REPORTER: Jeff Ferrell
This weekend is the public’s last chance until April to get a close look at some lions and tigers in the Ark-La-Tex. Chimp Haven may be grabbing most of the headlines. But this ‘lesser known’ sanctuary for exotic cats is also working hard.
Meet Snagglepuss, an African lion with quite a roar. Her previous owner kept her trapped in a garage outside of Houston for 17-years. Snagglepuss is among the 20-exotic cats which now call Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary home, in Frierson, south of Shreveport.
In fact, their 20th resident came as quite a surprise. “Moses is the result of a failed vasectomy,” a half smiling Jenny Senier offered. She is the organization’s vice president. Moses, now 8-months old, is the lone survivor from a litter of four.
Such havens save these exotic cats from abuse, neglect or worse, like a so-called Texas Canned Hunt Ranch, “where that’s a guaranteed trophy kill that they can be shot in a cage by hunters which is really, there’s some legislation now to outlaw them, which I hope it gets done soon,” added Senier.
She warns families that while exotic cats may start out cute when they’re small, later they can pose a serious threat, even if declawed, like the recent additions here of three African servals which had been house pets. “If he was my house pet and got bit by him he would really just do some damage with the puncture wounds he could do.”
Yogie and Friends Staff also warn the public about a few sanctuaries that use dubious ploys to generate donations. Senier explained, “they’re telling people that they’re running out of money and that they’ll kill all of their animals if they don’t get something done.” Senier calls such tactics unethical and cruel and something they’ll never do.
And thanks to in-kind food donations to help feed the exotic cats, Yogie and Friends hope to be around for quite a while in the DeSoto Parish community of Frierson. But, time is limited to check out the lions. Saturday will be the last public day for people to visit before the first Saturday of April. Cost is 5-dollars for adults and 4-dollars for children 4-and up. Groups can still call for a private tour throughout the winter months.