The Wildcat Sanctuary's Spring 2015 issue of Uproar

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UPROAR! The Wildcat Sanctuary

May 2015

Ekaterina, tiger

UPROAR! The Wildcat Sanctuary

Phoenix, Serval

From the Found e

May 2015 | Issue 6

Tammy Thies Founder & Executive Director


Julie Hanan Contributor

You are our future…

Carissa L. Winter Graphic Designer


Photography by TWS staff and Pamela Lammersen of PCML Photography

can’t believe spring is already here. It’s our busiest season of the year when construction and habitat enhancements begin. New interns arrive eager to learn and provide much needed help to our daily operations and volunteer crew days begin filling weekends to aid in building perches and enclosures. We have so many things to accomplish - tearing down and rebuilding two more habitats in Small Cat Track, construction of a third free-roaming habitat in Feline Meadows and purchasing a skid steer so we can complete the projects efficiently. But our biggest projects include upgrading our hospital with much needed on-site equipment, as well as habitat improvements for all the tigers’ enclosures. This will include in-ground pools, planting trees for shade, and more permanent furniture structures for lounging and long-term durability. I get excited thinking about our goals for the year, but I also can feel uneasy. Did you know it takes more than $750,000 a year to run the sanctuary? Much of that is daily operational costs like food, heat, electricity, employees to care for the cats and the facility and more. Your ongoing help is always needed to make sure we flourish and are here for the cats. Emergency appeals by other organizations garner quick support, but it takes away funding from sustainable organizations like The Wildcat Sanctuary. We hope you’ll remember we always need your support, even monthly support. We never want to have to issue an emergency appeal in order to care for the cats we all love. And, thanks to you, we haven’t had to. If you’re already a sponsor parent or are part of our monthly guardian program, we thank you! And if you’re not, feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to tell you more. You are our future for the cats in our care, and for those still in need of rescue. You can always reach me at 320-245-6871 or

Mission: Provide natural sanctuary to wild cats in need and inspire change to end the captive wildlife crisis. Vision: Help create a world where wild animal sanctuaries are no longer needed. The Wildcat Sanctuary is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association. TWS is also a member of the American Association of Zookeepers and licensed by the USDA. The Wildcat Sanctuary is a tax-exempt charity under the IRS code section 501c3, our federal tax ID number is 22-3857401.

For the cats,

The Wildcat Sanctuary PO Box 314 • Sandstone, MN 55072 320-245-6871

Tammy Thies Founder & Executive Director Athena and Tractor, bobcats

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Donate online at Copyright © The Wildcat Sanctuary. All Rights Reserved.


May 2015


May 2015


Nikita, tiger

Solving the puzzle together


e know how much the cats at The Wildcat Sanctuary mean to each of you. Your support reminds us every day how special each individual is. We were just as touched to find out what our residents mean to those who knew them before being rescued by The Wildcat Sanctuary. Since our Facebook family has grown to millions of fans, it’s been wonderful hearing from those who’ve had a past connection to our cats. Whether it be former caregivers or visitors who were impacted in one way or another by them, they’ve provided such helpful insights. The photos they see on our Facebook page spark memories of experiences they had with them, which are very valuable to us as caretakers. When we rescue a cat, we usually know so little about their past. The details are often as blurry as the photos. We often only have an estimated age. We’ve even rescued cats, like cougar Donoma, that we’ve been told are females, only to find out they’re actually males upon arrival! So any information we can get about their past lives is extremely helpful. Not too long ago, a Facebook fan who knew tigresses Ekaterina and Sierra reached out to us. She had visited the Ohio facility that exploited them as photo props years ago, before authorities shut it down. She shared photos and explained, 4

May 2015


Before rescue. Photo not taken at The Wildcat Sanctuary.

