Friday, March 11, 2011

Big Cat Rescue Uses Live Rabbits As Prey

On Thursday, Gainesville Rabbit Rescue (GRR) posted the following on their blog:
It was brought to our attention that the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa has been training bobcats to hunt by using live domesticated rabbits. As a rabbit rescue and animal advocates we are infuriated to hear about this cruel practice. Using domesticated rabbits to train these animals is useless. The picture below captures a moment when the bunny comes up to the cat and touches his nose, only a trustworthy rabbit would do this, so the question that remains is what kind of training is this?
I do not think that in the wild these animals will be able to get a prey animal this easily and it is cruel to put a defenseless bunny through this kind of torture. Please help us by writing to their CEO and the Humane Society as this cruel practice needs to stop!
Later that same day, GRR posted the following video on their facebook page:

Both the video and the blog post have prompted many rabbit advocates to call upon Big Cat Rescue (BCR) to change it's practice of using live, domestic rabbits as prey for their bobcats. However, BCR maintains that it is necessary to provide live prey as part of the rehabilitation process.

I would like to call upon both sides to put aside their differences to find a resolution to this issue. Perhaps if the folks from GRR and BCR worked together they could find a solution that would address the concerns of both groups.

What do you think? Is it necessary to teach hunting skills to bobcats or are these skills innate? Is live prey truly necessary, and if so, should BCR use wild rabbits rather than domestic rabbits? Please leave your comments below or visit Gainesville Rabbit Rescue and Big Cat Rescue on facebook to share your thoughts and concerns.


  1. What a horrible thing... it makes me so sad to see this, thank you for raising awareness about this.

  2. OMG this is awful.......I could barely read it.....just awful

  3. It's a difficult, heartbreaking question. Hunting skills are not innate in the big cats, so they do have to be taught if they're to survive in the wild. But with trusting, domesticated rabbits who haven't been taught how to run and hide? That's NOT hunting!

  4. I posted Big Cats Pumpkin smash video and remember being so pleased with their rescue of large cats organization. NOT SO IMPRESSED NOW :( We have owned a few rabbits. Our last was a lopped ear American Fuzzy. Of all the rabbits we have owned he was the most affectionate - very dog like in behaviour (loved to be petted, jumped in your lap, followed you). Your photo reminds me of our Kahlua (yes 20 something daughtter namned that one, can you tell?)

  5. Those are orphaned bobcats that was purposely killed by a hunter LAST YEAR!!!! The BCR had trained those bobcats to chase those rabbits! ... These were going to be released but they died from hereditary defects.... That is the truth!!! LOOK AT THE DATES OF THE CLIP!! FEB 4TH AND THE LAST BOBCAT DIED ON FEB 28TH! to see you go out in the bush and throw skittles at bobcats, cougars and lynxes!!! rabbits are part of their diet and the Big Cat Rescue had those rabbits from a RABBIT FARM which is processed for human and animal consumption.. but my opinion wouldnt worth a dime to you since you won't hear it right!

  6. ( 1st report of the bobcat orphans)
    Read all about it , and Bunny Jean is spreading the lies that are so baseless.. Its up to u folks to judge for urselves and find out who is actually telling the truth! Gotta love America ..You can believe the lies and ignore the truth!

  7. Bobcats hunt rabbits and other rodents as natural prey. I like rabbits as much as the next person but suggesting that we try and alter the natural diet of an animal just because we object to bobcats preying on rabbits does not sound like a very good idea.

  8. You need to go after the actual company that breeds these rabbits specifically for this purpose, instead of a poor non-profit organization. Big Cat Rescue does what it says, it RESCUES Big Cats. Live prey is only fed to the rehabbed Bobcats.


  10. You're right lets teach them how to chase celery in the wild................DUHHHHHHH. Wild cats chase anything that moves and eats it. BCR is just teaching the cats how to be cats. Not teaching them how to be bunnies. Get with the program!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I understand that people are upset the cats were eating rabbits. However, if they aren't taught to hunt, then they will die. So you are saying you would rather see a wildcat die, than a rabbit? Circle of Life people! BCR only does this for cats that are going back into the wild.

  12. I love rabbits too but this blame is so unfair for BCR. They are doing a great job for these big cats and I don't see anything wrong with them training these bobcats to hunt for food. Once they have these bobcats released, what will happen to them without proper training? As if processed food will just fall from the sky for them...

    Let's not be close minded, this is their nature; this is what's happening in the wild. This maintains the balance in our ecosystem.

  13. Would you have like it if they had realised he baby bobcats out into the wild to fend for themselfs, how is that fair to them?

  14. The option of catching wild rabbits and using them instead was considered, but on top of the additional effort required to safely catch these rabbits, they would all need blood tests done to determine if they were diseased or not. So BCR source their rabbits from humane breeders instead, who breed for this purpose, not domestic pet shops.

  15. OMG what a great video! Those Bobcat kittens are soooo cute! I don't like the fact that live bunnies are fed to these bobcats, but it's what they would eat in the wild and I can see its done in service to the cats... not out of someone's need to exploit animals for profit. Thanks for sharing the video!

  16. Thanks to everyone for your feedback. As I have mentioned before on facebook, I understand that bobcats are carnivores. That is not the issue here. What I am suggesting is that the staff of both organizations sit down face-to-face to discuss the situation and possibly come to an understanding. This is not a situation that can be resolved by the supporters of GRR and BCR fighting it out over the internet.

