Sheba's owner gave her to the Sanctuary in 1986. She spent her entire life at IEAS receiving the best quality of care possible in captivity. She had a very sweet disposition and lived a long happy life at IEAS.
El Canelo came to IEAS from a Mexico City Zoo. The zoo could no longer afford to care for him and were going to euthanize him if a home was not found. He and four other lions were kept in 8'x8' concrete dens and had never seen the sky or walked on grass. All four lions came to IEAS with the help of the Dallas Zoo, American Airlines and the ASPCA. El Canello enjoyed a long life at IEAS laying in the grass acting like he was truly a King.
Pancho came to IEAS on loan from Fossil Rim Park. He enjoyed spending his days lying on his hanging perches. He was very friendly and enjoyed exploring during the evening hours.
Simba was found in Houston walking in the road at four months of age. He came to IEAS three months later when he was healthy enough to travel. Simba's most prized possession was his tire. He always had it with him wherever he went inside his habitat. His next favorite enrichment items were his pickle and pumpkins during the fall.
Tali came to IEAS from the Columbus Zoo with her sister, Mia, when they were retired from the educational tours with Jack Hanna. She was an affectionate cat with those she trusted and felt comfortable with. She loved spending time on her high perches or in the trees of her habitat. She was always full of life and energy.
Abby was sent to IEAS by her owner who provided the funds to build her habitat. Abby was a sweet bobcat who loved attention. Every once in a while you would see her playing with her orange buoy, and during the summer days she spent her time inside her cave.
Tigre came to IEAS from the North Texas Humane Society with her brother and sister, Tony and Boom. She was a very affectionate cat and loved attention from her caregivers. You would normally see her in her house snuggling with her sister, Boom.
Charlie was sent to IEAS by the North Texas Humane Society. Charlie was among the favorites with the staff and volunteers of IEAS. She loved attention and would usually come over and lay purring next to the fence with a visitor. Her favorite place during the warmer months was inside her cave. As soon as it was built, you rarely saw her out of it.
Stacey came to IEAS from the Oakhill Center for Rare & Endangered Species. She arrived with her brother, Mau, in 2003 at five months of age. Stacey was mother raised until she arrived at IEAS. Once at IEAS, our Behaviorist, Louis Dorfman, his wife, Julie, and his assistant, Christi Gilbreth, raised her and Mau up to the day she passed. She enjoyed spending time with her caregivers laying on her hill or lying in the shade of their tree. Even on rainy days, you would see her and Mau chasing each other around their enclosure. They loved each other very much and you rarely saw them apart. She was always very attentive, aware of everything going on around her. It seemed, Mau relied on her to check things out and he would feed off her cues. She is dearly missed by her brother, Mau, and the Staff of IEAS.
Onyx was living in an apartment in Arlington, TX as a pet prior to his arrival at IEAS. During his time at IEAS, he lived with N'dito, a cougar. They both enjoyed each others company. Onyx especially loved playing with his hanging tire and pool filler.
Whoofers came to IEAS as a result of a drug raid in Houston. She was in poor condition and required extensive care before she could be brought to IEAS. Her teeth were in poor health as a result of poor nutrition and she needed to have artificial canines implanted. She spent the last 17 years of her life at IEAS. She enjoyed playing with her hanging tire and her red boomer ball the most. Whoofers was a very sweet, affectionate cat with those she trusted.
Boom came to IEAS from the North Texas Humane Society with her siblings, Tigre and Tony. She lived a long, happy life at IEAS. She was one of our oldest tigers here as she was 20 years old. Boom spent a lot of time hanging out with her brother, Tony. You could always find those two together no matter what time of day it was. Boom was a very affectionate tiger, and she will be deeply missed by all.
Dakota came to IEAS when the City of Abilene would not allow Dakota's owners to keep him in the city. Luckily for Dakota, his owners did help out with the expenses in building him a habitat, but he needed more than that. Dakota had three major digestive tract surgeries; abnormalities that are possibly due from inbreeding made both his dietary needs and habitat very unique. Dakota enjoyed his life at the Sanctuary spending most of the day inside his cave. He was the most talkative cougar at IEAS. He enjoyed visits from visitors and greeted them with a cougar meow. Dakota was one of the most affectionate cougars at IEAS. He will truly be missed by all who knew this playful, affectionate cougar.
