February 27, 2012 - June 30, 2017
Loving Adoptive Parents: Gary, Debbie, Alexandra, and Justin Valdata – TX
Loving Sponsor: Jaisi Jiles - Anchor, IL
When 5 year old lion Mwali passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, the loss that CARE experienced was overwhelming...and so was the outpouring of love from everyone whom Mwali had touched in his young life. Because of how many people who were deeply impacted by him and his death, we could not just tell one story to memorialize Wali. We chose to include many stories from the people who worked with Mwali and knew him best. The below intern graduates, volunteers, board members, and CARE staff all took to social media following the announcement of Mwali's passing and posted their #MwaliMemories in an effort to come together from wherever they were to remember one of CARE's most iconic and lovable animals who left us far too soon.
Nicole Wahler: I still don't have words to explain the heartbreak of this loss. You were so young, so full of life. The last time I left CARE I would never of thought it would be the last time I would see you. You will forever be in everyone's hearts, the most beautiful lion I have ever seen, Mwali💕
Rachel Rossetti: As excited as I was to come to Maine I never wanted to leave the people and animals of CARE behind. The day I left, heidi and I talked about this, she knew how hard it was going to be and gave me a life lesson. No matter how long you'll be gone or how far away you'll be always say goodbye to your loved ones. Always say I love you. You never know when it will be your last. That night I went around to every single enclosure and said goodbye, I'll miss you, I love you, be good, and I'll see you soon!
As naive as it sounds while I was gone I pictured CARE to stay in a bubble, a bubble where nothing changes. So when I got back it would be like I never left. So I was in complete shock when I heard the news.
Mwali, you were our win. I'll never forget how many sleepless nights heidi sacrificed, researching to figure out why you stopped eating. Day in and day out hand feeding you and packing the ground meat full of vitamins. When you finally starting acting like yourself we would look at you with amazement, tears in our eyes and then look at each other.
I'm so sorry I wasn't there to say a final goodbye Mwali. I'm sorry I'm not there for Noel and all of the other babies grieving because the king is gone. I'm sorry I'm not there for Heidi. The one who sacrifices everything. It doesn't seem real.
I will miss everything about you, Mwali. Your stubbornness to lock up, how your mane smelled when it rained, your absolute beauty beyond any male lion I've ever seen. I'm so grateful to have gotten to help take care of you ❤️
Samantha Donth-Hancock: I am very rarely found without words, but here I sit mourning the loss of our Mwali and all I can think of are the broken hearts of every person who Mwali touched. Noel has lost a soulmate, Araali and Zuberi have lost a magnificent father, Heidi Berry-Krahn, Derek Krahn and family have lost a son/brother and CARE has lost our King. You will FOREVER be in our hearts and souls. Rest peacefully our dear king for you are loved.
Gary Valdata: My heart is literally torn in two pieces as yours is Heidi and the others in CARE's family. God creates life. Each one is precious and never needs to be taken for granted. Within a short period of time, my Mom, Sister, several friends younger than me and now Mwali have passed into eternity. All created spirits return to where they came from; the Heart of God! My only peace is to know I too will return to where they are one day and to love and cherish all my family, friends, and every other human or animal God created. Please strive to walk in love every day and never to take a precious life, like Mwali for granted! Love to All, Mwali's Dad. An Honor to say the least.
Mallory Pfeifer: We did not know that morning
What sorrow the day would bring,
The bitter grief and shock severe
To part with the one we love so dear.
You were gone before we knew it
Only God knows why.
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you did not go alone,
For part of us went with you
The day He called you home.
Though your roar is gone forever
And your mane we cannot touch,
We will never lose the memory
Of the one we love so much.
Rest Easy, Mwali ❤️
David Hancock: Our CARE family has lost our King. I find it difficult to express my emotions and thoughts at a time like this. I can say that for the CARE community we are at a loss for words. Mwali was only 5 years old, which makes his passing even more upsetting. I can say with confidence that he was a very loved and cherished cat at CARE. We will all miss you Mwali. We will smother Noel with love in hopes to ease her pain of your passing. I have spent the day reading all the post on all social media and I'm so thankful for the outpouring of support and love.
Brie Butler: Pictures could never do justice to the intensity, beauty, purity, and gentleness that your eyes held. Words could never express how much fulfillment, wholeness, and love you brought into my life. My heart will always ache for you Mwali❤️
Jade Kaylor: This sweet, goofy boy. No words are enough to describe his immense and awe-inspiring presence, or the feeling of sheer excitement when he roared. I can't explain the way it felt to fall into his big, amber eyes or hear the thundering as his giant paws hit the ground when he came running to you. The void that Mwali is leaving in this world is deeper than most.
Krista Cope: There are no words. I wish I had spent more time on the other side of your fence in April. I wish I had taken more photos of your beautiful face. I thought I would see you again, year after year. I cannot commemorate you with a single photo. You were too beautiful, too perfect. Your love for Noel couldn't be described. My heart aches once again; for CARE, for Noel, for everyone.
This will always be my favorite photo of the two of you that I had ever had the lucky pleasure of taking. You have no idea how much you are missed.
Melanie (Moe) Quain: No photo could ever give your beauty justice. I never thought that the last time I was at CARE would be the last time I saw you, I wish I made more time to visit. We'll all miss you Mwali, you'll forever be my favorite male model💕
Abby Boop: The most handsome lion in the world! He was an integral part of my tour and a personal fav! I loved to showcase his dark mane. I even had a joke in the tour about how the Lion King lied to us with Scar being the bad guy and having the dark mane. I like to say it was wrong b/c Mwali was awesome & his mane was dark.
Stephanie Cahoon: There will never be a lion with more beautiful highlights than Mr. Mwali. I am still in disbelief at the news that he is gone. I can't fathom not hearing his chatty voice from the fence or his powerful roars again. CARE lost such a vital part of the pride last week and my heart hurts but going through my pictures of him made me so happy to remember how goofy he was and how he loved to pose for the camera. Please keep everyone at CARE in your thoughts ❤
Morgan Cahill: Mwali: May the rainbow bride be layered in shoulder chunks, liver, and leg quarters. May there always be sunshine for you to bathe in. May your hair never have a bad day. May there be many high perches for you to roar that magnificent roar at the sight of your whole kingdom and the horizon. May you meet you ancestors, and enjoy a wonderful afterlife knowing there is nothing more that can hurt you.
If only these creatures knew the impact they have on us at C.A.R.E. They leave paw prints across our hearts that not enough people understand.
Melanie Klein: What a devastating loss. It's been such a shock and I am at a loss for words. I know I'm not the only one. The CARE family is mourning one of the most amazing lions to have ever walked this earth. It was such a pleasure to have been in his presence and see him grow up. Thank you Heidi and Rachel for spending 24/7 with Mwali last year when he was sick and not giving up on this boy. You are what CARE is all about!
Jamie Reed: I kept thinking over and over this isn't real but it's finally sinking in now, even if there is still a feeling of wrongness in the fact that you are gone.
