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King Freddy, the lovable lion, passes away at Catty Shack

Freddy naps at Catty Shack Ranch.
Catty Shack
Freddy naps at Catty Shack Ranch.

He was a cool cat and well-liked by visitors to a Jacksonville wildlife sanctuary north of town.

Catty Shack Ranch is mourning the loss of one of its big cats, Freddy, who despite a veterinarian’s efforts, has died of old age.

Nighttime feeding for Freddy.
Catty Shack Ranch
Nighttime feeding for Freddy.

Staff and volunteers said goodbye to the 17-year-old lion, born with a neurological birth defect. 

“King Freddy,” as visitors to the sanctuary called him, wobbled a little and took extra time getting up or down from his platform. But his disability was part of what made him special, said Executive Director Curt LoGiudice.

“He didn’t know he had a disability and lived his best life every day,” the Catty Shack Ranch founder said.

Catty Shack is known for providing a peaceful environment and medical care for rescued lions and tigers. 

Donations in honor of Freddy can be made at

Michelle Corum joined WJCT as "Morning Edition" host in 2012 and has worked in public broadcasting as an announcer and reporter for public radio stations in Lawrence, Kansas, and Interlochen, Michigan. She also manages WJCT's Radio Reading Service for sight-impaired listeners.