July 24, 2010

Our tiger, Kahn

Blog, we just received in the mail the papers making our adoption of Kahn official, so I can finally share with our readers about the newest member of our family, this awesome seven-year-old Siberian tiger.

No, he hasn't moved in to Magic House to live side by side with Cody, Alice and Selke.  He's going to remain in his happy home at the Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue and Educational Center in Rock Springs, Wisconsin, about 20 minutes west of the Dells.  But we will be one of the families that contribute monthly to his feeding and upkeep.

Back story:  After our Vegas trip in January, I was thinking about the animals who are protected by Siegfried and Roy at the Mirage's Secret Garden, and their other conservation efforts.  I wondered if there might be a big cats shelter closer to the Midwest where Davie and I might visit sometime.  I was amazed to discover one practically in our backyard, a mere couple of hours away.

These are all photos of Kahn, and the one below I took myself the day we visited.  It was very hot and humid, and the cats were mostly snoozing...but most slept in easy view of visitors and checked us out drowsily. The rest of the photos in this post are mine, too...the less crisp ones taken with my phone camera when ICU's battery died at the worst possible time!

Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue was begun in 2005 by Jeff Kozlowski and Jenny Meyer, two experienced cat handlers who decided to create a habitat for homeless and abused felines of unusual size.  They have USDA licensing and 501(c)3 non-profit status.  Land was donated to them, and in less than a year they had 26 cats living in sturdy, spacious enclosures, outfitted for all their needs.  These animals are tended lovingly, nursed when sick or hurt, and not exposed to the stresses and abuse so many of them experienced in their former lives.

The Rescue takes in cats from private owners, backyard breeders, animal brokers, zoos and circuses.  In all cases the animals were abused or no longer wanted.  The shelter has conducted some very large animal rescue operations.  They saved 11 cats from a backyard breeder in Flat Rock, Indiana, and recently rescued many animals from an illegal circus in Marion County, Texas.

Sometimes Jeff and Jenny find new homes for their residents, like when they placed Tom III with the University of Memphis to serve as the school's mascot (a tiger, natch).  Click here to see a slideshow of Tom III, and beware, the cuteness is extreme!

Most of the rescued animals stay on with Jeff and Jenny.  They receive no government funding and rely on sponsors, volunteers, and contributors to provide for their large furry family.  Donations come not only in cash but in machines for the compound, vet supplies, and meat.  Different levels of sponsorship are available and entitle you to free visits to the Rescue (normally adults are $9, children 6-12 are $6 and 5 and under free) and photos of your adoptee.

Why did we choose Kahn?  I just love tigers and he is a remarkably beautiful animal.  When we told Jenny of our choice, she smiled and said Kahn is her favorite of all the cats.  He was their first rescue, saved from an Illinois zoo that no longer had room for him.  Jenny told us how she and Jeff were a bit misinformed about Kahn's size when they went to pick him up.  Since he couldn't fit in the cat carrier they had brought, Jenny sat in the back seat of the pickup truck next to Kahn for the long ride home.  She played with him a bit during his early days at the Rescue, but quickly he proved simply too large for that--one time he sat on her and all she could do was wait till he decided to get up!

Kahn, being a Siberian tiger, loves the snow, so he's happy as a clam living in Wisconsin.  In fact, all the cats enjoy the snow.  Their coats get thicker, and Jeff and Jenny provide them with extra straw for nesting, so they are comfortable even during the Midwest winter.

Blog, I hope our cat loving friends donating to Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue.  You can see photos on the website of all of Kahn's pals, like Beemer the Atlas Lion, Dozer the Black Leopard, Sierra the Spotted Leopard, and Raja the White Bengal Tiger.  And by the way, they have a new program that for anyone who provides full sponsorship for a cat for a year ($5,000) they will install a camera so you can watch your sponsoree over the Web anytime!  (Don't worry, Blog, there are levels of sponsorship for any budget, and one-time donations of any size make a difference for these sweet felines.)

And Wisconsin readers, next time you're up at the Dells during the non-winter months, pay the Rescue a visit.  They're open whenever it's not above 90 degrees or raining, and it's absolutely wonderful seeing these magnificent cats all in one place.  And say hi to Kahn for us!

Bonus!  I actually found a really adorable video taken by a visitor to the Rescue.  It's just like being there!


  1. Congratulations on your new baby! Next time I visit my family in Milwaukee,the Dells will be on our itinerary if at all possible,

  2. There are lots of great things to do there, that's for sure, Eileen!