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ADOPTED ANGEL – Jackie Mitchell of Massena is the proud adoptive mom of a 12-year-old tiger named Angel. In recent months when I have stopped at the Courier-Observer office Jackie would show me pictures of Angel on her computer screen. The pictures were amazing and I found Jackie’s adoption fascinating.

This week when I called the office Jackie told me she (and her husband Randy) had just returned from North Carolina, where she had the opportunity to meet her adopted tiger Angel for the very first time. When I stopped at the offic,e I had the marvelous opportunity of seeing Jackie’s pictures of their trip to North Carolina to meet Angel. I also learned about the adoption of a tiger now living at Tiger World.

Tiger World is a non-profit animal conservation and educational center dedicated to rescue, rehabilitation and preservation of exotic animals, information provided from Tiger World explained. The facility is located in Rockwell, North Carolina.

Over a year ago while Jackie was watching eagles on U-Stream, she had the opportunity to see a live feed of a tiger cub being born. The tiger Jackie watched coming into this world was Storm, a white tiger. She saw what Tiger World did through their work and then became Facebook friends, Jackie explained. “They do so much.”

Jackie continued to learn about Tiger World and all they are about and participated in contests they held. In one contest Jackie had to guess the weight of now three-month-old Storm. “I did that …and donated,” at that time, she explained.

“In October when I got my Christmas Club check, I knew what I wanted to give myself for Christmas,” she told me.

She sent her donation to Tiger World and adopted Angel. Angel was selected by the owner for Jackie. “I told her as long as it’s a tiger, I don’t care.”

She was sent a certificate of adoption and a huge picture. When I went online to learn more about Tiger World, there at the top of the home page was a picture of Angel with the caption “Angel Adopted by Jackie Mitchell!”

After the adoption, Jackie followed the new Mitchell family member online and on Facebook. Other visitors at the facility would take pictures of Jackie’s Angel and post them on Facebook so Jackie could see Angel swimming in a large tub, playing or eating.

The distance between Massena and North Carolina never allowed Jackie to see Angel face to face. This month, though, Jackie and her husband, Randy, traveled to North Carolina so Jackie could see her adopted tiger. They spent an entire day at the facility.

“Meeting Angel for the first time was the most exciting,” she told me as we looked at pictures of that first meeting. “It was such a thrill to finally see him (Angel) and meet him.”

And obviously Angel was thrilled as well – as Jackie and Randy stood by the fenced in pen, Angel licked Jackie’s arm.

The Mitchells had been told the tigers enjoyed playing with piņatas, so some were taken to give to Angel and his sister Joy. While the tigers were in a fenced in pen, Jackie said they went into the enclosure and set up the piņata, which had been sprayed with a natural scent. The pictures are marvelous showing Jackie’s new tiger friends playing with piņatas.

As Randy watched the tigers, Zeus came up to the fence where Randy was standing. Zeus rubbed his head toward Randy. Randy scratched his head and petted the tiger through the fence. He then called Jackie over – Zeus was purring! She said you have never heard a purr until you have heard a tiger purr! Amazing!

“Tiger World is one of a handful of accredited zoos in the nation that operates with no tax support,” Information provided by Tiger World explained. “We depend on admissions, membership dues and donations for funding.”

It was also explained that the goal of Tiger World is “to provide the best environment in captivity for the animals while also providing a stimulating learning environment for visitors.”

There are a variety of animals at Tiger World. “They are all rescued animals,” Jackie told me as we visited.

There is a white wolf named Luna, who Jackie said has been adopted by another family. And there is Mystic, a black leopard and there are lions, too. There is also a huge bear named Brutus, a rescue, Jackie said.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Jackie shared. “I have learned I will continue to adopt …they need the help.” She also said, “We will go back next year.”

Jackie told me the trip to Tiger World “was such an amazing experience …being close to something that powerful …hearing him purr.” She said there must be respect, noting that the staff is all so knowledgeable and are very careful about what they do.

Interested adoptive parents can adopt not only tigers, but lions, leopards, moneys, bears and more, it was explained. “The donation goes directly to helping care and support the animals,” the web site states.

Jackie is to be commended for watching and learning about Tiger World and then taking action to support endangered animals by adopting a tiger. How fortunate Angel is to have Jackie concerned about his welfare. I thank Jackie (and Randy) for sharing her story and pictures – I look forward to my next visit to the office to see Angel again and perhaps a new animal friend.

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ANNIVERSARY WISHES – Gloria and Jay Bombard will celebrate 67 years of marriage on July 6. What a marvelous couple. Time spent with the Bombards is always wonderful. I enjoy visiting with both Gloria and Jay, especially over a cup of coffee.

My warmest wishes to you both as you celebrate your 67th anniversary. I am sure your many friends throughout the north country join me this week in wishing you the very best – and filling your home with good wishes.

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100th BIRTHDAY – Mary Fiacco, who has lived in Massena all of her life, will celebrate her 100th birthday on July 11, I was told this past week. What a marvelous celebration. I would ask each one reading this column today to send the warmest of wishes to Mrs. Fiacco. She is a resident in Room 111 of the St. Regis Nursing Home on 89 Grove Street, Massena 13662. Let’s fill her room with the warmest of 100th birthday greetings.

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IN REMEMBERANCE – As I drove by the Hogansburg-Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department Station Number One on Monday morning, firefighters were putting letters on the signboard. “19 Arizona Heroes Remembered” was the simple wording. My heartfelt thanks to the HAVFD for remembering and reminding us all to never forget the Arizona heroes.

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything. Muhammad Ali

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