WHERE THE WILD THINGS GO
by Susan Heeger
Shambala, one of several wildlife sanctuaries across the United States, shelters some 70 big cats that have been abused, abandoned, or simply given up by owners unable to handle them.
Once a month, to defray costs, the preserve gives tours to educate the public about the needs and dangers of such captive-bred animals.
Like Shambala, a few other animal sanctuaries across the United States that shelter homeless big cats sometimes open to the public for educational tours. These tours are usually by appointment, because these facilities focus on helping animals, not entertaining people. These are accredited by the American Sanctuary Association, which sets care standards and helps find homes for unwanted animals.
Besides the monthly schedule of reservation-only “safaris,” the center offers weekly school tours, private tours, and an Adopt a Wild One program, which allows monthly visits to sponsored animals.
Bengal tigers, bobcats, a leopard and a serval live on this 93-acre reserve in rural eastern San Diego County. All visits are exclusively for members.
Zolfo Springs, Florida
This 90-acre compound shelters a range of cats, in addition to bears, monkeys, wolves, bats, and bison. Call or write to arrange a tour.
Rescuing and rehabilitating injured or orphaned wildlife of the southwestern United States is the specialty of this 10-acre desert center, which offers field trips by reservation. Featured local cats include mountain lions and bobcats.
Sixteen species and subspecies of wild cats—including snow leopards, lynx and caracals—live on this 45-acre preserve, which gives a variety of tours, some of which don’t require reservations. Children are permitted at certain scheduled times, and there are night tours.
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