The PrideRock Story- our Labor of Love
PrideRock originated as the home for us and our various four legged family members in 1992. Situated on a little over 9 acres of land east of Dallas, Texas, PrideRock is now home to approximately 33 big cats, one wolf hybrid, down from a pack of 19, numerous rescued dogs and two Akitas.
Our story actually began back in the late 80’s in Abilene, Texas, with a couple of Siberian Huskies, Bo and Tasha, who migrated across the state with us and, and set in motion our desire for the wolf hybrids. We got our first wolf hybrid, Kina, in 1991, and then Konee, a male, shortly thereafter. Together, they produced some beautiful cubs over the years that we intended to sell, but since I was never meant to be a breeder, my love for them would not allow that, and I ended up keeping all the cubs. We lost Little Bit, our last remaining wolf-hybrid from our breeding pair, a few months ago, and sadly that was the end of our generations of long happy lives with our wolves, except for Bleu, an absolutely amazing, young, huge male wolf-hybrid that was rescued from the Henderson County Animal Shelter in July, 2013. He was severely abused by a previous male owner so he didn’t like men and initially was pretty shy around people in general. After lots of TLC, he has come so far and now loves attention and trusts those that care for him. Hopefully, in the years to come there will be more wolves that will enter our lives once again, but only time will tell.
Now, our lives mainly focus on the cats. Cayman, a cougar, came to us at twelve days old as our first cat and passed on in 2003. Gabriel, a male lion, followed close behind, as a bottle and finger sucking baby who slept with us and shared our home the first year of his life. Sophie, a tigress, arrived at the age of eight weeks, then Daisy, an older cougar, was a rescue from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Sadly, we lost Sophie, in December, 2012 to renal failure after 19 wonderful years, and Daisy, passed away from cancer in 2001. Gabe passed away last year at the age of 21. His legacy was truly a gift that started our journey and we will have him in our hearts forever. These losses are always extremely hard for us because they are family members and loved so much.
Good things always follow, and out of the blue, Freddie, a male cougar and Keisha, a lioness arrived at the same time. Freddie was with us for many years before he passed away. He developed cataracts that made his eyes look like marbles. People can be insensitive and would inquire about them, which made us want to put a sign up on his pen that said “please understand that I can’t see very well which makes my eyes look different.”
Sinbad, a male tiger followed close behind. He graced our door and took space that was tragically vacated by Hannibal, a much beloved tiger, who died very unexpected. Hannibal was my baby, and my parents drove up from Abilene to be with me to help get me through the grief-stricken days that followed. The bond was extremely strong with Hannibal, and he touched my life in ways I can’t describe in the short time I had him.
In August 1998, we received a call that brought Shealee, a tigress to live with us. She was a joy for many years, and then after a painful year of skin cancer, we had to let her go in 2011. It was the hardest thing ever, and we miss her to this day. She was one of the best and most loving tigers we ever had. We would have done anything to save her and did do everything we could. She was one the sweetest and best tigers we ever had.
Cougars Apache and Lakota were rescued from an ex-breeder in November, 1999, near Houston, Texas that had moved from his property and left them in a back yard pen. That was a long and hard rescue, but worth it. They also were with us for many years, but have left us with wonderful memories and space that was filled with a new resident, Giggles, an older cougar that was rescued near Corsicana, Texas, in 2011. His companion, Tasha, was with us for a short time, and then passed away suddenly, and we have since lost Giggles too. More events that overwhelm you with sadness. Four of the wonderful memories that Apache and Lakota left us with were named, Chelsea, Kelsey, Catrina and Casey, precious cubs that were born on June 6, 1999, before we could get them separated. We are blessed to still have Catrina, Chelsey and Casey, but sadly, lost Kelsey to a respiratory infection a few years back.
In January, 1999, Mia, f/k/a Queen, was donated to PrideRock following an attack on the owner of the breeding pair known as King and Queen. Unbeknownst to anyone, Mia brought along her own surprises. Jake, Allie and Ruby, her sweet lion cubs were born on April 22, 1999, and it’s hard to believe how time has gone by and how big they are now. It seems like yesterday that they were in the house playing, sucking our thumbs, and crying for their bottles! That summer we had our hands full with lots of babies, but loved every minute of it!!
