For An Impromptu Summer Meeting
Aug 4th thru Aug 7th, 2001
By TAMMY Wallasch

Recently I had the opportunity to travel with Nikki to Los Angeles, California for a weekend visit I will never forget!

A long-time WildTalk member & friend of Nikki's, Marina Cappas was our gracious hostess. Her home is at the foothills of the stunning San Gabrielle Mountains in the San Fernando Valley. It is beautiful beyond words. She is a freelance cartoonist and lives in a beautiful home with her six cats. Bailey had to be everyone's favorite! All were charming and so loving. Marina is certainly owned by her felines!

Marina arranged for us to go to the Wildlife Waystation, nestled in the mountains of the Angeles National Reserve.

It is owned and operated by a fascinating woman named Martine Collette. The Wildlife Waystation takes in all sorts of animals who have been abandoned by their owners or subjected to cruelty. They currently have about 1300 animals, ranging from parrots to chimps to tigers to lions, zebras, wolves, bears, fox. the list goes on and on. We received a private tour of the compound. Our tour guide, Dennis, spent several hours showing us around the facility. He explained the many problems they are facing because of Fish and Wildlife.F&Wildlife in California is extremely difficult to work with . The agenda of Fish & Wildlife in Calif. is "not" to save animals. One of the main problems they face deals with water. All water for the compound has to be brought in by truck or private auto and carried in buckets .The animals used to have wading pools to splash about in, but Fish and Wildlife made them stop filling the pools, claiming the runoff was creating problems for the environment. This is an allegation that is simply not true. As well as the fact that they have passed all tests done at the facility and there is documented proof that there is no run off into the environment. Everything is contained in proper receptacles.Or recycled thru their water filtering facility. 3/4s of the yr, the creek in "question" is totally a dry bed . Cracked and parched from the heat and lack of rains. It seems to be about politics and a great large amount of monies. Isnt it always with Fish and Wildlife? It creates a serious hardship for a facility that is doing tremendous good for animals as well as educating the public, and it creates serious hardship for the animals. The tigers need their water pools to lounge in , in the summer mos , when the heat is blistering. The facility has wonderful mister systems for misting the air to keep all the animals cool and refreshed. These systems , including the sprinklers have had to be shut down. Brining water into the facility by hand and truck to pump in and carry up cost over a million dollars. Moneys better spent on the animals care, and the good works they are doing at the Wildlife Way Station in veterinary advancements. Their achievement in declaw reconstructions could one day, save, your own kitty or mine, or someone we know and love.

Along with caring for these animals, the facility also has a small hospital and veterinary staff. They pride themselves in recently developing a surgical technique to repair poorly done declaw surgery that maims or cripples the large cats.

We saw some of the cats who recently underwent this reparative surgery, and they were talking normally again.

After our tour, Martine Colette met with us on the patio of her home, which is inside the compound. We sat amid the roar of tigers and the call of parrots and talked, and for a brief while, I felt as if I had been transported to heaven. Thank you Martene for the most incredible afternoon at your facility .We all learned so much! Martene is mother to several baby chimps.

Nikki when asked why she was so quiet , said, "she felt she was in the presence of super heros!" :) Martene, Jeanne Le Bret, Marina Capas.

It was AWESOME!!

The Wild Life Way Station is definitely a must on anyone's California tours or visits! You can visit them also on the internet!

We also met other friends and members of Wildtalk, including "Catbert", "Fud Lady" and "Jenipurr" from the Cat's Window bulletin board where I originally "met" Nikki. Marina was the most wonderful hostess! She totally surprized Nikki with the surprise visitor being Jeanne, (catbret) You all know it is hard to shock Nikki. She was speechless! It was a surreal adventure and we are all so grateful for Marina's wonderful planning of our time and putting together an impromptu Summer West Coast WildTalk Meeting , our first, but not our last hopefully , for our members and family on the west coast of this great country! It was such a joy to meet other members, animal lovers, all with common bonds and goals.

Nikki's long time friend and mentor in animals, a fascinating lady named Jan Giacinto who showed us around her beautiful home . Jan was such a gracious hostess and showed us her beautiful cats. Jan had a Bengal cat that had to be the largest any of us ever saw. I am sure Nikki was able to get a digital of him, he was huge!

Jan shared pictures of some of her white tigers and other exotic animals.Jan has two facilities, one in Nevada and the one at her home in Los Angeles.Jan Giacinto has a non-profit for animals also called FIN, FEATHER, and FUR. Anyone wishing more information on Jan's newsletter , contact Nikki for Jan's email or address.

Our last day concluded with Nikki and a woman named Sandy Leos doing an hour long educational program at a private school in the area. Ms. Leos brought a serval, a lynx, a sphinx cat and a baby raccoon. The children asked lots of questions. You could feel their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn all they could about their wild friends. It was wonderful to see them all so interested in the animals.Children as well as the school leaders hungered for information . I think the teachers were as excited to see the animals as the children were. Nikki Martin is a natural in schools , she has a gift for getting the children and adults to interact . It is a fun way to learn about the animals that share our earth. Programming in California is very restrictive. California has a policy of "hands off, instead of hands on". Seeing a program in Wisconsin vs. an educational program in California is very different. California laws are to the extreme. It deprives children as well as adults of educational opportunities to know and understand the animals that share the earth with us.

Many thanks to all who made this weekend such a fascinating adventure!

Even though it was a WildTalk meeting, "West Coast Summer", including legal business with the attorney who works with WildTalk on saving animals in confiscation situations, and tax advice,licensing policies and other WildTalk business. It never ceases to amaze me how people with common interests can reach out across the globe and find instant friendships that last forever.

Tammy Wallasch

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