Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Poetry In Motion -- Saving 20 Big Cats!

As many of our longtime supporters know, In-Sync Exotics has called upon many times to help animals caught in unusual circumstances.  Needless to say, our latest rescue was no exception.

The Call

We received an urgent plea from a family living in Poetry, Texas, which is located approximately 40 minutes from In-Sync Exotics, to help relocate cougars, lions and tigers.   Not knowing what to expect, we agreed to make the journey to Poetry.  I think we can all say, without a doubt, this was truly the most challenging rescue in In-Sync Exotics’ history!

On July 1, 2011, the In-Sync Exotic Team arrived at a private residence located in Hunt County to check on 20 big cats (10 cougars, 9 lions, and 1 tiger) to determine their health status and suitability for travel.  What we discovered was absolutely heartbreaking. 

The owner of the 20 cats recently passed away and her family wanted the animals to be placed in new homes as soon as possible since there was no one capable of maintaining and caring for the animals on a permanent basis.  When In-Sync Exotics workers and volunteers arrived, we discovered 8 cougars, 3 lionesses, and 1 tiger living in a closed-up barn.  The animals’ 12x12 metal horse stalls were filthy—pools of urine and piles of feces were found in every stall. 

Sadly, these animals lived in the barn for approximately 10 years with no opportunity to run and play outside.  The only sunlight the animals received were from the barn windows.  These animals were literally living on death row.

To the side of the barn, we discovered 2 cougars and 6 lions (3 females & 3 males) living in small outdoor pens. 

It was obvious the animals had gone without food or drinks for some time, so our first order of business was to provide the animals with fresh water and food.

In-Sync Exotics agreed to take in 4 cougars and 4 lions with the remainder of the animals going to Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Indiana and Popcorn Park Zoo Animal Rescue and Sanctuary located in New Jersey.

The cougars made the move on July 1, 2011 and the lions moved on Sunday, July 17, 2011.

The Update!

Last Sunday, it was another hot day in Texas as temperatures reached a high of 99 degrees.  Team In-Sync arrived at Poetry around 10:00am (when it was a little cooler) to begin the process of loading up the four lions.  Not surprisingly, the lions were ready to go and anxious to leave their old home.  Eddie Keahey commented “I guess they are ready to get out of Dodge” when the cats literally ran into the transporters.  It only took five minutes to load up each cat into roll cages and move them to the staging area.

Since we could not transport all the cats together at one time to In-Sync, we decided to send the three lionesses ahead and make a second trip to pick up the male lion.

We started the day at 9:00am and we secured the last lion gate at 7:00pm.  This amazing move would not have been possible without the five In-Sync volunteers that gave up their Sunday to help the lions move from Poetry to Wylie!

We also want to recognize the volunteers that stayed behind to care for the animals at home.  They literally “held down the fort” while we are gone!  

Truly, we have the best volunteer team ever!  Thank you Team In-Sync!

Back to the Remaining Poetry Animals

Yesterday, Exotic Feline Rescue Center from Indiana arrived to pick-up the remaining 11 big cats.  EFRC will transport four cats to their facility first and then continue on to New Jersey to deliver the remaining seven cats to the Popcorn Park Zoo Animal Rescue and Sanctuary.

Here Kitty, Kitty!

The move went smoothly with only one cat requiring sedation.  “Kitty” the lioness was a little apprehensive of making the move, so she was sedated.  This gave our vet an opportunity to examine “Kitty” to make sure she was able to safely travel to her new home. 

We brought the last cougar to In-Sync, while he waits for a new place to call home.  We have high hopes he will be relocated in the next few days.

Drum Roll, Please!

It is with great pleasure to introduce you to our new family of lions, Aramis, Aurora, Layla and Eva!

First, there is Aramis, a male lion approximately 6 years old.  Aramis just happens to be the brother of Aurora, whom is also approximately 6 years of age.  We are concerned about Aurora as she has been seen limping and avoiding the use of her right front paw.

Then there is Layla and Eva, both sisters, related to Aramis and Aurora, whom are about 12-15 years of age.  We are also concerned with Layla’s health as she only eats about half of her meal, choosing instead to playing with her food.  Layla is a little on the thin side, so we are watching her carefully to see if her appetite improves over the next couple of days.

