The Texas Exotic Feline Foundation Incorporated (TEFF) began non-profit operations in 1993 after being formed by a husband and wife team that held a passion for opening a Sanctuary for large exotic cats. However, in 1997 their dream became completely shattered by devastating marital problems. Ultimately, their internal struggle placed the animals in limbo and left their small band of supporters in complete dismay.
Thankfully, through court intervention, both the facility and animals were saved. Primary supporter, Louis Dorfman, stepped forward to help stabilize the organization and ultimately helped develop a new direction for the organization to go.
As an animal behaviorist, Mr. Dorfman understood there was a great need for emotional enrichment to be provided for the captive wildlife that had been rescued and were now living at the Sanctuary. He, along with Richard Gilbreth, spent years creating a lush Sanctuary where large exotic animals could be rehabilitated and live in peace.
Their work led to the organization being renamed the International Exotic Feline Sanctuary (IEFS). Over the next 10 years, the Sanctuary continued to grow and provide exceptional care for its animals.
With the purchase of additional land, the overall mission of the Sanctuary began to shift with a large acreage Bear Sanctuary being created. At this point, IEFS was no longer purely a big cat sanctuary, since numerous Black, Brown and Grizzly Bears had joined the roster of rescued animals.
With an expansion in species, it wasn’t long before the non-profit adopted the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary (IEAS) as its official name. With renewed purpose, the Sanctuary grew to care for more than 70 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large exotic animals. Quite honorably, Mr. Dorfman remained a steadfast supporter throughout the organization’s entire 27 years of operation.
In addition to serving as Chairman with the Board of Directors, Louis Dorfman also designed, developed and implemented a specialized enrichment program for the animals that featured emotional support and a personal development plan for each animal receiving Sanctuary care. Additionally, under his guidance, IEAS was able to secure certification with The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as a related facility.
In May of 2020, the entire Board of Directors for IEAS made the decision to resign in order to develop a new Board of Directors. The change was based on a specific need for long term financial and operational stability, and centered on the concept of IEAS joining forces with The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) – which is based in Keenesburg, Colorado.
Louis Dorfman chose to step down from his role as Chairman of the Board, and described the move as a responsible choice, given he is current age being 83. Although he will likely remain involved with the organization in many ways, Mr. Dorfman and his fellow Board Members felt TWAS was an excellent organization and should take control in order to continue advancing the mission of the organization.
TWAS has been in operation for more than 40 years, and currently operates two facilities within Colorado. In combination, the two facilities have an annual operating budget of 21 million dollars and offer more than 10,000 acres of natural landscape for rescued animals to live and roam freely.
TWAS management is now working in conjunction with IEAS staff to develop current and future plans for the organization. Thankfully, there is now a wealth of experience, knowledge and resources available to benefit IEAS as an organization – as well as its animals. Moving forward, IEAS is being re-branded to fit within the network of Sanctuaries now operated by The Wild Animal Sanctuary.
“The Wild Animal Sanctuary – TEXAS” (TWAS-TEXAS) is the new official name and acronym for the organization, and will be utilized extensively in association with major fundraising and marketing campaigns going forward.
Our Boyd, Texas facility utilizes approximately 41 acres of forested land to provide natural enclosures and habitats for our rescued animals. In addition to the numerous Lion, Tiger and Bear enclosures and habitats, we have a specialized Nutrition Center, a dedicated Animal Hospital, an Operations Center, an Intern Dormitory and Welcome Center/Gift Shop.
Board of Directors