Get Our Updates!

The Wildcat Sanctuary Mourns the Passing of Its Matriarch, 26-Year-Old Lioness Shanti Deva



The Wildcat Sanctuary Mourns the Passing of Its Matriarch,

26-Year-Old Lioness Shanti Deva

Sandstone, MINNESOTA – For more than 20 years, The Wildcat Sanctuary has been rescuing and providing a permanent home to more than 200 big cats in need. Every cat is special, loved and treated with respect and dignity throughout the time they reside at the sanctuary.

Every once in a while, a big cat arrives who touches hearts like no other. That was the case when lioness Shanti Deva arrived at The Wildcat Sanctuary in 2006. It was just before Christmas and she, along with two other lions and hundreds of other animals, was being auctioned off to the highest bidder by the closed Catskill Game Farm in New York. Luckily, an animal watchdog group intervened to make sure lions Shanti Deva, Asha and Aslan went to The Wildcat Sanctuary, a safe place where they would be properly taken care of for the rest of their lives.

From the very start, it was clear that Shanti Deva was the alpha leader of her pride. Of the three, she was the most adventurous and always the first to check out new enrichment items. She was talkative and very interested in her caregivers.

Shanti Deva outlived the other members of her pride and, for a time, was the only lion at the sanctuary. When the sanctuary rescued a large group of lions from Argentina in 2018, she adored roaring back and forth “caroling” with the other lions; the beautiful sound filled the sanctuary.

“Shanti Deva touched the hearts of everyone who knew her. She was adored by our caregivers, staff, interns and donors as well as the millions of people who followed her life and story on our social media pages,” said Tammy Thies, Founder and Executive Director of The Wildcat Sanctuary.

“She was the matriarch of our sanctuary. At 26, she was one of the oldest cats to ever live at the Sanctuary, but she had a strong, indomitable spirit. Our hearts are broken at her passing, but we are forever grateful for the years we had with our beautiful Shanti.”

The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) is the only accredited, non-profit sanctuary in the Midwest.  TWS provides a natural sanctuary to wild cats in need and inspires change to end the captive wildlife crisis.  Combining natural and spacious habitats with a life free of exhibition, TWS allows all residents to live wild at heart. As a true sanctuary, we do not buy, breed, sell or exhibit animals. The Wildcat Sanctuary is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.  More information can be found at


Join The Conversation