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.
That looks awesome!
It’s a bit of a drive, but well worth it!
Purrfectly photogenic felines! I love all of these photos, but my favourite is the leopard crushing the watermelon. Thanks for sharing these.
Did you catch the very long and very expensive tv ad for Cartier aired last winter, starring a panther and a snow leopard?
I loved watching the jaguar size up, and then attack his “prey.” So much so that I posted another picture of him for Wordless Wednesday. 🙂
I did, in fact, see that video a while back. But it’s definitely worth another viewing. Thanks for linking it here!
The fact that such a fierce beast is “attacking” a watermelon is pretty funny and that alone makes this photo amusing and worthwhile. But as I looked at this one and the other one from the same sequence that you posted on your “Wordless Wednesday” entry, I found myself almost mesmerized by the pattern of spots on this cat’s pelt. Beautiful!
Good job, shutterbug!
I’m in awe of that spotted coat, and the musclebound cat that wears it. Oh, and such fierce prey, that watermelon! I can easily see why the jaguar eyed it suspiciously beforehand. 🙂
Gorgeous, every one of them. You are so fortunate that you could be there.
Yes!!! I was in awe of the experience, and felt very lucky that I was able to participate.
I love felines. They make you feel these mix of fascination and fear that can overwhelm you. Beautiful pictures thank you
We think alike on this, Anabel. Felines are gorgeous–so lithe and sleek. But they have a dangerous side, brooding just below the surface.
Oh, I love the last pic 🙂
He seems so sweet and harmless…
Melodye, these are amazing!!
The subject matter makes this photographer look way more skilled than she really is, but whoa, my new camera is so much fun to work with!!
Great photos! I didn’t know big cats liked watermelon 🙂
One of the attendants said they don’t normally eat watermelon, seeing as how they’re carnivores (rawrrr!). The melons are more toy to them than food. They don’t digest them all that well, apparently, but it makes for good entertainment…
(I posted another picture of the jaguar this morning, for Wordless Wednesday. Maybe your kids would enjoy thinking up a caption?)
Those are great pictures, Melodye! It looks like it was a fascinating trip. I especially like the picture of the cat with the watermelon. 🙂 I don’t suppose there are many animals with teeth serious enough to bite into one of those.
He’s my favorite, too! My new camera allows me to take a ton of pictures per second, which made for an amazing flip-book sequence with that watermelon. (In one, he’s sizing up the watermelon before attacking it. I posted that this morning, for Wordless Wednesday.)
What beautiful cats! Love your photos. What a fabulous experience :).
It’s so much fun to watch them in action–up close, but from a safe distance. The snow leopard was very affectionate with her handler, but as she later pointed out, big cats can (and do) turn on you in a split second.
Love love love the first pic here! 😀
You, too? She’s showing off for the handsome boy next door. Seems like such a sweet kitty, but… 😉
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