They are beauties that are behind bars and should be. They are Siberian tigers, cheetahs, lions, jaguars, and black and grizzly bears.
Yes, of course, they should be in the wild in their own natural environment. But because of people who thought they were cute as babies, they couldn’t cut it with circuses or were orphaned, they became the castaways.
Thanks to a tour organized by Communities Foundation of Texas‘s Jennifer Clifford, Stephanie Fox and Carol Pierce Goglia, it was learned that the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary has stepped up time and time again taking countless numbers of these exotics to its sanctuary in Boyd. While the cats are kept in enclosed pens with pools and dens, the black bears have acres and acres to wander about, and love to follow humans visiting the sanctuary. Of course, there are mammoth trees for climbing. And, yes, there is no hands-on interaction between visiting humans and the resident critters:
- There’s Titan, for example, the magnificent 7-year-old Bengal tiger who wasn’t performing up to snuff for a traveling circus. IEAS was contacted. In a matter of hours, they had decided to take him in — or he might have become a rug.
- There are the 10-year-old Servals, Raja and Luna, that were found in a woman’s home after her death. Due to an improper diet, they had poor mobility in their back legs when they arrived five years ago. Thanks to a healthy diet, they’re now walking and jumping on their perches.
- There’s 3-year-old Scooter, a black bear, that was orphaned in Alaska and rescued to IEAS, where he found his girlfriend Greta and buddy Scamp. While the boys like to play, it’s still Greta that has the last word. Ah, women’s lib rules in black bear universe.
- There are Mork and Mindy, the white nose coatis that just arrived this year after being owned privately. At night they sleep in hammocks, but during the day, it’s no surprise to see their longer-than-long noses poking out of their pen for an errant insect.
- There’s Bill, the black bear, who lived 13 years in a 9′ by 4′ cage in a barn. When he arrived at IEAS, he had never experience walking on grass. Just adjusting him to a healthy diet and getting him to enter his den for winter were daunting.
- There’s year-old cougar baby Thor, who was brought to IEAS from Wyoming when his radio-collared mother abandoned him because she had such a large litter.
- There is cross-eyed Kumar that, along with his brother, Akbar, and sister, Arusha, came to IEAS when they were just five weeks old. In the eight years that the trio has been at the sanctuary, they have become the “most affectionate, confident and secure tigers at IEAS and perhaps anywhere else.” Of them, Kumar is considered the most “affectionate and vocal of his siblings.”
But to take care of these animals requires more than a 17.9-lb. bag of Science Diet or a PetSmart gift card. It requires scores of pounds of meat, vegetables and vitamins plus constant overseeing by trained and caring staff.
Food is kept in donated refrigerators and freezers, where commercial machinery would help. More acreage would allow for more animals to be received. Veterinary treatments and vigilant staffers are caring but still cost $$.
Of course, the area’s animal facilities are overwhelmed with kittens, puppies, dogs, cats and even guinea pigs. But last year’s massacre in Zanesville, Ohio, of dozens and dozens of lions and tigers created a spotlight on the fact that there are irresponsible people who are keeping dangerous animals. Comparing the glut of domestic animal overpopulation with wild animals being kept in unnatural conditions is ridiculous. These are two entirely different problems facing the North Texas community, but they both need long-term solutions.
The animals at IEAS will and should never be released to the wild any more than they should be strolling the halls of a high school. But to keep them secure and maintained with 24-hour, on-site staffing and nearby veterinary care, funds are needed, and CFT has the means to assist in making it happen. If you would like to tour the sanctuary, call IEAS at 940.433.5091.
BTW, if you decided to adopt one of the IEAS family, you won’t be able to take it out for a play-day. But you will be able to get other perks, including the peace of mind that you made a difference for good.