Last week, for our mitzvah trip, we visited the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary. The Catty Shack is a refuge, a permanent home for big cats. The cats come from places like zoos that are cvlosing down and illegal private owners. They have more than 40 animals currently. Thye have lions, tigers, cougars, foxes, leopards, bobcats, and coatimundis. They are an official non-profit orginization, and everybody volunteers. They have a medical facility at the campus, and a thrift store which all proceeds go to the Catty Shack.
We went to the Catty Shack to help us learn about Tzaar Baalei Chayim– the Ethical Treatment of Animals. That basically means to treat animals kindly. Even when we kill animals for meat, the Torah tells us to do it in a non-painful way. We have to cut the animal in a spot where it will kill it with one strike. It also forbids animal testing, and medical studies on animals. However, if the benefit for the human outweighs the pain for the animal, then we can do research.
I believe that the Catty Shack does do the mitzvah of Tzaar Baalei Chayim, for many reasons. One, they do not mistreat their animals. They give them enough food, water, and living space. The people provide toys so the animals do not get bored and can still exercise. Also, they have a fully equipped medical center right there next ot the animals so they don’t have to travel long distances to get check-ups. It is a non-profit orginization and the people volunteer, so you know that they care and aren’t doing it for money or some other wrong reason.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaceyjordan/6764299479/