Achieving the status of Best Present Ever, Dane took me to The Shambala Preserve last weekend for my birthday to go on their "Safari Tour" they host one weekend a month. The Shambala Preserve is run by The Roar Foundation, which states its mission as: "To educate the public about exotic animals and to advocate for legislation to protect them. To provide sanctuary for exotic animals who have suffered from gross mistreatment and neglect so they can regain their physical and mental health and live out their lives in dignity." (taken right from their website, here). You can also click on that link to read a beautiful mission statement about the exotic cat trade and Shambala by its founder, Tippi Hedron.
Getting to see these amazing big cats up close felt like such an honor, and I was giddy the entire way to the preserve. My favorite animals, lions, didn't seem quite as excited to have me visit. I don't know how vigorous their morning was, but it seemed that we had arrived just in time for their afternoon naps in the warm sun.
But one guy, Zeus, was awake! Unfortunately, he chose to hang out waaaaaay on the other side of the compound.
The good news was that the tigers and the black leopard were much more active.
The entire preserve was so well maintained, and all of the workers (mostly volunteers sporting "Proud Parent of _____" adoption pins) exuded such a love and respect for the cats.