Meet the heart and soul of Cat Tales Wildlife Academy, our founder and director of wildlife and education, Debbie Wyche. Born in 1955 in Denver, Colorado, Debbie spent her childhood in suburbia and her summers on her grandmother’s farm in North Dakota. This early exposure to nature sparked a lifelong love for animals and the outdoors.

Early Life and Love for Animals

Debbie’s passion for animals was evident from a young age. From rescuing dogs, cats, squirrels, and birds, she was always surrounded by a variety of creatures. However, despite her love for animals, she never considered animal care as a career due to the difficult realities of veterinary care. Instead, she found solace in nature, living on the edge of a forest in a small cabin and raising her daughter, Naomi.

The Journey to Big Cats

It wasn’t until her early thirties that Debbie found her true calling. She had the opportunity to volunteer at a big cat sanctuary, and from the moment she stepped foot onto the property, she was captivated. The majestic tigers, the hard work, and dedication required to care for them, and the incredible team she worked with inspired her. After two years of volunteering, Debbie finally had the chance to work hands-on with the tigers.

Building a Life Around Her Passion

Debbie’s work with the big cats shaped her life in more ways than one. During her time as a senior keeper, she met her future husband, Mike Wyche. Their shared passion for animals led Mike to join the volunteer team, and they worked together under Debbie’s supervision. In the summer of 1990, Debbie, Mike, and Naomi moved to Spokane to be closer to Mike’s children and start a new chapter in their lives. They bought a large property and began building their dream – Cat Tales Zoo.

A Legacy in the Making

With over 38 years of experience, Debbie now oversees the day-to-day operations of Cat Tales Wildlife Academy and serves as the head educator of our student classes. Her students graduate with valuable skills sought after by zoos and rescues around the world. Her story is a testament to the power of hard work, dedication, and following your passion.

“The rest, as they say, is unwritten history.”

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