On Wednesday we took two groups to visit Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory in Louisburg, KS. This wild cat rescue facility is a great way for kids to see lions, tigers, mountain lions, bobcats, and other big cats close up (but still safely enclosed). It also is a good way to learn more about their behavior, feeding habits, and where they originate from, as well as the stories of how each of the different animals ended up at the rescue. Sadly, many of the cats living there had been bought to be pets.
Our guide was excellent – she provided lots of facts and information about the cats in residence, was wonderfully patient as the kids asked all kinds of questions (including some that were repeats!), and had a gentle rapport with the animals. She also regaled us with funny stories about how some of the animals behaved.
During our visit, one of the tigers was let into the grassy enclosure. As we walked the tour, the tiger slipped alongside in the grass, occasionally popping his head over the ridge to watch us. It was exciting to see such a beautiful wild creature acting as nature intended.
As we listened to the talk at the lion enclosure, the male lion decided to show us that he was in charge by rushing up to the fence. The kids were excited to see the lion come so close, while the parents had a few heart flutters. Here is a video of the lions as they relaxed during the lion talk:
Interestingly, while this is a big cat rescue, they also have wolves. Our guide gave us insight into the alpha/beta/omega dynamics of the wolves, as well as worked on dispelling negative impressions of wolves in folklore, history and media. She also recommended we view a TED Talk on the reintroduction of large predators like wolves into wild areas such as Yellowstone.
We ended our tour with a visit to the black leopard, the oldest of the big cats at the facility. She was still stunningly beautiful, especially the way her eyes glowed green in the light.
Our visit to Cedar Cove was interesting and thought-provoking, and we especially thank our guide for a wonderful job leading us through!