Yogie and Friends faces hurdles
FRIERSON — Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary in Frierson and it marks a pivotal year for the private, nonprofit facility that is in need of donations to complete upgrades required by a state law implemented four years ago.
The law regulates the importation and private ownership of big exotic cats. And it sets a permitting process for classification of sanctuaries not accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. The classification allows the sanctuary to stay open to the public.
An on-site visit by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in July identified several improvements needed at the rural sanctuary. The cheapest projects — raising fencing from 12 feet to 16 feet and ringing all fences with concrete to ensure they are secured to the ground — are almost completed.
The high dollar project that calls for providing concrete pads and cinderblock shelters for the animals has yet to get under way. LDWF officials are requiring the sturdier housing to replace existing calf hutches to protect the lions and tigers during inclement weather.
None of the animals have been injured by weather-related events, Executive Director Jenny Senier said. But Yogie and Friends still must comply.
"We have a December deadline to get the improvements made. The most difficult part will be in getting the cinderblock den houses," Senier said. "We will have to do a concrete pad. That’s our biggest challenge right now. It’s not going to be cheap."
With cinderblocks selling for about $1.84 each, Senier envisions the den houses, which will vary in size depending on how many animals will be accommodated, costing around $10,000 to $20,000 each if done professionally. For example, Moses, the 4-year-old lion is in a pen by himself and will have his own house, while four tigers that already share a pen also will share a den house. The houses must be built outside the pens with a guillotine system to allow doors to be raised and lowered in emergencies.
If volunteers step up, Senier hopes the work can be done at a lesser cost. She even suggests donations of cinderblocks would help.
"No one here gets paid; all of the work is done for free," she said of the volunteers who already have been a part of keeping Yogie and Friends up and running for the past 10 years. Among those are Timothy J. Mills, who lives on-site and is the full-time animal care director, and Victoria G. Volk, who is vice president and a part-time animal caregiver.
president and a part-time animal caregiver.
"I hope we can get it all done before the end of December if we get the right support," Senier said. She is uncertain what LDWF will do if the work is not done on time.
Rooting for Yogie is a pair of long-distance supporters, Louise and Paul Denman, an Australian couple who recently made a return trip to Frierson to spend several days visiting their new friends. The Denmans, who live near Australia’s Sunshine Coast, learned about Louisiana’s only big cat sanctuary about five years ago through online research.
"We can only see them in zoos in Australia. You can’t see them in private facilities like this," Louise Denman said. "We were interested in seeing what people in other areas were doing with the big cats."
When a trip in 2005 took the Denmans to Dallas, they took a side trip to Frierson. They keep in touch with Senier, and they made a special trip to the area two weeks ago so they could spend several days at Yogie and Friends.
Never far from Louise Denman’s mind is what Yogie’s residents — six tigers, six lions, three servals and one cougar, black leopard and bobcat — went through before their rescue. They were rescued from situations such as small zoos, private owners and traveling photo exhibitions, and some of them were in extremely poor health.
"What they do just amazes me," Louise Denman said of the care and love Yogie’s volunteers give the animals. She pointed to the interaction between Mills and several of the big cats, who snuggled against wire fences as he talked to them while replenishing their water bowls and swimming pools. Several followed him along the fence line as he moved from pen to pen.
"To think what they went through and to still have an affinity with a human being is amazing," Louise Denman said. "We love to come and support them, and we tell others we know who are in the States to come, too. They do such as wonderful job."
Posted in Special Announcements
Louisiana Staple faces Financial Problems
Story by Channel 6 Newsm, reported by Amber Miller
Click Here to see the video on ArkLaTexHomepage.com!
A nearly 10-year-old Louisiana staple is facing financial hardship and its future is uncertain. A recent law change is forcing non-profit, Yogi and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary, to make some potentially costly upgrades. 12 foot fences have already been replaced with 16 foot fences.
