Workers at Big Cat Rescue were informed of a backyard zoo operating without a license that had several big cats, bears, wolves, and other animals that were treated horrifically. When the workers went to the “Animal House Zoo” owned by Carolyn Atchison, they found animals that were starving and near the verge of death.
Rescuers tried to persuade the owner to allow them to treat a leopard that was severely injured, but she refused. The leopard ended up dying, causing workers at Big Cat Rescue to use legal ways to allow them into the zoo. When they finally were able to obtain permission, they came across Mickey, a lame cougar. Mickey’s condition was so bad that workers were confused as to treat him or euthanize him to end his pain.
This is not the only case of people mistreating animals in the name of backyard zoos or being exotic pet owners. Not every animal can be domesticated or be kept as a pet, but since the regulation on such matters is loose, people get away with animal abuse. The sad tale of Mickey is an example of what loose laws can lead to.
Broken Ligaments, Rotting Teeth: Mickey’s Pitiful Condition
A male cougar was rescued by Big Cat Rescue on 18th August 2014. Cougars, also called Mountain lions, are large panther-like cats that are mostly reclusive. They don’t attack unless in their habitat. Mickey, the rescued cat was completely weak and disfigured. The bones of his hind legs had detached from their sockets, as the ligaments that hold them in place were completely torn.
Torn ACL is a pretty painful injury in humans, it is unimaginable as to how much pain it was causing Mickey as both of his legs were that way. Not only that, his teeth had become completely infected and had to be removed. Mickey was only 12 at the time he was rescued. Big cats can live up to 20 years in captivity (the proper kind). This cougar was treated horribly for him to end up in such a state.
Shady History of the Animal House Zoo in Moulton:
Carolyn Atchison was always fond of animals. She’s known to have had a large collection of all sorts of exotic animals in her backyard zoo in Alabama. Due to her mistreatment of those animals, she ended up losing her USDA License in the year 2006. To be able to earn some money she started a shelter for strays in the local area.
It was found out that she was feeding those stray cats and dogs to the exotic animals, and the leopard that died had obtained injuries from a dog that was given to her as food. The leopard’s condition was what alarmed the local visitors about the abuse they were facing.
Most of the animals in the zoo had malnutrition and other diseases. The enclosures were also pretty much broken and weak, which was extremely dangerous for the tourists who were visiting the place. Carolyn Atchison passed away in 2020, leaving the 100-acre land to her successors.
We can only hope that people realize animals are not something to show off with or to keep as a hobby. They live and breathe just like us and deserve to be at peace in their habitat.
Mickey’s Path to Recovery:
As soon as he was taken in, A vet by the name of Dr. Hay performed an ACL reconstruction surgery on one of his legs as doing both at once would have damaged the kidneys.
The workers at Big Cat Rescue gave him the proper nutrients and food to suit his treatment. It is a large facility housing almost 100 big cats, where each cat is given an exclusive diet based on its needs. Dr. Wynn had been called to start his healing process faster by using methods like injecting platelet-rich blood directly into the knee. This would help speed up the recovery time, allowing the other knee to undergo surgery sooner.
The second surgery was performed after a few months. Through physical therapy, Mickey slowly started to walk a bit better and showed positive signs.
Mickey was seen to progressively become healthier and gain weight. The legs had gotten better too, enabling him to walk with good balance. He had fought through his destiny and was living much more happily than he ever did before.
Heartbreaking News By Big Cat Rescue:
Mickey had to sadly say goodbye on 22nd October 2017. Due to constantly shifting his weight on his front legs for so many years, they had started to give out. They weren’t able to support his weight anymore. His hind legs had also dislocated again, and Years of pain & trauma caused him to have seizures as well.
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The doctors decided that the humane thing to do would be to end his pain, and he was euthanized. Mickey had a long and insufferable life, but he was able to feel kindness and love for 3 years at The Big Cat Rescue.
Many big cats like him face exploitation and abuse from their owners. They can only hope to one day feel love and kindness enough to let them live on their own, undisturbed. There must be better laws to regulate the ownership of exotic animals. If you want to help such animals, donate to legitimate organizations like Big Cat Rescue, as they have helped many cats like Mickey to have another chance at life.