Founder of the Project Survival's Cat Haven Dale Anderson
Talk to my family and friends and you will find I have had a great love of animals and especial cats since I was a kid. In the seventh grade a gentleman brought a Mountain Lion to my class. I do not remember the name of the gentleman but I do remember the cat's name, Sam. After that experience I wanted to have a cat of some kind at some later date. I think a lot of people have that same desire but most do not act on it. I was told once, 5% of the people make things happen, 15% watch it happen and the other 80% say what happened! When I built the Project Survival's Cat Haven I put myself in the 5% group.
Every job I have ever had was a prelude to obtaining cats at a later date. I was an airline pilot for 10 years. It was the perfect job for me to get myself ready for the task ahead. I was able to travel around the would looking at different zoos, seeing what was good and what was bad. It also allowed me the time need to get my cat experience to obtain my permits. My thinking before I started my travels was to obtain a cat for my own personal gratification. After working in the industry and seeing many different operations, I found there was very little work being done to help save cats in the wild. At that point my perspective on cats and conservation changed. Currently no one can take a cat from a captive situation, (captive born and raised) and return them back to the wild. When I say this to people most have a very surprised look on their face. We all remember "Born Free" and Elsa the lion and how she was put back into the wild. Lions are the only social cat and if the pride accepts that cat they can teach her the ways of the wild. All other cats learn from their mothers and humans have not figured out a substitute for mother yet.
Dale Anderson and Kong & Goliath
Teaching the next generation about conservation
So let analyze this as I did many years ago. If I have cats is a "Zoo" what are my goals? Maybe I can entertain people! How about educating people about cats! To breed endangered species! To have cats as my personal pets, it is cool to have cats! All these are parts of a goal but never seemed to resonate the purpose of what I thought was important. I am not saying any of those goals above were bad, they just did not meet my desire. If we are truly in the business of saving cats we need to do that where they live not in a "Zoo". Our cats in captivity at the Project Survival's Cat Haven need to become ambassadors for their wild cousins to inspire others to take an active roll in conservation. The key words are 'active roll'. That must be the goal if we are going to save cats in the wild.
I will make a simple illustration; If my goal is to climb Mount Everest I need to plan and set up a base to climb from. The base camp becomes a very important tool for me to be able to have a chance to climb the mountain but it does not become the goal. I think to many "Zoos over the years have lost perspective and made the base camp their goal and lost site of the true objective of climbing the mountain. Captive breeding programs will not save cats in the wild. Education programs are good but if you do not link action to the education it becomes insignificant. The work needs to be done where the cats live. That means money need to be put into the places cats live wild, not into 2 million dollar enclosures for captive animals. If people want to spend that kind of money, they are free to do so, but do not call it conservation and do not tell me the "Zoo has no money to spend on conservation. If "Zoos" want to spend their money on these types of things that's fine but maybe they should change their name to "Amusement Park" I know they will never change their name because "Zoos" would not be able to keep up the facade of making people think they are helping to save animals. We need to change the way zoos think if we are going to make big progress in conservation.
My parents Leon and Marion Anderson.
No one could ask for better parents and any more love and support.
Some of the fun things our cats find for us to do!
Enough of my lecturing. I grew up in Santa Rosa California. I went to school at Kings River College, Oregon State and Fresno State. I have lived in the Central Valley since 1981. I have never been married and have no kids or pets, only my furry friends.
The most important things in my life are; my relationship with God, my family and my passion to save wild cats. It doesn't get any better than that!