Bruno came to IEAS almost 15 years ago with BB, a cougar. He and BB were not housed together, but he was in a habitat next to BB. He was a very affectionate tiger and a favorite among staff and visitors and could brighten anyone's day. Bruno loved putting on a show for tours. He would come out and greet tour guests with a chuff and during the warmer months would play in his pool with one of his enrichment items. It was usually his pickle or fire hose ball. Bruno is going to be greatly missed by all those who knew him.
Tiger was sent to IEAS because his owners did not have the proper permits to keep him. Tiger was a very affectionate bobcat. He loved attention from the keepers. When keepers had to complete tasks inside his habitat such as cleaning, raking or repairing a perch, Tiger would come right over and start rubbing on the keeper's legs and feet. He would do this for hours if given the chance. Tiger was loved by all staff and volunteers, and he will be deeply missed by all those who knew him.
Shasta came to IEAS after being confiscated from a private residence in Longview, TX when he was 10 to 12 weeks of age. At almost 17 years old, Shasta was the oldest cougar at the Sanctuary. He was not the most vocal cougar here, but he thoroughly enjoyed having those he knew and trusted come to visit him and spend time by his habitat. Shasta was also a very watchful cat and you could always tell if something out of the ordinary was going on because Shasta would take great interest. Shasta will be missed by all those fortunate enough to have known him.
Tony arrived at IEAS with his two sisters, Tigre and Boom. He was one of our most affectionate tigers at the Sanctuary. He always came out to greet people as they walked by and loved the attention. For the last year, Tony has been living next to Rani. They seemed to like each other and would chuff at each other through the fence. Tony lived to be 21 years old. To our knowledge, he was the second oldest tiger in the AZA! He lived a long and happy life at the Sanctuary, and he will be truly missed by all those who knew and loved him.
Zeus was placed at IEAS when he was about two and a half years old because his owners moved to Boston. Zeus was the second oldest bobcat at the Sanctuary. He always did have a good internal alarm clock. He got fed in the morning as well as an evening meal with his medications. Everyday, Zeus came out of his house and down to the door to wait for his meal. He knew keepers would be there sometime between three and four, and he was always there, waiting patiently. Even though Zeus was a reserved bobcat who kept to himself, he always held a special place in our hearts...and always will.
Sasha was sent to IEAS when her owner went to college and could no longer care for her. She was a mischievous, flirtations and playful leopard. She loved and craved attention. Sasha always came over to the fence whenever someone came by for a visit. She would make her cute little noise and lie down next to the fence and would sit there for as long as her friend chose to visit. Sasha was loved by everyone who knew her and she will be missed greatly by all her human friends.
Zanzibar came to IEAS after he was abused by his owner. When Zanzibar arrived, he disliked and did not trust any humans. Who could blame him after what he went through for who knows how many years? However, Zanzibar began to trust his caretakers after settling in to his new home. After a rough start, he began to enjoy company from those he trusted. His eyes were filled with contentment and joy during his visits. His favorite activity was playing with his hanging tire, lying in it upside-down and rocking back and forth. I know he was a favorite to many and will be deeply missed.
Turbo was as mellow, affectionate and lovable as an animal can be around his human friends. He always greeted people with a little cougar meow. His favorite thing to do was playing with his plastic gas can. During the evening hours, he was always up playing with it tossing it around and rolling with it. It was quite a site to see. He was like a little kid on Christmas morning playing with a new toy. Turbo was a very special feline and will be deeply missed.
Taj was a very friendly tiger who enjoyed company from just about anyone. Anytime someone walked along the bottom of his habitat, he would come trotting down chuffing and lay on top of his orange boomer ball. That ball was one of his favorite enrichment items. He would just lie there with his front legs draped over the top of it as if protecting it from you. Taj was one of the most affectionate Siberian tigers at the Sanctuary. He won the hearts of many and will be greatly missed by all.
