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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Wildcat Sanctuary

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Zoos & Aquariums

Mission: The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) is a 501c3 non-profit, no-kill big cat rescue located in Sandstone, MN. TWS provides a natural sanctuary to wild cats in need and inspires change to end the captive wildlife crisis. TWS is funded solely on private donations. The Sanctuary is a home for animals, not a zoo for people and is not open to the public. Combining natural and spacious habitats with a life free of exhibition and exploitation, TWS allows all residents to live wild at heart. As a true sanctuary, we do not buy, breed, sell or exhibit animals.

Results: TWS provides natural sanctuary to over 125 wild cats. We provide large, free-roaming habitats that offer our residents to live wild at heart. Each animal can escape extreme weather in a temperature controlled den or central animal building. Every individual has the opportunity, often for the first time in their lives, to choose a path to walk and a place to lie down. After living in a small concrete cage in the backyard of a Texas home, Sabrina the tiger, now has a free-roaming habitat with grass under her feet, a pool with a fountain and a safe environment for the rest of her life.

Target demographics: wild, exotic and big cats of the captive wildlife crisis

Geographic areas served: National

Programs: No More Wild Pets Campaign, Sponsor a wild one program, Volunteer, Feed A Feline, Help us build Wild Woodlands

Community Stories

27 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Giving Back to The Wildcat Sanctuary
www.wildcatsanctuary.org

I am a longtime volunteer at The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) in Sandstone, Minnesota. The Wildcat Sanctuary is a 501c3 non-profit, no-kill big cat rescue. The mission of TWS is to provide a natural sanctuary to wild cats in need and inspire change to end the captive wildlife crisis.

I have had the pleasure of helping with many tasks at the sanctuary, from building enclosures to cleaning to making fire hose hammocks to picking up tiger poop. Every task I do, I know I am making life better for a big cat whose previous life was most often filled with abuse and neglect.

During a particularly heavy snowfall in northern Minnesota, the cats’ enclosures had over three feet of snow in them. The tigers residing at the sanctuary don’t mind the cold and snow but the lions (there were three at the time) tend to spend more time inside during the winter months. (Each animal can escape extreme weather in a temperature controlled building.)

You can imagine when a tiger walks in new fallen snow they immediately create a path. Well, the same would be true for a lion, if they would actually walk in the snow. So, in order to coax the lions outside, we had to go into their large enclosure and shovel paths for them. (Anytime people are in an outdoor enclosure the cats are safely shut in their indoor enclosure.)

As I shoveled lots and lots of snow to make the paths, I thought, “I am an average size woman shoveling a path for a 400 lb. lion!” I affectionately say the lions are big babies in the winter; but I really know that this is due to fact that they are an African species. Of all the shoveling I have done as a Minnesota native, shoveling snow for lions is the only time I have gotten excited about shoveling.

After we finished shoveling the snow, and the lions were let back into their outdoor enclosure, they immediately investigated every inch of their new path. It was so gratifying to see them happily exploring and romping in the fresh snow.

It’s an honor and a pleasure to give back by volunteering at The Wildcat Sanctuary. It’s hard, gratifying work and I am so grateful this wonderful sanctuary for big cats resides in Minnesota.

Review from #MyGivingStory

Previous Stories
5

Donor

Rating: 5

My first introduction to The Wildcat Sanctuary was in Isanti. I sponsored a big cat and along with that sponsorship came an exclusive tour of the sanctuary. On my ride up for the tour, I remember thinking, “I hope this is a reputable sanctuary and I won’t be disturbed by what I see.” I know that all “sanctuaries” are not what they claim to be. Sure the photos on the TWS website looked great, but websites may not be a true reflection of a place.

Upon arriving at TWS, I was thrilled to find out that Tammy Thies was giving the tour! The Executive Director and Founder of the sanctuary had made time in her day to spend with me! After that first visit to TWS I was moved by the mission of the organization, impressed by all they were doing for the cats and completely “wowed” by Tammy’s commitment and dedication. From that point on, TWS became a top favorite cause of mine.

Over the years, I have been a financial supporter of TWS as well as introduced others to TWS. Tammy possesses the expertise to lead the sanctuary into the future. She is respected nationally for her knowledge and skills, for which she is called upon frequently. Minnesota is very fortunate to be home to this sanctuary that not only provides the best home for life possible for formerly unwanted and abused big cats, but serves as a resource for the entire country. This has all been built and accomplished under the leadership of Tammy Thies.

Review from Guidestar

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

http://www.ag.state.mn.us/PDF/PressReleases/AssuranceOfDiscontinua20140422.pdf

This organization is a great advocate for neglected, abused and abandoned wildcats, however, its reputation has been tarnished by this investigation. By removing the people responsible for this mess, then and only then can this wonderful organization rebuild its reputation and become the sanctuary it used to be. New people, more structure and accountability, and full transparency are needed in order to regain the trust of its loyal donors and the general public.

The reason for the rating is that I will not donate to this organization until there is trust that the donations will not be used inappropriately, but The Wildcat Sanctuary has and will eventually have a great impact in the future.

Review from Guidestar

1 Larry19

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I hope to get to volunteer there the next time Scott Lope is helping you out and I will be bring my camera to get the most awesome photo for you and your super big hearted place for these beautiful animals!!!! Thank You!!!

Mary130

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

So often; people, organizations and cities call the Wildcat Sanctuary, "Can you? Will you?" And the answer is always "Yes". They will rescue, feed, support and give a protected life to numerous felines of every possible description". And not without sacrifice.....and not without a struggle....and not without great financial burden. This organization demonstrates one of the simplest principles of a great humanitarian, the care and preservation of our vulnerable, priceless wildlife.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization is doing a very important work to educate people that owning exotic pets is not ok. Too many people get in over their heads when they think an exotic pet is such a great idea. When it doesn't work out, they are lucky if they can find someone to give their exotic pet sanctuary. Room is limited! Don't own exotic pets!

