On August 13th, 2019, we said goodbye to Tres Ocelot. Tres originally lived in Alabama, but lost her home during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She briefly lived in a facility in Florida, and came to us at the Center in 2009. Though we don't know her exact age, we believe Tres was about 27 years old - extremely old for an ocelot. Her notoriously grumpy expression and scrunched up nose may have tricked folks into believing that she was a mean-spirited cat, but those who spent the most time with her know that a simple offering of her favorite herb or scent would reveal her to be sweet, engaged, and eager for affection. Though it is never easy to say goodbye to a beloved animal, we take comfort in knowing that Tres is no longer in any pain and that we provided her a loving home for more than a decade. She was special to many of our Center family and will be dearly missed.
On July 17th, 2019, we said goodbye to Tsumi (short for Tsunami) New Guinea Singing Dog. Born in 2003 and joining us in 2011, Tsumi lived a long life full of love, care, and adoration. Despite her powerful given name, she was our smallest and daintiest Singing Dog. She was a fantastic representative of her species, often visible to guests while she sunbathed on her platform or happily danced around her habitat with her companion, Mouse. It’s never easy to say goodbye to one of our beloved residents, but at over 17 years old her quality of life had been steeply declining. She brought joy to countless guests, volunteers, and staff, and we will all miss her.
We are saddened to announce the passing of Daisy Lioness. An extraordinary elderly lion, Daisy came to us as an adult lion in 2004, and we have cherished the 15 years she has spent in our care. Our animal care team had been carefully monitoring Daisy for some time for age-related health issues and discomfort, and the difficult but kind decision was made to allow her to pass painlessly.
Daisy served as a fantastic ambassador for her species, recently delighting guests with her uncommon mane and distinctive gravely vocalizations. At over 20 years old, she presented us with a perfect opportunity to educate about geriatric animal care. She was our resident “dinosaur” and was very special to many of us. She was independent, surprising, and goofy, and we will miss her dearly.
We said goodbye to Wendy Fennec Fox. Wendy arrived at the Center in 2015 (she has previously been housed at another facility) to be a companion for our male fennec, Tut. She and Tut made quite the adorable pair, and always elicited exclamations of delight from guests of all walks of life. She was a fantastic ambassador for her species, and helped educate people about wildlife by making appearances offsite at places like the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. Over the last few months, she had been exhibiting increasing signs of discomfort due to age-related health conditions, and the difficult decision was made to allow her to pass peacefully with no pain. We will miss her, but will cherish the years we spent caring for her.
On Friday, we said goodbye to Harriet Serval. Born in 1999, she arrived at the Center in April of 2008. At around 20 years old, she had long exhibited signs of age-related health issues and discomfort. Our team did everything they could to keep her happy and comfortable for as long as possible. As her quality of life continued to degrade, our animal care and veterinary teams made the difficult but necessary decision to euthanize her so that she would no longer be in pain. Things like this are never easy, but we know that the decade she spent at the Center was full of love and care and lots of fun. We'll be giving extra attention to her companion, Oz, as he adjusts to having a habitat all to himself. She will be missed!
We are saddened to announce the passing of Arthur Tiger on March 28, 2019. We are devastated by this tragic and unexpected loss. Arthur was a beloved and charismatic resident here at the Center, and we are forever thankful for the more than ten years that we were able to provide him a loving home.
During a routine training session, Arthur was being fed pieces of boneless meat by our keeping staff and began choking. When a cat is choking, they will attempt to cough up the obstruction and clear their airway. When that was unsuccessful, Arthur quickly lost consciousness. Our personnel attempted everything possible to save Arthur, but were unable to revive him.
This is incredibly difficult for our entire Conservators Center family, many of whom have known Arthur nearly his entire life. But he was so immediately likable and expressive that this grief touches all of us, even those who have only known him for a short time. Losing an animal is always painful, but Arthur was special, and the pain of losing him is particularly sharp. We take comfort in knowing that he spent his life here surrounded by the utmost love and care every single day.
