The big cat world lost two very special advocates recently. Both were not only respected in their field but were also friends of us at TWS. Each will be deeply missed.
Dr. Ron Tilson
Ron Tilson, well known tiger conservationist, passed away this week. Dr. Tilson spent decades in charge of the Species Survival Plan for big cats in North America while serving as the conservation director at the Minnesota Zoo. His work studying and saving tigers, rhinos, and other endangered species in the wild has proved invaluable. Tilson literally wrote the book on tiger conservation with his book “Tigers of the World.” I was honored when he consulted with TWS as a contributor for this groundbreaking book.
One of his most significant accomplishments was convincing the Chinese government that they must reintroduce tigers to the wild. He also showed zoos that, if they are going to conserve wildlife, a strong commitment to conserving their wild habitat is necessary, too.
Tilson has consulted with TWS on many occasions. It meant the world to us when Dr. Tilson said, “If I were to come back as a tiger, I would want to live out my days at The Wildcat Sanctuary.” His influence on the conservation movement will live on through all the students and young scientists he has mentored over the years. He will be a part of TWS as his memory and his dedication to the wild cats we rescue will always inspire us. His spirit and the times we spent together will always be fondly remembered at our Sanctuary. Memorials are preferred to a conservation organization of the donor’s choice or to the MN Zoo’s Namibian Rhino Project. See more at: http://www.mnzoo.org/conservation/conservation_world_rhinoZebra.asp#rhino
Renee Radziwon-Chapman, lead keeper and vet tech at WildCat Haven in Oregon sadly lost her life doing what she loved. Renee’s love for the cats and passion for the cause was clearly evident. She never missed an opportunity to share personal stories of each resident and what they meant to her.
Over the years, I had the opportunity to meet Renee on several occasions. She was very proud of WildCat Haven. She mentioned how the Tullers were family to her and all they had accomplished for the cats together. Her affection for WildCat Haven and the cats was infectious. During our visits, Renee shared her knowledge on animal care and other husbandry practices.
Renee spent her life advocating that wild cats should no longer be kept as pets. A donation page has been set up by Renee’s family and we ask all of our friends to donate in her memory to help support Noa’s future, the daughter she leaves behind.
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, because you never know how soon it will be too late” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson