“I co-founded PrideRock Wildlife Refuge (www.priderock.org) over 20 years ago with my husband, Gary. We have poured our hearts and souls into it, sacrificing everything we had to care for these cats. It has been a wonderful journey and an honor to share our lives with them. It is my hope and prayer that we can continue to give them the best possible happy place for many years to come!” Carol Holliman, PrideRock Vice President
The PrideRock Story –
Our Labor of Love
PrideRock originated as the home for our various four legged family members in 1992. Situated on approximately 10 acres of land east of Dallas, Texas, PrideRock is now home to approximately 30 big cats, two wolf hybrids, three bears, one hyena, numerous rescued dogs, an Akita, a Great Pyrenees and an Anatolian/Pyrenees.
Our story actually began back in the late 80’s in Abilene, Texas, with a couple of Siberian Huskies, Boris and Natasha, who migrated across the state with us 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 we were never meant to be breeders, our love for them would not allow that, and we ended up keeping all the cubs. Presently, we have Bleu and Loki, two male wolf hybrids who are absolutely amazing. Bleu is a big boy 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. Loki was acquired from one of the keeper’s relatives, who could no longer keep him. He is so sweet, beautiful, and loves attention.
Our lives have mainly focused on the big cats for many years, but with the bears and hyena, we are branching out a little.
Since those early days of caring for canines, we let loose our passion and empathy for big cats. In the early nineties, we were naïve enough to purchase a twelve day old cougar that we named Cayman (the site of our last vacation). While raising Cayman from such a young cub was a great experience, it also opened our eyes to the plight of exotic cats in captivity. Undertaking the responsibility for the health and well-being of an exotic animal can be much more than the average individual expects, plans for or can afford. For this reason we found a problem with placing abused abandoned, neglected, confiscated and unwanted cats. A problem that we set out to help in a small way by taking confiscated or surrendered exotic cats.
After a few years we found that we were capable of making only a small dent in the number of animals in need of being rehomed. At that point we decided to seek public support for the enormous undertaking and out of necessity, formed a Texas non-profit corporation, initially named Pride & Pack. Pride & Pack then became a 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation and began soliciting funds for the care and well-being of the animals that came in need of a forever home.
Since those early years, Pride & Pack became PrideRock Wildlife Refuge and has conducted rescues from California to West Virginia. All made possible by public support. In that more than 20 years, PRWR has become the home of more than 70 animals that are with us today or have crossed the Rainbow Bridge after years of care at PRWR.
To name them all and give back stories is too much for the website, but might someday fill a book about the 53 lions, tigers and cougars that we have cared for up to this point plus the three bears we saved from euthanasia, and a hyena. Not to mention the 30 or more canines that have been cared for by PRWR.
In spite of the hard work of maintaining the refuge, those animals will always be 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.
PRWR is thankful for all the public support it receives and is proud to be a member of the American Sanctuary Association, verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and a member of Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance. PRWR can be checked out on the GuideStar and Charity Navigator websites.
“Carol and crew are absolutely amazing! The love and concern that they provide each one of their fur babies, is stupendous! Love this place and these folks!”
MammaTiger, member of the general public, May 2016
“PrideRock hasn’t been an easy journey, but worth every obstacle and loss, and realizing our purpose has touched us in ways that we could previously only imagine,” Carol and Gary Holliman, PrideRock owners.
Big cats were never intended to be pets, as that term is commonly used, and often attempting that endeavor ends in tragedy for either the owner, the cat, or both.
The PrideRock mission is to prevent cruelty to animals by keeping a solemn promise we make to each animal that is accepted, that this will be their final and permanent home for the remainder of their lives. A commitment that has long term economic and personal implications. Then as part of the mission, PrideRock Wildlife Refuge creates species-appropriate enclosures with enrichment and recreational areas for its residents, with each animal being given specific diets and nutritional provisions as well as veterinary care. This enables PrideRock to provide many educational opportunities for the public, such as year-round internships for college students, a platform for the implementation of projects by groups such as the Boy Scouts, Wildlife Society members, and volunteers in general who spread the word about the plight of exotic animals in captivity.
Why We Are Here
This is how it all began….When Carol and Gary Holliman moved from Carrollton to Terrell in 1992, they brought with them a wolf-dog hybrid. The built ad enclosure and Carol decided she wanted a lion. After the enclosure was built for the lion, the Holliman’s named their property Pride (of lions) & Pack (of wolves). A donor from New York adopted an animal but said he didn’t like the name because it didn’t convey what the organization did. The donor said he would donate $10,000 to the organization but they had to change their name. Carol and Gary wanted to keep the word “Pride” in the name and liked The Lion King movie with all the animal on a rock. So in 1998, Pride & Pack was changed to PrideRock Wildlife Refuge.
