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We took in this tiny girl in October, and after an auction to raise funds for her initial care, we finally have a name, and a beautiful tribute to go with it!

Clay and Jackie Montgomery donated $1500 to name our new addition and her name is now Mika (pronounced Mee-ka)!
And along with the name, the Montgomery’s have given something extra special – here is the story of Mika’s name…

From Clay Montgomery:

“The documentary War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend explores the relationship between military dogs and their handlers during war. It follows 3 soldiers, and their experiences, with their dogs. One in particular is SFC John Dixon. He was selected as one of four Army Rangers to begin a Ranger dog program. He worked with his dog, Mika, for over 2 years before going on 2 deployments in Afghanistan. On his second deployment they walked into an ambush. John was shot and had to be evacuated. He was briefly reunited with Mika in a hospital temporarily, but he was going to be sent home to recover, and she was going back into service with another handler. However, Mika suffered from PTSD and would no longer perform her duties as a military service dog. At this point, John was healing, and was going to be deployed again. He and his family tried to adopt Mika then, but with John heading back out, and Mika still young, the Army decided that she would make a good police dog and she was sent to a sheriff’s office in Mississippi with the understanding that upon her retirement John would be able to take her home. Mika served as a police dog for 6 years before officially being retired. John learned of her retirement in 2015, and contacted her handler: Deputy Paul Leslie. By this time, Mika had become a part of Deputy Leslie’s family as well, and they were unwilling to give her up. From this point both sides have differing accounts of how things proceeded. However, what is undisputed is that John last saw Mika in 2008 while he was wounded. He has a picture of her in his house next to his children, and saved her collar and name patches over the years while he waited for her. He has stated that he didn't want to rip Mika from the Leslie's but that he needed her to know he was still alive. He wanted to help care for her in her later years. He felt he owed her this, and that it would help him more completely settle into civilian life if he was able to see her. Mika died last month without John ever being able to see her. John and his wife had tried for over 2 years to be able to work something out to get Mika back into their lives in some form or fashion.

I would like to name the new cub Mika, in memory of Mika and the sacrifices that she and SFC Dixon made for all of us. I would also like to give him, and his family, the year adoption. I can only imagine the pain and frustration SFC Dixon has felt, and will undoubtedly feel the rest of his life regarding not being able to see Mika again before her death. My hope is that this will in some way help.”

We hope that everyone sees this choice in a name as we do – a special dedication and honor given to a very special dog and the man that fought by her side. We are grateful for their service.

We want to thank the Montgomery’s for their generous gift to CARE and for wanting to honor a brave service dog who meant so much to so many. We have reached out to the Dixon family to let them know of the Montgomery’s wishes and invited them to visit CARE anytime to meet Mika the tiger.

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A New Home is Needed
After an extensive search, CARE, with it's long history of providing world class care to big cats, was asked by the Dallas Zoo to give two mountain lions a new, permanent home. However, in order for us to give them the perfect space to live, CARE must raise the funds to build something truly spectacular. We have less than 30 days to raise the funds needed to finish construction so we can welcome the cougars this fall!

Apollo and Lakai
Apollo and Lakai are estimated to be around 7 years old were both rescued as cubs in Canada. In fall 2009, Lakai’s mother was illegally shot in Alberta and he was taken from the wild when he was less than three months old. Prior to coming into human care, he developed frostbite on his right ear, causing him to lose most of it. In January 2010, at three months old, Apollo was found starving and alone on a back road in British Columbia. Apollo and Lakai were brought together in 2010 and have been inseparable ever since. They have lived many years, being lovingly cared for, at the Dallas Zoo. But, now it is time for them to retire to a more private, quiet home - here at CARE!


Lakai (left) and Apollo (right) - Photo courtesy of the Dallas Zoo

Building a Purrfect Home
We have planned for a truly amazing enclosure, specifically designed to meet the needs of the nine-year-old cougars. The enclosure will be 8,000 sq. ft. complete with spaces and bridges 20 feet off the ground to climb and run - things that mountain lions love to do! The unique structure will allow CAREtakers to view the boys from an elevated walkway running through the center of the structure, letting us to see to their well-being at all times. A waterfall and pool will cool the air in the enclosure, providing comfort to Apollo and Lakai in the hot Texas summer. The habitat will look out over miles of countryside where the boys will live out their lives in peace and tranquility.

On August 23rd, we broke ground on their new enclosure, starting with sinking the posts of the new structure. What a view they will have!

You Can Make A Difference
We cannot build this dream home for Apollo and Lakai without your help! We have done the planning, and crunched the numbers and are confident we can build Apollo and Lakai's new home for only $50,000.


Conceptual design courtesy of EIKON Consulting Group

More information, to donate, our thank you gifts, and other ways you can help...

Don't forget to follow our social media for construction updates and details on the boys' move!

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On August 16th, 2017 CARE staff headed out to take a trip several states away to pick up a special package. Early in the morning on the 17th, they arrived at CARE with a little bundle of stripes and snuffles - a 3-4 month old female tiger.

An individual had contacted us weeks before asking if we could take in, and permanently care for, this young tiger with an uncertain future. She is a bit small for her age, but is in mostly good condition and is both sweet and spunky - per usual tiger fashion. We held a little contest that involved both CARE staff & volunteers and CARE supporters to find this little girl a new name and we ended up with Zara - a name just as pretty as her sweet face.

Right now Zara is still getting a bottle and getting a little extra love and attention after being moved around quite a bit. But, she seems happy and content in her new home and we know she will be safe and secure as she grows up. We look forward to sharing how she grows up with all of you. In the meantime, please join us in welcoming our newest addition to the family!

**In response to several requests to reveal where Zara came from, we have this message to our supporters:

We believe very strongly in being true to our mission - which is to provide a home to animals that need one and give them the best care for the rest of their lives. The definition of rescue is to save something from harm and the definition of a sanctuary is to offer a place of safety. That is our primary purpose for existing. We do not always share all details of a rescue for several reasons, many times out of respect for people who try and assist the animals that we take in.

This little girl desperately needed a home. Not all animals that need a home are old, and the youngest ones are some of those that are at the most risk for being sold as pets or playthings to people who will use them for their own gain and discard them once again when they get tired of them. Who knows where this little girl would have wound up had we not agreed to take her.

Also, we do not always get the full story when we are approached to take in animals. We have been told all sorts of things over the years about an animal's origins, and we know that some of those stories were not true. It is not uncommon that people will lie because they do not want to get into trouble or fear judgement. Our job is not to investigate or regulate, it is to rescue. While we have a policy of never naming names of the people that surrender animals to us, and even sometimes are unable to do so because of ongoing legal investigations, we can say with certainty that this little girl is safe and will have a future where she will never be exploited, used, or abused - and never thrown away.

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On March 12th, 2017 the Nat Geo Wild channel brought two veterinary specialists out to CARE to film a mass removal from white tiger, Flash, for the show Animal ER.

Flash had already had one growth on his eyelid removed years ago. CARE staff noticed that another mass had appeared on the other eye. Animal ER volunteered to bring in Ophthalmologist, Dr. Julie Hempstead from Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists, to look at his eye.

During the transport from CARE to Bridgeport Animal Hospital, Dr. Bill and CARE Executive Director, Heidi Krahn, discovered another mass in Flash’s ear that was identified as melanoma. During surgery, Dr. Hempstead was able to remove the mass from Flash’s eye successfully without having to damage his eyeball. During the procedure, Heidi and Dr. Bill made the decision to remove Flash’s ear as well in order to keep the cancer from spreading.

While both surgeries went without incident, an ear removal is an incredibly painful procedure. We knew recovery would be difficult. Flash had more difficulty though after the surgery than was expected. Blood tests revealed kidney issues. After 43 days of anti-inflammatories, pain medication, appetite stimulators, antibiotics, aromatherapy, oxygen treatments, hydration, music therapy, and multiple check-ups with Dr. Bill, Flash was still not recovering and was continuing to refuse to eat. We made the decision to end his suffering. Likely, 15 year old Flash had renal issues already and the sedation and difficult surgery was too much for his body to handle. You can read more about Flash here.

Despite Flash’s death, the show (Season 2, Episode 1: Fire Drill) aired on the Nat Geo Wild Channel on August 19th, 2017 and can be viewed on their website here.

We also captured behind the scenes footage throughout the day that you can view on our YouTube channel. We recommend watching the episode before watching the behind the scenes video.

**WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT – Flash’s surgery is shown in graphic detail, and may be difficult for some to watch.

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If you have been following along, you know that on July 17th, we were brought a two month old baby lemur. She had not eaten in two days, and we made the decision to see if we could save her...knowing the odds were against her. When Momo arrived, she weighed 97 grams, one-third the weight of a healthy two month old. It has been a constant battle to get her to eat, but after 2 weeks, she is up to 150 grams! While the first few days were spent just seeing if she would live, we knew we would have to introduced her to other lemurs soon if she would have any chance of a normal life. Lemurs are incredibly social animals, being hand-raised leads to severe psychological issues and aggression and living a life alone is a horrible fate for these primates.

So, about a week after she got here, we started walking her down to see our two troops of adult lemurs. Hearing, seeing, and smelling each other would be the first step to an introduction. Every day, she would go on several small visits. We chose the smaller troop of three, with Mort, Miss Stewart, and our gentlest female, Rita, to be the best family group for her.

After two long weeks, we were all set for a full introduction in a secure environment so we brought Rita up to the sun-room (which has served as a recovery room for her before) to meet Momo. It was a very tense and scary situation - a bite from Rita could end Momo's life in a split second. But, Rita proved to be the gentle, patient, loving lemur that we knew she was! The introduction went far better than we every expected.

Now that the two are together, we are giving them the space they need to bond. We also need Momo to get strong enough to cling on to Rita while she jumps around. During this time, Momo will still be fed her formula to make sure that she continues to grow. But, just in the short time she has been around Rita, she is already trying to eat on her own a bit!

We will keep an eye on things for the next few days - then start the introduction process again with Mort and Miss Stewart. The scary stuff is not over, but what has occurred with Momo and Rita is not only a good place to start, it is more than we could have hoped for!

Make sure to follow CARE on Facebook and Instagram for Rita and Momo updates!

Update 8.9.2017

We've just posted a video of Momo's introduction to Miss Stewart and Mort yesterday - including info about next steps - on our YouTube at CARE Rescue Texas.
We wanted to take a second though to really explain how amazing this all is. Just the fact that Momo survived her first few days with us, given the shape she was in, is a miracle. That she continues to thrive is spectacular.

When Momo first arrived, we reached out to several facilities that specialize in lemurs to get some advice on what we knew to be an uphill battle. Maybe there were others who had attempted the same thing - we could learn from their successes and their failures. What we ran into, no matter who we talked to, was the same message. You can try, but don't get your hopes up - every story, piece of data, and husbandry handbook said that this cannot be done successfully. However, a few people were willing to brainstorm ideas despite their grim prognosis - and we deeply appreciate their ideas and encouragement!

We thought the best - the absolute best - we could hope for was for Momo to be accepted into the group enough that she would have company and that they wouldn't kill her. To have Rita literally take her as her own is beyond our expectations. Rarely - if ever - does a female adopt a strange, unrelated baby and take care of it the way Rita has. The fact that Mort and Miss Stewart not only accept, but seem to want to look after her too, yet allow Rita her motherhood, is icing on the cake.

We want to make it clear that Momo is the exception, not the rule. We still have to turn down multiple requests a month to take in adult lemurs who were pets - and now the owners can't or won't care for them anymore. Nine times out of 10, the lemurs are alone and aggressive. It breaks our heart every time we have to say no, but we simply do not have the resources right now to accommodate situations like these. We do the best we can, with what we have, when we can. We wish we could help them all, but right now we are so happy we have been able to help just one!

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On June 30th, 2017 CARE suffered an unthinkable loss when 5 year old Mwali unexpectedly died. Not only were CARE staff, volunteers, and supporters devastated by his loss, he left his lifetime mate, Noel, all by herself. The two had been inseparable since they were both cubs, and lions are not meant to live alone, so in the midst of grief we were also worried about Noel's emotional health. CARE sent out a call to our friends and family to please help us provide comfort to Noel during a hard transition. Noel, and most of the big cats, love stuffed animals. Some like to destroy them, others (like Noel) keep them around for years to cuddle and play with. So, we asked for donations of as many "lion sized" stuffed animals as we could get - and the response from around the world was overwhelming in the best possible way.

People from all over the country, and even as far as Australia, sent beautiful stuffed animals by the truckload. Local children had their parents bring them by the facility so they could hand over their most prized possessions to a grieving lioness. Many people donated funds instead of sending stuffies - which was just as appreciated. In barely a week, CARE received over 110 stuffed animals in addition to blankets, monetary donations, and even the planting of 10 trees in Mwali's honor. We at CARE know how much we love these animals, but to see the outpouring of love from around the world that Noel has gotten has been one of the most beautiful and amazing experiences we have had.

Thank you so much to everyone who sent your love, whether in the form of toys or kind words and positive thoughts. This has been a hard time for all of us, and the kindness we have seen has been a shining light in the darkness.

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This winter and spring has been exceptional for the animals here at CARE! Many of our residents received fancy new upgrades to their enclosures. Executive Director Heidi has been designing both new platforms for many of the cats as well as lots of fun ramps, ladders, and platforms for the lemurs to climb on! A huge thanks to Calvin and Pierre for going above and beyond with all of the construction and another GIANT thanks to the attendees of the 2017 Furry Fiesta in Dallas for raising the funds that allows us to complete all of these improvements!!

