Her Memory Will Live On
March 1, 2006 – With a very heavy heart I must tell you that we lost Meme last night.
As you all know, Meme the tiger was diagnosed with cancer about a year and a half ago. More recently, doctors at the University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine determined that the tumors had spread and that Meme’s condition was terminal.
Despite the prognosis, Meme’s quality of life remained good until the beginning of this week when Meme stopped eating. Yesterday, Meme began exhibiting signs of pain. Our veterinarians examined Meme and determined that treatment would not improve her condition. The Wildcat Sanctuary staff made the painful decision that Meme should not be made to suffer and were present as she passed. Meme will be cremated and her ashes will be spread across wildlife land where she will spend her first moment and the rest of forever living outside of fences.
I knew this day would come, but it was even more difficult than I could ever have imagined. Meme’s resilience and forgiveness have taught me so much and should be a lesson for others. Meme was more than a blessing to TWS and our supporters, she was a miracle. Her spirit will be with us always.
It is very hard for me to express my feelings right now. I am devastated at her loss, but inspired and continually amazed at her life. She embodied all that TWS is about. She was a living story for so many other animals in need and proved happy endings can happen if we all work together.
I want to thank each of you for all your support for Meme. I know you cared for her as much as we did. She has touched the lives of so many and her story and legacy will continue to do so.
There’s no doubt that Meme, a 25-year old Bengal tiger, is a favorite at the sanctuary. If her beauty and charm don’t win your heart, hearing her story surely will.
Just a short time ago, Meme was an indentured servant at a breeding farm right here in Minnesota. Her world consisted of a 10′ x 10′ dark and cold corn crib, with barely enough room to turn around. There was no grass to lie in, no room to run or walk, no insulation from the harsh winter cold. She was fed primarily road kill, evident by the carcasses and bones which stood knee-high on the floor of her cage. For twenty years, her only purpose in life was to produce, for profit, litter after litter of cubs for the animal trade.
When Meme’s owner decided to get out of the business, he felt his only option may be to shoot his three tigers. This was to be Meme’s final reward for years of service to her owner. Luckily, those words fell on the right ears. Our sanctuary was notified of the owner’s intentions and we were determined to rescue these tigers. Two were placed with a sanctuary in the south but due to Meme’s age, no one felt she would survive the trip. Therefore, Meme became TWS’s first and only tiger. Meme arrived with open wounds on her face and hips from rubbing herself raw against her small cage. The initial examination was not optimistic. She had severe arthritis and a bladder infection.
But with care from our veterinarian and staff, Meme now has a new lease on life. Life at the sanctuary must be heaven compared to her past. She has a heated den filled with straw for the cold Minnesota winters, a tiger perch complete with ramp and railings, a tire swing, tons of toys, fresh food every day and ample space to romp around.
In the summer of 2003, we achieved our goal of increasing the size of Meme’s habitat. Once released into her new space, Meme did the final inspection herself. A stretch up the new tree, which she annointed as her new scratching post; a roll in the freshly mowed grass; and a walk over the rocks – just because they were there!
Meme truly enjoys the winter. After the holidays, we picked up a truckload of donated Christmas trees. We gave Meme the largest of the lot, leaning it against one of her perches. She couldn’t wait to exit her lock out area to get at it. She jumped right in (or should we say, on it?), tearing at the branches and licking at the sap. She provided many humorous moments; especially, when she rolled over the tree and landed face first into the freshly fallen snow.
Meme continually amazes all of us at TWS. She has taught us that each day is special and that we should enjoy every moment. Meme has also taught us that to forgive is divine. We are very thankful that Meme has chosen to forgive mankind for her life of servitude. We can all learn a great deal from Meme.