“I was one of the dumb ones who gave that lady money. I was young and ignorant. Of course, I know better now and fight to get these places shut down. This is Ekaterina when she was in Ohio. I went there in 2005. I had actually met her (the owner) at a local salon and we got to talking about tigers. She told me about her place and I looked it up and made an appointment to go out and see them. I remember she charged $200 for the ‘trainer for a day’ program, basically going to pet and brush them. There were three lions in one chain-link cage. She told me they took the male lion in a truck to the local ice cream place and kids loved him. That should have set off flags. The other cage, that seemed small for three large tigers, had Ekaterina, Sierra and Sher Khan. I know for a fact that Sher Khan was defanged and he was front declawed. He was

May 2015


the one they took to traveling shows. I remember both cats had large dog collars on as well. All three cats almost seemed drugged. They were very laid back and sleepy, despite what I’d consider a smaller meal, probably not the size to be sleep inducing. All the cats seemed happy to just lay there while we pet them, sat next to them, took pictures and brushed them. I’m so glad they’re in a much better place now. Looking back on it, I couldn’t believe how dangerous

couldn’t be released. We’re glad she’s helped explain that the decision is up to local and state authorities who often see them as threats to people or livestock. In 2006, when we rescued cougar siblings Castle and Vista, we were told they were taken out of the wild

last the weekend, but she did. She recovered her eyesight within a few days, but her rear leg coordination never improved. Seeing Vista that sick still haunts me. I had to separate Castle from his sister to be able to safely give her fluids and he laid against the cage door for the entire

Castle and Vista, cougars

“We rescued Andre after he was found on the side of the road in Canada.”

Andre, cougar

Andre, cougar


May 2015

it was! There were multiple tigers in there with her and all that lady was armed with was a bottle of vinegar. Ekat looks great now!” Knowing these cats as we do now, we can only imagine what was done to them to make them behave this way. We do not allow any physical contact with big cats as it is far too dangerous for the BEFORE humans, as well as the cats! Another fan reached out to talk about her experience with Andre, our orphaned cougar cub. We rescued Andre after he was found on the side of the road in Canada. She shared, “I volunteered with a local group in the area Andre was found. From what I recall, there is no rehab facility to handle predators in Canada so, if they are young like he was, the normal procedure would have been to euthanize them. If it wasn’t for a wonderful conservation officer whom Andre is named after, Andre would never have seen The Wildcat Sanctuary. Thank you so much for being his forever home. Sad that he could never be wild again, but this beats the alternative that would have been death for him. Love you guys and love to follow his progress.” She has watched Andre grow into the big, strong cougar he is today. So many ask why these wild-born cubs

by an individual, then seized during a drug raid and held by state authorities before coming to us. They arrived with physical issues and stunted growth. Vista has neurological problems, making coordination very difficult for her. But, with proper care, they’ve both thrived here at the Sanctuary. Their original rescuer found them on our Facebook page and reached out to us in 2014. She shared information that cleared up the mystery of Vista’s problems when she wrote, “Vista’s issues are due to Ivermectin toxicity. She went blind and paralyzed in just a matter of hours. The vet didn’t expect her to


three days. Thank you for doing what you do and for the updates. Their life with people started very tragically and I’m always impressed with how far they came.” This cleared up so much of the confusion we had about Vista’s medical condition. We’re happy to have developed this connection with their former caretaker. When one of Nikita’s former caretakers randomly found a post about her on our Facebook page, he said it brought tears to his eyes. In his words, “I was only 18 and inexperienced when I was drawn in by Sam Mazzola to be a caretaker for Nikita and other dangerous wild

May 2015


cage with two other tigers at a compound no visitors ever saw. She spent her life pacing and was abused, living in fear of Mazzola. He cared nothing for the big cats he had, only the bears and dogs. I left after my friend was killed by one of Mazzola’s bears. I learned that exotic pet ownership should not be allowed, even if you’re experienced with them. The world shouldn’t be able to exploit these beautiful animals for profits.” Nikita’s former caretaker takes comfort following her on our Nikita, tiger Facebook page and donates Photo taken before rescue. whenever he can. These are only a few of the many ways Facebook has helped us fill in the puzzle pieces to our cats’ past. It’s opened a window to their history so we have a better understanding of the trauma they’ve been through, the special emotional and medical needs they have, and how far they’ve come on their road to recovery and happiness. As our Facebook family continues to grow, we look forward to hearing from more who’ve been touched by our cats. We know that, throughout their lifelong journey, the cats have impacted so many on their way to their forever home here at The Wildcat Sanctuary. And we thank YOU who have helped us turn their lives around and provide them with the life they deserve.

