Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don't Run, You Look Like Food!!

It's really kind of a disturbing thought, isn't it?

At least, we felt that way when we were being charged by a grumpy 700 pound Siberian Tiger.

This kind of behavior on the Tiger's part does nothing to give you any confidence that that skinny little chain-link fence will hold up if he hits it hard enough. It might as well be rice paper dividing mankind from savage albino beast.

I guess if Mom and I died from a white Siberian Tiger mauling, it would make for some interesting conversation at our funeral........

Let me explain - Jim's mom came to visit us a few weeks ago, and we thought it would be fun to take her to the North Idaho equivalent of a Zoo. That would be our local Large Cat Refuge.

Cat Tales is a very cool place set back in the woods, startlingly near to a housing development. They have all kinds of Lions, Tigers, and Bears (oh my!), not to mention, Cougars, Cheetahs, Lynx, Panthers, and even several housecats that strut about with a self-important sort of gait.
Apparently at least one of these housecats has met an early demise because they would mess with the large cats and then got too close one day..... (true story as told by the keepers!)

So here we are, standing in front of the White Tiger's cage, when he suddenly his head perks up, his shoulders tense, and I think to myself "he looks like he's gonna pounce".... A split second later, he did exactly that! Mom and I jumped about three feet in the air as 700 pounds of Tiger covered ten yards in about a quarter of a second and stopped abruptly at the fence.

Then he got this look on his face like, "Yeah I coulda just snuffed you right there", and strolled off trying his best to look cocky.

Thankfully, not everyone at the park had that kind of attitude. This full grown African Lion is named Jamba. He would occasionally stand up and roar at the Tiger in the next cage (which sounds incredibly cool) but other than that he was as calm as a sleepy lap dog.

The great thing about Jamba was that he lolls his tongue out like a dog. This, by the way is not normal for lions at all - they just don't do it in the wild. It turns out that Jamba was raised with the security Dog that guards that park. The two of them would share a cage for years, and the keepers think that Jamba picked up the hanging tongue thing from the Dog!!

While we were there, Mom got the chance to feed one of the big male Tigers by hand. It's really neat to be that close and watch them eat. Thankfully, the tiger is behind an extra thick sheet of Plexiglas, and you feed him through a hole in the glass. Nonetheless, it's a really cool thing to see.

We also got to see some other big cats while we were there - A Panther, a Cougar (go BYU!) and most notably, a LIGER !! That's right Napoleon Dynamite fans - the Liger is NOT just a mythological creature, although this one didn't seem to display any magical powers. She was bred from a lion and a Tiger and displays faint stripes on her body.

In any case, our trip to Cat Tales was very cool, despite being a little bit scary. Did we mention that the cats weren't being fed that day. I bet we looked pretty tasty!!


korth fam said...

Those are some amazing pictures! Glad to hear ya'll made it out of the "zoo" alive, and glad to see ya back in the world of blog!

april said...

how fun to hear from you, amy! does look like an amazing trip and now i feel smart that i know there is such a thing as a "liger." i also loved the tongue hanging out lion. glad you had a good time.