“In 1986, we saw an ad in the popular Recycler that read ‘Idaho Cougar, 6 weeks, male, $600.’
We were lucky to have a friend with a zookeeper’s license, a large piece of land and a safe, sturdy enclosure. We had lots of animal experience including previous mentorships with big cat and wolf trainers under our belt. So off we went to pick up the baby cougar, who we named Babu.”
And so, Animazonia was born. A core group of dedicated friends pitched in and bought the 5-acre property and accepted responsibility for the seller’s two tigers as well. At the time, it didn’t look like much of a sanctuary of any kind—”most of the 5 acres was covered with head-high wild mustard, thistles, and overgrown river willows.”
Over the next decade, supporters and volunteer crews did the heavy clearing, lifting, digging, planting, and grading. Animazonia Wildlife Foundation now has a park-like atmosphere with shade provided by “a grove of 200 Citrodora Eucalyptus planted over 40 years ago, several California Pepper trees and a stand of Cottonwoods.”
Animazonia’s volunteers are passionate; they have full-time jobs and careers in addition to the work they do for the animals they have rescued. “We are paralegals, musicians, writers, business owners, therapists and artists.…No money is paid in salaries or honorarium which allows us to channel fully 78% of all contributions to directly benefit the animals.”
The animals rescued by AWF have all been bred and born right here in the United States where the exotic pet, especially the exotic cat trade, is a huge business. Too many dangerous animals are bred and sold in the United States. Private ownership presents a danger to the public and is cruel and unfair to the animals.…Through legislation and education, we believe the breeding and selling of exotic animals for private use can be diminished or stopped and the horrible suffering of people and animals will be eliminated. (Animazonia.org)
But today, the goal is to help provide the daily care for two new Animazonia residents: Olive and Leno. You may remember them as the two “cats” (ahem, cougars) roaming the streets of Burbank in 2011.
“The pair of 5-pound cougars discovered beneath a parked car on Organge Grove Avenue apparently had not eaten for two weeks,” reported Kevin Roderick of L.A. Observed at the time. The journalist also wrote that before help arrived “residents were poking at the cubs with sticks.”
Animazonia is committed to caring for the animals they rescue for the rest of their natural lives. Housing, feeding, and caring for their animal family is a huge investment, which was initially contributed by the core group. In 2000, Animazonia organized and became a non-profit foundation. Achieving their yearly goals is always a challenge, and this year at their annual fundraiser, it will require some cabernet sampling, “small bites” by Chef Suzanne Tracht of Jar restaurant, enjoying live music, and bidding during a silent auction.
Animazonia ambassadors will include Shiloh the bobcat and Princess, a rescued albino Burmese python.
Sip & Munch for Big Cats
Saturday, Sept. 13th, 4-8 p.m.
Tickets: $47 (the exclusive South Pasadena location will be supplied upon ticket purchase)
For more information, visit Animazonia.org
Amazonia offers day tours and sleepovers! Details may be found here.