On the drive out to East Texas to pick up my brother from summer camp, I saw a billboard for Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge. A quick search revealed that it is a rehabilitation and refuge for big cats that have been abandoned or abused. What?! Tigers in Texas? It seemed kind of random, but my family went to go check it out.
A bunch of the cats were hiding in their shelters that day (and I don’t blame them, it was 100 degrees out), but a few came out to play:
This is actually Michael Jackson’s tiger from his Neverland Ranch. Surprising, I know. She was quite the show-off, immediately coming up to the group and pacing in front of us. Now that made the trip worth it.
Though it was mainly a tiger refuge, the center also had 2 lion prides living there.
Fun fact: I learned that male lions actually prefer brunette lionesses!
It was funny to hear that once the more dominant male lion started to roar, the male from the other pride tried to out-roar him. However, all the female lions responded to the dominant one, even some lionesses from the other pride! Ah, the wonders of the animal kingdom.
And this little guy was kind of funny. One, he was possessive of his toys. He was sleeping with one paw on that tank when we arrived! Second, he liked to play hide-and-seek. Only with the “if I can’t see you, then you can’t see me” mentality. He doesn’t realize that he’s a 300 lb kitty trying to hide behind a small water tank!
In addition to the “big cats,” there was an assortment of “small cats” – called that because they can purr (whereas big cats cannot). I saw pumas, bobcats (surprisingly small), and leopards. They all shared similar stories of being abandoned, abused, or neglected, so now they are living the rest of their lives out in this refuge center. The goal of Tiger Creek was not to breed the cats, but to provide them a comfortable home. Essentially a senior home for wild cats, if you will.
As random as this little stop was, seeing and learning about these majestic (yet deadly) animals led me to think more about the consequences of human actions. For example, because of poaching and habitat destruction, many of these species are endangered. So should humans try to fix this problem through breeding programs? Should the animals in the refuge breed to preserve their genetics (there was a white tiger there, for example)? Another thought was about keeping these animals for pets or entertainment – should licenses even be allowed? Why interfere from letting these wild animals live in their natural environments? I had a lot to think about, and of course I’d like to hear your opinion. Drop me a line in the comments!
Have you ever been to anything like this? What are your thoughts?
Thanks for reading!