Tammy Thies is the founder of the Wildcat Sanctuary, a non-profit, accredited sanctuary 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.
Thies made a mid-life career change to become a voice for these animals. She began The Wildcat Sanctuary in 1999. Now, years later, the Sanctuary houses over 120 residents on 85 acres in Sandstone, MN. 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 on-site animal hospital.
The Wildcat Sanctuary provides educational outreach seminars to educate the public about the captive wildlife crisis across the United States, as well as supporting 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. She has assisted local law enforcement, United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife on cases involving wild cats.
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, 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 serves on the steering committees for the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance.