Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Cards to ROAR About!

For a $20 donation, you can send a WILD holiday card that will bring joy to the recipient and the IEAS animals! With your donation, we will send your loved one a card letting them know that you made a donation to IEAS in their name! You can choose from a number of designs, AND you can pick which animal you want on the front of your card.

Check out the four available designs here below:

 Card Back:

To order your card, call us at 940-433-5091 OR go to the Donate page of our website. If you donate on the website, be sure to leave your choice of card, animal, and the name and address of your card's recipient in the comment section!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

In Loving Memory of Domino

A somber atmosphere overcame the Sanctuary early yesterday morning, and we truly wish that we didn't have to bring you the news that Domino passed away the other night. Domino was 20 years old and one of the most beloved animals living at the Sanctuary. One of the "originals," Domino has been part of our family since the very beginning when he arrived in 1993 at just two months old. Since then, he has been a favorite among our loyal supporters, and we know that many of you have come to know and truly love this magnificent cat. We are sure that you will stand alongside us as we lament for this remarkable jaguar.

Domino had a presence about him that could command attention, and once he had it, he had no problem keeping it. He was a breathtaking animal to see, with some of the most piercing eyes we've ever seen. He was a proud cat, always sure to let visitors know that his space was his. Domino's trust was difficult to gain, but the handful of people who shared a special bond with him, know that it was worth working for. We treasure the moments we spent watching Domino carry his favorite firehose ball around his habitat and relax so peacefully in the sun on his high perch, and those rare occasions when we caught a glimpse of him playing in his pool are memories will never forget.


While initial results based on a necropsy indicate that the cause of death was liver failure, we will be sure to keep you all updated on any additional findings, as we know how much you all cared for Domino.

Thank you all for the support that you have had for Domino over the years. In all honesty, it has always been truly heartwarming to see the outpouring of love Domino would receive upon each photo update, tour visit, and experience with him. It is so evident that Domino was loved during his time here by both staff and supporters, and we can only hope that Domino felt this affection.

We will always miss Domino and love him dearly. 
IEAS will not be the same without him.

1993 - 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

#GivingTuesday - Here We Go!

For the most avid shoppers, Thanksgiving means more than just being thankful. It means that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are here. These are two of the biggest shopping days of the year, but what happens when they're over? It's Giving Tuesday!

Razoo, an online source for nonprofit fundraising, is sponsoring a day to give back - #GivingTuesday. The Razoo Foundation has generously contributed $100,000 in prizes to be donated to nonprofit organizations taking part in #GivingTuesday - like IEAS! Donations from supporters like you will be tallied all day long on Tuesday, December 3, and there will be TWO leaderboards to keep track of, each with a different set of prizes!

Top #GivingTuesday Fundraiser prizes will go to those who raise the most funds as part of their #GivingTuesday project. The Top Nonprofit Organization prizes will go to the all time fundraising nonprofit leaders on Razoo! 

There will also be Golden Ticket prizes throughout #GivingTuesday awarded to both participating donors and to nonprofits. 

SIX $1,000 Power Hour Golden Tickets 
will be awarded to the nonprofit organization that receives the most donors for the selected hour!

TWELVE $375 Golden Tickets
will be awarded to the lucky donors drawn at random every other hour of the day!

There is a minimum donation of $10, but anyone can donate! You can click here to visit the Sanctuary's #GivingTuesday page, but remember, in order for your donation to count for the contest, you must donate on Tuesday, December 3 OR you must check the box "Make My Donation Count for #GivingTuesday!"

 Click here to read the FAQ about #GivingTuesday! 

Thanks in advance for your help on #GivingTuesday!

We'll send out reminders about this special 
day as the date approaches, 
but keep us in mind as the holidays get closer!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Our Little "Reminders"

Often times, we get asked about getting "too comfortable" with the animals. This is something that, at IEAS, we never allow ourselves to do. One of our past interns stated it perfectly when she said "Complacency is a keeper's worst enemy." Losing the healthy respect and fear for these animals and simply "going through the motions" of our daily routines, can inevitably lead to disastrous and potentially deadly results. An extremely strict set of safety regulations and precautions along with meticulous enforcement of safety protocols means we don't allow staff or interns to work alone or without double (and even triple) checking each step in any of our routines around the animals. We are careful to ensure that our minds are focused on what we are doing and nothing else as we work around the animals. While we, of course, love each animal and enjoy the time we spend around them, we can not allow ourselves to forget that they are wild.

