Last weekend, Will and I took Spencer and Joe for a great day trip.
We left Sunday morning and filled up at Cracker Barrel before heading South for a little less than an hour.
We pulled in at Suzie's Pride and the boys were wow'd!
Suzie's Pride a Sanctuary and Rescue for big cats. They are a no-kill, no-breed facility for unwanted, abused and neglected big cats from private owners, commercial entities, zoos and other sanctuaries.
It was amazing! they only have a few cats, but you can tell the staff are very dedicated and knowledgeable. We really enjoyed our tour!
One of the most important things we learned is NOT TO GIVE ANY MORE MONEY to "Photo Cub" organizations. We see them in all the big tourist traps, you know, get your picture taken with a cub and the money supposedly goes to Endangered animals or whatever. Well it's a load of crap. They are allowed to use the cubs while they are under 50 pounds so they under-feed them and then when the cub gets too big they are dumped, sold illegally or worse.... Thankfully there are sanctuaries established to help, but people need to stop giving money for "photo cubs" and perpetuating the problem.
The most fun thing we learned is how the big cats "chuff" ....and the boys (Mostly Will) spent the rest of the day chuffing at all the cats. I never got the hang of it. Chuffing (or Prusten) is a sound made by big cats. The animal's mouth is closed and it blows through the nostrils, producing a breathy snort. This sound is non-threatening and often used when two big cats encounter each other on neutral territory, or between courting pairs. Mothers use it to their cubs as a form of reassurance.
Will got pretty good at it and the animals would chuff back at him-- it was amazing to have (even a small) connection with the exotic beasts!
After we spent time at Suzie's Pride, we went next door to Tiger World.
Tiger World is a nonprofit animal conservation and educational center dedicated to rescue, rehabilitation, and preservation of exotic animals.
This is an amazing zoo that has MANY MANY beautiful tigers and ligers! The wolves were incredibly beautiful, the roaming ducks, geese, peacocks etc, were friendly. All of the animals looked happy and healthy--- we highly recommend going! And yes, the boys chuffed with all the big cats here, too!