Tammy Thies

Executive Director
The Wildcat Sanctuary

Tammy Thies is the founder of The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides a safe home to felid species, including cougar, tiger, lynx and other wild cats in need of shelter.

Thies has a marketing and journalism degree from the University of St. Thomas. After graduation, she developed and managed advertising campaigns for clients such as Coca-Cola, BMW, Holiday Inn and Timberland.

She is a native Minnesotan and during her advertising career became aware of the need for a sanctuary through her exposure to big cats during photo shoots. She learned that, throughout the United States, tens of thousands of these animals are privately owned as pets and used as performers or for-profit breeding. Too often, the cats outlive their usefulness and have nowhere to go.

Thies made a midlife career change to become a voice for these animals. She began TWS on 10 acres in Isanti, Minnesota. Now, years later, the sanctuary houses over 100 residents on 40 acres in Sandstone, Minnesota. Animals are not bought, sold, bred or traded. Each resident is given every opportunity to behave naturally in a wonderful free-roaming environment and receive the best vet care at the onsite animal hospital.

TWS provides educational outreach seminars to educate the public about the captive wildlife crisis across the United States, as well as supports legislative efforts banning these practices. Thies was very instrumental in testifying on behalf of the Minnesota Exotic Animal Law that bans the ownership of dangerous exotic animals as pets.

Thies has appeared as an expert on the captive wildlife crisis across national media outlets, such as the History Channel, Animal Planet and the CNN iReport.

The sanctuary is accredited by The American Sanctuary Association, Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, recognized as a top sanctuary by Tigers in America, a member of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance and awarded a 4-star rating by Charity Navigator. The Wildcat Sanctuary is the only big cat sanctuary in the upper Midwest. Tammy has also served on the board of the American Sanctuary Association, as well as steering committees for the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance.

Session: Minnesota Animals Caught Between Two Worlds

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