From the first moment I saw you as a tiny, scruffy cub and all you wanted was to be held until just a few weeks ago when I felt your incredible roar in my face and was in awe of your power, I have adored you. Sweet, fierce, goofy and MAGNIFICENT boy. So MANY people loved you Wali, we always will.
Kelsey Prediger: It's hard to find the words when a life is suddenly gone. I will miss hearing your roar and silly greetings when I visit, it won't be the same. Heaven gained a true King! Here Mwali is enjoying the wind in his mane with his queen by his side. Rip buddy!
Lisa Thompson: Mwali, there is no way you could ever know how many lives you have impacted!! He made my life better!
Devin Root: I'll never forget you big guy. You were one of the sweetest, most gentle creatures I've ever encountered. You behaved as an honorable king should. You were a great father, husband, and son. I remember sitting with you for hours feeding you turkey meatballs when you were sick. You'd grumble at me, and I could never tell if you were happy or annoyed with me, but you ate them anyways. When you got healthy again, you and Noel used to argue over who got to say hi to me first whenever I showed up, and that made me feel very special. I wish I could have seen you more in your final months. You were a truly wonderful animal and an excellent ambassador for your species. Thank you for inspiring me. Sending love out to all my dear friends affected this loss. I'm always here if you need me. Sleep sweet, Mwali.
Beth Cinadr: Extremely saddened to hear of a tragic loss at CARE this week. Mwali the handsome lion. I was one of the lucky ones to have met such an important animal to CARE, and will never forget those moments that deepened my passion for these creatures.
Please keep lioness Noel and the entire CARE family in your thoughts and prayers.
Laura Frazier: Heartbroken doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling. I'll never forget my adventure with Heidi to bring this little dude home to CARE. He grew to be such a beautiful, regal lion. Mwali will always hold a very special place in my heart. Sending all my love to my CARE family, and my sweet baby Noey. I wish I was there to comfort you all ❤️
Mwali (Muh-wa-Lee, named ‘Thor’ at the time) was only two months younger than our baby Noel when we were contacted and told that he was in need of a home. What a perfect match! Both lion cubs were in desperate need of the companionship that they would provide to one another as they grew up. Heidi, CARE’s Executive Director, drove all the way from Texas to Indiana to pick up the new baby. He was fuzzy, cute, and most importantly, he was a SWEETHEART- which is such a relief when you are introducing new human caretakers into the equation.
Bringing the new little guy back home to CARE was a joyous yet nerve-wracking experience. He was good with people, but would he be good with Noel? A person can guess and estimate the outcome of introducing two cats all they want, but the truth is no one knows what will happen until they are put together.
Introducing big cats is a delicate thing even when they are babies. If they don’t like each other, for whatever reason, there is very little a human caretaker can do to remedy the situation. Taking in Mwali was a bit of a gamble, so the CARE staff were naturally a little nervous when the big moment of introduction came. Mwali (‘Wali’ for short) was placed on one side of a secured fence, and Noel was placed on the other. What followed could only be described as unbearable cuteness. Noel started acting like a blushing school girl. She hid behind the legs of the directors, tilting her head and making little ‘mauw!’ sounds at the handsome little boy. She would look at Wali, make a shy noise, then look up at the directors, make a noise, then look back at Wali and make another noise. It was precious!
Feeling that the last major hurdle was crossed, the directors opened the gate separating the two, and they did spectacular! Aside from a few instances of one telling the other to ‘please remove yourself from my personal space at this very moment’, they were very sweet to each other. From that moment on they began their journey of trust and togetherness and are an inseparable pair.
Mwali has grown into an incredibly impressive lion. He has unusual coloring and a magnificent mane (really, he has rock star hair)! He is just stunning and loves his Noel more than anything.
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.Read more
In the past six months, CARE has been hit with around $15,000 in veterinary bills for some of our sick and aging animals. We need to raise some funds to cover these costs, and what better way to do that than offer our supporters a 2 night stay in our luxury Safari Suites! We are also throwing in a one-year Sponsorship of any animal of your choosing.
The 2 Night Stay is open to any available dates. Includes breakfast and dinner, 24-hour concierge, pool & behind the scenes tours. During your visit you may choose any CARE resident to Sponsor for one year. Sponsorships include a certificate of thanks, a letter from your baby, an 8x10 high res photo, your name listed as a Sponsor on the animals' website bio, and the ability to visit your animal 4 times during the year. The raffle prize does not include travel or extras like massages, golfing, sailing, etc (although those can be arranged at additional cost). More details at wildanimalretreat.lodgify.com., Est. Value $2,600
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!
November 12, 1999 - April 29, 2017
Loving Adoptive Parents: Paul & Siena Hier – Show Low, AZ
Loving Sponsors: Pam Reed - Arlington, TX
From CARE Intern Graduate, Heather Fraser
Tawney had stolen a part of my heart from the moment that I saw her and it is terribly heartbreaking to know she is gone.
When I arrived at CARE in the spring of 2015, I was overwhelmed and in awe of the beautiful, amazing animals that I was going to have the opportunity to care for. When I met Tawney, something just instantly clicked. I could see her soul in her eyes. She was one of a kind and with just a few minutes with her I could tell that she could see my soul as well. We shared a bond that cannot ever be explained in words. I had never had such an apparent and wonderful connection with any other animal before, not to mention with a mountain lion.
When we were told we would be able to pick our top 3 to begin to spend time with, I immediately, without a doubt, knew Tawney would be my number 1. As my bond grew with her and the more experience that I gained while working with big cats, the more and more I fell in love. I would spent hours some days just sitting by her cage and letting her lick my hand through the fence.
There were tough days at CARE, days where you work from sun up to well after the sun goes down. On those days, where you had no energy at the end of the day to even crawl into bed, I would spend time with Tawney, even for just ten minutes and it would take all of the stress away.
Tawney was the sweetest girl and she loved love. She could have the most intimidating stare but once she saw you she would make her duck like squawk and come running over to get attention. She would just sit right next you and purr so loud and look at you with the most incredible eyes that I have ever seen.
Tawney loved attention so much, she was actually the hardest to photograph for me because the second she saw me coming she would get up and run over so fast I would never get the chance to capture her. I would give anything to have the feeling of trying to snap a photo of her and hearing her ridiculous squawk and purr again!
Tawney, wherever you are now, I hope you are surrounded by love every single day, like you were at CARE. You will forever have a very large piece of my heart.
April 22, 2002 - April 24, 2017
Loving Adoptive Parent: Stephanie McCollum - Hurst, TX
Loving Sponsor – Blythe Holzgraefe – Southlake, TX
Written by Krista Cope, CARE Intern Graduate
There are animals that steal a part of your heart, and then there are animals who steal a part of your soul.
Flash was beautiful. He was kind, and gentle. He loved. When people speak of Flash, you are likely to hear how he cared for his love; his Lily. I’d like to think that Flash could see the pain, the hurt that needed healing. I say this, because that is when Flash entered my life.
