This facility is so well managed and every care taken for the cats. They have beautiful enclosures and Mark and Shellene have created a safe, wonderful sanctuary for these cats which do not have the skills to be released into the wild. So happy that they have created this place.
This facility has been built up from almost nothing to become a compassionate sanctuary for 35 wild cats, animals that could not survive in the wild. We moved from a tiny facility in Olympia, WA, to our present 27 acre home on Harstine Island, WA, the last cat's being transferred just before Christmas, 2010. From Hannah the cougar to the tiny Gordon's cats, each animal is cared for as an individual being, with any special needs met, whether veterinary or diet. These cats come to us from many different situations. Some are traumatized. Hannah was captured at 6 months old, when her mother was killed by a car; her sibling was never found. Two African wildcats spent their early lives living in "bird cages," on display. Some are former pets who have been surrendered, sometimes by loving owners, who can no longer care for them for various reasons. The happiness and well-being of each cat is important at Wild Felids. We have no paid staff--all are volunteers. For Shelleen and Mark Mathews, the proprietors, this is a 24/7 commitment. Extremely dedicated, the Mathews have worked untiringly to obtain donations and grants to build suitably large enclosures for the cats that will spend their entire lives with us. For some of the cats, these natural enclosures, filled with native plants and trees, climbing platforms, warm and dry shelters, and room to romp and hide, are the largest areas they have ever had in which to live and enjoy their lives. We still have a dozen or more such enclosures to fund and build, a never-ending project, and more calls for cat sanctuary come in regularly. However, even the temporary holding pens are spacious compared to what many of these cats have previously lived in. All are extremely secure, ensuring the safety of people and cats. I am an active volunteer as well as a Board member. My specific contribution is volunteer training. However, everybody gets their hands dirty at WFAC. I have hauled and spread cedar chips and straw for these enclosures; separated and prepared donations of meat for daily feeding; cleaned water buckets, clearing them of any ice formation; picked up poop and changed bedding. We have experimented with various forms of enrichment to keep the cats active and content. (It was especially delightful to discover that Hannah, our cougar, loves watermelon and will bat a 30 pound melon around her enclosure like a basketball, and then suddenly grab it, sink her fangs into it, carrying it about, before finally, splitting it open to enjoy the sweet juicy treat, the red melon innards dripping down her muzzle and off her chin.) One of the missions of Wild Felids is the education of the public as to the importance of these animals in our world, including children: Note the Kids 4 Wild Cats program on the website. The Mathews continue to work toward that goal, developing and planning various workshops and seminars, that will teach Washington residents how to exist safely with wildlife, necessary information for people in this area who constantly face potentially frightening wildlife encounters. Shelleen also serves as a consultant for Sheriffs, Animal Control Officers, Firemen and other persons in authority, called on for her expertize and help, whenever needed. WFAC offers internships for college students who are working in appropriate majors. We just had another Evergreen student complete a successful study toward her degree last fall. There are educational opportunities for various youth groups, such as the Boy Scouts and others who earn credit for badges. I first learned about WFAC about three years ago, when I saw a news story on TV, when Shelleen was asking for donations to help them send two Siberian Tigers to sanctuary. WFAC could not at that time offer the tigers a home, and so they took it upon themselves to make certain these beautiful cats were cared for in another facility. The welfare of such cats is a heart felt commitment for the Mathews and they have been instrumental in relocating large cats to other appropriate facilities, when they do not feel that our Harstine Island facility can accommodate these animals. Finally, WFAC annually sets up a partnership with an international refuge and/or rehab organization, helping to raise awareness of endangered species the world over. This year it is the endangered Scottish Wild Cat that has received our support. There are presently only 400 Scottish wild cats surviving in the wild. Such international support creates a communicative community and good will that can only benefit everyone: both Scotland and the U.S.A., the people and certainly, the animals. I can think of no constructive feedback for WFAC. I have only admiration for both Shelleen and Mark, and this incredible endeavor that demands so much from them. The Mathews listen to all suggestions, and encourage all volunteers to share their ideas, with the objective to have us work in areas that use our talents and skills to benefit WFAC, from creating hand made items to sell in our booth at various community events, washing cars, or hosting larger benefits to developing advertising strategies, educational programs or website features. There is a sense of teamwork. While there is always a bit of stress with the ongoing effort to raise money in these very hard times, there is always laughter and a sense of fun. WFAC is a compassionate sanctuary. Many of the cats come to us well adjusted and settle in quickly to their new lives. But, there also is the undescribable joy of watching a terrified, grieving or depressed wild cat, slowly but surely become the confident and magnificent being it was meant to be, and join the other felid residents as an abassador for its species, teaching people how important it is to allow these cats to survive and thrive in the wild.
WFAC is a facility who genuinely cares about the cats welfare in their care. The facility's director, Shelleen Mathews exemplifies what it means to be a caretaker for animals in need. She's not only devoted and compassionate, but ensures that the cats in her sanctuary have all the means to live the rest of their lives there comfortably: large and clean protective enclosures complete with shelter from nature's environmental elements, excellent species-appropriate diet, veterinary care, wide array of behavioural enrichment so that the cats enclosures are mentally and physically stimulating. Shelleen also takes the time to help educate not only the volunteers, but to those who are interested to know how the cats are doing that are unable to personally volunteer. All donations received truly do go to the cats.
I have been an animal lover my whole life. I have always had many different kinds of animals & have done volunteer work with extoic cats (big & small), the Boise Zoo, AIDA a wildlife rehab & the pandas at Wolong China. Two of my "kids" were african servals, Gizmo & Kira, who had been with me since they were about 8 weeks old. I loved them dearly, they lived in my home and had their own room. I gradually became allergic to them to the point I was unable to even be in the same room. I was devastated and needed to find someone who would give them a good forever home. I was very fortunate to have someone refer me to the WAFC. After speaking with Shelleen and seeing the pictures she sent me I knew I had found the right home for my babies. I drove them there and they did very well on the 10 hour trip. When we arrived Shelleen & I put them into their new home. It was a large enclosure under some trees with lots of shelter along with places where they would feel comfortable and secure. I was very relieved and thankful to have found such a wonderful home for them. Shelleen is very experienced and takes very good care of all the animals she has taken in. It certainly is a labor of love on her part. It is very hard work to care for these poor animals who had no where else to go and it is also very expensive to care for them properly. In addition she does wonderful work educating the public and helping in any way she can. From my work as a volunteer I know how hard it is to run a rescue and how despertaly rescues are needed by animals who through no fault of there own have no where else to go. WFAC has helped countless people and animals who had no where else to turn. It is one of the best places I've seen and would not hesitate to recommend them.
Review from Guidestar