A Walk on the Wild Side
On Wednesday, April 20, 2016, a group of 30 ladies from Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club took an unforgettable trip to the amazing Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Sarasota located at 7101 Palmer Blvd, Sarasota, FL. The members experienced up close observation of Lions, Tigers, Ligers and Bears in an exotic new exhibit called “Take a Walk on the Wild Side.” They also saw and interacted with a variety of other amazing Habitat residents including birds, monkeys, lamas, emu, camels, zebra, tortoise and alligators.
The Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary was founded by Kay Rosaire, who has more than 30 years of experience working with and caring for exotic animals. The Rosaire’s have long been recognized for rescuing and offering a permanent safe haven for mistreated and unwanted animals. The rescued animals serve as “ambassadors” for their counter parts in the wild by facilitating awareness of the need to respect and preserve these magnificent exotic animals whose numbers have diminished due to poaching, loss of natural habitats and human greed and/or ignorance about their plight.
After exploring the sanctuary, the LWRWC members watched several animal behavioral demonstrations held in a large indoor air conditioned arena with protective fencing. The animals are trained by Reward System only, with treats and affection, in keeping with their motto Love-Respect- and Sanctuary for Life. Both humorous and informative, each demonstration featured a discussion on the importance of habitat preservation in the hopes of saving these amazing creatures from extinction in the wild.
Most amazing of all was a training demonstration by world-renowned educator and behaviorist Clayton Rosaire, who presented rescued big cats in an educational forum. During the demonstration, Clayton gently encourage the cats to show off their magnificent natural behaviors. Clayton’s lifetime goal is the conservation of these majestic and endangered big cats.
The ladies from the LWRWC were enthralled by Clayton’s interaction with these majestic animals as Barry White, a beautiful White Tiger, Handsome an African lion and Mia, a gorgeous Liger (the offspring of a female Bengal tiger and male lion), demonstrated their characteristic athletic ability and unique individual personalities. WC members were very fortunate to see Handsome, his den mate, Mia, and Barry White because all three are part of the Big Cat Habitat “Animals Helping Animals” coalition of animal “ambassadors traveling and educating America. They often travel with Clayton to raise money to keep the habitat open. The sanctuary is open year round Wednesday through Sunday, from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.