Nov 23, 2014

Giving and Receiving:EARS Sanctuary

Giving and Receiving:Finding Sanctuary with the Big Cats 

 I am extremely fortunate to live just 30 minutes from the "Hilton" of Big Cat rescue operations called EARS, Endangered Animal Rescue. This spacious refuge for dozens of rescued Lions, Tigers and Cougars is a testament to the huge hearts, courage, tenacity and plain backbreaking work of founders Gail Bowen and Jaye Perrett, as well as a host of devoted volunteers and interns.
   For the past fourteen years, I have been helping to heal these animals.  In the native Shaman tradition, I carry Cougar Medicine and in Chinese Astrology, I am aTiger.   These gifts energize my psychic abilities as an animal communicator helping me evaluate the cats’ needs as I visit with them, treating them with flower essences and Reiki.  Fortunately, Gail and Jaye are very receptive to combining these alternative therapies with traditional veterinary medicine.  

These visits bring great lightness to my heart, giving my soul deep satisfaction.    Many times I have come for the Cats, but today I am mostly here for me. This has literally been the year from hell. My heart feels shattered in a million pieces and my spirit is all but broken from too many tragic losses of life and love.   I want to be an active participant in my own liberation from grief, finding my way back to the strong, spirited woman that I once was.   Today's journey into the world of these awesome felines is a first step towards recovery and empowerment.
      Upon my arrival, Gail introduces me to Sandy, an Animal Enrichment Specialist.   A devoted animal lover, Sandy offers the cats some unusual services. She creates opportunities for the animals to enjoy some version of the experiences that captivity denies them. I had never met her before, but I had seen the left over carnage of shredded paper mache items from her past visits.   It is great to witness how the cats respond to her and the wonderful work she does with them. Gail asks where I wanted to begin.





  I am eager to see the two tiger cubs in their spacious new turnout cage.  I have loved Sultan and Sue-Sue from the day I met them many months ago while they were being kept indoors.   These two cubs came to EARS when a breeder needed to find new homes for them. 

I don't like the idea that exotics are being bred and sold as a commodity, so often this leaves the animals trapped in terrible abusive situations.  Sue-Sue and Sultan are very fortunate to have been brought to such a wonderful Sanctuary.Orange Sue-Sue was no bigger than a house cat when I first met her and held her against my heart chakra as I bottle-fed her. While suckling, Sue-Sue’s eyes took on a dazed, mystical expression.  Looking into them, I felt an overwhelming surge of protectiveness flow through me. She pressed her little striped face against my breast in a moment of pure bliss for both of us, as she steadily slurped down her tiger milk.


Sultan, the almost pure white cub, is probably the most gorgeous tiger I have ever seen and he has a disposition to match.  He is the mellower of the two cubs and always has been.   He still loves his ba-ba (bottle of milk) and begs for at least 4 of them at a time.  Though he has grown enormous, I am still able to bottle-feed him, as his manners are surprisingly good



Today he is very playful with his sister, rolling in the hay, jumping in and out of his bathtub, coming over to me soaking wet and wanting to shake. I know better than to stand too close for that!   They lick my hands and chuff, the sound that tigers make to show joy and contentment.  Chuffing is the tigers’ version of purring. It involves a kind of deep vibration from inside the tiger that erupts in bursts, letting you know that you are considered okay with the cat and that the cat is happy in general.

I have missed these little ones who are not so little anymore.   Dealing with my own physical and emotional pain, I have been away too long. Sultan must be about 180 pounds.   Younger and a female, Sue is considerably smaller. They look great. They are happy and healthy. This is only the second day that they are living completely outdoors in their spacious turnout pen.  The tiger turnout is made of wide spaced squares of wire fencing bolted onto heavy-duty wooden frames and reinforced along the bottom with heavy rebar to keep the cats from digging out. There is an indoor shelter, many toys and a tub.