With the heat of the cruel Texas summer already knocking on our door, and the difficulty growing shade providing trees inside of the enclosures to shelter our many aging cats, platforms are essential! Not only that, but they serve as environmental enrichment, giving the cats built in scratching posts and lounging areas where they can keep an eye on the neighborhood!

Fire, Boomer and Slade, Shaanti and Naya, Allie and Archie & Sydney and Rasa all have amazing new platforms (and the Babies are getting theirs soon)! Rasa didn't quite know what to make of the ramp on hers though, she thought maybe part of the platform fell down and she needed to fix it!

 

 

 

 

Fire way up high!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archie really liked that new platform smell!

 

 

 

 

 

Shaanti and Naya got a whole set of new platforms!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only did Boomer and Slade get an AMAZING super-sized platform, we finished their amazing double-decker pool and waterfall!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, we had to test it out first to make sure that it was up to the boys' standards, so we invited the 2nd grade class at Bridgeport ES (who generously donated $1600 they personally raised for CARE that day) to put the structures through their paces!

 

 

In addition to all the new platforms, a few of the cats needed new lock-down area boxes as well. In the winter, we pack these with hay and the cats crawl in to keep cozy and warm. In the hotter months, they like to hang out on top to catch some breeze! The four "Babies" (JP, Allucia, Jakey, and Luca) got some boxes. Those big tigers love to squish themselves into the space between the top of the box and the shade roof in the alleyway of their enclosure. We made sure to give them a little more space to get in there!

 

 

 

 

 

Mwali and Noel got new boxes too! They used to have one box to share, but someone wouldn't let someone else get in sometimes, so we built his and hers versions!

 

 

 

The lemurs really won the lottery with their upgrades! Their poor old tree in their enclosure died a long time ago after the troop stripped it of its leaves. So, we built them something even better! It is a top-notch lemur playground! So many places to climb, jump, and relax!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We even have a cute new well house that has room for lemur cleaning supplies and extra tools!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, the llamas got a new house after their old one blew away in a storm (a special thanks to Charles Doubrava, his Eagle Scout group, and Decatur High School students for building the new shelter)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last, but certainly not least, since we had Flash in critical condition, Calvin built an extra large transport cage (that has since come in handy for another big boy, Chompers). He also installed french doors in the sunroom. The room was originally designed for Araali and Zuberi's care when they were being treated for wobbler's. It has since been a recovery unit for Rita the lemur, a bobcat nursery for Max and Mia, and an ICU and care center for Ace, Flash, and Chompers. What an amazing gift this room was - allowing us to keep a close eye on the animals that need it and providing them a comfortable, climate controlled area where they can easily see outside through all of the windows, feel the breeze on their face in front of the double-doors, and watch cartoons on the big screen TV!

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Loving, Giving, Sharing and CAREing

Before I formally introduce CARE's four new and precious gifts, I must first give you a bit of perspective into CARE the organization and what CARE really stands for.

What CARE Believes In -

CARE leaves political and legal matters of animal welfare up to professionals in that area. We are here solely to give help and a home to animals in need when asked by authorities (or the owners themselves) but are not involved in making lawful judgments about other facilities or removing animals from owners against their wishes.

CARE does not condone or support any verbal or written negative rhetoric about other animal facilities or owners. There is way too much hatred being shared in the big cat world and we refuse to contribute to it. You never know the whole story. We are here to help, and we can do that without demonizing others.

Many people and facilities who are in possession of big cats are not bad, evil people. Many of them are good, caring people who started out with the best of intentions. Some get lost along the way or get in over their head. They fail to provide the home they intended. Some facilities may become overpopulated because they lack the ability to say “no” or allow unchecked breeding. Some organizations lack staff or lose precious funding. Some people just have bad things happen and they can't care for these amazing creatures anymore. The fortunate ones learn along the way, improve and grow, and have a support system that helps them carry out their work. Whatever the case, CARE was not created to judge others, we are simply here to accept animals who need a home with open arms when we can. We do not feel it necessary to comment on animals' previous owners, many of whom come to us wanting to do the right thing for the animals they can no longer care for. Despite previous choices, they are trying to make the right choices in the end - which can be very difficult.

Now For The Story!

With that said, we want to tell you a little bit of the story about four tigers that needed immediate help from CARE. Simply put, the little ones’ home failed to meet the standards set by federal regulations. After lengthy communication with authorities and the owner last week, the owner gave up custody and CARE made the decision to give the tigers a home with the approval of governing agencies.

With just 4 days before their arrival, CARE staff and volunteers were called to action! After three backbreaking days of work fixing platforms, building housing, moving sand, filling the enclosures with toys & fresh, warm hay, the new residents’ homes were ready.

However, there was still a final touch……a Christmas tree...they must have a Christmas tree! Late at night, in the dark after working all day, another quick trip to the store and the final touch was in place. Festive trees for the new CARE angels. All there was left to do was wait for them to come home. Are they going to be aggressive? Do they get along well? Will they be malnourished? Will they hate us? Will they be diseased? There were so many unanswered questions. All we knew is that we were giving a home a set of 3-year-old sisters and a separate set of brothers.

On Tuesday, December 13th, at 10:45 am., Robert Engesser and his professional animal transportation crew arrived with CARE’s precious cargo. Each of their personalities were immediately apparent and the names we chose beforehand were easily matched to each cat.

First to unload was a girl. She walked on the grass like she was trying to get her sea legs. Never being in such a large enclosure before, she was a little frightened. She would be named Shaanti, which means peace. Shaanti is a little more mellow than Naya, her sister. Naya, meaning new, is smaller than Shaanti and a little more skittish than the others. We learned she is also very food aggressive. It may take her a while to get used to the way we feed. She will do better once she realizes there is no hurry to eat, that there will always be enough for her and all the others. But, both of the girls are loving and affectionate as well. There were millions of snuffles for everyone!

I must tell you I was in shock when I saw the boys. We were under the impression these tigers were 2-3 years old. I'm thinking about our big boys at three weighing nearly 500 pounds! I was getting the gates ready when the boys rolled around the corner in their transport cage. I couldn't catch my breath - they were not 500 pounds but 100! They weren’t mean and aggressive, but sweet and calm. They weren’t starved or diseased, but healthy and strong.

The boys’ names are Nadal, meaning fortunate and Divali, meaning Festival of Lights. They are full of energy and life. I could hardly control the tears watching the two boys run for hours in the same enclosure inhabited by tigers Kate, Zeus, Jezzabell, Elley, and Kira through the years.

All four tigers are perfect. They got here safely, and they all seem to already be settling into their new forever home well. They were loved at first sight and will be loved always. After all the loss in the past years, new life is extra precious to us all. It's hard to explain the overwhelming joy and energy these new residents have already brought back to CARE. And, most importantly, they are why CARE exists. This is what we ARE here to do!

Right now the four tigers are quarantined and will be for the next 30 days. The sisters and brothers are unrelated and have never been together, so they are in separate enclosures. Once we are sure that they are healthy, we want to move the boys to a larger enclosure and let the girls have both sides of the space they are currently in. We will be planning a fundraiser in the upcoming months to make that happen for them.

Meanwhile, please come and visit if you can, donate if you can (we still will need extra supplies for them), and share their story if you can. This is the real message of the season - Giving, loving, sharing and CAREing!

Love,

Heidi and the CARE Family

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Today is the day many of you have been waiting for – the grand opening of the CARE Safari Suites! The construction of the suites has been the largest project CARE has ever attempted. Like many great plans, it started as a small idea, then grew into a giant project!

At first, it was simply meant to be a new set of special-made enclosures for our young lions, Zuberi & Araali, and our young tigers, Slade & Boomer (not a small undertaking in itself). While brainstorming for these enclosures, new ideas blossomed. CARE’s Executive Director, Heidi Krahn, consulted with Arizona based Triple B Builders owner and senior contractor, Bryan Berry Sr., and a new plan emerged. CARE held it's largest fundraiser ever to pay for this HUGE project, and, through the generosity of our supporters, we exceeded our goal and raised a total of $90,000! Now, all that generosity and the hard work of so many has resulted in something amazing! The final result:

A 9,000 sq. ft. exterior enclosure for Zuberi and Araali. This space is full of trees and green grass. Plenty of room to walk, play, and roar!

Photo Jul 26, 10 21 01 AM

Zuberi and Araali’s 500 sq. ft. interior, climate-controlled medical care center features a 50” HD TV with plenty of stimulating cartoons to watch. Their favorite shows are Dora the Explorer, Bubble Guppies, and wildlife documentaries on Animal Planet! Finishing this interior enclosure was a priority due to their early struggles with life threatening illness called Wobbler's Syndrome that requires them to have protective, comfortable living space. Although their condition has greatly improved, constant monitoring is essential to their well-being.

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A lemur and coati food prep area was also added to the building. This added greater ease in caring for CARE’s smaller residents located in an adjacent enclosure.

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A volunteer rest area was added to allow the dedicated and often exhausted CARE workers relief from the Texas elements. Three twin beds are available to be used by senior volunteers who may need to stay overnight for special events or for long-term medical observation of the animals. If asked nicely, Zuberi and Araali may even share their TV with the volunteers!

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This gigantic enclosure was built for our young tigers, Slade and Boomer. Over 10,000 sq. ft. of Texas countryside was developed for their special living area. The view is stunning. They will be moving in next week after the install of their pools and platforms is complete.

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Nestled 16 feet above the lion and tiger enclosures, the newly built Safari Suites are the non-animal crown jewel of CARE.

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Imagine dining in your luxurious accommodations above CARE’s beautiful lions lazing in the Texas sunset....

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....or sipping wine on your terrace as you watch the tigers, Slade and Boomer, frolic below. Over the east terrace, you will also see the energetic lemurs in their enclosure; leaping through the air with ease.

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That is not all – suite guests will also receive a behind the scenes tour of the CARE facility including meeting all of the lions, tigers, bobcats, llamas and more. Guests will have the opportunity to safely feed the king of the feline beasts and the sweetest of little primates.

This has been a labor of love by many. This endeavor could have never been completed if CARE did not receive high-quality interior furniture and decor donated by home furnishing company, ATG, metal piping used to build the big cat enclosures donated by Woodstock Tube, and all of the considerable financial donations given by so many.

Finally, you can reserve your stay with the big cats that you have come to know and love. The CARE facility’s “Wild Animal Retreat” features the following:

  • View of lions from your luxury bedroom window
  • View of tigers and lemurs from your terrace
  • Breakfast and Dinner of your choice served to your room
  • Behind the scenes feeding tour and night time tour options
  • Personal 24 hour on-site concierge
  • Access to on-site outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi
  • 50" HD TV with satellite
  • Mini fridge, Keurig coffee maker, and microwave
  • Area activities options available
  • Stays can be tailored to your needs

  • There are two ways someone can be a guest in the CARE “Wild Animal Retreat”. We will be holding a bi-annual Safari Suite raffle for our supporters. The lucky raffle winner gets a 2-night stay in the guest suites with full accommodations (a $2,000 value). We will be posting about our first raffle soon, so please keep an eye on our website and social media for details.

    You can also reserve your stay in this one-of-a-kind retreat at any time, please visit wildanimalretreat.lodgify.com for more information and booking. The special introductory donation to CARE for a stay in the suites with all of the amenities is $750 per night. Guest donations will help CARE continue giving a safe and loving home to some of the planet’s most amazing creatures. You can also see more pictures of the suites on our Facebook page!

    We also would like to thank the following sponsors who made this project extraordinary:

    • All 1,280+ donors who helped us raise the funding needed for the project - literally could not have accomplished this without each and every one of you!
    • ATG who donated the interior furnishings and decor for the suites!
    • Triple B Builders - For planning, development, and construction!
    • U.S. Mattress who donated all of the AMAZING mattresses used in the suites!
    • Wave Custom Pools for our amazing pool service!
    • Curtis Hutson and Policeman Movers for getting all of the furniture from Dallas to CARE!
    • Jeff and Cindy Parker of Parker Custom Ironworks for welding done on the enclosures, suites, and signs!
    • Barbara Gilbert and Tracy Connell-Design Consultants
    • Decatur Heat and Air- For installing all of the AC units!
    • Rich and Denice of Bugs and Ashes for installing the patio flooring and handling our pest control!
    • Sherwin-Williams for supplying the paint!
    • IESI/Progressive Waste Solutions for all of our waste disposal!
    • Woodstock Tube LLC (Alabama) for donating metal for the enclosures!
    • FX5-WELDING
    • Hunter Douglass for the custom blinds
    • Rock City Burgers for feeding the work crews!
    • And, last but certainly not least, all of the CARE Interns and Volunteers who worked tirelessly on this from planning, to fundraising, to building. Particularly, thank you to Heidi Krahn who dreamed this dream, saw it through, and never gave up or gave in!
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Big cats in captivity need a lot of specialized care, including exceptional enclosures that will provide them with the space, enrichment, and protection that they need to be happy and healthy. Lion cubs Araali and Zuberi are now 16 months old and tiger cubs Boomer and Slade are 11 months old and they all need permanent enclosures to fit their individual needs!

Lion Enclosure - Site

In September, CARE launched its most ambitious fundraiser ever aimed at raising $80,000 to build new housing. The fundraiser was also the first time that the organization used a crowd-funding platform through Indiegogo. The goal was to raise the amount needed in one month so that preparations could being as soon as possible to break ground on the new structures.

