SPOKANE, Wash. — The founder of Cat Tales in Mead passed away on Wednesday after 28 years of running the zoological park alongside of his wife, Debbie.

“Today Mike Wyche, a.k.a. Sun Bear, co-founder of Cat Tales, husband, father, teacher, mentor, and friend to so many, left his physical vessel and moved to the next stage of his journey. We are grateful for being able to sit by his side as he passed peacefully from this world,” reads a post on the Cat Tales Facebook page.

Cat Tales also expressed gratitude for family, friends, staff, students and volunteers who have kept up the day-to-day tasks, animal care and guest interactions while Debbie and the family grieve.

Information about a memorial for family and friends and community celebration of life will be shared on Facebook once plans are solidified.

The family is asking for donations to Cat Tales in lieu of flowers for Wyche.

“We realize that someone who shined so brightly in life will affect many in his passing. We welcome and encourage you to share your condolences, well wishes, photos and sentiments here in the comments below,” the post reads. “Farewell Mike, Mikie, Dad, Papa, Daddy, Ssp, Sun Bear. You will be missed.”

Over the years, 400 students have gone through Cat Tales’ zookeeper program and gone on to work at zoos around the world. Debbie and Mike announced in 2018 that they were considering retirement.

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