BB was a quiet cougar until you gained his trust. Then, he became a very friendly and affectionate animal. He would walk right over to a trusted friend and lay down at the fence, greeting them with his "meow" sounds. At his happiest moments, you could hear his purring from a mile away. He loved to lay in the corner of his habitat in the sun or in his cave. Those were his favorite spots. He had perhaps as good a disposition as one could ever find in a male cougar. He certainly had a way of winning you over, and he will be truly missed by all of his human friends.
It is with very heavy hearts that we say goodbye to this amazing tiger. Rani was one of the sweetest, most loveable tigers that anyone could ever have the pleasure of knowing. She was one of the most talkative tigers here at the Sanctuary, always greeting her visitors with an affectionate moan and a chuff. She loved getting visits from just about anybody. She would come over and lay by the fence, just happy to have a companion. At 23 years old, Rani was the oldest resident of IEAS. She benefited greatly from our Emotional Enrichment Program, as she craved attention and viewed all of her caregivers as a source of comfort. She is proof that taking care of an animal's emotional well-being is just as important as providing for their basic needs such as a proper diet and veterinary care. So today we say farewell to Rani. She will forever live on in our hearts and in our memories.
Shredda came to IEAS from Zoo Atlanta when he was about 12 years old because they did not have room for him anymore. Shredda was the oldest bobcat at the Sanctuary...and quite possibly the wisest. When it was cold, you would always find Shredda snuggled up in the warm hay of his house. During a really hot day, you would find him either in his nice, cool cave or lying in front of one of his misters. If it's a perfectly nice day, then he would be napping up on one of his favorite perches. Yes, Shredda was a wise, old man. Though he was cautious around his caregivers and visitors, he still had a special place in our hearts and will be dearly missed.
N'dito was brought to IEAS by the Texas Parks and Wildlife. She was a beautiful cougar who was very apt to show the staff and her adoptive parents just how quick and agile she was on any given day. In one split second, she could move from her house to the top tier of her terraced habitat, and it's possible her paws rarely touched the ground. One of the favorite things the staffed loved about this remarkable feline was how cooperative she was during our daily chores. N'dito knew exactly when we needed her to come in or out of her house. She would wait and if she saw a turkey neck, she knew to go into her house, if not, she knew to stay out of her house. Of courses there were times she wanted a treat no matter what and she knew if she was patient enough, she would get one. She was a very intelligent feline, and we all loved that about her. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Kuru was one of our more affectionate lions. He always greeted those he knew and trusted. He was the only male lion at IEAS to have a female companion, Nala. Nala was his companion, and you always saw them laying together for the majority of the day. Being that he had his own "pride" he was a very proud lion indeed. There were times he became protective of Nala...whether it be out of instinct or what, it was always very sweet to see how much he cared for her. Kuru's trade mark was always being the first to spray the new interns, marking them with his scent. Keepers got a kick out of this. Let's just say from that point on, interns always were aware of where he was making sure it didn't happen again. Kuru, you will be truly missed by all those who were lucky enough to know. you!
A Tribute to Samson by Louis Dorfman, Animal Behaviorist:
I had the privilege of working with Samson for 16 years. Lions are the only naturally social big cats, as most people know. They travel in groups called prides. In captivity, some lions do seem content in a solitary habitat, depending upon the personality of the lion. Samson, being a naturally very social and affectionate lion, obviously missed companionship in his solitary state. We do not put multiple big cats together unless they are raised together, because of the danger of harm to one of them if they turn out not to be compatible.
So, when Samson was about 5 years old, I started spending time with him in unprotected contact. I only do that when I feel the cat would benefit from a relationship with me, and when I find that the cat wants the relationship enough to modify his playful behavior so that I won’t be harmed by even a playful swipe of his paw or a friendly mouthing of one of my limbs.
Within the first week of our interaction together, I learned quickly just how gentle and careful he was about my safety. He was lying on his back, and I was scratching his chest when he cleverly brought a back leg up behind me and pushed me over with his other back leg. He is the only cat that has ever attempted such a complicated maneuver. When I went on my back he rolled over on top of me, but once there he simply looked me in the eyes and made playful sounds; undoubtedly proud of himself for accomplishing what he had planned. I simply rubbed the sides of his massive face and scratched the top of his head while talking softly to him and slowly extricating myself from under him over about 5 minutes. He never even thought about doing anything harmful.