Five years ago, I was introduced to a “snuffle”. I was then asked to make the sound myself. I thought, “well, this is impossible and none of these cats are ever going to like me.” As it turned out, a lot of them liked me. Two in particular were named Calamity and Beast. I lost both of those cats within the same week. You realize, for the first time, that a walk around the compound is never the same when a cat passes; but you may find yourself unexpectedly being drawn to another cat. For instance: a big, chubby white one. Flash seemed to immediately take an interest in me, and I fell in love with his personality and his snuffles. No matter how long the gap of time between visits, he was always happy to see me, always eager to jump down from his favorite platform to snuffle a hello. Once, I accidentally made him jealous and he ignored me for an entire week. He eventually forgave me, but it was torture watching him snub me and give his attention to other volunteers. We eventually found cancer, but Flash was always so strong and resilient. He was always there, in his enclosure, on his platform, waiting.
When you have known for a while that your favorite cat is sick, a phone call can wreak havoc on your world. I received that phone call a few weeks before he passed. Heidi strongly suggested I do everything in my power to get myself to Texas to say goodbye. So, I did. I knew when I saw him that he was on borrowed time, and I will forever be grateful to Heidi for willing him to live an extra few days so that I could be there for him, the way he had been there for me. It had been two full years since I had last seen him, and he held that against me for an entire day. He seemed happy to see me, of course, but it wasn’t until my second day of sitting by his side that he finally showered me with the chorus of snuffles that I had so longed to hear. I slept next to him for three days, and the morning I left CARE to return home, I told him how much I loved him, how much I will always love him, how badly I will miss him, and that he needed to let go and be with his love; his Lily. He looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes, and snuffled his final goodbye to me before I had to leave.
There are people who love these animals with their hearts, and then there are people who willingly surrender a piece of themselves, with the silent understanding that it will remain entwined with that animal’s soul forever.
Happy New Year!
New Year’s Day is a time to reflect on the last 365 days, acknowledge losses and trials, rejoice in successes and happiness, and to set goals and plan for the next year – in hopes of making the New Year better than the last.
Around the globe, 2016 has been a trying year for many. There have been a lot of changes, challenges, and of course loss.
But, 2016 had some amazing moments as well, especially here at CARE! We want to look back and remember our top 7 moments in the past year!
1. Here at CARE, 2016 began with a new arrival to the CARE family, Bobbie! A former pet whose family wanted a more suitable home for her, Bobbie has fit into the CARE family wonderfully and is tremendously loved!
2. CARE’s Operations Director Derek, aka Big Cat Derek, was nominated for a Shorty Award! Derek has helped raise awareness for our organization tremendously over the last few years, and are so happy that he was honored in this way.
3. Spring brought the annual Furry Fiesta, and the attendees raised a record-breaking $18,750 for CARE. CARE committed to sharing 25% of that amount with a DFW domestic cat rescue and TNR clinic who was able to use that funding to save the lives of numerous homeless cats! We remember what it was like to really, really struggle as a small non-profit, and we remember those that helped us. It was time to pay it forward!
4. This year, for the first time ever, we were able to pay two full-time staff members – our Executive Director Heidi was finally able to be paid a salary and we created the position of CARE Curator, which intern-graduate Rachel Rossetti now fills. You cannot imagine what a huge thing this is for a non-profit that spent its first 12 years as a 100% volunteer organization!
5. Coming off of our major fundraiser at the end of 2015, we were able to build a brand new enclosure for Boomer and Slade, a custom indoor addition for the special needs Araali and Zuberi, and construct the Safari Suites which will bring in sustainable funding for the facility! We also welcomed our first guests in these suites with great success! *Remember, you can book you stay in the suites at wildanimalretreat.lodgify.com
6. We had several scout groups and volunteer groups come out to complete service projects that included work on several enclosures, improvements to the lemur housing, and the construction of a new llama shelter (after the old one blew away in a storm).
7. Last, but certainly not least, at the end of the year we were able to rescue four young tigers – Divali, Nadal, Naya, and Shaanti – who desperately needed a forever home. Their happiness and comfort that they have shown since their first moments here is the greatest gift we could receive!
More than anything this year, we saw an overwhelming amount of support from you. Every time we asked for supplies for the animals, you sent them! Every time we held a fundraiser or were in a pinch financially, you gave! And, every step of the way this year, you supported our work and showed your love for the animals we all hold so near and dear to our hearts. You have made it possible for us to achieve all that we have this year, and we thank you – from the bottom of our hearts – for that.
On this first day of 2017, we are already thinking about all the amazing things we have planned for the next 365 days. In the upcoming months, we aim to rebuild the large front enclosure to move the new boys – Divali and Nadal – into so the girls can have both sides of the enclosures they are in now. Until that time, you can still give to our Giving Fund to make sure they have what they need at this time.
We want to begin work on our “bobcastle”, a custom habitat for our 3 bobcats that will give them more space, more fun stuff to do, and more privacy – which bobcats tend to need. We hope to make it large and roomy enough that we will be able to take in more bobcats as needed.
We would like to build additional lemur housing to not only give our group of three – Rita, Mort, and Miss Stewart – more room, but also be able to take in some of the lemurs we get almost monthly calls about. Sadly, there is a tremendous need for lemurs that have been bought as pets to be rehomed, and right now, we do not have the ability to do that.
We also plan to continue building our support base, increasing our volunteer group, seeking long-term donors and corporate sponsors, increase our education program to reach more people and help create new advocates for animal welfare, and to build important partnerships that will further our mission and help animals everywhere.
Of course, our main goal will never change. If nothing else, we will continue to provide the best home and give the best care we possibly can to the animals already here. Can we count on you for your help? We hope we can, because we can’t do it alone!
Thank you for making 2016 such an important year for CARE and we hope each and every one of you has a wonderful, successful, and bright 2017!!
Love and thanks,
The CARE Family
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!
Heidi and the CARE FamilyRead more
Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) is announcing our 2016 Fall Festival!
JOIN US FOR OUR FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR!
Come celebrate the fall season during a special fall-time tour of the facility and event to raise funds for CARE’s 40+ lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, bobcats, lemurs, and llamas!
DATES: NOVEMBER 5th, 6th, 12th, & 13th!
TIMES: Festivities start at 12pm & 3pm on Saturdays and 1pm on Sundays with time for refreshments and activities before the tour begins (activities and tours usually last 2-3 hours).
The whole facility will be decorated for the season and the cats are most active during the cooler autumn months. Bring the whole family to give special gifts for the animals to receive and play with, get a tour of the facility and hear about each unique animal, watch the animals run and play with their presents, and more!!
- Fun for the Cats: The big cats of CARE will receive gifts of pumpkins, treat filled boxes, and pinatas to play with. A few cats will even get to play "bobbing for pumpkins" which is their favorite fall enrichment game!
- Fun for Us: We will have special educational activities for the whole family, games, prizes, and refreshments in addition to the extra-special CARE tour and gift giving! Visitors 18 years and older will have the opportunity to give some of the cats their favorite snack and even play Tug-O-War with one of the big cats to see just how strong they are (believe us, its as fun for them as it is for us)!
