Big cat sanctuary gives interns unique experience

Approximately 60 miles from campus a big cat sanctuary affords interns the opportunity to get up close and personal with lions, tigers, cougars, and leopards.

The Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) rescues and rehabilitates sick, injured, and abused big cats.

The Center’s interns, who live on site, work full time for four to six months and provide all aspects of care for the cats.

“I do meds in the morning and then we do morning waters,” Charlie Porterfield, a current CARE intern, said. “We do feed-alls every 4 days, After each feeding, we do clean-alls.”

“It’s a lot of work,” Operations Director, Derek Krahn said. “It’s a very labor intensive internshipbut the amount of things that they learn, it’s very invaluable for the types of careers they’re going to want to get later down the road.”

He said right away a lot of the interns end up with great careers in the animal world.

For some interns, the hard work is not a bad thing.

“I love it,” Porterfield said. “I’ve only been here two weeks and I already don’t want to leave. It’s definitely a good experience.”

Most of CARE interns are zoology, biology, or animal behavior majors, but psychology majors are also preferred. But Krahn said a student’s major is not the most important factor.

“We’re looking for people who have a gumption to want to do it,” he said.

CARE also has volunteers and adoptive parents who help out. CARE currently has about 40 adoptive parents who make $100 monthly donations.

“We can cover expenses like electrical bills, medicine bills and different veterinary bills,” Krahn said.

Their donation gives the adoptive parents full access to the facility. Krahn said interacting fully with the cats requires slow, tiered training but the adoptive parent program allows for an accelerated process with one-on-one attention.

“Really, the adoptive parent program has been single-handedly keeping us afloat.”

The 53 cats need 5,000 pounds of food per week. Ranchers near the CARE facility donate the food.