This Hawaii Cat Sanctuary Is Home to More Than 600 Kitties

Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

What’s better than vacationing in paradise? Paying a visit to purr-adise at Hawaii’s “Fur Seasons” resort, as the Lanai Cat Sanctuary is affectionately called. As People reports, the nonprofit sanctuary provides shelter to about 620 stray cats on the small island of Lanai. (And yes, you can visit, play with, and even adopt any of the adorable residents.)

The felines live on a piece of outdoor, fenced-in property that’s roughly half the size of a football field. They have cubby holes, baskets, and other structures to climb in and on, and according to executive director Keoni Vaughn, they have plenty of space to sprawl out.

“The average person who’s not a crazy cat person thinks, ‘Oh my God, [the sanctuary] has got to be gross and stink'—but it’s the absolute opposite,” Vaughn tells Mental Floss. “The two compliments we get the most are: A) It doesn’t smell, and B) It doesn’t feel like 600 cats.”

Expansions are currently underway, and the sanctuary will someday have the capacity to hold up to 1200 cats at once.

Keoni Vaughn with cats
Keoni Vaughn, executive director of the Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

The sanctuary was founded by former nutritionist Kathy Carroll, who set out to tackle the island’s feral cat problem. She began by capturing, neutering, and releasing the cats. However, those plans changed when she learned about the plight of the island’s endangered birds, which are hunted by wild cats. As a win-win solution, she established a sanctuary where the cats would be happy, and the birds (including the ‘Ua’u, or Hawaiian petrel) would be out of harm’s way.

The sanctuary was formally established as a charity in 2009 and now receives about 200 new cats per year (roughly 50 of which are adopted annually). The center also receives about 12,000 visitors each year, which is “almost four times the human population” of Lanai, Vaughn says.

Although most of the cats are feral, about 40 percent of them become socialized, thanks to the steady stream of visitors. When the sanctuary opens its front gate to visitors at 10 a.m. each day, about 40 cats line up to compete for human affection. “It’s like they report to work. They’re conditioned,” Vaughn says. “When the first guests come, they’re meowing and everything because they know they’re going to get treats.”

Although the sanctuary is free to visit, the staff appreciates donations. This goes toward microchipping, spaying, and neutering the cats, as well as flying in a veterinarian from Oahu twice per month. Cat lovers can also support the sanctuary by “sponsoring” a cat, which means they’ll receive monthly updates and photos of one of Lanai’s kitties in exchange for making a monetary donation.

Scroll down to see more pictures of the sanctuary, and for more information about how you can help, check out the organization's website.

A cat in a basket
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

A cat drinks from a fountain
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

Cats on a wooden structure
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

[h/t People]

The Tower of London Welcomes New Baby Ravens for the First Time in 30 Years

Some of the baby ravens born at the Tower of London
Some of the baby ravens born at the Tower of London
Tower of London Twitter (screenshot)

There are some new residents at the Tower of London. They're only about 11 inches tall, are very noisy, and eat rats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fortunately, they're also adorable—not to mention protected by legend.

On May 17, the Tower of London announced that their breeding pair of ravens, Huginn and Muninn, had welcomed four healthy chicks, the first born at the Tower since 1989. The ravens are part of an unkindness that's been located at the Tower for centuries as a sort of protective asset. According to legend, the Tower must always have ravens, or both the Tower and the kingdom will fall. It's not exactly clear when the legend began, but according to the Tower, Charles II decreed there must always be six ravens present.

Huginn and Muninn are newer additions, having arrived at the Tower in late 2018, and they weren't expected to breed this spring. So it was a surprise in mid-April when the devoted Tower Ravenmaster, Yeoman Warder Chris Skaife, noticed something exciting going on. "My suspicions were first piqued that we might have a chance of baby chicks when the parents built a huge nest suddenly overnight and then almost immediately the female bird started to sit on it," Skaife said in a Tower press release. On April 23, Skaife noticed the birds flying to the nest with food, but it was only this week he was able to get close enough to see the four healthy chicks. The sight delighted him: "Having worked with the ravens here at the Tower for the last 13 years and getting to know each of them, I feel like a proud father!"

The chicks have grown quickly, already quadrupling in size since they were born, and eat a diet of quail, rats, and mice the Ravenmaster provides. The raven parents have an egalitarian feeding arrangement: Huginn, the male, preps the food and passes it to Muninn, the female, who feeds it to her tiny chicks.

The plan is for one of the chicks to stay at the Tower and join the rest of the ravens there. "As the ravens started to hatch on the 23 April, St. George’s Day, the raven that will be staying at the Tower will be called George or Georgina in honor of the occasion," the Tower explained in a press release. According to The Telegraph, the breeding program at the Tower kicked off in response to a decline in the number of legal raven breeders in the UK.

The last raven chick born at the Tower was Ronald Raven, born May 1, 1989. In his 2018 book, The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London, Skaife wrote that "a baby raven looks a bit like a grotesque miniature gargoyle, but then you see them grow and develop ... It really is wonderful."

The baby ravens born at the Tower of London in 2019
The baby ravens born at the Tower of London in 2019 making some noise
Yeoman Warder Chris Skaife

Dozens of Donkeys, Mini-Donkeys, and Baby Donkeys Are Looking for New Homes

iStock.com/huggy1
iStock.com/huggy1

Cats and dogs aren't the only rescue animals that need permanent homes. At the Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT), there are over 60 donkeys, miniature donkeys, baby donkeys, and Thoroughbred horses up for adoption, the Cleburne Times-Review reports.

Many of the equines at HSNT's ranch in Joshua, Texas came from owners who had to give them up, and others were transferred from different animal rescue groups. As part of the ASPCA’s Help A Horse Home Challenge, HSNT is hosting events to help find new homes for its horses and donkeys.

Between April 26 and June 30 this year, the ASPCA is challenging equine organizations to adopt out as many animals as they can. The groups that see the biggest increases in adoptions between this year and last year's Help A Horse Home Challenge will share $150,000 in grant funding. On May 18 and June 8, HSNT is holding open houses at its ranch for anyone interested in adopting an animal. The events will also be used as opportunities to educate the public about the demands of equine ownership.

If you're not free to swing by one of HSNT's open houses, you can still apply to adopt a horse or donkey. Interested owners can fill out and submit this form [PDF] to equine@hsnt.org. And if you'd like to spend time with baby and mini-donkeys without taking one home, HSNT is also looking for volunteers.

[h/t Cleburne Times-Review]

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