Martine Colette, the founder of Wildlife Waystation, a sanctuary for exotic animals that ran for 43 years just outside the Los Angeles city limits, died on Jan. 23 at a hospital at Lake Havasu, Ariz. She was 79.
The cause was lung cancer, said Jerry Brown, her publicist and friend.
Waystation, which Ms. Colette created in 1976 in the Angeles National Forest, was among the first sanctuaries of its kind for exotic animals that had been abused, abandoned, orphaned or injured. It would rehabilitate them and, if possible, return them to the wild.
After financial difficulties and staff turmoil in recent years, Ms. Colette retired in 2019, and Waystation was closed. During the sanctuary’s existence, its website said, it rescued more than 77,000 creatures, including Siberian and Bengal tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars and camels, as well as native wildlife, including foxes and various reptiles and birds.
Many of the animals were castoffs from the pet trade, traveling roadside attractions or research labs; others had been brought in from the wild. Some came from nearby Hollywood, where they had been used on the sets of movies and television shows and taken home as pets, only to become a nuisance or a danger to the homeowner.