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Mojave

History

Mojave is a male caracal who came to our sanctuary in August of 2023. It’s estimated that he’s a little over three years old.

Our staff drove to Michigan to help rescue 4 exotic cats from Even Keel Exotics, a facility with a long list of violations of the Animal Welfare Act and Endangered Species Act. They include 2 caracals, a fishing cat, and a young serval.

Even Keel Exotics was an exotic animal dealer who bought, sold, traded and exploited animals through paid animal encounters. Sadly, he offered encounters with young animals that had been taken from their mothers at just days and weeks old.

In all, 142 animals were seized and sent to reputable facilities where they will receive the compassionate care they deserve.

Thankfully, this facility has now been permanently closed down by authorities. Read more about that HERE.

Since 2014, USDA inspection reports cite an astonishing 74 violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including animals being deprived of water and denied veterinary care.

Inspectors found animals living in cramped, filthy cages that didn’t even provide adequate shelter from inclement weather.

Our staff were one of the first teams onsite and safely removed the cats housed there. They saw cages that were barren and dirty. Luckily, these four cats are all under 3.5 years old and resilient.

Life at the Sanctuary

Sadly, Mojave and Amira were imported recently from Prague to the U.S. to be used as a breeding pair. The breeder said they had no names, they were just considered inventory there. But to us at TWS, every cat is an individual and, with the help of sponsor parents, he was named Mojave since caracals are considered desert lynx, too.

At such a young age, he and his mate have already been through so much in their lives. He reminds us so much of our beloved caracal Sampson when he was young. Sampson was one of the first residents of the sanctuary. Just like him, Mojave is sociable and easy going.

Mojave will have an intake exam, deworming, vaccines and eventually be neutered. Then, he’ll move to a new habitat where he can live out his days among the other wild cats here at the sanctuary

How You Can Help

Mojave will have many years ahead here at the sanctuary. The day of rescue is just day one of a long lifetime of care costs.

One of the best ways to help is by becoming his sponsor parent. Or, another way is with a one time donation toward his care. It’s easy to do using the buttons at the top of this page. Thank you!

Updates

We have some pretty exciting news to share!

Over the years, we’ve tried merging our caracal Aurora with others and she’s made it clear that wasn’t for her. But with every cat, we continue to watch for signs from them of what might make them even happier.

In 2024, Aurora decided that company might not be so bad after all. We had rescued Amira and Mojave late in 2023.

After many supervised playdates and overnights, caretakers felt confident that merging Aurora, Amira, and Mojave could be a permanent arrangement. Aurora laid out the ground rules and they accepted.

So it’s finally official, all our caracals are now living together!!

We’re all so thrilled that these 3 can share a habitat and enjoy each other’s company whenever they want.

Articles

Even Keel Exotics shutting down, USDA to seize 142 animals

Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 4:29 PM MDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2023 at 5:20 PM MDT

TEMPERANCE, Mich. (WTVG) – A judge has ordered the owner of an exotic animal farm in Temperance, Michigan, to shut down his business and is prohibiting him from buying or selling any regulated animal following a series of Animal Welfare Act violations.

A consent decree obtained by 13 Action News shows Zachery Keeler with Even Keel Exotics must also surrender the animals currently under the farm’s care. The agreement says that the USDA must take all of the animals by August 29. It goes on to say the agreement resolves the civil claims the U.S. brought against Keeler and the animal farm for the alleged Animal Welfare Act violations.

The USDA filed a civil lawsuit against Even Keel Exotics earlier this year for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act and the Endangered Species Act over the last two years. The complaint says Keeler has violated the Animal Welfare Act in several ways including, “failing to grant APHIS officials access to the Even Keel Exotics facility 13 out of the 23 times APHIS officials have attempted to inspect the facility.”

It also says Keeler has failed to meet minimum standards for handling each animal, citing the footage 13 Action News captured at the exotic animal farm back in December.

“Inspectors noted Keeler recognized the animal did not want to be handled, however, he continued to struggle with the animal for an additional 10-15 seconds, resulting in the animal suffering from a bloody nose from hitting his nose on the ground during the struggle,” the complaint read.

13 Action News reporter Carli Petrus reached out to Keeler and his attorney by email earlier this month for comment on the case, but neither of them replied.

We first told you about Even Keel Exotics last December. At the time, the USDA had recorded 70 reports of Animal Welfare Act violations at Even Keel Exotics from 35 investigations dating back to 2014, documents show.

Keeler defended his business against those allegations in an interview in December, saying the USDA only comes out a few times a year and they only see a small snapshot of how they operate.

“The industry in general can be a controversial one,” Keeler said in the 2022 interview. “Half of your viewers are going to see this segment and they’re just going to want to come out here and enjoy everything we have to offer. The other half are going to believe that no one should own these animals and they shouldn’t even be in captivity even on a zoo level.”

The animals being seized include:

  • (2) Red foxes
  • (1) Serval
  • (7) Ring-tailed lemurs
  • (3) Kinkajous
  • (1) Fishing cat
  • (Approximately 50) Black-tailed prairie dogs
  • (6) Striped skunks
  • (4) Bennett’s wallaby
  • (Approximately 60) Richardson’s ground squirrel
  • (2) Prehensile-tailed porcupines
  • (1) African crested porcupine
  • (5) Fennec foxes

It’s unclear at this time whether officials have already seized the animals.