When you think of big cats…

You may think of visiting a tiger at a zoo. Or maybe you think about circus lions performing tricks and roaring on command. Although you may have fond memories of such imprisoned big cats…that’s not the life they are meant to be living. Even the lions you see on safari could be threatened by human encroachment.

Big cats are in danger every day, which is why the organization Big Cat Rescue exists.

Carole Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue, never knew that someday she’d create a big cat sanctuary. But once you’re aware of the threats these cats face daily, you’ll be glad she did.

Carole Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue, never knew that someday she'd create a big cat sanctuary. But once you're aware of the threats these cats face daily, you'll be glad she did.Flickr / Benh LIEU SONGSome of them, I bet, will take you by surprise.

1. Most zoos force big cats to be on display during hours of operation. Then, they lock the animals up at night. Unfortunately, in the wild, these cats are most active at night.

1. Most zoos force big cats to be on display during hours of operation. Then, they lock the animals up at night. Unfortunately, in the wild, these cats are most active at <em>night</em>.Flickr / Eddy Van 3000That means they are forced to suppress their natural instincts.

2. Captive cubs are being abused for the sake of profit in petting schemes. Countless people take these cubs and let passers by handle them (usually for a photo). This is overwhelmingly negative for the little cubs (who are often sedated so they will be still for the paying customers).

2. Captive cubs are being abused for the sake of profit in petting schemes. Countless people take these cubs and let passers by handle them (usually for a photo). This is overwhelmingly negative for the little cubs (who are often sedated so they will be still for the paying customers).Big Cat RescueThe tiger cub you see here was subjected to being handled all day at a Florida state fair.

3. They are kept as exotic pets all over the world. The people who own the big cats rarely have the facilities or experience to handle such a creature.

3. They are kept as exotic pets all over the world. The people who own the big cats rarely have the facilities or experience to handle such a creature.Flickr / Linda StanleyQuite often, this ends in the cats living tiny cages (akin to jail cells) for their entire lives once they become adults. Even if they are neutered/spayed, both male and female exotic cats spray to mark their territories every day. This proves to be too much for most people to handle.

4. Hybrid cross-breeding is an unusual, but very real, danger to the cats. Servals or Asian Leopard Cats are bred with domestic cats to create Savannah and Bengal cats, respectively.

4. Hybrid cross-breeding is an unusual, but very real, danger to the cats. Servals or Asian Leopard Cats are bred with domestic cats to create Savannah and Bengal cats, respectively.Flickr / Will WadeThe semi-domestic offspring are often a handful that owners do not expect when purchasing them. Sometimes, that unfortunately ends in abandonment of the cat. If those cats are abandoned, it is highly unlikely they will find another home because of their feral nature.

5. Almost every big cat species is killed for sport in “canned hunts” around the world. Trophy hunting plays a part in dwindling numbers in the wild.

5. Almost every big cat species is killed for sport in "canned hunts" around the world. Trophy hunting plays a part in dwindling numbers in the wild.Flickr / Charlie MarshallThe loathsome act is performed just so that a person can feel the “thrill” of the hunt. The cats don’t stand a chance. Then, once killed, they are brutally butchered and turned into a trophy.

6. Not only are big cats hunted for sport, but they are also poached to be sold at exotic markets. They are caught or killed…then their body parts are sold.

6. Not only are big cats hunted for sport, but they are also poached to be sold at exotic markets. They are caught or killed...then their body parts are sold.Flickr / Koshy KoshyTiger bones, eyes, whiskers, and teeth are used in traditional Chinese medicine.Lion meat is being served in restaurants…and even showed up at an establishment in Florida.

7. There are “fur farms” that breed and sell cats for the purpose of being killed for their pelts. The people who buy them are often taxidermists or fur garment makers.

7. There are "fur farms" that breed and sell cats for the purpose of being killed for their pelts. The people who buy them are often taxidermists or fur garment makers.Flickr / Tony Hisgett

8. Because of the dwindling populations in the wild, the genetic pools of wild cats are greatly reduced.

8. Because of the dwindling populations in the wild, the genetic pools of wild cats are greatly reduced.Flickr / Brian MckayInbreeding can occur within the captive population of cats, leading to various adverse genetic conditions.

9. Countless habitats are being destroyed by humans or severely threatened by our encroachment.

9. Countless habitats are being destroyed by humans or severely threatened by our encroachment.Flickr / Ross ElliottSeveral subspecies of tigers have gone extinct as a result of human expansion and poaching.

10. Big cats (most notably tigers and lions) are used for entertainment by circuses. These acts are inherently cruel. Often, the cats are beaten, starved, and confined so that they will cooperate with the trainers.

10. Big cats (most notably tigers and lions) are used for entertainment by circuses. These acts are <a href="http://bigcatrescue.org/abuse-issues/issues/circus/" target="_blank">inherently cruel</a>. Often, the cats are beaten, starved, and confined so that they will cooperate with the trainers.Flickr / Marion DossCircuses are also used as a front to import and export big cats, all under a government’s nose.

Lions, tigers, jaguars, bobcats, servals, cougars, and more need your help.

Lions, tigers, jaguars, bobcats, servals, cougars, and more need your help.Flickr / Diego Cambiaso They are dying in the wild and being tortured in captivity.

Big Cat Rescue knows these wonderful animals are being threatened. BCR is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and 100% of your donations support the big cats and help stop the abuse.

Big Cat Rescue knows these wonderful animals are being <a href="http://bigcatrescue.org/abuse-issues/" target="_blank">threatened</a>. BCR is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and 100% of your donations support the big cats and help stop the abuse.Big Cat Rescue

They make sure every animal they rescue is healthy…and sometimes, they even give them the time-honored “cat in a cardboard box” treatment. (Which is adorable.)

Please, do what you can to save these magnificent creatures. They need your help.

If you’d like to help Big Cat Rescue protect these beautiful and powerful creatures, visit their donation page. One donation could help feed one of their rescues.

Can you resist saving a face like this?

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