- AMAZING RAFFLE! This year we have an extra special raffle that includes 2 round trip tickets on Southwest Airlines and a 2 night stay in our Safari Suites (for 2 people). You can get more information and tickets below. The winner will be drawn after the tour on the 13th. You do not have to be present to win.
We ask for a donation of $20 for adults and $15 for children under 12 (all ages welcome). We encourage you to make your donation and reserve your spot in advance (through PayPal below). Your donation will help support our non-profit facility in providing a good home to these amazing animals! *Please make sure you carefully select your date and time.
Please let us know if you have any questions and we look forward to seeing you there!
*Feel free to click on the below flyers, print, and pass around to your friends and family!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Nestled 16 feet above the lion and tiger enclosures, the newly built Safari Suites are the non-animal crown jewel of CARE.
Imagine dining in your luxurious accommodations above CARE’s beautiful lions lazing in the Texas sunset....
....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.
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
- 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!
- 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! Read more
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:
We just want to announce the very special birthday of CARE's oldest cat, black leopard Ace! Ace turned 20 on July 14th, 2016, which is a huge accomplishment!
Leopards live around 10-15 years in the wild, but can live up to 17-20 years in captivity. We are so happy to have such a distinguished older gentleman here at CARE.
Ace has spent his whole life at this facility. He was born here in 1996, as was his half-brother Spotty (both shown below as babies).
Ace spent many years with a female leopard named Shila. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2009.
Since then Ace has been a bachelor, which has been okay since he is a very independent and sometimes aloof, guy. However, he has a few favorite people that he enjoys spending time with. He particularly likes the ladies and can be downright "grumpy" towards many men. Many of our followers think that he is always a grump, but that is not the case! He can be an incredibly affectionate and lovely with his close friends.
With his beautiful dark coat, Frank Sinatra eyes, and unique look and personality, he is a very special guy. Happy birthday old man! We hope you have many more with us!
The 2016 2nd grade class at Bridgeport Elementary School presented CARE's executive director with a check for $1,123 for the adoption of Boomer this year. The money was raised by the class as they learned about big cats.
The 2nd grade class came out to CARE for a tour earlier this month and now each have a pass so that they can come out with their family and introduce them to their new adopted tiger.
Photo courtesy of Derek Krahn
The kids also participated in a big cat themed coloring and essay contest. The winners in each category will have their work displayed in CARE's Welcome Center for all to enjoy.
We want to thank the teachers, administrators, parents, and especially the kids for their amazing gift to CARE!
Many times what you read on the internet concerning big cats is full of fallacies, myths, and outdated information. But, we ran across an article that has fantastic information in it, and is fairly accurate! We wanted to share these 21 amazing facts about tigers with you (with a few small edits and notes)! They really are remarkable animals....but we have known that all along!
1. A tiger’s legs are so powerful that they can remain standing even when dead…Tigers have been known to have been shot, bleed out, and die, all while standing up. Pretty crazy.
2. They are the largest of all the big cats, weighing up to 700 pounds
3. If you look a tiger in the eyes he is less likely to kill you…Tigers prefer to hunt by ambush. Because of this, men in India often wear masks on the back of their head with a second face to keep tigers from sneaking up on them.
4.Tigers are completely blind for the first week of their life. About half do not survive to adulthood
5. The white spot on the back of their ears is called an ocelli (eye-like marking)
6. Tigers have antiseptic saliva
7. Tiger’s tongues make our tongues look pretty sad…The tiger’s tongue is covered with numerous small, sharp, rear-facing projections called papillae. These papillae gives the tongue a rough, rasping texture and is designed to help strip the skin, feathers, fur and meat right off prey. They have been known to lick the paint right off the walls of their enclosures in the zoo.
8. Tigers are mostly solitary creatures…Tigers are solitary animals, and it is actually fairly rare to see them group together in the wild. The exception to this, of course, is a mother and her cubs.
9. They’re nicer than lions (when it comes to eating)…Unlike lions, who would fight to the death over a kill, when a tiger crosses paths with another tiger while hunting, they often share the meal together. Also, when several tigers are present at a kill, the males will wait for females and cubs to eat first, again, unlike lions, which do the opposite. Tigers rarely argue or fight over a kill and simply wait turns.
10. Tigers have very diverse diets…Tigers feed on deer antelope, wild boar, and buffalo. But did you know they also eat a variety of birds, fish, rodents, small elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, and even leopards?
11. Tigers do not normally view humans as prey…Tigers will only attack a human in the wild if they feel threatened. Or if they’re really really hungry and you look delicious. 😉 But seriously, if you were to ever encounter a tiger in the wild, slowly back far, far away while keeping eye contact with him. Chances are you’re in his territory and he wants you to leave more than he wants to eat you.
12. A backhand from a tiger can kill you…While tigers prefer to use their massive teeth to crush their victim’s neck (lovely!), a single strike is enough to do the job. One swipe from a tiger’s front paw is strong enough to smash a bear’s skull and even break its spine.
13. Tigers have been known to imitate the call of other animals to successfully attract prey
14. Tigers have a brain that weighs over 300g…It is one of the largest brains of all carnivores.
15. Tigers are adept swimmers…Unlike almost all other big cats (except jaguars), they enjoy bathing and often play in the water. As adults, they often swim several kilometers to hunt or to cross rivers.
16. They have an amazing short term memory…Cats in general have been found to have a better memory than most animals, being at least 200 times better than dogs. Tigers’ short-term memory alone lasts about thirty times longer than humans’, and their memories are made with stronger brain synapses, meaning that they can remember more and do not forget things as easily as we do. *We didn't find conclusive research data validating this, but we believe it! We have seen time and time again here at CARE how long the tigers remember things. Never upset a tiger, they will never forget that you did!
17. There were once nine subspecies of tigers: Now only 6 remain…Three subspecies of tiger have been killed off in the last 80 years.
18. The Balinese tiger was purposely hunted to extinction…Due to the Balinese cultural belief that tigers were a destructive force, they were culled until their extinction. Below is one of the few known photographs of a Bali tiger.
19. There are a greater number of tigers in captivity in the US alone than there are wild tigers left on earth. *This includes tigers in zoos, sanctuaries, as well as private ownership. And, this also includes all of the U.S., not just backyards in Texas which is a common myth.
20. The white tiger was eradicated in the wild due to trophy hunting or capture for the exotic pet ownership…There have been no recorded sightings of these rare Bengal tiger variants in the wild for the past 50 years. Today, the white tiger can only be found in captivity.
21. It has been estimated that the last remaining subspecies of tigers could become extinct in the wild in as little as 15 years…We have lost 97% of the wild tiger population in the last century, and numbers continue to get lower.
