Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Long Awaited Visit to In-Sync Exotics!

Yesterday's posting alluded to a California friend who flew from her home state to Texas just to spend some quality time with her adopted tiger!  

We asked if we could do a story about her visit since she traveled a great distance just to meet her adopted tiger.  She not only said yes, but she asked if she could write a brief post about her experiences with adoption program, her time spent with Okemo, and her overall experience with In-Sync Exotics! 

So without further ado, may I introduce to you Patrica J. Darling, also known to us at PJ:

A Long Awaited Visit

I found out about In-Sync Exotics through Tim, a Cisco employee, who sent an email sharing his volunteering experience and encouraged everyone to donate to this wonderful organization (where each donation is matched, up to $1000.00 by Cisco). I donated $100.00 without any hesitation for three reasons; 1) This organization was on Cisco’s approved vendor list for donations matching, 2) any organization that dedicates their lives to saving animals is worth supporting in two ways; monetary and service and 3) I am such a lover of tigers! After I sent my donation I checked out the website, and sent an email inquiring if I could sponsor a tiger. Vicky responded right away and after some dialogue, she followed up with Okemo’s bio and photo. I fell in love instantly! Shortly after I had made the decision to sponsor him, Vicky sent me the news of Okemo’s cancer with the understanding if I wanted to sponsor another big cat, she would completely understand. I said “I am sure you are running up bills for the doctor and medicine to keep Okemo comfortable, and I am dedicated to moving forward with the sponsorship.”

I have heard all about Okemo and what a wonderful tiger he is; sweet and loving, and chuffs when the people caring for him come by. I decided to fly down to meet Okemo. My friend Todd and I arrived on Friday, and spent our entire Saturday at In-Sync Exotics. We arrived at 9:30AM to help get the facility get ready for visitors. I had 7 friends, who live in Dallas, come to see Okemo and the other big cats as well. Lakshmi, In-Syncs' Educational Director, brought Todd and I directly to Okemo . On our way to his den, she explained all of the rules and why they have these rules. She also educated us on tiger’s innate behavior, they will eat you so keep your distance! After much calling, Okemo did not come out of his den right away, so we spent time with Jasmine, Okemo’s neighbor, and learned how she and her mate for 19 years, Raja Bell, came to In-Sync. Raja passed away late last year, but is remembered, by a bell that is placed just to the left of door, and is rung each time we exit the cage area. Jasmine is a gorgeous tiger, who is feisty, and will not hesitate to bite you when given the opportunity. I respected Jasmine and admired her from a safe distance, even though I wanted to reach out and touch her. After spending some time with Jasmine and other neighboring tigers, Okemo came out in all his glory. He is absolutely a magnificent tiger, the largest tiger Vicky has seen at In-Sync, with a face you just want to grab and come nose to nose with. His eyes just sparkled as he slowly moved out of his den. He chuffed a hello. I was so overcome by his beauty, his size, his peaceful presence, he left me breathless. I am so very happy to have met Okemo…words cannot describe how this tiger has warmed my heart…and it has been an honor to know him.

Later in the day, Vicky came over, and I got to see the side of Okemo I have heard so much about. When Vicky knelt down behind the gentle tiger and massaged his back, he chuffed, got up and turned around to begin playing with her. Vicky put her hand up to Okemo, letting him know that’s enough. He just chuffed and followed her with his eyes.

This was how our visit continued: we saw all the big and small cats, while the lions sang and talked to each other, the tigers entertained themselves with their barrels, and the white lions sat majestically on their perch. We saw Nugget, a marsupial like creature, get a shot, while Okemo received his pain medication. We helped clean cages, put in posts for the new 14,000 square foot Cheetah habitat, and loved a few domestic kitties and Lab named Katy. The highlight of the day was feeding time. I absolutely loved witnessing how every In-Sync care giver provided each cat their food with love and care. Not only in preparation and handling of the food, but how it was given and making sure each cat, large or small, consumed their share. It was fun to see how excited Mohan got during each course: the main meal, treats, treats and more treats. It was cool to see Justin have Mohan stand on his hind legs to reach for the meaty treat from 10 feet high. It was delightful to hear the coos and praises from each handler toward their favorite cats…and I mean every cat is their favorite! Another thing I was really impressed with was how everyone communicated with each other, where they were, what was going, if a cat was upset by someone’s presence (and confronting the individual to move away), who was not eating, who did not consume their medicine, who was going out in to the playground , peppered with humor, food orders, and see you tomorrows, followed by double checking everything. The cats are so loved that every cat who had come and gone is always remembered! There is a shrine built for each cat who passed away and there are also paw prints painted in the restroom with the cats name by it. If the cat passed away, there is a date of when they departed from this world.

I am impressed with the team! There is a solid system of putting the cats first, having each other’s back and having fun. Vicky is incredible! She has such a presence, each and every cat, responds to her. They want to be near her. She is magically! I was amazed by each and every one I met and feel not only great about supporting such a wonderful place and cause, but also knowing that Okemo is in the perfect place to spend his remaining days. He is very much loved by everyone and one day will have a shrine for all to remember and know him!

Todd and I truly enjoyed our visit. We have definitely been touched by cats, the people and the essence of this wonderful place. We are spreading the word of In-Sync Exotics, a hidden treasure found in Wylie, to everyone we meet! May we touch their hearts as Vicky and all of the cats have touched ours. We plan to fly back in 6 months to volunteer again…until then, “chuff, chuff” to all of our new friends at In-Sync…our new sanctuary!
PJ Darling
Sponsor of Okemo
Morgan Hill, California

PJ's Friends on Tour
It was our pleasure to meet PJ and we are very grateful for the time she and Tim spent with Okemo, as sadly this may have been the only opportunity for PJ to meet her adopted tiger. Our boy was very outgoing on Saturday and Sunday, as he thoroughly enjoyed all the attention he received! We are also thankful for the hours PJ and Tim spent cleaning cages, putting down posts for a new cage, and then helping us feed our wild ones.  We'd also like to include a special thank you to PJ's friends who were able to visit In-Sync Exotics for the first time! We hope everyone had a great time visiting the animals!

We cannot begin to tell you how important the animal adoption program is to In-Sync Exotics.  Thanks to our new sponsor, PJ, Okemo is assured special food and medicine he requires daily for the rest of his life.  If you are interested in sponsoring one of our animals, please click HERE for details on this special program.  When you sponsor an animal, you are truly making a difference in their life. 

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Thank you so much for supporting In-Sync Exotics!


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