Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Big Kitty Adventure

Hi, everyone.

I'm back!  We were on vacation last week in Florida.  We took our usual annual trip to Florida after Thanksgiving but it almost didn't happen.  We weren't going to go on vacation this year due to the uncertainly of Jim's job since Verizon and the union haven't been able to come to an agreement.  I didn't even book it until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving but it was like the stars aligned and made it possible for us to go this year.  Everything fell into place with airfares and car rental rates being affordable so we took advantage and enjoyed ourselves during a much needed vacation.

We flew into Tampa and spent a day and half there visiting with family.  My uncle took us to a place he knew I would love.  It's called Big Cat Rescue and I was not disappointed.  They have 110 big cats there.  We took a guided walking tour and we able to see a nice sampling of the wonderful creatures who have been rescued from horrible conditions and now live out a happy and safe life there.

Don't let the pictures deceive you.  At first I thought they were all kept in what appeared to be small, round enclosures but they all have good sized enclosures, each with multiple "rooms".  That's the way the guide explained it to us as she pointed out how each enclosure allows the cats to move from room to room so they are not stuck in one little area.  Most of the cats are separated but they can see each other and they certainly communicate because we heard many sounds, the most identifiable of which was the roar from a huge male lion.  We heard him on the other side of the park.  Unfortunately, when we got to his enclosure, he was lying down way in the back of his enclosure so I didn't get any good pictures of him.  But trust me, he was enormous. 

Look at the coat on this beauty.
I just love how she's looking right at me here.    
This black beauty was actually the first cat we saw upon entering the facility.  He was just sitting there as if to greet us as we came thru the door.  He is gorgeous.  The picture does not do him justice.  His coat was lustrous and he is simply majestic.  You can see his spots here but they were ever so much more evident in person.
This Serval was one of 5 that were rescued from a basement here in NYC.  Sadly, they are kept as pets because of their small size.  Unfortunately, 1 died but the remaining 4 are there in sunny Florida and are all healthy again.
Now to my favorite.  I simply love white tigers.  Unfortunately, due to all the inbreeding, they suffer from all kinds of deformities.  They are amazing, though.  This lovely girl rolled over and lied belly up on her back while our tour group stood around and listened to the guide.  I was wishing I could rub that belly.   Oh, this was also the same enclosure where that big ole male lion lives.  They share this large space but he knows to stay away from her.  The guide told us, she's whacked him a time or 2 with her huge paw and he's learned to keep his distance.  That just cracked me up.  You can see the giant ball in the back ground and the cardboard tube on the left of the white tiger.  The guide called those enrichment items.  Each cat has toys and they all get to play.
Talk about a big mouth, huh?  Look at that!  His mouth was larger than a human head.  I caught this big boy yawning.  Guess we weren't that interesting to him.
 And here we have another big boy.  This pretty male was in the mood to parade in front of us.  He was within 4 feet of me and I was in awe of him.  What a feeling it was to be that close to such an awesome animal.
And this was something I'd never seen.  A rare, white Serval.  My house cat, Dusty, is bigger than this sweety.   Due to their rareness, he has been neutered to prevent the temptation from people breaking in and stealing him for the purposes of breeding and then selling the offspring.
Here are Jim, my uncle Ken, Logan and my cousin, Josh, upon exiting the facility.  We had a great time and I'm glad my visit fee went to taking care of these rescued cats.  Each one of these animals had a story as to how it came to be there and it hurt my heart to hear them.  I'm glad they are safe and well cared for now.  Thank you to the Big Cat Rescue and volunteers for all the work they do. 
 I hope you enjoyed these pics.  I'll be back with more from our trip.  Have a great day!  Thanks for visiting.


Staci said...

Wow! They are beautiful animals! Have a good day. :-)

Jenn said...

Those cats are beautiful!!! Glad you had a good trip!