Lion Enclosure - View 1 w-Lions
This project is not just a nice to have for the cubs, it is a have to have. With the lions' health issues with Wobbler's Syndrome and new USDA requirements that require updated building specs, we need these special enclosures built as soon as possible.

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At the close of the campaign, CARE not only reached the lofty goal, but surpassed it! The official total amount raised through Indiegogo ended up being a staggering $86,429. That also does not include a few thousand more that came in outside of the Indiegogo platform. The CARE staff has been overwhelmed by the support this campaign recieved. To know that the animals at CARE are loved by so many, and that all 1,280 people that donated are investing in their futures, is amazing.

The following people are just a portion of those that contributed to this project, but there are many more that donated, spread the word, and sent their support. We thank EVERYONE from the bottom of our hearts for making such a difference in Boomer, Slade, Araali, and Zuberi's lives! We will be posting updated and pictures as we break ground in November!!

Thank you to the following contributers, and many more who are unnamed!

Aaron D Bourne, Adam G. Van Kirk, Adam Heim, Adam Holley, Adam Kozak, Adam Patrick DeLand, Adam Van Kirk, Alana Vester, Alecae Alaysia, Alejandra Garcia, Alejandro Ramirez, Alex Hinga, Alexandra Duca, Alexandra Wilkison, Alexx Marshall, Alexxis A., Alicia Bourgeois, Alicia Mraz, Alicia Neal, Alicia Neal, Alisa Gromova, Alison Dube, Alissa Polley, Alissa Polley, Allison D'Arat, Allison Greene, Allison Hagler, Allison Leslie, Allison Theirrien, Allyson Lewark, Almeda Golden, Alyson Palmer, Alyssa Slachta, Alyssa Stegner, Alyssa Ziegenhorn, Amanda Aschenbrenner, Amanda Daniels, Amanda Fall, Amanda Groover, Amanda Humble, Amanda Priego, Amber Prairie, Ambyr Dornauer, Amelia Von Lee, Amy Bachman, Amy Bachman, Amy Bertolini, Amy Phillips, Amy Pike, Amy Reason, Amy Renaud, Amy Victoria Regis, Amy Weirs, Ana Urrego, Anastasia Riabkova, Andie Langford, Andrea McSherry, Andrea McSherry, Andrew Wagstaff, Andy and Amy Basore, Andy Yanacek, Angel Holmes, Angela Bonilla, Angie Norton, Anida Sirivong, Ann Dvorak, Ann Worley, Anna Schoess, Anne DiMattia, Annette Cross, Annette Spetrino, Annie Speck, Anthony Galvan, Anthony Hranitzky, Antoinette Costales, April Baello, April Baello, Arthur Litke, Ashes DiMaria, Ashlee Montgomery, Ashlee Thomson, Ashley Backstrom, Ashley Pickering, Ashley Ulsh, Ashley Zuefle, Aubrey Snodgrass, Audra Stallard, Audrey David, Becca Sergent, Becky Willard, Ben Templeton, Bernadette Ramos, Beth Christiaans, Beth Marcus & Suzie M., Beth Storhoff, Beth Trussell, Bethany Williams, Birgitta Johnson, Brad Yasar, Brandy Carver, Breanna Burk, Bree Sontheimer, Brendan Curran, Brendan Lusk, Brett Cary, Brian Abueg, Brian Anderson, Brian Peters, Brian Tietze, Brianne Wallegham, Bridey Murphy, Brioney Ellington, Brittani Dreer, Brittany Case, Brittany Curtis, Brittany Lasko, Brittany Lasko, Brittany Paddock, Brooki Everett, Brookie Judge, Brynn Herndon, Bryony White, Burt Smith, Caitlin Bush, Caitlin Ceynar, Caitlin Vest, Caitlyn Johnson, Callie Shilling, Calum Barnett, Camilla Smith, Carl Cormier, Carl Gilchrist, Carla Bonney, Carly Orchard, Carol Churchey, Carol Money, Caroline Parks, Carrie Soom, Carrie-Lynne Sorvari, Casey-Anne Tucker, Cassandra Baez, Cassandra Mea, Cassandra Whan, Catherine Anderson, Catherine Schlecht, Céline Jacqueroud, Chad Tokach, Charles Schrier, Charlotte Nottingham, Chelsea Mortimer, Chelsea Mortimer, Chelsea Reynolds, Chelsea Theriault, Chelsea Theriault, Chevaux-Lancelot, Chris Bangham, Chris Sullens, Chrissie Sargent, Chrissy Parker, Chrissy Wahl, Christa Wallis, Christina Joseph, Christine Hoag, Christine Joseph, Christine Summers, Christopher Ridenour, Christy Decker, Cindee Hoff, Cinnamon L Sullivan, Claire Docherty, Claire Low, Claire Powner, Clark Reynolds, Cleo Charland, Clifford Steven Morrison, Colleen Donovan, Colleen Jousma, Connie Zangara, Coral Leahy, Corey Antonio, Cortnee Dempsey, Courtney Burkard, Courtney Rose, Courtney Smith, Courtney Soto, Cristina Gonzalez, Crystal Shelton, Crystal Simons, Crystal Guarisco, Cydni Hildreth, Cyndi Knorr, Daniel Byrum, Daniel Durand and Serena Rodriguez, Daniela Castro, Daralyn Kingma, Darby Talbert and Michael Pignone, Darcie McDougall, David Bitting, David Johnson, David Levison, Dawn Oliver, Deanna England, DeAnna Kettler, Deanne Crosby, Debbi Everitt, Debbie Fuson, Debbie Godley, Deborah F. Williams, Deborah Stonum, Denna Dom, Denny Ayala, Desiree Luna, Desiree Purdie, Dexter Grabowski, Diana Kelsey, Doug Pendleton, Douglas Nelson, Dustin DeSoto, Dustin Nguyen, Eddie Bonner, Eduardo Lavin Garcia, Eileen Hamblin Steffen, Elaine Gillmore, Elena Buck, Elise Bohning, Elise Carter, Elise Rosberg, Eliza Macdonald, Elizabeth Gonzales, Elizabeth H Burns, Elizabeth Johnson, Elizabeth Williamson, Ellie Jones, Ellie Severson, Elora Maisenhelder, Em Peach, Emily Bragg, Emily Brown Morgan, Emily Draper, Emily Fairbanks, Emily Gill, Emily Lopez, Emily Meier, Emily Paez, Emily Rose, Emily Shelton, Emily Thompson, Emily Ziemer, Emma Alimi, Emma Stein-De Turck, Emma-Lea Davis, Erica Greene, Erica M. Devore, Erik Lund, Erika Graybiel, Erika Mathre Peters, Erika Tapper, Erika Wheldrake, Erin A., Erin Devine, Erin McGuire, Eszter Gerocz, Evan M. Campbell, Evan Melick, Evelyn Jones, Gabriella Matera, Gabrielle Davis, Gabrielle Marquard, Gabrielle Rock, Gabrielle Simpson, Geoffrey Steinberg, George Gu, Georgeanne Snelling, Georgia Crean, Ginger Parker, Giselle Elizondo, Grace Higham, Greg Schneider, Guardian Lion, Hailey Hudson, Haley Shaw, Hannah Fox, Hannah Friend, Hannah Karban, Hannah Karban, Harry Block, Heather Armstrong, Heather Dodge, Heather Dodge, Heather Fischer, Heather Hall, Heather Paulson, Heather Skorjanc, Heather Thompson, Heidi Österholm, Holly Tonini, Irene M. Hughes, Iwona Stanek, Jacey Mayronne, Jaedyn Calcagno, James Signoretta, Jami Chambers, Jami Parks, Jane Benning, Janine Jenkins, Jarrod Bell, Jaseline Santiago, Jasmine Hensley, Jasmine Hensley, Jasmine Shaw, Jay Berlin, Jay Revels, Jaycee Rae, Jeanette Freed, Jen Glenn, Jenni Crewe, Jennifer Best, Jennifer Blackmon, Jennifer Bowen, Jennifer Clutter, Jennifer Crewe, Jennifer Csapo, Jennifer Cursio, Jennifer Drennan, Jennifer Flanigan, Jennifer Isaacson, Jennifer Saum, Jennifer Shultz, Jennifer Swarbrick, Jennifer Tisdale, Jenny Batchelor, Jenny Zurita, Jeremy Scanlan, Jeremy Scanlan, Jesica Courtney, Jess Ruiz, Jessica Atwood, Jessica Barringer, Jessica Gonzalez, Jessica King, Jessica M. Tebeau, Jessica Norvill, Jessica Purkey, Jessica Sanchez, Jill P. Felker, Jillisa Cutler, Jim Reynolds, Joan Conine, Joanne L. Pilot, Joe Hegyes, Joelle Dunn, Johanna Hollway, John Broome, John Hamiga, John J Stanzak, Jolene Gawrys, Jonathan Eloi Lantiegne, Jonathon Wolff, Jordan Melsoner, Jordan Parks, Jordan Weishner, Jordi Wilson, Joseph Jackson, Josephine Siu, Joshua Lucas, Joshua Sgroi, Josie Jimarez-Howard, Josie Mooring, Joy Kohlsaat, Juan Valenzuela Jr., Judith Berlin, Julia Skiles, Julie Maguire. Alexandra Gutierrez, Julie Malone, Julie Wesolowicz, Justin Cash, Kaelyn Swafford, Kaitlin Keeney, Kaitlin Mendez, Karen Aronson, Karen Egger, Karen Lachapelle, Karen Vandewalle, Kari King, Karla Flores, Kassandra Gauthier, Kassie Johnson, Kat Stevens, Kate Longfield, Kate Payne, Kate Pileski, Katelyn Wilkinson, Katherine Deneka, Katherine Dominguez, Katherine James, Katherine Musulin, Katherine Wasson, Kathleen Brady, Kathleen M McFarlane, Kathryn Coll, Kathy Kelehan, Kathy MacIntosh, Kathy Roper, Katie Iorio, Katie Jackson, Katie Lytle, Katie Lytle, Katie Maxey, Katie Meyer, Katrina Korb, Katrina Williams, Katy Hites, Katy Lzc, Kay Deli, Kayla Adams, Kayla Clark, Kayla Marie Clark (Care of Emily Bragg), Keiran Courville, Kelli Wainwright, Kellie Graham, Kelly Collett, Kelly Evans, Kelsey Butler, Kelsey Krimmer, Kelsey Metcalf, Kelsey Scholl, Kendall Cahill, Kendall Lanham, Kendra M Dixon, Kenzie Trezise, Keoni Morris, Kerri Wesley, Kerrie Parker, Kerry Coburn, Kerry Lennon, Kiersten Nicholson, Kim Boettcher, Kim Hutson, Kimberlee Olson, Kimberly Acker, Kimberly Cormier, Kimberly Swaner, Kimberly Wagner, Kira Kozak, Kori Johnson, Kristen Burch, Kristen Hicks, Kristen Kinsey, Kristen Mettler, Kristie Kroeger, Kristie Kroeger, Kristin Bengtson, Kristina Allen, Kristina Dols, Kristine Diedrich, Kristine Diedrich, Krystle Bartholomew, Kyle Bartolomei, Kyle Hatfield, Kyle Pagucci, Kylee Delvaux, Kyra Hazzard, L Albright, Lana Adames, Lane Binish, Lannie Roshelle Cervantes, Larissa Sayer, Laura Brown, Laura Christie, Laura Hickey, Laura Leader, Laura Lindauer, Laura Macias, Laurel Borreson, Lauren Hartley, Lauren Miller, Leanda Mangan, Leandra Lumagui, Leann Mai, Leia Sullivan, Leigh Jackson, Leighann Wisniewski, Leslie Cooper, Leslie Marshall, Lexi Johnson, Lexi Sherman, Lia Parker, Lia Parker, Libby Heisinger, Lina Kleinschmidt, Lindsay Deppen, Lindsay Frischmuth, Lindsay O'Day, Lindsay Smith, Lindsey Goodwin, Lindsey Wallace, Ling Jin, Lisa Barringer, Lisa Gruber, Lisset Najera, Liz Warren, Logan Turner, Loida de Jesus, Lori Uhing, Lorri and Gil Roberts, Lucy Zamora, Luna McMeen, Luuk Snel, Lyndsay Benson, Lyz Meyers, MacKenzie Grow, Madison O'Shields, Maggie Audley, Maggie MacDowell, Maggie Neal, Makenzie Harris, Mallory Lane Moore, Mallory Saia, Marc Roa, Margaret Jow, Maribel Alcala, Maricza Valentin, Marie McClintock, Marie-Laure Cantin, Marilyn Schluter, Mary Cipriano-Walter, Mary Gilcoine, Mary Keating, Mary Lewis, Mary Lou Nelson, Mary Olesky, Mary Traub, Matt Takimoto, Matthew Larsen, Matthew Schermerhorn, Maud Bernabe, Maudia Morris, MD, Meagan Meskill, Megan and Kristofer Zarling, Megan Brophy, Megan Cameron, Megan Hawkins, Megan Homan, Megan Parish, Megan Phillips, Megan Steinkerchner, Meghan Longhi, Meghann Smith, Melanie Burzlaff, Melanie Cohen, Melanie Janis, Melanie Ohnemus, Melanie Pendleton, Melanie Piccolo, Melinda Mann, Melinda Mountain, Melinda Stacer, Melissa Jacobs, Melissa L Reed, Melissa McDonald, Melissa Pilinger, Melody Capper, Meredith Wiggins, Michael Nicholas Triola, Michael Pekarcsik, Michelle and Amanda Seng, Michelle Barnes, Michelle Kennedy, Mikayla Placke, Missy Maria, Mitchell Thompson, Monica Gerber, Morag Mackay, Morgan Aguilar, Morgan Cavanaugh, Morgan Greenway, Morgan Hale, Morgan Stockman, Myndi Garcia, Myrna D Crane, Nadia Gutowski, Nadia Labeikovsky, Naïka Estriplet, Nallely Corral, Natalie Desrocher, Natalie Smith, Natasha Devins, Natasha Wadsworth, Nathan Roseborrough, Neminda Kasthurirathna, Ngarei Gow, Nichole Muzina, Nick Cheek, Nicky Carrott, Nicky Carrott, Nicole Coan, Nicole Collie, Nicole Davis, Nicole Dodd, Nicole Dore, Nicole Hyland, Nicole Sutherland, Nikki Moore and Family, Nora Wilkie, Olga A. Prokhorov, Olivia Dom, Olivia Halsey, Paige Besse, Paige Hall, Pamela Mattson, Pamela Watson, Parker Lewis, Paul Clark, Paul Wareham, Paula Mayhew, Paula Ulloa, Penny Carmichael, Rachael Peters, Rachel Dufrene, Rachel Dufrene, Rachel Flagg, Rachel Jo Price, Rachel Lane, Rachel Price, Rachel Rossetti, Rachel Taite, Rachel Tenenbaum, Rachel Whiting, Rasa Poorman, Razzie Barker, Rebecca Baty, Rebecca Edwards, Rebecca LeBlanc, Rebecca Ramm, Rebecca Taylor, Rebecca Turner, Rebecca Wilson, Rebekah Ross, Regina Gill, Renate Brower, Rhys Jones, Richard I'Anson, Rick Rogers, Rima Lavine, Ris and Bill Allen, Robert Muzina, Robin Figueroa, Rosemary Beentje, Ruben Tejeda, Ruben& Carol Tirado, Ryan J Thrun, Ryan Noble, Ryan Noble, Sal Conrad and Melissa Martell, Sally Anderson, Sam Eberg, Samantha and David Hancock, Samantha Beeke, Samantha Lord, Samantha Overton, Samira Lamnouar, Sandra Jaquet, Sara Andrlik, Sara Freed, Sara Parsons, Sara Simonsen, Sarah Amann, Sarah Broge, Sarah Jean Coles, Sarah Parker, Sarah Prosser, Sarah Sparrowhawk, Sarah Trohiard, Sarah Vallinakis, Sarah Wilson, Sarah Wilson, Sascha Njaa, Scott Benning, Sean Daniels, Sean OHagen, Selena Rauenzahn, Selina Marie Roa, Shanna Harper, Shannon Dolan, Shannon Ortiz, Shannon Sweeney, Shari Augino, Sharra Myers, Shaundra Moniz, Shawn Brimmer, Shawn Kelly, Shayna Bell, Shelby Francis, Shelby Nayukok-Solski, Shelley Wilkes, Shelly Oxhandler, Sheryl Meador, Shirley Valonis, Skyla Goff, Sonja Smith, Sonnia Richards, Sophie Meyer, Sophie Quine, Stacey Devitt, Stacey Simins, Staci Dillard, Staci Egly, Stacia Tague, Stacy Looney, Steph Allison, Stephanie Cahoon, Stephanie Marotta, Stephanie McGivern, Stephanie Moore, Stephanie Morphew, Stephanie Potvin, Stephanie Ryder, Stephanie Veres, Steve Gare, Steven Ayotte, Susan Cahoon, Susan Connally, Susan Hogan, Susan Stamper, Susie Shatzsall, Susie Walker, Suzanne B. Robin, Suzanne Cording, Suzanne Driscoll, Sydney Hogan, Sydney Van Beek, Talena Penn, Tammy Harold, Tammy Phillips, Tamran Thigpun, Tara Litvack, Tarah Falsetta, Tash Howarth, Taylor Abrahamson, Taylor Catlin, Taylor Gilchrist, Taylor Gimple, Taylor Harris, Taylor N. Young, Teresa Jablonski, Teresa Jablonski, The Blueberry, The Hicks Family, The Ray Family, Theresa Alvarado, Thomas Lamant, Tia-Ashley Hulkenberg, Tifani Kent, Tiffany N. Teater, Tiffany Teater, Timothy Meier, TJ Stamp, Todd Coniam, Tom Nielsen, Tonya Kozak, Tori Boge, Torren Stanley, Tracey Biasiolli,Tracey McCabe, Tracey Woodard, Tracy Jess Hanks, Tracy Marotta, Travis Cheezum, Ubaldo Gonzalez, Valerie Higgins, Valerie York, Vanessa Thomas, Vanessa Weathers, Victoria A Buentello, Wanda Collings, Whitney Wilber, William "VVolf" Bentley, Wilson Pilot, Yael Bourgade, Yusuke Misawa, Zachary Epperson, Zack Krueger, Zoe E Kent
 

