Lion born at Yogie & Friends despite vasectomey
Lion cub survives surprise birth at Frierson sanctuary
Donations sought to build enclosure to accommodate 4-month-old Moses.
June 18, 2006
Moses will be 4 months old on June 27. Born at the Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary in Frierson, the lion cub was taken to Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge in Tyler, Texas to be cared for after his mother, Boo Boo, did not bond with him. (Special to The Times)
If you go
Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary is located at 128 Fob Lane in Frierson. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with special arrangements made for tours. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children ages 4 to 12. Ages 3 and under are admitted free. For more information, visit www.yogieandfriends.org or www.tigercreek.org.
How to help
Yogie and Friends needs about $4,000 to complete a 1,000-square-foot pen for Moses. The estimated cost is based on the need for three gates, sliding rails, fencing, cement, dirt, chains, padlocks, shade cover materials, trees and a cat house. Additional donations are needed to cover Moses’ medical expenses. All donations are tax-deductible.
By Vickie Welborn
FRIERSON — Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary founder Tim Mills was more than a little surprised in February when he heard the whine of a newly born lion cub he spotted standing in a puddle of water in the pen with Boo Boo and Batman, adult lions that have been living at the Frierson facility for several years.
That’s because neither Mills nor co-founder Jenny Senier knew that Boo Boo, who moved to Yogie and Friends in January 2000, was pregnant. She wasn’t supposed to be.
Batman, who arrived with his brother Robin in May 2003, had undergone a vasectomy — at least that’s what Senier thought.
"This one just happened to fail "» and it’s the first time that any of the precautions that we have taken have failed," she said.
Thus, the extra weight that Boo Boo put on over the winter months was blamed on the healthy diet of deer meat. Instead, Boo Boo on Feb. 27 gave birth to three fully formed cubs.
Unfortunately, a male cub dubbed as Moses, was the only one to survive; the others were stillborn.
Now, Yogie and Friends is seeking donations to help prepare a proper pen for Moses, who since early March has been raised at Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge in Tyler, Texas.
"It can be expensive," Senier said of the 1,000-square-foot pen that will accommodate the growing lion club until he reaches about 100 pounds. Volunteer labor also could be used to aid Mills in erecting the pen.
Yogie and Friends, a nonprofit organization, is licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and is dedicated to providing a safe home for big exotic cats that have been rescued from various situations. For example, Batman and Robin were rescued from a roadside zoo in Texas.
Yogie and Friends is not a breeding facility, which is why Senier had to turn to the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge for assistance in making sure Moses survived. Boo Boo, as is the case with many first-time mommas, did not bond with her baby cub despite being put in seclusion with him for a day.
So Mills and Senier had to remove Moses, who was not getting any nourishment from Boo Boo. Senier bottled fed him the first night, but transported him to Tiger Creek the next day so a professionally trained staff, which has interns on site 24 hours a day, could care for him.
Moses at first suffered from intestinal problems, prompting many visits to a veterinarian.
"We really were doubtful that this was going to happen," said Park Director Terri Werner of Moses’ progression. Said Senier: "It’s really amazing that he’s alive."
At a healthy 27 pounds, Moses has slowly weaned himself from a bottle — he only wants one at night — as he’s turned to a diet of mostly meat.
"He’s turned into a nice, big lion. He’s doing really great," Werner said.
Tiger Creek, which also provides sanctuary for rescued big cats, usually doesn’t take in an animal, nurse it to health and then return it, Werner said. But an exception was made because of the working relationship with Mills and Senier and the confidence in their dedication and care of their animals.
Moses’ new pen will be adjacent to Boo Boo’s and the other lions to keep him in touch with them. But no physical contact will be allowed — with the exception of possibly rubbing against each other through the fence.
"Boo Boo has been good with the others in her pen "» but we just don’t want to risk any injury until Moses is big enough, about 100 pounds," Senier said.
The goal is to bring Moses home by July 4, but that all depends upon the donations and progress of his pen. Senier expects the new lion cub to be an attraction since he was born on site. Visitors can view him but not touch.
The lions, tigers, cougars, bobcats and servals that live at Yogie and Friends are kept safe distances from the public and will never be taken out and put on display, Senier explains. The sanctuary is a place for the big cats to live out the rest of their lives peacefully, while also providing education to the public on the animals’ habitat and the dangers of trying to domesticate them.
"We’ve always preached spaying and neutering. That’s why this birth caught us by surprise. But you can’t neuter male lions. They have to have a vasectomy because neutering causes them to lose their mane. Our male tigers are neutered. (Moses’ birth) is something that just happened, and it’s new for us, but we’re excited about him coming home," Senier said.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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