It started as a passion to have a big cat in my world because of my fascination with lions and tigers at zoos as a child, but through the years it has quickly became apparent that if there were any reservations about raising wild animals, they simply didn’t matter as I have come to realize that their survival now depends on facilities like PrideRock and it is an honor to provide that for them.
Sadly, years back, our first big cat, a lion named Gabe, was found through an ad in the Dallas Morning News with a price tag lower than a lot of pure bred puppies. Statistics will show that the exotic animal trade is second only to the drug trade with billions of dollars exchanged and the motive being proﬁt. The cats pay the price being contained in ﬁlthy conditions and not properly fed with no vet care.
With much needed legislation constantly changing and greater control being brought to an unregulated practice of breeding, buying and selling these wild animals as pets that will likely be confiscated or abandoned, it will then become necessary to make certain that facilities like PrideRock exist to provide the life-long care and existence that these magnificent creatures deserve and need.
There are also a growing number of people that buy these cats as cubs never thinking of the size they become or the commitment and responsibilities involved with ownership. It is a lifelong dedication that comes with hours of hard work and expense.
My husband Gary and I have strived to do the best we can throughout our 20 plus year life with them, and have sacrificed in many ways to make sure they have had the best possible life. It is our prayer and hope that we can continue this dream that was started with a lion named Gabe that left a legacy of love and taught me so much about life, love, people and that dreams really do come true. It has been an honor and that’s why we are here.
“Twenty-three years in the making with lots of blood, sweat and tears, but mostly a passion which has engulfed our hearts and souls,” Carol and Gary Holliman, owners of PrideRock Wildlife Refuge.
Quest: Food Waste Recycling, August 3, 2016
Each morning at PrideRock Wildlife Refuge, staff and volunteers diligently prepare 300 pounds of food for the 32 tigers, lions and cougars that call the refuge home. Unwrapping marbled steaks and tender chicken breasts from store packaging, they place them in industrial-sized stainless steal bowls and pans. The scale of the operation is impressive – the environmental impact is even more so.
The animals at PrideRock in Terrell, Texas feast on food waste diverted from local landfills. Through Quest Resource Management Group’s food recycling program, PrideRock receives an average of 2,000 pounds of much needed fresh meat for their big cats each week.
Not only does this food recycling partnership help the non-profit wildlife refuge feed animals in need, it combats greenhouse gas emissions from rotting food in landfills. Decomposing food waste creates and releases methane gas, a greenhouse gas 25 percent more potent then carbon dioxide (CO2), into the atmosphere. In addition, recycling one ton of food waste per week has the equivalent environmental benefit of removing 118 cars from the road for a year.
As grocers pull meat from the shelves due to looming best by dates, the food is held for the participating animal park or wildlife refuge.
“Sometimes we get stuff that won’t go out of date for another week, and sometimes we get stuff that the sell by date was last week. But that doesn’t mean the meat is bad,” said Corey Allison, an animal keeper at PrideRock. “The meat that we take is good quality and it does help our cats,” he added.
Win-Win-WinDirect-feed food recycling is a win for animal parks, the environment and retailers alike. Participating grocers benefit from reduced costs associated with landfill disposal of heavy meat products, reduced environmental footprint and increased community involvement.
Animal parks like PrideRock rely on food donations to provide nutritional, healthy diets for the animals in their care. Money saved through the direct-feed program goes to providing safe enclosures and toys for enrichment activities.
Interested in a direct-feed food recycling program for your retail location or animal park? Visit questrmg.com/animalpark/ for more information.
PrideRock Wildlife Refuge makes 2016 Great Non-Profits Top-Rated Organizations
The Terrell Tribune, Sept. 24, 2016
The Terrell Tribune/Gary E Lindsley
Looking for fish? No. Coco is testing the water in the pool of her new habitat at PrideRock Wildlife Refuge.
The Monitor of Cedar Creek Lake, Oct. 2, 2016
PrideRock Wildlife Refuge’s white tiger, Nia, was on TV!
If you missed Animal ER on Nat Geo Wild Sept. 10, click on the link below. Nia had an emergency laparoscopic hysterectomy at Gulf Coast Veterinary Clinic. This episode is available on-demand to customers of participating TV providers.
PrideRock Needs Support, The Tribune Update, Sept. 7, 2016
PrideRock Wildlife Refuge featured in the Terrell Progress, August 2016
Rotarians donate to PrideRock Wildlife Refuge, The Monitor of Cedar Creek Lake, June 2016
Terrell Living, January 2009
“Priderock Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful place doing wonderful things. The animals are beautiful and everyone is so nice. They are an outstanding organization.”