Now, dens must be revamped. Professional builders could cost the facility one million dollars. "Like any other non-profit it’s very difficult because we rely on donations from the public," said Jenny Senier, Yogie and Friends Executive Director. "We don’t get any state or federal funding. We do it all ourselves."The organization has until December to complete the upgrades. Senier hopes the public will donate. If you would like to mail in a donation visit www.yogieandfriends.org/
Posted in Special Announcements
We’re glad to report that we were able to open for our season opening on April 3rd. The weather was great and we had a good start to the season.
We wish all Moms a happy mother’s day. Be safe and blessed.
Vet Visit: We managed to get our vet visit in. The weather has been so erratic and we had to reschedule several times. We got a short notice call in between the weather and got all the vaccines done on May 1st. Success! All the cats are doing well.
Field Trips: We have several large group tours scheduled for the month of June, which will help us some financially. If you are interested in a private, large group tour, then please call and we will be glad to schedule one.
Material Needs: Yogie and Friends has several material needs in order to compete some of the upgrades required by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). If you or anyone you know can help with donating these materials it would help us meet these requirements faster without the worries of raising the funds for them. Here are the most current needs:
Concrete Cinder Blocks (several hundred) You can purchase these at Lowe’s or Home Depot for $1.84 each. If one person bought 25 cinder blocks it would only cost about $46 + tax. If you are military you’d receive a 10% discount and save on the tax. If 100 people purchased 25 blocks it would add up. Just think how many more if we had 500+ people helping. We’d reach our goal for the den houses before December.
Gravel (several yards)
We got a price on gravel to make a parking lot that will allow us to open after the rain. If you can help with this the cost is $6830.30. This would help us not be dependent on the weather.
Speaking Engagements: I had the opportunity to speak at the Bossier Optimist club and as a result I know have a speaking engagement with the Shreveport Optimist club. If you have an organization out there that would like us to speak at their club, please give us a call. We love to talk about the sanctuary and the animals we are rescuing. We love to spread the word.
International Visitor: Several years ago I got a call from a gentleman from
Volunteer of the month: Our volunteer of the month is Nick Kaddatz from Barksdale Air Force Base. Nick has been helping Tim get some of the fence upgrades done for several weeks now. Thanks Nick!
An easy way you can help the cats is when you do your shopping on-line is by using iGive. If you do your shopping on-line then you can contribute by shopping through the iGive tool. Everything helps. Visit www.iGive.com and select Yogie and Friends as your cause when you shop. It’s so easy.
Kroger Neighbor to Neighbor Program The accumulation for the 2009 season ends on 30 April and will begin again in July. Please shop like crazy and use your cards when you do. It can really add up and it doesn’t cost you a thing.
Combined Federal Campaign. Just a reminder that our CFC number is 42427. This is a great program for Federal Employees and military personnel use as a way to do workplace contributions.
Coins for Cats! I recently emptied a little piggy bank I throw all my change in when I come home. It wasn’t even full, maybe half so. It added up to $106! That little bit of effort ended up being a nice chunk of change. I gave it to Yogie and Friends. This is a neat way for kids to be able to help the animals with very little effort.
Cans for Cats! Kids can also help by collecting cans and taking them to the local recycling center for cash and this can also add up to a nice piece of change for the cats. It’s something kids can do to help go green and help the big cats all at once.
Check out the programs being offered at Yogie and Friends. There is the Yogie and Friends Membership Program , Sponsorship Program, and Corporate Sponsorship Program . These are programs that help us support the animals and another way that you can get involved. Program packages are available here on our website.
Go Green with our ink jet and cell phone recycling program. Details are listed on our website.
Please remember to spay and neuter your pets.
Also, do what you can to prevent flea and ticks causing serious illnesses to your animals. They deserve your care and kindness. Prevention should be year round and not seasonal.
Please make sure you provide all your animals, inside and outside, fresh, clean water. Provide good shelter from the elements for those animals that live outside.
Be good to your animals. Be good to people! Be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Jenny and the Yogie Cats!
Posted in Monthly Newsletter