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BCR News Investigations

May 10, 2014 in Admin

During my investigation into the Animal Cruelty at BCR (the killing of innocent, helpless domestic rabbits, rats & turkeys), irresponsible ownership of big cats, fabricated rescue stories/fraud and domestic violence reports were also found.
It is my Opinion that people who might be considering donations to BCR should be aware of the controversy surrounding the deaths of animals at this facility, irresponsible loose cats/attacks, outdated cruel barbaric practices of live feeding, and fraudulent information regarding the animals in their care that BCR broadcasts in newsletters, and social networks on the internet to secure donations. It is also my Belief that BCR’S practices and death records do not make it an ethical or successful caretaker of wildlife.

3/7/2016 Captive Wildlife Report Case/CAD Number FWSW16OFF002976 /FWTB16CAD005682
Alleged Cougar Bite Incident  FWSW16OFF002976_-_report     FWSW16OFF002976_-_pictures
Victim – “Preventative hospital admittance for several days for wound care/prevention received at Oak Hill Hospital, Brooksville, Florida”.
FWCC was notified by the John Campbell, State Department of Health/Hernando County HealthDepartment.
No Violations given to BCR by FWC, Investigation closed and dismissed as possible fence injury.  

2/24/2016 Florida Dept of Health – Animal Bite Report  cougar bite
Cougar Bite – 
Report notes: “called Fish and Game, they didn’t care…

The FWC report also states: “throughout the entire facility there are sections of wire fence that have very sharp edges and this is also addressed in the release from liability form that each person must sign prior to entering the grounds”.  This is a violation of USDA and OSHA.

11/07/2014 – FWSW14OFF15055 Inspection
Cages, Paddocks, pools appear NOT to have been CLEANED, RAKED, SCRUBBED, & DISINFECTED within prescribed schedules.

Violations were changed to Discrepancies by FWC per request of BCR  
Documents Compared
BigCatRescueBaskinCarolROU11072014 (002).pdf
Summary 76 word(s) added 170 word(s) deleted 3912 word(s) matched 24 block(s) matched  (see details here)

Big Cat Rescue states FWC “erroneously characterized their observations as violations” in the Inspection on 11/7/2014 and that a new report was made because of these “Mistakes”.    Is BCR stating the Florida Fish & Game is not qualified to make valid Inspections and that BCR has special privileges allowing a new amended report (with Major Changes) called a “Final Report”?
This is not understandable, are the FWC staff not properly trained and does every Big Cat facility in FL have a right to ask for amended Investigative Reports?
Read the BCR post: http://bigcatrescue.org/big-cat-rescue-watch/

10/2/2014 – Big Cat Rescue Issued Warning for Leopard Enclosure
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.
FWC Investigation Report:  FWSW14OFF13437BaskinBCR100214ReportLeopard

News Article

The complaint was Received on: 9/28/2014
The Inspection given on:  10/2/2014

Why did it take 4 days for FWC to respond to a dangerous threat to the public?  Was this threat not an immediate concern with neighbors and touring visitors? 

BCR Tampa claims to own over 100 dangerous predators (Big Cats) and is not aware of the current laws and expects yet another exception?  A facility that has had repeated loose cats as well as Big Cat attacks and Law Suits in the past?

BCR Quotes:

The Florida Wildlife Commission inspectors said they saw no way a leopard could escape our vacation rotation enclosure but that I would have to apply to their boss in Tallahassee, which I have done, for an exception.  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.

“The one sentence about leopards and open top cages was buried in a section about cougars.  The FWC inspectors said they thought the cage was safe for leopards, but that they couldn’t make the decision, so they told me to contact Tallahassee for the request.  I did so within the hour”.

“Since we were obviously not aware of the rule and there was no imminent danger, they issued a warning, instead of a citation”.

BCR Website:

How long has BCR been endangering the lives of neighbors, visitors and the public and why did FWC approve this Vacation area during inspections?
2 Leopards in the Vacation area:
Nyla on “vacation” just a few days before her death dated 3/16/2014

4/8/2013 – According to Florida Fish & Game (FWC); Big Cat Rescue Tampa (BCR) is Not Classified as a Sanctuary


9/29/2011 – BCR Fraud Investigation by Mike Deeson Ch 10 News
3/15/2011Rescue groups collide over feeding one animals to another

3/3/2011 – USDA Inspection Report / RepeatFencing Violations (unsafe caging)


9/29/2010 / June 7, 2010  Enclosure Violations (unsafe caging)

9/8/2009 BCR Fraud Investigation Ch 9 News – Channel 9 News

4/28/2008 Better Business Bureaus:  Big Cat Rescue Corp (BCRC) does not meet the following Standard for Charity Accountability.

5/4/2007 Animal Welfare Complaint  – Transporting dangerous Tigers in a “Moving Van”

10/2/2007 Despite the News Reports of loose big cats and attacks at this facility; BCR sends letters to neighbors of Exotic Owners to scare them

2003 Personal Injury Lawsuit Ocelot Bite 

9/15/1998 Cougar Attack Victim Release 

9/11/1998 Wildlife sanctuary faces federal charges after leopard attack 1998

PDF:  9.11.1998 Newspaper Archives _ tampabay

[STATE Edition]
Publication: St. Petersburg Times – St. Petersburg, Fla.
Author: Grant, Tim
Date: Sep 11, 1998
Abstract (Document Summary)
The wildlife sanctuary where a volunteer worker was mauled by a black leopard last week has for years been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for improper care and handling of its animals.
Wildlife on Easy Street, the exotic cat sanctuary founded by Don [Lewis] and Carole Lewis, has been charged with 26 counts of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act.
The charges lodged against the 40-acre sanctuary off Sheldon Road include failing to provide veterinary care to animals in need, unsanitary water receptacles, unsafe storage of food, shoddy records, shabby housing for the animals and trashy grounds.
Full Article:  Newspapertampabay

9/4/1998 Caged leopard attacks sanctuary volunteer
Caged leopard attacks sanctuary volunteer

Publication: St. Petersburg Times – St. Petersburg, Fla.
Author: Grant, Tim
Date: Sep 4, 1998
Abstract (Document Summary)
A volunteer at an exotic cat sanctuary was recovering Thursday after she was mauled by a black leopard that attacked her through its cage.
Mindy Harrell, 46, of Odessa said she received 451 stitches to her right arm after Wednesday’s attack at Wildlife on Easy Street. The leopard, named Jamongee, removed skin from her elbow to her wrist.  (Click on “More” under Document Summary)
PDF: 9.4.1998 Wildlife sanctuary faces federal charges after leopard attack

12/4/1997 Missing Businessman Sued over Cougar bite
Missing businessman sued over cougar bite Series: BRIEFLY
[2 LATE TAMPA Edition]
Publication: St. Petersburg Times – St. Petersburg, Fla.
Date: Dec 4, 1997
Abstract (Document Summary)
Don Lewis, owner of Wildlife on Easy Street, has been missing since August. But that hasn’t stopped a visitor to Lewis’ animal preserve from suing him over a cougar bite he says was inflicted at the attraction.
PDF:  12/4/1997 Missing Businessman Sued over Cougar bite

9/19/1997 – Missing millionaire worries family
Publication: St. Petersburg Times – St. Petersburg, Fla.
Author: Karp, David; Peterman, Erika D
Date: Sep 19, 1997
Abstract (Document Summary)
Lewis’ disappearance has worried his friends and family, knotted his business affairs and mystified law enforcement. Volunteers from his big-cat sanctuary have distributed more than 1,000 missing person fliers. A psychic has visited his house. His wife and his children from another marriage have squared off in court over his money, and the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office has taken a keen interest in his whereabouts. Detectives say that while there are no obvious signs of foul play, it hasn’t been ruled out.
On Wednesday, authorities received an unconfirmed report that Lewis, 59, was in Costa Rica, where he owns 200 acres near a volcano. They do not know if someone took him there, if someone killed him, or if he left on his own.
In June, Lewis told a Hillsborough circuit judge that his wife threatened to kill him, but the judge did not see a danger. That same month he visited a psychiatrist at his wife’s urging, but did not return for follow-up visits, she said. He also told her several times he wanted a divorce, but she said he wasn’t serious.
PDF:  9/19/1997 – Missing millionaire worries family

8/7/1996 -Two roaming cougars back in cages
[2 LATE TAMPA Edition]
Publication: St. Petersburg Times – St. Petersburg, Fla.
Author: Clary, Susan
Date: Aug 7, 1996
Abstract (Document Summary)
Two domesticated cougars that escaped from a north Tampa wildlife facility were recaptured Monday and taken home, wildlife experts said.
Officials were deciding Tuesday whether to cite the owners, who manage Wildlife on Easy Street near Sheldon Road and Gunn Highway.
Though one cougar remained loose Monday night, Lewis denied to a reporter that his cat was missing. The Lewises did not return calls Tuesday.

PDF:  8/7/1996 Two roaming cougars back in cages

8/6/1996 – Searchers continue hunt for cougar
[2 LATE TAMPA Edition]
Publication: St. Petersburg Times – St. Petersburg, Fla.
Author: Shaver, Katherine; Duckworth, Erika
Date: Aug 6, 1996
Abstract (Document Summary)
Wildlife experts searched Monday for an escaped South American cougar even as the animal’s owner denied to reporters that the cougar was missing.
A tame 80-pound cougar escaped about 7:30 a.m. and was still missing at 10 p.m. after a 12-hour search Monday, wildlife experts said.
“We’ve already found her and put her up,” said Don Lewis, owner of Wildlife on Easy Street. The habitat houses more than 100 cats, including lions and tigers, off Sheldon Road near Gunn Highway.
PDF:  8.6.1996 Wildlife experts searched Monday for an escaped South American cougar

4/24/1995  It’s a bitter case of leopard custody
[CITY Edition]
Publication: St. Petersburg Times – St. Petersburg, Fla.
Author: Norton, Wilma
Date: Apr 24, 1995
Abstract (Document Summary)
The leopards, owned by Jack Don Lewis of Tampa, were seized in August by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission because Lewis did not have the appropriate permit.
The game commission gave the leopards to Vernon Yates, founder of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in St. Petersburg. Yates said he would take care of them until Lewis resolved his legal dispute.
In a lawsuit Lewis filed, he contends that Yates has ruined the leopards. Lewis says Yates put them in a pen that was too smalland with a bobcat and a lynx, incompatible cats. He says Yates didn’t spend time with the leopards and didn’t let him visit.
PDF:  4/24/1995 It’s a bitter case of leopard custody

2001 – AZA Denied

Documented proof of fabricated rescue stories 

Domestic Violence Complaints – Missing Husband


12/7/1998 – Too Purrfect  Carole Lewis in ‘People‘ magazine, discussing her husband’s Don Lewis mysterious disappearance 
People Magazine Archives:  http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20127008,00.html

Two months before Don Lewis Vanished he filed court documents seeking a domestic violence injunction against Carole Baskin



Big Cat Rescue Tampa, can you please update your Stats on Big Cat Maulings & Big Cat Escapes dated 1999-2014?    It Appears you have forgotten to list Your Facility under the State of Florida.



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