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Feeding Live Rabbits to Bobcats at BCR

May 10, 2014 in Admin

I would like to –  Review & Rebut – the following article posted on the BCR website, the same misleading, untrue post that has been up since 2011:

The Truth About Feeding Live Rabbits at Big Cat Rescue

“Joe Schreibvogel has tried to upset Rabbit Rescuers, who we hold in very high esteem, by lying to them about our feeding practices at Big Cat Rescue.  He contacted many of the rabbit rescue groups in an attempt to cause them distress in the hopes that they would help him slander Big Cat Rescue.  He hates us because we are going after him in federal court and are doing all we can to stop the abusive practice of breeding big cats to use as photo props.  His relentless breeding is the cause of so many more carnivores being produced who must eat other animals.  The angst he has caused between rabbit rescuers and Big Cat Rescue is misplaced as it is our goal to end the captivity of big cats which would end the need for other animals to be raised as food for the big cats”.

Rebut:  Joe S.did not upset the rabbit rescue groups.  BCR’S unethical, unnecessary feeding of live domestic rabbits to bobcats in rehab did; and this barbaric practice at BCR and has nothing to do with Joe S’s breeding of animals.  BCR also supports breeding, killing and freezing of domestic rabbits and feeds them to their big cats as “Treats” when it is common knowledge that ethical facilities feed animals already killed for human consumption, i.e. chickens, turkeys, fish, beef and occasional deer. 
ABC NEWS Interview and Video: 

(BCR) “Despite false claims to the contrary, it is widely accepted by those who do legitimate rehab and release, to feed live prey because it is the only way to ensure the success of animals returned to the wild.  It is the preferred method of feeding carnivores by all of the most respected groups such as the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council and the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association”.

Feeding live domestic rabbits to wildlife in rehab is Not widely accepted and is by far Not the Only way to rehab successfully. Does BCR ear tag the bobcats that survive their rehab program and record the success to make the above statement?

There is no documented information for rehabbers that states feeding of live domestic rabbits is acceptable in the NWRA Basics of Wildlife Rehabilitation, nor with IWRC’s.  We have contacted the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council who was appalled to hear that this was even happening and referred me to rehabilitation centers that rehabbed big cats.

We also found no references with the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) Code of Ethics that references or promoes Live Feeds and NWRA does not have any legal or regulatory authority regarding rehabilitation practices or facilities but claims NWRA maintains integrity and professionalism for all NWRA members and fellow rehabilitators and states that:
“A wildlife rehabiliator should strive to provide professional and humane care in all phases of wildlife rehabilitation, respecting the wildness and maintaining the dignity of each animal in life and in death”.

Response from NWRA: Bobcat Feeding Protocols
Friday, February 3, 2012 7:45 AM
From: “nwra@nwrawildlife.org”

Dear Linda,

This email is in response to your inquiry dated January 17, 2012, regarding the feeding of domestic rabbits to bobcats during rehabilitation.
You asked, “Can you please clarify – the NWRA condones feeding specifically live tame domestic rabbits to rehabbing bobcats or wild big cats in rehab?”
NWRA neither condones nor condemns the feeding of live domestic rabbits to bobcats undergoing rehabilitation for release into the wild.

Sandy Woltman
President, NWRA

The following email was sent to Gainsville Rabbit Society from Big Cat Rescue:

(BCR)  “I sent the following to the head of the rabbit rescue group who was on the ABC piece but she did not respond and apparently did not explain to all of her rabbit rescue friends”.

Dear Katherine,

I feel that my quick answer to you about our feeding practices did not fully answer some of the questions that were later raised by your supporters.  The following is long, but I hope you will find it to address issues that may still trouble you about us.