For the next 16 years I tried never to miss a day with Samson when I was at the sanctuary. His favorite thing was for me to scratch his mane all over, and I have done that as long as 30 minutes without him ever walking off or getting tired of that attention. I have never had a dog that liked to be pet or scratched for that long a period. In addition, he had perhaps the most beautiful mane I have ever seen on a lion. He also loved for me to rub the top of his face, something few large cats like for very long. He would also rub his gigantic body all along mine, something that I liked best when I was against the fence, as balance is difficult when a 500 pound lion is pushing his weight against your body.
Never once, in 16 years, did Samson ever evidence any aggression or hostile behavior towards me. His most valued possession was a truck tire, which he often carried around with him from place to place. When he had the tire between him and me and was close to the gate, I would not go in the habitat because I knew the conflict between his possessiveness with the tire and his desire to be with me would be conflicting. I tried never to put him in that position, as our relationship was one of mutual trust, respect, and consideration.
While I have had very special relationships with a multitude of exotic cats, somehow the relationship I had with such a gentle giant that had such dignity, bearing, and poise stands out beyond any other I have experienced, other than my relationship with the white tiger, Sabrina.
A Tribute to Sabrina by Louis Dorfman, Animal BehavioristThe Most Beloved Tiger Ever
On November 2, 2011, my beloved Sabrina left this Earth. I really don’t have adequate literary skills to articulate the depth of loss I feel, nor do I assume that the majority of people can relate to the closeness and love Sabrina and I had for 17 years. While I have lost a number of domestic animals over the years, and their loss has been very sad with a great sense of loss, somehow the bond and love between Sabrina and I transcended those relationships, and we had a relationship unlike any I have had before or expect to ever have again between man and animal.
There were other times when she was in an agitated mood, such as when she was about to come in heat, and on those days she knew she just had to convey her feelings to me, which she would do with only a look that she knew I would understand. I would then respect her wishes and feelings and sit 6 feet away, sharing time and space. If I stayed longer than she wished on those days, she would let out a slight grunt that she knew was sufficient to express that I should come back another day. I understood and respected her desires and would exit quietly. We never had any physical conflict or hostile interaction in 17 years. In many ways I felt we both understood a great deal we each felt and thought in a nonverbal communication in unexplained ways. When I had something bothering me, she somehow knew and went out of her way to rub against me and get me to lie or sit with her in her cave and share more physical touching than other times. She would often lick my hand or arm on those days while looking at me with the softest eyes a tiger can express.
"Sabrina was the most emotional big cat at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary, and that quality exhibited itself in great affection and desire to touch and be caressed on days that fit that mood. There were other times when she was in an agitated mood, such as when she was about to come in heat, and on those days she knew she just had to convey her feelings to me, which she would do with only a look that she knew I would understand. I would then respect her wishes and feelings and sit 6 feet away, sharing time and space. We never had any physical conflict or hostile interaction in 17 years. In many ways I felt we both understood a great deal we each felt and thought in a nonverbal communication in unexplained ways.
She even had a very fun-loving sense of humor. Often I would sit with her in her house while she slept. She would be obviously sound asleep and my mind would drift off to various issues. She would sometimes just explode up without warning and hover over me before I could move; then, satisfied that she had sufficiently gotten my attention, she would chuff, and contentedly lie back down and go to sleep.
This sense of loss and heartbreak has been the worst I have experienced. She will always be in my heart and in my thoughts. The days with Sabrina were tranquil, mellow, full of love, and a sense of sharing a very special relationship which I am so privileged to have experienced with such a magnificent, majestic, loveable, and noble being."
Laxmi and her siblings, Khera and Kashmere arrived at IEAS shortly after being born. She was a very affectionate tiger and loved the company of just about anyone. One of the things Laxmi was known for was teasing Naya, her neighbor, on a daily basis. She will rub on the fence next to him and then give a playful bark at him and run off, only to come back and do it again. This was a daily game played by both. Laxmi was affectionately known as the "Big Sister." She was protective of her sister Kashmere, and you would always see the two lounging in their house or on their perch together. They truly loved each other's company.
