Monday, 20 July 2015

WHF Open Days 2015

Wildlife Heritage Foundation, if you haven't heard of it, is a big cat sanctuary in the heart of the Kent
countryside. For me, it's heaven, filled with enough lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs and other cats to keep me happy forever.

Usually, it's not open to the public, except for private tours and photography workshops, but four days a year, fundraising open days take place. The public come on site to see the cats, and meet the volunteers and staff, all of whom were so friendly and so knowledgeable about the cats, I just wanted to make friends with them all!

 I visited WHF last year, on a private big cat encounter, and was lucky enough to feed a stunning tiger called Nias. Unfortunately I only caught a quick glimpse of him today, but here are some other snapshots of the open day.
This little dudette is a Pallas Cat, only about the size of a domestic cat.
Narnia, the white tiger, is absolutely stunning. White tigers are Bengal tigers which lack a certain pigment in their fur - only about 1 in 10,000 Bengal tigers is a white tiger, meaning that is extremely rare to see one in the wild (even more so as there colouring makes it difficult for them to camouflage themselves and therefore harder to survive).
An Amur leopard
Part of the pride of nine white lions at WHF. Like white tigers, white lions are not a separate subspecies, but rather are African lions with a rare colour mutation.

The dominant male of the white lion pride.
White lionesses heading over for feeding time. Meat frozen into blocks of watered down blood was thrown into the enclosure for them. Unlike the lions I saw on a night game drive in South Africa, feeding time for this pride was a sedate and civilised affair.
Stunning, isn't he? Look at those eyes!

One of three brother African lions, he had to be separated from his brother after he badly injured one of them in a fight.

Not the best photo, but this pair are particular favourites of mine. Raika and Lumpur used to live at London Zoo before the new Tiger Territory exhibit was built. Tigers are usually solitary animals, but this pair have lived together for years. In fact, Raika appeared in this blogpost from 2011, chronicling my first summer working at London Zoo. 

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