Some families go to the pumpkin patch, our family goes to a wild cat rescue center.
Michael had taken me here several years ago for a birthday, but we haven’t been back since Duc was born. Since he is nearly 3.5 and his lovey is beanie tiger it seemed appropriate it for us to visit.
When we got there and paid our entrance fee the guy sized us up quietly before saying, “make sure you hold his hand at all times. The tigers will be very interested in him…”.
Ok. How does one respond to that???
Michael kept a good grip on Duc.
The first few weren’t too scary.
But the first guy was right…the tigers were interested in Duc.
The guide lead us down a narrow path through the woods into a low valley. We had lions to the left of us and tigers to the right and our path was only 3-5 feet wide between the two enclosures. As soon as we walked down there the tigers, who had been separate, formed a line and began pacing the fence where we were walking through. Most of them were growling quietly. The only reason I was able to get these pictures is because Michael was holding on to Duc.
Do you remember the scene in Jurassic Park when the visitors realized the fences weren’t working? Yeah, that’s how this felt. Unlike a zoo where there are metal bars, this one relies on a wire/chain link fence…similar to what you might have in your back yard. In the 20 years since it opened, only two animals have escaped and thankfully they weren’t tigers or lions!
Once we got into the valley some of the volunteer staff came through to clean the bones from the cages. Unfortunately, the animals thought they were getting fed so they started getting very busy. And then another 20 people joined our small little tour group of 5 in the small, low valley in the forest. Yeah, the animals noticed this too.
One heavily scented woman (perfume, cigarette smoke, etc—why would you wear that around feral animals???) got too close to the lion’s cage.
King (the lion) was on his feet and had his front paws against the fence in less than a second. I’ve never seen anything so big move so quickly.
There was a lot of this too:
At this point I told Michael to pick Duc up and walk back up the path slowly and quietly (less than 3 feet between these enclosures, remember? You could feel the heat from their breath). Shortly after that some of the rest of our tour group began to stampede and I got knocked over by a junior high student bigger than me.
Thankfully none of us became this:
Despite my slight freak out (Jurassic Park, remember?) the boys LOVED it. Duc wasn’t scared at all and we had a really great day.