A retired small animal veterinarian dreams of something bigger.

Created by Susannah Kay and Laura McDermott

Dr. Jim Galvin wasn't born to sit around and do nothing. At age 60, the veterinarian decided to do something a little more exciting with his retirement: he bought 80 acres and set to work opening a tiger sanctuary in rural Ohio.

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BECKY: Jim was the one with the real, deep love of animals. The day-to-day care of the cats is not mine. This is his, his hobby, and, you know, I support him in it, but it's, it's not mine.

JIM: (Tiger/Jim interaction)

So, I had been kind of looking for something to retire to do. I'm one of these that has to have a goal, I have to have something to work towards. And it got me thinking that I still have my skills and the good Lord had given me the passion that's still there for animals, I'd just kind of burned out on the business end of small animal practice. And it was a chance conversation I had with a zoo veterinarian. I had made the casual comment to him that I had always thought I would like to work with the big cats. I have always had a passion for the tigers, especially, and I said I'm just almost sorry I didn't get involved.

(Cages rattling & Tiger/Jim interaction)

Each one of em's got it, an individual personality. Boomer's, the first one, is very rambunctious. I think he acts like a kid that's on a sugar high or ADHD. I mean he's just unbelievable. Dudley's more laid back. He'll sit and chew his food a little bit. Boomer tries to swallow it whole and sometimes he gags on it. If they haven't been mistreated they really enjoy attention, and I think a lot of people will make the mistake and go in with their cats. You are not in control if you don't have em in a cage. I'm sorry, that's just the way I feel about it.

(Tiger/Jim interaction)

BECKY: Some people's reaction is like, "Oh my gosh," you know, "He's, he must be crazy." Well, no, he's, you know, he's not crazy. He's really interested in this, and this is gonna happen.

JIM: She said, "You know it's going to be like a dairy farm practically. You're going to have to be there 24/7, somebody's gotta be there." And I assured her, I said, "Dear, yeah maybe the first year or two while we're here," but I said, "eventually we're going to stumble across people that will want to get involved," and lo and behold we found Nathan before we even moved in!

NATHAN: We're all animal lovers at heart, you know, in some way. But, yeah, just the opportunity to work with that kind of animal, I jumped all over it. Well I was taking care of some of the feeding duties and what not in the beginning. We also have connected with a lot of the local farmers I've grown up in this area knowing. When we can and following the right regulations and guidelines, we are able to go pick up them cows if they have died a natural death with no kind of chemical supplements or medicines. We will go pick them up and bring them back and actually cut the cows up here on the farm.

(Cutting noises, men talking)

Anything that can cut the cost down for Jim having to pay out of pocket, you know, it really does help.

JIM: Veterinarians make a very good living, but this, this is really something and I'm scared, I'm scared. I'm 61 years old, and I'm sitting on a pretty big mortgage that I didn't have in Toledo anymore. And with the economy the way it is, I'm a little nervous, but I thought, "You know, Jim, if you've learned this much that you can do to help and you don't do anything you'll never forgive yourself for not trying."

(Birds chirping)

The big concern is, if this starts slow and stays slow, I can't raise money, I may end up with only six or eight or ten cats here, which would be fine with me, I'll take care of what I can. But again, that doesn't, that isn't what I would like to do. I'd like to leave something to have made a positive change in more than just a few cats. If there's really 1000 big cats here in Ohio there has got to be an awful lot of them out in the country nobody knows about. I mean, when I tell people that, they're just in awe. These are out there and they're being bred and that's part of the zoos' concern is they're probably being inbred and everything else because nobody's really watching it. And the more secretive they are about it, it's just gonna make that situation worse, too, so.

(Jim/Tiger Interaction)

NATHAN: It's such a unique animal, and to think that those animals are going to be wiped off of this earth in 12 years, and they're not gonna be here no more.

JIM: If mother nature wants to take an animal extinct, and I've read somewhere that 95 percent of the animals that have ever walked the face of this earth are extinct, that's fine. Let mother nature do it, but we sure as hell shouldn't be doing it.


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