War, what is good for? The displacement of people and animals from their homes for sure. I’m betting you’ve heard by now of the more than 1 million civilians driven from their homes due to the fighting between Russia and Ukraine. But did you hear about the 9 African Lions from the Bio Park Zoo in Odessa? By March of 2022, they found themselves in danger and needed help as their city was starting to take air strikes.
But how do you get Lions out of a war zone!? It’s not easy. We had to first get them transported to a safer area for temporary residence because as you can imagine, the red tape involved with getting them out of the country, let alone one at war, was extensive. Every place that was contacted wanted to help but didn’t have the space to accept them. Finally, the Targu Mures Zoo in Romania stepped up to the plate but could only hold the Lions for a short time. That’s all we needed.
A group called Warriors of Wildlife (WOW) took on the mission of getting the Lions out of the active war zone and safely to Romania. During transport, a primary bridge was bombed by Russia causing the mission to have to detour to a route that took 3 times as long. Thankfully they were nowhere near the bridge when it was bombed and had the alternate route ready. With a little luck and a whole lot of skill, they made it!
Safe in their temporary residence, the clock was ticking, and TWAS worked tirelessly to get everything from paperwork to transportation crates ready for international travel. There were many snags and hiccups, but in September of 2022 we were finally able to bring them to their new home in Colorado.
Now these magnificent creatures are living in a war free, 80-acre habitat with natural grass beneath their paws, open sky above and rolling hills! They are forming prides and bonds and most importantly, at long last they have finally found peace.
Budahshay’s story starts like too many others - at an illegal Tiger breeding facility. This particular facility is called Bearcat Hollow and it’s a run-down farm in Missouri. It boasted itself as a sanctuary but that was a lie. They bred Tiger cubs and charged for play then sold them as pets or to roadside zoos when they got older. Others were shot in a shed when they got too old, and their skins and teeth were sold on the black market.
Budahshay and another Tiger named Bailey are probably only alive because they were raised/caged with and friends with a Lion named Leo. Leo was castrated and because of that he didn’t grow a mane. He was also a little goofy, so he made a lot of money. This made the trio some of the few who survived becoming adults.
Feds finally took notice of Bearcat Hollow and jailed the owners. Over 75 animals were rehomed to Spirit of the Hills in South Dakota, though many died on the trip there from having been overbred. They never housed that many animals before and they all ended up crammed in tiny cages again.
The owner of Spirit of the Hills used to love all the animals he homed. But he was a hoarder and kept on taking animals even when he could no longer afford to feed all of them. He would favor the newer animals and give them most of the food. After a while the frustration and inability to afford to take care of the animals made him depressed, violent and reclusive. He locked out most of the volunteers all of the sudden and let his chickens all starve to death. And still he kept collecting.
One day when the owner of Spirit of the Hills went out of town, the volunteers snuck onto the property to check on the animals. They were mortified to find that new animals would be fat and overfed while the dozens of other animals were weak and starving - some couldn’t even stand. The volunteers called the authorities who got word out to veterinarians and inspectors. Several Tigers were suffering so much that they were immediately euthanized.
Finally, The Wild Animal Sanctuary was called to help! Budahshay and her friends would be going once again to a new home. But they could never have imagined the expansive freedom and surmounting love that they would soon get to have for the rest of their lives. And to make it even better, they got to be among the first out at our massive 9,752-acre Wild Animal Refuge!
It’s because of the love and support of wonderful people like you who believe in our mission that we can help these magnificent creatures. Giving them lives as peaceful and close to the wild as possible is our honor. If you aren’t yet part of our cause please, take some time to find a way to help. There are many, many ways to be a part of our historic efforts to end the Captive Wildlife Crisis.
Have you ever heard of “Bile Bears”? Most people haven’t. And I can tell you it’s one of the most horrific and archaic acts still happening to these poor animals. Thanks to our relationship with KAWA (Korean Animal Welfare Association) from a previous rescue, we were able to assist in rescuing 22 such bears from South Korea that were subject to this terrible abuse.
