Page 51

19465BB

cat=1; domestic cat=0, final score. Lynn and Dennis have been involved in exotic animal rescue since 1992. To care for more than 100 exotic animals every day, seven days a week, is an amazing feat. Lynn is a very down-to-earth, steadfast lady who takes her responsibility seriously, but she also realizes how rewarding the work is. “I suffer from arthritis pretty badly, but these animals help me in the fact they keep me moving,” she said. “If I were to just sit down on a chair all day I’d lock up. This is our whole life, and this is our final stage in life. We have built a facility to take care of these animals, and we provide a quality of life for them. We also use the facility and its residents as a teaching tool to draw the public to a clean, safe place for learning about the value of preserving biodiversity. “This is our last gift to the earth.” January/February • 2017 • GASPARILLA ISLAND 51 mistake, though, they are still wild animals. While a paw won’t fit through the holes in the fence, claws will (and have) reached out far enough to make contact. On occasion teeth came come through as well. As this writer turned her back to walk away from the enclosure, the air stirred directly behind the back of my head as her claws cut the air about two inches away. When I turned around she seemed to smile and shrug, as if to say, “Hey, I’m a tiger. What do you want from me?” Tut the lion isn’t as welcoming. He’s more of a mouthy sort, like an old man taking soup back at the deli. His residence is right near the deer enclosure, and as we walked around his area there was a deer no more than 25 feet from him. He paid no attention at all to the deer, but gave us a good talking to. “The deer can go right beside him and he won’t care, he’s just not hungry,” Lynn said. “We feed them on such a regular basis, they have no reason to hunt.” She also dispelled the myth that male tigers don’t hunt. They will often join up with another male and hunt in tandem. While Lynn is always fighting fleas with the other big cats, which is common, one interesting fact to learn is that lions, like horses, don’t really get fleas. A veterinarian in Arcadia volunteers his time to come tend to the animals at the sanctuary. The medication, however, is not free. Lynn and Dennis spend approximately $350 a month on de-wormer and flea medication. Toward the end of tour we met old 18-year-old Babaloo the cougar, who is also very affectionate and squawks for attention, sounding much like a parrot. They have five cougars in all, and all have different personalities and coloring. Most came out to greet us, just a few hung back in the shade and watched us from afar. Lynn brought up several interesting facts. First, there’s never been a documented big cat attack in Florida – not even one. Secondly, when asked what the difference between a cougar, a mountain lion and a Florida panther are, she said the definition is essentially in the markings and the coloring. One big cat we visited is actually a Florida panther, but isn’t allowed to be called one because he was born in captivity. “It’s a political thing,” Lynn said. There’s also a serval cat that is there after a breeding gone wrong. Apparently it’s become trendy for breeders to mate a wild cat like a serval with a domestic cat, which creates a 40-pound “house” cat with gorgeous markings. This particular serval cat had no liking for the domestic cat she was supposed to mate with, and made her point quite clearly. Serval Lions, Tigers & Bears, Inc., 9801 N.E. Bahia Ct., Arcadia, FL 34265. Call (863) 494-0054 or go to LionsTigersAndBears.us.com for hours and directions. Check their Facebook page for open houses, usually held twice a year. The preserve is open to the public Thursday through Sunday for guided tours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Closed July and August except by appointment only. G M


19465BB
To see the actual publication please follow the link above