PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE WILDCAT SANCTARY.
When the Catskill Game Farm shut down and auctioned off their animals in 2006, Wildlife Watch played a vital role in one of the largest animal rescues of its type. So many animals were rescued through bidding at the auction. Wildlife Watch befriended one of the caretakers who provided us with invaluable information about the large cats and the African lions who were not included in the auction. We raised thousands of dollars, and found sanctuary at the Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, MN.
Over the many years, we’ve reached out to the sanctuary for updates. The two previous updates were published in 2007, a year after their arrival. You will see it here: http://wildwatch.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Fall_2007.pdf (See page 1.) The second update was seven years after their arrival: http://wildwatch.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Winter_2013_Issue.pdf (See page 4.)
Now, fourteen years later, we reached out again to Tammy Theis, Founder and Executive Director of the Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, MN. Tammy reported the following:
“Shanti Deva (the female African Lion who was named by Libra Max) is the Queen of the Sanctuary, but in her mid 20’s her time is limited. You can watch a special video of her here: https://www.facebook.com/wildcatsanctuary/videos/588344098480299/
She has arthritis and a bit of dementia but has lived a long and fulfilling life. Our donors LOVE her and she means so much to us and all of them. Since her pride (Aslan and Asha) both passed away of old age, she has chosen not to accept other lions. As alpha of her pride, I feel like she has told us she worked managing the pride for so long, that now she needs to rest. She lives alongside a male lion Chupino, who is also in his 20’s. He was rescued from a zoo in Argentina. He is smitten with her but she is neutral back.
Leopard Shazam is the only other cat still with us from Catskill. He has always been true to being a leopard but has a very special bond with his caretaker Elyse. She has worked with him through behavioral training to calmly enter a transport crate and accept a hand injection. As he ages, he needs more vet care and we want that to be as unstressful as possible. She discovered a small lump on his backside earlier this year and a biopsy confirmed cancer. We were able to remove the entire tumor during surgery and he recovered well. Without their close relationship, it would have been difficult to diagnose or even see this marbled size fast growing cancer.”
I wrote to Tammy:
Thanks so much, Tammy!
I’m so happy that you’re there with them. Did I ever tell you the story of Shazam? According to the woman who worked at the Catskill Game Farm, and alerted me to the African lions, Shazam’s love, a female black leopard, was killed in their enclosure when a heavy log fell on her. The woman said that his grief was so extreme that he became inconsolable and hostile to the world. I was always hoping that with you he would have found a new leopard friend, or even another species. Life is so heartbreaking at times. Please stay well and your amazing work continues to inspire everyone!
“I was aware of his sad background. We've only had one other leopard and those two have very different personalities. Shadow doesn't like other cats at all. Shazam did bond to a Jaguar through a shared wall as well as a white tiger. But neither were the same size to be able to do a full merger.
Cougars Mia, Matty and Max all passed away in their mid teens – which is young for cougars. They all passed away of renal disease which we sadly think was genetic. They each passed a few years apart.
Taking care of the Catskill Cats has been an honor. They are so much a part of our feline family. Having cats move on to their new wildlife life is the hardest thing we face as rescuers. But we also find peace that they are finally free and no longer have to live life behind a fence.”
All of their stories and memorials are published on our website. https://www.wildcatsanctuary.org/resident/
Live posts of the cats (including Shanti Deva and Shazam) can be found on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wildcatsanctuary
Here are some links to their stories: