Wildlife on Easy Street is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the case of exotic cats and other endangered animals.  In August, I had the opportunity to spend a day there (courtesy of my wonderful husband). 

It was an amazing day spent photographing, feeding, training, and actually touching some of the animals there.  The price for this full day was $100 and worth every cent.  Every penny they get, whether from tour fees or donations, goes to the care of these animals.  The workers are all volunteers who spend a tremendous amount of time, energy, and love providing the needed care for the animals.


 

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The day began at 9:30 with a tour of the facilities.  We were introduced to many of the animals and given an overview of the rules while on the premises, as well as the effort required to take care of the 200+ exotic animals housed there.
This Binturong is looking for a handout.

Sultan - An Ocelot.
When the tour ended at 11:30, we were given time to get some lunch and wander around on our own. 

With over 40 acres to explore, I didn't see it all, but I sure made a dent in it.


I think I'm being stalked. 

After lunch was interaction time. 
We were actually allowed in the cages with some of the smaller cats - 
to touch and pet them. 
This was a rare opportunity I will never forget.
(Yes I look like crap, but it was a long, hot day.)


Up, Sarmonti.
Good kitty.
A few minutes to rest, then we began Operant Conditioning.  There are basically three commands that are taught to the cats.  'Up' trains them to raise up high with their paws on the bars so that the volunteers and vets can check their bellies and paws.  'Down' teaches them to lay down. And 'Lock Out' teaches them to go into the small cage attached to their enclosure so they can be shut in while their habitats are cleaned.
Next is Enrichment time. 

Special treats are put in paper bags and paper towel tubes. 

This guy is waiting for the lovely apple cinnamon rat suprise that I made for him.

Late afternoon is feeding time.  In addition to fresh meat, they get a ground mixure of meat, organ meat and bone to give them the full nutrition they need.

Yummy, raw chicken.

Way too soon it was time to go.

It was definitely the experience of a lifetime.

Want to help?  Visit Wildlife on Easy Street and send them a donation or adopt one of the animals.  And if you're ever in Tampa, make this one of your stops.  It will be an experience you'll never forget.
 
 

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