  17. I have been to BCR and was not very impressed, there were tons of dead trees and garbage in all the cages. However if they really are trying to rehab bobcats then more power to them, they probably need some help and training.
    No one at BCR currently has any formal training working with animals, I know this because I asked on the tour what formal training they get. It's all done in house, it's like the blind leading the blind! That may be ok when feeding or cleaning cat poo, but trying to rehab an animal and release it back into the wild should be done by people who know, for sure what they are doing, not just as a publicity stunt to rise more money. They may be setting up the poor animal for failure, and the rabbits would have died in vain.

    Someone qualified please go and help BCR!

  18. It's interesting to me that cats--especially wild ones--need to be "taught" to hunt. My housecats-many generations domesticated, never even been outside before they came to live with us-kill mice and birds all the time. I didn't teach them. Their cat-mom didn't teach them. And our cats are well-fed, they weren't driven to "figure out" hunting by necessity. They're cats; it's instinct.

  19. This is correct, big cats or any cats will hunt as automatically as they will eat or walk. They will eat dead or living animals in the wild and more often eat dead carnage in the wild. Training cats in captivity to eat tame domestic rabbits is cruel and unneccessary. I volunteered for wildlife for years and none of the centers fed live prey to the bobcats.

  20. You are correct lillylangtree, ethical wildlife rehabs do Not use live domestic rabbits or chickens for rehab.
    If you truly care please call or write the Tampa (Hillsborough County) authorities and file animal cruelty complaints for these unfortunate domestic rabbits who were tortured and killed unnecessarily. It only takes a few minutes and can save many precious lives. Call other Wildlife Rehabs and you will find no other Wildlife "Sanctuary" feeds live domestic animals (rabbits or chickens) to any Big Wild Cat, nor do they brutally kill them for feeding permanent big cats. They feed frozen chicken and other meat. Bobcats are very instinctual, and don't need live prey stimulus to tap into their wildness to train them to be hunters. Your family house cat could survive outside easily let alone a fierce Bobcat.

    Deliberately throwing Live Domestic Rabbits into Big cat caged pens - domestic rabbits that are not a part of a natural habitat in the wild that have no chance of escaping is horrific and barbaric and only teaches Bobcats to hunt down domestic rabbits in the back yards of families, while promoting animal cruelty.

    If you have seen the photo and videos of the BCR workers proudly displaying the slaughter of innocent domestic rabbits please ask the Authorities why charges are not being filed for the 3 bloody beaten domestic rabbits that were clearly Not killed by big cats but instead for feeding to - big cats, in which 2 of the rabbits appear to still be alive and 1 dead in this photo.

    Your Voice Will Make A Difference!

    Florida Animal Cruelty Laws:
    828.12. Cruelty to animals
    (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.
    828.03. Agents of counties, societies, etc., may prosecute violators
    (1) Any county or any society or association for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, organized under the laws of this state, may appoint agents for the purpose of investigating violations of any of the provisions of this chapter or any other law of the state for the purpose of protecting children and animals or preventing any act of cruelty thereto.

    Florida Fish and Wildlife / USDA rule over Wildlife Centers

    Florida Fish and Wildlife Executive Director Nick Wiley 850-487-3796


    Also file complaints with:

    Inspector General: 850-922-4637
    Governor's Office: 850-488-7146

    Ask for email addresses to write in your complaint and in the email ask for confirmation it was received, get a case number and follow up for updates.

    BCR is currently under investigation for animal cruelty and for the 3 dead Bobcats that were illegally brought in from Alabama, where they should have remained. Bobcats non-native to Florida are non-releasable.

  21. I think the GRR should have continued to fight for the rabbits after the news interview like the hundreds of other people are still doing!

  22. Thanks to this incident, I've read further about BCR and found it's just a big scam. They knew the bobcats they were collecting donations for and "rehabbing" with live rabbits would never be released back into the wild, since it would have been illegal.

    I also love the "we have to use dometicated rabbits or else they could get diseases!" excuse. Who would be making sure the rabbits the bobcats were supposedly going to eat in the wild are not diseased?

    They've been clubbing and killing live rabbits there for years. How else do they make their "bloodcicles"? Can't drain the blood from a frozen rabbit. It's sad that they'd rather club bunnies for meat and blood rather than go to a butcher and get the meat that's just going to be thrown out. If it's good enough for people's pet dogs and cats and other facility's wild animals, then why is it not good enough for BCR's animals?

    Like someone said before, none of these people have had any training, and 112 cats have died in their care since 1999.

    The caging that they keep the animals in also looks crappy. I've seen private owners who keep their animals much better, yet BCR doesn' want anyone to be able to own big cats except them, even if they're going to be treated worse at the BCR "sanctuary." Heck, I could probably construct a bigger cage with more stuff for the cat to do in it than them, and that's sad.

    BCR reminds me way too much of PETA, who claim it is cruel to breed and keep pets (even cats and dogs), yet kills 80-90% of the animals they get their hands on.

  23. Sorry bad spelling on my previous comment. True wildlife rehabs do NOT use live prey. Our rehab in Oklahoma takes care of and releases numerous bobcats every year and they dont use live animals as prey. You dont have to train a house cat or a feral cat to kill a mouse or a bird do you? NO!

  24. Wow you people are really ignorant. How many of you rehab bobcats here? Maria? Your comments are without fact, no wild animal needs taught to kill or hunt, furthermore, domestic rabbits ARE not part of a wild cat diet and these people are deliberate animal abusers. Christina, you are 100% Correct, only unethical people would use such barbaric unnecessary practices and Big Cat Rescue is disgraceful!

    Get an Education Maria-