SANDSTONE, Minn. -- The Wild Cat Sanctuary started 10 years ago as a way to put an end to the captive wildlife crisis in Minnesota and the United States.
Most of the animals here come from people who believe a wild animal makes a good pet. "Then after a couple months, they don't know what to do with it after it gets too big or it hurts somebody, they cant afford the food bill," explains Tammy Thies, Executive Director of the Wild Cat Sanctuary.
"80 percent of our cats were owned as pets before they arrived at the sanctuary. When the animals decide to be animals the animals pay the price."
So Tammy Thies decided to do something about it.
"We are the last resort. Most of these animals would be euthanized if they didn't end up at the sanctuary. The two cougars behind us were actually orphaned by a hunter in Wyoming."
Another cat at the sanctuary came when hs brother killed his owner here in Minnesota. "He arrived at about 230 lbs which is half of his weight that he's at now," Thies said.
"He's not aggressive, he's a tiger, when they're hungry and there's easy food around they do what tigers do. When they are hungry, they take the easiest pray."
A white tiger was declawed on all four feet and chained-down for photo ops for the public and at fairs before arrive at the sanctuary. "Nobody should be treating them as pets or putting them on a leash and allowing children to have their pictures taken with them," said Thies.
While owning 'exotic' cats is illegal in Minnesota, there's a loophole in the law making native cats legal to own. Bobcats are native to Minnesota, and unfortunately the population at the sanctuary is bursting at the seams, mostly due to private owners who can't handle them anymore.
"My goal is to put myself out of business so that sanctuaries like this aren't necessary." said Thies. "Keep the wild in your heart, not in your home is our motto."
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