Sanctuary Mourns Loss of Dedicated Keeper

For Immediate Release
Contact: Dane Johnson, Karuna Law
(503) 975-8298

November 10, 2013

WildCat Haven Sanctuary mourns the loss of its head keeper at the sanctuary in Sherwood, Oregon.

“Right now, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our dear colleague and friend who we have so sadly lost,” said Executive Director Cheryl Tuller. “We are devastated by this loss. Not only was she one of our most dedicated staff members, we thought of her as family. We send our most heartfelt prayers to those she has left behind.” Renee Radziwon-Chapman was the head keeper at the sanctuary for eight years and a certified vet tech.

WildCat Haven has strict safety protocols to ensure the wellbeing of everyone working at the sanctuary and all the sanctuary’s neighbors. The sanctuary’s handbook specifies that “two qualified staff members shall work together during the lock out of dangerous animals. Once the animals are locked out, one staff member can safely enter the enclosure to clean or make repairs. Two qualified staff members shall be available when releasing animals from lockout areas.” At this time, it is believed that Radziwon-Chapman was alone at the sanctuary and alone in the enclosure with cats, who had not been shifted into the lockout area. Investigation is ongoing.

“At no time was any cat outside its primary containment enclosure,” said Tuller. The enclosures are surrounded on all sides by 14-foot tall walls of six-gauge wire, with secure ceilings, lockout areas, and double-door entries. Larger enclosures are also surrounded by four-foot concrete walkways. The enclosures exceed what is required by the USDA, which inspects the facility yearly.

WildCat Haven is a 501(c)3 non-profit, no-kill, “last hope” sanctuary located in Sherwood, Oregon. Its mission is to provide a safe, natural, lifetime home for captive-born wildcats in need. It has earned verification and accreditation from both The Global Federation of American Sanctuaries (GFAS) and The American Sanctuary Association (ASA). WildCat Haven is not open to the public; nor does it buy sell, breed, or exhibit animals. The sanctuary receives no state or federal funding, relying on fund-raising and generous donors and sponsors.

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Press Release can be downloaded here.