Carolina Tiger Rescue (formerly known as Carnivore Preservation Trust) provides a home for tigers, lions, ocelots, caracals, servals, bobcats, binturongs, and kinkajous. Before going to CTR, I didn't know what many of those animals were. All of the above named animals are in the cat species except binturongs and kinkajous. The fact that most of these animals are now housed at CTR is a testament to the stupidity of the humans that thought they could keep these wild animals as pets. The animals are now housed outdoors in enclosed habitats where you can see them on a walking tour.
|A caracal with its characteristic ear tufts|
In order to take the tour, you must make advance reservations. CTR is open to the public on weekends by appointment. They usually conduct weekday tours on holidays like Presidents' Day and Spring Break. The weekday tours seem to book fast. You will need to give CTR a credit card number to hold your reservation and you will be charged if you cancel with less than 24 hour notice. They ask that you arrive a few minutes before your scheduled tour so you will have time to fill out the obligatory waiver form. Don't worry, they haven't had an escaped animal in twenty years of operating and visitors are required to stay behind ropes so they don't get too close to the enclosures. Tours are conducted in all weather except thunderstorms, so if its raining on your scheduled day bring a raincoat.
|A white tiger getting his treat from the guide|
There are some things you need to know about this attraction before you visit.
- If you're going during the hot months of the year take the early morning tour. Most of the trail is out in the sun and it gets mighty hot so bring some water.
- Arrive for your tour on time. Because their cancellation policy requires charging your credit card, CTR will wait to start a tour until everyone shows up. This is not fun for the people who got their on time and have to wait around for everyone else to show up, pay, and fill out waivers.
- Even though the website discourages people from bringing strollers, bring one if you have young children. The trail is plenty wide and composed of packed gravel and the terrain is relatively flat - if it's any indication, pickup trucks drive on this trail. The tour is two hours of staying on your feet and young kids are going to need a place to sit down or ride.
The tour begins inside the visitor's center with an informational talk by your tour guide. You then follow the guide outdoors into the compound where the animals are kept. The tour is a half mile loop. Our tour guide was a little on the long-winded side, so it was hard to keep my toddler engaged while we were waiting to move on to the next animal enclosure. The guide brings treats to feed the animals so they will come up close to the fence. The first tiger that you come to likes to spray his audience so be careful.
CTR is open year round except Christmas Day and New Years Day (kinkajous are only out during warm weather months). The admission is expensive - $14 per adult and $8 per child two and over - but it goes towards keeping the Rescue running.
Although it was sometimes hard to keep my toddler from getting too close to the animals and my preschooler got tired towards the end - I didn't bring a stroller - if I had to judge from my kids' reactions I would say it was a worthwhile experience.
|Did you know that male lions who've been neutered don't have manes?|