BIG CAT RESCUE
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www.bigcatrescue.org They offer five tours - Day Tour $25 1.5 hours, Kids Tour $15 1 hour, Feed the Big Cats $50(reservations), Night Tour $50, Big Cat Keeper Tour $100(reservations). Monday thru Friday they offer two tours a day. 9am and 3pm. Saturday 9:30am, 11:30am, and 1:30am. Very interesting tour. Mike and I learned alot and you come away with a new appreciation for the Big Cats. How I found out about Big Cat Rescue, I was watching the History Channel's Monsterquest and I saw Steve Lope Director of Operations looking at the possibility of big black cats in England.
12802 Easy Street Tampa, Florida 33625 1-813-920-4130
SNOW LEOPARDS -These beautiful gray leopards live in the mountains of Central Asia.
Snow leopards prey upon the blue sheep (bharal) of Tibet and the Himalayas, and mountain ibex found over most of the rest of their range. Though these powerful predators can kill animals three times their weight, they also eat smaller fare, such as marmots, hares, and game birds.
One Indian snow leopard, protected and observed in a national park, is reported to have consumed five blue sheep, nine Tibetan woolly hares, twenty-five marmots, five domestic goats, one domestic sheep, and fifteen birds in a single year.
As these numbers indicate, snow leopards sometimes have a taste for domestic animals, which has led to many deaths of the big cats at the hands of herders.
These endangered cats appear to be in dramatic decline because of such killings, and due to poaching driven by illegal trades in pelts and in body parts used for traditional Chinese medicine. Vanishing habitat and the decline of the cats' large mammal prey are also contributing factors.
FLORIDA PANTHERS - In the past, neighboring populations of cougar subspecies interbred, and traits were shared between subspecies. The Florida panther, however, has been isolated from other populations for at least 100 years.
The Florida panther is smaller than the cougars in the West and has longer legs, smaller feet, and a shorter darker coat. In 1896 Cory described the coat as "more rufous or reddish brown" than more northern cats. Male panthers are larger than female panthers. They weigh from 45 to 70 kg; female panthers weigh between 30 and 45 kg. Panthers vary in height at the shoulder from 60 to 70 cm and measure from 1.8 to 2.2 m from nose to tip of tail. Male cougars in western states stand about .8 m or 80 cm at the shoulders and may exceed 2.5 m in length. The largest cougar on record, a male shot in Hillsdale, Arizona, in 1917, measured 2.64 m and weighed 125 kg.
The skull of the Florida panther is distinct from other subspecies of cougar.
The Florida panther also often has a right angle crook between the second and third vertebrae from the end of its tail, a whorl of hair or a "cowlick" in the middle of its back, and white flecks in the fur on its neck. The crook in the tail and the whorl of hair may be the result of inbreeding within a small population and are not defining characteristics of the subspecies. Kinked tails and whorls have been reported in other subspecies of cougar, but in much lower frequencies. The white flecks in the coat on the neck are thought to be the result of tick bites.
TIGERS - The tiger (Panthera tigris) is a member of the Felidae family; the largest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera.
Highly adaptable, tigers range from the Siberian taiga, to open grasslands, to tropical mangrove swamps. They are territorial and generally solitary animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey demands. This, coupled with the fact that they are endemic to some of the more densely populated places on earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans.
BOBCATS - The Bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a North American mammal of the cat family, Felidae. With twelve recognized subspecies it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States. The Bobcat is an adaptable predator that inhabits wooded areas, as well as semi-desert, urban edge, forest edges and swampland environments.
With a gray to brown coat, whiskered face, and black-tufted ears, the Bobcat resembles the other species of the mid-sized Lynx genus. It is smaller than the Canadian Lynx, with which it shares parts of its range, but is about twice as large as the domestic cat. It has distinctive black bars on its forelegs and a black-tipped, stubby tail, from which it derives its name.
Though the Bobcat prefers rabbits and hares, it will hunt anything from insects and small rodents to deer. Prey selection depends on location and habitat, season, and abundance. Like most cats, the bobcat is territorial and largely solitary, although there is some overlap in home ranges. It uses several methods to mark its territorial boundaries, including claw marks and deposits of urine or feces.
Although the Bobcat have been subject to extensive hunting by humans, both for sport and fur, its population has proven resilient. The elusive predator features in Native American mythology and the folklore of European settlers.
SERVAL - The Serval is a medium-sized African wild cat. Molecular DNA analysis indicates Servals descended from the same ancient Felid ancestor as the Lion, but the Serval maintains its own unique lineage and does not branch from any other cat species, although they appear to share common traits with the Cheetah. However, similar studies has shown the serval to be closely related to the African Golden Cat and the Caracal.
Its main habitat is the savanna, although melanistic individuals are more usually found in mountainous areas. The Serval needs watercourses within its territory, so it does not live in semi-deserts or dry steppes. It is able to climb and swim, but seldom does so. It has now dwindled in numbers due to human population taking over its habitat and also hunting its pelt. It is protected in most countries.