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Big Cat Rescue from ‘Tiger King’ makes preparations for Hurricane Ian in Tampa

The Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida, is preparing for Hurricane Ian ahead of expected landfall along the Florida Gulf Coast, CEO Carole Baskin said.

Baskin, known for her role in the hit Netflix series “Tiger King,” said in a series of Facebook posts that the rescue has been exhausting efforts to ensure it is ready for the storm.

“And it begins,” Baskin said in a video posted Monday evening. “Hurricane Ian, we are ready for you.”

She said her team filled and stacked sandbags at the sanctuary on Monday in preparation for the major hurricane.

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“I want to give a huge shout-out to everybody at Big Cat Rescue who has been filling sandbags, and picking up sticks, and chain-sawing away limbs and covering the windows,” Baskin said.

The team has also been boarding up the various structures at the rescue over the past few days, including the gift shop where some people will stay to keep an eye on the cats during the storm.

Baskin said the cats and their cages will be checked hourly during the hurricane.

Depending on the track of the storm, they could receive 30 hours of tropical storm-force winds and potentially 10 hours of hurricane-force winds. A heavy-duty four-wheel-drive SUV will be driven around the property to ensure fences are up, and that the cats are safe, Baskin said.

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The rescue is also looking to make sure food preparations for the cats are uninterrupted. Baskin showed a large propane tank that will be used to fuel a generator to ensure the cats’ food is properly stored.

“We have to keep food prep safe because you’ve got to feed the cats no matter what the weather looks like,” Baskin said.

Additional generators on the property have been fueled up as well, and chainsaws are being prepared with plenty of extra fuel. High winds are expected to knock down the rescue’s trees and could even cut power.

Staff members were seen in photos shared on Facebook securing limbs, debris and other loose items on the property.

Flooding is also a concern for Baskin, as several inches of rain are expected to fall over several hours. The rescue has hooked pumps up to generators to help prevent the worst of it.

Ian was forecast to reach the area overnight Tuesday evening, with the strongest part of the storm expected on Wednesday.

“Staff will be making routine rounds as the hurricane bears down on Tampa to monitor the cats and cages. Dr Justin Boorstein will be nearby should he be needed,” the rescue wrote in a Facebook post.

“Please continue to send paw-sitive thoughts and prayers for all of Tampa, the interns, staff, volunteers and cats at Big Cat Rescue!” the post continued.

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