Imagine this. A warm mid-winter evening. You are sitting out on the deck at your house in the exurbs of Kansas City.. You are sitting in near silence save the melodious a bird song when your evening is interrupted by the deep ominous roar of a tiger. You might think you were losing your mind, but if you lived anywhere near Louisburg, Kansas it would just be a normal night.
Located a twenty-minute drive south of Kansas City, the Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory, and Education Center is a not for profit organization that provides safe haven and sanctuary for abandoned and surrendered wild animals. Many of these animals came from individuals or businesses who had mistreated or neglected them. While others simply did not have the wherewithal to care for a wild animal. Some of the animals have had their canine teeth removed or have been declawed. All have become so acclimated to human contact that survival in the wild is impossible.
The park was founded In August 2000 and has been expanding since due to the generous support of the community. Today the sanctuary includes not only Bengal and Siberian Tigers but also African lions, servals, and leopard cats, plus non-felines such as the white-nosed coati, foxes, and wolves.
The Lion and lioness are named Tonka and Shanta respectively. They are one of the most popular residents at the Conservatory. All of the animals are accustomed to human contact and interact affectionately with the staff, but every person I spoke with stressed that they are still wild animals so, safe and respectable boundaries are maintained.
The center currently has two foxes an arctic fox and a red fox ( I’m passing up an obvious joke here). I had no idea that foxes have such an overpowering musk to them. While they are supposed to be around here, in all my years in KC, I have only ever seen one in the wild.
While it might seem simple on the surface to confuse Cedar Cove with a traditional Z00, it is different in many ways. The facility is entirely non-profit and the educational aim is different from most Zoos. Since almost all of the animals have come from an environment where sometimes well-meaning but misguided individuals or organizations have failed to provide them with the care the needed, many of these animals needed care a traditional zoo may be unable to provide. All the animals I saw had a backstory. The guides would provide information as to how the individual animal came into their care and the center almost always accepted every animal that was surrendered to them.
Before VooDoo the African leopard was brought to the Conservatory he had been acquired (illegally) by a family who wanted to keep him as a pet. The family got him as a cub but surrendered him when he became too aggressive.
The sanctuary also has several other species as well, but probably the star attraction are the tigers. And they are just majestic. The sanctuary is located off Hiway K-68 near Louisbourg, Kansas. They are only open to the public on weekends 10am-5pm Apr-Oct and 11am-3pm Nov-Mar. They do offer group tours on weekdays but by appointment only. The cost is $8.00 for Adults and children $6.00. They are completely donation based and do amazing work providing homes for these beautiful animals, If you are near Kansas City it is definitely worth the twenty-minute drive.