That being said, the animals remind us daily of just how wild and dangerous they really are. Even those animals who seemingly have the sweetest and most docile temperaments can be deadly. All it takes is seeing Kumar, who is often revered as being a "big teddy bear" stretch against the fence, exposing his 2 inch, razor sharp claws or a yawn from Titan, showing off some intimidating canines, to remind us that one wrong move can lead to damaging and even fatal results.

We are always sure to see these daily occurrences as little reminders of the animals we are working with. No matter how deep our bonds go, instincts can always lead an animal to act on it's wild nature.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Shopping Galore!

 Have you been to the IEAS gift shop? We've got a great selection of souvenirs for you to take home from your visit, and we've been adding lots of new items recently. Complete with everything from water bottles to stuffed animals, mouse pads to t-shirts, and everything in between, the Sanctuary's gift shop is the perfect way to ensure that you will forever remember the amazing animals you meet at IEAS!

If you haven't been recently, it's a great time to come out and do a little shopping for yourself or the animal lovers in your life. Remember, 100% of the proceeds from gift shop purchases go to the IEAS animals, so there is more than one reason to shop at IEAS!

And keep in mind that the gift shop isn't the only way to make purchases that will benefit the animals at IEAS. We've got plenty of ways to help through shopping, even shopping on your favorite stores! Check out Yellow Brick Mall to find your favorite store and start shopping! You can also shop through iGive and many stores (way more than you think!) will donate a percentage of what you spend to IEAS! Find us as International Exotic Feline Sanctuary on iGive!

Find even MORE ways to shop and ways to help here

Monday, October 7, 2013

Meet Jenni - again!

Say "hello" to Jenni Swanson! You may recognize Jenni as a past intern of IEAS, but she recently returned to the Sanctuary as the first ever participant in our new Apprenticeship Program! Throughout her time here at IEAS, Jenni will be an Assistant Keeper and take on the responsibilities of a keeper. This will help her as she gains valuable experience that will aid her in getting a more permanent job at a reputable animal facility.

For now, as she just arrived a few days ago, Jenni is jumping right back into our operations and is brushing up on our safety and daily routines. She has even begun to take on new responsibilities, such as drive throughs (safety checks).

We are so happy to have Jenni back here at IEAS, and we can't wait to see how much the rest of her time at the Sanctuary teaches her!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Day in the Life

Khera loving on her firehose ball!
Often times, when someone hears where we work, the first response is "that's so cool!" They're right! It really is. However, it's the next common response that misses the mark a bit. We always hear comments like "I can't believe you get to play with tigers all day!" or "I'm so jealous you get to hang out with those animals all day!" It is common misconceptions such as these that motived us to let you know exactly what a day in the life of an animal caretaker is like, specifically in a setting like IEAS.

A typical day for an animal caretaker starts with diet preparation for the animals under their watch. At IEAS, this begins for staff and interns at approximately 6 AM. With animals such as the big cats living at the Sanctuary, it is imperative (particularly in the hot summers) that feeding takes place at first light. It is during this initial morning feeding that the animals are visually checked for any physical or health concerns. Most often, this is also the time when the animals' habitats and houses are cleaned, checked, sanitized, and "enriched" with behavioral enrichment of various types. This cleaning is an absolutely essential part of an animal caretaker's day, as it is up to us to ensure the health and safety of each resident. Properly disposing of feces, sanitizing an animal's environment, and preventing any safety hazards can be messy, difficult, and (of course) smelly, but as animal caretakers, we can't be afraid to get dirty!

