Sunday, July 13, 2008

Snow Leopard...In Florida?

I made a post last week about getting to see snow leopards at the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo but never seeing them at Big Cat Rescue just an hour away in Tampa. I even got a comment from the directory of the sanctuary, mentioning that she never sees them herself, except at feeding time. After I got that comment, I decided it had been a while since I'd been to Big Cat Rescue, so I got up early Saturday morning and went. The weather was nasty, a thick overcast that turned into rain not long after I left, and it was thick enough while I was there that I felt I was shooting in the dark sometimes. Even with the clouds, it was still hot and muggy, which kept most of the cats in the shadows or in their dens. But much to my surprise, the surprise of everyone on my tour, and even the tour guide herself, who should come out as we pass but one of the big snow leopards! For almost ten minutes, this guy paced back and forth, spreading his scent over all of the outdoor areas of his enclosure. I wish the light had been better, and I would have gotten some great shots. But I'll be satisfied with these for a while.

I guess the biggest difference for me as a photographer between a sanctuary and a zoo is the fact that I can't seem to get a shot in the sanctuary without wire between me and the animal. I guess it's not too big of a deal.

For a second or two, this great cat even got into the lockout area of his pen. This is the area where they feed the cats, and it has a drop-down door they can close to confine the cats briefly in case they need to do some maintenance in the main cage.


SaveTheBigCats said...

I am so glad that Hercules came out for you. Thanks for supporting him and all 100+ big cats at Big Cat Rescue.

Ernie said...

I was pretty happy, too. I felt sorry for the big guy, what with all that fur in the high temps and humidity. But he looked to be handling it just fine. He was spraying everything in site.