Hope – In Memory


We were called to help rescue up to seven cougars living on an Iowa farm. Within minutes of stepping on the property, our staff knew it would take all we had to hold back the tears.

The stench was incredible, the site horrific. A small cage was filled with two feet of fecal matter and other debris.

The remains of one cougar that had passed away was there in a barrel. A few feet away, a pen held the remains of three other cougars. Two additional cougars had been shot earlier after escaping from their small kennels.

And then we saw her, a small cougar who was still alive. She was the sole survivor in a cage no more than four feet high. She had no den and no tarp, nothing to shelter her from the elements.

Hope, as we immediately named her, was extremely malnourished and dehydrated, but still able to move on her own. We were there to take her to a better life at The Wildcat Sanctuary.

Today, Hope is a happy and socialized cougar. She loves life to the fullest and never misses a meal, but can you blame her?

She lives with another cougar, Josie, and they get along just like sisters. One day they irritate each other, the other day they can be found curled together in a heated den.


In Memory – February 2009

Some rescued residents come to TWS scared at first, while most seem to desire a life of change from their past, a life of great care, a chance to be wild at heart. They all “hope” their lives will be changed for the better.

Of the many cats we’ve rescued, cougar Hope has been a true ambassador for this theory. She’d come from one of the hardest rescue cases we’d seen. And she flourished into a confident, trusting cougar.

We’re saddened Hope has passed. At the old age of 20, she was starting to experience some difficult days due to hyper-tension. We made the decision to help Hope pass before she became too uncomfortable.

She made the most of every moment here at the sanctuary. Whether it was running around with her cage-mate Josie, playing with her toys, or enjoying her daily meal. We’re proud to say Hope has truly lived out her life to the fullest after such a horrible start in life.

Twenty years is amazing, especially considering 14 years of Hope’s life were spent in a tiny, filthy pen with no shelter. Hope was the lone survivor when we arrived and was starving. It’s the first time our vet told me a rescue wouldn’t make it through the night and that she was too far gone.

Hope proved us all wrong. Even though her ears and tails are partially missing due to frostbite, she’s a beautiful girl. She has a resilience and happiness which is an amazing gift she shares with us all. For the last six years, she’s been a gentle, happy cougar who seemed to let go of her past.

Although she is no longer with us, we want her story to live on. All captive wild cats in need of help deserve the same chance at “hope,” a chance to live wild at heart.


Hope’s story was featured in a National Geographic for Kids article in November, 2005. The article can be read by clicking this link.