Definitely a dirty job! The interns after a day of cementing!
Once each caretaker's section is cleaned and each animal is happy, safe, and fed, the projects begin! Depending on the size of the sanctuary, zoo, or other facility, these projects can range from paperwork, making enrichment items, landscaping, painting, fundraising, habitat maintenance, training, mowing, construction, cleaning, and SO much more! You may notice that many of these activities do not (directly) involve animals. This is because in order to help the animals, we must sometimes recognize that our actions may need to be indirectly beneficial. This fact, unfortunately, is what many people (even some hoping to work in this field) do not realize. Keeping a facility like the Sanctuary running as a "well-oiled machine" takes a considerable number of man hours spent working around the animals instead of with them.

Willie have a blast splashing in his pool!
Needless to say, we have busy days! If we were to neglect all of these projects that weren't the "fun" parts of our job, the safety, comfort, and well-being of the animals would undoubtedly be in jeopardy. Additionally, when we are able to see how the hard work and effort positively affects the animals, the necessity and benefit of it all is brought to light. Watching a grizzly bear splash and play in a pool you just repaired or seeing a tiger peacefully and contentedly lounging on a perch you helped build make everything worth it! Likewise, we can never get enough of watching the eyes of tour-goers light up as they experience how awe-inspiring it can be to see the animals who live at IEAS. Realizing that their visit may be less pleasant, or even impossible, without the groundskeeping and landscaping that we tirelessly perform makes us happy to do it all again! Here at the Sanctuary, we do spend time with the animals who are part of our family, specifically as part of our Emotional Enrichment Program, and it is those moments that help us realize how special the bonds between the two-legged and four-legged friends can be.

A keeper spending time with Nala, a lioness!
Being an animal caretaker can be so much more than what you may think. An animal caretaker can be a contractor, a gardener, a plumber, a construction worker, a painter, a tour giver, and so much more - and all of it is rain or shine! We wouldn't trade it for the world!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Welcome to IEAS!

Six new interns have just finished their first week at IEAS! Anne, Sam, Jennifer, Gentry, Chelsea, and Katherine joined Taylor (who came to the Sanctuary three months ago) to spend three-six months learning as much as they can about what working at a place like IEAS is all about.

In the short time that they've been here, these interns have learned the importance of safety, how to work around the animals, and have even begun helping with projects such as building a new cave for Chewy! Next week, they will learn even more as they move to a new section and meet even more of the animals who live at the Sanctuary. Additionally, they will begun working with animals of their choice as part of the Emotional Enrichment Program.

We're very excited to have these interns here, and they seem ready and eager to learn as much as they can, which is always great to see. Stay tuned for updates on their progress, and be sure to come out and have one of these awesome interns take you on a tour of the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Update: The Eleven New Bears at IEAS

The eleven amazing bears who recently found their second chance at IEAS have been here at the Sanctuary for over two months now. It's safe to say that each and every one of them is truly feeling at home here, and we couldn't be more thrilled with the inspiring progress they've each made. Through the help of a natural environment, proper nutrition, and our Emotional Enrichment Program, these bears have come leaps and bounds in their time at the Sanctuary.

Asia lounging in the tub
Tank and Asia, the two Asiatic black bears, found their favorite spots in their new habitat quickly, and since then, those spots have been the areas where these two feel most comfortable and secure. However, each of them has ventured far from these areas of certainty and explored what their home has to offer. Asia absolutely LOVES her water tank, which is situated beneath the shade of a tree, allowing her to relax in the coolest way possible. She will lean back against the side of the tank and enjoy the day! Tank has found a different way to stay cool. He has a comfy den area, tucked into some thick brush under some trees where he can stay cool, have some privacy, and feel like a bear again!

Puddin relaxing in his habitat
Tank and Asia's neighbors, Puddin, Crow, and Sarah, have formed quite the trio here at the Sanctuary. During the day, these three prefer to hang out near their holding areas, which is where their water tank is and where they are fed. They nap together in the shade of their forest area, taking turns inside their cave. Evenings are quite a different story for these three. Once the temperature starts to go down, they turn into explorers! They will independently wander, as confident as ever, around their 1+ acre habitat, usually picking the area farthest from the holding area to settle down and enjoy the environment they were always meant to live in!