Like many of the other turnouts at EARS, this one is easily four times the required dimension for such animals.Previously, Gail and Jaye had escorted them indoors on leashes each night. They slept in crates indoors in the "EARS' Living room."
During my visit last fall, that room was quite a scene. There were 2 new leopard cubs in their crates and the 2 tiger cubs were being bottle fed surrounded by several dogs who groomed the cubs at times and one brown chicken who thought she ran the place. Only in a home filled with love could such a scene exist.  




   Daunte, an adolescent white tiger, lives on the other side of the cubs’ turnout. He and Sultan are apparently enthralled by their new friendship. I am happy for Daunte as he was raised alone, unlike Sultan who had Sue-Sue's companionship. Daunte had been sickly as a cub. Many of the white tigers don’t have the sound genetic makeup of their orange counterparts.





Just after Daunte was neutered , I treated him for the first time with flower essences. He was a darling, rambunctious little guy.   Today, Daunte is well over 500 pounds, but as sweet and loving as ever. He sits patiently while I douse the boxes of essences with my pendulum to find what he needs. On each visit, I bring my trusty bag filled with boxes of small blue bottles of various flower essences made by the wonderful folks of Green Hope Farms, who periodically gift me with these supplies for my work with rescue animals.
When I sense that an animal needs some of these remedies, I focus my mind on the animal’s name and hold the pendulum over each bottle asking what this particular being needs right now. The pendulum is a polished stone on the end of a chain that spins clockwise when I find the correct remedy. Vibrations guide the movement of the stone.  It is very important for the remedy to be accurate in that moment. 


I find that my dear Daunte needs some ‘Arbor Garden’, which helps all takers feel as though they are being held by angels. He also needs ‘Golden Armor’ to strengthen his immune system and ‘Run and Play’ to give him more zest for life and play.     Not all the animals like these drops as much as Daunte.  Some just tolerate them, while others make the funniest faces when they encounter the pungent taste of the red shiso vinegar that is used as a fixative in each essence.






Dante, however, is loving them, asking for more and more until he is satisfied and calmly walks away. Behind us, Monty, a lone wolf who has just lost his mate observes all the fuss over Daunte and pokes his head outside of his turnout demanding, "Me too, me too!"
Though beautiful and silvery, his sadness is palpable to me. I give him a dropper full of the combination ‘Grief and Loss’ and he lays down peacefully. It is amazing how well these essences affect the animals. Once they have experienced it, they often will ask silently for the drops when they see me coming.


    Years ago, I treated some of the cougars for the first time, then I returned the following week to treat the other ones. I had almost neglected to treat the first three when they all stood up on their hind legs next to each other, pressing their little faces against the cage, wondering where their flowers went. I was so blown away and delighted that in only a week they had remembered me and the good feeling!







 After the wolf, we decided to visit my favorite lion, the one and only Lion King, Jumanji. He is busy catching some zzz's, so we continue on to lioness Sierra and her tiger roomie, Zhivah. Combining lions and tigers is not typically done, but these two are very loving with each other.    
     Sierra is very playful today doing her darndest to attract Jumanji, who she wakens. He expresses an interest in us, but he couldn't care less if Sierra turned cartwheels for his attention. These three form a quite a love triangle, like a soap opera for Big Cats.   Zhivah’s heart belongs to Sierra and, foolishly, Sierra longs for Jumanji.  Perhaps the soap should be titled: All My Felines, or is it Nine Lives To Live?    Zhivah chuffs as she recognizes me.  She welcomes my ear scratches and flower essences.




At first, Sierra was not interested in the flower essences, but now thinks she must have missed something yummy and lines up for her drops as well. She had somehow pushed a pair of her chicken thighs outside the cage and I use my cane to shove one back inside for her. To Sierra this looks like a fabulous game of ‘grab the cane’.  I assure her that the meat is all hers, but that becomes a semi-ferocious game as well. When I finally knock the meat inside, a look of utter disappointment comes over her face. "Wait!" Her eyes plead, "Don't stop our game!"  Sierra is so cute and expressive, but at no time do I ever forget that these are big and potentially dangerous wild animals.  Happy, well adjusted, and loving animals—but forever wild. One can never afford to forget that part.    





