Pardon me ahead of time for the overly cynical tone of this post, but Pat Craig, the owner/operator of the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Center "Sanctuary" has pulled this particular sympathy stunt several times in recent years, and I don't have a great deal of patience for it, as I feel that it is simply milking public sympathy and gullibility in the worst way. So, I freely admit my bias in this, and how that will conflict with other peoples' idea that the cats should always
be helped, no questions asked. Unfortunately, "no questions asked" also tends to mean that it allows people, who take advantage of others to continue to do it with impunity, and if they are caught at it, they can play the sympathy card once again, and get off Scot-Free.
Anyway, though his overall intentions may be good, Mr. Craig has a history of every once in a while putting out the threat that unless his sanctuary gets a certain amount of money by a certain date, it will have to close, and animals will DIE
Really, it's just http://www.savetoby.com
on a much larger scale, IMO. Contrast this with the situation at Big Cats of Serenity Springs, which actually WAS an unforseen tragedy. I (and many others in the big cat community) found it no coincidence that Pat Craig's latest "crisis" developed within days of Serenity Springs announcing that Karen Sculac (their founder) had died.
A more cynical person might say that Mr. Craig saw the publicity and donations that his "competition" was getting, and he wanted a piece of the action. Just like Oral Roberts got the $8,000,000 he was looking for after he claimed that he had spoken to a 900 ft apparition of Jesus, who had told him that unless he raised that money, God would "call him Home".
Anyway, the news story is posted below:
The Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center will remain open after all and this time, officials believe it will stay open for good.
The conservation center in Keenesburg has battled a financial crisis for a year after its regular donors chose to help with Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami and other major disasters. Pat Craig, the sanctuary's founder and owner, threatened last December to close before receiving a flurry of donations. When he announced this summer he was closing anyway, choosing to spend the last few months of money on finding new homes for the animals, another flurry of donations came.
That flurry should be enough to not only keep the place alive for the next few months, it should give them enough time to develop a long-term plan, said Toni Scalera, director of public affairs for the sanctuary. In fact, that's what the sanctuary was doing after it got enough donations to stay open the first time, until two major gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars were pulled at the last minute.
Craig is especially grateful for the donations, some which came from around the world, given that he was having an impossible time finding homes for the 150 big cats and bears that reside there. In many cases, his sanctuary was a last resort for those animals. More than 30,000 exotic animals continue to be kept outside of zoos, many in sub-standard conditions, and hundreds more are bred every year.
The sanctuary still needs donations to continue to remain alive and will always need help to feed the animals. Most of the sanctuary's $600,000 (or more) budget goes toward food, alone. It is once again open to the public.
Now the sanctuary is accepting help from upcoming fundraisers and should even receive from public relations help from actress Jessica Biel, most recently of "The Illusionist, " who visited the place and fell in love, Scalera said. Craig and Scalera also are working on a major gifts campaign, development of corporate sponsorship and major grants, as well as continuing to work with family foundations, workplace giving programs, school adoption projects, sponsors and other foundations. Finally, they have installed a new pledge program. Three local fundraising events will take place in the next few weeks to raise awareness of the nonprofit's rescue operations.
"We're doing everything you can possibly do, and we're doing it right," Scalera said. "We learned our lesson last time about counting on one source, and this time people have really been willing to help us, and that just warms our heart that so many people care.
"We won't let this happen again."