Puma Tikam at TIERART

#BehindTheScenes at TIERART Wild Animal Sanctuary

Chief Animal Caretaker Tim Zeller gives us a look behind the scenes at the German wild animal sanctuary


TIERART Wild Animal Sanctuary is a cooperation project between FOUR PAWS and the association TIERART eV. The German Wild Animal Sanctuary provides a species-appropriate home for rescued big cats, who have been kept in bad conditions. Additionally, the sanctuary cares for numerous other native wild animals.

To find out more about the work at TIERART Wild Animal Sanctuary we interviewed Tim Zeller, who has been part of the FOUR PAWS family since July 2017. As Chief Animal Caretaker, Tim is responsible for native wild animals at TIERART Wild Animal Sanctuary. Tim gives us a look behind the scenes!

Can you describe an average day at work?

On a normal working day, my job is to look after the animals' welfare. Feeding them, keeping them busy and cleaning the enclosures. But normal days are rare. We often receive emergency calls where we have to rescue injured animals and take care of them with the vet.

What's the most unusual experience you've had working at the sanctuary?

The most unusual thing I have experienced in my time at TIERART is the story of the puma Tikam. He was kept privately in a flat and came to us relatively young, thus raising a little puma, was a unique experience.

What's one thing that makes your job feel special?

A very simple answer: the animals.

What has been one of the most gratifying or memorable parts of your job? 

It is a wonderful moment when you have received an injured or orphaned young animal months ago, nursed it back to health and raised it, and then allowed it to return into the wild.

What is one of the most challenging aspects of working with animals/working with the sanctuary?

Clearly, one of the most difficult aspects is when you fight for a long time for an animal from a bad husbandry or an orphaned young animal and it dies.

What did you do before you joined FOUR PAWS?

I originally worked in advertising. When I was in my mid-20s, I decided to do a second apprenticeship to become a zoo animal keeper. I came to TIERART and FOUR PAWS through an internship.

What is one of your favourite things about working in the sanctuary?

I love showing visitors around the sanctuary, giving them knowledge, and presenting our progress on the grounds. Raising the young animals is the other aspect of my work that I love to do.

Do you have a favourite animal at the sanctuary? If so, why?

Only one? Difficult. The story and the nature of the tigress Varvara occupies me every day. I am happy about every day with her and the progress we have been able to make with her. In addition, Zoe and Frodo, our two pastel foxes, are among my favourites. They have a great personality and make even the bad days at work a little better.

How has your work at the sanctuary changed your life and impacted your family/friends/community? 

I perceive things differently now. Actually, my entire environment. From the animals themselves, to industry and consumer goods, etc. You try to find a way to live better for yourself. This then extends to all areas, for example to my family and friends.

What do you like to do outside of work? What do you feel passionate about?

I like to spend time in my garden and also enjoy working with my pets as well. For example, with my dog who also came from a poor keeping situation.

Tim Zeller, TIERART Staff
European Wildcat at TIERART

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