My short bio:

I am the guy from Vine & YouTube (full name, Derek Krahn) who works with big cats and posts terrible jokes in their presence. I've been working with big cats for the last eight years at the Center for Animal Research and Education, a non-profit exotic animal sanctuary located in North Texas. I've made the cats at our facility somewhat popular (I call them CelebriKitties now) because of my silly videos & it's been an interesting ride gaining online notoriety (Hi, Pride!) for the work I do.

My Proof:

Here's the stock set of links I post in my YouTube video descriptions-


-- BigCatDerek Merchandise --


Comments: 178 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

DebDecatur00726 karma

I must say you have a great job! I love big cats. Why don't people understand they aren't kittens and are wild and shouldn't be raised in a home?

BigCatDerek28 karma

I think people make themselves believe a lot of different things. "Sure, I've seen big cats mess up OTHER people. But I'll do things different, it won't happen to ME"

Too many people don't know how much goes into properly raising them, and they get over their heads pretty quick.

CapitanJack21 karma

If you had to describe what you do in one word, what would it be?

BigCatDerek34 karma

Exhaustifying - a combination of exhausting, yet satisfying

bdx2220 karma

Is there ever a time where Cassie doesn't squeak?

BigCatDerek34 karma

All the time. I'll let you in on a little secret. About 97% of all the squeaks you've EVER seen on social media were taken within the first 45 seconds of me approaching her enclosure. That's when she's excited to see me

ThrowUptheX8817 karma

What is one of your funniest moments when playing with the Teegees?

BigCatDerek33 karma

When Boomer knocked the trash can over &, in the process, knocked himself over, that was pretty hilarious. I was lucky to get that on film. The cats do all sorts of funny, adorable, & beautiful things when I'm not filming

baileydz16 karma

How many different animals do you take care of on a daily bases?

BigCatDerek31 karma

About 40. I do more work with the cats in the compound, I don't really tend to the lemurs too much. They're neat & all, but they're definitely not tigers _^

MergimS16 karma

Hi Derek! May the Peets be with you.

Have you or Jaime noticed a bump in donations or any other positive effect as a result of being a prominent viner?

Also, what's the closest you've come to being in a dangerous situation with any of the big cats?


BigCatDerek38 karma

Yes, absolutely. We've definitely seen a steady rise in donations. We've gone from a shoestring budget to a shoeLACE budget, which is nice.


trulyconfusing16 karma

I'm so excited you're doing an AMA! Obligatory statement of I love walk around the compound and all your vines. I have three questions:

1) Will we ever see a feeding video from butchering to delivering?

2) Is the reason that the lemurs and coati never make it into WATC is because they're in a different area than the big cats?

3) What guidelines do you follow when deciding on a new CARE resident? Are you constantly being asked to take on new cats?

Keep up the good work Derek, I love what you and Heidi do!

BigCatDerek16 karma

  1. Might be too graphic and emotional for people to handle
  2. Yes, for the most part. I also don't find them to be as interesting.
  3. Do they need a home? I don't think there are as many cats out there needing saving as some would like you to think. We really don't get very many calls anymore. Heidi used to constantly get calls years ago, but those days are over I think.

cppoole15 karma

How are the beebees doing with their wobblers?

BigCatDerek22 karma

Pretty good. Heidi is amazing at doing research and talking to experts about these things. The boys have had their living arrangements drastically altered with the remodel to their area, their nutrient supplements were changed with their diagnosis, and we've also been trying electromagnetic therapies to help reduce swelling. I don't want to speculate on the individual effectiveness of each mode of treatment, but as a whole, things seem to be improving

Trust_Me_Im_a_Panda14 karma

How old do the beebees and teegees have to be before you can no longer safely interact with them?

BigCatDerek22 karma

Different strokes for different kitties. They'll let us know when its time

RS_is_life14 karma

How did you get started with CARE?

BigCatDerek30 karma

I met an old volunteer of the facility completely at random- in the computer room of the apartment complex I used to live at. She had tigers on her MySpace page (yup, THAT MySpace) and since tigers were my favorite animal, I struck up a conversation with her. "Oh, you got a thing for tigers, eh?"

Then she tells me that she personally knew the tigers in those pictures, and she also tells me about the facility and its work and how it was looking for new volunteers at the time.

I went to the facility a few days later, and I never stopped going. I got obsessed, made myself familiar, learned as many tasks as I could, made myself reliable, and slowly gained more and more responsibility in the organization.

emilovely13 karma

Just wanna say that I really admire what you do and I think you are doing a great thing :) I have a few questions that I've been wondering about.

1.) how large is the property/properties that you keep your animals in?

2.) where do the animals usually come from? I'm Especially curious about the baby's.

3.)is there a specific animal that you have not had the chance to take care of that you would one day like to care for?