Bob 9 overcame a great obstacle during his life. He was able to do what many animals were not, he survived the West Nile Virus. This in itself showed Bob's will and determination to live. The only lasting affect was a slight impairment of his vision. This didn't slow Bob down at all. He loved spending most of his days snoozing on his perch. It was during the evening hours when Bob showed his energetic side. He enjoyed chasing the leaves as they blew in the wind and would even chase bugs every now and then. To see this entertaining site, you had to be in the right place at the right time. It never took long for Bob 9 to steal your heart. For those who took the time to get to know him, he will be truly missed but always remembered!
Nayakahn came to IEAS after being rescued by the North Texas Humane Society when his owner failed to comply with the City of Arlington’s request to relocate the tiger from his apartment home. Naya definitely enjoyed his life here at IEAS. He loved to play with his big, red boomer ball and his favorite tire. You would even sometimes find him with his tire draped over his head like a necklace! Naya loved to lay out in the grass in the afternoons and soak up the sun. We would often find him flirting with his neighbor, Kashmere, a female tiger. He enjoyed visits from those he trusted and would sleep comfortably near the fence. One of our favorite things about Naya was his little mohawk! He was so unique. We are thankful that we were able to save Naya from the life of living in an apartment and are glad that he had such a wonderful life here at the Sanctuary. It is hard to say goodbye to such an amazing animal.
Lexus was found chained to a radiator in an apartment in Michigan when he was just over a month old. The Michigan Humane Society sent him to IEAS. Thankfully, Lexus was able to enjoy his life here at IEAS. Lexus' favorite enrichment item was his tire. He would usually have it with him in his house when he was napping in there. He liked to keep the rest of his toys in the corner of his habitat underneath one of his perches. It was like his own little toy chest. Lexus was unlike any other male lion at IEAS, always on guard, and always carefully watching for any movements anywhere within sight. He did have some humans friends that he liked and trusted. When they would visit, he would come over and rub on the fence and then lay down next to them. Lexus was truly a king and he will be greatly missed.
Katrina was a boarder here at the Sanctuary, but from her first day at IEAS, she was a part of our family. Katrina had so much life and intensity behind her truly captivating eyes that a simple gaze from her was enough to stop you in your tracks. This striking snow leopard had her own routine, which she seldom changed for us, but there was little that was more rewarding than a friendly visit from Katrina, as winning her trust and companionship was no easy task. She was a very instinctual cat and would have survived in the wild; something that most captive cats couldn't do. Yet, she was inherently a sweet, unaggressive cat. She just never compromised her dignity and would not modify her behavior to please another. She was strong willed, and when she decided to honor you with a friendly lick or rub, it was heartfelt and one would feel extremely appreciative. One of her favorite games was to stalk a human nearby, and she never understood that, just because her eyes were hidden, someone couldn't see her ears sticking up from behind her hide. It was always an endearing trait of hers. It was an honor, privilege, and pleasure to be a part of Katrina's life, and IEAS won't be the same without her. She will be deeply missed by all of us.
After 24 years, we must now say goodbye to our beloved Tassers. Tassers came to IEAS after his owners moved to a city that did not issue permits for exotic cats. You could always tell Tassers apart by his crooked ear which was the result of surgery several years ago to remove a hematoma. Tassers was by far the most affectionate bobcat that has ever lived at IEAS. His favorite thing was being visited by keepers. Every time we went in to work on his habitat, he was right there rubbing on our legs and feet. He would just lay there rubbing all over our feet and purring. He would do this for hours if we let him. Even during his last days, Tassers would still make his way over for a visit and lay purring with the keepers. Tassers was loved by all those who met him and will greatly be missed. We are just so grateful he was able to live a long, enriching life with those who loved and appreciated him.