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The Parker family from West Texas arrived in Bridgeport this week to give CARE a special gift.

Cindy Parker heard about CARE when her niece introduced her to Big Cat Derek on Vine. Cindy soon fell in love with all the animals at CARE. Living several hours away in Clyde, Texas, she wasn't able to commit to volunteering at the facility. Cindy and her husband Jeff came up with another plan of how to help.

Jeff is magical in melting and molding steel into works of art. Cindy is a creative artist who has been watching the big cats for months. The result of their combined work is new signs for CARE! The couples' company, Parker Custom Ironworks in Cross Plains, has makes a yearly donation to a non-profit organization. We are honored that they chose to donate not one but three works of art to CARE! When we experienced tornado winds this spring, our front gate sign was destroyed. Now, we have a new one towering 20 feet from the ground, welcoming all visitors.

Cindy labored for hours designing the signs. She chose Serena as her model for the Welcome Center sculpture.

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Clyde and our beloved Sampson are elevated high above the main gate.

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The lemurs thank our visitors for their generous support.

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A dedicated Jeff worked for over 60 hours just to complete the 500 pound entrance sign, plus many more hours on the Welcome Center signs. Upon completion Jeff and Cindy, along with Jeff’s brother, Skeet and father, Steve traveled to Bridgeport for the big unveiling.

We were all amazed at the beautiful craftsmanship of their work. We appreciate the skill it required to raise the sign with the 50 ft. lift and attach it to the gate.  Thank you Parker family for what you have provided to CARE!

Photo Aug 21, 11 03 24 AM

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Early last week CARE took a little roadtrip to pick up a new resident. Meet Max the 5 month old bobcat!

Max's story is unfortunately a common one for young bobcats. His mother was shot and a game warden found him orphaned. He took him in, and then relocated him to a wildlife refuge. The refuge asked us if we could give him a permant home. By this time he was too habituated to people to be rehabbed and released.

He arrived at CARE late at night and the next morning got a clean bill of health from Dr. Bill. Now it was time to see if he and Mia could be friends. With him being twice the size of our first bobcat rescue, we hoped that their youth would make the introduction go smoothly. We could not have asked for a better outcome, it was love at first sight! In the last few days, they have spent their time cuddled up together for naps, staying up all night long to play, and hanging out on their window perches and cat trees to watch the birds outside. Max is very protective of Mia, and Mia is in love with boy. They chat all the time, calling to each other with chirps and gurgles and comforting each other with the loudest purrs you will ever hear! It is a beautiful thing to see them with each other, knowing that despite their hardships in the early stages of life, they now have each other.

Right now they are taking advantage of the sunroom that was built for Araali and Zuberi. They get lots of sunshine, room to run and play, tons of toys, a snug den to sleep in, and giant cat trees to climb and look down at their CAREtakers from. We hope to have a permanant enclosure finished for them in the next month or so. Until then, Max has really settled in and both bobcats are doing so well it makes our hearts swell.

Again, as we mentioned when we announced Mia's arrival, we want to a moment to please ask everyone to be careful if you come across any injured or abandoned wildlife. Not only can even a young animal bite and cause you harm if you disturb it, but they can become very quickly used to people. Once they see humans as a source of food, fun, and comfort, it severely decreases their chances of being returned where they belong. If you come across a baby bobcat, raccoon, bird, etc. please contact a rescue, rehabilitator, or authorities. They will know how to properly handle and care for the animals to give them a better chance at returning home in the wild. Also, if you live in areas where there are bobcat populations, there are alternatives to shooting the cats that may threaten your pets, chickens, or property. Animal conflict does not have to end in death, and the potential orphaning of offspring. Keep your pets inside. Protect your chickens with fencing and housing. Keep bright lights on. There are many options for deterring predation. Not only do we hate to hear of these animals being killed, they are important to controlling pests and help keep the ecosystems that we all live in healthy.

Mia and Max 7.26.15 JR 8

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It has been a crazy (and very scary) few days, but we really wanted to take some time to do a proper update on how things are going. First, we really need to make sure we say what we are thankful for right now, things could have been much, much worse than they were!! We also want to extend our heartfelt condolences to the many, many people in the area that lost far more than we did.

We are thankful……

…..That all the people and animals at CARE are safe. No one was hurt and no cats escaped. That is largely due to the incredible construction of the enclosures that took a beating, the amazing leadership of Executive Director Heidi Krahn and Operations Director Derek Krahn, and the fast work and amazing calm of the CARE staff prior to, during, and after the storm-including our BRAND NEW interns under the supervision of senior volunteer/intern graduate Krista Cope.

…..For all the people that made it out yesterday to help clean up. JD Thompson - our tree god - was here at daybreak cutting trees and limbs until well into the evening. Andrew Rottner sent a generator for our freezer and 750lbs of chicken to help feed the cats. Camilla Smith, Derek Blakley, Annette Wiley, Krista Cope, Derek Krahn, Jessica Richter, Katie Handley, Heidi Krahn, Pam Lanfear, Jeff Fisk, Kelsey Prediger, Dustin Krahn, Destiny Krahn, Dakota Krahn, Claude and Stacey Maealiuaki (thanks for making lunch for the crew Stacey), and Gary Valdata (please forgive us if we forgot anyone!) were out here all day cleaning, working, and providing the best care to the cats. Our volunteers are truly the most amazing people who dropped everything for the animals. In one day, the majority of the debris was removed, enclosures made safe, and things almost back to normal.

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….Everyone who reached out to ask if we needed help, see what they could do, shared our info with friends and family asking for assistance, and offered words of support and concern. Knowing that CARE has so many people out there who love the animals and are concerned for their well-being makes our hearts full. You have no idea how special that is!

….All the local news channels, NBC DFW, CBS DFW, and Fox 4 News, who covered what happened here and helped get the word out that we needed help. And, everyone who reached out to the media on our behalf (thank you especially Heather Merritt). Having the media support the animals is amazing! You can see some of the coverage HERE.

 

….All of our amazing friends (and people we have never met) out there who donated to help the animals! Almost $11K has come in since late Monday night to help with repairs. So many of you gave, we wish we could name you all, but the number of people willing to give is just overwhelming. Just know that we saw each and every gift come in and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your willingness to help.

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In fact, we truly think that the amount of repairs will be covered by what has just been donated, with some left over. So, we want to tell you a little bit about what we will do any extra money. We weren’t going to say anything for a few days until we had all the details in place, and the timing is a little off, but now is as good as time as any….especially since we really owe the safety and security of our animals to one important thing – the enclosures that were masterfully built for them. Specifically built to withstand the strength of tigers and lions, it seems they are excellent at withstanding tornado winds as well! Now, we need a new double enclosure to house our youngest residents who are VERY quickly outgrowing their current accommodations. Araali & Zuberi and Boomer & Slade need new houses! We have the plans drawn up and have been getting estimates on supplies and labor. We take the construction of quality enclosures very seriously and with the special needs of the young lions, and the fact that due to new USDA regulations they have to be a new height, this enclosure will not be cheap. But, thanks to you, we have a head-start on the fundraising! We will be getting out more info on the project with all the details, cost of construction, and where you can donate very soon. We even have a few cool things planned to make this fundraiser as successful as possible. Stay tuned and again, thank you all so much for your dedication and love of every single creature that calls CARE home. They are so fortunate to have friends like you!!

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If you have been keeping up with lion cubs Araali and Zuberi, then you know about the illness that they have been battling for months, commonly known as Wobbler’s Syndrome. In case you haven’t, we wanted to give everyone a little background and update on how they are doing. But most importantly, we need to recognize all the amazing people that have come to the boys’ aid when they needed it the most.

Shortly before Christmas, Araali and Zuberi both experienced difficulty walking and measures were taken immediately to try and determine the cause. Receiving the boys’ diagnosis was devastating news – our little lion cubs, whose birth was a miracle in its own right, were plagued with Wobbler’s Syndrome, a horribly debilitating condition which affects bones which then affects the nervous system. Due to the bleak outlook of the diagnosis, it was even suggested by some that we euthanize our little ones as soon as possible to save them from their near-certain degenerative fate. As you probably already know, that is not our way at CARE. As long as our animals are not experiencing unreasonable and unnecessary pain, we will do everything we can to find a way to help them. Even with this seemingly insurmountable challenge in front of us, we had hope. Within hours of the announcement that the cubs were headed to Texas A&M for diagnostics, thousands of dollars suddenly appeared in CARE’s PayPal account from our supporters world-wide. At times like that, seeing the cascade of immediate support for any of CARE’s animals is humbling and incredibly uplifting, knowing that these special animals have touched the hearts of so many gives us strength to do what we do.

