The Wildcat Sanctuary Staff
Executive Director - Tammy Thies
Tammy Thies founded The Wildcat Sanctuary in 1999. She was a full-time advertising professional who became aware of the need for such a facility through her exposure to big cats during photo shoots and advertising campaigns. Tammy learned that throughout the United States, tens of thousands of these animals are privately owned as pets, and used as performers or for-profit breeding. Too often the cats outlived their usefulness and had nowhere to go.
For several years Tammy served on the board of the American Sanctuary Association which currently governs 35 sanctuaries in the United States. She has been very active in education regarding the captive wildlife crisis and testifying for legislation that bans breeding and keeping dangerous exotic animals as pets.
Tammy and her husband are parents to 5 large dogs and 6 domestic cats with larger egos.
Programs & Volunteer Coordinator – Christine Dietsche
Christine worked as independent film Assistant Camera and Art Producer before finding her true passion. Her 6th grade project was about wildcats and for every cat species the last line, “Man is their worst enemy,” foreshadowed her future. Christine volunteered for TWS about 9 years and on the first day fell in love with a cougar named Levi. She joined TWS as the Programs Coordinator in 2010 and continues to fall for TWS cats, big or small! Christine is also a jewelry designer, loves to travel and makes her home with husband Buc, their dog Zola and cats Kohlrabi, and Zaepfle.
Communications Manager – Holly Henry
Before coming to TWS, Holly was the Marketing/Media Director for the Lake Superior Zoo where she manged communications plans, marketing budgets, organized zoo events, developed collateral, and was spokesperson to the media. Prior to that she was a features writer and copy editor for Living North Magazine, Duluth News Tribune, as well as a free-lance writer and radio personality.s the Marketing Director for the Lake Superior Zoo since 2010, Holly is familiar with the animal industry and has always had a passion for rescue. Holly has been a supporter and one of TWS’ leading advocates for quite some time.
Holly’s role at TWS is increasing the visibility of The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) both locally and nationally, positioning them through aggressive, effective and strategic communications and promotional efforts to achieve long-term sustainability.
Development Associate – Holly Whitney
As Development Associate, Holly assists with donor relations, development as well as office support. Holly has been a vital part of the TWS volunteer team since July of 2011 and has been the Lead on many Awareness & Outreach events. She quickly rose to the level of Tiger as a volunteer. She also worked two days a week in the development office each week before joining our team full time.
Holly has a history in childcare as well as studied Archaeology and Art History at the University of Minnesota. She has a cat named Emu and a dog named Finley.
Lead Keeper – Trista Fischer
Trista attended the University of Minnesota and earned a degree in Ecology, Evolution and Animal Behavior. Prior to that she volunteered for several years and became a keeper at TWS upon graduation in 2007.
In addition to being the Lead Keeper she manages the YouTube channel and the internship program. She enjoys observing the interactions amongst the cats, their many behaviors and their different personalities. The most rewarding part of her job is the feeling she gets helping animals in need and building trust in animals who have been mistreated in the past.
Trista has two huskies named Kouza and Manokai.
Keeper – Alicia Ice
Alicia Ice joined The Wildcat Sanctuary as a keeper in 2008. She leads the care of the smaller cats like the hybrids, servals, bobcats and lynx but also helps with the bigger cats when needed. She attended the Minnesota State University in Mankato where she received her B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Zoology and worked at a city zoo. Her favorite thing about working at TWS is being involved in almost every aspect of the sanctuary from building enclosures to veterinary care and everything in between. At home, she has two dogs Rainy and Morgan who basically rule her life.
Keeper – Christina Mastry
Christina Mastry comes to us having interned at two accredited rescue organizations. She also interned at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida, worked at a veterinary clinic and volunteered for the Humane Society.
She prides herself on always looking for opportunities to improve the lives of those in her care. She’s a hard worker with a great attitude and will be a wonderful addition to our dedicated keeper team.
Natalie Warnacutt – Habitat construction
Thank you to our wonderful vets who donate their services to ensure our residents receive the best of care.
Medical Director – Dr. John Baillie
|University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, 1972. Dr. Baillie, he says, is “still in his first job,” Cedar Pet Clinic. Dr. Baillie is a regular lecturer at the University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine, for the Minnesota Medical Association, the Eastern States Association of Avian Veterinarians, and other organizations. Dr. Baillie is the Medical Director of Animal Care at Minnesota’s Wildcat Sanctuary. He provides free care for nursing home companion animals and is the president elect to The Minnesota Veterinary Medical Assoication. The Baillie family animals are Golden Retriever Joso, German Shorthaired Pointer Elly, and elderly Pappycat.|
Veterinarian – Dr. Noemi Plantz
University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, Madison, 2009. Dr. Plantz has been associated with Cedar Pet Clinic since 2000, when she started work in Animal Care. She has a particular interest in veterinary dentistry. Dr. Plantz speaks on veterinary careers and exotic species care to vet and pre-vet students at the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Her own dog is Reno, a black Lab mix, and a cat, Lucy.
Veterinarian – Dr. Courtney Blake
Dr. Blake is the Medical Director of VCA Cedar Animal Hospital and graduated from the University of Minnesota. She is pictured with her two “kids,” Ginger and Lucy. She loves taking them for long walks and playing fetch for hours! She enjoys camping and going for hikes in the woods. Dr. Blake also loves to travel and has hiked the Inca Trail in Peru, saw wild macaws and peccaries in the Amazon, penguins and whales in Argentina and toucans in Brazil.