It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to a beloved friend. Taz was a boarder at the Sanctuary, and his owner provided the funds to build his habitat. Taz was probably one of the most private bobcats here at IEAS spending most of the day snoozing in his house. However, once things got quite, Taz came out to explore. Though he was a private fellow, he still enjoyed company from some human friends. He actually had a cute little habit. He loved feet! He would come over to a friend and rub all over their feet! Everyone who knew Taz will miss him dearly but will always remember his cute ways.
We have been struggling to find the right words, to find the strength, and to accept the need to tell you all that we lost Misha in an unexplainable accident. She was found in her habitat when we arrived for her morning feeding the night after a thunderstorm. We have poured over and dwelled for hours on end about what may have happened and can come to no certain conclusion. There were no clues as to what may have caused this heartbreaking and untimely loss. Whether by some accident of nature or an underlying physiological complication, this amazing cub, who touched each of our lives in a different way, was taken from us far too soon and now, we find it difficult to express how much grief we feel.
In only three weeks, Misha showed us so much of herself and put her entire being in her new life at the Sanctuary. She embraced every new opportunity and was eager and curious to learn and explore what her home had to offer her, including her new friends. Misha found nurturing and comfort in her human caregivers at IEAS, forming unique bonds with each of us individually. Whether she viewed us as a friend, mother, father, or sibling, Misha showed us just how intelligent, bright, and thoughtful she really was. Her confidence grew by the day, and it took little more than looking into her expressive eyes to fall in love with her. The understanding and acceptance she had for her new family and the security that she found in each of us gives us reconciliation in that we are truly confident that Misha knew that she was cared for, treasured, and, above all, loved during her time with us. To say that we feel it is a privilege to have known Misha, even for a short time, is an understatement. It is one of the greatest honors we’ve had, and a time that will undoubtedly stay with each of us forever. We will never stop loving this amazing little cub, and though she can no longer be with us, she will always be in our hearts and a part of the IEAS family.
Personal Postscript from IEAS Animal Behaviorist, Louis Dorfman:
In addition to the extensive and caring attention given to Misha by the rest of IEAS staff, I, Louis Dorfman, as Animal Behaviorist together with my wife Julia, who has studied with me for 10 years and also has a rare instinctual talent for working with wild animals, spent a very extensive amount of time working with Misha in the short time we were blessed to have her at IEAS. We, like everyone else at IEAS, fell madly in love with this needy, love-starved innocent and gentle being and were completely under her spell. We put off many of our obligations to be with her as much as possible, and we felt it was a rare privilege to know such a loving, intelligent, and caring little bundle of joy. The night before she died we were with her until dark, and she blessed us with perhaps the most perfect interaction one could dream to have with a wild animal cub. She was so happy and loved lying on her back and having us rub and tickle her tummy while you could really see her smiling and making noises one could easily characterize as giggles. When we found out the next morning that either she was struck by lightning in the storm of the previous evening or perhaps died of a heart attack from fear of the storm, nothing in memory can compare to the devastation we both felt. We spent the whole day together in loving silence, both of us knowing what the other was feeling but not having the desire or words to express what we already knew we shared. Without doubt, as short as the time was we spent with Misha, we will never, in our lives, forget her loving nature or the time we were privileged to share with her.
Unexpected losses always impact us a bit differently than those we can prepare for. While the loss we feel is the same, its shock tends to enhance the pain of that now missing piece. Chewy’s passing has devastated us more than we can say. She was a constant source of happiness in our lives, absolutely never failing to put a smile on any of our faces. Some of the most memorable animal moments we have at the Sanctuary involve the charisma, spunkiness, and amazing character of this beautiful girl. She was playful, energetic, and loving. Her happy bear “smile” is something we will never forget. It’s hard to accept such a passing in our minds and in our hearts, and the day will never come that we will stop missing Chewy.
It is with heavy hearts that we say good-bye to another member of the IEAS family. Big John has been a member of our family for almost 20 years. The first half of his life was spent having to entertain people in the Spanish Circus. However, once being rescued by IEAS, he was able to live a relaxing life without a care in the world. He was truly a laid back tiger who would spend the summer months lounging in his pool or in the deep grass. We were so happy to be able to give John the life he deserved, one where he could act like a tiger. Big John will be dearly missed, but we will carry him in our hearts and memory forever.