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Early December, when the boys were first diagnosed

It has been a few months since their initial diagnosis, and the fight to simply give the boys a chance at a future hasn’t been an easy one. Sleep has been scarce (for us humans), the house where they have needed to spend time being observed has seen better days, but overall, the 80 pound cubs are doing well. Wobblers has made Araali and Zuberi less mobile (they’re pretty much limping all of the time, sometimes on multiple legs) and it’s made them more prone to injury. Normal lion cubs are rough and tumble by nature. They can usually withstand some pretty hefty knocks. With Wobblers however, minor bumps, tumbles, and head-jerks can cause injury which has had a negative looping effect. Any injuries can elevate their pain, the increased pain makes them stressed, anxious, and “jumpy” which then increases the likelihood of further injury. It’s a nasty cycle which we are fighting to control. Stress reduction is pivotal to their improvement, and they are never left alone - we even sleep with them at night. If for some reason they were to get scared in the night and perhaps move too quickly or run into something, it could be catastrophic to their recovery. They have good days and they have bad days, but the good ones are starting to outweigh the bad.

Since the boys are becoming more stable, a long term treatment plan had to be devised. First things first-research. It’s a good thing all those sleepless night allowed more time to search the web and talk to the top doctors and researchers in the world about Wobblers treatments. We immediately placed the boys on anti-inflammatory medications and loads of additional vitamins and minerals (lots of Calcium). Another thing they desperately needed was sunlight so they could absorb essential Vitamin D. They were spending so much time in the house due to their limited mobility and their need for a controlled environment, not to mention the fact that the cold weather this time of year caused more discomfort for them, that they were getting rather accustomed to their new plush accommodations with soft blankets on top of thick carpet in front of our den’s big TV & fireplace.

Araali could get himself outdoors when we coaxed him, but Zuberi, try as he might, couldn’t make the trip, so we started carrying the 80 pound cub inside and outside. The most terrifying period of this whole ordeal was the first week of Zuberi’s symptoms. He was in such bad shape, he literally couldn’t walk ANYWHERE. He crawled & he shuffled, but he couldn’t lift himself up off the ground. There were times where we would watch him struggle without improvement, and we couldn’t help but think the battle was being lost. There were a few tears those first days to say the least. More research necessary. More sleepless nights. More furniture eaten.

We have been weighing our options and making decisions. The use of anti-inflammatory medications long term could be detrimental to the lions’ internal organs, but how will we otherwise be able to control their pain and keep their inflammation under control? Enter Assisi Animal Health. The company has developed a special collar which utilizes a new technology- Targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy or tPEMF. This technology was developed to treat a laundry-list of conditions in animals including Wobblers Syndrome! The wonderful people at Assisi donated 2 collars for the boys, and in return we report on all of their progress. It’s not every day you get to test your new products on lion cubs with legitimate long-term needs, so they were truly excited to help. We started their loop-treatments before the New Year and their improvement has been noticeable. We are hoping to take them off of the anti-inflammatory medications completely if we continue to see improvement. This will, of course, all depend on how many 15 min treatments we can get in a day. The main area of concern is their cervical spine (their neck vertebrae) which means they have to wear the Assisi loop on their neck for 15 straight minutes, 4 times a day – a delightfully difficult task to accomplish with frisky lion cubs. They have to be sleeping or very distracted for the collar to be slipped on without them noticing the magical new chew toy with a pretty green light.

Zuberi Assisi Collar

Zuberi napping while getting his Assisi collar treatment

Our final issue has been their long term housing situation. Obviously, these are growing lions, not domestic kittens and them living in the house was incredibly problematic. As their health improves, they have become more active, bold, and destructive. They are a greater danger to the dogs and domestic cats that live in the house as well as a threat to the two tiger cubs who have to be kept separately from the lions. The boys were also not getting enough sunlight in the house, but sometimes it is too cold or they are too fragile to go outside. Additionally, they are now 80 pounds. Carrying them outside when they have difficulty moving on their own will soon not be an option anymore. They cannot be left alone in the house for a second and the lack of sleep on the side of the CAREgivers becomes dangerous when having to care for the other 50 animals at CARE. It was decided that special housing needed to be constructed for Zuberi and Araali to fit their needs. It would need to be connected to the house for easy access, have a sizeable indoor area, but have access to their outdoor enclosure. There was a lot to think about.

 

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Getting WAY too big for the house!

Enter the Hero. Local businessman and CARE friend, Andrew Rottner, spent hours comforting and caring for the boys since the onset of their illness. Between us, we don’t think he stood a chance of not falling in love with them from the moment he first saw them. Twenty four hours after Andrew heard of our housing issues, he and John of John Schedcik Custom Homes arrived at CARE to start planning. Zuberi and Araali’s new rehab facility would be added directly on to the house so they can still come inside when needed, it will have 19 windows all around to structure to give the young lions the valuable light they require, but it will protect them from the elements and be climate controlled with central heat and air. The construction of this amazing facility began Christmas Eve. Andrew and John did not stop with the construction through the holidays. These two gentleman donated a portion of the cost and a lot of their valuable time to the projects.
Along with John and Andrew, we can’t begin to thank all of the people that have made this amazing project happen! Several employees of North Texas Bank gave $1,000 each to help fund the building. Vendors BBC, Mike Sanderson of Sanderson Electric, Don’s A/C Service, Framers Rob and Ray Brewster spent long hours completing the building as quickly as possible. And, we cannot forget all of the people who have donates to the boys’ care since the first mention of trouble. Those donations went towards paying for the remaining half of the building.

Builder
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Construction has been completed and final touches are being done. The boys will not be able to stay in this environment forever. At some point they will become too big and too mature for the area and our contact. Our hope is that through all of our efforts they will be in good enough health to move to a regular enclosure to spend the rest of their lives in comfort. But, for now, this is what they need and this space will be essential to their care. Most importantly, none of it would be possible without you. This has been the most powerful outpouring of support that CARE has seen in its entire existence! Each and every person that donates their time and/or funds to CARE plays a part in the lives of the animals here. We never forget that, and neither should you. You help make this center what it is, and help provide an existence of love and special care that Araali, Zuberi, and so many others need and deserve.

 

The newly finished Boys' Room complete with comfy beds, toys, heat & A/C, and a TV!

The newly finished Boys' Room complete with comfy beds, toys, heat & A/C, and a TV!

 

Tons of windows so they get sunshine and valuable Vitamin D

Tons of windows so they get sunshine and valuable Vitamin D

 

And, of course, Dahlia is able to keep tabs on her cubs!

And, of course, Dahlia is able to keep tabs on her cubs!

 

Easy access to their outdoor enclosure

Easy access to their outdoor enclosure

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Some of you may know both Araali and Zuberi have been experiencing some difficulty lately. We wanted to get as much information about their physical condition before explaining it to you. After consulting with specialists we now have a diagnosis and a game plan.

The issue first presented itself when Araali began to limp on his back right leg about a month ago. He increasingly became unsteady, stiff, and weak. After a quick examination by Dr. William McGee, or as we fondly call him, “Dr. Bill” an appointment for x-rays was scheduled.

We can’t begin to explain to you how difficult it is to load an 80 pound lion into the car in a stress free manner when they have never been in one before. For his safety we thought it was best to load him into a large kennel from inside the house where he felt most comfortable. Zuberi would need to come along due to the boys’ separation anxiety. Everything was going as planned when Zuberi was startled by a toy. He ran into the wall and fell to the ground. The accident was very minor and the impact with the wall should not have caused any injury. Lions, even cubs, are pretty darn tough. But, to our horror, he was immediately unable to walk…within minutes we found that he was unable to use either his front or back left legs.

The nightmare began. The preliminary X-rays on Zuberi showed nothing and he was placed on anti-inflammatory medications hoping the swelling would go down and he would return to his old self. Araali’s x-rays were another story. There was a marked bridging on his spine and the cause is unknown. Could be genetics, and old injury, anything. Advanced diagnostics would need to be scheduled for Araali as soon as Zuberi was back on his feet.

Sadly, Zuberi showed no improvement over the following two days. An emergency call was made to Texas A & M University’s Veterinary Medical Hospital for a complete work up. The boys were now inseparable. Araali knew his brother was in trouble. He never left his side as we began our long journey began.

Holding Hands

Holding Hands

The A & M exotic animal team was called together and was there to greet the boys when we arrived. The staff was wonderful allowing, the boys to stay together until Zuberi was sedated for an MRI, blood work, advanced x-rays, and an array of other tests performed by this top notch team.

Araali waiting for his brother at A & M

Araali waiting for his brother at A & M

Hours later the news was delivered. The neurologist diagnosed Zuberi with Cervical Spondylomyelopathy, commonly known as Wobblers syndrome. The syndrome is caused by a narrowing or malformation of the vertebrae in the neck which causes pressure on the spinal cord. The most common animals that are affected are horses and dogs, especially breeds that grow very fast and become very large (just like lions). The cause of Wobblers Syndrome is unknown, although a link to fast growth and genetics is suspected. Symptoms usually appear first in the rear legs as a mild lack of coordination in gait (ataxia) and can escalate to involvement of the front legs as well. Many affected animals move like they are drunk and uncoordinated. It has now become apparent both Zuberi and Araali were dealing with the same issue.

When we received this news, it was like getting hit with a ton of bricks. The prognosis is not fantastic. The best option is surgery, but only for adult animals after they have stopped growing. What the doctors told us was discouraging and numbing and even euthanizing was suggested at one point. But this is CARE, and we do not give up without a fight….ever!

We never gave up on Sampson. For years it was suspected that he had a Vitamin A deficiency as a cub, which causes him to wobble when he walks. Knowing what we know now, he could very well have the same issues the boys have. The good news is that Sampson survived as a cub and is now a senior citizen at 15 years old! There is hope.

The first steps are adding more calcium, fatty acids, and Vitamin D to their diet in addition to lots of sunshine for additional Vitamin D absorption. We were also told that it is crucial for their movement to be restricted as much as possible. No jumping, climbing, or rough-housing. You try telling that to 6 month old male lion cubs! But, we are doing everything we can. They are staying in Derek and Heidi’s house where they even take turns sleeping with the boys at night. They are observed 24/7, with many daylight breaks in a newly constructed fenced area in the yard where they cannot get into any trouble. Dahlia is watching them closely too, making sure they are okay.

We have regular visits from Dr. Bill and Dr. Tate, our local chiropractor, who is helping us understand how to stretch and massage they boys’ necks. Assisi Animal Health has released a new technology called Targeted Pulse Electromagnetic Field Therapy (tPEMF). It is a non-invasive, non-pharmacological treatment of pain and swelling used on Wobbler’s Syndrome in domestic animals. They have graciously donated one of the units for the boys. Our volunteers spend hours with the boys making sure that they are carefully watched and given lots of love.

CAREgivers and medical attention are only half of the battle though. Hundreds of donors have come forward to make sure the boys will only receive the best care there is. We are presently breaking ground on Zuberi and Araali’s new indoor/outdoor environment (more info coming soon). We will continue to research and do anything and everything we can to find a solution, as long as they have quality of life, we will not give up. Already we have seen improvement in Zuberi, walking more each day.

We will not be able to fight this battle alone. We cannot thank you enough for rushing to the boys’ aid already. When we say that the animals at CARE would not be here without you, we REALLY mean it. This is going to be an exhausting and expensive endeavor and without your help, we just can’t do it. So, thank you. Thank you from the boys, from us, and from every single big cat, coati, lemur, and llama here. If there is any possible way, WE together will win this battle and the boys will live to a happy and healthy old age.

Araali and Zuberi sharing lunch under Dahlia's supervision.

Araali and Zuberi sharing lunch under Dahlia's supervision.

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Since the time we took in our troop of lemurs, they have had created a lot of drama!

Ring tail lemurs are female dominant, and our girls have had a hard time figuring out who the boss is. A while back, Ruth decided that she was top dog and attacked the alpha female at the time, Rita. Rita was severely injured, and we feared for her life. So she was moved to a smaller adjacent enclosure along with the adult male, Mort, to keep her company. We hoped we would be able to reintroduce them, but we learned that it would not be possible. Rita had been rejected from the troop and they would surely kill her if she went back. To make matters worse, a young female (Miss Stewart) started to dominant the other females in the troop. Ruth would have none of that, so Miss Stewart was attacked and ousted as well.

Now we had three lemurs living in an enclosure that was never supposed to be permanent even for one. We knew we needed to give them more space, so we started expanding their enclosure. We also wanted to make space for Bindi, our coati, so we could move her out of the vet center (really a place for sick and injured animals) and into a more natural environment.

With the arrival of the cubs, sick animals, interns leaving for the fall, and work on the Welcome Center, the progress on the lemur house has been slow. But, we finally finished it this past weekend and the three outcasts got to inspect our work! Check out the video below to see their first time in their new space!

