Lions, Tigers…. Cougars and Leopards, too

Saturday I had a unique experience with large cats.  My husband and I visited the Valley of the Kings, a large cat & exotic animal rescue and sanctuary.  This isn’t a zoo, and it’s not a petting zoo, either.  It’s a cat shelter, literally – for lions, tigers, and other large cats.  It’s really amazing the work these people do, and it was incredible to go there and see and feed these cats close up.

While not every cat was awake, the vast majority of them were.  There are 50 large cats in the place, and most of them you can feed.  Some of them you are only separated from by chain fence and that’s it.


Having only ever seen cats like this in zoos, where you are dozens of feet away from them, separated by a trench and fencing and glass, visiting these animals up this close was really amazing.  Touching the black leopard and the 650 pound tiger was really amazing.

This is my husband’s hand- feeding the black leopard.  He’s at the rescue because his previous owner, apparently a movie industry, had his teeth and claws removed to make him safer.  And somehow this wasn’t seen as cruel?  Declawing a cat is one thing, whether you believe in doing it or not, but removing the teeth????  If you’re worried about how unsafe it is to have a leopard, don’t get a leopard.  How ’bout that?

Anyway… not only was it incredible to feed and touch these animals, but it made for some nice photos.  I’m working on a video, but my editing software keeps having major failures.  If I can ever get a video done, I’ll get it on YouTube. 

And not only were there lions, tigers, cougars, and leopards, there were dozens of geese, ducks, several peacocks, a handful of horses, miniature donkeys, a llama, a camel, and a small herd of goats…

My husband the goat herder….

But, of course, it was the tigers that were the most interesting….

What a really great experience.

I also took Chewbacca out for drive #6 and he did super.  I started working with him on circles & figure 8’s, at the walk and trot.  He is learning right now that even if I throw a tight turn his way he’s not trapped between the shafts, and all he has to do is push forward and go.  I think he’s got it pretty well, and I even had him out of the arena in the driveway for a minute or 2.

I don’t want to push him too fast, made that mistake once and while I do think we are over any issues, he is still too green of a driving horse yet at this point to try too much.  Eventually he’ll learn to canter between the shafts, but for right now, I’m still also working on getting him to trot out in a good extension – which is turning out to be a real challenge with no leg to push him!  LOL.  Having ridden Chewie, I can really appreciate the differences in driving him.

Luke is very automatic… if you want him to slow down, he goes slow, he’ll set himself up into “autopilot mode” and just cruise, and if you want him to move out – man will he move.  He has 3 solid and distinct trots, where as Chewie, right now has slow and walk and that’s about it !  LOL.  I recall him being easier to get an extended trot out of while riding him, but I had my leg as an aid.

Well, everything is a work in progress!


About kshai1715

I am a lifelong equestrian, photography enthusiast, sci-fi lover, and sci-fi convention & costuming geek that also loves movies and video games. I am a hard working 30 something woman that survived cancer and am looking forward to a long, healthy, self-empowered life. Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy reading about my horses (and the rest of my life) as much as I like writing about them.
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2 Responses to Lions, Tigers…. Cougars and Leopards, too

  1. Tracie Noel says:

    Getting caught up here, and I must say, you and Chewie look GREAT! I hope you have sent a copy of one of your driving videos to that trainer who said he couldn’t do it… 🙂 Your faith in him and perseverance are really paying off. It sure looks like fun, too!

    • kshai1715 says:

      For a long while, I didn’t know if he could do it, either… and I didn’t think *I* could get him do it 🙂 I’m just glad I was, despite my major lack of confidence of any type, able to get him driving. Driving is a lot of fun. Chewie is a very slow-paced, plod along kind of guy, so we need to work a bit on speed (thinking with CDE’s in long-term goals), but he is still fun to drive. I can’t wait to get him out on the roads- pulling the cart will be easier and he’ll probably move a little more freely, too. But I am really enjoying teaching him to work in the arena with the cart.
      Maybe I am just enjoying driving him more because I broke him myself, or that I just want to use my horse. Luke is a lot of fun to drive, too, and although he’s only 12.2hands, he could out -pace Chewie any day (and usually does). LOL.

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