The Wildcat Sanctuary Uproar Magazine September 2015

Page 1

UPROAR! The Wildcat Sanctuary

September 2015

Aurora, caracal

UPROAR! The Wildcat Sanctuary

Liberty, cougar

From the Found e

September 2015 | Issue 7

Tammy Thies Founder & Executive Director


Julie Hanan Contributor

In the beginning

Carissa L. Winter Graphic Designer


Photography by TWS staff and Pamela Lammersen of PCML Photography

ays like this are when I realize how fast has made mine and so many cats’ stories possible. time flies by and how special each As a young girl, I was always eager - eager to do as moment is. Today, I’m spending a few much as I could in as little time as possible. Some of the last days with Sampson, the caracal. At 17, he’s would say I haven’t changed much. In high school, I spent his entire life here at The Wildcat Sanctuary. He started attending college when I was just 16. After high was our second resident and I remember him being a school, I double majored in marketing and advertising, little ball of red fur and fire, hissing non-stop. Over graduating in 3 1/2 years while holding down a job. I the years, we became very close and he was the most knew I wanted to work my way up the corporate ladder easygoing caracal anyone had ever met. His best friend, as fast as possible in a creative advertising agency. Cleo the serval, was the first resident to call TWS home. I worked for a few smaller agencies before being I sit here giving him pain medications and recruited to The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta. I was subcutaneous fluids to support his failing kidneys, the youngest in their marketing department and the making sure he has no pain. Yet, I know his time is first to be hired without a Master’s Degree. Later in near. For now, he enjoys laying in the grass, trotting my career, I worked for many international, high profile after new caracal Aurora and being the ham of a cat he companies, too. is. My heart breaks knowing he’ll be leaving us soon, I was introduced to exotic cats during my work just like so many of our other original cats now in their in advertising and on photo shoots. On one particular senior years. And so many dear ones have already left. Sampson, caracal and Seventeen years has gone fast. I Cleo, African serval feel like it’s the end of an era. The original cats have been here from the beginning, since I had the first crazy notion that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of animals, but had no idea how I was going to do that. A day doesn’t go by that I’m not asked, “How did you start the Sanctuary?” Some of you have been on this journey from our inception in Atlanta. Others have joined the cause once you heard about our first tigress Meme. Others recently joined. Thank you to each and every one of you who

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.

The Wildcat Sanctuary PO Box 314 • Sandstone, MN 55072 320-245-6871 Follow us on:

Copyright © The Wildcat Sanctuary. All Rights Reserved.


September 2015


September 2015


shoot, there were two young Bengal tiger cubs named Titan and Tango. At first I was smitten, like everyone else. How cute and adorable they were. The cubs were on leashes, being pulled in many directions. They started screaming when they got tired, but their job was not over, so the trainer kept redirecting them to stay on cue. After that, I decided to volunteer for a few organizations only to find out they were breeding and selling. Each time I volunteered, a favorite animal would be gone and a new one would appear. I never got straight answers. Once, an owner wanted to prove to me he did nothing wrong and asked me to accompany him to pick up a baby cougar. What I saw that day, I’ll never forget. Metal corn cribs cut in half, turned on their side to create an 8 x 12 space no higher than 5 feet at the tallest point. On one side was a severely scarred leopard with fur missing and flattened feet due to a declaw. The owner said the leopard had been in the house when she was younger and been burned by boiling water. I looked to the right and tears welled up in my eyes. There was the male lion I’d loved so much, that I’d volunteered to care for at the other facility. He’d been traded for the cougar kitten we were picking up today. He could barely turn around in the small space, his face was bloody from scraping the fence and his paws were raw from the hard surface he paced on. He was a shell of the cat I’d met before. But that wasn’t the worst. We went into a pole building that had dozens of small galvanized boxes with round holes. They were no bigger than a copy paper box. The only thing you could see were small eyes peering back from the round air holes. The sound coming from those boxes was deafening – the screaming and hissing, I can still hear it today. I was told they were all bobcats that would be electrocuted for their pelts. I was physically ill. Incredibly, the owner thought it would somehow bring me peace to see the lion I’d loved so much. To him, this was just a regular business transaction. That was one of many days I vowed to make a change, but I had no idea how. In 1999, I was contacted by a volunteer who was still helping one of the facilities I had volunteered with.


