It always takes me a few days to make myself put these things in writing, but I do it because so many of our friends have followed and supported us for years and care about each and every animal at the sanctuary as we do.
It never gets any easier – losing an animal we have grown to love and care for always feels like losing a member of our family.
We lost Molly, one of our elderly black bears this past weekend to cardiac arrest. We rescued Molly and her sister Dolly in 2004. They were 14 years old when we discovered that they had been abandoned to starve at a tourist attraction called Frontier Town in New York.
The attraction had been closed for six years. For the first three years, they continued to pay their maintenance man to care for the bears, hoping to find a home for them. That effort failed and they let the maintenance man go.
For the remaining three years, the neighbors knew the Molly and Dolly were abandoned on the property and would intermittently climb the fence and put scraps of food into their enclosure through a chute. The only water the two sisters had to drink was the green scummy moat across the front of their enclosure. No vaccinations or veterinary care…They were slowly starving and were down to 50% of their proper weight.
In 2004 the county foreclosed on the property for unpaid taxes and the bears were ordered to be destroyed before it was sold at auction. The auctioneer made over 100 phone calls to try to find someone to take the bears. He eventually found the American Sanctuary Association who referred him to us.
We agreed to take Molly and Dolly and provide them with lifetime care. We immediately coordinated to have a volunteer deliver proper food daily so they could regain some strength before their long trip to Florida…we immediately started to build their quarantine enclosure.
As we prepared for the trip, our sanctuary was directly hit by three hurricanes in a row. Only one day after Hurricane Jeanne, with windows still boarded and generators running, we headed to New York to load the bears. We arrived only days before the auction; if we had delayed at all, they would have been destroyed.
The sisters arrived in Florida safely and regained their health. They lived with us in Zolfo Springs, FL, eventually sharing a one-acre habitat with two other black bears until we moved to Silver Springs, FL in 2013.
Unfortunately, the temporary habitat for the bears at our new location is smaller than they had grown accustomed to at the old place. The planned 4-acre habitat expansion has not yet been completed.
We are sorry that Molly won’t be able to experience the new larger habitat, but she did have a chance to experience the tranquility of the Ocala National Forest and lived a full life with her sister. The remaining three will share the new habitat once it is completed…..it will be built in Molly’s memory.
We will all miss you Molly – we will never forget the years you spent with us at the sanctuary.