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Bear Creek Feline Center to expand, re-brand after taking big hit from Michael

SOUTHPORT, Fla. - Bear Creek Feline Center is a non-profit organization that's now home to 21 refugee cats. Some of those are retired "celebrity" cats and refugee felines.

Following Hurricane Michael, "some of the cages look like they got bombed," the center's director, Jim Broaddus, said.

Bear Creek's felines are recovering like us: one day at a time. "This will end up like cat post traumatic stress disorder," Broaddus said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commision has repeatedly monitored Bear Creeks' emergency and safety protocols before and after the storm. Broaddus said no animals were hurt in the storm but the center took on major damage.

He thanks volunteers from organizations all over the world for helping in the recovery.

"The most vulnerable ones are the animals. Humans can get by but animals cant," Alison Thompson, a Third Wave Volunteers volunteer who's been helping with the clean-up at the center, said.

One organization is providing the felines with fresh, filtered water. "We are helping the cats back into their natural state, as much as we can since they've been rescued, to bring them to what their prior condition was pre-disaster," Snooki Correa, the Lovewater Foundation's executive director and chief engineer, said. The organization has also been providing fresh water in critical areas like Mexico Beach.     

Hurricane Michael left a silver lining at Bear Creek. "We'll come back bigger and better. We won't be an exhibit anymore," Broaddus said. The center is applying for a sanctuary status, meaning tours aren't allowed and only select people are invited in. He said people like students, vets, and "very serious conservationists" will be allowed.

Bear Creek is also expanding into the property next-door. Broaddus said he'll now be able to adopt bigger cats like lions and tigers, and adopt more rescues. 

"The cats will have a calmer environment and we'll build more cages so we can take in more refugee cats," he said.
 


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