Bear Bile Farming involves confining Bears into small rebar cages that are reminiscent of coffins. A tube is then surgically placed (not by professional surgeons) into the bears gallbladder to allow bile to drain into a bucket positioned below the cage. A metal belt is placed around the midsection of the Bears body in order to keep them from moving in any way that will cause the tube to fall out. The cage is then closed to make repositioning, rolling or even neck bending impossible. Many Bears live like this for years. The ones who die are actually considered the lucky ones.
Many people have stood up to fight this appalling industry that primarily takes place in Asian countries. Bile Farming is now illegal in South Korea and Vietnam, though it remains legal in China. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent bringing these 22 Bears to the USA and we couldn’t be more grateful that we were able to help them. But so many more Bears still need our help.
Your donations help change the lives of Bears like these, as well as so many other animals that are being abused and exploited. The Captive Wildlife battle rages on and with support from people who believe in our mission, TWAS will always be there to answer the call. Please donate and be a part of changing the lives of these and many other animals in need.
Roadside zoos have lasted longer than a lot of the cottage industries, but even they have started to fall out of favor as kids and parents began to disfavor tiny cages and ramshackle operations. Even though these operations are going out of business and closing their doors to the public, most kept their animals and continued to ply their trade to school groups and private birthday parties. Some say they kept their animals out of love, while others say it was because there was nowhere for their animals to go.
So, when our Sanctuary received a call from PETA’s division of Captive Animal Law Enforcement concerning a female Black Bear (Dolly) and 3 foxes (Rowdy, Roxy & Scratch) who were sitting in cages somewhere in the dense woods of northern Michigan, we agreed to help. It turns out they were buttonholed in what was left of a small roadside zoo.
We had previously been contacted to rescue a male black bear named “Grizzy” from this same facility. The elderly couple that owned them told the USDA that Grizzy had a small sore on the top of his head that was getting better, but when the USDA inspected him themselves, they found that he had a large tumor like growth that had a giant hole going all the way down to his skull. The growth contained raw flesh that was open to insects, flies and parasites. Because of this medical issue, we had to wait to take action. The USDA was able to get Grizzy placed in a special medical facility for immediate medical attention. Afterwards, PETA was able to convince the old couple to let Dolly come to our facility along with the 3 foxes.
Now, Dolly and her fox pals are living in our facility and each seemed excited to explore their new enclosures. Dolly will be able to move to our 9,684 acre Refuge before long with a clean bill of health and the ability to roam the large habitat there. Roxie is missing her tail and both ears and this is likely due to them freezing in inadequate housing during a spell of sub-zero winter temps in Michigan. She is still as cute as ever and our Veterinarians have given her a clean bill of health! We are currently building a new Fox habitat just for Roxie and her family. Any day now they will be romping in a large grassy area complete with trees, water and features.
Nothing we do would be possible without support from the wonderful & philanthropic support we have received so far. But our journey is far from over. Please join our mission and help us rescue and home more of these amazing animals.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries found this Black Bear cub tied to the bumper of a small pickup truck. “Sally” was born in captivity and taken from her mother shortly after birth. She was then forced to live for weeks tied by the neck to a pickup truck with no protection from the elements and receiving almost no food and water. Thankfully, Louisiana WF chose to let us rescue Sally and bring her back to our Sanctuary, where she made a full recovery.
Sally was initially paired with another juvenile Black Bear named “Baloo”. Baloo has proven himself to be a wonderful, confident, and gentle older brother looking out for his younger sister. According to our Animal Care staff members, the two Bears adore each other and are absolutely inseparable. They are now happily living together with other bears as a peaceful and happy family unit in one of the Sanctuary’s many Black Bear habitats. Thanks to your support, little Bear Sally had a place to go where she could live a long and healthy life. Please donate to help Sally, Baloo, and the hundreds of other animals that we have saved!
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