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Our Lives With Wild Cats

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S: OUR LIFE WITH WILD CATS Rob & Barbara Dicely

FC: OUR LIFE WITH WILD CATS | ROB & BARBARA DICELY

1: Introduction Rob and Barbara Dicely began their teaching careers in the 1970's in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1983, Barbara was given the opportunity to volunteer at a facility in Sonoma County that housed several wild cat species as educational ambassadors. This experience changed their destiny as Barbara's love for domestic cats spread to their wild cousins. In 1985 they purchased their first wild cat, a female caracal kitten named Asali. Over the next few years a pair of servals (Mondo and Twiga), a male caracal (Masai), a pair of Siberian lynx (Mischa and Tatiana) and a pair of Canada lynx (Quebec and Victoria) rounded out their wild cat family. As the family grew, Rob built enclosures and Barbara bottle nursed babies. In 1990, after years of teaching dog obedience training, Rob thought it would be an interesting challenge to leash train wild cats. Chhinsu, their first snow leopard, arrived and the experiment began. In 1991 Sahara, an African leopard arrived and in 1992 Lakotah, a mountain lion became the third cat to work on a leash. As the wild cat training moved forward, Rob and Barbara's awareness and passion for conservation and preservation of endangered wild cats grew. As the saying goes, they took the show on the road. Their outreach wild cat ambassador program began as Feline Folly and later became Leopards, Etc. TheWild Cat Education and Conservation Fund was formed and received non-profit status as a 501(c)3 corporation in 2001. Rob and Barbara along with their wild cat ambassadors, travel over 25,000 miles a year in their van, spreading their message of education, conservation and preservation to schools, businesses and private organizations. Since the beginning, Rob and Barbara have raised, housed and fostered nearly 100 wild cats. Rob has built 10 enclosure complexes capable of housing 24 wild cats on their 22 acre compound. They have given upwards of two thousand presentations and their ambassador cats have collectively raised over two million dollars, with all proceeds going to their conservation partners in the field as well as the care and feeding of their ambassador cats at home. This book is a pictorial collection of Rob and Barbara's three decade journey with wild cats. These cats are as beautiful and majestic as they are endangered. Like this book, the key to their conservation is in your hands.

2: CARACALS | ( Asali above 2 left images arrived in 1985 and 'Feline Folly' came to life. Her breeding partner Masai upper right, center right and inset. Asali and Masai were a prolific pair and the proud parents of 28 kittens. Mara, right, born in 1991 was one of their babies. She worked as an outreach ambassador for 18 years.

3: Baby Mara (top left) and full grown (above & right). Mara always impressed audiences with her extraordinarily long ear tufts. Moremi, (below left and right), was born in 2008 and worked as an outreach ambassador for 2 years. Back home at the compound, she has appointed herself the official greeter.

4: SERVALS | In 1987, the servals arrived. Mondo, left top and bottom first, and then Twiga, below. A very successful breeding pair, they produced 29 kittens. In 1996 Barbara kept one of their kittens, Nakuru, seen on the right page. Twiga, bottom right and her canine pal Mika.

5: Nakuru as a kitten, right and full grown, bottom left, center and right. He is the champion jumping ambassador cat routinely clearing 12 feet in a single leap.

6: SIBERIAN | In 1986, Siberian lynx were added to the family. Mischa first, left 3 and center 2 images and 2 years later Tatiana. They quickly took to each other and became known as the old married couple. Together they produced 16 kittens. Barbara's Mother's Day gift in 1994 was one of their babies, Oksana, Tatiana, lower right and facing page top left and right lived to the amazing age of 23 which is unheard of in the wild and extremely rare in captivity.

7: LYNX | For 17 years Oksana below right and left was the reigning Diva of the outreach cats. In 2010 Natasha, left & right center took over as the Siberian lynx ambassador. Natasha has a special connection to Rob & Barbara as she is the great granddaughter of Mischa & Tatiana.

8: CANADA | Victoria, above center & right and her breeding partner Quebec, upper 2 left, and center right arrived in 1988 & 1989 and got busy making babies. Together they had 14 kittens. Cree and Kalispel, facing page bottom right, born in 2000 are 2 of their cubs.

9: LYNX | In 1996 Tyler, right & below an acquisition from the Calgary zoo arrived. Three legged since birth, he compensated so well most people never noticed his handicap. | Denali, center & far right born in 1992 is Quebec's younger brother and a retired outreach ambassador cat who worked the programs for 18 years. Tiquanna, center is Victoria & Quebec's grandson. He made his debut as an ambassador cat in 2009.

10: SNOW | Chhinsu was Rob and Barb's first outreach ambassador. She worked the programs for 19 years. Living to the remarkable age of 21 she raised awareness of her species plight in the wild while raising over $400,000 for the Snow Leopard Conservancy. In 2011, a small pouch containing Chhinsu's fur was taken to Snow Leopard Mountain in Siberia and used by the Shamans in a sacred ceremony. Photos of her have appeared worldwide in books, calendars and greeting cards.