September 2015

She told me one of the adult Bengal tigers would no longer work on a leash and the trainer deemed him dangerous. The tiger’s reward for years of service and profit to the trainer was to be killed and taxidermied.

“If I only make a fraction of the impact that Sampson and the other cats have made on me, then I am very blessed.” I didn’t know how I could help from so far away, but I had to do something. My mom had given me a Parade Magazine featuring actress Tippi Hedren and her big cat preserve. I dialed the number in the article and, to my surprise, Tippi answered the phone. She committed to finding a sanctuary for the tiger if the trainer would relinquish custody. It had only been hours since the first phone call, but when I called back, the tiger had already been killed and put on dry ice. Tippi and I were outraged and quickly became friends. She mentored me and introduced me into the sanctuary world for big cats. I incorporated in 1999 to do advocacy and education for big cats, but quickly learned more sanctuaries were needed. Tippi told me, “You have

to quit thinking you are saving big cats by getting them surrendered and sending them to other sanctuaries, you need to become your own sanctuary.” So I did. It began on two small acres in a suburb of Atlanta, then moved to five acres in the country. Running a nonprofit was harder than I thought, so I moved back to my roots in Minnesota bringing our 10 cats to 10 new acres. After a zoning dispute over a geriatric tiger I rescued named Meme, we moved north to 40 plush acres in Sandstone, MN where we reside today. For the first several years, I worked both a full-time job and also ran the sanctuary. I received no salary from the sanctuary and invested tens of thousands of dollars of my own money to build habitats and care for the animals. This is because it was, Cleo, serval and still is, a labor of love. Over the years, I’ve acted as Executive Director, animal care director, keeper, construction manager, fundraiser, financial manager, and overnight caretaker of the facility. Often all at the same time. Anybody who has started a business understands the commitment and sacrifice it takes.

Starting a sanctuary is no different, except there are 100+ animals whose lives depend on us. I have made my share of mistakes, but never wavered from the mission. Life came full circle as it often does. Just weeks after moving to our property in Sandstone, MN, we were contacted by authorities that Cynthia Gamble had been killed by one of her performing tigers just five miles down the road. I knew that property all too well. It had been years since I’d been there. My heart sank when I heard it was Titan and Tango – the two cubs that I’d met years earlier on the photo shoot. They’d been through so much through the years. Another tiger, Lilly, was also Continued on page 6

Titan, tiger


September 2015


on the property and had her own troubled past. All had been through starvation multiple times. Titan and Tango survived when 30 other cats perished in the barn from dehydration and starvation just a few years earlier. Tango’s fate was sealed by authorities who euthanized him after Gamble’s death. Thankfully, The Wildcat Sanctuary was able to offer survivors Lilly and Titan a home. Over a decade had gone by since I first met Tango and Titan. I made a new vow that no cat should ever have to withstand a decade of abuse and neglect before being rescued. And we would dedicate ourselves to inspiring change to decrease the number of cats needing sanctuary. Since 2006, with your help, we have built out 40 acres to provide natural habitats for rescued wild cats, added an onsite hospital to treat our ever growing geriatric population, built a talented and compassionate team, become a leader for change nationally through our advocacy work and supporting legislation to stop the breeding and ownership of big cats as pets, grown our onsite internship program to help educate future animal advocates, mentored other sanctuaries to expand the number of homes available to rescued cats and acted