animals he had. For years, Nikita was used as nothing more than a photo prop. She spent seven days a week at an Ohio mall, chained down while customers were allowed to touch her hindquarters – for a price. We sold photos and could make about $5000/week exploiting her, the bears, and lemurs we had on exhibit. When she became aggressive, after being forced into the limelight for so long, she was put in a concrete-floored


May 2015

Creating Wild Spaces


ach cat that comes to the sanctuary is promised several things, including nutritious food and proper veterinary care. Our promise also includes a wild space where they can choose their own path to walk and lie down, plenty of options for shade and alone time, as well as landscaping and furniture to keep their lives enriched. Cats that like water also deserve a pool or pond. Our job is to give them everything they need to thrive. In the past, the land was cleared to ensure proper drainage before building enclosures and buildings. Now, it’s our priority to bring back the lush wild space each cat deserves. YOU helped us begin this project last year when lean-tos, several shrubs and small trees were added to the Wild Woodlands section of our Sanctuary. This year, we’ll continue our Wild Spaces campaign by bringing in larger trees, permanent structures for shade and lounging, boulders and even in-ground pools for all the tigers.

There are many ways you can help! We are in need of the following donated services and supplies: • • • •

8 foot or larger pine/spruce trees Landscaping services including large boulders Concrete and labor for the pool structures Carpentry skills for permanent habitat furniture • Architectural drawings for pools, structures and Feline Meadows central animal building

We can do it, with YOUR support! You can also follow the progress on our Facebook page at:

Donate online at

Titan, tiger


May 2015


Asha, Shanti Deva, lionesses


May 2015


May 2015


The Scarlet Veterinary Center… Help us upgrade the hospital


s I sit here in our 18’ x 26’ hospital, I’m amazed at all that has gone on here in this small space. It’s one of the most important areas of the sanctuary. It’s where preventative care is given and the toughest decisions are made. And it’s critical to our mission and the care of our animals. So many memories here. This is where I met Ramsey the lynx and dozens of other residents as we performed their intake exams. It’s where Scarlet’s life-saving pyometra surgery took place. It’s where a team of professionals around the world joined together to perform four root canals on tiger Titan. It’s where the staff spent several days providing comfort care to caraval Zepo before we said good-bye. This small space has done some big things to help so many cats. And with our growing geriatric population and ongoing medical needs, more is needed. And you can help.

So why is the onsite hospital so important?

Scarlet, the clouded leopard, arrived in 2012 from a zoo that was retiring her. Scarlet arrived with several health issues including a compromised immune system that continues to affect her life journey here at The Wildcat Sanctuary. Our veterinary team continues to care for her needs as we ensure she has a wonderful quality of life and can enjoy every moment.


May 2015

• Each resident’s intake exam is performed which entails sedating the cat, inserting a microchip, doing a full exam and radiographs, drawing blood and giving vaccines • Radiographs are performed for diagnostics and on aging cats to assess arthritic changes • Dozens of spays and neuters are performed • Ongoing wellness exams and dentals are performed • Specialists come and perform root canals, ultrasounds and eye surgeries • Animals recover from surgeries and exams • Fecals and other preventative care takes place on an ongoing basis • It acts as a surgery suite for several types of surgeries • It is a treatment center for cats that need further observation • Pharmacy for all medications and supplements In short, it is a fully operational veterinary hospital that accommodates small and really BIG cats.

