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Carolina Tiger Rescue

posted Nov 24, 2012, 6:13 PM by Justin P
Today, my mom and I went to Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro for a tour.  Our tour started with an overview of the organization by our guide Julie - originally, it was used for breeding to protect species from extinction; now it was primarily focused on rescuing wild cats from private owners and giving them a happy life.  The first cats we saw were the caracals, two females and a male.  One of the females was sleeping in her box and the other was sleeping next to it.  The male was walking around a bit, leaving his scent on the fence to make sure we knew that this was his territory.  After a bit, he laid down as well and we continued on to see Collins, a bobcat.  Although he is a native species, we couldn't be released into the wild because he was originally owned as a pet and declawed.  He came out for a bit as Julie offered him a treat and then we moved on to see Elvis, a serval.  He had been dropped off at the "doorstep" in poor condition, but had been nursed back to health and looked like he was doing well.  And he was very excited when offered a treat.  Next we saw our first tiger - Rajaji, a big male.  He clearly enjoys seeing visitors, coming over to greet us and even try to spray us with scent (urine).  Then Julie gave him a treat and after eating it, he smelled where he had urinated earlier, making a funny face from the smell.  Apparently, this is a fairly common tiger behavior, although more commonly with the scent of a potential mate in the wild.  Next we saw a trio of lions.  But as lions sleep 20 or more hours a day, not surprisingly these three were all sleeping the day away.  Next we saw a cougar, who initially was resting in her box, but came out for a treat.  I think she initially was checking out a child in the tour group for an afternoon snack, but settled for a piece of chicken.  Next, we saw a beautiful white tiger named Jellybean.  He was quite gregarious and enjoyed greeting visitors.  After getting a treat, he laid down, scratched himself to satisfy and itch, and plopped down, clearly tired from a long day of greeting visitors.  Next, we saw Tristan, a binturong, rain forest carnivoran (though not a cat) who plays an important ecological role by spreading strangler fig seeds.  He primarily eats fruits and was quite demanding for his bananas.  After two bananas, he continued clamoring until he got a third.  Finally, we headed back and saw two more lions on the walk back.  A female was sleeping near the fence, while a powerful-looking male stood guard, perched on top of a shelter.  Upon heading back to the visitor center, Julie explained a little about their skeletons.  Tigers have additional holes in their skulls below their eyes for nerves and blood vessels that run to their canine teeth.  This allows them to sense when their victim's pulse has stopped and it is safe to let go of the prey.
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