Tigers, Mia, Golden, Kelly and Damien came to us from California in June, 2000. Unfortunately, we lost Damien, and sisters, Kelly and Mia all in recent years.. Kelly and Mia, both to cancer, and Damien to a stroke and seizures during the hot summer. Golden, Kelly and Mia had lovingly been known as the Exxon Girls because as babies, they had been featured at the State Fair of Texas that could be interacted with at one of the Exxon tiger shows that was there one year. We happened to be there that year, and never knew that years later, we would have the opportunity to have them become a part of our family! We hope and pray that Golden will be with us for many years to come.
More tigers are Nallah, Nia and Nicki, three precious sisters. Nia is a white tiger, and the other two carry a white gene, and came to us from a local breeder a few years back. They have been delightful, and a new pen was donated to them with a waterfall that they have enjoyed so much. They are the ones that greet you first with lots of loving chuffs when you enter the compound and hopefully set the tone for a very enjoyable visit to our refuge!
Other members of our PrideRock family include Pharaoh, a majestic male lion that came to us as a cub from a local breeder that had been used for exhibiting throughout the country. He is a big, sweet boy, that one of our former volunteers adopted as her own and gave him lots of special attention.
Rambo, is one of our biggest tigers and has a very sad story behind him. No tiger deserves a better life than him, and we hope that we have given him the loving home he deserves.
Jamu and Kashmir are two brothers that came to us as cubs from a south Texas breeder with a horrible case of ringworm. Most of their fur was gone and all you could see were the stripes on their skin. They spent the first few months of their lives in our home being medicated and getting well. They brought us so much joy and continue to do so. They are two of the sweetest boys we have and I have bonded with them and interact with them at every opportunity.
Brought in from Virginia last year, a few years back were Tigger and Shawna, a pair of tigers that adapted very well. We lost Tigger last year to a terrible spinal infection. It was so very hard to let him go and we miss him so much. When he came he was pretty temperamental and didn’t like many people, but came to be such a sweet boy that was loved by all that knew him. Shawna is a sweet girl and you hear lots of chuffs from her routinely, and can be found most of the time lying on her back not feeling any stress!
Elijah is a three year old tiger that came from Missouri a couple of years ago when his previous owner couldn’t keep him in her county any longer. He is a beautiful, huge boy for his age, and was on the bottle for a long time! He just wants to stalk and play all the time and is so inviting, that you just want to go in and hug on him! Everyone loves Eli!!
Then came Bagherra and Kumal, and nine year old and three year old, respectively. Two gorgeous tigers, Kumal being white. Bagherra doesn’t have a clue that he’s a tiger and loves people much more than his own species. We were so blessed to have been given these two boys, and they have adapted well.
In August, 2013, Gary made two trips to West Virginia to pick up a pair of lions, Leo and Cleo, and a pair of tigers, Tiggy and Tony, from a wildlife park that was closing. He had to make two trips because our trailer will only fit two roll-around cages. It was two very long, hard drives for him, but they are a blessing and joy to have in our PrideRock family. They are housed in our newest and biggest enclosures next to each other and seem very happy. We are getting ready to embark on the “Paw Project” for Leo – a surgery to correct a bad “declawing” of all his paws. We are trying to keep him as pain-free as possible until we can get all the surgeon’s schedules coordinated and a date set.
This year our family has been completed with tiger cubs, Sasha, Willow and Katie who are now close to a year old. They are bouncing bundles of love and joy and every day is an adventure for them. They are full of chuffs, and after a hard day of play, they can usually be found piled on top of one another fast asleep.
Along with the hard work of maintaining our refuge, and the pain and heart ache that our losses have brought, they are a source of indescribable and immeasurable love and joy, which makes our dedication of time, energy and money a most gratifying and rewarding labor of love.
We encourage you to browse through our site and learn more about PrideRock and meet all the beloved cats that call PrideRock home. <3