4.) Lastly, has an animal of yours ever escaped?

BigCatDerek17 karma

  1. The compound itself sits within about 10ish acres, & the total property has about 25 acres
  2. Some animals have come from people who had them as pets, some animals have come from zoos & sanctuaries that got to capacity or encountered financial difficulty, and some of the animals were born on-site when the facility used to be a zoological breeding and boarding facility (which was many years ago)
  3. Jaguar and capybara would be cool. (preferably in separate enclosures)
  4. We've never had an escape from the compound knock on wood

lofty_ginger11 karma

How is Dahlia doing today? Also, forgive me if you've answered this before in a video I haven't seen, but how long have you had her, and where did her silly leg go?

BigCatDerek20 karma

She's good! She came to us from a local rancher with a severely broken leg & he asked if we could put her out of her misery. She was a teeny little fuzzball with those huge eyes and, well, we decided to see if she could be saved.

We sent her to Dr. Bill to see if he could plate the leg, but when he sedated her & opened her up, he found that her upper leg bones had already started to fuse together at an odd angle leaving only two options - amputation or euthanasia.

Dr. Bill called Heidi, and Heidi called me as I was out working in the compound and told me that she didn't feel confident making the right decision. There absolutely was NO guarantee that Dahlia would do as good as she has done, so it was actually a really hard call to make. Dr. Bill had her on the operating table and needed an answer, so I called him, I asked him questions about potential outcomes for her future, and after weighing the info, I said, "Let's chop it off"

axkirs00210 karma

Hi Derek! Big fan from Maine here! I was wondering if any of the big cats have been declared by previous owners and if so, how does that affect them? Also, are there ever any big fights between the cats?

BigCatDerek16 karma

No. We make it pretty clear that once the cats arrive on site, they're not ever going back.

Yeah, minor disputes are actually pretty common, but it's mostly yelling. They're like kids who are picking on each other on a long car ride.

On the rare occasion that things escalate to a more serious level, we intervene & try to get their attention off of each other using food, dad voices, etc.

DaChej9 karma

Hi Derek. Really love the vines/WATC, thanks for sharing the cats with us. You've shown lots of footage of the cats becoming aggressive when defending food or a partner is in heat etc. I was wondering if some of the cats with a more timid disposition such as Cassie also show this aggression at times?

BigCatDerek14 karma

It's certainly rare, but it can happen. I was never around her when she was a cub, but Heidi has told me numerous times that Cassie was a mean little devil cat because she would get too playful and possessive

Ianman29 karma

Is being a Vine star a good career in your opinions? What are the pros and cons? Also, have you met Josh Peck?

EDIT: Best AMA ever!

BigCatDerek14 karma

Well, it's not exactly a career YET. I still have lots of growing to do!

juliannabug_9 karma

What's one of the funniest things that has happened to you/Heidi involving the cats? (I've never really got to hear any of Heidi's stories with the kitties so I'm a bit curious :) )

BigCatDerek25 karma

When Noel was a teeny little baby, she peed on my head when she was in bed with Heidi and me. I thought she was crawling up to give me a little embrace, but I was wrong.

Heidi laughed for a long time.

cookie969 karma

Hey Derek I love your Vines/YouTube videos. Thank you for making them and showing these majestic animals. What cat do you have the fondest memories with? Which cat is your favorite or favorites from all the species in the compound?

BigCatDerek30 karma

Sometimes when we have an old, sick cat & we schedule him or her to be put down, I'll sit with them the night before and softly sing to them. It's comforting for the both of us. Those are moments that really make an impact on your memory.

I wouldn't say it's exactly a "fond" memory, but your question made me think of that, & I'm not going to change it

LeChicGeekGirl8 karma

What is your very favorite thing to do around the compound with the big cats?

My son and I so enjoy all of your vines and YouTube posts. Thank you!

BigCatDerek4 karma

Just walk around and say hi to them. That's why Vining is great, because it gives me an excuse to HAVE to engage with them. It's easy to get so busy that you don't spend as much time with them as you'd like, so having the excuse is nice.

keepyourpantson8 karma

I'm a new follower to your vines and youtube, so I'm unaware if you've ever answered this but how do you get most of your cats?

And my mom wants to know how you feel about canned hunts?

BigCatDerek17 karma

Already answered the top one in a previous reply, but I'll answer the canned hunt thing -

I've heard the arguments stating that canned hunting increases demand for exotic and endangered animals which then increases the "conservation" breeding efforts to ensure a steady supply, but I feel it to be a perversion of both hunting AND conservation.

I grew up in southwest Wisconsin, rural hill country and farmland, and my family were BIG into hunting, and I learned from a young age that hunting can actually PROMOTE conservation (especially in an area severely lacking in apex predators and tremendously overpopulated with whitetail deer) if properly and ethically stewarded.