Kayti C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Wildcat Sanctuary does an extraordinary service to helpless felines. They've made a huge impact on the community considering they've been pushing for knowledge about what is a pet and is not a pet. They truly understand the concept of humaneness and compassion.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I admire the Wildcat Sanctuary for their heroic work in saving exotic cats from bad situations and providing them loving lifetime care. Perhaps even more important is their dedication to educating the public about the issues surrounding the inappropriate use and keeping of exotic animals. Thank you, Wildcat Sanctuary, for all that you do!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I learned about the Wildcat Sanctuary a few years ago and I have nothing but love for Tammy Thies and ALL of the staff and volunteers that make TWS a home for these beautiful creatures. I hope and pray that TWS is able to provide help to cats in need for many years to come!

cjgs1943

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This sanctuary is truly devoted to the welfare of these big cats. It costs so much to feed and are for them all, but, somehow, TWS does it. Daily. Weekly. yearly. I don't worry too much about the big cats because I know, that come hell or high water, these magnificent creatures will be taken care of. I'm disabled and on a very limited income, but I do what I can to help. If only more people would!

Nova-Chevy T.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

YA'LL ARE AWESOME!!!! TAKING CARE OF THESE ANIMALS TAKES ALOT OF DEDICATION. AND YA'LL HAVE IT. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK FOR THESE ANIMALS!!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Living in Oklahoma, I have not personally attended any events held by the sanctuary but as an animal lover, I LOVE the email updates they send out! I do not recall how I found out about The Wildcat Sanctuary but I am so glad that I did. I really enjoy the emails about the enrichment they provide the cats every holdiays like "St. Catrick's day" and videos of them playing in paint to creat artwork! They even have some great sounding fundraiders events like a Mardi gras themed dinner. And although it is sad to read an email about a cat passing on, the memorial text they write makes it VERY obvious that they truly care and love these beautiful animals.Thank you Wildcat Sanctuary for all the hard work you do to provide a safe and loving haven for the cats. Christina

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Just looking at The Wildcat Sanctuary's website and facebook you can tell that they really care about the animals in their care. They often post pictures and updates on all of their animals to keep people up to date and the goings on at the shelter. It's amazing to see all of these animals happy and having a good life with people that care about them.

AnimalLover

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Wildcat Sanctuary provides excellent care to their rescued cats as well as enrichment to prevent boredom. Although they do not allow visitors, they have a fabulous website and youtube videos where you can really see inside the sanctuary and get to know the cats!

Larry H.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have attended several Wildcat Sanctuary events and the work they do is amazing!!!!!

macyjacobnathan

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

TWS is the next best thing for these awesome animals. Since they cannot be returned to the wild, sending them to a sanctuary such as TWS where they can live out their lives in dignity and peace is the best alternative. They are all living in enclosures that duplicate their natural habitats. Are cared for with love and concern. Health needs are meet immediately. Enrichment is provided so the animals do not get bored or stressed. This is an awesome sanctuary.

Dee D.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The WildCat Sanctuary: “They will never know freedom, Can they at least know compassion?“ This sanctuary not only provides compassion, but also respect and exemplary care for the cats in their charge. The cats live in spacious natural habitats and receive enrichment, expert medical care and a proper diet. TWS also works to educate the public about the serious issue of privately owned big cats in the United States and why these magnificent cats are deadly animals to have as pets. As a true sanctuary, TWS does not buy, breed, sell or exhibit animals. TWS is closed to the public, giving the cats additional privacy. You can clearly see these cats are well taken care of by the dedicated staff of TWS and are happy and healthy.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a former volunteer and mentee of Tammy Thies. I volunteered when TWS was much smaller and i've seen it grow. When I was there it was amazing to see the life a creature change, from being protective of a bowl of dirty water to become a healthy and lively animal that is accepting of compassion, as they should be. While I would love to see TWS get smaller (because there ultimately isn't a need for it due to people not purchasing and buying illegal animals) it has grown, to what I feel as, a national scale in awareness and rescues. The dedication and heart that Tammy and her staff and interns put into the TWS says a lot about the organization as a whole. Everytime I would go, I always felt that the volunteers there were passionate about being compassionate and doing even the dirtiest of jobs to make the life a wildcat, that never experience the wild, better. Education is the key to success and TWS is all about it and does an amazing job of it.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been aware of and a supporter of this fine organization for some.time. I donate and know the money is well spent to give these animals a good life and freedam to roam. They are sheltered, they are well fed and they are loved. They have a home for life, and still this sanctuary allows the animals natural and spacious habitat to live wild aheart. God bless them one and all

floridapotter

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a volunteer at a similar wildlife sanctuary, I am always impressed by the care and facilities provided needy wildcats at this sanctuary. Their actions have been life-saving for many of their residents and Tammy is ceaseless in her quest for perfection

Previous Stories
4

Donor

Rating: 5

I've supported TWS from afar after learning about their good work from a fellow volunteer at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL. Both of these organizations are unique in their dedication to offering sanctuary, primo care and never breeding or exploiting their creatures. All on a tight budget and with many volunteer hours.

Review from Guidestar

1 mteg24

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I just learned about the Wildcat Sanctuary this year, and since following their site and email newsletters, I can't believe how much love the people who run this organization must have for their animals. It's such a treat to get an update, photo or video, to see just how happy these big cats are in their home at TWS. I wholeheartedly support their cause and their ambition to educate the public on their mission.