At Big Cat Rescue, our 100+ exotic cats are carnivores and therefore must be fed a carnivorous diet. One night a week the cats receive “whole prey,” which are dead rats and rabbits that have been bred by a commercial breeder for this purpose and purchased frozen by us

“ONLY bobcats that we are rehabilitating in order to return them to the wild are fed live prey”.
Rebut:  Moses and Precious are Not rehabbing bobcats and rabbits to not fly through the air and run when they are dead –

(BCR) “We must feed them live prey so that these orphaned bobcat kittens are able to learn their hunting skills; and so adult bobcats recovering from being hit by cars can regain their hunting skills. Our rehabbing bobcats are rarely given rabbits while at our sanctuary; the rest of the time here they consume rats. Big Cat Rescue usually has one or two rehabbing bobcats at our sanctuary each year.  You noted in the ABC news piece that the rabbit didn’t run initially, but I often see birds and squirrels that wander into cages do the same thing and wonder how on earth they survived as long as they did.  It just happens sometimes”.

Rebut:  A professional rehabber understands fierce bobcats or predators do not “forget” how to kill or hunt and that wild predators are born with natural killing instincts and do not need humans to teach them. I believe the following article states Carole Baskin is fully aware of this?    http://causes.worldpeacemeet.com/stoplivefeeds/questions-carole/

(BCR) “It just happens sometimes that the domestic rabbits do not run”?
Rebut: Domestic rabbits do not live in the wild and do not run from the bobcats because they are not a wild animal and have no wild instincts, any educated rehab professional should realize they are providing a tame easy target to be tortured for a long period of time and ripped apart alive for no logical reason.  BCR has more than one or two bobcats for rehab each year, in fact according to the BCR daily news they travel out of town and out of State to bring bobcats back to their facility regularly.

(BCR) “The people who volunteer at Big Cat Rescue love animals. Many of us are vegetarians and vegans.  We wish there was a way to feed our cats that does not mean the sacrifice of any life. It is not and has never been our intention to offend animal and rabbit lovers. To that end we have removed the video from YouTube.  The people who were trying to make this into something it wasn’t will be pirating copies and posting them to try and prolong the controversy, but if you send me the URLs I will have them removed based upon copyright issues, with the exception of the ABC report”.
“Big Cat Rescuers Love Bunnies Too”

Rebut:  Big Cat Rescuers love bunnies too?
Animal rescue and rehab persons do not torture and kill animals they love or respect, being a vegan or vegetarian has nothing to do with this topic and there are plenty of alternatives to feeding big cats without sacrificing live animals or breeding more animals to feed as treats unnecessarily.  The videos of domestic rabbits being tortured and killed at BCR still remain on BCR accounts all over the internet (not pirating copies).  When is BCR going to remove these videos of predators in rehab status?

BCR offends rabbits lovers and the general public by its disgraceful proud display of killing of helpless domestic rabbits.  BCR removed the video from Youtube because the videos and photos are posted against FWCC regulations and have been for years:

Big Cat Rescue Tampa was issued the following warning on 3/17/2011 by Florida Fish and Game Commission

“With regards to the allegations of exhibition of wildlife under rehabilitation status, FWC staff investigated and was able to confirm that BCR did, in fact, post a video on the BCR website and “Youtube” of wildlife being fed in rehabilitation status. BCR was advised of the violation and was ordered to remove the video from the public website and BCR corporate officer “Jamie Veronica Murdock” was issued a warning on March 17, 2011, for a violation of Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) 68A-9.006″.
Complaint Reference: http://causes.worldpeacemeet.com/stoplivefeeds/bcr-complaint-new/

According to Google the BCR Article “feeding rabbits to bobcats at big cat rescue” was posted on:
Mar 25, 2011
According to the BCR Article dated (March 26,2012) they stated they had never seen the following photo before it was seen posted on the internet. 
(See BCR comments below)
BCR March 26, 2012
(BCR) “There is also much discussion about an imagine of some of our volunteers on the back of a golf cart, smiling and holding dead rabbits.  I had not seen the photo before today and sent out inquiries to find out what the circumstances were behind what appeared to be totally inappropriate behavior”.

