Exotic Animals, Once Abused and Abandoned, Get Second Chance

By Joel Waldinger | November 19, 2015


Lions and tigers and bears…oh, and wolves, cows, llamas, and even a tortoise! All of these animals have found their way to the Valley of the Kings Sanctuary and Retreat in southeastern Wisconsin.

For more than 43 years, Jill Carnegie and Jim Tomasi have provided a home for unwanted, abused, or injured exotic animals of all kinds on their 10-acre sanctuary in rural Walworth County.

Exotic pets often have difficult lives, enduring living conditions that are unsafe or inadequate to their specific needs. Nearly every animal that comes to live at Valley of the Kings arrives with a traumatic history. But with enough food, quality veterinary care, love and affection, these animals are once more able to enjoy long and healthy lives.

New laws and increased regulation have changed the way people are able to purchase and keep exotic animals, bringing a decline in large, exotic cat ownership in the United States—which is good news for Valley of the Kings.

As a private, non-profit charity, Valley of the Kings receives no government funding for their operations and is solely supported by membership fees and individual donations. “It’s feast or famine” according to Jill Carnegie.

But even though the work of maintaining the sanctuary can be both physically demanding and financially daunting, Jill and Jim have devoted their life’s work to ensuring that these animals have a safe place to live out the remainder of their lives with care and comfort.

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project and considers a sunset over the “big island” on Manson Lake to be a perfect ending to a day of fishing and fun in the Northwoods. 

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