Shazam is a black leopard born in 2002 at the Catskill Game Farm in upstate New York. Following their closure in 2006, he was moved to The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minnesota where he gradually adjusted to his new surroundings, forging a special friendship with his neighbor, an elderly jaguar by the name of Diablo Guapo. Following Diablo’s passing this winter, Shazam seemed to struggle with loneliness, that is until a white tiger named Nikita moved in next door.

Unfortunately, Nikita’s story is a bit more sordid, as she was born to notorious wild animal “tamer” Sam Mazzola, who had a history of violent interactions with his animals. Living in this environment made Nikita wary, a trait that she took with her to her next home, a tiny cement run in Zanesville, Ohio, where several big cats lived behind a private home. Here, although she was free from physical abuse, her environment was too cramped for a tiger to live comfortably. That was when her owner made the sensible decision to rehome all of her big cats, reaching out to sanctuaries all over the country.

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When she first arrived at The Wildcat Sanctuary, at seven years old, Nikita was a nervous kitty. But now, she seems to be thriving in her new environment, in part because of the special relationship that she has developed with her neighbor, Shazam. Together, they are learning to love again, something that would not be possible without the help of The Wildcat Sanctuary. If you would like to learn more about this organization and how you can help with their efforts, you may visit their website here.



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