WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2017 : Early in the morning on August 23, 2017, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) and Forest Animal Rescue (FAR) welcomed two Patagonian pumas at Miami International Airport. Their arrival signifies a two year effort to ensure the cats receive quality lifetime care in a true sanctuary.
In 2015, a zoo in Rawson, Argentina closed due to lack of funding and public pressure. Many animals were kept behind metal bars in barren cages. In recent years, several zoos in Argentina have closed down for similar reasons. IFAW does not currently actively participate in zoo closures, however IFAW and partners committed to this rescue more than two years ago and felt it was important to honor that commitment. The Argentinian government was instrumental in the process of translocating these pumas and has remained committed to seeing them placed in a quality sanctuary. TWAS coordinated with the government for permits and translocation paperwork, while IFAW managed the transit logistics and FAR held space at their sanctuary to house the animals. Two groups in Argentina also assisted with ensuring the cats received adequate care after the zoo closed and worked with TWAS and the government to get the paperwork issued.
"We are excited at the opportunity to bring these pumas to Forest Animal Rescue. We are committed to ensuring that wildlife everywhere has the best chance possible to live out their lives as wild as possible given their circumstances. Given the age and history of these cats, that means lifetime care in a true sanctuary - one that doesn't buy, sell or breed animals. Our success today highlights the importance our partnerships. IFAW works with experts throughout the global animal welfare community to ensure captive wildlife is provided every opportunity to live in peace and comfort," says Meredith Whitney, IFAW's Wildlife Rescue Program Officer.
After their initial arrival in the United States, the two cats were loaded into an air-conditioned trailer and driven to their new home at FAR.
Once at the sanctuary, a team of volunteers and interns assisted Lisa Stoner, who manages FAR with her husband, Kurt, with carrying the crates to the new enclosure. The pumas eventually made their way out of the crates and onto the soft sand. Stoner gave the cats food and plenty of water before leaving them for the night.
IFAW has a long-standing history of helping big cats in distress find homes at sanctuaries that truly care for their wellbeing. IFAW's Wildlife Rescue team is partnering to organize The Big Cat Sanctuary Conference, September 8-9, 2017. The goal of the conference is to increase capacity and promote best practices within the sanctuary community. The first big cat conference was hosted by IFAW in 2013 with the vision to increase cooperation and teamwork between big cat sanctuaries in the US that do not buy, sell or breed animals.
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