Our tour group had several people, including a bunch of small children. The guide started us out with some general information about the compound, its history, and some of the animals. She also told us to stay on either side of her, because the cats tended to aim for her when they sprayed. I considered that to be excellent advice. Another comment I found entertaining was that the parents needed to make sure their kids didn’t run and shriek – the cats are really excited by that.
Our first stop was Mary Stewart and Kiniki Caracal. When we first got to the enclosure, Kiniki was chewing on the back of Mary Stewart's neck.
Mary Stewart decided she'd had enough of that, so she ran Kiniki off. Since he didn't have anything better to do, Kiniki decided to check out the group of people who were clearly waiting to admire him.
Kiniki apparently has a habit of spraying the tour guide, and so she was quick to point out the warning signs - butt presented and tail raised. And spray her, he did.
Next on the tour was Magoo Ocelot. Magoo was very talkative (and very stinky). The guide said that it had been determined that the only way to remove the ocelot smell from a house where one had been kept as a pet was to just burn the house down. Based on the stench, I believe her.
Magoo very clearly expected and enjoyed the tribute of raw meat that the guide gave him. Even though he appeared to be very gentle when taking the meat, I don't think I'd be inclined to give him a treat by hand.
This is Rajaji Tiger, the first tiger on the tour. He meandered over to the fence when the treat bag appeared. Raj appeared very friendly and affectionate, but you'll notice the guide is still using the stick to provide treats. She said that tigers are ranked 4 out of 4 on the aggression scale, and that 9 out of 10 times a person could enter the enclosure and be fine. 1 out of 10 times, though, that person would get mauled. The problem is that there's no way to tell which time would be the one.
This is Isabella Tiger. She has some health problems as a result of bad breeding (sound familiar?) and she wasn't feeling well Saturday, so she didn't bother to leave her shady spot.
Lucky Tiger, on the other paw, was feeling very social.
Our guide had Lucky stand up for us so we could see just how tall he is. As a frame of reference, the guide was about my height.
And then Lucky got bored watching us all stand around....
This is Santana Serval. He's the youngest cat at the preserve. Despite the temptation of raw meat, Santana didn't feel like getting off the roof of his house to entertain us. Just like a cat.
Albert Kinkajou looks a lot like a small monkey and he's a huge fan of bananas. The guide told us that the kinkajous are rated a 4 on the aggression scale, just like tigers. The main difference is that every time a person goes into an enclosure with a kinkajou, the kinkajou will attack. And they apparently always go for the face.
Wednesday Kinkajou came to the preserve because she attacked her owner. The woman had her declawed, but the vet refused to defang her. One day, the woman walked in and Wednesday proceeded to try and chew her face off. If you ignore that, she's a cute little thing.
This is Coda Binturong. He also likes bananas, and he hates to have anyone mess with his water bowl.
Here's El Grande Binturong - this one apparently doesn't hate anyone.
While we were visiting with El Grande, we got to watch a chicken chucking. Some interns were out throwing raw, plucked chickens over the fences into the tiger enclosures. Lucky likes him some raw chicken.
Kaela Tiger also likes raw chicken. She even enjoys the occasional deer. She and her brother, Rajah, were dumped on the highway in Charlotte a few years ago. I actually remember reading about it. The preserve was selected as the permanent home for the cubs, and a contest was held to select their names.
Normally, Rajah Tiger and his sister, Kaela, share an enclosure, but not when they're eating. Poor Rajah, he ate his chicken too fast and had to stand around and wait for Kaela to finish her snack.
I'd highly recommend a tour of the preserve to anyone who can go. The guides are very knowledgeable and the prices are low. I'm planning to go back for a twilight tour in the fall - between feeding time and cooler weather, I'm thinking it should be a lot of fun.