Heart of New Mexico: Bear Whisperer

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – There is one woman who has made it her life’s work to help animals that no one else would help.

Ryan Laughlin shares why she’s doing it in this heart of New Mexico.

Just outside of Española there is a property where turkeys, ducks and larger animals live.

“Well, I’ve done parrots and snakes and lizards and dogs and cats, and that’s basically what a small animal vet does,” said Dr. Kathleen Ramsay.

Fate ultimately decided her appointment.

“I literally tossed a coin, drug or veterinary drug,” Ramsay said.

Her true passion was later revealed.

“When I was in vet school, someone brought in a golden eagle and a step trap, and the bird screamed in pain. A man dangles an eagle on a chain and says, “I won’t tell you where I found it, or I won’t tell you because it was an illegal trap,” and he just threw the trap at us. From that moment on, and it was my choice, the bird would be dead because nobody would pay to take care of it. If I want to do anything with my life, wildlife is what I want to do,” Ramsay said.

Wild animals have always been a part of her life, including her love life.

“On one of his first dates with me, he came home from a rock climbing trip and the snapping turtle was in the bath. And you had to get the snapping turtle out of the bath to take a shower,” Ramsay said.

The tortoise did not deter her mountaineering instructor and later husband, Lou Horak.

The two worked side by side.

“We raised three mountain lion cubs for the Albuquerque Zoo and we had them for six months. We took them camping every weekend, put them in a box at night, one day we went up, hiked with these three mountain lions — had a blast,” Ramsay said.

There is one animal in particular that holds a special place in Ramsay’s heart – bears.

“They’re just an absolutely incredible animal,” she said.

And this special day is one of Ramsay’s favorite days.

“I am blessed to be one of the privileged few in the world to take care of bears,” Ramsay said.

Three bear cubs rescued after the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire were taken care of and fat for the day.

Ramsay helped found the nonprofit Land of Enchantment Wildlife Foundation, which helps fund animal rehabilitation efforts statewide.

Watch the video above to learn more.