“It has been a wild ride that has led us yo ‘losing ourselves in all we love, but finding ourselves there again’ in this magical place,” Carol and Gary Holliman, owners of PrideRock Wildlife Refuge.
~Visit our YouTube Channel here for our full list of videos!
“PrideRock remains the one big cat rescue in which I have total confidence every dollar I donate, goes for the care of the animals. Gary & Carol Holliman continue to work at this labor of love – building more & bigger enclosures. They’ve invested in intern housing which allows more people to learn to care for and respect these wild & wonderful creatures. May God continue to bless all those involved in PrideRock Wildlife Refuge.”
alwayschuffin1, donor, May 2015
Thank you for your support, Nancy and Patricia Wulff
PrideRock Wildlife Refuge is proud to dedicate its bear habitat to the Wulff Family for their generosity and support. Without the help of the Wulff Family, many projects at the sanctuary could not have taken place. Nancy and Patricia Wulff have been long-time supporters of PrideRock’s mission and endeavors, and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.
Board of Directors and Staff
Board of Directors
“PrideRock Wildlife Refuge is the standard by which all sanctuaries should be measured. Gary & Carol have dedicated their lives to the care of these beautiful creatures. They work tirelessly to ensure they have the best food, vet care, environment and enrichment the cats need to thrive. And these cats do thrive. I consider any animal that finds their way to PrideRock very blessed. And in turn, I feel very blessed to be a lifelong supporter of PRWR.”
alwayschuffin1, donor, Sept. 2014
“PrideRock wildlife refuge performs a very needed service for the animal kingdom, especially large cats. PrideRock is truly a labor of love especially for its’ owners and caretakers. PrideRock is not open to the public which affords the animal residents a much more relaxed atmosphere and contributes greatly to their quality of life. Once an animal comes to PrideRock it has a forever home with loving care. It is a privilege to be associated with PrideRock.”
Pete Esposito, board member, Sept. 2015
How did you get started in big cat rescue?
We started with a cougar. Soon after, we got a lion and a tiger. As we expanded we found we were asked to bring other people’s big cats off their hands. These were people who found that they could no longer handle a fully-grown big cat, or could no longer afford to feed them.
Of course, we had a hard time refusing help to these animals in need. As the number of calls grew, we began to realize how many captive big cats were in desperate need of finding good homes. Worse, we realized how many of these cats were being bought, bred, and kept by people who had really not thought through the realities of owning a fully-grown tiger, lion, cougar, or other big cat.
We try to help as many cats as space and funds will permit. However, we believe that only education will ultimately solve the enormous problems of irresponsible breeders, the sale of lion and tiger cubs, and the purchase of those cubs by people who fail to appreciate the responsibilities of owning a 500 pound wild animal in captivity.
Where do you get the big cats?
Our tigers, lions and cougars, have come to us from a variety of sources. We have received rescues from theme parks that decided to discontinue their live animal exhibits, irresponsible breeders, from private owners who could no longer care for their animals, and from seizures by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Wherever our animals came from, they all have one thing in common: They had nowhere else to go.
PrideRock’s animals came to us unwanted, neglected, abused, or abandoned. Each one required a lot of love and care to bring them to where they are now – healthy, happy members of the PrideRock Family!
How much do the cats eat?
As a general rule big cats eat approximately 2% of their body weight per day. For a 500 lb tiger, that means about 10 lbs of meat a day.
However, the amount a cat eats varies depending on the needs of the individual cat. Like people, some cats burn a lot of energy, and others snooze a lot. Their appetite goes up and down with the weather and other factors too, so we always have to make slight adjustments to their food.
Really, it all depends on what the cats need to keep them healthy. For some cats, that may be as little as 4 pounds of meat a day, while others may eat as much as 12 to 15 pounds of meat at each meal!
Are you afraid of them?
We’re not afraid of the tigers, lions, and cougars in our care – but we do have a healthy respect for their strength!
These magnificent animals are large and very powerful. They have extremely sharp teeth, powerful jaws, and claws that can rip open delicate human skin and flesh like a machete. They are, and will always be, wild at heart. And if they feel threatened, they will use their power to defend themselves.
We take the time to get to know the moods, habits, and personality of each PrideRock resident. And we always handle them with the utmost care, respect, and sensitivity they deserve.
How much does it cost to feed so many big cats?
At the moment, PrideRock has approximately 32 big cats. They’ll eat about 300 lbs of meat and chicken, supplemented with vitamins – each day.
When they get big, do you send them to a zoo?
