UPDATE: Ohio big cats Nikita and Tasha are home safe

Nikita the tiger enjoying a scratch in her new home.Both cats did well on the trip from Ohio to The Wildcat Sanctuary in Minnesota and the team drove the 15-hour journey without incident, stopping off every few hours to check on the cats and to give them water and a snack. Waiting for daylight, the cats were finally offloaded to be released into their new enclosures. It's “safety first” and nobody wanted to unload new big cats in the darkness.

First came Nikita who we felt was going to be the biggest challenge. In the true spirit of Minnesotans, we stood patiently in the cold and wind for over half an hour, wishing for hot chocolate, until Nikita made up her mind to leave her transport crate.

Finally she crept out looking from side to side at her new space - and froze. Immediately she honed in on a camera and tripod left far away at the other side of the enclosure's fence.

Growling and snarling she raced towards the camera intent upon tearing it to pieces. Quickly it was removed but Nikita continued to short-pace back and forth in front of where the camera had been. How sad that triggers like a camera, a baseball hat, or even a tripod will send her into paroxysms of hate and fear.

The decision was made to leave her for a bit to settle down and check on her after Tasha was unloaded. Nikita went directly into her new habitat rather than to quarantine, because the enclosure was new where the only germs she’d be exposed to would be her own and there are no other cats nearby.

Next was Tasha the cougar, who was going into 30-day quarantine where staff will observe her for signs of illness and get to know her. She’ll also receive a through examination by the veterinarian in a few days. Her favorite toys were unloaded first and placed around her area so it would seem more like home.

Sweet Tasha unloaded beautifully and was busy scoping out her new space. As she came across her toys she would bump them slightly with her nose as if to say, “Hey, I know these toys!” I had an opportunity to see her future cougar-friend there, Josie, who had recently lost her two enclosure mates and is lonely while she awaits her new friend, Tasha. Staff tells me that Josie has never rejected a friend into her enclosure so they are excited to introduce the two.

Three hours later, Nikita was fine with the staff approaching her and she was actually sleeping along the fence. She even rolled over to see the caretakers and was very calm.  Her adjustment will take longer but we are all confident that both will settle in well. 

-- GA

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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy