Sunday, February 22

BIG Kitty!

I finally got around to visiting the International Exotic Feline Sanctuary (IEFS) in Boyd, Texas since The George was in town (this was her truly great idea). The IEFS is nothing at all like those awful roadside attractions of years past, where helpless animals were paraded in front of a station-wagon full of tourists, and made to perform tricks on command.

As stated on the AZA website:
The purpose and goals of the IEFS are to provide a permanent sanctuary for exotic felines that have been abused, abandoned, neglected, confiscated or previously owned by people unwilling or unable to provide for these magnificent animals.
Currently, they care for 63 wild cats (tigers, lions, panthers, leopards, etc.) yet have to turn away another 5 a week. Kudos go to Billy (our tour guide); he allowed us to take our time, and the tour lasted nearly 2 hours (although it could be much shorter if we didn't ask questions). Like most of the workers there, Billy is a volunteer and does this because he loves the animals. He said his day job is a self-employed business, selling printer supplies.

At the IEFS, the visitor gets to spend some quality time learning the backgrounds, habits and feline quirks of the individual cats. These large cats spend the rest of their lives being nurtured until they die of natural causes (which is about 20 years old, for most of them). There is even a Big Cat Cemetery onsite. They have a lot of undeveloped land and may be able to take in more exotic big cats, if corporate donations recover (it's been difficult since the economic bubble burst a few years ago). This place was a leisurely 60-minute drive from home: highly recommended.

The road to Boyd (Texas 114) passes a half-dozen fireworks stands, Waffle House, a Dairy Queen, and Tater Junction (in scenic Aurora, Texas). It's hard to believe, but not there was no sign of a McDonald's Wireless connection after leaving Dallas.

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