Battling COVID-19 at Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue closed our gates to visitors on March 16, 2020. Our guided tours provided $160,000 per month which funded all of the salaries and overhead of the sanctuary. Our donors loved that 100% of their donations actually went to our programs and not to admin. Our annual budget to feed 57 lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, jaguar, ocelot, bobcats, servals, caracals and hybrids is 3.5 million and the lost tour revenue, and the gift shop sales that went with those visits is close to 2 million dollars. On April 1, 2020 we had to cut our staff of 23 back to 13. My husband and I were two of those cut from the payroll.
I lived through 9-11 in 2001 and saw the sanctuary nearly fail; which would have meant having to euthanize every big cat at the refuge, because all of the other sanctuaries were in even worse shape. It took 2 years to recover financially after that terrible event and I believe the recovery from COVID-19 will take much, much longer.
Thanks to our amazing donors the sanctuary’s cats have a fully funded pension that will provide food and vet care for them to the end of their days. We would have to shut everything down, end all of our work to save wild cats from abuse and extinction, and let all of our staff go, but there is money in the Community Foundation endowment fund to be sure the cats don’t starve. Even though we made the tough choices to ensure our cats’ futures, we face an immediate crisis now. In order to keep doing the important work we do, without depleting our savings, we count on your donations more than ever.