On Monday, we plan to draw blood from all the lions to determine the health of each animal. 

Coincidentally, the four lions’ father, d'Artagnan, 20 years old, was one of the big cats that relocated to Indiana!  Sadly, the mother of the cats passed away some time ago.

The three female lions live together in the Mane Street playground, while their brother, Aramis lives in the attached living quarters.  Layla is the explorer of the group, checking out each enrichment toy in turn.  So far, she scared herself with the swinging tire, kicked around the bucket, and played with her Boomer Ball. 

We intend for Aramis to join the lionesses once two of the three cats are spayed (Aurora was spayed prior to arrival).

Spaying a lioness can be a bit more expensive than spaying a domestic house cat.  It costs about $2,500 per lioness and a lot of round the clock care for several days to make sure the surgery is a success. 

We are looking forward to the day when the lion “family” is finally reunited together in the same play area!

Next, may we present our cougars, Kane, Abel, Howard and Chloe!

Kane (18-20 years) and Abel (10-15 years) live together.  These two cats are not siblings.

Howard and Chloe, both about 10-15 years of age and not related, live together.  Even though Howard was neutered years ago, we believe it to be a good idea to have Chloe spayed so she does not excite the other cougars around her when she goes into “heat.”

Upon arrival at In-Sync Exotics, Kane and Howard were immediately seen by their new veterinarian to determine their current health condition and to develop a health care treatment plan. 

As it turned out, Kane was suffering from toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease caused by a protozoan Toxoplasma gondii, which is found primarily in cats.  Kane may have contracted this parasitic disease by eating infected meat or by exposure from dried feces that contaminated his living area.  Kane was also very dehydrated and suffered from heat exhaustion (his symptoms included dizziness, muscle weakness, and nausea/ vomiting).  Thankfully, by the fourth day of treatment, Kane could once again walk without falling over!

Howard’s physical condition was a great concern to us.  He was seen by his new veterinarian and diagnosed as being emaciated. He was given fluids and released to In-Sync for observation.  When Howard could not eat that evening, he was taken back to the vet for a more thorough examination.  X-rays and blood work results revealed that Howard’s intestines dried up due to extreme dehydration.  Hard balls of fecal matter had to be removed by the veterinarian and Howard endured two enemas, a procedure of introducing liquids into his rectum and colon.  Howard was released to In-sync Exotics to be monitored by our staff to make sure he could eat, drink, and poop on his own again.  Howard was also diagnosed as having a low potassium level (potassium is needed in order to make his intestines work correctly).  It was touch and go there for a while as we were not sure Howard would survive. 

Four days later, Howard finally ate a small meal consisting of one pound of ground beef with mineral oil.  It was slow going for Howard, but he was able to eat and later poop out a small amount of fecal matter.  He is currently taking two types of antibiotic pills each day along with steroids for the pain and potassium gel shots in his mouth.

It will take some time before his intestines function properly again, but we are hopeful that he will make a full recovery.

Abel and Chloe, thankfully, appear to be healthy and happy!

Sadly, the lions and cougars’ previous owner did not maintain health records, so we have to guess at the animals’ ages or the details relating to their past illnesses or injuries. 

Done yet?

Now that the animals have left the Poetry property all that is left is to clean the enclosures and horse stalls, leaving the property in better condition than it was found on July 1st.  We expect to have the place cleaned up by Thursday evening!

We welcome you to visit Aramis, Aurora, Layla, Eva, Kane, Abel, Howard and Chloe at In-Sync Exotics today!  If you would like to help us with the cost of the cats’ medical care and surgeries, please click on Donate Now! button found on the top left side of this blog.  No donation is too small as every gift makes a difference in the cats’ lives.  We cannot provide a quality home without your continued support!  You are truly the cats’ life line, so we thank you in advance for your assistance in caring for our new residents.

Congratulations to everyone who helped us turn a sad situation into a happy ending! 

“We came, we saw, we saved – Mission Accomplished!”


  1. What was the owner's name and how did she come to possess 20 big cats?

  2. Vicki Deadman, the former owner of the cats in Poetry, passed away this year. We do not know how or from whom she acquired the 20 big cats.

    We are just grateful we were able to rescue the cats before it was too late for all of them.

  3. What is the point of owning 20 big cats? That makes no sense to me at all! And in such pitiful conditions...