You might not expect a family with a child allergic to cats and dogs to be so devoted to wildlife. But, that’s exactly what you’ll find with the Hartwell family. The 5 cats they sponsor at The Wildcat Sanctuary have become such an important part of their lives that the cats’ pictures are prominently displayed in their family room with all the other cherished family photos.
Maureen Pelton was the first to hear about The Wildcat Sanctuary when she read an article in the Star Tribune about the rescue work being done. With her curiosity piqued, she was able to take a virtual tour of the Sanctuary online and fell in love with Shazam, the black leopard. She was excited to join the Sponsor-a-Wild-One Program that helps with Shazam’s care.
After Maureen and her husband, Charlie Hartwell, later spent a day with the staff at the Sanctuary, he also became hooked. He sponsored Sierra, the tigress, and then the children followed their parents’ lead, “adopting” their own cats, too.
Maureen explains that, “What sets The Wildcat Sanctuary apart from any other organization is the staff’s obvious dedication to the animals. The pure, authentic compassion, the respect shown, the excellent care and hard work, the broad knowledge base of each species and each unique personality, the exciting enrichment opportunities given the cats – these are why we are so devoted to the Sanctuary.”
It’s refreshing to find such amazing advocates for wildlife. Maureen may not have been the most popular parent when she refused to allow her children to participate in pony rides or petting zoos, but she’s certainly one of the most compassionate ones. She’s constantly looking for opportunities to educate others about the Captive Wildlife Crisis and the Sanctuary’s work, whether to other mothers or out-of-town visitors. Even her friends from Africa couldn’t believe it when she shared the story of how many captive lions and tigers are living in Minnesota.
Being so in tune with wildlife, it isn’t surprising that each of the animals the family members chose to sponsor at the Sanctuary seems to be a great fit for their individual personalities. Maureen chose Shazam because she’s always felt a connection to black leopards. They’re fierce and, it’s obvious, so is Maureen. Charlie chose Sierra, known for her sweetness. Charlie Jr. chose Titan, Marae chose Kita, and Lucy chose Baby – all perfect matches.
We’re thrilled that Maureen and her family found The Wildcat Sanctuary and the perfect way to foster their wild sides. Their feline family couldn’t be happier either!