You can find answers to commonly-asked questions about PrideRock Wildlife Refuge here.
How did you get started in big cat rescue?
We started with a cougar. Soon after, we got a lion and a tiger. As we expanded we found we were asked to bring other people's big cats off their hands. These were people who found that they could no longer handle a fully-grown big cat, or could no longer afford to feed them.
Of course, we had a hard time refusing help to these animals in need. As the number of calls grew, we began to realize how many captive big cats were in desperate need of finding good homes. Worse, we realized how many of these cats were being bought, bred, and kept by people who had really not thought through the realities of owning a fully-grown tiger, lion, cougar, or other big cat.
We try to help as many cats as space and funds will permit. However, we believe that only education will ultimately solve the enormous problems of irresponsible breeders, the sale of lion and tiger cubs, and the purchase of those cubs by people who fail to appreciate the responsibilities of owning a 500 pound wild animal in captivity.
Where do you get the big cats?
Our tigers, lions and cougars, have come to us from a variety of sources. We have received rescues from theme parks that decided to discontinue their live animal exhibits, irresponsible breeders, from private owners who could no longer care for their animals, and from seizures by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Wherever our animals came from, they all have one thing in common: They had nowhere else to go.
PrideRock’s animals came to us unwanted, neglected, abused, or abandoned. Each one required a lot of love and care to bring them to where they are now – healthy, happy members of the PrideRock Family!.
How much do the cats eat?
As a general rule big cats eat approximately 2% of their body weight per day. For a 500 lb tiger, that means about 10 lbs of meat a day.
However, the amount a cat eats varies depending on the needs of the individual cat. Like people, some cats burn a lot of energy, and others snooze a lot. Their appetite goes up and down with the weather and other factors too, so we always have to make slight adjustments to their food.
Really, it all depends on what the cats need to keep them healthy. For some cats, that may be as little as 4 pounds of meat a day, while others may eat as much as 12 to 15 pounds of meat at each meal!
Are you afraid of them?
We’re not afraid of the tigers, lions, and cougars in our care – but we do have a healthy respect for their strength!
These magnificent animals are large and very powerful. They have extremely sharp teeth, powerful jaws, and claws that can rip open delicate human skin and flesh like a machete. They are, and will always be, wild at heart. And if they feel threatened, they will use their power to defend themselves.
We take the time to get to know the moods, habits, and personality of each PrideRock resident. And we always handle them with the utmost care, respect, and sensitivity they deserve.
How much does it cost to feed so many big cats?
At the moment, PrideRock has approximately 32 big cats. They’ll eat about 300 lbs of meat and chicken, supplemented with vitamins - each day.
When they get big, do you send them to a zoo?
No, once an animal reaches PrideRock, it has found a permanent, safe home. We commit to caring for them for the rest of their natural lifespan.
Additionally, many zoos are only interested in animals that have a known and pure blood line, especially if they intend to breed them. Most of our big cats do not have a known blood line, and may be a mixture of different lines of their species.
We could do DNA testing on them to find out for sure, but since we will never intentionally breed a PrideRock big cat – why bother? They’re all beautiful to us, no matter what their genetic makeup is!
How long does a lion or tiger live?
In the wild, the average life expectancy of the cats is about 10 years. However, in captivity, they can live for 20 years or more.
Isn't that a big commitment on your part?
Owning a big cat really is a lifetime commitment of money and time. The way we look at it is, these animals didn’t have any choice to be born in captivity. Humans made that choice for them. And it would be inhumane NOT to commit to take care of them for their entire lives.
Yes, this kind of commitment can be a strain on us, both financially and time-wise. Donations are sporadic, and we have to rely on volunteers and supporters to help us raise the money to keep going.
Our dream is to one day have a consistent source of funding, through donations such as our adoption program. This will allow us to devote our days to the animals at PrideRock, and spend more time educating the public about these magnificent creatures.
The commitment effort comes naturally and is effortless because they are loved so much.
Does PrideRock get any government support or funding?
No, we do not receive any type of public funding from any State or U.S. Government agency. We depend solely on public support through donations and grants.
If I donate, can I visit PrideRock?
We truly appreciate your donations, however PrideRock isn’t open to the public at this time. There are several reasons for this:
First and foremost, many of the cats that we receive come to us from situations where they may have been abused or mistreated. An important part of their rehabilitation process is a predictable daily routine and a calm, stable environment. Public tours would subject them to unnecessary stress, and would hinder their recovery.
Additionally, we are a very small, volunteer-run animal charity. We simply do not have the staff to conduct organized tours of the refuge. Also PrideRock Wildlife Refuge is not a public facility in that we cannot charge the public an admission fee. If we were to admit the public, we would have to install additional barriers, public rest rooms, walkways, and other facilities for human comfort and safety.
All of this would cost funds that we do not have at this time. Moreover, we feel that the money we receive from donations is better spent directly on the welfare of the animals.
However, we completely understand your desire to see these beautiful animals, up close. That’s why we are trying to raise the extra funds necessary to install webcams around the property. Once those are in place, you’ll be able to see your favorite big cat anytime you want!
Do the big cats ever go outside to play?
Each cat has its own species-specific enclosure with access to the outside. However, we would never let them play outside the compound. It would be far too dangerous to do so.
We can never forget that these are wild animals at heart, not domestic cats. Even though they may have been raised among humans, it only takes a split second for them to revert to instinct. Even if the cat doesn’t mean to harm, the damage from a frightened or angry cat can be severe, even deadly.
Do you go in with any of them?
We do sometimes have to enter the big cat enclosures, but we try to avoid taking unnecessary risks.
For example, each enclosure is equipped with a lock out house and crossover gates so that all the pens can be cleaned without the animal being present in the enclosure.
Do you ever do any breeding?
Never. There are already too many big cats in captivity who need good homes. Although we do not spay or neuter (adult big cats have potential health issues associated with anesthesia, and the surgical procedure), we are careful to take precautions to prevent unwanted breeding.
You’re in Texas… Don’t the big cats get hot in summer?
It does get hot in Texas, but all the big cats have shade enclosures and fans that come on automatically when the thermometer hits 90F. The tigers, in particular, enjoy water (in the wild, tigers regularly like to go swimming) so we add large water-filled troughs for them to splash in whenever they want to. The tigers also have cool-water misters in their pens for additional comfort.
Do you have a favorite tiger, lion, or cougar?
It’s hard for us to pick “a favorite”! Each of the PrideRock big cats has their own distinct personality.
For example, lions are very social big cats, and like to form family groups with others, even if those “others” are humans. Tigers and cougars, on the other hand, tend to be exclusive, although they usually enjoy some one-on-one affection with each other or with their human friends.
To us, they’re all “our kids”, and we love them all very much.