The Plan The Hospital Upgrade is launching with a very important new name: The Scarlet Veterinary Center. This is in honor of Scarlet, the clouded leopard, and the ongoing treatments and care she has received and continues to need. This year, our goal is to purchase needed medical equipment since so much of ours was donated and is deteriorating or unreliable. We’ve submitted several grant requests that we hope will help fund some of the cost, but your help is also needed. Replacement and procurement of the following is needed quickly: • Dre Teres V-400 High speed Veterinary Dental Air Unit - $3,995 • Tuttnauer EZ9 Fully Automatic Medical Autoclave Sterilizer - $4,852 • Express Portable Patient Monitor - $8,685 • Blood chemistry machine - $10,200 • X-ray w/FTT table, CMDR Digital Ready Anthem Generator - $50,800 • X-Ray (added power for larger animals) - $19,500 • Erchonia LLLT laser unit - $10,195 • Mallinckrodt Warm Touch 6000 Fluid Warmer - $1,395 • Safety Equipment cabinet - $300 • General surgical pack - $482 each • Fully stocked pharmacy $2,200 per month • Large capacity washing machine - $719 • Large capacity dryer - $719

Over the next 5 years, we would like to build a new food preparation building and then expand the hospital into the current adjacent food preparation area. An upgraded hospital will provide for several important opportunities: • More specialized care to our geriatric residents • Flexibility to treat unusual cases in-house, decreasing the stress of transporting cats off-site • More space for comfort care for the cats needing long term care, quarantine or recovery • More adequate equipment for visiting specialists and our own resident veterinarian • Expanded educational opportunities for future veterinarians • Donor and education opportunities to see the important work we do firsthand through a safe viewing area The cost this year will run over $100,000! Sponsorships are available for each piece of equipment, everything needed for its function, as well as future naming rights for the new wing. Sponsorships will also be available for the future food preparation building. Will you help today? Cats like Lilly, the tigress, will have you to thank. She can receive all of her medical attention on-site, decreasing her stress and recovery time. This can be critical for a 19-year-old tiger with ongoing chronic issues. Thank you for being there for them and part of this landmark project at TWS!

Diablo Guapo, jaguar

Donate online at


May 2015


Jeremy, tiger

Shazam, leopard

Scooter, bobcat

Asha, lion

Dante, F1 Bengal

Lilly, tiger


May 2015


May 2015


Deciding to Declaw

To Declaw or Not to Declaw? Kaya, domestic cat


any years before ever starting The Wildcat Sanctuary, I remember walking into the shelter to adopt my very first pet back in the mid 90’s. I had looked at rescue groups, ads in the paper and had visited several shelters looking for the right cat – the one looking for me. When I saw her, I knew. She was not exotic looking, nor a fancy breed. But she was just as beautiful. She was a black little kitten with blues eyes, amongst a sea of other black kittens in her litter. When she approached the wire door and let out one “meow,” that was it! My feline family had begun and her name was Kaya.

My Experience with Kaya

Halifax, serval


May 2015

I had done everything to make sure we were a perfect match and that I could give her the best home possible. I researched cats and breeds. I looked into purchasing from a breeder or adopting from a shelter. I learned what costs would be involved in having a pet and I adapted my apartment to create a cat amusement park. I know they say dogs are man’s best friend. But for me, it was Kaya. I couldn’t imagine life without her. It was our first visit to the vet for her to be spayed and being away from her for a day seemed unbearable. Upon check-in, the front desk asked if I would like her declawed, too? I was told this was a common practice and would even receive a discount for performing both surgeries at once. I wanted to be the best cat guardian, and if that was recommended by the vet, then that is what I was going to do. Oh, how little I knew! Even after treating Kaya for several paw infections later, I still believed this was just part of having a cat as a member of the family. Over my life, I have declawed three cats, something I am not proud of at all. But, also something I am not ashamed to admit because I can educate others in hopes of changing the future.

