Gravel road entrance on the right side of highway leaded the way to the most fantastic experience ever lived by our family. USA flag was waving; like giving a welcome to all visitors with the small summer breeze. A big sign announcing the “Wild” sanctuary gave my kids a sneak peak of what was waiting for them ahead. Wooden bridge surrounded by trees and plants was the walking pathway to the visitor’s center. Hospitality could be defined as the act of being hospitable, especially on a relationship between a “visitor” and “host’. The experienced we had went well beyond this definition. As soon as we opened the visitor’s center door, a group of volunteers and staff gave us the warmest welcome ever. A brief introduction about the center, its role in preservation, and refuge center for big cats and other wild animals was explained by couple of senior citizens. One of them immediately engage in a nice conversation with Dylan comparing his New Zealand hat and Dylan’s Colombian made “sombrero.”
Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary is located twenty two miles south from where we live (Lenexa, KS), and approximately 3 miles east of Louisburg, KS on Highway 68. Is important to mention this center is not really a park, although center has events where sometimes they encourage picnics and concessions are available. I wouldn’t even consider it as a zoo, but I can understand some people arguing this. Staff emphasized the center is a preserve for tigers and a refuge for big cats. Lately they have opened their doors to other species which were abandoned, neglected or simple their owners were no longer able to take care of them. The center offers to each visitor or group of visitors a personal guided tour. This is something exceptional; all the staff we saw was so friendly and always showing a big smile. The guides were willing to spend all the necessary time explaining every single detail about their animals, answering every questions adults and kids might have about the species, habitats, diet, play time, etc.
As soon as we walked to the ‘back yard” we saw all animals right there. Siberian and Bengal tigers are the firsts catching everybody’s attention. Two of them were born at the center, a mix of Siberian and Bengal species, but definitely “Kimar” the white Siberian tiger is the one standing out from all others. Almost across from tiger’s area, to the right side of the back yard are the Lions: Tonka, an eleven months male lion and “Shanta,” a female lion cub with only five months. Next to Lions area are seen a Serval and a Caracal. Tigers and Lions area is divided by another wooded bridge that take us to the Leopard, Cougar, Bob cats, and Coati area.
Walking back through the visitor’s center and turning right is a big fence; this is the wolves’ area. Three magnificent wolves live here. JB is the leader of the small pack, a gray and black wolf with a black strip on the face that goes from nose to middle of eyes. We could see lot of affection from the wolves for the staff (as do all of the animals), they came close to the fence to be pet, but guide keep reminded us that they were still wild. Special time was given to kids explaining the difference between captive wolves’ behavior and what people really experience in the wild if trying to approach these animals.
This was definitely the best time spent with kids. No other place in Kansas (at least that I know) gives the opportunity to be this close of the wild animals, especially when it comes to big cats. The experience lived by Dylan and Jimena this weekend will be memorable for years, the experience I lived in the center along my family is already the best. We know we will keep going to that place more times, but most importantly is spreading the word about the existence of this center. Besides, who would’ve imagine seen” Wild, Wild” Bengal and Siberian tigers, African Lions, Leopards, Coatis and wolves; all together in America’s heartland?