Tiger Touch University Retreat was the brainchild of John and Barbara Williamson, founders of the ground-breaking social engineering project Sandstone. As pioneers in the field of experiential learning, they understood the importance of landmark experiences in academic, personal and social growth. They brought to the table decades of committed enthusiasm and in-depth research.

Our work started when the Williamsons saved some great cats slated for destruction. What began as a life-giving exercise for the cats soon became a life-changing experience for John and Barbara. They saw the plight of Planet Earth in a much more personal way and resolved to address it. From the beginning they assembled a core group of experts who had a winning combination of diversity and unity. They came from a wide variety of fields like psychology, engineering and animal husbandry, but were united by a shared vision of a better world.


We support the efforts of sanctuaries, yet recognize they are not involved in conservation. “Forever Homing” animals is desirable but does little to address the ever-increasing erosion of biodiversity and habitat. While we do extend sanctuary to our residents, our credentials in conservation rest on our original work in animal husbandry and environmental education.

Many important wildlife parks are havens in name only, haunted by well armed poachers who boldly defy the law. When you link this situation to cash-strapped zoos funding SSP breeding programs with scarce dollars, conventional wisdom is hardly grounds for optimism. That’s why we support both in-situ conservation and responsible ex-situ breeding. Biodiversity may hinge on healthy, genetically diverse populations living in the human habitat. Such a lifestyle, in order to be rich and meaningful, requires both effective enrichment and fulfilling interaction. Animals must not only survive but thrive, reaching their full potential.

Biodiversity can only be preserved through well-trained and motivated teachers and policy makers who communicate effective strategies clearly and persuasively. With our rescue animal partners, we seek to demonstrate our principles while creating a learning environment to excite and empower students to be the leaders of tomorrow.