Unforgettable Experience at National Tiger Sanctuary in Saddlebrooke, MO
Do you love going to see the animals at the zoo? Do you ever come upon an enclosure where the animals are active? It’s a rare thing to see truly active animals at a zoo. Most of the time, we spend our time trying to search in the grass to see where the animals are hiding! At the National Tiger Sanctuary, you see the behind the scenes and learn a whole lot about big cats!
Learning About Big Cats
At a zoo, occasionally you will have a zookeeper who will talk about specific animals but most of the time, observing and reading the plaques about the animals are about all the education you get. At the National Tiger Sanctuary, a trained guide will walk with a small group feeding not just the animals but feeding the minds of all the guests! We learned more on the hour tour about big cats than I have ever learned about them in all my years of life combined!
The guide will give detailed information about the big cats but also gives more specific details about the specific cats you are seeing. Such as:
- Their Names
- Where they came from
- How old they are
- Any health problems they may struggle with
- interesting facts about them
Active Big Cats
Since the guide has food, guess what?! The cats are up, moving, making noises, and even playing while waiting for their treats! I have never, in all my times at the zoo, heard a lion roar in person. I did at the National Tiger Sanctuary! I heard a tiger sound like it said “I love you” when the guide gave it food! (You can watch the video below to hear it yourself). I know it was coincidence but it was neat, regardless.
Here is one of my very favorite pictures from the day!
Interaction With the Cats
The purpose of the National Tiger Sanctuary is to house these rescued cats. Some were pets to owners who either passed away or realized that a mountain lion may not be the best pet idea. Others were rescued from live entertainers who abused the pets they used for their shows. Taking care of these animals takes a lot of money and time. The National Tiger Sanctuary uses the money made from the public tours to pay the expenses of food, grounds and enclosure upkeep, as well as veterinary bills.
The tours range from just a walk through with a staff member learning about the cats and watch as they feed to a full day with the director getting to have a more in depth look into the lives of the cats as well as help feed them! There is also an option in between where guests can join the one hour tour but they get to help feed the animals while on the tour!
We let our boys, who are big time animals lovers, do the “you feed” tour. They still walked with us for the “our feed” tour yet they joined in feeding two different hungry cats through a shoot system. The system is a safe way for untrained guests to take part in feeding!
My boys weren’t sure how “fun” it would be to feed the cats through the shoot system since it wasn’t “hands on” but they both said it was incredible getting to take part in feeding them! They said their favorite part was listening to all the sounds the cats would make while eating. Some of the cats were quiet, so all you could hear were the bones of the chicken they were eating being crushed by their strong teeth. Other cats would moan and make different sounds as they ate.
It was neat seeing how different each of the cat’s personalities were. Watching them interact with the trainers was special. You could tell that even though a fence separated the cats from the trainers at all times, they were excited to see them. I’m sure partly because they had food but I have to believe they have formed a quite a bit of a bond from day in and day out of seeing each other!
I want to find more of these types of places to visit! The National Tiger Sanctuary was an experience I will never forget. This summer has been all about making memories…. this is a memory that I am so glad my children will always be able to look back on…. until the next time!
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