When Arthur arrived at the Center, he was about three months old and, at just nineteen pounds, severely underweight. Arthur moved in a habitat next door to Kira Lioness, who was disabled; her father accidentally stepped on her hips at a different facility when she was very young. Soon, Arthur and Kira bonded through playing along their shared enclosure wall. We made the careful choice to introduce them into the same habitat, and they acted as ‘physical therapists’ for each other -- the exercise improved Arthur’s appetite and helped Kira build muscle mass in her hips. Their unlikely companionship delighted and inspired thousands of visitors and was the basis for a beautiful children’s book.
As we all adjust to life at the Center without Arthur, we will be doing all we can to help Kira adjust as well. We’ve reached out to the people who spend the most time with her, and they will be visiting her often and showering her with attention and affection. We will be monitoring her behavior extra closely and ensuring that she stays happy, healthy, and mentally stimulated.
As always, we are thankful for the support of our community during difficult times like these.
We are saddened to announce the passing of Misha Serval in early 2019.
Misha arrived with her companions, Oz and Harriet, in Spring 2008. Unbeknownst to us, she was expecting at the time! She gave birth to bouncy baby boys—Sammy, Mojo, William, and Obi—shortly thereafter. She was one of our older servals, and was never as openly social as her younger fellow servals, but was always curious and excited for visitors and tasty snacks. We will miss this sassy little independent serval and thank her for legacy of her four boys. .
We are saddened to announce the passing of Andreka Jungle Cat on Dec 3, 2018.
He was a muscular, masculine, macho kind of cat. He arrived at the Center in 2011 with his then-mate, Ezebert, after living in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Missouri. In 2016, he was moved to a “bachelor pad” away from Ezebert to accommodate some age-related health issues. He seemed to enjoy the single life and could frequently be heard expressing the typical jungle cat “WOW” vocalization, especially in harmony with the lions’ oofing. He never cared much for human attention or scent enrichment, but was always excited to be provided with a tasty treat. We will miss this handsome guy very much and are very thankful for the time we had with him.
We are heartbroken to announce the passing of Calvin the lion on Nov. 10, 2018.
Calvin lived a full, healthy life with us for his entire 14 years. Born at the park in 2004, Calvin was named for the main character in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. When he tasted food he did not like as a young cub, our Calvin made facial expressions remarkably similar to ones that the comic strip Calvin made when he was confronted with unpalatable foods like spinach.
While he often chose to engage in the company of some special humans, Calvin was extremely focused on the big cat family he lived with every day. Calvin was the low-key but effective leader of our unusual Mixed Pride of lions and tigers, including two spunky lionesses, Savik and Katrina, and his pride-mate, Wic the tiger. His mother still resides at the park, as do his siblings.
Calvin’s blonde mane suggested that he may have had relatively low testosterone levels, but that did not inhibit him from being a gently assertive and effective leader. He led his group with a firm set of expectations, and required good manners from his pride at all times. They each knew they must pay polite homage to him every time they passed nearby by tucking their chins and rubbing heads with him, even if it meant waking him up. On days when the cats felt enthusiastically affectionate, the sound of their heads clunking together was audible from a considerable distance.
It was Calvin who first attempted to rescue Wic tiger and his siblings from their swimming pool when he was convinced the young cubs would all drown. After he understood that for some reason the tigers wanted to remain in the pool, he established some ground rules that abolished the practice of swimming in cool water and then flopping down in the midst of the sunbathing lion pride.
Calvin was always the peacekeeper. He broke up fusses and banished troublemakers away from the others in a timeout when they misbehaved. He ensured that the ladies did not spend too much time admiring Hansen next door.
Calvin's unexpected loss is truly saddening. This community is one of strength and, while we cannot understand the mysterious ways of nature, we can comfort each other during times like these and be thankful that we had the opportunity to share our lives with this amazing lion.
We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our resident tiger princess, Freya, on October 18, 2018.