as placement officer to coordinate national rescues with dozens of big cats needing placement at a time. What you have helped us accomplish is amazing. I am thankful for that daily. But still, on days like this, as I experience the last chapter in a very special cat’s life, all goes silent. It is as if time stands still - or I just wish it to in order not to have to say goodbye. I know that Sampson is one of the lucky ones. Arriving at a very young age, he has never known the abuse or neglect many of our other residents have. He has only known love and kindness. But more importantly, he changed our lives. He was one of the first to teach us why wild cats should not be pets, why they need special care and deserve to live wild at heart. People say I’ve built a legacy, but it is their legacy. If I only make a fraction of the impact that Sampson and the other cats have made on me, then I am very blessed. Their legacy inspires change and only in their legacy can we end the captive wildlife crisis. It is the best way we can honor each and every one of them. For now, I choose to celebrate the very special days and weeks ahead as Sampson and other founding cats move to the next chapter in life. And with your continued support, we will also start a new chapter here by welcoming more cats that need refuge. They will be just as special as the Sampson, caracal first who called The Wildcat Sanctuary home. Thank you for the past, present and future! You have truly made a difference in my life and all that call TWS home.

You Can Leave Your Own Legacy for the Cats The Wildcat Sanctuary allows all our residents to live wild at heart. We remain passionately committed to our mission, and we invite you to join us. A planned gift is one way to support our important work even after your lifetime. It may sound complicated but it’s actually quite simple: a little bit of planning now can make a big difference for the cats for years to come.

Learn more by visiting: or by calling 320-245-6871.

2016 Wildcat Sanctuary Calendar on Sale! Our 2016 calendar is chock full of some of our best photos of your favorite cats, thanks to volunteer photographer Pamela Lammerson of PCML Photography.

$21.38 USD includes tax

Tammy Thies Founder & Executive Director

FREE shipping within U.S. and Canada Calendars will be shipped early September.

To order visit: 6

September 2015


September 2015


Tonka, tiger

Wild Spaces


e asked if you’d help us improve habitats for some of our rescued cats and, thankfully, you answered yes! Through our Wild Spaces campaign, we hope to improve the habitats for many here at the Sanctuary. And, as you can see in the photos, we’ve already made such progress. Our staff and volunteers have been working long hours to make everything you see a reality. It takes a lot just to care for these cats on a daily basis. When you throw in construction projects like pools, perches, and platform building to the long list of chores, it’s easy to see why we think we have the best caretakers, staff and volunteers imaginable – thanks to our donors who support their work every day! The servals, caracals, some bobcats and lynx are thrilled with their new “digs” in the completed Small Cat Track section of the Sanctuary. Lioness Shanti Deva and lynx Lindsey are basking in the shade of their newly planted tall trees. Tonka, Ekaterina, Layla, Jeremy and Simon can’t get enough pool time, it seems, since we find them playing in their new pools most days. Jeremy and Simon, the white tiger cubs, can’t choose

their favorite – their pool or the huge platforms they lounge on every day watching over the Sanctuary. What a difference it’s made in their rambunctious lives! It’s exactly what they needed to challenge them and provide lots of play opportunities to help drain some of that boundless energy young tigers have. Pictures are worth a thousand words and that’s why we’re excited to share these extra special moments you provided for them. We hope you might consider a donation to our ongoing Wild Spaces campaign as we prepare to rescue four more big cats. They’ll need new habitats and all the fun things we can possibly offer. With all they’ve been through to get to us, don’t they deserve the rest of their days to be their best days, too? With your help and financial support, we can do that for them and others waiting for habitat improvements. Thank you for making dreams come true!

