“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 us and our various four legged family members in 1992. Situated on approximately 10 acres of land east of Dallas, Texas, PrideRock is now home to 21 tigers, 5 lions, 2 cougars, 3 American black bears, 1 hyena, 2 wolf hybrids, down from a pack of 19, and numerous rescue dogs.
(Gary and Carol’s Pride) 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 couple of years back, and sadly that was the end of our generations of long happy lives with our wolves, except for Bleu and Loki, two male wolf hybrids who are absolutely amazing. Bleu is a five-year-old, 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, is our newest wolf hybrid and was acquired from one of the keeper’s relatives, who could no longer keep him. He is so sweet, beautiful, and loves attention. In the years to come there could be more wolves that will enter our lives, but only time and circumstances will tell.
Our lives have mainly focus on the cats, for many years, but with the bears and hyena, we are branching out a little. Cayman, a cougar, who was our first cat, came to us at twelve days old and passed on in 2003. 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.”
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.
Gabriel passed away in 2013 at the age of 21. His legacy was truly a gift that started our journey along with Cayman, and we will have him in our hearts forever. These losses are always extremely hard for us because they are like family members and loved so much.
It was about this time in our journey that we realized the difference, between the pet companionship that we enjoy so much and being responsible care takers of “dangerous wild animals” is vastly different. Plainly stated, dangerous wild animals do not make good pets for number of reasons which this web site will hopefully make you aware.
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
Sinbad, a male tiger followed close behind. He graced our door and took space that was tragically vacated by Hannibal, a much admired tiger, who died very unexpectedly. Hannibal was my baby, and my parents drove 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.
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. Sadly, we have lost the three girls to various illnesses, but are still blessed to have Casey, their brother, who is very special.
In January, 1999, Mia, aka Queen, was donated to Pride Rock 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, sweet lion cubs that were born on April 22, 1999, and it’s hard to believe how time has gone by and we lost Jake and Ruby, recently. Two huge losses for us, within a pretty short time of each other. 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, babies that require/demand a lot of time special attention!
Tigers, Mia, Golden, Kelly and Damien came to us from California in June, 2000. Unfortunately, we have lost Damien, and sisters, Kelly, Golden 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 PrideRock!
More tigers are Nallah, Nia and Nikki, three precious sisters. Nia is a white tiger, and the other two carry a white gene. They 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.
Other members of our PrideRock family include Pharaoh, a majestic male that came to us as a cub from a local breeder who 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, both 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, a few years back were Tigger and Shawna, a pair of tigers that adapted very well. We lost Tigger a couple of years ago 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 who 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 six-year-old tiger that came from Missouri as a young cub when his previous owner couldn’t keep him in her county any longer. He is a beautiful, huge boy, 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, an eleven-year-old and five year old, respectively. Two gorgeous tigers, Kumal being a white tiger. 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 all a blessing and joy to have in our PrideRock family. They are housed in two of our newer and bigger enclosures next to each other and seem very happy. A couple of years ago, Leo was the star of our Paw Project – a surgery to correct a bad “declawing” of all his paws. It was very successful after a long day of surgery, and he now appreciates and loves his new feet!
A couple of years ago we acquired tiger cubs, Sasha, Willow and Katie who are now about five years old. They are still 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.
In 2015, we were blessed to rescue three black bears, male -Rowdy, and females – Toro and Coco. This is a new venture for us and we have spent lots of time doing research and learning as much as we can about their habits, food, and enrichment for them. They are slowly adapting to their new home, and we try to spend lots of time interacting with them. They are big balls of fur and are so much fun to observe and feed. Their diet consists mainly of nuts, fruits and vegetables, and treats of nutter butters and Jolly Ranchers!
We just recently were blessed to receive Diego, a young male lion, and Helena, a female hyena. They came from another facility and have adapted well. Diego is an angel, and I never knew how sweet hyenas could be. Yes, she does laugh too!
Along with the hard work of maintaining our refuge, and the pain and heartache 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 Pride Rock and meet all the beloved animals that call PrideRock home.
“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