This past weekend, we took a road trip to
the wilderness Rosamond. Just north of Los Angeles, Rosamond's an old mining town in the Antelope Valley, a place best known for its poppy fields. Oh, and Edwards Air Force base. Our destination, however, was the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound’s Feline Conservation Center (aka “The Cat House”).
The Cat House plays host to 70+ feline residents: tigers, servals, clouded leopards, margays and more, oh my! Three times a year, they host a twilight tour of their facilities. Tickets are $20.00, for which you’re granted rare camera privileges, plus access to areas that are normally off-limits. For animal lovers like us, it’s an event of a lifetime. And with subjects like this, it seemed the perfect time & place to try out my new camera!
As with their domesticated counterparts, exotic breeds are most active after sundown. Attendants gave them feline “enrichment items” (aka special treats) to entice them out of their lairs. It takes a different form in wild animals, of course. Leopards crushed watermelons with powerful jaws; jaguars shredded phone books with claws and teeth; fishing cats captured goldfish in their paws. Playful as they are–and even in this controlled habitat–you never lose sight of the fact that these are dangerous creatures.
A black leopard) paced the length of his enclosure the entire time we were there. You might think he was agitated, but truth be told, I think he just wanted us to notice his sleek black coat. And why yes, we do see those rippled muscles under there!
Here, a white tiger ("Katmandu") tears into a giant log–an aggressive display, designed to intimidate the Bengal tiger next door.
Caesar doesn’t seem all that impressed.
Peacocks took to the rooftops, screaming for attention. “Look at me, look at me,” they seemed to say. But for all their preening, they got very little attention.
Although very shy as a rule, even the snow leopards deigned to make an appearance. (If you imagine hard enough, the cages fade from view, allowing the animals to come front and center.)
We prowled the grounds for several hours. But if you know cats, you’ll know they can’t stay awake for very long. They drowsed, and we felt ourselves getting sleepy, too, so we said our goodbyes and headed home.