Every year the big cats in the largest accredited sanctuary in the world, Big Cat Rescue, look forward to enjoying their very own Christmas tree. This year was no exception, as the annual Christmas tree roundup continued.
“The cats absolutely love their Christmas trees, and we make sure every cat gets one each year. Male lions love them the most,” said Willow Hecht, education director/senior keeper at Big Cat Rescue. “The small cats love the smell and the fact that they can hide and sleep underneath the trees. The big cats like to knock them down and roll on them.”
Big Cat Rescue located in Tampa, Florida, is home to over 100 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species, most of whom have been abandoned, abused, orphaned, saved from being turned into fur coats, or retired from performing acts.
The rescue’s dual mission is to provide the best home they can for the cats in their care and educate the public about the plight of these majestic animals, both in captivity and in the wild, in order to end their abuse and avoid their extinction.
The Christmas tree roundup and enrichment program has been taking place at the sanctuary for over 10 years.
“The cats seem to like any kind of fir that people usually get at Christmas,” continued Hecht. “They react very strongly to scents, so they also love catnip and herbs and other scented plants like dog fennel, all of which we use for their enrichment.”
The sanctuary does not accept tree contributions from individuals. They get the trees from contacts they have with various tree lots, usually through their own efforts by asking them to donate. They also sometimes purchase the trees in large quantities.
“Once in a while a tree lot contacts our Operations Manager on their own, wanting to know if we need trees,” said Hecht.
Read more about the Christmas tree roundup on this website page.
Individuals can help with this project by buying a tree for a big cat in 2013. In 2012, the rescue asked for a $25 donation per tree. Tree donation information will be available on the Big Cat Rescue website in late November or early December, 2013.
Big Cat Rescue is situated on 55 acres in the Citrus Park area of north Tampa, Florida. They are a 501(c)(3) accredited, non-profit sanctuary and home to more than 100 exotic big cats. The sanctuary began rescuing exotic cats in November, 1992.
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