She was born here at the Center, along with three siblings, on August 28th, 2004. Her mother arrived pregnant as part of a placement of big cats that had been confiscated from an unfit facility in Ohio. From the beginning, Freya was the most vocal and most playful tiger of the four. She was the first to leave the birthing den at only a few days old.
While she was still quite young, she and her brother Wic were introduced to a litter of lions - Calvin, Matthai, Katrina, and Savik - Matthai moved on to his own pride but the five of them lived together for about 10 years. Unlike Wic, who still lives in Mixed Pride, Freya was a tiger through-and-through, and didn’t like the hierarchical structure that is natural to lions.
She was moved to an enclosure all to herself, and she flourished in her independence. She could often be seen playing through the fence with her next door neighbors, Ra, Kiara, Kira, and Arthur. She diligently patrolled her territory and greeted visitors and enrichment with excitement and a sweet desire for attention.
In April of 2018, she began experiencing health issues which continued to decline over the next few months. She exhibited neurological symptoms that caused her to easily lose her balance and prevented her from enjoying the enrichment that once excited her. Our animal care staff made a great effort to adapt her habitat to suit her new needs. Her platforms were lowered for easier access, she was given a set of steps to more comfortably reach her favorite hammock, enrichment was placed in such a way that it still challenged her without frustrating her, and she was continuously monitored for any signs of discomfort.
Her health continued to decline rapidly as summer changed to fall, and eventually her quality of life reached a point where our animal care team had to make a very tough decision. She always prized her ability to be fierce. She had always been athletic and strong and playful, and when that was taken away from her by this illness, she seemed to lack the fierce joy that made her who she was.
The decision was not made lightly, and was the product of constant monitoring and daily evaluations. She was special to all of us, and the Center will not be the same without her. She touched many lives and introduced so many people to her species. We know that the memories she helped create will continue on for many years, and we all take comfort in that.
Spaulding is an important part of the Conservators Center experience—he may be ‘just’ a domestic mutt, but he’s served as a companion and mentor to many of our wild canids, including Melly Dingo and Sullivan Coyote. There’s no better teacher in The Way Of The Canid than Spaulding! Though we are known for our exotic animals, Spaulding Dog was undeniably special to everyone who knew him. He always greeted staff and visitors alike with a wagging tail and sweet whine for attention. He was a friend to all of us, including the other animals, thanks to his frequent walks around the park with his human pals.
We couldn’t be more thankful that the shelter in Spaulding, Georgia incorrectly believed he was a New Guinea Singing Dog and put him in our lives. We will miss him terribly. He passed peacefully on Sept. 30, 2018, with the greatest possible care and attention until the end.
Cookie arrived at the Center years ago as a companion for Jeremiah Ring-tailed Lemur, and her in-charge, girl-power attitude certainly inspired lots of laughter among our guests. It is heartbreaking to think we will never again see her adorably wide-eyed expression or hear her delightful coo, but we will take comfort in the fact that Cookie touched the hearts, minds, and funny bones of thousands during her life. Ring-tailed lemurs are social creatures in general. Jeremiah did not come from a background where he knew how to behave as a lemur, so Cookie had to instruct him on proper lemur behavior. We will be addressing his need for a companion, but we will have to give careful consideration to making the right choice for him. It will take us some time.
We are incredibly heartbroken to announce that Luna Jungle Cat has passed away.
Luna developed a cough recently, and we took her to the vet to have that examined. Unfortunately, the vet discovered a large, invasive tumor in Luna's abdomen, among other issues. Despite the vet's best efforts, Luna passed away. Later, the vet confirmed with us that Luna had cancer.
Though she was only with us for a short while, we are happy for the time we had with her, and we are glad we have photos and videos to remember her by. She was shy and deliberate, but exhibited an adorable, delightful personality we are thankful we got to know.
Additionally, some of Luna's cancer cells will be used for cancer research as part of a larger collaborative effort to benefit both animals and humans. It's a comfort to us that, though Luna is gone, she will still positively affect the lives of many. We hope it is a comfort to you all as well.