“Thank you for your thoughtful post. The image is not posted on any of our sites. The people who try to cause trouble between animal rescue groups are the ones posting it and we have sued them for it, but lawsuits take years to wind their way through court”.

Carole Baskin claims to have not seen the photo in question however; the photo was in fact – originally taken from the BCR Facebook page and can be found in image searches online
Second row – third photo
  is a “SCREENSHOT” from Big Cat Rescue’s Public Facebook Photo Album in March 2011; before it was removed after the FWCC investigation started in April 2011.

(BCR) “A former volunteer remembered the photo and told me that it was from Christmas two years ago.  The manager had told some of his most dedicated volunteers that they could give one of their favorite cats the treat of a whole rabbit.  Back then it was a rare thing because we couldn’t afford whole prey and the ladies on the cart were smiling ear to ear that their favorite cats were going to have such a wonderful gift.  They were most certainly not smiling about the fate of the rabbits.  (The rats and rabbits fed to our non rehab cats all arrive frozen)”.

Why are these rabbits Covered In Blood, bleeding from their ears, face, paws and body?  Why are the Eyes of the dutch rabbit Wide Open and its body not limp, is this rabbit still alive?  Why would an “Animal Sanctuary” support the unnecessary breeding and killing of innocent helpless domestic animals to feed as “Treats” to Big Cats and as “Live Food” to rehabbing Bobcats?

Rebut:  Tame domestic rabbits killed to be a wonderful gift and treat?

Thawed out frozen rabbits are not covered in blood, do not bleed from their ears, eyes, paws and body and they most certainly do not have their eyes open like the (dutch bunny on the right of the photo) while holding their head, legs and body upright, instead they are limp.

(BCR) “I think that you and I might have been able to come to terms on this a little better than we did; and hope that it helps to know the following”:

Rebut:   Kathrine, rabbit rescues or ethical wildlife rescues do not value one animal life more than another and it is our responsibility to respect and value all animal life.  We do not condone the unnecessarily breeding of domestic rabbits (that are pets to millions of people) to be used as Treats or Live food for your big cats, there are plenty of animals already killed for human consumption for the feeding of captive wild animals. 

1.  “We purchase from the same source that BuschGardens, Lowry Park Zoo, Sea World and many snake breeders do, where the rats and rabbits are bred specifically for use as food.

2.  These prey animals are killed via carbon dioxide which causes them to fall asleep and die in their sleep.  I maintain that there is no good way to die, but this seems more humane than any other that I know of, except old age.

3.  Ironically the prey animals are born and raised in conditions that look identical to the way chickens are raised for human consumption, although not as over crowded.  As you may have seen in the ABC piece, I and my daughter, our rehabber, are vegetarians and my husband is a vegan.  Many of our volunteers, including all three in the photo you saw, are vegetarians because we do not want an animal to die to fill our bellies”.

Rebut:  Born and raised for profit does not justify the breeding or barbaric behavior and we do not condone feeding live domestic rabbits or other domestic animals to snakes.  Again, what you eat has nothing to do with animal cruelty at your facility.

4.  “I do often take VIP tours into our live prey room because I am so proud of the tender care these animals are given in their last days”.

Rebut:  BCR provides paid VIP tours to the public to show how proud BCR is of the tender care these rabbits living in cages are given before they are taken from their safe areas and thrown into inescapable/unfamiliar enclosures to be tortured and killed.  In my Opinion this is not Honorable.

5.  “The only thing harder for us to do than feed a rabbit to a cat is to make the decision of euthansia for our cats when their quality of life has diminished to the point that it is the only humane thing to do”.

Rebut:  Humane euthanasia choices have No Comparison or Relation to unnecessarily taking the life of a healthy helpless animal while deliberately and intentionally causing that animal pain, suffering and death.