Original content found at http://slightlyviral.com/amazing-facts-about-tigers/Read more
Furry Fiesta Comes Through Again
For the past 8 years, the Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) has been the chosen charity of the annual Furry Fiesta, a DFW area convention for anthropomorphic art, science fiction, and fantasy fans. Through the years the attendees of the convention have donated tens of thousands of dollars to CARE to help provide for the 40+ big cats and other exotic animals that call the facility home. The generosity of this animal-loving group has been beyond incredible, and at times has been the only thing that kept the CARE organization from an empty bank account. So, this year, CARE wanted to pay back that kindness and generosity by paying it forward.
CARE staff approached the Furry Fiesta directors with a proposal to invite another animal related non-profit to the convention and to share a percentage of the total donations with them. CARE felt like we had the big cats covered, but that some little kitties could use some help too - so we chose a group called FAAS, based in Arlington, TX.
FAAS was started when a group of people heard about the Arlington, TX animal services immediately euthanizing all feral and stray cats that it trapped. These people wanted to step in and try instead to spay/neuter them, rehab them if they were hurt or sick, and release them back to where they were picked up so they would have a chance at life.
Since then, they have grown to have a very active TNR (trap-neuter-return) clinic where the goal is to reduce the number of free-roaming cat populations. An estimated 7,000 cats have been TNRed in Arlington by FAAS. 4,100 have been spayed or neutered at the Snip & Tip Clinic. An additional 2,200 cats have been rescued from the Arlington Animal Services. This has resulted in an increase in the cat live release rate from 24% to 80% and has reduced the intake at animal services by 2,000 cats a year.
FAAS also has an education program where they encourage pet owners to have their cats fixed and tell people about "community cats" - feral cats that roam freely and should be considered wildlife, just like squirrels or raccoon.
Trapped feral cats waiting for vetting so that they may be re-released or relocated to a safer area.
FAAS attended the Furry Fiesta event with CARE in March where they were overwhelmed by the kindness and enthusiasm of the 2,820 convention attendees. These generous convention-goers ended up donating a whopping $17,970 and CARE committed to sharing 25% of that with FAAS.
On April 24th, 2016 CARE’s Board President, Jamie Reed, stopped by to present a check for $4,500 to the FAAS Clinic manager, Becky.
While there, Jamie got to meet and learn about some of the cats that this amount will directly help. While TNR and education are the main focus of the FAAS group, it isn’t the only service they provide. FAAS also traps abandoned strays or finds adoptable kitties at shelters that are on the euthanasia list and takes them in with the hopes of finding them loving homes. Quite a few of these unwanted cats have health issues – illnesses and injuries – that must be addressed before they have a chance at being adoptable. 100% of the donations from Furry Fiesta will go towards the veterinary treatment of these cats.
Gandalf is a sweet 10 year-old male who was found abandoned in an apartment complex. When he was picked up, he had severe stomatitis – it was so bad he would growl and cry every time he tried to eat even wet, mushy food. He had to have every single one of his teeth pulled and is now a much happier guy now who will be a great companion to someone.
Snowflake is another 10 year-old who was dumped at a trailer park along with several other cats. He has stomatitis as well and has to have 18 teeth removed.
Timmy is yet again a sweet boy with stomatitis and is waiting to have his painful teeth removed (that is why his little tongue is sticking out).
Rebecca was trapped and was very, very sick. She needs to go to the vet to get a diagnosis on her left eye so she can receive treatment.
Dizzy came from a hoarder. All of the cats that came in this group have immune system problems. Dizzy and his brother both have eye problems that need to be checked out.
And there are many, many more that need attention. Most importantly, they need homes. The cats at the FAAS clinic are all special needs which means that most shelters and rescue groups would not consider them adoptable. But, there is no reason that they can’t make a great companion to either the right person with a little bit of extra patience or even the companion of another pet. All they need is a little extra TLC – like Gomez:
Gomez was trapped as a feral – and was incredibly wild! There seemed to be no chance that he would ever be okay with people until a magic little mouse came along. FAAS staff and volunteers started playing with him with a small mouse toy with a long tail. He was mesmerized by that tail, and started becoming more comfortable with the people playing with him. Now, he is a clinic favorite and begs to be held and pet by his adoring “staff”. Gomez will make a wonderful friend to someone – but beware, FAAS will not let him go easily. They are waiting for a very special person to love this very special cat!
Please consider contacting FAAS at www.faastexas.org if you are interested in giving one of these slighty imperfect, yet absolutely wonderful cats at FAAS a furr-ever home!Read more
Bobbie (short for Bobigail) came to CARE in January of 2016 when her family, who had kept her as a pet since she was a baby, wanted to provide her with a more suitable home.
Bobbie and a sibling had been found as orphans when a rancher shot their mother. The rancher kept one of the bobcat kittens and gave the other away. Young Bobbie eventually came to be with the family that she would spend the next 4 years with. She spent the first part of her life in the house with the family and the family pets. Eventually she was housed in an outdoor enclosure.
Bobbie was loved and cared for, but a domestic home is no place for a wild cat. And, the family was unable to spend enough time with Bobbie and give her the interaction that she needed as a captive raised cat.
While Bobbie has only been at CARE a very short while, we have seen her sweet personality - she welcomes her CAREkeepers with chirps, trills, and rubs. We have also seen her wild side, she is an excellent hunter who is doing a tremendous job of keeping her enclosure mice-free! She has settled in far better than we ever expected, even being neighbors with some of the largest residents at CARE - several huge white tigers including the giant Kannapalli!
Right now, as she adjusts to her new home, she has her human CAREkeepers to interact with. But, eventually we would love to move her closer to Max and Mia - and maybe even in with them - so that she has other bobcats to keep her company.Read more
Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) is announcing our annual Fall Festival!
November 7th, 8th, and 14th!
During the festivities you will experience an up close and personal tour of the facility learning all about the big cats and lemurs. The animals will play with pumpkins and chase presents that are specially made for them by our visitors. The facility will be decked out for the fall season as we welcome in the big cat’s favorite time of year.
Fun for the Cats: The big cats will run, jump and play with their pumpkins and have specially made presents (with treats inside) tossed to them to chase. Our cats love the cooler weather in the fall and get extra frisky!
Fun for Us: Games, refreshments, face-painting, prizes, arts and crafts, treats, and the present toss will be tons of fun for the whole family.
Visitors 18 years old or older will have the opportunity to feed the cats their favorite snack…chicken treats! Plus, we are bringing back the big cat bobbing for pumpkins.........
.....and the Tiger Tug-of-War for adults. You can test your strength against one of our massive tigers. It’s all fun and games to them! Bring your cameras, this will be a memorable experience for all!
Festival Dates: November 7th, 8th, and 14th!
Times: Festivities start at 12pm and 3pm on Saturdays and 1pm on Sunday with time for fun and games before the tour begins.
We ask for a donation of $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12. You can make your donations in advance below.
You can also enter our fantastic raffle, for a donation of $5 per ticket, online HERE! Prizes include Two night stays at the Dallas Crowne Plaza Hotel, subscriptions to Bark Box, gift certificate, tickets to sporting events and more. We will continue to add prizes as they come in until the last day of the festival.
Admission Tickets: Choose quantities during checkout.
Please let us know if you have any questions and we look forward to seeing you there!Read more
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!