It took being invited to see a surgery first hand when I realized this is not declawing at all. They were surgically removing the first digits of my cat’s toes with a surgical knife – it was an amputation! That was the last cat I ever declawed. Was this really necessary? I thought to myself. Why was I doing it: To make the cat safe? To protect my furniture? I didn’t have a clear answer except, that’s what pet guardians did. How far I’ve come! I can’t judge others for something I’ve done, but I hope to offer more information so that people can make better decisions. The Wildcat Sanctuary is home to over 100 cat residents, exotic and domestic. Seventy percent of the cats come to us four-paw declawed and we see the devastating effects. People tend to agree that declawing big cats is cruel and causes permanent damage, but it can be difficult to convince them that declawing small cats can cause the same damage – even if your cat isn’t showing the signs. We often have to say good-bye to cats earlier than we should due to debilitating arthritis and lameness. Pain medications only help for so long. But the cats who are genetically designed to bear weight on their toes are now putting all their weight on scar tissue and exposed bone. No pain medications or soft substrate can compensate for that. Halifax, one of the servals in our care, had several surgeries to remove bone and claw fragments, UPROAR!

well into his teens. The regrowth would cause abscesses that had to be surgically corrected. Even small cats like Bullet, a Bengal cat, have chronic issues. Bullet has had several radiographs on his feet. His toes have fused at a 90-degree angle because of his arthritis. His bone is right at the skin and he often shifts weight from foot to foot.

The Paw Project We are hoping that through education, pet guardians will stop, think and ask more questions before they make the decision to declaw. That is why we support the work of the Paw Project. They are educating thousands of people and trying to make a cultural shift on how America views declawing. We also know that we cannot change everyone’s mind so we encourage people who will only open their home to a declawed

cat, to adopt one from a shelter versus putting another cat through this surgery. We know this is a controversial topic and will ruffle some feathers. Whenever you try and make change, it often does. But, we hope it will start a conversation about what is best for our feline friends. For those that love cats enough to have one (or more) in your home, please love them for what they truly are – claws and all. Even the best dogs will chew your shoes and put wear and tear on the house. Kids color on walls, break precious items while playing. Cats are not any different. They shouldn’t be penalized for doing what comes naturally. Instead, love their wild side and give them more options that are acceptable. Your little tiger will be happy that you love her for ALL of her! I wish I had done that for Kaya.

Diablo Guapo, jaguar

May 2015


In Honor & In Memory

No More Wild Pets


Do you have a special someone or occasion you’d like to honor in a unique way? Why not consider a gift that will benefit the cats, too? We’ll feature your honor/memorial gift here in our magazine. Donate at:

n March of 2015, we received a very familiar call – a private owner whose life circumstances were quickly changing and it would be impossible for him to keep the exotic cat he so loved. His Canada Lynx had spent all thirteen years of her life with he and his wife, living indoors as a household pet here in Minnesota. But, because of a divorce and a move to an apartment, it would be impossible for him to keep her. So, wanting to do the best for her, he contacted The Wildcat Sanctuary in hopes we could take her in.

Zepo, Caraval

In Memory

In honor of Barb & Logan Capaldo’s wedding Love, Auntie Mar & Uncle Art

In memory of Anne Wilder John Debee and Michael Shields (TWS apologizes to John and Michael for the misprint in the winter 2015 Uproar issue)

In honor of Kay & Roger Lassen Heather Christensen In honor of Sumatra and in support of our hybrids Brian Link In honor of Hannah Banana Megan Gingery In honor of Casey James Kelly James

In honor of Patrick O’Connell Jackie O’Connell In honor of Niav’s 7th birthday Amy Muller In honor of Bonni Kautz Mary Brennan In honor of Dante Mary Simon In honor of Rachel Nystrom Andrew Schueller

Sadly, almost 70% of the cats that come to The Wildcat Sanctuary are 4-paw declawed when they arrive.

Zepo, your specialness transcends life. It was an honor for us to be your caregivers.

