Andres Gutierrez, NBC 5 News
In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center in Wylie raised approximately $17,400 from a bake sale on Thursday. The funds will go to help the sanctuary treat the big cats stricken with canine distemper.
A Wylie wildlife rescue's "emergency" bake sale far overshot its goal.
In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center hoped to raise only $2,000 on Thursday, but got $17,400, with every dollar matched from the center that hosted the bake sale.
More than 20 exotic cats at In-Sync Exotics have been diagnosed with canine distemper in recent weeks. Symptoms range from runny noses to seizures.
So far, four big cats have died at the North Texas animal sanctuary.
"They've already been through hell, In-Sync has taken them, given them a good life, nurtured them back to health and they're happy as cats can be in captivity, for this to now happen to them, it's cruel," said Bryant.
In-Sync says an 11-year-old male white tiger named Harley was put down Wednesday night.
"Harley was in really bad shape. We all kind of expected it, of course. We didn't want it to happen -- praying that he would be OK -- but, in our hearts, we knew he probably was not," said In-Sync volunteer Debbie Congdon.
Harley's 9-year-old brother, Abrams, died Monday. A 12-year-old male tiger named Apollo and a 17-year-old lioness called Layla died earlier this month.
The bake sale on the first floor of the Premier Place Building on North Central Expressway in Dallas raised money for treatment of the big cats battling canine distemper.
"Instead of just standing around crying and wringing our hands, we just started planning it a week ago, so we didn't bake as much as we normally do," said bake sale organizer Corby Bryant."We had no idea what the turn out would be."
Wildlife officials are working with veterinarians on the outbreak. Experts believe the canine distemper was transmitted by wild raccoons.