    In the turn out next to Zhivah is the petite and feisty young Diva.  She is very feminine and sassy which probably won her the name Diva.  She is from another province in India and built smaller than the other tigers here. Some of the tigers species represented here originate from Bengal while others come from Siberia, China and Africa. I look for the huge tiger Tiananmen, who is as sweet as he is big and a very mellow fellow indeed, but he is still busy in his turn out and unavailable for the moment.  


By now, Jumanji is laying down with his whole body extended across the base of his turnout and calling for our attention. Sandy had worked with him earlier and he is craving a little back rub from her. I scratched the back of his mane and he is in seventh heaven. So am I. Jumanji falls into a peaceful and ecstatic zone as both Sandy and I reach through the wire squares of his turnout to stroke his massive, thick golden mane. She is touching the front of his face as he closes his eyes, while I scratch the back of his mane. Only intact male lions keep their manes. As his soft eyes gaze right into my soul, his regal spirit fills me. I am so blessed to share this moment with him.  And I wonder, how anyone could have abandoned this wonderful being? 






Jumanji's story drew me to Big Cats when I first read about him. A heartless and narcissistic young man had owned Jumanji. He walked, brushed and hand fed the lion every day from cub-hood in the hopes he would become very wealthy showing his well-trained lion. Gail and Jaye had warned him that as Jumanji became an adolescent, he might get testy and sure enough he did. After two years of being his constant companion and love, after one confrontation, the man turned on his heel and abandoned Jumanji, who nearly died of a broken heart as he wouldn't eat.With love, persistence and assistance from another animal psychic, Jumanji slowly gained weight and learned to love Jaye and Gail, who told him that he was their forever love and that they would never leave him. Anyone who thinks that animals don't have feelings is seriously mistaken.Jumanji is by far the biggest, proudest, most beautiful lion that you will see anywhere. When the nearby train rumbles by at 5 o'clock each day, he roars in response, which sets off a bout of roaring from the other three adult lions. Being inside that roaring circle of life is the most awesome and profound thrill
{Update on Jumanji, so sad to say that my Lion King has passed away possibly struck down by a rattle snake}

.  Tiananmen comes by for a quick scratch as we pass him again on our way over to ‘Rick James’ and ‘Kelly Preston’.  Rick James was named after two kind men who are sponsoring him.  Kelly Preston is named for John Travolta's wife, as that family lives nearby and visits from time to time. Rick is a huge, friendly tiger. He and his female friend wrestle head to head affectionately, trying to butt in front of each other for pets and scratches. Rick is first for the flower essences.  He laps them up so happily that Kelly figures the stuff must be good and pushes him out of the way for hers. We applaud her female strength and no nonsense approach to meeting her needs.  They are both so cuddly and friendly as they were hand raised here by Jaye and Gail.



As we walk away, we can feel the Zen-like peace that has enveloped these two as the essences work their magic. I feel an amazing wave of serenity moving through me. These magical flower essences are made by allowing the essence of the flower to be distilled into pure water, making a Mother Tincture, which is then decanted to dosage bottles and preserved with a fixative such as red shiso vinegar or alcohol.

Those of us who practice Vibrational Medicine believe that all disease is born beyond the physical body in the etheric, mental or emotional bodies, which we perceive as the auric field.   If one provides healing energies and substances to this outer field, then one can prevent the disease from ever reaching the physical body.  The more subtle aspects of the emotions and spirit are also being treated by flower essences. It is so obvious to me how well the animals respond to these essences.
Animals don't ask to see my credentials or the latest AMA report, they simply feel better and show their appreciation with smiles, licks, chuffs and the like.One of the young male lions, Sebastian, a rare Barbary lion, has recently grown the most beautiful, dark, full mane. In the jungle, he would be considered quite the stud and have a huge pride as the darker the mane, the more virile the lion!  I have known him and his bud, Sabre, since their manes were just little adolescent scruffs. Last time I saw him, he was feeling rather aggressive and I didn't dare treat him with flowers but today, thanks to Sandy's enrichment exercises, he is feeling quite friendly.

