While waiting for a few vintage types to arrive at Paine Field for Skyfair the following day we got an interesting bonus. A Kodiak showed up on approach. Not only was it equipped with floats but it was also painted in a tiger stripe livery that was pretty striking. Not a type that might normally get too much attention but, fitted out like this, it certainly did.
There are four tigers at Cougar Mountain Zoo. They are in two pairs and they move them between enclosures to give them some variety in their surroundings. They were pretty active compared to tigers I have seen in other places. They spent a lot of time checking out where they were. Of course, being cats, they also enjoyed lying around for some of the time. The staff also did a demonstration with them when they showed how they carry out physical examinations for the cats when necessary.
The tigers would come up to the fence and would stand up on their hind legs with their paws up on the fencing. This allows the staff to CA them out from the safety of being behind the fence. It is a good opportunity to realize just how big a tiger really is. Those paws are something and, if you were in there with them, you can see how easily they would dispatch you!
Nancy came across a place recently called the Exotic Feline Rescue Center. Located near Terre Haute in Indiana, this is a facility that takes care of large cats that have been mistreated or are no longer able to be looked after where they are. They have over 300 large cats, a large proportion of which are tigers but also with many cougars, some lions and a smaller number of a variety of other cat. They do not breed the animals, nor do they trade in them. Instead, they are available to provide a home to cats that need it to allow them to live out their lives in comfort.
We arranged a trip for a few days to include a visit to the Center. They provide tours to visitors. The tour covers one part of the Center and will get you close to approximately 100 of the resident cats. This is not a zoo. The tour is escorted and you are very close to the enclosures. However, if you touch the enclosures, your visit will be over. The cats are the other side of the fencing and any bits of you going through the fence are easily chomped! You get a great close experience but you mustn’t abuse the opportunity.
Being close means the animals really do react to you. The lions will roar if they hear Harleys revving up, keep an eye out if a tiger turns away from you because it is probably about to spray you and, while the fences are there, they can get a little excitable. I was squatting down taking a picture of one of the tigers when it decided to charge towards me and jump up at the fence. It certainly got my attention!
The tour we took was led by the guy who started the whole place. He was very friendly and keen to explain how it worked and how they kept everything running. On our tour were a few people who have been there several times. if we were closer, I would certainly visit frequently. The pace was such that it was easy to take pictures as we went around so these shots will give you a good feel for what we saw there.
The place was great. The work they do is very important and the tales they tell of how some of the animals came to be there are quite appalling. They are always in need of donations so, if you are looking for something to support, you could certainly do worse than these folks. Well done for all they have done and good luck in keeping it all going.
A sunny winter weekend is often a good chance to check out the zoo. Since a lot of the animals are not fond of winter weather, there are only a few that will be outside at this time of year. Consequently, the zoo doesn’t charge for entry so it is good for those after a cheap day out. We are members anyway so it doesn’t make a difference to us but it is good to go anyway.
During our previous visit the Snow Leopards had been pretty active. We were hoping to see them again – they aren’t too bothered by the cold – but we also wanted to see what else was about. Since you aren’t paying, you can make a short visit without feeling like you should make a full day out of the admission price. As it happened, the Snow Leopards were soundly asleep while we were there but there were other things to see.
The Tiger was showing more action that is normally the case. This is one cat that likes to sleep. However, we timed our arrival well and saw a fair bit of movement. Tigers are also fine with the cold of course. Bears are similar. Both Polar Bears were about and one of the Brown Bears was wandering around its enclosure.
We also saw a few birds wandering around the place. The Pelicans were out near one of the ponds and another group of birds (I am thinking Guinea Fowl but you can correct me if I am wrong) were also strutting around. The light was very nice so not a bad afternoon.