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CARE is currently enjoying it's 10th year in operation, and we have been so incredibly fortunate to have had the tremendous support that YOU have given us over the last decade! As CARE grows, in order to best provide for the animals that call CARE home, our needs change and grow as well. One of our biggest needs today is a new Welcome Center. This center will serve several functions that will make CARE a more successful and sustainable organization. Here are just a few things that the new Welcome Center will provide:

1. A Visitor Center - right now visitors have nowhere to wait for their tours to start or sit and relax afterwards that is safely outside of the compound! Currently visitors are allowed into the Vet Center to wait and use the restrooms. However, this really is not the purpose of that building. The Vet Center serves as not only the critical care facility for sick/elderly animals and animals recovering from surgery, but it is also our intern housing. Both the animals and our interns need a quiet space to call their own when they are tired or stressed. This also means that, being inside the gates, a CARE staff member must be there with our visitors at all times while they wait or use the restrooms, taking them away from other essential activities. The new Welcome Center will be a safe, indoor/outdoor area where visitors can sit down, talk, refresh themselves, and browse CARE merchandise and information.

 

Vet Center 2

         The Vet Center where the interns live and where sick/injured/recovering animals are kept - there is immediate access to all of the animals' enclosures from the Vet Center - not a great place to have people waiting unattended.

2. An Administrative Office - Currently CARE itself does not have a office where directors and volunteers can conduct business effectively. Our Executive Director, Heidi, has an office in the living room of her personal residence at CARE. This means board meetings are held there, special visitors to CARE are entertained there, and volunteers come in and out to discuss CARE business. Heidi and her family have been extremely welcoming and gracious in opening up their home to a multitude of people, but it is taxing on them and not the best environment for CARE's staff to get things done. The new Welcome Center would also have a private office where staff can focus, and a family's personal space is not invaded.

3. A specialized animal enclosure
- Many of you have followed the trials and tribulations of our snow leopard, Arctic. At this point his needs require almost constant monitoring. Unfortunately, Arctic may never be able to return to his regular enclosure on a permanent basis. Without close monitoring, we will lose him. But, keeping him in a transport cage in the house is not a good solution either (for him or Heidi and her family-Arctic is not a pet and should not be in the house, but it is the only place we can keep an eye on him right now). Right now he is laboriously being moved back and forth from his enclosure to the house every few days. He needs a special full-time space, close to his constant caregivers (it will be adjacent to the main house), with more room and outside access so he can get fresh air and exercise. This area will not just be for Arctic. If his condition ever changes, or as will happen one day, when he is no longer with us we could use the space for any other special needs resident of CARE.

 

20140427_120006(1)Arctic in his cage in the middle of the living room (the office is in the right corner) where Heidi and family can watch him and he can watch his TV to give him stimulation.

Now, we have done our research and we estimate this building will cost $20,000 to complete. We are assuming that the labor will be done with no or minimal cost, so $20K is a steal for a project like this! We have also been given a huge gift by our long-term supporters at the Dallas Furry Convention, who provide us critical funding every year. We are ear-marking $5,000 dollars from their annual gift this year specifically for this project.

Additionally, our Operations Director Derek has a HUGE following on the social media app Vine (over 280,000 followers). He has personally asked all his followers to help support this project by donating $5,000 in his #squeakstrike campaign. You can see his fundraising efforts and progress here: http://www.gofundme.com/carewelcomeproject.

So, that leaves us with only $10,000 to raise and we have 3 WEEKS to do it! If we can accomplish this, everyone that is a part of CARE including staff and supporters, will benefit. This is game changing for us, so please donate today to help us reach this goal by May 25th!

 




 

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support past, present, and future!

 

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On March 14th we were a little surprised when someone brought a one month old llama with an injured back leg to us. While we never contemplated turning her away, we weren't sure what we were going to do with a baby llama that was unable to use one of her hind legs. But, we were determined to do what we could. She was simply too cute and sweet not to try.

LLama 3.15.14 2

The next day our vet, Dr. Bill, came out and examined her. He told us that she had a broken femur and that he could feel both ends of the bone, so we knew it was a bad break. The four options that we had were to leave it alone and she may or may not have a functioning leg as she got older (more than likely not, and likely with a lot of complications), amputate the leg (which were were reluctant to do), perform surgery to fix the leg (possibly inserting plates to help stabilize it), or euthanize her. Obviously euthanasia was not an option. Not a single person wanted to give that a second thought, including Dr Bill. Plus, he felt pretty confident that he could fix her leg and give her a great chance. So, without delay we scheduled the surgery. However, things did not end up going as well as we had hoped. During surgery, they discovered that the two ends of the broken leg bone had fused together. Her hip had even been comprised, so there was no saving the leg. Leaving it that way and hoping for the best was also no longer reasonable. Again, we had the choice of amputation or euthanizing her while she was out. To be honest, this time wasn't as easy of a decision. Quick research while the team waited told us that yes, there are three-legged llamas out there. But the ones that we found had lost their legs below the knee and were fitted with a prosthetic. That would not be an option for this baby girl since she would be losing her leg very high up. Knowing that we were taking a risk, that the amputation might make it too hard for the llama to get around, we decided to take the risk and go ahead and give her the best chance at life possible.

When the newly three-legged llama came out of sedation and finally regained stability, she did fantastic. Over a few days, it was like nothing had changed and she didn't even notice that she was missing an appendage. She gets around great! She has amazing balance and she even runs full tilt! She does tend to get worn out a little easier though when she has been out playing, but that is to be expected and may change as she gets older and stronger.

So, now CARE has a new resident, our little Dahlia llama! She spends some of her time inside our Executive Director's house so she can be bottle fed and monitored, but a lot of her time is spent in an enclosure in the yard. When someone is there to watch her so she doesn't fall down and hurt herself, she is let out in the big yard so she can run, explore, and eat her favorite thing in the world, dandelions! She follows her dozen or so new moms around the yard, sucks any flowy shirts she can get her mouth on, and makes just about the cutest humming noises in the world when she is excited or wants something.

Photo Mar 29, 11 10 56 AM

We are so happy that we decided to take in this fluffy, wide-eyed baby. We hope we can provide her with a long, healthy, and happy life here at CARE. However, the decision to take her in and give her a chance definitely came with a price tag! The amputation cost $750. That was money that was earmarked to start expanding the lemur enclosure. Some of our lemurs have been fighting a little too much and have caused us to separate a couple from the main troop permanently. We have a small enclosure that they are in right now, but they really need more space to jump around.

We are welcoming any and all donations to help us recoup this cost so we can continue with plans on the lemur habitat. Please contribute to our Llama/Lemur Fund. Remember, every amount helps! Please make sure you write "Llama" in the Purpose box when you donate so we know where your money should go!





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Brownie Troop 1505, a troop that meets in Euless, TX, contacted us at the beginning of the year with an idea. The girls in the troop, all 3rd graders, and their leader Sherri wanted to donate a few trees to the CARE facility!

Those that have followed us for a while, and anyone that has visited, knows that we constantly struggle with shade for the cats and for our volunteers and visitors. Trees are a little scarce around the CARE compound! When we got the email from Sherri about the idea, we were ecstatic!

The girls in the troop purchased the trees with the money that they raised from selling cookies. By having trees planted at CARE, the girls could fulfill their Take Action Project for the Quest for the Keys Brownie Journey requirement. At the same time, they could learn that even at their young age, they could make a difference!

So, after doing some research on what type of tree would do best out here at the center (it takes a tough tree to make it around here) the troop contacted All Wise Garden Center in Bridgeport to order three trees and have them planted. The folks at All Wise came out to plant our new trees at the end of February and did a fantastic job. Our new trees has homes right in between Tabula and Chompers; between Zeus, Jezzebel, and Elley and Serena; and the last between Serena and Sydney & Rasa.

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IMG_6704

Later this week the Troop plans to come out to dedicate the tree and see first hand the cats that will get some extra shade once the trees grow tall! Thank you so much Troop 1505!!

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Solano Gets a New Enclosure

Big cats in captivity are very interesting creatures who can develop very specific, sometimes quirky, tastes and habits over time. They can be rather particular about little things such as the placement of their favorite toys, a position in which to lay and relax, their favorite food, and how they like the weather to be. Due to this, they can become very stressed if significant changes are introduced into their world and it can become a major issue for us CAREkeepers to deal with if not handled properly. Things such as adding new structures into enclosures, giving a cat a new neighbor, and moving a cat into a new enclosure are examples of significant changes which can cause worrisome and potentially dangerous problems.

Enter Solano

Solano, one of CARE's big white tigers, shared an enclosure with three of CARE's other white tigers, Bonnie, Clyde, & Levi, for many years. Over time, things between the four cats became a little tense. Disagreements and heated arguments started to become more commonplace and the root of the problem could be traced back to Solano and his disregard for the others' personal space. The dynamic of the enclosure had shifted, the cats were starting to get unhappy with each other and they were on edge, which is a recipe for disaster. We realized something needed to be done to preserve their well-being and that a separation was likely the only solution. This meant the dreaded c-word - CHANGE.

Solano is, to put it gently, a bit 'thick-headed' and we had significant worries about how he would cope with being away from the three others he had spent most of his life with. We came up with a solution by expanding the four white tigers' enclosure lock-down area to serve as Solano's living space. This way, he was close to the others and he could interact with them, but he was physically separated from them and they were all safe and more comfortable. It wasn't perfect, but given the circumstances and the limited compound space available, we felt it was the best solution. The four cats lived this way for a few years and things were pretty harmonious between them. Over time, as nature would dictate, CARE lost a few of its beautiful animals due to age-related illnesses, and the remaining cats were shuffled around the compound to optimize their living areas and make the best use of the facility space. When all was done, there was an unfilled enclosure next to Kannapalli, CARE's biggest white tiger.

Solano by Jade

Enter dilemma

On one hand, we had a perfectly good, open enclosure which could adequately house a lion or a tiger. It was much bigger than Solano's current living space and it had cool things like elevated platforms and lots of grass. On the other hand, it was completely separate from his three life-time companions. Plus, Solano is a logistically TERRIBLE cat to move (he doesn't care for that process at all which makes things difficult and dangerous), there was absolutely NO guarantee he would get along with Kannapalli as a neighbor, and the stress of leaving his familiar surroundings could be too much for his lil' brain to handle. We always do things in the best interest of the cats whenever we make decisions on their behalf, and we just wanted to do what was best for the big guy. We thought about it for a long time, and we decided to take a chance.

Getting Solano to go into a transport cage was the first challenge. He is a big and powerful boy tiger, and he is not a fan of transport cages. Some cats love transport cages because it means they get to go 'bye-bye' and embark upon fantastical adventures. However, some cats hate transport cages with a passion and don't want anything to do with them. Solano, sadly, is a member of the latter group. After securing the transport cage firmly in place and opening the doors to let him in, it was now a matter of coaxing the loveable lug into the space. We were prepared for this process to literally take days in order to achieve success. Surprisingly enough, he went in after only a few minutes with the help of the promise of chicken leg snacks. Once the gate was shut, Solano immediately started to get stressed in the confined square, increasing the danger factor. We couldn't let him back into the enclosure or we'd almost certainly NEVER get him to lock back up, so we had to MOVE - it was now or never. We rolled him over to the new enclosure as fast as we could and once everything was in place, we let him out into his new big new space. Solano, blinking and curious, began to explore.

Kannapalli took notice

We were worried when Kannapalli, CARE's biggest and strongest tiger (and now Solano's new neighbor), crouched down behind a rock in his enclosure and stared at Solano with intense eyes and aggressive body language. "Another tiger, a MALE no less! We MUST now engage in combat!" is what must have been going on in Kannapalli's mind based on the signals he was showing. With big cats being introduced for the first time, this is to be expected, and the key is to try and distract them long enough to hopefully manage their initial freak-out. Also, keep in mind that there were two layers of perimeter fence separating the two cats, but it doesn't mean they couldn't possibly hurt themselves in an aggressive outburst. Controlling the situation to the best of our ability was key. We tried to get Kannapalli's attention in the hopes of dissipating his aggression, but he wasn't listening to us- he was going to give Solano a piece of his mind as soon as Solano got close enough!

Kannapalli

Kannapalli

Solano was walking around the perimeter of his new enclosure, sniffing things, chuffing, and talking to his CAREkeepers. He seemed genuinely interested in his new enclosure, and he was absolutely oblivious to the hidden Kannapalli! As Solano rounded the corner and made his way towards the perimeter, Kannapalli leapt towards the fence and gave his biggest, scariest, bellowing round of roars he could muster. It was a powerful sound. Once Kannapalli finished his explosion he stood there, snorting and staring. Solano, absolutely unfazed, made a 'mawww' sound and snuffled at his new friend. This left Kannapalli very confused and he looked at us as if to say, "Is this guy alright?". Solano, the loveable lunkhead, took all of the wind out of Kannapalli's sails. Kannapalli at that point just seemed to shrug his shoulders, lay down, and watch Solano now out of curiosity instead of anger. This was good! This was progress.

Since then, there have not been any significant issues between the two guys, and they're getting along wonderfully as neighbors now. Solano has really taken to his new surroundings without any stress. We are so proud of him for being such a big boy. We were worried that he would miss his old friends too much in this move, but he has made himself a new neighbor and friend in Kannapalli instead!

Solano JadeK

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If you have been following any of our social media accounts, you probably know that Arctic the snow leopard has been under the weather again. First of all, he is doing a lot better, thanks for asking! We just wanted to share his heart-warming story with all of you.

Back in the summer of 2012 Mr. A was so sick that there was a strong possibility that he would not survive. We took him on a road trip to visit our friends at Texas A & M University and discovered that he had a strain of antibiotic resistant bacteria that had attacked his respiratory system. You can click here to read the whole Sickly Snow Leopard story posted that summer.