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.
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
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.
Clyde and our beloved Sampson are elevated high above the main gate.
The lemurs thank our visitors for their generous support.
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!Read more
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.Read more
We would like for you to help CARE welcome our newest resident, bobcat Mia!
On June 3rd, 2015, 9 year-old Carlos Perez and his family discovered the tiny kitten on a construction site. They did the right thing by waiting a day to see if the mother would come back for her kitten. Once she didn’t, they took her home and called us to see if we could take her in. Executive Director, Heidi Krahn, rushed to their home in Paradise, TX not knowing what to expect. Was she sick, injured, afraid or was it just a tabby kitten mistaken for a bobcat? When Heidi arrived, she knew it was definitely a bobcat, around 8-10 weeks old. She looked dehydrated, but other than that, healthy. Carlos had taken very good care of her, he had even built her a little “habitat” to stay in. The most surprising thing about the situation was that she was perfectly at home in the family’s arms. They were sad to see her go, especially young Carlos, but knew that it was the best thing for her.
The baby purred the whole way back to CARE. Initially, because of her complete lack of fear around people, Heidi thought she might have been a pet. But, certain behaviors made it seem more likely that she was separated from her mother. We think the separation occurred because of all the floods here in N. Texas. Carlos had asked if he could name her Mia, so we officially are calling her Mia de la Trinity in honor of the little boy who took care of her and the Trinity river that was responsible for much of the flooding in our area.
Unfortunately, because she bonded so quickly with the people who found her and is completely comfortable with anyone and everyone, we feel it too dangerous to try and rehab her and re-release her to live in the wild. Her disposition and lack of fear means she will likely always seek out people as a source of food and comfort. We will give her the best home we can though and we already adore her. She is bright and active and is already at home here.
*As a reminder, if you do find any wildlife, especially babies – please do not remove them from where they are. Often times, their mothers are nearby. If you notice that their mother has not come back, please do not pick them up! Wild animals can carry many diseases, and even brief contact with people can lead to them not having a chance of being rehabbed and released. Call local authorities or a rescue in your area who will know what to do next.Read more
This week's Lone Star Adventure takes us to a North Texas animal sanctuary that has a world-wide following on the internet. With hundreds of thousands of devoted fans who have never been there. But you are welcome to visit. At CARE, the Center for Animal Research and Education near Bridgeport, Texas.Read more
We asked a group of current and past interns to share a little about their unique experiences while at CARE. Many of them might be familiar faces, as several intern graduates are now regular volunteers here.
CARE's intern program is a 4 month long, intensive training session typically for students who are enrolled in a 4 year degree program or have recently graduated from college. Most are interested in various fields working with animals (specifically big cats), although many go on to do other things.
Interns gain practical experience working with exotic animals, and are involved with our educational and research programs. Interns at CARE assist with feeding, cleaning, animal health, animal management, behavioral studies, chemical immobilization, record keeping, assisting in construction and habitat modification, public speaking, fundraising and related activities. Interns are also involved with the volunteer and tour program.
Find out more about internships HERE!
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.
….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.
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!!Read more
May 19, 2015 CARE Survives Major Storms in Wise County
Links to news coverage for the damaging storms that rolled through Wise County the night of 5/18/2015. CARE suffered broken power poles, loss of power, downed trees, flooding, and lots of debris. Fortunately people and animals were safe and sound after the storm passed.Read more
I first met Arctic as a young graduate student seeking to understand the genetic differences between the great cats of genus Panthera. He was a full grown, romping boy who was eager to seek attention from passers-by; and oh-so vocal! I had heard every vocalization by a member of Panthera, but his enthusiastic yowl become immediately and indelibly etched on my memory. My wife Crystal and I had the privilege to stay for a few nights at C.A.R.E. as we met other rescues in the area and discussed our research. Arctic was our first sight in the morning, our last sound at night, and forever changed my perspective as a researcher. In the sterile environment of a laboratory it is impossible to appreciate the magnificence of such a unique member of our planet. Even my close colleague Jan Janecka, who studies snow leopards in the wilds of Mongolia and Bhutan as a field biologist, had never seen such majesty in the flesh until he met Arctic...and boy did we see him. He was truly a sight to behold for biologist and animal lover alike.
The height of his leaps and the precision of his steps were mesmerizing, echoing the treacherous Himalayas and other high-reaches untouched by civilization where his species traverses with ease. Though Arctic’s closest cross-species relative is the tiger, it was astounding how different these two truly are. He reinforced in me an iron resolve that each individual representation of life residing with us on this planet deserves the aid of mankind in order to assist them in their journey forward in time. As we continue to see wild populations across the animal kingdom diminish and move toward extinction, this cannot be denied by responsible beings. His environment in captivity was luxurious and his care was impeccable. His life was full and his interactions with humans a joy. However, as with all life, the inexorable progress of biology took hold. Despite intense veterinary surveillance, the microorganisms that cause so many of us to fall did so with Arctic.
Though do not think his will to survive ended there. He will be forever recorded in the annals of scientific endeavor though a detailed recording of the genetic complexity within each part of his body. The very nature of his physical being will be accessible for others to understand. As geneticists seek to deduce the mechanisms that make each species and individual novel unto themselves, we need look no further for proof of his life than research asking the question: “what makes a snow leopard unique?”. In this dawning age of personal human genomics, Arctic is an irreplaceable pioneer who will provide the foundation by which others of his species will be studied. He will be missed by those who knew him in life, but he will be known by far more as the record of his life becomes the seed for innumerable future discoveries.
Thank you Arctic.
Brian W. Davis, Ph.D.
Exotic Genome Project / American Captive Exotic Feline Repository
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National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institutes of Health
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just in time for the holidays, CARE is so happy to share a little joy!
Although we have had our hands full for the last few months, we can't forget what our mission and purpose is here at CARE. We are here to provide animals in need with the best quality and most loving home and care that can be provided. So, when we were contacted by an individual with two baby tiger cubs looking for a good, life-long home, we could not say no.
Please meet these two (yet unnamed) baby boy tigers. They are 8 weeks old, and to say they are a handful is an understatement! But, they are healthy, happy, and completely adjusted to their new home and CAREtakers (and they are just about the most precious little snufflers in the world).
We will be giving you lots more information (and pics) very soon, so we ask that you please be patient with us on questions about the cubs. We have a big cat daycare situation going on, and on top of caring for 50 other adult animals, it is a struggle keeping up with inquires at the moment. Stay tuned and we promise you will see and hear a lot of more of these two!
These boys are spunky and are constantly on the move, but we were able to get them to sit still long enough for a quick photo session.
So, Season's Greetings from CARE's newest residents and all the other tigers, lions, leopards, llama, cougars, lemurs, and coati!
This Thanksgiving all of us at CARE are thankful for so many things, least of all the hard work and support of all our volunteers, donors, and visitors!
We ended up having the most successful Fall Festival ever this year. We had record breaking crowds.....
And tried out some new ideas, like bobbing for pumpkins with the cats......