When a cat needs an essence and doesn't come for it easily, I always put a dropper full in their water dish. Sometimes, if they need it badly I leave some in the water after I treat them so that they have a flower essence drip, so to speak.
No trip here would be complete without seeing the clowns, the new lion cubs, Apollo, Loki, and Venus. A small zoo needed to adopt them out and as usual, Big Cats came to their rescue. They are so precious and playful. Loki is now sporting a mohawk, which is actually the beginning of a tiny mane. Apollo and Loki bound over, rolling and tumbling then standing on their hind legs to greet us. They are thrilled to taste and feel the energy of the flower essences and keep licking my hands for more, pushing each other out of the way for bigger slurps of ‘Arbor Garden’ and ‘Golden Armor’. Venus is slow to get hers as she is more reticent than the boys about everything, but even she enjoys the essences, licking her girlish lips. The cubs are so adorable, but one can get a hint of their future size by looking at their enormous paws.

One of the most splendid surprises today is seeing the amazing progress of Robbie, the oldest tiger. I was there days after he first arrived some 3-4 years ago. He had been severely abused and malnourished. He was considered a killer and a step away from being euthanized through no fault of his own.Robbie had been starved almost to death and could not trust anyone, hence Gail had to create a double ply cage for him away from the other cats. She was the only one who could feed and clean his area as he was just too dangerous and so he remained for the longest time. Over the years, he stopped throwing himself against the cage whenever someone got within 10 feet of him.   Eventually, I even heard the occasional chuff from a distance.
Today I watch Sandy interact with him. He chuffs and cuddles up to her, just as sweet and friendly as the rest of the cats here. He doesn't even flinch as I come closer.   Then he takes essences from me happily. I almost cry as I remember how scared and angry he was for so long in his life. I will never in my life understand how anyone can mistreat any animal, let alone one so magnificent as this. Thinking of him brings tears to my eyes for all of the abused and neglected on this planet and a warm feeling in my heart to know that sometimes the good and loving do find a way to win out over the cruelty of the world.
My legs are tired and my knee is sore from the fall I took this October, which broke my arm and injured my wrist, but I still have another section full of tigers to see including my favorite, Duke. We press on as the sun goes down behind us bringing a chill with it.As we approach the last of the tigers, I can hear them chuffing in excitement. I will double back and see them all, but Duke comes first!
Norman, who had his jaw kicked in as a cub is huge now and sleeping with a belly full of meat. Karen and Judy are just noticing me coming and put their paws out to greet me. Tabby is grooming herself and sharing looks with Savannah.  Tom Quinn and Rajah lounge in their clean indoor cage having just supped on some chicken.

By the time I reach Duke's space, he has rolled over on his back and is waiting for me to come and tickle him and bring him his favorite.....the flower essences!   No cat loves these essences like Duke. He is my flower boy. Though Daunte comes close in appreciation of their magic and will probably come to love them as much.Duke and I have quite a history. I connected easily with him the first time that I came to EARS. At the time, he was the beaming proud mate to pregnant Athena. Shortly after that visit, tragedy and criminal veterinary negligence took the life of Athena and her three unborn cubs. Athena's demise was brought on by several factors. When she was sold to EARS (one of the few tigers that were bought before it became strictly a rescue facility), they were told that she was sterile. In fact, a type of birth control device had been inserted in her uterus.  The device ‘works’ by misshaping the uterus making it impossible to gestate and deliver normal, healthy cubs.  In spite of the device, Athena became pregnant—but the pregnancy became excruciating and in an emergency procedure a Veterinary school operated on her, removing the stillborn cubs as well as her uterus. Unfortunately for Athena, she wasn't even given the treatment that an alley cat should have gotten.  Her hysterectomy was not sutured properly. This negligence might not have caused certain death had the Vet not insisted that Jaye and Gail take Athena home, where she bled to death beyond all available help.

