One of Carole Baskin’s ex-employees has spoken out about working at Big Cat Rescue
Carole bred cats until 1997
An ex-employee claiming to have worked as a volunteer at Big Cat Rescue in 2015 has answered many of the questions that viewers of Tiger King had about Baskin and her sanctuary in a Reddit post. User Cat_Intern, who says she worked there for 12 weeks in total, said that they were “pretty surprised to see the name making the rounds, as not too many people had heard of the place outside of a few popular YouTube videos.”
They continued to write that, after watching Tiger King from start to finish, they thought it was the perfect time to write about the sanctuary and what went on when they worked there: “This is NOT a post about Carole, but about the working conditions at BCR and how the animals were kept.”
So were they ever told about Carole’s husband? Was it a cult? Was the sanctuary any better than Joe’s or Doc’s?
Did Carole kill her husband?
Although saying at the start that they’d only be addressing the controversy towards the park, they did mention it briefly, albeit jokingly: “You know, that’s actually the first thing they tell you when you become an intern. Yeah, Carole killed her husband but keep it on the DL.
“I don’t fucking know dude, I watched the same documentary as the rest of you. In the few brief conversations I had with her, the topic of ‘Did you kill your husband’ never really came up believe it or not. Honestly, I thought she seemed kind of out there while talking to her, but it’s not like she was the weirdest person I’ve ever met.”
They then went on to address the situation a bit more seriously, saying: “Call the Tampa Bay Police and tell them to search the septic tank if it makes you happy. I’m certainly suspicious after watching the show.” Carole has denied having anything to do with her ex-husband’s death.
Was it a cult?
The user distinctly splits people involved in Big Cat Rescue into three categories: volunteers who come on weekends while working full-time jobs elsewhere, interns who work full days and live just off-site and staff who get paid to work there and went through either the volunteer or intern stages. Most of the people working there are volunteers and interns.
They imply that all people were there on their own volition, and the t-shirts only served as a way of telling people of different experience levels apart: “Sure, it seems really weird with the different colored shirts and whatnot, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The lower-level interns and volunteers are trained to work with the smaller cats (bobcats, servals, etc.), while the higher-level interns and volunteers work with the lions and tigers and shit. It helps make sure that the people who work with the most dangerous cats actually know what the fuck they’re doing.”
How is it different to Joe’s zoo?
The ex-intern at Big Cat Rescue stressed very strongly that they were two very different places with two very different purposes. For starters, they say: “There’s actually a ‘vacation’ schedule for the cats. For two weeks at a time, the cats are moved to a much larger area. For the smaller cats, there’s a half-acre cage, and for the larger cats, there’s a 2.5-acre cage. They get to stay in the ‘vacation homes’ for two weeks at a time before they’re moved back, and another cat goes on vacation.”
They went on to say that whatever people thought of Carole after the docuseries, the sanctuary is still the real deal: “Whatever you may think of her, BCR is not just a private backyard collection. BCR is 100 percent a real, bonafide, non-profit sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. They even won an award from the GFAS just last year. Meanwhile, Joe’s zoo is registered to the state of Oklahoma as a fucking rendering facility.”
Are the animals abused?
Whilst there were reports, even from the directors themselves that Joe shot and abused many of the cats in his zoo, the user claims that there was no abuse at Big Cat Rescue for multiple reasons.
Firstly: “No one at BCR has any physical contact with the cats. No one goes inside the cages while the cats are there. No one touches, pets, cuddles with, throws shit at, hits, or physically interacts with the cats in any way. No one.”
Secondly: “BCR doesn’t buy, sell, or trade cats. The cats are all given to the sanctuary. There’s no profit being made when an animal arrives or leaves the sanctuary. A lot of the cats come from some fucked up situation, like the circus or a drug dealer’s pet. Some were pets of ordinary people who realized that they couldn’t handle a giant predator in their house.”
Thirdly: “No Breeding. This one is a pretty big deal. A cat bred in captivity is pretty much guaranteed to spend its life in captivity. But more than that, cats are often bred for really fucked up reasons.”
What were the cages like?
They explained that, similarly to Joe’s zoo, the animals were indeed all caged, but along with the aforementioned fact that they had “vacation” periods, their space is still significantly larger: “BCR’s typical cage size was 1200 square feet. A few were larger, but none were smaller. Cages held either one or two cats. From memory, I would guess it was about a 70/30 split for cages with one cat and cages with two cats.”
Cages look a lot smaller “due to their design. Most of the cages on tour paths have a front section, easily visible from the tour path, and a back section, that recedes further away. This gives the cats the option to get away from people on the tour if they want.”
Did Carole ever breed cats?
According to the author, Carole and Big Cat Rescue did indeed breed cats at one point, writing: “Yeah, they totally fucking did. They bred cats until 1997. The most recent cat born in the sanctuary was an accident in 2001. They bought cats up until 1998. They let the public touch the cats until 2003, and let the volunteers touch the cats until 2004.
“Somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of the cats living there today were born there. But here’s the thing: they actually own up to all of this. This is a link to BCR’s website where they talk about how they changed over time. You don’t have to believe that their intentions were always as pure and good-hearted as they make it sound. But I have respect for them owning their mistakes publicly and genuinely changing.”
All in all, they round the post off with a TLDR saying “Big Cat Rescue is not the Lawful Evil equivalent of Joe’s Chaotic Evil zoo. It’s a non-profit sanctuary accredited by multiple organizations whose job it is to keep track of these things, and it genuinely does right by its animals.” Fair play, it seems the organisation is indeed lawful and does right by the animals that are enclosed within.