CARE has not always been the organization that it is today. In years past, the facility was used as a big cat boarding house for a traveling show. Over time, new leadership arose that wanted to take the organization in a new direction. With inspiration from our late mascot, Jake, CARE was created. Jake was the living example of the horrible things that a person could do to a big cat. He was declawed, malnourished, left for dead, and the prospect of his survival when he first arrived at the facility was slim at best.
CARE was started to put an end to these stories. We all share the same contempt towards those who continue to abuse big cats, and our organization is dedicated to fighting for their safe-keeping and survival.
In 2003 CARE received its tax-exempt 501(c)(3) determination from the IRS. On November 2, 2004, the facility received its USDA Class C license.
CARE receives financial support from different venues. These include corporate sponsorship, our adoption and sponsorship programs, fund-raising events, tours of the CARE facility, and (most importantly) private donations from people like you! Our ability to care for these animals relies 100% on the profound generosity of our supporters, and we deeply thank each and every one of you who have so selflessly given so that the animals can live in safety and comfort.
Please see our Appreciation page to learn more about the amazing supporters, staff, interns, volunteers, partners and sponsors and donors of CARE!
Absolutely! Our goal is to educate the public about issues effecting big cats and other animals, in turn the public may become more active in our fight for big cat survival. We give tours by appointment during the week and every hour, on the hour, on Saturdays and Sundays. Please visit our Tours section to learn more about coming out for a tour.
The cats and lemurs at CARE have come to us from a number of different places. Sadly, some of the cats have come from private owners and unethical entrepreneurs who oftentimes were abusive and neglectful to their cats. Some were born at the facility before CARE became a sanctuary. Others have come to us from zoos or sanctuaries that have had to close their doors.
Most institutions feed their big cats a processed meat product. For the most part this contains quality meat with vitamins added for optimal feline health. Although this is appropriate, we have found feeding whole animals like cows, horses, deer and store bought chicken has great health benefits.
The animals that are used to feed the cats are donated to us by local farmers and owners. In all cases, the animals are either already deceased or are suffering from fatal or incurable injuries or diseases that would result in death or long-term suffering on their own. In cases where these animals are brought to us alive, they are quickly euthanized humanely. Our policy is to relieve any suffering immediately. These living animals arrive mainly due to colic, complications in birthing, broken legs or extreme emaciation due to old age. Each animal owner is asked a series of questions to assure the animal cannot be rehabilitated. In the cases where rehabilitation is possible, CARE has gone so far as finding permanent homes for the animals in need.
CARE has found it healthier for the animals to be fed what we call “holistically”, which means feeding the big cats the whole carcass. Our big cats are eating the way they naturally would in the wild. The multi-day process of feeding allows the digestive system to function how it was intended and promotes positive dental health (by eating bone, skin and hide), as well as giving the cats an opportunity to use claws, jaws and the muscles attached. Everyday CARE and other research institutions are learning more about the positive effects of holistic feeding.
When a big cat is in the wild it will live, on average, about 10 to 12 years. In most captive situations the cats will live 15 to 17 years. Here at CARE, however, the cats tend to live around 18 or 20 years (and some even longer!). We attribute this to the “holistic” feeding method that we implement and also to the great amount of loving interaction that we regularly give the cats.
Every cat that CARE provides a home for was born, raised, and has lived in captive-bred situations throughout their lives. Although all of their wild instincts are intact, they have never learned the proper skills that they would need to survive in the wild. To try and release them into the wild would mean certain death.
Through recent research and discovery, it has been found that cubs taken from captive-bred situations who are given intensive training over the course of years could be taught, by people, to hunt and live comfortably in the wild. Unfortunately, there are no “wild” places left in the world. Most of the conventional “wild” places are actually parks and reserves that are funded by local governments and are protected pieces of land. Like other big cats that live in the “wild”, if the cat raised in captivity and then released into a wild habitat were to escape its protective area it would most likely be killed by poachers or farmers protecting their families and animals. The animals trained in this release program are not afraid of people either, thus making them more dangerous if they ever escaped their protective area.
Ultimately, we at CARE wish that there was never a need for sanctuaries like ours. We are hard-pressed to understand how anyone could ever treat these animals with anything but respect, dignity, and love. So as long as there are abused and neglected big cats out there that need our rescue, then we will not stop our mission.
CARE is currently at its capacity as far as the number of cats that we can viably support. We are running the facility at its peak efficiency, and we are working on ways to increase the amount of cats that we are able to support without diminishing the care that we are able to give to our current residents. We have plans to expand the facility so that we are able to give our current residents more room and possibly take in more animals in need. We want to try and help as many big cats as possible, but we must not ever decrease the level of care that we’re able to provide to those we have already made commitments to.
A cat has never escaped from the CARE compound. CARE has strict safety measures and procedures in place to protect the cats and their human neighbors at all times.
One of the easiest ways to help at CARE is to simply fill out our volunteer application form or make a donation. There are so many additional ways you can help as well, such as helping with our Wish List, Adopting or Sponsoring an Animal, Partnering with us or Creating a Fundraiser! We always welcome assistance and support in any form!