Thursday, September 15, 2016

50 for 50: 5.5 -- Day Two at Exotic Feline Rescue Center with Tammy

Some day, perhaps I will go on safari in Africa.  Until then, I'll be satisfied with yesterday morning, when I woke up in our little room at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, and went outside to drink my tea, while a tiger, a black leopard, a cougar, and a bobcat all watched me.  And I watched them.  

(I didn't want to startle them with speech, so I signed that they were all pretty kitties.)

Now that we're not there any more and there's no opportunity for further parental freaking out, I can report that the cats up near the house were not the safest, most docile ones, but the ones who needed a little extra attention for one reason or another.  We were reminded that Rajean, our tiger, would happily rip our arms off, given the opportunity.  While I ate breakfast, Rajean stared at me, and then licked his lips, as if to say, "Yes, fatten yourself up.  I'm just biding my time."

At one point, when Rajean got up for a walk, I saw his tummy pouch hanging down and asked if he was a fat cat.  He responded by jumping right up on his box and spraying!  (We'd been warned about this behavior, so I was well out of range.)  Still, it made me reconsider whether the cats understood more than we thought they did.

That morning, we went on our private tour of the rest of the facilities.  (Including the, er, place where large dead animals turn into cat food, and the "world's largest pile of steaming cat poop."  They said we could climb the latter for a photo opp.  We declined.)  But we did tour the large field where numerous more cats had their cages.  (They had about 180 cats; fullest has been over 230.)  They'd told us the tour would be about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how many questions we asked.  We were there for about two hours, fifteen.

So.  Many.  Cats.

After story after story of how they rescued these cats from horrible circumstances, I asked if they ever said "no."  Only if they didn't have the capacity.  They never turn down a cat for behavior or anything.  They have cats there with, um, records.  But they never hold an unfortunate human interaction (my euphemism, not theirs) against the cat, because the cat was being, y'know, a cat, while the human was being, y'know, a moron.  These are wild animals, and, while the Rescue takes good care of them (and lets people come and see them), they're very, very good about safety precautions for both visitors and keepers.  We were very good about keeping our distance from the cages, because of the whole wanting-to-tear-our-arms-off thing, but our guide said I could stand closer to this cougar because she was just hanging out.

And that was pretty much it.  We went back to the room, showered, and headed out to finish our day.

Bonus:  Tammy makes beads!

I am not artsy or craftsy by nature.  (Only that other kind of craftsy.  Y'know, like hobbitses are.)  Tammy, however, makes beads.  It's a time-honored process involving glass rods, a ton of patience, and fire.  (Fire!  She gets to play with fire!)  She let me go to a studio with her and watch her make some beads -- and I got to pick all the colors and help design the beads and everything!  Very kid-in-a-candy-store.

Of course, this whole 50 for 50 thing is really a gigantic me-in-a-candy-store-for-two-years venture.  I get to do things I love (or things I think I'll love) with people who mean a lot to me.  I'm starting to think the downside of this plan is that it will finish -- because this would be a pretty awesome way to go about one's life in general.

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