What the proprietors of canned hunting operations do with the CLAIM of conservation is often in fact a conveyor belt from cramped breeding camps straight into small, sequestered areas where rich tourists can execute animals who were more often than not raised with a LIFETIME of human familiarity and no sense of the danger it is in.

All in their grotesque label of "conservation"

DexDaCat7 karma

Hi Derek, I am a huge fan of your vines and the work you do for the cats in CARE. Please keep up the good work and being goofy and dumb. I also have questions

  1. Who (and don't just say "all of them") is your favorite cat?
  2. Do you have kids?
  3. What is your dayjob?
  4. What do you drive

Thanks so much!

BigCatDerek12 karma

  1. Either Kannapalli or Mwali
  2. Yes
  3. Meteorologist. Not joking.
  4. A Ford vehicle

carbonjen7 karma

Hi Derek!

What kind of difference in exposure/visitors/donations have you noticed since you got popular online? You're really good at educating people through your media and I'm always super happy to see you being honest.

BigCatDerek11 karma

Visitors and tours have absolutely gone up since the social media stuff started getting bigger. People come to see the cats, then ask to have their pictures taken with me. It's odd, but neat.

yerawizardsammy7 karma

Hi Derek! I'm an avid watcher of WATC and you've talked about some slightly heavy stuff on there before (like your tuesday one about euthanasia & feedings), are you ever apprehensive about posting content because of how it may be taken by the public? and is there anything you've filmed and decided not to upload?

BigCatDerek6 karma


LGMaster957 karma

How many of the really big viners know of you?

BigCatDerek25 karma

I don't know if any of them know me, I don't get a lot of interaction with the other Viners. I interact with Woodsie, Ben Taylor, Ginger Wesson, & Jake Holland here and there, but that about does it for the bigger accounts. Brittany Furlan favorited one of my posts once & I started fangirling

Free2L7 karma

Do you and Heidi ever do a simple date of having a leisurely stroll in the evening around the compound?

BigCatDerek9 karma

No time.

inkypinkyblinky7 karma

I love what you do!! How do I get a job working with you? Are there volunteer opportunities?

BigCatDerek17 karma

Sure, but with a name like inkypinkyblinky, I'm not sure you can keep up with the tough workload

elizabeth366 karma

What do you look for when hiring interns?

BigCatDerek19 karma

Being awesome in an interview doesn't always mean you'll be a superstar in real life, but generally its nice to hear enthusiasm, confidence, and realistic assurances - no "I'll absolutely promise you the moon" type claims. That doesn't make a good impression because I automatically assume you're full of turkey. Excuse my language.

Mr_E136 karma

Good evening Derek! I'm a big fan, I just wanted to ask, did you know you always wanted to do what you do growing up? Did something inspire you or make you want to work with big cats?

BigCatDerek11 karma

Truth be told, I never considered this to be in the realm of possibility when I was growing up. I stumbled onto this world by complete accident, and I discovered that I REALLY liked it.

TheRocketDog6 karma

Will you ever be able to get Ace to like you? Haha.

Also, how do your domestic cats react to the big kitties?

BigCatDerek6 karma


If they're smart, they keep their distance. If not, well, they don't last too long.

kelseyscholl5 karma

I work with animals too, definitely not to your level though! (I just work at a PetsHotel) but I was wondering what do you like most about working with animals?

BigCatDerek9 karma

It changes. Sometimes I like witnessing the microcosm of mammalian emotion play out in their simplistic fashion, sometimes I like giving them smooches through the fence.

johnnyboy12355 karma

I see you sometimes re-vine Kevin Richardson's youtube channel. Do you guys know each other or talk? I know you're always telling the viewers that while these cats may be harmless and playful when their cubs, we still need to understand that they become full grown adult killers. Why do you think is Kevin is unique in the fact that he is able to be in the presence of these lions when they become adults and be so accepted? I'm not sure if you know the answer to that, but I just want to know your input on that.

BigCatDerek5 karma

Kevin has AMAZING intuition and capacity for recognizing the totality of situations. He also spends a HUGE amount of time continuously interacting with the animals in his care. Working with big cats like he does is like working a muscle- if you don't put in your reps, you're going to get weak, and he puts in a LOT of reps

776shark5 karma

Does vine pay similar to YouTube based on views/loops?

BigCatDerek28 karma

Um, Vine doesn't pay anything.

Drusiph3 karma

The only time people get paid through Vine is by doing ads about brands that ask to be promoted, then the brand will pay based on the amount of attention the ad/Vine gets.

BigCatDerek14 karma

That's cool, I wonder what that's like.

egillmore4 karma

Hi Derek I was wondering if the teegees would chase a laser pointer like house cats do?