Crow exploring her habitat

Rusty and Bettie
Next in the habitat are Rusty and Bettie. These two have become the adorable "couple" of the new bears. They seem to truly enjoy each other's company and we can't get enough of seeing them together. From the early morning naps they take together, cuddled up in their cave, to sharing a meal at feeding time, these two seem to be a match made in heaven. Bettie, the more playful of the two bears, is the perfect compliment to Rusty's more laid back attitude. We often see them at the far end of their habitat - Bettie playing with branches and logs at the base of her favorite tree as Rusty relaxes near by, keeping an eye on his favorite friend!

Toby getting a cool drink
Toby lives next door to Rusty and Bettie, and while he doesn't share the habitat with any other bears, we are confident that Toby prefers it that way! In fact, Toby isn't truly alone in his space. He has made a friend, and a UNIQUE one at that. An injured vulture, who we've nicknamed "Petey" has found his way into Toby's habitat. Unable to fly, Petey has been living with Toby for several weeks now, and the two seem to be getting more and more comfortable with each other every day. We've even seen them relaxing and eating within a few feet of one another. They may be an odd pair of animal friends, but it seems their relationship is mutually favorable!

Aggie running through the meadow.
Then, we reach the brown bears! Aggie and Bertha, the two females, are as adventurous as they come. These two girls spend time in their holding areas only to eat. The rest of the time, they are out being wild bears, running through meadows, digging big holes, playing in their brush pile, hanging out in the water, or napping in the cool shade of the forest. It is one of our favorite sights to see these two girls appearing from the nooks and crannies of their naturalistic habitat. It seems they have fully embraced everything about their home, and we couldn't be more proud of them!

Bertha taking a dip in the cool water.

Last, but certainly not least, is the big guy - Spearmint! This huge bear has a personality to match it, and he, like his female neighbors, has completely taken to his new life. He loves to dig and really loves the water! He was the first of all of the bears to wander into the woods and find the perfect, cool nap spot, and spends a good portion of the hot days there or in his water tank. When it comes time to eat, Spearmint really loves his meat. Sometimes, he will grab one of his favorite pieces, like a beef rib, and run off into the woods with it, as if he is taking his prize to enjoy in private! He is always sure to wander back to finish his food, of course! It's been so incredible to watch this big brown bear embrace a life he had always been denied in the past!

We can't thank everyone enough for the amazing support these bears have gotten. So many wonderful people have come to visit them, followed their progress, and become part of the IEAS family through their story. We couldn't be more proud to have been able to give these bears the life they have always deserved, and getting to know them each as individuals has been incredible. There has been such an evident change as they each transformed from deprived beings to truly flourishing souls as they become the bears they were always meant to be!

You can continue to support these incredible bears in their lives by donating to IEAS. Click here

Remember, all of these bears are available for ADOPTION! Click here for more info!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Exotic Animal Laws and Regulations

Today, the interns here at IEAS are taking part in the Exotic Animal Laws and Regulations seminar that we have each session here at the Sanctuary. During this informative session, the interns will take a look at the varying degrees of strictness for laws regarding the care, handling, and possession of exotic animals like those living at IEAS. They will also get to see where the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) set the standards for sanctuaries like IEAS.

There are a wide range of laws in the United States, varying within in each level of government. Those in possession of an exotic animal must by abide by all levels of law - federal, state, and city. Unfortunately, in many states, there is little regulation when it comes to exotics. This is due largely in part to enforcement issues, but several states have stricter laws than others. Some even lack state laws regarding exotic animals entirely. This website - click here - is helpful in looking into each state's laws individually.

It is always interesting, and sometimes disconcerting, to look into the laws governing exotic animal care and ownership. Often, the public is unaware of the laws, or lack thereof, surrounding exotics in their state. Unfortunately, eyes are opened to these concerns fastest after a tragedy occurs. Should you have concerns about the laws in your state, don't hesitate to contact state officials!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

More New Furry Faces at IEAS

The eleven bears who were just rescued from bear pits in North Carolina and brought to IEAS are not the only new faces at the Sanctuary! IEAS just became home to two other new residents, including a new species for the Sanctuary! We are now home to another white-nosed coatimundi (just like Mork and Mindy) and a ring tailed lemur! 

