A local hero to exotic cats is the new Animal Planet Hero of the Year, announced Friday night on the Animal Planet cable channel.
Scott Lope of Tampa's Big Cat Rescue says he's thrilled to win the award, which started with more than 4500 entries. A panel of judges chose the top ten, then it was up to the public to choose the winner through on line voting.
President and General Manager of Animal Planet, Marjorie Kaplan says "Lope epitomizes what it means to be a responsible member of the animal kingdom."
For more than ten years, Lope has overseen the daily operations of Big Cat Rescue, a sanctuary for big cats that have been abandoned, abused or rescued from fur farms.