Most of the big cats at Carole Baskin’s Florida animal sanctuary profiled in Netflix’s “Tiger King” series will be moving to a sanctuary in Arkansas and Big Cat Rescue’s land will eventually be sold.
“Big Cat Rescue has entered into an agreement with Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, an accredited sanctuary in Arkansas, to move most of Big Cat Rescue’s cats to Turpentine Creek where we will continue to fund their care for the rest of their lives,” Howard Baskin, Carole Baskin’s husband, said in a memo.
Once all the cats at the sanctuary have been moved, the Hillsborough County sanctuary property will be sold, and the proceeds will be used to “fund these species-saving projects in the wild,” according to the memo.
“We have always said that our goal was to ‘put ourselves out of business,’ meaning that there would be no big cats in need of rescue and no need for the sanctuary to exist,” the memo read. “Supporting our cats in larger enclosures at Turpentine Creek, at much lower cost per cat than we incur by continuing to operate Big Cat Rescue, will free up resources to let us do much more to save big cats in the wild.”
In 2021, the US House of Representatives passed a bill, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, to prohibit unlicensed people from owning tigers, lions, jaguars and other wild animals. Lawmakers introduced the legislation after “Tiger King,” the popular docuseries about an eccentric keeper of big cats in Oklahoma, drew attention to the issue.
“With the passage of the BCPSA we expect the need for rescues to decline over the coming decade. If the need were going to continue at the pace we saw up until a few years ago, we would be making a different decision,” the memo read.
“Having ended most of the abuse of big cats via the BCPSA, focusing on the third prong of our mission, i.e., maximizing the amount we can donate to in situ projects to save the cats from extinction, is the best way to fulfill our mission and impact the most cats going forward,” the memo added.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge announced on Facebook Thursday that they will be taking in 35 cats from Big Cat Rescue as part of an expansion plan, “building a sustainable future for animals rescue.”
“Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge was approached and asked to take in BCR remaining cats,” the announcement read. “BCR no longer conducts rescues and will be pivoting their goals. There is no professional affiliation between TCWR’s ownership, operations, or management and BCR.”
CNN’s Jennifer Henderson contributed to this report.