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On April 17, we at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge had a big party. We invited the public up to the top of the hill which is usually off limits to the public, and we had a crowd to watch our newest release.

We have 118 cats, plus various other animals we've rescued. Most of them are in what we call our Compound, which holds many concrete-bottomed cages. They're cleaned and fed every day, and given attention if they so desire it. It's still sad seeing them in the smaller cages, even though they're often ten times better than what they had previously.

The goal of the Refuge, besides just rescuing cats, is to get the cats into bigger natural habitats. We have several so far, ranging from 1/4 to 1/2 acre. Well, the four lions we released on April 17th had never stepped foot on grass before. They've spent most of their lives in our compound, on concrete, and before that they were in other forms of caging. So this was a big, emotional ordeal for everyone here, especially the people who've been here a long time.

The four lions are released 2 at a time, on a rotating basis, like most of the habitats we have, just to allow for as many cats to be able to get out as possible. The first two release were Boss and Kat. We were kind of nervous about it because sometimes the cats are nervous and unsure, and with such a big crowd, we wanted an amazing release. Boss didn't disapoint us, either.

As soon as his door opened, Boss walked right out like he owned the place, and Kat came out right on his heels. Boss strode over to a tree stump, and he sharpened his claws on it! It was a true testament to wild instinct when a cat who's never set foot on grass, let alone seen a tree stump, instinctively knows just what to do.

The two walked around, exploring and marking their territory. Eventually, they made thier ways down to the bottom of the hill and settled. We followed, and a few us us sat down next to an exhausted Boss. This is me:



Boss and Kat very much enjoyed being out, and they refused to lock back up for several days, not only because they were enjoying it, but because they didn't know they were supposed to lock back up. They finally did, and we were able to release Sampson and Esmerelda for their turn out. They were more reluctnat, and they continue to be unsure, but we expect that in good time, they'll get used to it and enjoy it as much as the other two.
 

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A long awaited freedom

What an experience for you to be a part of that! It must have been wonderful.
What a shame there isn't enough space to let them all out at once.

seashell
 

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Wonderful story!! What a great experience you must be having at the refuge. We are all jealous!! :mrgreen:
 

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Re: A long awaited freedom

seashell said:
What an experience for you to be a part of that! It must have been wonderful.
What a shame there isn't enough space to let them all out at once.
It was wonderful :) I almost cried.

We have enough space... We're sitting on 450 acres, but we've only got 40 developed so far. Expansion depends solely on donations, so as soon as we have enough materials to build a new habitat, we're on it. We've gotten two done so far this year, and there's plenty of time before the summer's done for us (this specific internship group, that is) to get another one up, it's just that we don't have enough materials.

I hope we get some help soon, because the releases are amazing things, and I very much want to experience that again :)
 
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