We grieve and mourn (and cry) whenever we lose any of our beloved animals. Some farewells are more difficult to announce and adjust to than others.
Sadly, we said goodbye to Tal the lion on July 10, 2016. X-rays showed he had advanced stages of cancer in several areas and no treatment would have eased future suffering or provided the quality of life he deserved. The decision to let them go is never easy and the responsibility to make that determination is never taken lightly. Tal was about 15 years old and had been at Catty Shack Ranch for over 8 years. His larger than life personality endeared him to all the visitors and volunteers. He was our “Complaint Department” and our “Grumpy Old Man”.
For much of his time at the Ranch, he lived with Nyra, our lioness with whom he was smitten from his arrival. They were a true royal couple. Visitors delighted in his menacing growl and lunge, warning us that she was HIS pride, belonged to HIM and we’d better leave her alone (or ELSE…). Children and adults jumped when he spoke in those terms. Everyone who attended a night feeding was treated to his after dinner roar, thanking us for his meal and comparing notes with Freddy. Daytime visitors enjoyed his response to an intriguing “roar” from out of sight in the woods. Nyra took care of him also. She lovingly stood guard over him as he awakened after necessary sedation. She thoroughly tested all enrichment toys and activities before allowing him to play with them.
We know that his absence causes her grief also. Easing her sorrow, smothering her with love and keeping her spirits buoyed will help the volunteers heal also.
As volunteers cleaned the enclosures, we were always reminded, in NO uncertain terms, that we were permitted to place Tal and Nyra safely away in their lockout dens and thoroughly clean their home only if HE allowed such and next time, the bribery fee was going to be MORE THAN two measly chicken pieces (OR ELSE…). There is nothing like a 600 pound lion delivering such a message at your face level (accompanied by warm lion breath and droplets of spit) to catch your attention!
Tal, we love you and miss you dearly. We promise to take special care of your lady, Nyra. She will continue to bask in our love and enjoy phone books to shred and catnip claw breaker balls to bat around and demolish. You may now relax in a place when there is no rain to flatten your majestic mane, where your handsome face will continue to be admired and the sound of your roar carries farther than 5 miles.
Rest in Peace, Magnificent One! We love you.
All the Volunteers and Nyra