NTMWD Plant Smart 2024

Big night for big cats at fundraising gala

by | Jun 13, 2024 | Area news, Latest

Vickey Keahey, founder and president of In-Sync Exotics, presents Tim Harrison a painting crafted by Lambert the lion at the Saturday, June 8 gala in Lavon. Harrison, a published author and documentary film star, was the keynote speaker. Courtesy Dave Smith

It was a star-studded affair Saturday night as the community gathered to support its hometown nonprofit, the world-renowned In-Sync Exotics.

Approximately 200 attendees, including local dignitaries, volunteers and supporters, attended the inaugural Whisker Wishes fundraising gala at the Venue at Boyd Farms in Lavon, Saturday, June 8.

The emcee for the evening, longtime supporter Lee Singletary, was introduced by Mayor Matthew Porter.

As guests enjoyed a plated dinner, a slideshow and footage from the sanctuary’s live camera feed highlighted some of the residents at rest and at play in their habitats. The sanctuary on Skyview Drive in Wylie is now home to 32 tigers, five lions, four leopards, six cougars, 15 bobcats, four servals, one savannah cat, two lemurs, two ligers, one cheetah, one horse, one donkey, three goats and six domestic cats.

The evening’s keynote speaker was Tim Harrison, star of the documentaries including “The Conservation Game” and author of “White Magic.” Harrison’s participation, sponsored by Tigers in America, underscores the collaborative spirit of wildlife conservation efforts.

Before Harrison took the stage, Vicky Keahey, founder of In-Sync Exotics, told her part of the story about the “tale of two Lamberts.”

“It doesn’t matter how many times I tell this story; I cannot tell them without crying, Keahey said tearfully, about Harrison’s documentary, “The Elephant in the Living Room.”

After watching the 2010 documentary, which she admitted she avoided watching for as long as she could, Keahey said, “I vowed that if I ever got a baby boy lion, I was going to name him Lambert. Because Lambert — Tim’s lion — deserved a much better life and a much more dignified death.”

It wasn’t too long after Keahey watched the documentary that she said, “my Lambert showed up.” She rescued him as a tiny 3-month-old cub from a family in Odessa.

“I brought him home,” she said. “And he’s been named Lambert since before he got there. And he’s my savior, he’s my love … he’s everything to me.”

Lambert at In-Sync

In a riveting 30 minutes at the podium, Harrison explained how he when first became involved in educating and advocating for the proper care of exotic animals. “You couldn’t find any places like In-Sync back then.”

Now, with facilities across the country, said Harrison, In-Sync is one of the top two.

“I would guarantee right now you have a premier facility right here in your area,” he added. “I don’t know why anyone — when I travel the world — would ever send $1 over to any place else when you’ve got animals here that need your help. These are American tigers. These are American lions. And it’s not their fault. They’re here, but it’s our fault.”

Harrison, a 68-year-old retired police officer, firefighter and paramedic from Ohio, is also the director of Outreach for Animals, a nonprofit founded in 2001.

In talking about his latest book, “White Magic,” Harrison explained how the term is used in the underground world. “At fairs and Hollywood parties when white magic comes in, everybody spends money,” he said. “Everybody wants to touch or have a picture taken with a white tiger. And that’s where the downfall is.”

Years of overbreeding, said Harrison, has led to all sorts of deformities in the white tigers. “It all started with the Cincinnati Zoo,” he said, adding “all these places started some of this using these animals for entertainment purposes.”

The author showed photos of his Lambert, along with examples of what his outreach organization does including dental work, contraception for big cats, moving animals across the country and much more.

Additionally, through his undercover investigation for his two award-winning documentaries, Harrison spoke of some of the abuse the animals encountered which has led him to become known as a “human animal advocate.”

“And that’s why I’m here. I came all the way from Dayton, Ohio,” he said. “And I just want you to know: This is a facility and you need to support it.”

In thanking Harrison, Keahey presented a picture to him painted by Lambert along with an adoption certificate for “her” Lambert.

“Now he’s our Lambert,” she said.

Local auctioneer Clay Potter got the audience moving and laughing with a wild game of “Whiskers or Tails” before successfully encouraging attendees to purchase sports tickets, vacation opportunities, wine and whiskey tastings or even donate cash during the live auction. Funds raised will go to help cover the cost of a new endoscopy machine and other medical equipment at the facility.

“My sincere thanks to everyone that came out and the supporters and sponsors that helped make our gala a huge success,” Keahey said. “I’m very grateful to Tim Harrison for sharing his stories and his glowing endorsement of In-Sync.”

To sponsor any one of In-Sync’s exotic cats, or to simply donate to the local nonprofit, visit insyncexotics.org.

For more stories about the Farmersville community see the next print, or digital edition of The Farmersville Times. Subscribe today and support local journalism.

NTMWD Plant Smart 2024

0 Comments

Related News

Swatting suspect identified

Swatting suspect identified

A juvenile suspect in East Texas is believed responsible for numerous bomb threats and “swatting” hoaxes across multiple states, the Collin County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) said. The investigation began in May when the suspect initiated a swatting incident at a...

read more
Residents urged to share input on future parks

Residents urged to share input on future parks

Residents of Farmersville are encouraged to “come together and share ideas” in shaping the future of the city’s parks and recreation facilities during a second Open House hosted by the Parks & Recreation Board. “The Farmersville Parks & Recreation Board...

read more
Celebrating 25 years of leadership

Celebrating 25 years of leadership

The Rev. Bart Barber was celebrated for his 25 years of service as the lead pastor of First Baptist Church Farmersville Sunday, July 7. The Rev. Bart Barber has been preaching the Gospel to his Farmersville flock for 25 years. On Sunday, July 7, they gathered to offer...

read more
Farmersville utility bills delayed

Farmersville utility bills delayed

Residents are advised that their monthly utility bills may arrive later than usual this month due to a printing error at the mailing center. According to a statement from the city of Farmersville, the bills, which are typically dispatched by the first of each month,...

read more
Resident feedback on parks helpful

Resident feedback on parks helpful

The park adjacent to the Onion Shed received a bridge update in the last year. Farmersville residents have voiced their opinions on the municipal park system, providing crucial feedback that will shape the future of local parks and recreation. Bryan “Woody” Woods, the...

read more
City budget focuses on key areas

City budget focuses on key areas

Orange Street by the Dairy Queen is one of the streets in need of repairs. At last week’s regular meeting of the Farmersville City Council, Mayor Craig Overstreet outlined the main focus areas for the upcoming budget. The priorities identified at the Tuesday, June 25...

read more
Keeping your family safe from ticks

Keeping your family safe from ticks

Summer months draw Texans outdoors, but the number of people enjoying warmer weather also draw out ticks looking for a meal. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts warn that ticks can pose danger and folks should take steps to avoid them. “Ticks are blood...

read more
Veteran’s family receives new home

Veteran’s family receives new home

Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Semeli Toilolo at the Tuesday, June 18, groundbreaking ceremony where he and his family were surprised to learn they will receive a new home being built for them in Lavon. Courtesy photo Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Semeli Toilolo and his family will...

read more
Fundraising under the stars at Heard Museum

Fundraising under the stars at Heard Museum

Kerrville rock and roll band The Blandelles had Heard Museum patrons dancing in the dark at the Night Out fundraiser, Saturday, June 22. A second event is planned in July. It was hot and humid, but that didn’t stop Heard Museum patrons from dancing at the first of two...

read more
Subscribe 300x250 - Love