Today, I drove to Orange Park, south of Jacksonville, to take my La-Z-Boy recliner into the repair shop. It has been stuck in the open position for almost two months, which makes it hard to get into and out of. So, La-Z-Boy provided the parts free, and I paid labor costs for the couple of hours it took to put them on.
The job was finished early, so I took advantage of being out and about and stopped at The Catty Shack on my way home. It is a big cat rescue organization north of Jacksonville. It's really a family-run place, with limited hours open to the public, but they take in a lot of big cats that are elderly or mistreated and come from small zoos, or babies that were bred by people who have no business owning or breeding big cats. It's not fancy, and they are looking for a new location, but the animals seem to be very well cared-for.
For the $10 admission charge, they take you around on a 45 minute tour.
They have ended up with a lot of very large tigers. It was a cool day, but most were napping or watching the watchers. I had forgotten how big tigers can get.
I missed the best picture here. When the director came by, this tiger hid behind the big cement ball in the background, and then play-charged. He needs a bigger cement ball because he was never really hidden, but you could tell he was trying because he was just peeping over the top. Note that tigers get swimming pools because they like water.
The place really has bumper-to-bumper cages. The ones here are smaller and used for the older animals who are not very active. The ones in the far back are much larger and used for younger animals that do more jumping and running.
This is one of two panthers rolling over on his/her back.
And a very large white tiger. Many of the animals who had been napping came to the fence when we came by. This one was having a drink of water.
They had three or four mountain lions, also. There were two foxes and a couple of bobcats, but I did not get good photos of them. Some of the smaller cats and the two foxes shared cages. All cages had a shelter or "cave", multiple platforms, and various balls and other toys.
Very pretty mountain lion hiding behind her shelter.
This is the far back area with the larger cages. The smaller ones up front were about 20 x 20 fett, but these were more like 40 x 40 feet.
These female tigers share a father, but had different mothers and came in as young animals, so they share a big area. The guide said they called them the "fluffy girls" because that's how they looked when they got them. They were all piled in a heap, I assume because the day was chilly. The one in the middle started a licking chain and pretty soon even the napping one joined in. Here is the video I took of these friendly girls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcq4VbEFp4s&feature=youtu.be
This was a very old lion who had come in because the private zoo that owned him could not afford the vet bills for the skin condition he had. Most of his mane is permanently gone, but the skin condition is mostly under control. She said they can't give him the medication all of the time because it causes kidney damage, so they give it as for a period and then take him off it for a while. There is a female lion in the right side of the photo who shares his space.
These are migrant turkey vultures who are hoping for some leftovers. The lady guide said, however, that sometimes they fly into the wrong cage and get eaten as a snack because some of the animals are very fast, especially the younger ones.
A better picture of one of the larger cages. You can see the shelter and how much space the animal/s have. They have platforms so they are not lying on dirt or mud, by the way.
All cages have double fencing, so the closest you can get to the inner fence is about 6-8 feet. We were told that humans do go into most of the enclosures, especially the animals that arrived very young and were raised with people.
Anyway, if you drive past Jacksonville some time, you might want to remember this place and stop by. You need to check the internet for available times, as it does vary. For example, if I had missed today, the next daytime open period was a week from today. They have nighttime feeding tours, which sound interesting. http://www.cattyshack.org/