Big Cats

Recently, Karen and I made our way up to a Big Cat rescue/zoo in Oklahoma.  <disclaimer> I won’t mention the name because there are mixed reviews about their actions and I would rather not have my blog taken down by people with only half the story.  I will say that from what I saw, the cats were well cared for and none of them were lacking attention or food.  They had plenty of room to run and play and the ones that had special needs had their own cages for protection.  It is the people who think they can keep these big beasts as pets that end up creating the need for places like this.  But that’s another topic…

Anyway, we went there because we both love big cats, and it was a nice treat for my dad as it was also his birthday.  We got there pretty much as soon as they opened and were warned that the cats would be “spraying” so watch out if they turn their back to you.

We walked through the park, admiring the cats, and watching out for the spray, but it didn’t take long to realize that the smell was going to be with us for a while because even if they didn’t spray you directly, it was lingering in the air like an aerosol spary, and we were walking right through it.  Nothing a good shower and laundry can’t fix.

Some of the cats, it was clear that they were there because someone had kept them as a pet and they had outgrown their owners.  Some of them bore the scars of ignorant people who thought they would be the next big Vegas act or just thought it would be cool to own one without realizing the cost and responsibility involved.  While sad to see them in this condition, it was good to see that they were now in a place where they would live out the rest of their days in peace and relative comfort.

Some of the cats, like this little bob-cat, just broke my heart.  They had a few of them there but the look on its face clearly said it would rather be out running wild.  Problem is that in Oklahoma, people kill them just for sport.  I know that hunting is a reality and is needed in some cases, but I also know people who hunt just because they like to kill things.  I’d rather hunt with my camera personally.

They also had a number of mixed breed cats.  They had successfully mixed a lion and a tiger to get the liger.  But they have also taken the liger and bred it back with a tiger to get a tiliger.  Not sure how I feel about their breeding program, but it is what it is.  They are also an educational facility and like a zoo, they provide information for many different outlets.

All in all, it was an enjoyable visit.  We certainly had the smell.  Later, we were sitting around the house and realized that we were all still smelling the same thing.  It was then that we realized what I mentioned before, the smell was still stuck to us.  Everyone off to the shower.

Another reason for going was that we are both suckers for kitty-cats, and the chance to actually interact with a couple of young ones was hard to resist.  There is actually only a short period of time in their life that they are allowed to let people interact with them, and we were lucky enough to be there with these cubs.

 Clearly, wildlife prefers Canon photographic equipment.  This one was more interested in my cameras than in me.  I thought it was going to try to take my picture a couple of times.

But the time came that we had to say good-bye to the kittens.  I wish they could grow up and be released, but since they are hunted to almost extinction in the wild, they would not have much of a chance there.

Here’s hoping that the watchdog groups will keep enough pressure on these places that the cats will remain healthy and live out a good life.