Cleo had never experienced the outdoors or all the Cleo, Canada lynx things a Canada Lynx loves; grass to catnap in, pines trees to smell, and snow under those big, gigantic paws. Though she’s a wild cat by nature, she’d always been treated as a domestic cat by her owner. Naturally, once she arrived, her first days at the Sanctuary proved to be a big adjustment for her. Everything was so new and scary. The caretakers gave her plenty of tender loving care, helping her acclimate to her new life. Cleo had been fed a canned food for exotics her entire life. She never had the typical raw meat diet that Canada Lynx eat in the wild. It didn’t take long for her to begin enjoying her new chicken diet while getting used to the sights, sounds and new neighbors she began meeting at the Sanctuary. We’re thankful that our supporters donate so that we can provide cats like Cleo the chance they need to live out their lives the best way possible – wild at heart! If you’d like to become Cleo’s sponsor parent, she’d love that! You can sign up at

Mark, we celebrate your long life with us surrounded by the humans and animals that loved you so much.



May 2015

In Honor

In honor of Melvin Swanson Brandy Bloom

Cleo the lynx was 4-paw declawed by her previous owner. She has regrowth on 50% of her toes which will need to be monitored and repaired.

In memory of Ozzy – my beloved “wild” cat Danielle Brigati In memory of Aria 07.28.12 – 01.08.15, our beautiful little stray. We miss you. Thomasina Gonzales In memory of Kirsty Meldrum-Sallee Tracy Lavers In memory of Sitka Pauline Hart In memory of Aslan Marquetta Tinsley In memory of Edward Diles Marilyn Wise My beloved Lestat, came into my life in 11/2007 and transitioned onward 01/2015. It is in his honor and memory that I make this donation. Susan Crone

In honor of my Cat Loving Husband, Eric Luann Berman

In memory of Nancy Nelson’s Columbus, who was a special part of the family from the day he was born. Lori Sunderman

In honor of Gale Kelly Paul Rosenberg

In memory of Bubba Jeremiah Campion

In honor of Lisa von Tish Cindy Sweeney

In memory of Tobey Kande Larson

In honor of Joyce Brukoff Megan Lutz

In memory of Aslan – Long live the King in his forever freedom Ken and Teena Shields

In honor of Diablo Guapo Isaac Garfinkle In honor of Jaysn – Happy Birthday from your staff and friends; Mary, Kezia, Nicole, Keith, Joe, Gina and Julie. In honor of Craig Miller’s Birthday Paul Moss

Mark, F1 Bengal

Gifts through 1/31/2015

In honor of Booties Danita Roberts In honor of Ellen Richardson’s birthday Annette DiBiase In honor of Ellen Richardson’s birthday Liz Freeland

In memory of sweet cat Missy Jill and Eric Swenson In memory of Jean Claude Kitty Mr. Sean Daughtry In memory of Romeo (Ro Ro), my soulmate cat, whose love – light shines brightly in my heart Ann Jirik In memory of John Joseph Wynne Glen Yakel In memory of Ronald G. Phillips and Troy P. Brengman David and Nancy Pinzka In memory of Robert W. Meisch Ann Meisch

May 2015



PO Box 314 • Sandstone MN • 55072

WAYS YOU CAN HELP Details of all our programs can be found at MONTHLY GUARDIAN Monthly Guardians give a monthly gift that makes a big impact on the lives of our residents.

LAST CHANCE FOR MIRACLE MATCH Miracle Match ends April 30th! Thank you to everyone who has donated so far! You are making miracles happen for wild cats like Ekaterina. Every gift counts. With just $50, TWS can provide food for a month to Andre, a cougar who arrived with a metabolic bone disease. Now he runs and plays with 4 other cougar friends in a 20,000 square-foot habitat. $75 will feed one of our larger cats for a month, like Asha, the lioness who arrived at TWS with 6 other cats after the closure of an animal park. This is our biggest program of the year. Our goal is to raise over $200,000 or 4 months of operating costs. Your help is needed now more than ever!

Donate online at Ekaterina, tiger

email: phone: 320-245-6871

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