We were so fortunate that the doctors found a treatment that would work for our dear Arctic. He had to have round-the-clock care and very expensive medications to keep him alive. During this critical time, in which he lived in a transport cage in our Executive Director's bathroom, he also needed constant company and comfort from his CAREtakers. Because, at some point, people have to sleep, Arctic would eventually have to be left alone for a little while. Whenever this happened he would cry his head off for someone to come back and keep him company. When Arctic does not feel well, he does not like to be alone! The sad part is, a lonely and depressed animal can go downhill very fast!

In order to somehow keep him entertained and engaged, without having to have someone with him 24/7, we came up with an ingenious idea......TV! The idea came from our lion cub Noel, who was born on Christmas day, 2011. When she was a small cub, she loved watching cartoons. Dora the Explorer was her favorite. They not only entertained her, but also seemed to soothe her. So, we tried applying this to our very needy snow leopard. It turned out that it worked like a charm. We also discovered that out of all the cartoons and movies that we tried, How to Train your Dragon was his favorite. We guessed that it was because the dragon in the movie has a bit of a snow leopard-y face and certainly has the big, slightly slanted eyes that Arctic possesses.

 

Arctic recovered well, and turned into a very happy cat. He plumped up, his coat became thick and luxurious again, and he started chuffing, a lot! Yes, snow leopard do chuff just like tigers do. Most of the volunteers at CARE had never known this until Arctic started snuffling at every friend that came to see him. You could tell that he felt so much better! He even successfully killed a sofa that we put into his recovery room in the vet center.

A couple of weeks ago, Arctic started showing signs of an illness. Except this time it wasn't a respiratory infection. It turned out that the bacteria had moved into his kidneys and he was not doing well at all. It was really scary for a few days and he was moved back into his transport cage in the bathroom. Again, cartoons were played to help comfort Arctic and keep him company. This time though, the TV is a little larger (a 50" flat screen instead of a mere 34" TV) because of his failing eyesight. How to Train Your Dragon is not only still his favorite, but pretty much the ONLY thing he will watch.

 

He has been improving every day. Lately, he has been moving out to his regular enclosure during the day (around noon when he wakes up) and then is brought back in when it starts getting dark so he can get some love, his meds, and of course watch his movie.

Moving Arctic

He still will cry a little bit when everyone leaves the room, but as long as he has his dragon friend to keep him company, things are o.k. This type of care for our sick and elderly animals is the heart and soul of CARE. It is one of the things that sets us apart and what we are most proud of. Chuff Chuff!

 

 

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Bindi

Our latest addition to the CARE family is a South American coati named Bindi. South American coatis are native to tropical and subtropical regions of South America, where they are typically very widespread. Coatis are small mammals, related to raccoons and are omnivorous. Bindi’s favorite foods are raw eggs, chicken, and marshmallows! When she’s happy, Bindi makes high pitched whistle sounds, and she makes them a lot when she sees her CAREgivers, especially when they have her favorite treats! At 8 years of age, Bindi has reached the typical life span of coatis in the wild. However, with all the special love and attention she receives here at CARE, we are hoping that Bindi will be around for many more years. Come and see Bindi on a weekend tour or CARE’s upcoming Fall Festival in November!

Photo May 18, 1 52 58 PM

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Aside from providing a safe haven to over 50 exotic animals, the Center for Animal Research and Education works vigorously to provide positive services and supportive relations to the local Wise County community. Without local support, our organization would cease to be, and we’ve always made it a priority of ours to do right by those who have done right to us. We would like to take a moment and highlight the various ways CARE gives back to the local Wise County community.

 

 CARE saves local ranchers approximately $150,000 per year in livestock disposal fees. Due to the unique way that CARE feeds its exotic large cats, CARE receives numerous weekly donations of livestock which are unfit for human consumption. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on specialized landfill drop-off, spending hundreds of dollars in veterinary euthanasia bills, or spending hundreds of dollars on machinery rental to bury a deceased animal on their own property, local ranchers have the option to donate their suitable livestock animals to the CARE facility at no cost to them. The ranchers give CARE the means to feed the exotic animals, and CARE takes a costly burden off the ranchers’ shoulders.
*It is important to note that we never accept healthy animals. All of the donations that we receive are either already deceased or would have to be euthanized anyway due to old-age, injury or illness. When we do accept live donations, the animals are quickly and humanly put down. We respect the lives of these animals as much as we do the animals that reside at the center.

CARE’s research programs give local high school students an opportunity to participate in nationally-recognized, non-invasive exotic animal research projects. CARE’s partnership with Bridgeport High School affords local students the opportunity to earn school credit, expand their knowledge of science and biology, and to also earn invaluable accredited references which can be applied towards college scholarship applications.

 

CARE offers numerous educational field trips and retreats for local elementary and intermediate school groups. These children get to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to  get a close-up view of our animals during a safe, guided experience offered by the CARE staff. The eyes of the children absolutely light up as the giant cats walk towards the enclosure’s perimeter to say hello, and the education that the children receive about the animals and their natural habitats gives them a solid foundation towards natural preservation and conservancy. These are valuable traits for future Wise County leaders to possess.

CARE is an active participant in Wise County’s probationary community service program, logging at least one thousand hours annually with those Wise County individuals who ‘fought the law, and the law won’. CARE is more than happy to put these individuals to work, and to hopefully inspire their journey, as they work to repay their debt to society.

 

Lastly, CARE is a popular weekend tourist destination for people from the Dallas-Fort Worth-Denton Area, drawing thousands of visitors to the CARE compound annually. All of these people, who live so far   away, must drive past Wise County gas stations, Wise County restaurants, Wise County gift shops, Wise County convenience stores, Wise County auto shops, and Wise County outlet stores simply to get to and from CARE and their homes. CARE isn’t the only Wise County organization those people will graciously give their money to.

As CARE grows and evolves, we hope to further our partnerships in the community and give back even more. As with our donors, volunteers, partners, and friends, we could not do what we do without our community's support!

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Being close to the big cats of CARE offers up a unique insight into the lives of these great animals. Over a long enough period of time, a person working at CARE will eventually come to see the rise and fall of numerous beasts. They will see the beauty of vibrant health and life, and they will also see the tragedy of withering sickness and death- a fate all at CARE fight tooth and nail to postpone. Some animals are blessed with a healthy life devoid of sickness and suffering from beginning to end (an envied life no doubt) and then some animals, just as some people, struggle through various illnesses and ailments through the course of their lives. This story is going to be about one of those very animals whose life has been anything but easy, but whose desire to fight and live inspires all who meet him.

Ten year old Arctic the Snow Leopard has always been a favorite at CARE. Being a snow leopard means he is rare and he demands attention and admiration- and he knows it. He is beautiful and aloof, he is the jewel of CARE. He started his life at the facility as a cute, fluffy, oddly-behaved cub and stole everyone's hearts.

 Baby Arctic

As Arctic grew, he became a joy to all who met him due to his beauty and the quirks which set him apart from the other cats. People would comment about how there was just something about his personality which was different, sometimes screwy, but always charming.

To say Arctic has always been high-maintenance would be an understatement. He has a soft, dense coat suited for frigid high-altitudes that makes the Texas heat hard to handle. Due to this, he was built a specialized environment consisting of a water-fall/cave system which acts as a swamp-cooler that keeps him much cooler when the temperature soars.

 Arctic playing with his waterfall

Also, like many snow leopards, Arctic is susceptible to various respiratory illnesses which can worsen over time. He has been struggling with infections for years, but the infections have become deadly in recent months. When these infections occur, he refuses to eat or drink and has difficulty breathing. Back in March of this year, he became septic due to these infections, but the CARE staff was able to pull him out of it with a vigorous wellness and medication regimen, and, for a while, all seemed to be going fairly well. Arctic’s CAREtakers knew then that he would more than likely struggle with these infections for the rest of his life, but a plan was made to manage his condition with oral antibiotics, periodic housing in climate-controlled environments, and a special feeding routine. These things were hoped to give Arctic the peace and comfort which is a mainstay of CARE’s mission statement.

However, two weeks ago, Arctic became ill again, and this time his CAREkeepers were not sure he would recover. After showing no interest in eating for 10 days and receiving injected fluids as his sole source of hydration, things became critical and he was driven down to Texas A&M University for a comprehensive exam with their renowned Zoological department. Arctic underwent X-rays, CT scans, an MRI, extensive blood work, urinalysis, and a spinal tap all in one day so that the vets at A&M could have a more comprehensive idea of exactly what type of infection he was battling.

 Arctic at Texas A&M

He had a very rough day, but at the end of it he was able to come home to CARE accompanied by a large array of medications and a very precise treatment plan. He is on daily IV fluid treatments and a very aggressive antibiotic treatment including a nebulizer.

 Receiving a nebulizer treatment

He is currently staying in the house of CARE’s Executive and Operations Directors so that they can keep a close eye on him, monitor his meds, make sure he is eating and drinking properly, and to also provide him a steady stream of attention and affection. Arctic’s CAREkeepers are still waiting on some of the results to know exactly what type of bacterial infection is the cause or if this is a viral issue.

Arctic's temporary residence in CARE's Director's bathroom

The prognosis was not great at the beginning, but every day he seems to get stronger. He has been eating several pounds of ground chicken a day and drinking a good amount of water. His vision is improving and his snotty-nose is much better! Arctic’s CAREkeepers will not give up on him- not as long as he is willing to fight, and a fighter he is! The CAREkeepers have beaten the odds before with cats who have fallen ill and would have died in less determined hands, and the CAREkeepers are determined to beat them again. This is what the CARE mission comes down to: Arctic is in need of tremendous amounts of love and attention and the CAREkeepers are all completely committed to making sure he gets everything he needs to be healthy and happy again.

CARE has been incredibly blessed to have the incredible Zoological team at Texas A&M treating our beloved Arctic as well as so many supporters coming to aid in covering his more than $4,000 veterinary bill. A little over half of the amount has been donated so far and CARE still encourages its supporters to donate what they can to help cover the costs. This is going to be a long road to recovery with many more expenses down the road and if he is to become well again, than this treatment is not anything less than a necessity.

Adult Arctic

Arctic's needs right now are not just physical. He is in need of constant companionship and encouragement. Stimulation is key- as long as he is interested in his surroundings he will have more reason to fight for his life. He becomes very distressed and upset when he is left alone. It is vital that someone is with him as often as possible to provide him with comfort and activity.

CARE is looking for anyone who is interested in either donating funds to help cover his medical expenses or donating time to spend with Arctic and helping to be a "snow leopard-sitter". Anyone interested in giving financial support for Arctic’s vet bills can click on the Paypal button below. Anyone interested in being a sitter can contact Heidi at heidi@bigcatcare.org to schedule a time to sit with Arctic in the coming weeks (it is necessary for anyone interested in being a sitter to have attended a CARE Volunteer Training Day- no exceptions). CARE needs help in giving Arctic a life of health and comfort once again.

CARE could not provide Arctic with the world-class healing regimen that he is now on without the dedicated support of its members and donors. With that said, the facilitators of CARE extend their deepest thanks to those who have already given so much to help bring Arctic back to his old, quirky, fuzzy self.

 




 

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Operation Cool Cats Underway

Immediate help is needed to protect the big cats from the extreme heat!

It is hard to believe summer is nearly here again. CARE suffered catastrophic loss due to the record breaking heat and drought of 2011. The loss of trees, vegetation, water for wells and life made the summer of 2011 the most brutal time CARE has experienced. CARE added 7 trees to the half a billion trees lost due to the drought last year in Texas alone.

Day after day we watched the cats try to stay cool in the 100+ degree temperatures. It was heartbreaking. The metal swimming pools were more like hot tubs. Intern and volunteer energies were placed fully on spraying the cats with cool water which was a constant drain on our limited water source and our manpower.

CAREgivers live in fear that 2012 could also prove to be a repeat of the 2011 summer. In order to survive another summer we must focus on shade and concrete swimming pools. We need your help. Please consider a donation to CARE’s “Operation Cool Cats”. The total cost of the project will exceed $25,000. We need to have the money raised by May 31st so we can complete the project in June before the summer heat hits it's height.

At the completion of the project every cat will have more shade and a concrete swimming pool (some with running waterfalls) or mist system for those who do not like to submerse in water such as lions, cougars and leopards.

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New platforms to offer shade built for 3 tigers last year

Consider sending a letter to friends or businesses that may be able to help CARE. The more people who know about CARE, the greater the chance that “Operation Cool Cats” will succeed.

The time is now to open your heart. Please, take a few minutes and consider a gift to CARE today. Remember every penny counts and all donations are tax-deductible! Whatever you can give makes a difference.

Finally, we invite you to come by our sanctuary and visit the cats whose lives you are improving. Watch the cats play in the pools and enjoy the shade you helped create.





Thank you very much for being a part of our CARE family and hope to see you soon!

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84 Lumber and Triple B Builders Give Our New Lemurs Something to Howl About

Lemur update! Five ring-tailed lemurs have arrived and are settling in nicely thanks to 84 Lumber and Triple B Builders. We must acknowledge and give a huge thank you to Ted Wenzelt of 84 Lumber in from Chandler, Arizona who organized the massive donation of materials that built the lemur dream home. Tons of materials worth many thousands of dollars arrived from the 84 Lumber yard in Denton, Texas in late November. Without this HUGE donation of crucial supplies, the whole project simply could not have happened.