Donate online at

Shanti Deva, lion


September 2015


September 2015


Layla, tiger

Ekaterina, tiger

Jeremy and Simon, tigers

10 September 2015

Ekaterina, tiger


Simon, tiger

Tonka, tiger

September 2015


How one day changed Aurora’s life forever

two years later, it was time for her to move on – as he was. It’s heartbreaking to see these innocent animals who, through no fault of their own, have their worlds turned upside down – and they don’t understand why it’s happening to them. We could see classic signs as he showed us around the house. When wild cats mature, their wild traits begin to emerge. From a kiddy pool being used as a litter box to try to encourage her to use it, to “her” bedroom with a sheet of linoleum laid over the carpeting and a shredded futon, her needs to stretch her wild side were becoming evident. Having been frontpaw declawed and spayed, he explained she’d also recently had bowel obstruction surgery from ingesting a toy. He loaded her into a crate and carried it to our vehicle. We choked back our own tears. She didn’t know why she was leaving the only person she’d ever bonded with, and she certainly didn’t know what would lie ahead. For almost 18 hours, through eight states, she was scared but traveled well. Arriving at the sanctuary before dawn seemed fitting since she’s named for the Roman goddess of dawn. Aurora was, understandably, very wary the first week while in the quarantine section of the sanctuary. But, once her intake exam results came in, she was released into a large habitat with servals Cleo, Mufasa, and Morocco, as well as Sampson, the caracal. She came into her own right away, confidently exploring the perches, platforms, dens, trees, and tall shady grass. It’s as if she let out a huge sigh of relief that this is the life she’d been longing for and finally, it’s hers to enjoy. Her story is another example of why exotic animals should not be

considered pets – no matter the best intentions or the means to buy them. There just aren’t many options for a wild cat “pet” when life circumstances change. We know you’ll agree that Aurora is one of the lucky ones to end up at The Wildcat Sanctuary. Thank you for giving her this new life.

Aurora, caracal

You can sponsor cats like Aurora Aurora, caracal at

Aurora, caracal


t started like most weeks do, with a list of chores a mile long. We received a one line email “Does your organization accept new animals?” We had no idea how that one email would turn our week upside down! When asked what type of “pet” the writer was referring to, the answer surprised us – a caracal. Caracals are pretty rare in the private sector. Rescuing and losing Ivan and Nigel not so long ago, it was unusual for us to get another call on a caracal in need of a home. At less than two years old, Aurora had always lived indoors. Now, her owner was taking advantage of an opportunity overseas and she’d need a new home quickly.


September 2015

We wanted her to know she’d be safe before the only person she knew in the world moved and left her behind. We quickly made arrangements to travel over 1100 miles one way to pick her up. We never know what we’re going to find when we arrive, but this really surprised us. Unlike most surrenders, Aurora was living in a luxurious home. The juxtaposition of seeing this African cat making cat calls through a glass door at the birds in the surrounding woods contrasted so much with being inside four walls. Why had he purchased her in the first place? Fascinated by exotic things, he was on a breeder’s waiting list over two years and paid $7500 for her. Now, less than


Aurora, caracal

September 2015


Caesar, tiger

Shadow, leopard

No More Wild Pets Wildcat Sanctuary hosts Big Cat Crisis Symposium Saturday, October 10

Calcutta, tiger

9:00 – 4:00

$55 per person

Surly Brewing Company 520 Malcolm Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414


As legal battle ends, 4 big cats will finally call TWS home


hen an owner is ordered by authorities to “get rid” of five big cats he’s had for nearly a decade, having exhausted all legal options, what happens next? It’s not always simple, it involves months of negotiation, with so many people and interests involved. But what’s most important to you and to us – the cats, and how we make it right for them. We’ve been working on rescuing these five big cats for over a year now. Sadly, one has already passed away, which is heartbreaking. We’ve just returned from New York, after assembling a veterinary team to neuter two of the tigers before transporting them cross country. When we see potentially dangerous big cats still intact, we want to assure they’re fixed right away so these cats don’t contribute to more surplus cats in cages in the future. Tigers in America has generously agreed to provide transportation for them through Loving Friends Transport. Popcorn Park Zoo will assist with the sedation and loading. We’re so grateful for their help! Two of these tigers were purchased from an operator who used them as props, charging people to have a photograph taken with them. The other tiger came from a game farm, after she’d scratched a child


September 2015

at a county fair, requiring 14 stitches. His two leopards were also purchased from the game farm. This is another typical story of how privately bred cats go through so many hands before arriving at a sanctuary. We’re so happy the owner chose to ensure his cats’ safety by placing them with us. The tigers are currently living in separate cages, the size we typically provide for our smallest hybrid cats here at the sanctuary. The owner has kept the cages clean and provides a small exercise yard for them. This is not just one rescue. This is FOUR rescues, all at once, of FOUR very big cats! It’s a huge commitment! We’ve been busily constructing temporary habitats that are 1200 square feet each, along with a 6000 square foot exercise yard for them. We hope to eventually provide these cats with the typical 10,000 square foot habitats you see our big cats enjoying here at the sanctuary. All of this takes time, commitment, and money. We’ll keep you posted on their move to the Sanctuary and appreciate your ongoing support allowing us to say “yes” to cats like this in need.

id you know thousands of tigers, lions and other wild cats are kept as pets or used for profit across the United States? Many are mistreated and neglected. The few lucky ones find permanent sanctuary to live out their lives. But what happens to the others? This is the big cat crisis we face today. The Wildcast Sanctuary will host a first ever, one day seminar, with captivating experts from across the country, to educate what you can do to make a difference in ending the big cat crisis.

Speakers include: • Tammy Thies, Founder and Executive Director of The Wildcat Sanctuary • Tim Harrison, Outreach for Animals and star of The Elephant in the Living Room • William Nimmo, Founder of Tigers in America • Julie Hanan, Animal Advocate • Carney Anne Nasser, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) Legislative Affairs • Carson Barylak, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Campaigns Officer

To Learn More and Register Online, Visit:

Donate online at


September 2015


Nunda and Phoenix, African servals

Cleo, Canada lynx

Diablo Guapo, jaguar

Nikko, bobcat

Shanti Deva, lion

Jeremy, tiger

Baby Jenga, bobcat

Ty, chausie

Shalico, Canada lynx

Langley, cougar

Hilo, savannah Langley, cougar

16 September 2015


September 2015


In Honor & In Memory In Honor In honor of Rosalind Annen’s birthday Carol Johnson and Susan Howard

In honor of Bast Eric Lethe

In honor of Robin Ferlet C. Sue Thatcher

In honor of Louis “Scratchmo” Armstrong. Devoted Bengal of 13 years. Brian and Marita Link

In honor of Tammy Thies and the amazing staff at TWS

In honor of Sabrina Louella E. Rehfield

In honor of my wife Ann White and our anniversary. Also, in honor of Jeremy and Simon, the white cubs’ first birthday Eddie White

In honor of Gwenn Chriss, Happy Birthday Maeve and Frankie

In honor of Suzanne Heselton and Robert Lewis, in honor of their wedding. Congratulations as you begin your new life together.

Sally Thornton

Peggy and David Ingber

In honor of Garrin Faustion Avaloz, Happy Birthday to you from your loving grandmother and all the cats

In honor of Booties

Karen H Avaloz

In honor of Elizabeth Eide Jazzbi Etheridge

In honor of Clarissa Kuhn, Congratulations on your first Holy Communion! Love, Jan and Dave Varandas

In honor of “Little Guy” my beloved cat Donald Yoder

In honor of my mom, Diana Berry JoAnna Berry

In honor of Aslan Catherine Allen

In honor of Akira Scott Rollins

In honor of Olivia and Rowan Rhonda Murray

Danita Roberts

In honor of Tammy Thies Susan Green

In honor of Will Savage Jenifer Koberstein

In honor of Allan and Karen Overholser Mary Reilly

In honor of Luna and Mewe Marie Meriwani

In honor of Amma Pratyangira

In memory of my beautiful cat, Lucy

Danita Roberts

In memory of David A. Strassman

Carol deProsse

In memory of Helen Bleich

Harold Drabkin

Kelly Bumgarner Peggy Fisher

Kathryn Rasmussen Rohrman Andrea Zemel

In memory of David Strassman D.A. and G.M. Strassman

In memory of Booties Danita Roberts

In memory of Sweet Max 2, my old buddy. Thank you for loving him so much

In honor of Julie Hanan

In memory of Wayne E. Nelson

Jennifer Seidel & Nicole Trebil

Barbara Sharpe

In honor of Patricia Olson

In memory of Robert W. Meisch

Toby Rae

Ann Meisch

In honor of Ronald Phillips and Troy Brengman

In memory of Wayne E. Nelson Rosalind Annen

In memory of Lucy Fisher Stelter Pam and Jim Fisher

In memory of Cleo, Danny, Paddy, Casey, Samantha, Missy, Justin, Blackpeel and Rexy. Also, in honor of my beloved dog, Colby Deborah Eckert

