Yesterday afternoon, In-Sync Exotics announced in a somber Facebook post that the canine distemper outbreak currently ravaging the Wylie animal sanctuary had claimed its fourth victim, a white tiger named Harley.
"He has been very sick with this hateful virus for quite some time, and we finally made the decision today to give him peace," they wrote. "The vet was supposed to come out at 5pm. About 45 minutes before the appointment, Harley just slipped away. I believe he wanted to spare us any guilt, or any chance of second-guessing ourselves."
With that, 11-year-old Harley joined former neighbors Apollo and Abrams, both 12-year-old Bengal tigers, and Layla, an 18-year-old African lioness, in that great jungle in the sky, assuming St. Peter isn't scared of giant cats.
We also now have some information on what happens to the animals' remains. On Facebook, In-Sync describes its funeral rites, which are more elaborate than those for many humans:
After a cat passes, while we wait for our memorial service which is usually the next day, our cat is never left alone. A beloved friend stays with them. The next day, someone rides with them all the way to the memorial service at a local crematorium. We all say our last, painful goodbyes, and cover them with flowers. When we are ready, the employees at the crematorium see to our cat, and we step outside and put flowers into the lovely little pond outside the facility. While we wait, we head to a local store to buy a personalized urn that is chosen for each cat's individual personality, along with things to decorate their enclosure and honor their memory. While we are doing this, one of our volunteers stays at the memorial home, so again, our cat is never left alone. When all is complete, we place our beloved friend in their beautiful urn, which is then added to a cabinet inside [In-Sync founder] Vicky [Keahey]'s home, to stay with us forever.
Here's the cabinet, which is quite full:
The house cat, for the record, is still alive.