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A Big Alliance for Big Cats: How the BCSA Impacted Big Cat Rescues and Welfare

A group photo from the 2023 Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance Annual Conference

In 2017, Big Cat Sanctuary leaders across the United States gathered to create the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance (BCSA). The purpose of this unification was to speak as a unified voice, advance knowledge and practices of animal care, promote professional development within the community, and foster collaborative efforts for rescues nationwide. 

It can be challenging for the general public to understand what constitutes a good sanctuary versus a pseudo-sanctuary that exploits animals for profit. Accrediting organizations such as the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) can help direct the public better. Before the BCSA, authorities had yet to learn who to contact for help when confiscating animals in a rescue and are commonly unequipped to respond to these emergencies. Understanding the behavior, medical needs, and safety precautions around big cats is unlike any other. The BCSA offers authorities a resource dedicated to helping them handle big cat rescue situations. 

Other benefits of the BCSA for the sanctuary community include: 

  • Networking: The alliance facilitates communication and collaboration between different sanctuaries, allowing them to share resources, knowledge, and experiences.
  • Rescue Operations: Working together allows for more effective and coordinated rescue operations. In emergencies or large-scale rescues, a unified effort is often more successful.
  • Professional Development: By pooling resources and experts in the field, sanctuaries within the alliance can enhance their collective knowledge and skills, ensuring better care for the animals in their charge.
  • Advocacy and Awareness: Alliances can have a more significant impact with a unified voice when advocating for big cat conservation, legislation, and public awareness.
  • Standards and Best Practices: Collaborative efforts often involve establishing and adhering to shared standards and best practices, ensuring a higher quality of animal care.

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