My friend Renee Radziwon-Chapman died a few days ago. She died doing what she loved. Caring for her last-chance wildcats at Wild Cat Haven Sanctuary when tragically one of those very cats took her life. These are the big beautiful cats that we rarely get to see in person because they typically live their lives in the wild.
But these wild animals at Wild Cat Haven Sanctuary were there only because they had been rescued after being bred for illegal profit or captured and abused and neglected by others. Majestic animals and spirits of the wild that had become victims to pain and suffering caused by people. The worst kind. But things changed for the better for these cats when they met Renee.
Make no mistake, this was a tragic accident. A life has been lost. Made even worse because the life that was lost was caused by one of the very animals that trusted her. One of the very cougars that Renee loved. A cougar that did something we will never really know the details of. Because no one else was there. Just Renee and her cats.
Speculation will abound. Rumors. Innuendo. Barbed words will be fired back and forth. Words and accusations that will be painful. And none of that is what Renee would have wanted. Because none of that will help bring her back and none of that will help care for her cats. This is a time to grieve. A time to mourn.
And it is also a time to remember the bright burst of life that Renee was. She was a woman, a daughter, a wife and a new mother truly loved by numbers too many to count, loved by those both two-legged and four. She was a true lover of the animals.
I had just shared an evening of dinner and laughter with Renee a few weeks ago, listening to her gush about her six-month old daughter Noa. A daughter that will someday learn what a tremendous mom she had.
But for now I grieve. I grieve for all that knew Renee and for all that loved her. And I grieve for the big cats too, for they have also lost their dear friend.
A fund has been set up by the friends of Renee Radziwon-Chapman to provide support for her daughter Noa. All donations will go directly towards ensuring Noa can follow her dreams much like her mother did.
If you would like to honor and remember Renee, this would be a wonderful way to do so. http://www.gofundme.com/57av7o
My name is Larry Chusid and I founded The Pongo Fund. And Renee Radziwon-Chapman was my friend.