In the early 1990s, Keith Kindade and Judy McGee set out to find a way to make a positive impact on the world. One day, they passed a big cat sanctuary while driving, and Keith insisted that they stop and visit. Even though they both loved animals, Judy was hesitant, because big cats were often kept in deplorable conditions 20+ years ago. They stopped anyway, and as Judy expected, the cats did not have much at all. The animals resided in small cages with concrete floors and no enrichment. Keith and Judy knew the animals deserved better and immediately offered assistance to the sanctuary.
For many years Keith and Judy provided funding to the sanctuary, and eventually, they were asked to serve on the board. Sadly, they did not see improvements for the animals despite their efforts and financial assistance. They knew it was wrong to support an operation that did not make the animals a priority, so they resigned from the board and withdrew their support.
Although their first attempt to help big cats was unsuccessful, Keith and Judy persevered and sought out another facility that was rescuing animals. They constructed new habitats, offered monthly financial support, and regularly cared for sick cats. As their relationship with the facility evolved, Keith and Judy discovered that this facility also did not have the best interest at heart. As a result, they financially arrived at the decision to found their own non-profit, rescue organization for big cats.
In 2000, Global Resources For Environmental Education and Nature (GREEN), DBA as National Tiger Sanctuary was founded. Keith and Judy had many important values they wanted to be at the forefront of their non-profit organization. First, they wanted to ensure that public education was a key component of our mission. They recognized education as a vital tool for improving conditions for animals in the wild and in captivity. Beyond education about big cats, they also wanted to teach about environmental conditions affecting the earth’s ecosystems and solutions that benefit all species of life. Without conversation of the environment, big cats (nor any other species) have a chance at long-term survival. In addition to a strong educational foundation, Keith and Judy aspired to build an organization that kept the animals’ needs t the forefront of every decision no matter the cost. Upon these two principles, preservation through education and exemplary animals care, National Tiger Sanctuary began.
Although it might seem like the hard part was behind them, the struggle of building a non-profit organization had just begun. The following decade presented many challenges – saving five sick tiger cubs, building facilities for them to live in, moving three times raising funds to afford their care, and the list goes on and on. Keith, Judy, and National Tiger Sanctuary had to overcome a multitude of challenges, and through their dedication to our animals and mission, all of those trials ultimately brought us to the thriving organization we all get to enjoy today.
Making A Difference
National Tiger Sanctuary has been an active participant in legislation that protects animals. We have lobbied against everything from puppy mills to exotic animals as backyard pets. One of the most important pieces of legislation we have participated in is the Large Carnivore Act. This vital bill put in place the first regulations for the big cat ownership our home state of Missouri. Prior to this law, there were no housing, veterinary, or care requirement associated the private ownership of big cats. The next step in our legislative efforts in Missouri will be to pass a bill that prohibits private ownership of exotic animals.
Cub Handling, known Pay To Play, has always been an important issue for National Tiger Sanctuary. Sadly, Pay To Play operations rip cubs from their mother shortly after birth and use them as photo props for tourist. Although they may hide behind the guise of conversation or education,
Pay To Play businesses are really just exploiting animals for money- and at great expense to the animal.Many baby animals die as a result of excessive handling, because they are constantly exposed to germs and ca’t get the rest needed to develop into a healthy adult.
National Tiger Sanctuary has taken a strong stand against Pay To Play by educating visitors and or community about the ruse of cub handling. We often write letters to fairs, events, and the media to raise awareness about the dangers of cub handling to both people and animals.Once people know the truth, they can refrain from supporting exploitative businesses that allow the public to touch baby animals.
Our wildlife rehabilitation license with the Missouri Department of Conversation enables us to work with the community to nurse sick or injured animals back to health and release them back into the wild