 My tears flow once again as I remember that horrible tragedy. Poor Duke.  This big-hearted cat was devastated by the loss. He was very forthcoming in communicating his grief to me.   I could feel him as I would walk past the other tigers and hear his sad voice in my own head. The ‘Grief and Loss’ remedy was his balm and he always wanted 3 droppers full before he kissed my hands in thanks. His deep, sensitive eyes could reach deep into my soul in a minute and his heartfelt joy was equally compelling.

Last June, Jaye called me frantic with fear for our dear Duke. "Flash," she said, "Duke is down, can you at least come and help him die?" I thought that my heart would break in two with her words. I asked if I perhaps I could try to help keep him alive.Before racing to his bedside, I gathered my flower essences, essential oils and homeopathics and consulted with my Homeopath and good friend Carolyn. We discussed some possible remedies for Duke.
When I arrived, Duke was comatose in his cage as he had been for several days. No one had been able to get him to eat or drink or even stand up. I prayed to Durga to walk inside his cage with me. I asked her to provide me protection and to save Duke. I could feel Her many arms wrap around me, calming me and empowering my spirit to help heal this special cat. I always had a fondness for this deity and thought of her as a guardian for the Big Cats. I wore a T-shirt proudly displaying her image, but had never knowingly asked for Her help before, nor had I experienced the surge of power that filled me when I did.






On that auspicious day, with care and deepest love, I entered Duke’s cage accompanied by Jaye and Gail. I began to do some energy work and Reiki.  I massaged his heart, which was failing and gave him a dose of homeopathic digitalis and then got out of his cage. All of Duke’s best friends and sponsors huddled around the cage, desperate and tearful. Five minutes later to our amazement and delight, Duke stood straight up like a healthy cat and drank heartily from his water dish! We screamed and cried tears of joy. I have never been so proud and grateful for anything in my entire life. 








Many more days of watching, waiting and healing were necessary and a whole "village" of healers collaborated to save this awesome cat.Since those days, Duke has put on all the weight that he lost and is looking quite handsome and regal. I give him his usual three droppers of ‘Arbor Garden’ as he licks my hands profusely.  Duke has a large smooth tongue and is a gentle kisser, for a tiger. I am not afraid of his kisses, as he has kissed my hands sweetly so many times. However, I am always aware of just how my hands are positioned to maximize safety. Duke would never want to hurt me or anyone else, but if I was careless and acted like my hand was a treat an accident could happen.Duke wants more and more of his favorite essence, ‘Arbor Garden’. I give him about 5 different remedies and he is so happy. 
 I think that he is finally through his grief as the dousing no longer calls for the “Grief and Loss” remedy. On this day, I believe that Duke and many of the other cats are actually trying to help me deal with my grief.He is so upbeat and can't seem to lick me enough. I feel like he really wants to give me some of the love I gave him in his hour of need. How amazing and precious to have reciprocity with a tiger.



     Not wanting to neglect the others, I turn to Elka who has been waiting so patiently for her turn while I doted on Duke. She is a very dear cat who loves to be a mother. Since this is not a breeding facility, she doesn't get to be a mom, so every time that I treat her she gets the ‘Caretaker’ remedy since that is who she yearns to be.   Duke also got that remedy today, probably because he was caretaking me!

I rush to give rounds of ‘Arbor Garden’ to Tom Quinn, Rajah, Savannah, Tabby, Karen, Judy and finally Norman. Haas, Tabby's brother is out of reach in his turnout.
At this point, I can barely walk another step, but trudge back to the house by way of the leopard cubs who are maturing nicely thanks to Susan, who has taken them on as her project.

Gail explains that leopards are one-person animals, so Susan is it for them.   They wriggle and wiggle around their tree limb inside the pen and are clearly happy to see us.
By the time we finish with the cats, I am bone tired and in need of food. I had hoped to spend some time with Jaye in the new compound for Katrina-rescued dogs, but I am too spent, though happily so. That visit will have to be for next time. My feet are tired but my heart is so full. Finally, I feel inspired to get back inside my life and begin living again. Blessings to the Sacred Animals and the wonderful women that maintain and protect them.


* The Wise Woman's Tarot - *






  1. such a beautiful story... Thank you for sharing it.