11: Ashakiran came along in 2001 and shared outreach ambassador cat duties with Chhinsu. Snow leopards are rarely seen in captivity, Asha retired in 2007 but continues to impress and educate all who meet her. | LEOPARDS

12: Black leopard, Usiku, was born in 1993 and worked as an outreach ambassador cat for 12 years. In direct sunlight his coat shows a full complement of rosettes. His vocalizations and presence continue to amaze all who meet him. He lives up to the leopard's reputation of being one of the most successful predators on the planet. | LEOPARDS

13: African leopard Sahara arrived in 1991. Congenital health issues shortened her life but her memory lives on as the Leopards, Etc. logo, below Umfazi was born in 1995, Although small in stature, she is large in attitude. At outreach presentations she impressed audiences by leaping 10 feet into the air and landing in Rob's arms.

14: Lakotah was born in 1992 and began working as an outreach ambassador at just 12 weeks of age. An extraordinarily mellow cat, she truly enjoyed meeting and watching people. Known as Daddy's Girl, she will always hold a special place in Rob's heart. | MOUNTAIN

15: LIONS | Shoshone was born in 2004 and continues Lakotah's legacy by educating Bay Area audiences about one of California's two indigenous wild cats.

16: CHEETAHS | In 1994 Samburu arrived and became the first cheetah in the US to be housed at a private facility. Kgosi left and center arrived next, followed by Kamau in 2000. Kibibi, bottom 3 images came along in 2002 and Themba made his journey from South Africa in 2010. Audience favorites, they have collectively raised over 2 million dollars for Cheetah conservation. Kgosi is the only King Cheetah on the west coast. His laid back, calm personality has allowed audiences to enjoy revisiting him in what has become his signature encore appearance after every presentation.

17: Clockwise from top: Samburu, Themba & Kamau

18: CHEETAHS!!

19: IN ACTION

20: BOBCATS | Zuni, affectionately known as “Mr. Cute”was an enthusiastic & willing outreach ambassador for 2 years starting in 1995. His beautiful coat pattern, typical of a Northern bobcat & cheerful demeanor have made him one of Barbara's favorites. Like some domestic cats, Zuni has a foot fetish.

21: In 1999 Cheyenne took over as the outreach bobcat ambassador. He is a southern bobcat, with a short, more heavily spotted coat. Bobcats by nature are very much home bodies & Cheyenne retired after 2 years. These 2 bobcat boys continue to entertain at the compound. Cheyenne, a bit of a prankster likes to use his food bowl as a musical instrument by clanging it around his enclosure once he's emptied it. The most recent addition to the bobcat clan is Takoda, left.

22: OCELOT | Chimane, one of the most popular outreach ambassadors joined the family in 1997 and was Rob & Barbara's first small wild cat outreach ambassador. Always a great entertainer, Chimane was famous for climbing to the top of her branch, hanging upside down and giving audiences the look. A veteran of the outreach programs, she arrived at 2 weeks of age and worked for 12 years.

23: CLOUDED LEOPARD | Chandra, a very endangered clouded leopard, joined the outreach family in 1995. Her strikingly beautiful coat, extra long canine teeth and glamorous presence made her quite the crowd pleaser. Shy by nature, Chandra was brave enough to work as an outreach ambassador for 7 years. Even as a retired ambassador cat she continued to educate & inspire awe in all who met her.

24: GEOFFROY'S CAT | Guaranni arrived in 2009 and became the smallest of Rob & Barbara's outreach cats. Very shy, very nosy and very adorable, she weighs in full grown at a whopping 6 pounds. Despite her small stature Guarani is definitely a wild cat and has come to be known as the little biter. She is educating audiences about the many lesser known endangered small cat species around the world.

25: CATS EDUCATING PEOPLE

26: Baby | Denal and his 4 sisters | Tiquanna | Usiku | Aslali | Chhinsu | Mondo

27: Pictures | Natasha | Chimane | Mara | Moremi | Cree & Kali | Lakotah | Cheyenne

28: CAT NAMES AND MEANINGS CARACALS Asali: honey in Swahili Masai: native tribe of Kenya Mara: a time in Swahili Moremi: princess of the Yoruba tribe SERVALS Mondo: serval in Swahili Twiga: giraffe in Swahili Nakuru: place of the waterbuck CANADA LYNX Quebec: province in Canada Victoria: city in British Columbia, Canada Denali: another name for Mt. McKinley meaning the high place in Inuit Tiquanna: adopted son in Inuit Cree and Kalispel: Native American tribes SIBERIAN LYNX Mischa, Tatiana, Oksana &Natasha: Russian names BOBCATS Zuni and Cheyenne: Native American tribes Takoda: Sioux word meaning 'friend to everyone' MOUNTAIN LIONS Lakotah and Shoshone: Native American tribes CHEETAHS Samburu: butterfly in Swahili Kgosi: king in Setswana Kamau: quiet warrior in Swahili Kibibi: little lady in Swahili Themba: hope in Zulu LEOPARDS Usiku: midnight in Malawi Umfazi: woman in Zulu CLOUDED LEOPARD Chandra: moonlike in Sanskrit OCELOT Chimane: Native tribe in South America GEOFFROY'S CAT Guarani: Native tribe in Paraguay SNOW LEOPARDS Chhinsu: a village in Nepal Ashakiran: ray of hope in Hindi

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  • By: Marie S.
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  • Title: Our Lives With Wild Cats
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  • Started: about 5 years ago
  • Updated: almost 5 years ago

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