(Photos courtesy of The Body Shop and Caitlin Miller/StyleBistro)What do big cats and lip butter have in common? Other than being two personal favorites of this editor, a lot more than you might think, thanks to The Body Shop. The beauty brand created a new lip butter that's using beauty for good. The Dragon Fruit Lip Butter may smell scrumptious and moisturize chapped lips, but its true power goes so much deeper than that. One hundred percent of proceeds of the Dragon Fruit Lip Butter is directly going to charities such as The Body Shop Foundation, plus three other charities: Sprout Up, We Stop Hate, and (a favorite of cat ladies alike) Big Cat Rescue.
A few weeks ago, I joined The Body Shop in Tampa, Fl. to see first-hand the work of one of the lip butter's beneficiaries, Big Cat Rescue, the country's largest accredited sanctuary dedicated to abused and abandoned big cats. From ocelots to tigers, lions to bobcats, there was enough adorable kitty love to make this cat lady squeal a hundred times over. But more important than the cute overload, I saw Big Cat Rescue's dedication to saving and protecting big cats, and The Body Shop's dedication to supporting causes that are doing good.
(Photo by Caitlin Miller/StyleBistro) Armani, the leopard, showed off her stylish swag at BCR.Big Cat Rescue is the love child of Carole Baskin, who started the organization in 1992 with the rescue of bobcats. Today, the 55-acre sanctuary is home to over 100 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars, and other exotic species of cats who have been abused, abandoned, or orphaned, by many who have obtained the cats for entertainment purposes or for keeping as household pets.
During my trip, I learned cats saved by BCR live in a hand-built enclosure (Carole's father made all of the cats' homes), are fed a nutritious and balanced diet, work with a trainer to learn commands for veterinary purposes, and are given enrichment activities to bring some fun into their lives.
(Photo by Caitlin Miller/StyleBistro) Staff at the Big Cat Rescue show us the handmade enrichment toys made to resemble the Dragon Fruit Lip Butter for Bengali, the tiger.BCR hopes to not only provide these beautiful cats with a home and proper care, but they aim to educate the public about the dangers big cats face. This is precisely why they give daily tours. The tours give visitors an up-close look at the majestic creatures from a safe distance, both for the visitors and animals. Whether it's the dangers of inbreeding tigers to create a white tiger (like my favorite cat, Zabu, pictured below), the world of raising bobcats for fur, the troubles of attempting to keep servals (a svelte spotted African wild cat) as pets, and more, a tour at BCR ensures visitors are well informed of the importance of fighting for these powerful yet often mistreated cats.
But the mission of Big Cat Rescue is not solely to rescue abused and abandoned cats. They are hoping to stop abuse and abandonment of big cats altogether. As Howard Baskin, Secretary, Treasurer, and Advisory Board Chairman and Board of Directors explained, BCR is working tirelessly "to put themselves out of business." The organization is hoping to do this in three ways. First, they are hoping to target big cat abusers. A major battle of BCR activists is the fight to end cub petting, a business based on legally obtaining tiger cubs and charging the public to pet and/or photograph the animals. As someone who had never heard of tiger-cub petting, I was unaware of the trauma and exhaustion it causes the young cubs. However, Howard explained these several week-old cubs are torn from their mothers, denied their natural behaviors, and forced to stay up hours on end to entertain customers. To learn more about cub petting, see this informational fact sheet on Big Cat Rescue's website.
(Photo by Caitlin Miller/StyleBistro) Zabu, a white tiger, caught my attention at Big Cat Rescue.Additionally, BCR hopes to change these regulations that legally allow cub petting. They are working to get the USDA to ban cub petting completely. BCR ultimately aims to get a federal law ending private breeding and possession of exotic big cats. If you would like to learn more about this particular effort, BCR prepared a detailed description of the proposed bill, Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act HR 1998 and S 1381.
With the support of The Body Shop, Big Cat Rescue will receive some of the proceeds of the Dragon Fruit Lip Butter, so they can continue to care for rescued cats and work to end the troubles facing these big cats. Lions, tigers, and lip butter? You better believe it.
(Photo by Caitlin Miller/StyleBistro) Armani had one of my favorite names at BCR.To learn more about Big Cat Rescue and to see some of the cats I got the pleasure of meeting, visit their national website. Want to learn about the other beneficiaries of The Body Shop's Dragon Fruit Lip Butter? Check out The Body Shop Foundation, Sprout Up, and We Stop Hate's respective websites for info on how you can get involved!