Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Cat's Meow

We've been so lucky with the weather on this press trip! It was cloudy yesterday and we were expecting rain and a cool front. Both graciously arrived while we slept and were out of town before the sun came up. It was bright, cool and clear when we arrived at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, just outside Eureka Springs. This is the largest, open-to-the-public, big cat refuge in the world. Strictly professional, it is one of the very few USDA licensed facilities for large carnivores in the U.S.

One of our first greeters was a very small cat -- an 11-week-old leopard named Spike. Actually, he didn't greet us but let us watch as he explored the front lawn of the facility. We were then introduced to some of the over 100 big cats -- lions, tigers, leopards, mountain lions and bobcats -- who have been rescued by the center. Each has a special story but most of them involve stupid people who think having a tiger (or other big cat) as a pet would be fun. Did you know that there are more big cats in private homes than in the wild? Dumb de dumb dumb! Several of the animals suffer from improper declawing they received as babies; others have other disabilities exacerbated by ignorance. Here, all the animals receive excellent care and even animals who have suffered from their early keeping now live good lives.

You can stay on the property in several different types of accommodations. In two of the rooms, you can look into tiger cages. A tree house provides a cosy room for two with sleeping in a loft. My favorite rooms were tent-like structures in the Safari Camp. Built on a deck, around a fire pit, the five "cabins" are decorated with original artwork and each feature a private deck in back. There's also a large hot tub available. Though farther from the cats, the Safari Camp is often visited by local wildlife -- deer, sometimes coyotes. And all the rooms are serenaded at night by "caroling" lions.

This is a great destination and a great cause. Please check their web site:


mikemathew said...

A few weeks ago, we discussed a New York Times column that suggested that straight single men were now increasingly unashamed of proclaiming their love for cats. The following is part of an ongoing series wherein we celebrate the Cat Guys we love. This is a reader-submitted “Cat Guy” story whose soldier hubby David demonstrates his Cat Guy ness by going to extraordinary lengths to keep the cats happy and healthy

donna baker said...

Just found your blog and enjoyed. It sounds like you're unafraid to speak your mind and I like that. The big cat refuge sounds great. Look forward to following you on your trips. I live in southeast OK and it is a beautiful part of the state. Many characters. Hope you can visit with me at my Peaceable Hill Farm blog