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Carole Baskin Shares Details on Her Life Mission To Save Cats and Kittens

Carole Baskin talked all about Big Cat Rescue and her mission to save cats and kittens on The Sarah Scoop Show. Catching up on life after Tiger King, Baskin discussed her ultimate goals when it comes to big cats and other animals.

The Birth of Big Cat Rescue

image credit: Carole Baskin

Before rescuing big cats, an eight-year-old Carole Baskin started small with kittens. After her grandmother told her to drop off kittens at a shelter, Baskin later realized that they would not be receiving new homes.

At this moment, Baskin made it her life’s mission to “somehow rescue domestic cats and kittens from being killed in shelters due to overpopulation.”

At seventeen years old, Baskin graduated from kittens to bobcats in a chance visit at the vet. Here, Baskin would take home her first bobcat, giving it a place to recover before returning them to the wild. Baskin would continue to take injured bobcats in from the vet. 

image credit: Carole Baskin

Baskin’s mission would continue to an auction in 1992. Here, she and her husband Don successfully won a bobcat in the auction, saving it from someone who planned to turn it into a piece of furniture. This bobcat proved to be a handful for her household, terrorizing Baskin’s husband, daughter, and dog any chance it got. 

When looking for a companion to occupy the bobcat, Baskin, her husband, daughter, and daughter’s friend drove to Minnesota to purchase another kitten.

However, instead of just buying one kitten, Baskin left with fifty-six bobcats, saving them from the fur farm they resided on. With this many cats in her possession, Baskin officially went on to start her sanctuary. 

“It wasn’t something I ever set out to do. It was just something where I thought this is a problem I can fix, and stupidly I thought I could fix it fast. Turns out, twenty-eight years later I still haven’t got that problem fixed, but we’re making progress” says Baskin. 

image credit: Carole Baskin

Zoos versus Sanctuaries

During the podcast, Baskin stressed the differences between zoos and sanctuaries. In Tiger King, the show makes zoos and sanctuaries out to be the same entity.

According to Baskin, zoos “buy, breed, sell, allow public contact, and or take the animals off-site for exhibits.” Meanwhile, sanctuaries are the complete opposite of zoos, not allowing anything Baskin previously mentioned to occur. 

Baskin also discusses the common misconception that zoos are essential for teaching children to care about animals. This fault could not be further from the truth. Baskin says that zoos teach children that “it is ok to take away the freedom of these innocent animals because it amuses you.” 

image credit: Carole Baskin

Will technology and gaming replace zoos?

Through augmented reality, Baskin shares a solution for the backlash of closing zoos. In various malls in Florida, Baskin has opened the “first and second augmented reality zoos.”

With the use of an app, users can scan posters of big cats and see them come to life before their very eyes. Baskin thinks this will safely immerse users in the world of these cats. 

Baskin has also made strides in virtual reality gaming. Teaming up with developer Xennial Digital, Baskin released the “Big Cat Rescue VR Tiger Game” on the Oculus VR platform. Baskin hopes to raise awareness and teach children about the dangers big cats face through this game. 

The Current Status of Big Cat Rescue

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the sanctuary closed to the public on March 15th. Since tours generated a lot of revenue for the sanctuary’s operations, Baskin projects a loss of over $1 million. To put this number in perspective, Baskin shared the operating costs for the sanctuary. To operate, they have to “raise between three and a half and four million dollars every year to take care of the cats.”

To recover lost funds required for the cats, Baskin resorted to public appearances on shows such as Dancing with the Stars, making online cameos, and selling merchandise. 

Get the scoop on Carole Baskin and all things big cats by checking out this week’s episode of The Sarah Scoop Podcast.

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