Pumpkin and Spudnick are residents at the Southern Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Inc. in Homestead, Florida. Aside from rescuing and rehabilitating local wildlife, the center specializes in caring for abused and negelected big cats.
Pumpkin is a female panther who had been kept illeagally by her previous owner. During her time with this individual, she managed to escape from her cage on one occassion. Following her escape, her previous owner took a hammer and broke the bones in her left front paw as punishment. As a result, Pumpkin is very distrustful of humans, and does not like people touching her. With the help of some of the center’s volunteers, her previous owner was successfully prosecuted for animal cruelty, and sent to prison for 2 years.
Spudnick is a male panther who had been confiscated from his previous owner by animal control authorities, and brought to the center. His previous owner had used him to fight up to 3 pit bulls at a time while gambling on the outcome. Spudnick was in very bad physical shape with 14 bite wounds when he arrived at the center, and still does not trust people. For a time, he was placed in a cage with a female panther named Elsie in order to help socialize him. Both cats were thought to have been neutered/spayed however, this was discovered not to be the case when Elsie subsequently had 3 kittens: April, Indy, and Miri.
Khan was a male African lion that I had the privilege of helping to care for while volunteering at the Southern Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Inc. in Homestead, Florida. Khan was brought to the center by animal control authorities after having received a severe beating from his trainer at a traveling circus.
As a result of his injuries, Khan was never able to be kept again with other lions, and spent his remaining years enjoying his retirement at the center. In spite of the mistreatment that he had received at the hands of humans, Khan was one of the gentlest big cats I’ve ever worked with. He always enjoyed having someone brush his huge mane, and would delicately take food when being hand fed. Khan eventually reached the age of 23 before passing, which is about twice the life expectancy of a lion in the wild.
Spotty is an African Leopard who currently lives at the Southern Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Homestead, Florida.
Several years ago, I was a volunteer at the Center for about five years. During that time I had the privilege of working with and photographing various animals including a number of big cats.
Spotty’s previous owner kept him in a small cage near a construction site. The construction workers used to poke at Spotty with sticks so they could hear him growl. After the situation was reported to the authorities, Spotty was brought to the Center. It took a long time for Spotty to start trusting humans again, and he will still react when he sees someone who reminds him of a person who mistreated him as you can clearly see in the photo under the Pot Pourri section of this site!