Retired software engineer. "What is that?", you may ask. It's someone who has time to blog about the weather...
By: Bogon , 3:30 AM GMT on January 03, 2011
Time marches on, waits for no man et cetera. Thus did I find myself casting about for a new topic for a blog entry. Luckily, even as I started pounding my poor brain, the next topic found me.
Last weekend, as part of the annual holiday extravaganza, my wife and I were invited to tour a wild animal sanctuary. Unfortunately, last weekend the event got snowed out.
Fortunately for me our hosts for the tour were able to reschedule a week later, i. e. today. The place we went is near Pittsboro, North Carolina. It is called Carolina Tiger Rescue. It is not a zoo. It is a non-profit organization. Its sources of income are constrained by the rules under which it operates. If you send them money, they will surely appreciate it. Take the tour, buy a t-shirt.
I thought it was important to mention that right up front. While this is a great place to see a variety of endangered carnivores, that is not what this place is about. These animals are not on permanent display. If you want to take a day trip to ooh and ahh at a cracker box full of imported animals, your best bet would be the North Carolina Zoological Park.
Carolina Tiger Rescue was founded as the Carnivore Preservation Trust. The original intent was to maintain breeding stocks of endangered charismatic felines. Over the years the organization's mission has changed for a variety of sad reasons. Foremost is a showstopper: there's almost nowhere left to put a tiger, whether it be wild or bred in captivity. Nobody wants to have such dangerous predators running around loose in the neighborhood. Few parts of the tiger's natural habitat remain unpopulated by humans.
Our guide told us that there are now more tigers in captivity in the United States (10,000) than there are left wild in Asia (3,000). A lot of the North American animals are kept as show animals or pets. (Yes, I know — who could possibly think that a tiger would make a good pet? Even an ocelot — forget it. Bad idea.) Not all of them get the best of care. Sometimes these large carnivores are discovered in such wretched conditions that animal control authorities step in, legal proceedings result, and one or more big cats end up needing a new home. Thus there is a demand for facilities which can provide a safe haven for these displaced creatures.
Most of them were never wild. Some of them sustain injury or deformity as a result of their keeping. Often they are physically incapable or don't know how to survive on their own. For the most part they have no pedigree, so they are unsuitable for breeding purposes. Yet they need fresh meat supplied on a regular basis, and they need a commensurate amount of poop scooped. They need space. Tigers are solitary by nature. They don't like to be crowded; they don't like crowds of people, either.
There is at least one place, about thirty-five miles southeast or here, where there is land and a cadre of volunteers ready to tackle this challenge. Carolina Tiger Rescue seeks to provide a permanent home for about a dozen tigers, three lions, a bobcat, a few ocelots, servals, caracals, binturongs and kinkajous. I bet most of you don't know what all of those are. Here's your chance to find out. They are all fascinating and beautiful animals. They are still, for the time being, part of our world.
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