These two amazing animals found their way to IEAS after their owners were found to be without proper permits. They contacted the Sanctuary hoping to ensure that these ex-pets would be afforded the best care possible. We are so happy to have these new residents here, and they have already won us over and become part of the family.  We will be sure to keep you updated on how these two are settling in. You check out their pages on our website - click here to see the coati's page and here to see the lemur's! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

More Info on the New Bears!


Abused bears to find recovery in Texas’ International Exotic Animal Sanctuary’s Emotional Enrichment Program; DFW now home to Texas’ largest collection of bears

BOYD, TX (July 9, 2013) – The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary (IEAS) announced today that 11 bears from North Carolina will now call IEAS home; two Asian species (also called Moon) bears, six black bears and three grizzly bears. Until now, the bears have lived in concrete pits at a roadside zoo in North Carolina. As a result of continued complaints by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) over many years, and a 2012 PETA undercover investigation of the pits, the bears’ former owner was cited repeatedly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for failing to meet minimal federal standards established in the Animal Welfare Act, and had its exhibitor license suspended in January. The bears will recover from that experience under the direction of the IEAS resident Animal Behaviorist with both Behavior and Emotional Enrichment Programs designed to care for the animals’ physical and emotional needs. The bears (known as the Cherokee bears) have been featured on internet campaigns for years by celebrities such as the host of the Price Is Right, Bob Barker, seeking to save these animals from their existence in pits of concrete, seeing only the sky directly above.

With the bears’ relocation, IEAS now houses the largest population of bears in Texas, and more species of bears than any other facility. IEAS is also the only facility in Texas housing Asian species of “Moon” bears, named for the white crescent moon shape in their fur across their black chests.

“We’re excited that these 11 bears are now free to live like bears here at International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. There is a subculture in the animal world that does things that are either frowned upon, inappropriate or actually illegal. Some places offer photo shoots at shopping malls and other events, allowing people (including children) to have their photo taken with a young cub for a fee such as $20 or more. Roadside zoos and attractions at truck stops and country stores use the bears to attract customers. As the bears grow, they become too large to be used profitably and that is when their lives are really in danger,” said Louis Dorfman, Animal Behaviorist and Chairman of the Board for International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. “We will make sure that they are not only physically well cared for, but that their emotional needs are met as well. But getting the bears to IEAS was just the beginning. The real work begins now and we need your help.  It’s only $125 per month to adopt one of these bears and that pays for their well-balanced meals, cleaning out their habitats, giving them fresh water every day, putting hay in their caves and helps with medical care. All assistance is appreciated.”

The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary will provide these bears with the best quality of life possible in large, naturalistic habitats. It’s a dramatic contrast from the life they knew before,” said Richard Gilbreth, Executive Director of International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. “Thanks to dedicated employees, contractors and volunteers working seven days a week, each habitat is over one acre in size and provides the resident bears with a natural home, complete with innumerable trees to climb, brush and thickets to venture through, and even ponds and water tubs where they can cool off. The team placed 2.5 miles of piping and put up 1.5 miles of fencing to prepare space for these bears and they are responding well. They are already forming companionships with each other.  While bears are considered solitary animals in nature, at the sanctuary they play with each other frequently and truly enjoy the company of their companions and human caregivers. In the summer months, bears like lying in the large stock tanks filled with water and enjoy scouring the woods and thickets they have present in their habitat to find treasures like twigs, leaves, small insects and even grasshoppers. Their diets are very similar to that of humans. They enjoy meat, fish, and all varieties of fruit and vegetables, with some of their favorites being avocados, grapes, peanuts and watermelon.”

“PETA fought for many years  to free these bears from the barren concrete pits and a non-life that drove them mad and deprived them of everything natural and nice,” said PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “We are so happy that they can finally just be bears in a caring, permanent home at International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. What a wonderful moment for these bears!”