Here is a recap of the event, fun was had by all!!
Everyone who helped out, came out to the event, donated, participated in our raffle, and helped get the word out helped the center raise over $14,000!!! That funding will not only help us get through the winter months when donation and tours are slow, but it will help us get some much needed projects done around the compound. A very special thanks goes to the Bridgeport Index and Wise County Messenger who featured the event in their papers. We have to also mention the AMAZING front page article that the Fort Worth Star Telegram published on our annual fundraiser. Because of them we met so many new people who have never heard of us before!
We also had a very successful raffle this year, the first time ever doing it strictly online, and we are happy to announce the winners HERE!
Last, but not least, we had the grand-opening of our new Welcome Center during the Fall Festival and we cannot even begin to tell you how amazing it was! We had an area for people to come in out of the not-so-nice weather we experienced for half of the dates, a gift shop where people could pick up our awesome new t-shirts with the designs from the t-shirt logo contest, and an office where we had a cash register and computers to help with checking people out and keeping everything organized. With as many people as we had this year, we honestly do not know how we would have managed it without this space!
We have to make a HUGE point to thank everyone who worked on the Welcome Center in the months prior to the Festival:
Krista Cope, Dakota Krahn, Nicole Wahler, Triple B Builders (Bryan Berry Sr., Brian Berry Jr., and Richie), Dave Brown, Dustin Krahn, Ellie Opdahl, Darrion Riggs, Brad Higgins, Derek Krahn, Denice and Rich Hazlewood, 84 Lumber in Chandler, AZ, Heidi Krahn, Nicole Lounsbury, Ashley Morales, Daniel Byrum, Melanie Quain, and Destiny Krahn.
Also, thank you to David Hancock and many others for completing the new lemur expansion at the same time construction was going on with the Welcome Center. And thank you to J.D. and Lisa Thompson for donating a huge, beautiful executive desk for the Welcome Center office.
We know we are missing many who also helped, and especially those who contributed financially to the project. Thank you, thank you, thank you, again and again for your generosity. We are entering a new phase at CARE, and it is so exciting. We have healthy and happy animals, with full bellies and a safe and loving future ahead of them. We absolutely, without a doubt, could not be where we are today without each and every one of you.
So, again, this Thanksgiving we are giving thanks for YOU!Read more
Dr. Frank Mendel, a professor at the University of Buffalo, has been conducting research at CARE for close to 10 years.
He sits down with us for a very impromptu interview to tell us a little about the nature of his research and how CARE fits in.
Part of CARE's mission (and name) is research. We have a strong belief in partnering with researchers, scientists, and animal care professionals to help further our knowledge and understanding of the different species in our care. The more we know, the better equipped we are to provide excellent care and even solve illnesses and issues that plague these animals both in captivity and in the wild. All of the research that is performed at CARE is minimally invasive, meaning the animals may be aware that something is going on, but they are never caused prolonged stress, pain, or discomfort.
How CARE feeds - As mentioned in the interview, CARE feeds our big cats in a very special way. Most facilities feed a processed meat product on a daily basis. The product contains all the nutritional elements that the cats need, but we have found that feeding whole animal parts on a fasting schedule (meaning they eat every 2-4 days like they would in the wild) has distinct advantages. The animals that serve as food for our cats are mostly made up of cows and horses. These animals are always either already deceased or are aging, ill, injured, or otherwise need to be humanely put down. These animals are donated to us by ranchers and private owners in the community. We butcher the carcasses on site and feed the cats virtually all of the parts. The cats have to bite through hide, hair, muscle, sinew, and bone. Not only does this help keep their jaws, connective tissue, and other muscle groups strong, it keeps their teeth exceptionally clean and healthy, meaning that the cats usually live longer, healthier lives. We see very little gum disease or build-up on our cats' teeth here.
CARE also saves local ranchers approximately $150,000 per year in livestock disposal fees. In turn, these donations save CARE thousands of dollars a week in food costs for the cats. It is a win-win situation for all involved and a more natural, less wasteful way of feeding the big cats.Read more
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!Read more
CARE currently provides a home to 2 female cougars. One of them, Cassie, is becoming an internet sensation due to her popular "squeaks" on the social media app, Vine. And the other, Tawney, is pretty special too since she is Cassie's mom (and a really sweet girl). In celebration of our two feisty felines, we wanted to tell you a little bit about their amazing species!
The cougar (Puma concolor) is a cat with many names. They are called pumas, mountain lions, catamounts, Florida panthers, deer tigers, American lions, painters, and many, many others! In fact, cougars hold a Guinness world record as having the most common names of any animal. The reason they have so many names is that they have the largest range of any animal in the Americas. They have lived as far north as the Canadian Yukon and as far south as the southern Andes. The large range is due to their amazing ability to adapt to almost any environment. That also means that the people that live in all those different places have called the cats by many different names.
However, just because these animals have a large range, does not mean that they are not in danger. The wild cat conservation group, Panthera, says:
"Though the cougar is an adaptable and resilient cat, and occupies every major habitat type of the Americas, it was eliminated from the entire eastern half of North America and most of Patagonia within the 200 years following European colonization."
Photo courtesy of Panthera.org
In fact, as Cause an Uproar reports, by the 1970's U.S. cougars were only found in Florida and sparse pockets of the west. In more recent years more prey and better management has led to expansion and recolonization in the Midwest.
According to Panthera, the cougar is listed as "Least Concern" because it is so widespread. However, despite reports that cougars are increasing in portions of the U.S., the species is considered to be declining overall.
So what do declining numbers of cougars mean? Cougars are “umbrella” species used to identify and preserve wildlife corridors and natural landscapes, as well as keystone species vital to ecosystem health and diversity. A "keystone species" has a critical affect on it's ecosystem where their presence or disappearance determines the numbers and types of many other species in that environment. For instance, a predator like the cougar keeps the numbers of herbivores down. If that does not happen, then herbivore numbers explode and eliminate resources like different plant species and water sources. This, in turn, prevents other species (including people) from being able to find the resources they need to survive. The disappearance of a keystone species can literally destroy an ecosystem and many of its inhabitants.
If that is not reason enough that these animals are worth protecting, they are also amazing creatures! Did you know that despite their size, the cougar does not meet all of the criteria to be considered a "big cat"? The genus name Panthera (where the term "panther" comes from) means "big cat". Panthera is a genus within the Felidae family and consists of lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars. Even though cougars can become larger than some leopards, they do not belong to the Panthera family at all. Instead they belong to a separate genus that is more closely related to your house cat than they are to a lion or jaguar. An easy way to tell if a big cat is a "Big Cat" is if the animal purrs or roars. All Panthera cats roar, like lions, but they can't purr. All non-Panthera cats purr (like cougars, cheetahs, and domestic cats), but do not roar! Cougars make a lot of other sounds too like screams, squeaks, meows, hisses, spitting, and growling.