BigCatDerek5 karma


Scottm1434 karma

What decides which cats go in which enclosure? Because I've seen some that are huge and open with no roofs and some that are kinda tiny and have a roof. Is it random? Depends on the cat's activity?

Also what's your favorite cut of steak, how you liked it cooked and favorite side with it?

BigCatDerek4 karma

Sometimes the cats actually feel more comfortable in a low-topped enclosure - it feels more secure.

Ribeye, medium rare, steamed broccoli

dartdacat4 karma

Hi Derek! I love all the kitties and your jokes! Thank you so much for all your care (heheh get it) and attention for the cats! My question is about the flehmen response. Would the cats react with the stinky face to something we would consider potent smelling like a lemon? Edit: spelling error

BigCatDerek5 karma

Certain colognes and spices trigger the flehmen response, but I don't think they'd like citrus too much

geekgirl884 karma

Derek, I just saw your vine and beelined my way to reddit. HUGE fan of the work that CARE does and your social media presence. I wish I lived closer so I could volunteer for you, but sadly Ohio is a bit far from Texas. I know due to extremely tight new big cat laws in Ohio, many sanctuaries had to close, but do you know of any sanctuaries in or near Ohio that treat big cats well and could use volunteer labor?

Smaller questions: What is your favorite social media platform to interact with? Is EditorDerek a constant loop of snark in your brain, or does he ever sleep?

BigCatDerek7 karma

Don't know much about the Ohio big cat scene, sorry.

Probably Twitter. It's the one I started out on as BigCatDerek, & it's the one I mess around with and have the most fun interacting with others.

My Vines often have to be very calculated and scheduled, so it has definitely become more structured than the other platforms.

FischFood4 karma

Hi Derek! I'm so glad you are doing an AMA. The world needs more people like those at CARE. For those of us who might not have a big cat sanctuary around what can we do that would make the biggest impact? Donations are always helpful, I know. I was wondering if there are any specific areas that are in need of extra attention. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!

BigCatDerek8 karma

Find the places in your own communities who do good, honest work & support them.

They can be dog and kitty shelters, horse rescues, or whatever

suddenrelic3 karma

I know you always say that no matter what the cats can never be domesticated, but you are seen playing with the lion cubs and tiger cubs in a lot of your vines. What happens between now and adulthood where they become aggressive? How does raising a cat like that in captivity and with a lot of human interaction not change that?

BigCatDerek25 karma

Their capacity to engage in instinctual, kill-based behaviors is always present in them. It's like deathmetal music constantly playing in their heads. Sometimes the music is turned down really low, and sometimes it is cranked so loud it drowns out all other sound & thought, but it's ALWAYS there.

As they get older, their abilities grow. Their speed increases, their strength increases, their bite power gets to be massive, & that little rambunctious cub is now a BIG rambunctious cat who could demolish our squishy muscles without really trying.

There are so many elements which go into whether or not a cat is aggressive. Sometimes the cat is aggressive because it's exhibiting fear, sometimes the cat is aggressive because it's exerting dominance, sometimes the cat is aggressive because its play ramped up to something more serious (anyone ever play wrestle with their sibling & have it turn into a real fist fight? same concept), sometimes a cat is aggressive because they have a general proclivity towards aggression and always - ALWAYS that deathmetal is playing in their brain. It's like a computer program which overrides their entire thought process and tells them to KILL. It served them and their predecessors for billions of years in the wild, and it just can't be stamped out of them.

If you ever see the movie Iron Giant, that will give you a great idea of what a big cat is like. They can be big, sweet galoots, but as soon as their instincts are "triggered" they become instruments of desolation. Unable to control their urge for impulse, destruction, and death.

They can come down from those modes, blood everywhere, and actually feel SORRY for what happened. It's happened often in situations where a pet tiger killed its owner. Somehow it got emotional, the emotion turned into instinct, it couldn't control its actions, and then it felt depressed that it's buddy is no longer moving.

Also, when I say "emotion", it doesn't have to be a negative emotion which could lead to an eventual kill response. It could easily be a sense of happy affection. Cat is happy to see you, cat wants to hold you and be affectionate, affection turns into possessiveness, music builds, cat starts getting impulsive, more possessive, the hold of love resembles the hold of prey, trigger.

mberninghausen3 karma

If you had the chance to work with kevin Richardson would you?

BigCatDerek5 karma

Sure, but I think I'd rather interview him.

Lettuce_do_marijuana2 karma

Hi Derek! Thanks so much for all your work at the rescue center and for the AMA! I'm a huge fan of your vines...

Anyways, I was always curious what your road to CARE was like. How did you find them? Did you study in school to get the job, and if so, what did you study?

Thanks again, and keep up the great work!

BigCatDerek4 karma

I never went to school for this, I learned by doing & slowly gained knowledge & responsibility over time