On a recent hot summer day, several members of the Globe University-Wausau campus Veterinary Technology Club made the long journey to The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minnesota. Our trip began in the early morning hours, but even with some sleep still left in our eyes, the excitement was thick. Our goal was to spend the day working, doing whatever odds and ends they needed done, and our reward after a full day’s work would be a tour to see the big cats! We knew it was not going to be easy work but it would be worth every drop of sweat. What we were doing for this organization was essential for its operation. The tour was just icing on the cake.
First, a little about the The Wildcat Sanctuary. This nonprofit organization provides a sanctuary to wild cats that can never be released back into the wild. Many of these animals were pets or used for human entertainment. These cats were rescued in an attempt to end what is called the captive wildlife crisis. They are not open to the public, but they do spend a lot of time with the public to educate people on the captive wildlife crisis. They strive to show people why housing these animals as pets is not appropriate and inspire people to help change this practice. Though this is not a zoo, you can get a small glimpse of its inhabitants by volunteering or donating. I recommend visiting their website or finding them on Facebook for more information.
Our day began with an informational video about the organization. While the video introduced us to some of their more popular wild residents, we had the chance to meet their domestic office cats in person. These guys were not shy, especially about trying to get some leftovers at lunch!
After the video we got straight to work. Some of us worked on finishing painting the office to make it look nicer for an upcoming donor event. Others worked on moving debris from a new enclosure area and then on installing the poles that would be the frame for the new fencing. The work was physical, labor intensive and sometimes even involved power tools! Regardless, this was a labor of love, and we were very proud of the progress we made that day.
Then came our tour. This organization is all about providing these cats a safe and comfortable environment. This sometimes means that guests are not allowed to go near some enclosures, but we were able to see a a wide variety of cats. We saw bigger cats like tigers and lions. Among the smaller cats we saw were cougars and bobcats. They even have an enclosure for hybrid domestic which look a lot like domestic house cats but with more wild behaviors. It is an incredible place.
The staff is very knowledgeable and answered all of our many questions. We were able to meet people in a wide variety of positions. We met veterinary technicians, veterinarians and interns. The Wildcat Sanctuary accepts interns from many different areas of study, like technicians in training and science majors in college.
We left that day knowing that we learned a lot and made a difference. Rebecca Rohland said of the experience, “Our trip to the sanctuary was a great experience. We learned quite a bit varying from large cat environments, cat behavior and also team work. We did a lot of hard work while on our visit and everyone worked well with each other. The staff was very informative of life on the sanctuary, internships and potential jobs related to working at an animal sanctuary. I am really happy that the trip worked out for us and highly recommend students in the future to set up a trip with the Wildcat Sanctuary.” Silvya Velez agreed, saying, “It was a great opportunity to volunteer for this nonprofit, no-kill rescue facility that inspires changes to end captive wildlife crisis. It was wonderful to see the cats in their natural environment.”
For people looking for unique and challenging internships or volunteering experiences, this is a great place to consider.
Written by April Schulz, veterinary technology student and Student Ambassador