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Big cat sanctuary to hold behind the scenes tour Sunday


Suzie’s Pride Big Cat Sanctuary will give people a chance to see the resident big cats up close.

The behind the scene’s experience at the sanctuary, for people age 16 and older, will be 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 3.

Staff and trainers will answer questions about the lions and tigers living at the sanctuary, and will supervise as people get close to the enclosures for photographs and observations of the animals.

During the event, participants will have an opportunity to observe and photograph Maggie on leash in the open area away from the big cat enclosures. However, attendees will not be able to touch Maggie and must fall on staff instructions.

Cost is $20 per person. The maximum number of participants is 25. The sanctuary is at 4597 Cook Road in Rockwell.

For more information, visit or call 704-279-8713. Click here to purchase tickets to the event.

If you miss the Behind the Scenes tour, the sanctuary will hold its monthly Open House from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 17. The open house is free.
(Source:, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013)


The fight to save the big cat is on(Jan 23, 2013)

IN THE dark the safest way to attack the lions was to catch them in the headlights of a car and run them over. Once the adults were downed it was easy enough to dispatch the cubs with spears and arrows. When the killing stopped last year in Kitengela, on the plains outside Nairobi National Park, six lions were dead. It was the worst such incident in recent memory.

Killing lions without a licence is a criminal offence in Kenya and the slaughter was witnessed by a trio of park rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service. Outnumbered, they decided not to try to stop what one of them described as “mob justice” by locals angry that their goats had been eaten. Seven months later no one has been arrested. Whereas elephant and rhino poachers often end up dead or in jail, no lion killer in Kenya has ever ended up behind bars.

Conservationists’ attention worldwide has been captured lately by a lethal resurgence of the trade in rhino horn and ivory, but Africa’s lions, fewer than elephants and perhaps than rhinos, are in equal peril. Recent estimates put their number in Africa at 15,000-25,000. LionAid, a conservation group based in Britain, says it knows of only 645 still in west and central Africa.

Paula Kahumbu of Kenya-based Wildlife Direct says their fate Africa-wide will be decided in Kenya, home to one in ten of the surviving beasts. Kenya is losing about 100 every year, its wildlife service estimates, most of them killed by herders whose cattle graze the land where lions hunt. Cheap pesticides, such as Carbofuran, which is tasteless and odourless, have replaced spears as the chief killer. Kenya’s human population, up from 8m at independence in 1964 to 42m-plus today, has deprived the lions of habitat and prey.

Laurence Frank, who runs Living With Lions, a Kenyan charity, says that the big cats are viewed as an expensive nuisance by rural people who see few benefits from tourism. “Quite rationally they have snared and eaten the antelope and poisoned the predators,” he says. But it would make economic sense to stop the cull. A study by the University of Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History estimates that lions on average kill livestock worth $270 a year but bring in $17,000 from tourists.

Compensating owners for livestock lost to lions may have reduced locals’ incentive to look after their herds. Paul Mbugua of the Kenyan Wildlife Service suspects that last year’s Kitengela killings were meant to send a message that the local Masai wanted bigger compensation.
Paying them to guard the lions has worked better. Richard Turere, a teenage herder on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital, stopped lion attacks by rigging up a car battery to some torch lights to create a flashing warning. This cheap idea worked so well that he has been invited to speak in California alongside Bono, an Irish pop star turned philanthropist.

Most successful of all has been the sprouting of private conservancies turning ranches into wildlife havens that earn their keep from tourists as well as farming, and recycle the income into local communities better than national parks do. Several such ventures in Laikipia, a plateau north-west of Mount Kenya, are reversing the downward trend in lion numbers.
Source: The

The Lion (Panthera leo) is a mammal of the family Felidae. The male lion, easily recognized by his mane, may weigh up to 250 kg (550 lb). Females are much smaller, weighing up to 180 kg (400 lb). In the wild lions live for around 10–14 years, whilst in captivity they can live over 20. Lions are carnivores who live in family groups, called prides, consisting of related females, their cubs of both sexes, and an unrelated male who mates with the adult females. The females do the hunting for the pride while the males are largely occupied with maintaining the borders of their territory. Males are expelled from the pride when they reach maturity. When or if a male takes over a pride and ousts the previous lead male, the conqueror may kill any cubs left in the pride that are not his.


Lions in the wild Lions eat mammals that are smaller than their size. They are predators with a stealthy approach in order to capture food. Accordingly, prey animals will normally keep calm if they spot a lion at a safe distance as the lion will probably not have the stamina for a sustained chase. They will eat almost any kind of animal from insects to elephants. Some of their natural enemies are male lions who are seeking territory. Lions are found throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. They are mainly found in woodland type areas but can survive in semi desert or bush areas. Baby or young lions are called cubs. Females give birth to 1-5 youngsters, after a gestation period of three months. The cubs can suckle for as long as 18 months but are normally weaned by 8 weeks. There is a high mortality rate amongst cubs. Attacks on humans While a hungry lion will probably attack a human that passes near, some (usually male) lions seem to seek out human prey. Some of the more publicized cases include the Tsavo Man-Eaters and the Mfuwe Man-Eater. In both cases the hunters who slew the lions wrote books about their exploits. In folklore, man-eating lions are sometimes considered demons. The Mfuwe and Tsavo incidents did bear some similarities. The lions in both the incidents were all larger than normal, lacked manes and seemed to suffer from tooth decay. Some have speculated that they might belong to an unclassified species of lion, or they were sick and could not have easily caught prey. Interesting facts * The territory is owned by the lioness with the territorial males only protecting the area for approximately three years * The females in the pride are all related - mothers, aunts, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters, cousins and sisters * The mane on the males is used to increase his size and is for protection against bites and blows delivered during fights * The front paws are larger than the back paws * Lions can spend as much time as 20 hours per day sleeping * Lions will hunt in the day or in the night and are more active on overcast, cool days * Lions will readily scavenge and often do so * Males will feed at a kill first or chase off the other lions if they get there after the others have started feeding * They have excellent night vision * Lions will always drink after eating.


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