Care for the bears is paid for by donations. It costs approximately $125 per month to adopt a bear and ensure it has adequate food, a healthy living environment and medical care. To learn more about each individual bear and to donate to the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary, please visit To adopt an animal, please visit All donations are 100% tax deductable.

About International Exotic Animal Sanctuary
The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary is the only Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited animal sanctuary in the United States. The purpose and goal of IEAS is to provide a permanent sanctuary for exotic animals that have been abused, abandoned, neglected, confiscated, or previously owned by people unwilling or unable to provide for these magnificent beings. IEAS gives the resident animals the best quality of life we can give them in captivity through our Emotional Enrichment Program, which deals with the emotional well-being of each individual animal and its individual emotional needs. We do this to fill the need to reduce stress and agitation, give each animals the best life it can have in captivity, and by understanding what is required to achieve that goal. Currently, 46 felines, 2 coatis and 28 bears call IEAS home, with spacious habitats, pools and houses. To learn more about IEAS, or to make a donation, adopt an animal, please visit

Media Contact:
Kristin Welsh

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Multi-colored Bears!

With this heat, winter is a distant memory, and we're watching as the IEAS bears shed their last bits of winter fur and turn a whole new shade of their former hue. The seasonal fur change of the bears is one of our favorite indicators of the new season. Right now, the bears are all in different stages of shedding. The largest bears, like Dakar, tend to shed their winter fur the fastest. Their large size aids in this process as it causes them to be "combed" by the brush that they tend walk through more than smaller bears, who brush by less as their move through their habitat.

Additionally, we provide the bears with Omega-3 Fish Oil in their diets, which promotes coat growth and health. This helps them in growing in their summer coats! In a few weeks, we are sure that all of the IEAS bears will be looking spectacular, but for now, we've got some multi-colored bear residents!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Welcome to the Summer 2013 Interns!

The new interns of Summer 2013 have arrived at IEAS, and their hard work has already begun! They've been doing a great job in their first two weeks, and we're excited for them to continue to take on the challenges that this internships brings. So far, they've already been preparing diets, weedeating/mowing, painting, helping with habitat construction, picking up habitats, cleaning animal houses, sorting bear produce, learning about pool pumps/motors, and so much more! It's been a busy few weeks for them, and we hope they are excited for what the rest of their internship will bring!

Welcome to the IEAS team 
Adam, Kristen, Lexi, Jess, Jen, and Taylor! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Heartbreaking Day at the Sanctuary: Remembering Misha

We have been struggling to find the right words, to find the strength, and to accept the need to tell you all that several days ago, we lost Misha in an unexplainable accident. She was found in her habitat when we arrived for her morning feeding the night after a thunderstorm. We have poured over and dwelled for hours on end about what may have happened and can come to no certain conclusion. There were no clues as to what may have caused this heartbreaking and untimely loss. Whether by some accident of nature or an underlying physiological complication, this amazing cub, who touched each of our lives in a different way, was taken from us far too soon and now, we find it difficult to express how much grief we feel.

In only three weeks, Misha showed us so much of herself and put her entire being in her new life at the Sanctuary. She embraced every new opportunity and was eager and curious to learn and explore what her home had to offer her, including her new friends. Misha found nurturing and comfort in her human caregivers at IEAS, forming unique bonds with each of us individually. Whether she viewed us as a friend, mother, father, or sibling, Misha showed us just how intelligent, bright, and thoughtful she really was. Her confidence grew by the day, and it took little more than looking into her expressive eyes to fall in love with her. The understanding and acceptance she had for her new family and the security that she found in each of us gives us reconciliation in that we are truly confident that Misha knew that she was cared for, treasured, and, above all, loved during her time with us. To say that we feel it is a privilege to have known Misha, even for a short time, is an understatement. It is one of the greatest honors we’ve had, and a time that will undoubtedly stay with each of us forever. We will never stop loving this amazing little cub, and though she can no longer be with us, she will always be in our hearts and a part of the IEAS family.