Andy and I had the privilege of attending a photographic day and had the big cats all to ourselves! Since we were a party of two, the keeper granted us special access to the animals. While Andy took hundreds of intimate photographs, I was free to simply enjoy the cats.
This tiger was particularly friendly with me. He enjoyed having his back stroked.
Tigers make a Pfffffffft sound when they like you. It is a form of greeting they use with other tigers. If a tiger says that to you, you are accepted as a friend.
Tiny, the lion, was a real softy. Bottle fed as a cub, he loves humans and having his ears and mane stroked. But make no mistake, these are not pets. We were constantly warned by the keepers that these big cats are still wild animals.
This Snow Leopard was very affectionate with our guide but terrifyingly aggressive with other keepers.
We were warned not to turn our backs on this puma, Valentina. Even the keepers are cautious of her. But the cats that keepers fear most....are most wary of... is the tiny, little Pallas' Cat!
Pallas' Cats are about the size of a house cat and don't look much different. They are fast, brave and totally unpredictable! I LOVE them! It's like my mom used to tell me, it's the little ones you have to watch out for!
Thanks to Andy for the use of his fantastic photos. This post was composed with a special young Zoologist in mind, Jessica!