Marlene, a female lioness, arrived at the sanctuary in November of 2020. She’s estimated to be about 25 years old, though we don’t know for sure.
Our sanctuary had been called upon to help four big cats. They were located out-of-state and one of their caretakers had passed away. Though many other people were coming forward, trying to take the cats, sell them or send them to a pseudo-sanctuary for more breeding or display, we were so grateful to be there for them.
As soon as we arrived, we knew this wouldn’t be easy. A single lane, curvy dirt road through the woods, led up a quarter of a mile to the cages of these lions and tigers.
We knew there was no way our transport trailer could make it up that hill. And with piles of scrap metal, cars and other collections lining the road, there was nowhere to turn around or come back down either.
The terrain was so rough that the tires on our transport crates bent and could not make it up the hill on their own. It was obvious, we had to come up with an alternative plan right away.
We had no other choice than to sedate these four big cats individually, put each of them into our vehicle, drive them down to the city road and load them into our trailer a quarter of a mile away.
This would all have to be done quickly, before the cats woke up. Not an ideal way, but the only way, given the circumstances.
Their Previous Years
Cubs had been bred at this location for years. They’d been sold on the internet, as well as for cub petting profit. Thankfully, the decision had been made to finally give these remaining cats sanctuary.
Years of producing cubs, having them pulled away to be sold – this would be the end of that cycle. Our hearts broke when the story of Sara, one of the lion cubs born here, was shared with us.
“In 2014, I started working selling cubs. This was my first lion cub I held and thought this was so cool. I thought I located a great home for her. It was a roadside zoo, a petting zoo. They destroyed her when she got too old to pet and it broke my heart! She was 4 months old when they destroyed her. She would have been almost 7 years old today.”
Wally and Marlene had lived together in this 20’ x 30’ concrete cage for two decades.
We sedated them, got them safely loaded into transport crates, and started out on our long 13 hour journey back to the sanctuary.
Life at the Sanctuary
Caretakers at the sanctuary had also been busily preparing habitats for the big cats while we were away. Once we arrived with them, the cats were all safely unloaded. We watched over them closely for days as they adjusted.
Like most new residents, it was scary for the cats at first. But, the moment they finally felt grass under their feet and ran in an open space for their first time ever was exhilarating!!
Wally and Marlene will live out their geriatric years together with lots of room to roam, something they truly deserve. Even though they’re past breeding age, Marlene has received an oral contraceptive to stop her cycles and the risk of life-threatening pyometra.
Now, they get to live wild at heart together. And they’re certainly enjoying every minute of it!
We love them like they have always been part of the sanctuary. And knowing their future is bright helps fade the hardship of that day – the first day of the rest of their lives.
How You Can Help
Rescuing geriatric cats like Marlene is such an expensive commitment. It can cost as much as $10,000 every year to support just ONE big cat! That’s why our sponsorship program is so important. It helps provide the best life possible for those we’re able to rescue.
Thank you for considering becoming Marlene’s sponsor parent, or even giving a one time donation toward her care. There are easy buttons at the top of this page you can click to help. It makes such a difference for her!