 Florida Cruelty to Animals Statutes

Title XLVI. Crimes. Chapter 828. Animals: Cruelty; Sales; Animal Enterprise Protection.
Citation: FL ST 828.01 – 828.30
Citation: West’s F. S. A. 828.01 – 828.30
Last Checked by Web Center Staff: 01/11

Summary:   This section comprises the Florida anti-cruelty laws.  Under this section, the word “animal” includes every living dumb creature.  

828.12. Cruelty to animals

(1) A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

(2) A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s.775.082 or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

“An animal lover from an early age

I believe that all life is precious, and let’s face it, there isn’t anything on the planet much more precious than a bunny.  My daughter and I both grew up with rabbits that we rescued and cared for until they did die of old age.  My first rescue was from my grandfather who operated a rabbitry that provided rabbits for human consumption.  He was loading up the van to take to them to market and at the age of 8 or so I was setting them free as fast as I could.  I wouldn’t let go of as many as I could hold and my father called a truce by taking me home with them.   I don’t expect that you or your group will ever be OK with our need to train our rehab bobcats using live prey, but I have 30 years experience and believe it is the only reliable way to ensure our bobcats will be able to survive”.

Rebut:  Wildlife facilities, Vets, Professionals and rescues that respect or consider all life as precious do not practice the extreme cruelty of live feeding domestic rabbits, rats and turkeys to big cats.
BCR please review and share your 30 years of bobcat rehab experience?  In 2003 Wildlife On Easy Street became Big Cat Rescue, since 2003 Big Cat Rescue claims to have successfully rehabbed 6 Florida Bobcats (a very poor success rate) and released them back into the wild.  I believe 2003-2012 = 10 years?  How many bobcats have died in the BCR rehab program since 2003?

(BCR) “One of the commenters on Facebook said it better than any of us today when she suggested that we keep our focus on the true evil doers who cause rabbits to be bred and discarded and who cause big cats to be bred and discarded.  Our mission at Big Cat Rescue is to care for the 100+ cats we have and to end the abuses that cause so many big cats to be in need of rescue.  You know from our alerts that we are working hard toward that goal.  We even decided to forego our big fundraiser, The Fur Ball, this year so that we could devote even more time to ending the trade in big cats as pets, props and parts.  Doing so has brought the bad guys out enmasse against us and I suspect that it was Joe or his cronies who were passing on so much inaccurate information about how we feed”.

Rebut: “Focus on the true evil doers who cause rabbits to be bred and discarded”?  Is this referring to the breeders BCR buys rabbits from that disregard the rabbits for profit, and in turn are given as Live sacrifices to big cats or as (dead) Treats?

1. Our Mission as rabbit rescuers is to End the breeding disrespect, torture and killing of our pet rabbits so there will be no need for rabbit rescues or rabbit advocates.

2. Rabbit rescues have no relation to your mission against big cats, we are not cronies or bad guys, we respect all animal life even if it is not our favorite choice of animal.

3. To WPM’S knowledge there is not inaccurate information posted on this website about BCR’S rehab program, if wrong information is posted, please advise and WPM will be happy to correct it as well as post an apology.

“As we win in the legislative arena we will be able to end our need for many animals, including rabbits, to feed the cats.  We will probably always be involved in rehab work, but that is usually only one or two bobcats per year.  I don’t expect you to embrace what we do, but hope that you will feel some relief at knowing the facts of the matter and that our intentions are pure.  Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions or suggestions”.

Rebut:  The feeding of live prey to bobcats has No Relation to BCR’S legislative arena or feeding of any big cat.  BCR chooses to practice unethical unnecessary and barbaric live feeding protocol and we will never embrace this cruelty.  There is no “relief” but only distress knowing these true intentions, we have asked to speak with you on several occasions, we have posted educational updated bobcat training classes for your convenience as well as letters from other rehabs, however you have not responded.

Big Cat Rescue’s Live Feeding Controversy

Big Cat Rescue’s Response to Zoo that Fed Live Donkey to Tigers

The BCR article above is copied and pasted for easy reference, WPM claims no ownership to this article as it is intended for education purposes only.


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