If you know me IRL, or at least pay attention to most of my writing, you can tell pretty quickly that I’m a crazy cat lady at heart. It’s absolutely cliche, I know, posting on the web about cats. But still, I like to think I was way into cats before the internet was fueled by them.
Not that my fuzzy regulation-size cats aren’t awesome, because they totally are. They meet my day to day fur ball needs and are an integral part of my life. I love other people’s cats too, but mine are, well, they’re special. They fight for my lap, try to take over the bed, and can’t wait for me to get out of the shower so they can groom my still dripping hair. They treat me like I’m one of them, and frankly, I’m honored.
But sometimes I like to think outside the litter box. I want to pet a large cat, not like a Maine Coon or something, which also sounds nice. I’m talking a king of the jungle style encounter. I want to pet a lion or tiger, maybe cuddle up with a cub or two. Perhaps have a big cat adventure of some kind.
I’ve seen enough of those YouTube and Internet videos to know that this is possible, albeit slightly dangerous. I know there are sanctuaries out there that have young tigers and lions that were raised in captivity and are friendly and well-fed enough not to maul one’s face off. But most of them are in Africa, which makes sense, I suppose.
I’ve seen a few zoos advertising the “large animal experience,” and phoned one to see if it might be a possibility while I was in Colorado Springs a few weeks back. Apparently, the zookeepers and I have a very different understanding of what “experience” entails. They’re all like, “you can feed them through a safety shoot,” and I’m all like, “so, no cuddles?” They thought I was kidding, but I suppose my polite, yet firm insistence that cuddles were part of the deal didn’t really carry over the phone.
While we were golfing in Mexico, one of the golfers’ wives had a tiger cub encounter with some dude at a hole in the wall shop for an unheard of $20. It smacked of all the things I imagine are wrong in Mexico, one of the world’s most beautiful creatures holed up with some dirtbag in a storefront in a tourist town. But you couldn’t argue with the adorable pictures, and from what I could tell, the cub seemed well fed and happy.
If I ever find my way back out to Las Vegas, there’s this place. This might be my best hope, since they seem to be pretty legit. They offer right on the front page all the stuff I want to do. The price seems fair, considering their operating costs and what I imagine would be a ridiculous amount of upkeep for such large animals.
So, for now, it’s a pipe dream, an item on the bucket list. But some day, just maybe, I can make it happen. And, I can’t imagine anything making me happier. I just don’t think I’ll ever want to leave. That, and the regular size kitties will probably be VERY jealous.