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Josie – In Memory


Josie, a cougar, was a former wild pet. Her owners were educated about exotic animals, loved her dearly and had planned that Josie would be a part of their family for her entire lifetime.

Unfortunately for Josie, as they already had a 17-year-old son, they did not plan on the arrival of a new child. Josie’s owners decided to put the safety of their child and Josie’s needs first.

They could’ve sold Josie to a breeder or to a private citizen as a pet. Thankfully, the family wanted Josie to have the best life possible. That’s why they chose The Wildcat Sanctuary as the place they wanted for her “forever home.”

At the time, the Sanctuary was at full capacity. Josie’s owners were persistent and contacted The Wildcat Sanctuary several times, insisting this was the right place for Josie to spend the rest of her life.

We raised additional funds and built a new habitat in order to accommodate Josie and provide her a safe haven where she could remain wild at heart. She finally arrived here in 2001.

Today, Josie lives in a free-roaming habitat in Cougar Cove, with both wild- and captive-born neighbors. She is a sweet soul and receives special attention from her keepers in her advanced age.

When Tasha II was rescued from an Ohio facility, she and Josie became habitat mates.  Tasha II had very limited vision and it was slow going, at first, since Josie didn’t know what to make of her.

But, with her kind disposition, Josie accepted Tasha II and they share their cougar kingdom amicably now.


In Memory ~ April 2013

When walking around Cougar Cove, it was hard to not call out, “where’s Josie?” only to hear her respond with her duck-like quack.  This Marco-Polo like conversation was a highlight in the staff and intern’s workdays.

Sadly, now when passing by Cougar Cove, it’s been difficult to resist calling out to her.  Knowing she’s no longer with us, but on her next journey where she was welcomed by her old pals Cody and Hope.

Earlier in April, keepers noticed a quick decline in Josie’s appetite. Given this and her being 16 years old, we were nervous that her time was quickly approaching. Our vet team saw her immediately. Unfortunately, we discovered she had stomach cancer.  April 10th was a hard day for those at TWS, a day we lost one of our dearest friends.

For those who had the pleasure of knowing Josie, we found her to be a very nurturing cougar.  Over the years with us, she’s lived with several other cougars. Two of which she made very strong connections with.

She kept her relationships with them quiet at first. We’d often “bust them” resting with one another. After sharing our excitement of our findings with other staff, interns and volunteers, we’d begin finding their relationships becoming more public.

Her first pal was Hope. Shortly after Josie met Hope, we’d find the two girls snuggled up in the den with one another. They became like sisters, sharing every moment with each other.

Sadly after Hope passed on, she would seek more human attention. It was as if she was attempting to fill the void of her dear lost friend.

So we tried her with Cody, an older cougar with an equally endearing demeanor.  It wasn’t long before the two were spotted together throughout the day. She loved him very much and they took turns in grooming one another, while sharing a hammock in their indoor room.

Just as with Hope, her days with Cody were full of warmth, but limited. Her friends would pass and she would be there to comfort a new rescue, making their time more enjoyable while with us.

Whether people knew her for 10 years or two months, she was like an old friend that you’ve known forever. She helped both animals and people through tough times or periods of adjustment.  Her presence comforted us all at the Sanctuary, this nurturing little girl who just never stopped purring.

She is a reminder to us all that, even though we know at some point their time with us must come to an end, it just does not make it any easier. Days are longer, hearts are just as broken and memories are clung onto desperately.

While with us for over a decade, she had seen many cats come and go. She had even helped Cody and Hope enjoy life through their last moments at the sanctuary.

Given their bond with sweet Josie, they will be sure to greet her on the other side, saving a spot in the tall grass for her to lie. Here she can peek her head out, chin lifted and eyes squinted, just like her days at TWS.  Here she can welcome those who follow her paw prints, being the nurturing girl she is.

We will miss her waiting for us to call out “where’s Josie?” so she could quack and come purring her way towards us, helping us through our days. We will miss you sweet Josie, you truly were one special friend.

“Each of us can look back upon someone who made a great difference in our lives, someone whose wisdom or simple acts of caring made an impression upon us. In all likelihood it was someone who sought no recognition for their deed other than the joy of knowing that, by their hand, another’s life had been made better.”

–  Stephen M. Wolf