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Big cat refuge struggles to stay open - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Big cat refuge struggles to stay open

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A Southeast Texas animal refuge needs your help to continue its care of exotic animals. The Exotic Cat Refuge is a nonprofit that runs mostly on small donations. At minimum, it costs about $20,000 a month to keep the refuge up and running. Founder, Monique Woodard says that money is becoming more difficult to come by with each passing day.

Monique Woodard has a special bond with animals and she's been saving them since she was a child. But more than 25 years ago, she knew it was her life's purpose and opened the Exotic Cat Refuge and Wildlife Orphanage in Kirbyville. She tells 122 News HD, "I give up my life to take care of them. God called me."

Its a calling that has been difficult to fulfill since Hurricane Ike caused damages. They've been struggling to keep up with repairs, often going into the hole. They need to extend the fence two feet higher and the decks for the natural Artesian pools for the cats need to be repaired. Plus, with summer approaching, the shade for the animals will have to be replaced. Woodard adds, "We got to have a new roof on the refuge house." All that is in addition to the normal monthly costs.

Those costs total $20,000 a month to run the refuge, including taking care of 11 exotic animals like big boy here. Woodard says, each day is a new struggle to make ends meet. She tells 12 News HD, "I put my own retirement and social security into the refuge."

And she doesn't want to think about what it could mean for her animals if she is forced to shut down.  She says, "You asked me a question I don't want to think about. I don't want the cats to suffer."

Woodard refuses to give up on keeping her commitment to these animals who started out their lives being abused. She says, "Because I feel personally responsible for each and every one because once they come here I give them a life long home."

Woodard prays to God for help in her life's mission she feels he called on her to do, saying, "I've never changed my mind, I've never given up hope and I know money is going to come in here. I don't know where, how, who, but it will be in here."

The refuge is currently home to more than 20 large animals total. They recently entered into a contract with Wal-mart, who now helps provide meat for the cats. That has taken a $15,000 a month burden off of Woodard. but even with that help, the cost of running the place is still $20,000 a month. That does not include those needed repairs.

If you would like to donate to their cause, just hit the links we like tab on our web site, and that will take you to their web page.

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