84lumber

Another pivotal part of the puzzle was Bryan Berry, owner of Triple B Builders who helped design and build the enclosure. Berry, and right hand man, James “Jimmy” Bender, drove 20 hours non-stop from Arizona to Texas. With the help of many CARE volunteers, the two worked from sunup to sundown every day for an entire week until the giant skeleton of the enclosure and indoor housing was complete. Triple B Builders’ decades of construction experience was pivotal in constructing a sturdy and safe enclosure of the highest professional quality. All of their highly skilled labor and tool use was donated. Everything but the weather cooperated for the event.

Finally, we would like to thank all of the donors who contributed to the Lemur Fund and made the construction and initial materials purchase possible- Sandy and Frank Mendel, The Ray Family, Peggy Thomas, Susan Slade and Kristine Duplisea, Jeffrey and Carrie Kovarsky, John Stanzak, Ron Hein, Jamie Reed, Ashley Alexander, The Spicer Family, Angie Livingston, Chosen Leather and Silver, and Tigers Share. As usual, our deepest thanks to our dedicated volunteers who completed the project in record speeds in the final 3 weeks before the lemurs’ arrival. Without this giant combined effort, CARE could have never completed the project in time.

The lemurs arrived at their new loving home in mid-December. They LOVE their new enclosure and are really warming up to their CAREgivers. This has been a very unique and interesting experience for both the animals and their human keepers. The lemurs have never enjoyed such a large space full of places to climb and corners to explore. We are all learning and expanding our knowledge of the cute little fuzzy climbers every day. We are happy to have them at CARE, and we are positive that they are enjoying their big new home as well. Their enclosure is fun, comfortable, and secure thanks to everyone’s generosity and hard work.

CARE wishes to take a moment to thank all of the VERY generous individuals and organizations who made the “84 Lumber Lemur House” possible.

CARE also offered year-long adoptions and naming rights for all five of the incoming lemurs. We are pleased to announce that all 5 lemurs were swiftly adopted!

The Ray Family – Mort (the only male)
Susan Slade and Kristine Duplisea – Akisa (alpha female)
Frank and Sandy Mendel – Ruth (aka Akyla female who arrived separate and is integrating well)
Peggy Thomas – Rita the Ringtail (very quiet and gentle female)
Jeffrey and Carrie Kovarsky – Unnamed female

We encourage you to come and say hello to our new friends. They generally come out in the afternoon and can be seen swinging on their tree and ropes, jumping around their HUGE enclosure, and sunning themselves in the afternoon rays. Our normal winter tour hours are from 12 to 5pm. Lemurs are sensitive to cold and only come out to play on warmer days.

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Lemurs! The Center for Animal Research and Education is happy to announce that we will become a permanent home to five Ring-tailed Lemurs. The Lemurs (4 males and 1 female) will be arriving on December 6th. The group of 3 year olds were in desperate need of a home, and there was not much time to find them one, so we have a lot to do in only 3 weeks!

Right now, our main focus is building their enclosure, and it is going to be awesome! There will be so much space to run, jump and climb. They will also have an indoor enclosure that is heated during the winter months. We plan to make their new home amazing and have scheduled the construction date for the day after Thanksgiving. But, in order to complete this task, we need your help! Our goal is to raise $5,000 dollars to buy all of the materials necessary to construct their enclosure. Any help that you can provide will help us immensely.

And, in preparation for the Lemurs' arrival, we are offering an amazing chance to become a part of their new lives here at CARE. You can become an Adoptive parent to one of the 5 ring-tails. The Adoption donation will be $50 a month to help provide them with food, medical attention and care. Now this is the really exciting part-The first five people who donate $500 before Thanksgiving to help build the enclosure will not only have their donation cover the first year of their adoption, but will also get to name their Lemur! How cool is that? Please contact us if you are interested in adopting and naming a Lemur. We will only be offering this opportunity until Thanksgiving, so don't wait!

We are also looking for help with the following items, if you are interested, please contact Heidi.

Ropes (lots and lots of ropes for climbing and swinging)

Materials for platforms and outside dens

Labor to help construct the enclosure on 11/25

Help building the outside den boxes

Donation of other enrichment items

We are so excited to be able to take in these amazing creatures and can't wait to see how they like their new home, now we just need to build it before they get here!

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The dedicated caregivers, volunteers, and board members of the Center for Animal Research and Education are devastated following the terrible events which took place in Ohio this week. We are tremendously saddened by this tragic loss of life, and our hearts go out to all who have been adversely affected by this event.

Understandably, all eyes will turn towards big cat facilities across the country with greatly increased scrutiny and apprehension. During this time we must remember that this was an isolated incident involving a

deeply troubled man at a poorly run private site. In light of this tragedy, officials will surely enact the necessary regulations to protect the public and big cats from harm. Back yard pets and sub-standard private facilities, like the one in Ohio, will surely be closed. As these isolated collections are seized, more and more big cats will be in need of rescue, and there will be a greater than ever need for professional and well-equipped rescue organizations to take in these animals; animals who want nothing more than a comfortable and secure home.

We at CARE have dedicated our lives to giving our big cats the best life possible in a safe and controlled environment- which makes it so difficult for us to comprehend the reprehensible acts of such an

apparently disturbed individual. We urge you to please have faith and support for all of the appropriately regulated, well organized, and loving organizations such as ours who give top notch care and safe

housing for big cats all across the United States.

Take CARE

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We did it! CARE met the September 1st goal of raising $10k for our Perimeter Expansion Project!

Actually, YOU did it. What can we say? We are absolutely honored to have so many generous supporters. We have said it before, and we will never stop saying it-THANK YOU-we cannot do any of this without you!
This is the best part- we didn’t just meet our goal, we exceeded it! CARE successfully raised $13,804!

Absolutely amazing! Our eyes are filled with tears when we think about how our extended CARE family came together to make this happen. This means that we not only have the funds available to buy the materials needed for this project, but we will also have money left over to put towards other critical projects.

On September 9th, 40 Airmen volunteers from Sheppard Air Force Base will come out to CARE and begin building the new fence around the expanded property. We are so fortunate and proud to have these men and women come out during their off-duty time to help us with this enormous undertaking.

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We have also had Chili’s restaurant of Decatur, Texas, offer to provide ALL of the food and drinks for the volunteers that day (in addition to a monetary donation that they already made to the project)! It is so incredible for us to see this show of support and involvement.

chilis6

We are in awe of you all! You are actively helping to provide a safe and loving home for cats that are desperately in need of sanctuary. Please know that you are appreciated by us all, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Thank you to all of our donors:Carol and Brian Harney, Christopher and Kathleen Ray, Rick and Cindy Beauregard, Dean Willard, Kathy Miller, Chris Decampo, Little Lotus Hearts and Emily Willard, Peggy Thomas (In Memory of Kira), Kara Van Duzee, J David Tracy, Lisa Podwirney, John Stanzak, Elaine Peng, Angie Livingston, Anita Meyer-Neal, Silas Schulze, Melanie Piccolo, Elizabeth Kamhieh, Sami Mikhail, Richard Dowdy, Shelia Favor, Megan Blessing, Staci Powell, Ryan Fincher, Lianne Pearson, The Spicer Family, Chili’s, Jamie Reed, Shelly Oxhandler, Shanda Catalano, Debbie Godley, Constance Carter, Laura Frazier, Jessica Atwood, Whitney Swinford, Michelle Davis, Susan Spenser, Michelle Malney, John & Renova Hamiga, Dr Pat Bolton, Kathe Watson-Arnould, Chili's, Rhonda Andrus, Renee Benson, Amy Scherbaum, Kristen Vidal, Amy Stoermer, Danielle Repp, A. Marie Kandra, Rich and Denice Hazelwood, Crystal Schun, Carene Shaver, Furry Fiesta, Eric Foster Light, Karen Flaherty, Tigers Share, Lisa Kittredge, Deborah Simmons, William Chastain, Angela DiIulio, Kara Robinson, and Kathy, Mike and Nicole Beckman.

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July 29, 2011 Star-Telegram

Fire burns 100 acres, spares Bridgeport animal sanctuary

By Terry Evans
tevans@star-telegram.com

Heidi Krahn was concerned about the dwindling water supply at her big-cat sanctuary in Bridgeport when son Dakota, 13, turned her stress-o-meter to maximum."He screamed into the house shouting, 'Mom! Fire!'" Krahn said.Dakota said he was cleaning the pool Thursday afternoon when a huge, dark cloud suddenly blocked the sun."As soon as she saw the cloud she called 911," he said of his mother.The sky behind the Center for Animal Research and Education in Bridgeport was black with smoke from a grass fire.

The fire devoured 100 acres of bone-dry grass and scrubby mesquite groves, threatened four structures and took almost eight hours to put out, Bridgeport Fire Chief Terry Long said. The call on County Road 3422 came in about 5 p.m. Thursday, Long said. "I had a crew stay with it all night long," Long said. "We're still on fire watch there, going out and checking it every hour." Long said the sanctuary was never in danger because the fire started across the road and traveled away from it, pushed by a north-northeast wind. He said the fire started at the roadside, but he would not speculate on its source. "It's under investigation," he said.The fire did however, jump County Road 3424 north of the sanctuary, Long said. It also drew about 40 firefighters from Bridgeport, Lake Bridgeport, Chico, Paradise, Cottondale, Alvord and Decatur. They used 12 brush trucks and five tankers, Long said.The sanctuary is home to 35 tigers, seven cougars, six leopards and three lions. The cats kept their cool during the fire, Krahn said. "They weren't necessarily frightened," she said. "Mostly they were just really curious. The smoke was drifting next to the enclosures, not over them. We were very lucky that the winds were with us yesterday." Long said the weather is hammering fire departments hard. "Yesterday was 102 degrees and 20 percent humidity," he said. The heat is taking a toll on the sanctuary, too. For instance, some of the cats require air conditioning, which has run the electricity bill to $1,000 a month, Krahn said. "We have a lot of problems out here," she said. "The extraordinary heat is making it harder on animals that have trouble anyway." The biggest problem is that water trickling from one well into a holding tank is not enough, Krahn said. "We have a well company trying to hook up a new system, tying some old wells together to maybe get us through the summer," she said. Krahn said she knows that a lot of nonprofits are struggling because donations are the first thing cut out of family budgets when the economy sours.That's why for her, volunteers like the firefighters who responded to her call for help are angels."They're amazing, lifesaving," she said. "It honestly brings tears to my eyes that they're volunteers like the people who work here. They get nothing out of this but the feeling of doing something right like we do with the cats. They risk their lives to save people, and this time they risked their lives to save our cats."

care fire 5
Decatur Fire Fighters get a big thanks from Sampson after the fire was under control.... Thank you all 8 fire departments the extinguished the dangerous grass fire that threatened CARE

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We have listened to Sampson talk to Layla from across the sanctuary through their roars in the night for some time. They had never seen one another, but with the passing of our Sampson's long-time companion Sprinkles, we hoped they might make a strong enough bond to be friends. We decided to try to introduce Layla to Sampson. It was a beautiful thing. In our 21 years experience of working with big cats, we have never witnessed an introduction like this one.

SampsonandLayla

It was love at first sight. Layla gave a few brief protests but soon realized, “Hey this guy is just like me!” Layla started flirting a little with the ever-so-handsome Sampson from afar.

Layla has lived with 2 tigers her whole life and has never been around another lion. The two often sit apart, but it takes time for these wild hearts to warm, and they will certainly become more and more affectionate with time. It is hard not to look back at the 18 years Sprinkles lived in the large lion’s enclosure, but it does help fill the void watching Layla explore her new home and new friend.

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With each passing day, the two become more and more comfortable with one another. It is an amazing thing to witness. We wish them both many years of loving companionship.

Come on out to visit the new lovebirds!

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Our beloved Rasa has struggled with a painful dental condition for many years -- two of her large eye teeth (yes, they’re called ‘eye’ teeth) have grown in sideways. This not only makes eating difficult, but is also a major concern for her health and can even include the possibility of her teeth breaking off someday. As you could imagine, finding a dentist has been difficult.

Rasa xray
Tinkerbell is one of the oldest residents at CARE. At 19 years old, Tinkerbell had dental issues (like many cats her age), but we did not know how extensive they were until she was sedated and worked on.

Tink 2
Tink 1

Dr. Peter Emily (founder of this amazing organization) and his team arrived with smiles and an eagerness to get to work. This group is dedicated to helping animals in need of dental care. They provide their services free of charge to animals such as Rasa and Tinkerbell. Dr. Emily says, “If it has a mouth, we will work on it!” Dr Emily’s primary purpose in this visit wasn’t for him to work himself. His was mostly in an advisory and teaching role that day.

Dr. Emily is presently training a team of veterinary medical professionals from all over the country (pictured below). “There are many animals in need and I can’t do them all,” Dr Emily said, “…it is hard not to jump in and do the work myself.” Dr Emily’s expertise was necessary a few times when the team encountered a problem requiring a surgery method they’ve never seen before.

The team was amazing and a dream come true for all of us at CARE. A Big Thanks to all of you who have donated your time to give Tinkerbell and Rasa a better life! We at CARE are humbled by your selfless work. Please learn more and thank the doctors at PEIVDF on the web at www.peteremilyfoundation.org. Now our kitties can eat their dinner without their mouths hurting! Thanks PEIVDF! Also a Special Thank You goes out to Pizza Hut of Bridgeport for generously providing lunch to over 20 volunteers during the Surgery!

Read about the surgery on the PEIVDF website HERE.

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