Cougars are also amazing athletes. Cougars have been known to jump as high as 18 feet straight up into the air (Cassie will often hit the high roof of her enclosure) and jump as far as 40-45 feet horizontally. They can run between 40 and 50 mph too! They are excellent climbers, which help them avoid other predators and hunt in areas that their main competition, wolves, cannot get to. They also have huge paws, with their front feet being larger to help them land when jumping and hold onto prey.
Some other interesting facts about cougars is that they are typically solitary, only seen together for mating and when a female is raising her cubs (often called kittens). When baby cougars are born, they are covered in spots which they lose as they get older. Cubs tend to stay with their moms 1 1/2 to 2 years to learn how to hunt and take care of themselves. typically live 8 - 13 years in the wild. Isn't it amazing that most of the cougars living at CARE have lived to 17 - 20 years old!! That's almost double their normal life expectancy!
You can learn more about the amazing cougar and how some organizations are working to ensure their survival in the wild below.
As you may have noticed our CARE family has experienced tremendous loss over the past few years. It is sad to see the empty cages and remember all of the animals we have said goodbye to. The older cats have lived out full and happy lives with the love and support of many. CARE prides itself, most of all, on always putting the animals’ best interests first and our ability to provide unparalleled loving care.
This type of care is not an easy job, and the decisions can be difficult. Much of what we do goes above and beyond the norm. For example, our lions Sampson and Layla have been so happy together since they were first introduced. We wanted to be able to keep them together without the risk of pregnancy. Birth control implants are known to cause infection and cancer in big cats, so that was not an option. A spay for Layla would be an invasive and dangerous surgery (the risks of any surgery are greatly increased in big cats vs. domestic ones). Neutering Sampson would be the best option. However, when a male lion is neutered, their supply of testosterone is removed, and they will completely lose their mane. Lions are very proud animals and it is not uncommon for them to experience depression after losing such an important part of themselves. After much consideration, we decided that the best option was a vasectomy for Sam. Over a year ago, Dr. Bill operated on our big guy and the procedure went well. Sampson is no longer fertile and was able to keep his mane and his mate.
Months after the surgery we noticed Sampson was getting increasingly agitated towards Layla. When a male lion is “courting” a female he is obsessed with her. Sampson was sleeping, eating, and drinking very little. Month after month, he lost an incredible amount of weight as he failed to impregnate Layla. We had to ask ourselves, did we make the right decision?
Recently, Dr. Bill and I struggled with yet another problem, what we were going to do about Mwali, our one year old male lion?” Although still a cub, he would be at breading age at about 4 years old and lived with Noel, just over a year old herself. He developed his mane unbelievable young, so we knew we might not even have four years to make a decision. We decided to observe Sampson for a little while to help us make the best decision for our babies, Mwali and Noel.
This story started with sadness, loss, and empty cages. Well, we promise, this letter will not end on the same note. A little before young Mwali’s second birthday he gave a gift to Noel, and on a quiet, warm June morning that gift came to life. Noel, at only 2 ½, gave birth to three perfect male cubs. As you can imagine we were all in shock. Not only was the birth a complete surprise to us, but it is virtually unheard of. After much research we have not been able to find any evidence of a male lion successfully impregnating a female before his second birthday.
Three little miracles have arrived at CARE and CARE doesn’t seem quite so empty anymore.
Despite her young age, Noel has proved to be a perfect mother! Mom and and tiny Araali. Jelani and Zuberi having dinner in the back.
Although we had no plans for the little ones they have already melted the hearts of everyone here. How could they not? They are three precious baby lions that will grow up to be as magnificent as their parents, and receive all the love and protection that CARE has to offer.
We are also pleased to say that Mwali was successfully vasectomized July 1, 2014 and in the past month we started Sampson on a regimen of antianxiety medication, which has seemed to calm him significantly. So far, so good. We think we may have found the answer for both of our big boys.
We will be sharing more about the trio in the days and weeks to come so you can hear more about them. Right now, they are doing great and we are keeping things quiet and calm for them.
Heidi Krahn, Executive Director
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!!Read more
For anyone that has been a supporter of CARE for any amount of time will know by now that as time goes on, we are faced with saying goodbye to more and more of our beloved cats. The fact is, 32 of our 39 big cats that call CARE home are over 10 years old. Many of them are over the age of 15. Considering that big cats typically only live to their early teens in the wild, we are fortunate to have every single day that get with them. While their lifespan in captivity typically exceeds that of their lifespan in the wild, it still does not mean that they are here forever. We can't fight time, and it is taking a toll on our cats. We know that this is part of taking care of animals. We accept it as part of the deal, but it is never easy.
However, when we have cats live to 18, 19, and even 20 years old, we feel we have done our job in giving them the best care possible. In fact, we are becoming specialists in geriatric big cat care. We take a lot of pride in how we care for our aging cats and the lengths we will go to in order to keep them healthy and happy. But sometimes, doing our best is not enough and it is just their time to go.
Just recently we have lost two of our eldest cats. Our dear, sweet leopard Spotty left us on February 15th, 2014. Spotty was almost 18 years old and was suffering from a very painful back problem.
The oldest cat at CARE, mountain lion Beauty, followed him exactly one month later on March 15th. Beauty was three weeks away from her 20th birthday. We will miss them both greatly, and their presence will never leave us at CARE.Read more
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.
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.
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!
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!Read more
We have been reading stories about the decline of many big cat species, particularly tigers, for years. By many experts’ accounts, some species of big cats could be entirely extinct in the wild within many of our lifetimes. A study led by William Ripple, a professor of forest ecology at Oregon State University, shows an overall decline in the world’s largest carnivores, including not just tigers but all big cats.
These animals’ beauty and power are what enchants most of us. However, what will our own species lose once these animals are gone? How will their extinction impact our lives? Their disappearance will surely make the world a less beautiful place for us big cat and animal lovers, but what else does it mean?
Ripple’s study investigates the impact that the extinction of these animals in the wild will have on the overall health of the planet. The effects of this loss will touch the lives of people around the globe, animal lovers or not. According to the study’s authors, this is a “major global concern”. Most big cats, along with other top predators like wolves and bear, are “apex predators”, meaning that they have few or no predators of their own and sit at the top of the food chain. Apex predators play an extremely important role in the health of their environment. Without the presence of a top predator, entire ecosystems can collapse. If you remove a top predator, typically the populations of the prey will explode which in turn depletes the ecosystem’s resources. Some of these resources are also relied upon by human populations in the area, their livestock, and their crops. All of this has a trickle-down effect. The removal of these animals from their natural habitats will not only have an ecological impact, but potentially a world-wide economic impact as well.
To read the full story of the study, go HERE.
Yet, despite so many arguments for the survival of various big cat species, we seem bent of destroying these majestic creatures (or at the least we are indifferent to their decline). It is vital to not only the big cats’ survival, but also to the survival of thousands of other species (including us), that we learn to protect and coexist with these predators. Yet how does that happen, especially in areas where the big cats threaten people’s own existence?
You can click on the links below for related articles and stories about different ways human populations have learned to coexist with their big cat neighbors and some very special efforts to save wild big cat populations from extinction.Read more