition to preclude other people from enjoying something they do, I think it is very incumbent upon them to be loaded with information as to exactly why that does pose, not might pose, not could pose, not maybe will pose, but pose as a risk, anything less than that I regard as just mean.” -So I guess you are just mean!!!-just saying…