In memory of Jacob Hill Alexandria Hill

In memory of Ezra Robertson Harold Guenthner

In memory of Patricia Guenthner Harold Guenthner

In memory of Kande Larson’s “Bella”

In memory of Fluffy – the Mouth of the South! The best cat ever created! I miss you so much, Fluffinator! Patrick Clarey

In memory of Sassafras Marina Silliker

Cari Mustard

Elizabeth Eide

In memory of Bradly Barkman Debbie Lamont

In memory of Uma the cat Michael and Linda Kriel

In memory of BB Joan Akkerman

In memory of Krueger, the best cat ever Renee Flesner

In memory of Tigress Lilly Harold Drabkin

In memory of Lilly, she had the courage to move on with her life despite the past outrages she suffered. She is in kinder arms now than even your wonderful organization could give her. Debra Von Behren

19-year-old Tigress Lilly, may your future in your new wild life be exactly what you dreamed of…

In memory of Pippie Mrs. E. J. Whitten

In memory of “Wally” Shields, beloved cat of Mike and Candy Shields Dawn Perault

In loving memory of Scarlet, the Clouded Leopard. You will be dearly missed

Kim Meline, Linda Lazar, Eden Kennan, Anne McKay, Kathryn Dube

In memory of Leopold George Naylor

In memory of Cecil, the beautiful African Lion

Laura Barnes, Kathryn Dube, RKP Executive Services, John Ball, Debra Rogers

In memory of Robin Geter’s cat, Elliott

12-year-old Bengal Cat Max, may your sweet personality be as much appreciated in your next life.

19-year-old Lioness Asha had a love for Aslan and zest for life.

15-year-old Clouded Leopard Scarlet was as special as only Scarlet could be.

Ellen Hawkins

In memory of my husband, Wayne, who loved all cats

Charlene Hogan

In memory of Nigel

In memory of Dick Almquist and his love of cats.

In Memory

Love You, Nancy

In memory of Eva M. Worthen

In memory of Aslan and Asha

In memory of Tigg

In memory of Rosie, the feisty foxhound

In memory of Hershey

Mr. and Mrs. James Whitten

Janani Julta

Happy Birthday, Jeffy!

September 2015

In memory of Tummers

In honor of Megan and Tristia Melzer Penelope Purtzer

In loving memory of Munchie and Captain Midnight Peggy Smith

In memory of our “wildcats” Dusty, Tulip and Blueprint who lived indoors, but thought they were jungle animals!

Karen Johnson

In memory of Dino, Alvania Morales’ white poodle


Melanie Pearson

Ingrid Graudins

In honor of all sanctuary cats

Pat O’Rourke

In memory of Tony Stein

In honor of Lilly

Dagmar Stapleton

George Vassallo

Gifts through August 10, 2015

Ann Bell

Paula Nelson

In memory of Elaine Hanson Meisch Ann Meisch

In memory of Shenanigans and Houlighan Christopher Coffman

In memory of Max 1997-2015. Carrying you in our hearts forever. The Borchers Family

In memory of my beloved Pudgy Karla Lara

In memory of Meme Paula Phillips

15-year-old Caracal Nigel unites with his brother at the Rainbow Bridge. UPROAR!

September 2015



PO Box 314 • Sandstone MN • 55072

PERMIT 30308

JUNGLE BOOGIE TO REGISTER VISIT WILDCATSANCTUARY.ORG October 11, 5:30 p.m. • $100 per person Join us at for an exciting evening to benefit the wild ones at the most sought after destination brewery in Minnesota, Surly Brewing Company! This craft beer focused event includes Surly’s world renowned beer, an awesome meal, program and plenty of fun. It’s a good time, with good beer and good people. Don’t miss a chance to toast all we’ve done together to save so many. All proceeds benefit The Wildcat Sanctuary.