SHARON, Wis. – An area nonprofit group helps aging, injured and abandoned large animals such as lions, tigers and bears – and a camel named Chewy – ease their way into retirement.
Valley of the Kings, a large exotic animal sanctuary at W7593 Townhall Road, Sharon, Wis., will host a fundraiser at noon Aug. 3 at Kip and Deb’s, 184 Park Ave. in Sharon, to help the large animals live long enough to die of old age instead of complications from being in circuses, zoos or elsewhere.
The fundraiser will have a fresh split-roasted pig with “all the fixins,” including potato salad, cheesy potatoes, dessert and other beverages at an extra charge. Prizes such as local oil change certificates, pizza certificates, golf outing packages and tickets to Milwaukee Bucks and Admirals games will be raffled or auctioned off.
King’s Highway, a blues band, will play from 6 to 9 p.m. The event is open to the public, and bikers are welcome.
President and founder Jill Tomasi began the organization 39 years ago, volunteer Derek Becker said. Becker said Valley of the Kings has seen many ill and elderly animals, including a rare tiliger named Tylir.
“Jill has a special place in her heart for sick and crippled animals,” Becker said. “They need a home, too. It’s not just the young, pristine ones.”
It costs about $25,000 a month to keep the sanctuary running, Becker said. Tomasi, along with the other volunteers, has big plans for Valley of the Kings – including a heated and air-conditioned facility for the elderly animals’ year-round comfort – and needs all the financial help she can get.
“This is the first year we’re doing it, so we’re kind of testing the waters to see what works and what doesn’t,” Becker said about the fundraiser.
Dr. Bohdan Rudawski, a veterinarian at Fox Lake Animal Hospital and on-call veterinarian at Valley of the Kings, said one of the biggest procedures he has done for the sanctuary’s animals was removing a cancerous tumor from a tiger named Assan. He also has performed surgeries on animals with significant colon issues, healed a large, infected cut on a camel’s hoof over the course of a year and removed a female tiger’s uterus because of a large-scale infection.
Rudawski said the volunteers at Valley of the Kings give up a lot of their time and hard-earned money to help the large animals. Without them, there’s no telling what fates the animals would face otherwise.
“The people that own the place spend a lot of time in regards to helping out,” Rudawski said. “A good number of animals are gonna be able to die of old age rather than something leading to their demise because they were too old for the zoo or the person who took them couldn’t keep them anymore. ... They take them in and help out a good number of them. They’re very unselfish people – easily secured their place in heaven, as far as I’m concerned.”
Becker said the animals are not sold from the sanctuary and come to Valley of the Kings to live the rest of their lives.
“Here, they get treated with love,” Becker said. “They get fed and they get treated by vets and they retire and just live their life. It’s a lifetime dedication.”