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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Rescued Big Cats Live a Good Life at Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory

Sissy, a white Bengal Tiger
I love it when I find an unexpected jewel in a city I think I know. Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory and Education Center is truly Kansas City’s best-kept secret.

Most people respond to the grace, power and beauty of big cats. I’m a prime example. I marvel at their intelligent faces and observing eyes, their lean and lithe bodies, their stealth control and their innate ability to stretch and totally relax.

Today at Cedar Cover Feline Conservatory in Louisburg, Kansas, (just a short drive south of Kansas City on Hwy 69 and east on Hwy 68 at the Louisburg exit), sunshine and seemingly contented cats set me into a photo-taking frenzy.

Outside fences protect all of the animals’ areas. I’m not sure if that’s to protect visitors from the cats or to protect the cats from the visitors. The tour guides spend a lot of the tour physically interacting with the cats – from outside their cages. The cats each have their own area plus they share a multi-acre playground. The staff opens the area to only one cat at a time because they are solitary and territorial.

“It’s funny that most of the cats prefer to be in their cages rather than out in the playground,” Sierra Emberson, our tour guide, said. “Most people expect it to be the opposite.”
Voodoo is ticklish


Sierra introduced us to the cats, gave us their history and some interesting tidbits about each of their individual habits (for example, Voodoo, the African leopard, has ticklish paws).

Sissy, a 17-year-old white Bengal tiger ignored us as she enjoyed a pleasant afternoon. Her lazy stretches provided opportunity to see her beautiful markings.

Rajah, a Bengal tiger
“We feed her every three days,” Sierra told us. “She eats only meat – about fifteen pounds each meal. She explained that cats get hungry in the wild and then hunt. The staff tries to replicate that natural cycle.


Kimar, a white Bengal male, was on the prowl. Three orange Bengals share the area with the whites. Rajah entertained us as he rolled on the ground.

“Here’s my special pet,” Sierra introduced us to Ariel, a white female kept in a separate area. “She’s had some aggression issues with the other cats but she responds to me.”

“Do the cats have favorite people?” I asked.
 
Ariel, enjoying Sierra's touch
“Sure. Some, like Ariel, respond to me and some don’t. We all have our favorites.” Ariel appeared to enjoy Sierra’s touch and cozied up to her. The tigers are shedding their winter coats and with the petting, little wisps of white fur floated in the air.

We saw many other cats (cougars, a caracal, bobcats, small Asian leopard cats, an African leopard, an orange African leopard, a black African leopard and lions) as well as two wolves.

They are all rescue animals. It’s apparent that the volunteers love spending time with them. The conservatory is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays. Groups can arrange private tours during the week.

Give yourself a treat and support this worthy nonprofit organization. Plan a visit soon or visit their website to make a donation. For more information, visit www.saveoursiberians.org or call 913.837.5515. You can follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CedarCoveParkStaff.







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