To all our wonderful supporters and fans:
In the course of the last few weeks, we’ve seen statement after statement talking about the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Whether it be the strain of young families managing childcare in an environment of dwindling jobs, persistent anxiety over the loss of economic opportunities, or the pressure of worry for our vulnerable, we are collectively faced with real concern over an illness that has already proven overwhelming. The consequences of our altered social state are affecting everyone in ways that the world has not seen—including closure of businesses large and small. Unfortunately, not even CFAR is immune to those effects.
In accordance with local and state ordinances, Central Florida Animal Reserve has temporarily suspended our tour operations. However, the care of our unique animal population is an essential function for the safety of the resident big cats and the public. We continue to support animal care thanks to hero volunteers who have been willing and able to work for the betterment of the tigers, lions, leopards, and cougars that call CFAR home. Despite individual strain, the collective dedication of our extraordinary volunteers ennobles us and honors our mission of care.
I ask your help to allow us to continue to honor that mission.
Central Florida Animal Reserve is stretched between an extraordinary set of circumstances, that are as unfortunate as they are challenging. After many months of construction, our completed Visitor and Education Center lays quiet just as we were preparing to publicly celebrate its opening. The important revenue generated by tours has been cut, even as animal care and the supporting utilities remain in use. The very essence of the work we do is being adversely affected by a Netflix special that poisons opportunities for organizations like ours that put their resident cats first. And of course, COVID-19 has created an uncertain economic future that disproportionately impacts donations.
Now, more than usual, we need your help to make up the shortfall of the first part of the year.
This weekend, as the facility fell quiet after the bustle of animal care, I went to our wise old lioness Kola for a conversation. Kola will be 19 years old in May, and has accomplished a lot in her time. Having lived with two different sets of tigers and two different sets of lions, her perspective is unique even among our resident population. Now, having outlived all her companions, she tends to her human pride like a queen holding court. She watched as I sat on the rocky apron beside her, awaiting my question.
“So, how are we going to make it through this one, Kola?”
She answered with silence and a lingering stare still enough to see my reflection in her eyes. The response was as clear as the link between our gaze—to see the world as she saw it. She reminded me that she was surrounded by people who loved her, who cared about her safety, and would do what it takes to make it okay. Her comfort came from a place of Compassion, given in exchange for the years of compassion we have shown her. She reflected our dedication to Conservation that has managed rough times in the past and provided for the future. And she reminded me of our Commitment to stand against time, nature, and self in service to her and all the animals we steward…and that if we call on that commitment, it will be there.
So, I’m taking Kola’s advice and calling to you now.
For all who have loved the cats and cherished their gift in the world, Central Florida Animal Reserve needs your commitment to help weather these challenging times. Please consider a special donation to help bridge the gap created by the COVID-19 crisis. This will support the food, medications, utilities, and more needed to keep animal care going. Help us continue this important mission: creating a platform to address the challenge of big cats for the future, and providing value to society today.
From all of us at Central Florida Animal Reserve, stay safe, stay healthy, and thank you for your continued support!
Dr. K. Simba Wiltz
Central Florida Animal Reserve