No, once an animal reaches PrideRock, it has found a permanent, safe home. We commit to caring for them for the rest of their natural lifespan.
Additionally, many zoos are only interested in animals that have a known and pure blood line, especially if they intend to breed them. Most of our big cats do not have a known blood line, and may be a mixture of different lines of their species.
We could do DNA testing on them to find out for sure, but since we will never intentionally breed a PrideRock big cat – why bother? They’re all beautiful to us, no matter what their genetic makeup is!
How long does a lion or tiger live?
In the wild, the average life expectancy of the cats is about 10 years. However, in captivity, they can live for 20 years or more.
Isn’t that a big commitment on your part?
Owning a big cat really is a lifetime commitment of money and time. The way we look at it is, these animals didn’t have any choice to be born in captivity. Humans made that choice for them. And it would be inhumane NOT to commit to take care of them for their entire lives.
Yes, this kind of commitment can be a strain on us, both financially and time-wise. Donations are sporadic, and we have to rely on volunteers and supporters to help us raise the money to keep going.
Our dream is to one day have a consistent source of funding, through donations such as our adoption program. This will allow us to devote our days to the animals at PrideRock, and spend more time educating the public about these magnificent creatures.
The commitment effort comes naturally and is effortless because they are loved so much.
Does PrideRock get any government support or funding?
No, we do not receive any type of public funding from any State or U.S. Government agency. We depend solely on public support through donations and grants.
If I donate, can I visit PrideRock?
We truly appreciate your donations, however PrideRock isn’t open to the public at this time. There are several reasons for this:
First and foremost, many of the cats that we receive come to us from situations where they may have been abused or mistreated. An important part of their rehabilitation process is a predictable daily routine and a calm, stable environment. Public tours would subject them to unnecessary stress, and would hinder their recovery.
Additionally, we are a very small, volunteer-run animal charity. We simply do not have the staff to conduct organized tours of the refuge. Also PrideRock Wildlife Refuge is not a public facility in that we cannot charge the public an admission fee. If we were to admit the public, we would have to install additional barriers, public rest rooms, walkways, and other facilities for human comfort and safety.
All of this would cost funds that we do not have at this time. Moreover, we feel that the money we receive from donations is better spent directly on the welfare of the animals.
However, we completely understand your desire to see these beautiful animals, up close. That’s why we are trying to raise the extra funds necessary to install webcams around the property. Once those are in place, you’ll be able to see your favorite big cat anytime you want!
Do the big cats ever go outside their cage?
We can never forget that these are wild animals at heart, not domestic cats. Even though they may have been raised among humans, it only takes a split second for them to revert to instinct. Even if the cat doesn’t mean to harm, the damage from a frightened or angry cat can be severe, even deadly.
Do you go in with any of them?
We do sometimes have to enter the big cat enclosures, but we try to avoid taking unnecessary risks.
For example, each enclosure is equipped with a lock out house and crossover gates so that all the pens can be cleaned without the animal being present in the enclosure.
You’re in Texas… Don’t the big cats get hot in summer?
It does get hot in Texas, but all the big cats have shade enclosures and fans that come on automatically when the thermometer hits 90F. The tigers, in particular, enjoy water (in the wild, tigers regularly like to go swimming) so we add large water-filled troughs for them to splash in whenever they want to. The tigers also have cool-water misters in their pens for additional comfort.
Do you have a favorite tiger, lion, or cougar?
It’s hard for us to pick “a favorite”! Each of the PrideRock big cats has their own distinct personality.
For example, lions are very social big cats, and like to form family groups with others, even if those “others” are humans. Tigers and cougars, on the other hand, tend to be exclusive, although they usually enjoy some one-on-one affection with each other or with their human friends.
To us, they’re all “our kids”, and we love them all very much.
“I have been a volunteer at PrideRock since August of 2014 and it has been an amazing experience and I love the animals and people of PrideRock a great deal. I have learned a lot about the care of exotics and in turn educate the public as to why they are not pets and should not be. I also help with the newsletter, emails, fundraising and cleaning enclosures on site at the sanctuary. Working with animals is my passion and being able to volunteer my time for their well-being is incredibly rewarding. It is hard work and cleaning enclosures is some of the dirtiest work but it’s one of my favorite things to do! Serving big cats and all the animals at PrideRock is a privileged and a pleasure!”
Cortney P, volunteer, Sept. 2015
Arm the Animals – www.armtheanimals.com
National Geographic – www.nationalgeographic.com
Big Cat Allies – www.bigcatallies.org
Wildlife Extra – www.wildlifeextra.com
Lion Whisperer – www.lionwhisperer.co.za