Who is Augusta Angeline Anyway?
If you’re like most people, you probably assume Augusta Angeline is a real person. Well, she’s not. My name is Ann Gilligan, and Augusta Angeline is a combination of my ancestors and a couple of cats! And like everything else, it all comes back to my childhood memories and my roots. It all began when I was very little, maybe 4 or 5. My father happened to be friends with the superintendent of French Creek Game Farm in Buckhannon, West Virginia. A game farm is sort of a small zoo. Anyway, Fred, the superintendent, had a small African lion cub named Gus. When he was young, Gus lived in Fred’s garage, and every time we stopped to visit, I insisted on seeing Gus. This was in the late 1960’s, and it was a very different world than we live in today. I was allowed to pet him as long as Fred was there to hold him and make sure I was safe. Buried somewhere in my dad's thousands of 35mm slides is a photo of me sharing an ice cream cone! I remember it like it was yesterday. And so began my lifelong love affair with cats, both large and small. Gus was a major attraction when he grew up, and somewhat of a local celebrity. I wasn’t permitted to be close to him at that point because he weighed over 500 pounds!
The Original: "Gus The Friendly Lion"
Fast forward twenty odd years, after college, I began working in a veterinary clinic. We did all sorts of animal care back then, including rescue and exotic care. My boyfriend, (now my husband), somehow found out about a very young Canadian Lynx kitten in need of rescue. I was in the unique position of having both the facilities and access to the medical care this young cat would need, so we decided to adopt and raise this kitten.
Baby Gus, 6 Weeks Old
We brainstormed for a name for her, and I immediately thought of Gus, but since this kitten was female, I felt like I had to “girly it up” a bit, so I decided on Augusta Angeline, after my great aunt Augusta on my mother’s side, and my great grandmother Lilly Angeline on my dad’s side.
When I first started out I worked mainly in sterling silver, so I called my business "Sterlynxsilver," and adopted Gus' image as my logo. These days, I work mainly in 99.9% pure, fine silver, so that name isn’t nearly as clever as I once thought. My 2017 rebrand still pays tribute to my beautiful, wild, crazy cat, Augusta Angeline.
Gus, c. 1993 Snowstorm
My husband and I shared an incredible bond with Gus, she would purr, and rub against our legs, and curl up in our laps just like a domestic cat. And while I treasure every moment I shared with her, I cannot in good conscience advocate owning another exotic cat. For one reason, we didn't take a vacation together for over 8 years because we were the only people that could manage her, and at 35 pounds she was definitely capable of hurting someone if she wanted to - after all, they kill deer in the wild! The biggest reason however, is that by owning these cats, we only promote breeding by unethical people who keep these cats in deplorable conditions, and often the adults are sold for their fur after they don't produce litters anymore. They belong in the wild. For more information on all big cats and legislative efforts to end the trade, visit Big Cat Rescue.
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