Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Garry...

Garry's birthday was on April 8th, which coincided with Easter Sunday. We had much excitement, as Max had been counting down the days until the Easter Bunny came. We let Daddy enjoy his day with a sleep in. Yasemin woke Max and myself at 5.45am! We had an Easter egg hunt in the backyard, and enjoyed a second hunt with the three kids from across the road.

Lunden arrived with a lovely Easter Cake which also doubled as a Birthday Cake. Thank you great neighbour!

After a breakfast of bacon and eggs  we decided a visit to the Wild Animal Sanctuary. The current facility is situated on 720 acres of rolling grassland - with additional areas under development.

The Sanctuary was designed and built with a centralized compound located in the middle of the habitats. This portion of the facility is used as an initial receiving area for new rescues, and has specifically designed areas that allow animals to recuperate and adjust to their new surroundings. The rehabilitation process for rescued animals begins here with special playgrounds located within the compound area that help prepare animals for living in large acreage habitats.

The facility also has a unique system of elevated cat-walks and observation platforms which allow people to view  rescued animals enjoying their new life in large acreage habitats. According to the lady who explained the rules to us, the animals get very stressed if people are in their space on their level but surprisingly they are not stressed at all from people watching them from above.

This image is from the sanctuary web page

There are currently four African Servals at the Sanctuary which have been rescued. Aslyn was given to a couple as a wedding gift, Aslyn went from being a “pet” to a liability when the couple’s first baby was born and the Serval became jealous. Surrendered to The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Aslyn now resides in a large enclosure adjacent to two other Serviles. She has a cozy heated condo for winter, and lots of space to jump and lounge around on platforms of varying heights.

Kobu the Lion, was discovered being kept in a concrete pit in Mexico. He was originally bought as a pet, but when he became too big and expensive to care for his owner dumped him at a monastery where he was put into the concrete cell. His new caretakers also decided he was too expensive to feed – so they began feeding him live dogs taken off the streets of Mexico City. Working with Mexican Government officials, the sanctuary rescued Kobu and brought him back to TWAS. He now lives with a pride of lions that lives in one of the Sanctuary’s large acreage habitats. In the video below, watch Kobu's rescue.

These two Tigers came from an El Paso Texas truck stop where they were a roadside attraction. They were allowed to breed at random, and their cubs were sold to motorists who stopped to get gas. They exchanged their small concrete cages in Texas for spacious indoor-outdoor enclosures at TWAS, plus time to roam and swim in the “Tiger Pool.” Now 24, Honey is the oldest Tiger at TWAS.

Its hard to believe that their are 300 animals living in the sanctuary. That means 300 animals that have spent time in their lives living in unsatisfactory conditions, suffering. It was a great feeling to watch the animals from above, not causing them stress. It was a beautiful sunny day and most of the tigers and lions were snoozing in the sun. I could have stayed and watched them all day.

There were so many heartbreaking stories, but we were all feeling really happy with the knowledge that these beautiful animals were now safe and content.

At the end of April, the latest area will open which features the Bolivian Lions. The first two Lion Prides have been released into their new 20 acre habitats...and the remaining two prides will be released in their habitats within the next month. By the end of summer, the Lions should be all well adjusted to their new home. If you are interested in the rescue story and watching the Lions walk on grass for the very first time, you will enjoy the video below.

This is where the Lions used to live...

 On average, it costs $8,000 to feed, house and care for one Lion, approximately costing an additional $200,000 per year to care for all of these Lions. I hate to think what it costs to fund the entire facility. This sanctuary operates purely on donations - no government funding at all. It was amazing to be so close to so many animals and heartening to know that their are people who work tirelessly for animal rights.

Our next destination was the Vine Street Pub for a birthday lunch. This local is becoming a popular destination for our family celebrations. Yas was getting grumpy - probably due to her early waking hour and refused to be photographed. A great day was had by all - Happy Birthday Garry!!!

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