WildLife On Easy Street, Inc. is privately owned by Don and Carole Lewis. We are a non profit wildlife refuge, dedicated to the care of exotic and endangered species. At WildLife On Easy Street we strive to provide a natural environment for happy, healthy creatures. We are always under construction to build bigger and better habitats for our cats (cat-a-tats, if you will).
Why own and raise exotic cats? Not many people ask us this outright and they should. Most people assume that it is a business that pays for itself or that there must be some celebrity status involved, but both of those assumptions are incorrect. Many people assume that because so many of the adult exotics we have were unwanted by their previous owners that they were free, but of the 100+ cats we own, only a few were given to us.
We are not open to the public, but due to word of mouth there are many people, every day, who want to tour our facility and we take the time out of our busy work schedule to walk them through and answer as many questions as we can. We do not charge a fee for a tour however, a $10.00 donation is acceptable. We have begun accepting donations to offset the costof upgrades and maintenance.
We do sell kittens to carefully selected pet homes, and include our two hour video to help them along. We try to make ourselves available to the new kitten owner at all times. The price of the kitten may seem like a profitable thing, but one person cannot properly bottle feed more than two exotic kittens, which means if we have more than one litter, then we have to employ help.
It requires over $350 per day to operate this sanctuary as we feed 200 pounds of fresh raw meat, 30 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and 15 pounds of dry or canned diets PER DAY. We pay employees to help care for the animals and we have several people who are volunteer staff as well. We do not receive any sort of governmental aid and take in an average of $35 per day in donations, which covers only ten percent of the actual operating costs.
Most zoos are not interested in the small cats because the public wants to thrill at the size of Tigers and Lions and is not impressed with exotics who "are the same size as my cat." We want to breed the endangered species to build their numbers, but it may be all in vain. The USDA and USDI make it nearly impossible to transport these animals across state lines, which constricts the blood lines to a very narrow gene pool.
If one more person asks "are you going to return them to the wild someday?" I may just puke. What planet are these people from that they believe there is any safe place left for them? The only native North American wildcats are the Bobcat, Canadian Lynx, and Cougar and with the exception of the Florida Panther, they are all still considered highly prized kills by hunters and are legal game.
So why do we do this? God has blessed us greatly and given us more than we need to live on. We wanted to give back a portion of what we had been given. When we learned of the great need there is for a sanctuary for God's creatures and to preserve the unique specimens that He created, we felt we had found our calling. Through our video tapes and our book, we strive to share in our successes and be warned by our failures.
These excerpts are from "Exotic Cats As Housepets" by Carole Stairs Lewis, available for purchase.