No Zoo Animals
As a Big Cat Wildlife Sanctuary, we’re sometimes thought of as a zoo, but zoo animals are generally kept in cages and in the lesser zoos, many of the animals’ critical well-being needs such as enrichment are not met. A petting zoo may even allow the handling by the public of cubs, but we believe this is not in the best interests of our big cats, and under MPI regulations, is actually illegal once they are over 6 months of age. Even our specialist keepers are not allowed to directly handle our big cats.
Owners of Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary, Janette and Dale Vallance have been involved with big cats for many years. They owned a native wildlife park in Australia which led them to become involved with the retirement and respite for big circus cats.
“We have a very good friend in Professor Tony Greenwoods who is currently working with Loro Parque, considered to be the world’s No.1 zoo,” says Janette. “As an international zoo consultant, Tony heard about this Sanctuary in its previous incarnation and invited us to visit in 2017 with the idea of managing it. We accepted the contract as managers and then in June 2019 bought the Kamo Wildlife Sanctuary. Throughout that time we have been working on upgrading every aspect of our big cats’ lives from enrichment programmes, to housing them in much larger than normal enclosures with good clean high quality dens. This included significant upgrades for staff safety at the same time.”
The entire big cat wildlife sanctuary is far safer, bigger, and better for cats, staff and visitors, and the prior history of animal welfare. The management issues under previous ownership of six years ago, are relics of a past which has been repaired and laid permanently to rest. We know all our cats intimately and cater to each individual’s special interests, whether it’s a spray of coffee, or a supermarket defrosted chicken for Thabo who prefers them over fresh chickens.
Looking after our big cats is not work. It’s what our lives are about and dedicated to. Even on the rough days when weather can make life difficult for us and the cats, as soon as our beautiful big felines start talking to us, the stress lifts and the satisfaction sets in. The cats are fine, and for us, that makes everything else really good.