23/09/2014

Early Birthday Celebrations | Big Cat Experience

I am a dog person. That is, until it comes to big cats. It's no secret within my family that tigers are my favourite animal in the world, and as a child I had countless tiger teddies, huge ones, tiny ones, you name it - I had it. My birthday isn't until tomorrow, but yesterday my dad surprised me with a 'big cat experience' as part of my present! 

This is what I looked like before I left in the obligatory 'mirror selfie x3'.
I spent forever that morning trying to sort out my winged liner - we weren't the best of buddies to say the least. On my lips is e.l.f's mineral lipstick in 'Runway Pink', my watch is Michael Kors, and I'm wearing an Urban Outfitters Vintage Renewal military jacket (a £4.99 eBay purchase, might I add. Bargain alert).

We trekked for around an hour down the M25 before arriving at Paradise Wildlife Park, and were greeted with juice and biscuits in the Discovery Centre before meeting our lovely tour guide, Ian. Our little group, armed with phones and cameras, followed him out  into Big Cat Territory and onto the 'Catwalk' to meet the while lions! 

Ian seemed to know everything there is to know about these gorgeous animals, and had brought the male up since birth which was so cute! They were so lovely and calm, two of the girls were mother and daughter, and all the male wanted to do was protect his girls. The sound of Ian's little microphone kept setting the big guy off, which meant we got to hear him roar - the most amazing thing I've ever seen.

Next we moved onto the Cheetah, who was so shy that Ian had to pretend he had food so she'd come out! These are the only glimpses I managed to catch of her before she crept off further into the enclosure, but I must say that cheetahs are a lot smaller than I thought they were considering they can hit speeds of 70MPH (this was genuinely caught by researchers with a police speed gun out in the wild, woah!). Nevertheless she was so slender and gorgeous, and even had a little greyhound-type track around the edge of the enclosure that she goes for runs around every morning! I wish I had that type of motivation...

 The wildlife park had a male and a female snow leopard, who were both absolutely stunning. Their tails are really long and so fluffy, apparently when they sleep they wrap their tails around each other and use them as pillows! It was crazy to learn that before zoos, it took a researcher 5 years just to take his first photo of a snow leopard, they're that sneaky and elusive!  

The highlight of the day had to be by far going back to the enclosure later on, where I literally sat face-to-face with the male. The photos came out kind of weird because of the reflection of the glass, but I sat for ages nose-to-nose with this beautiful creature and it made my day. 

Next we moved onto the Jaguar, who after having a little sleep, went around the corner and started playing with his ball for all of us to see. No lie, this guy was by far the scariest of all the big cats - our guide mentioned that jaguars are the only big cats that will pounce from above and quite literally crush the skull and spine of their prey to kill it. Their jaws are a hell of a lot more powerful than any lion or tiger, and I definitely wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of one! 

Finally, onto my babies, the Tigers!!! There were two girls and one male called Rocky, who  just like a pet, knew his name when Ian called him! Awwwwww! The two girls were very shy and didn't really come out, but Rocky sat proudly on the top of his enclosure and had a proper pose for us all. We proceeded to have lunch in a cafe with a glass wall right next to their enclosure, which was crazy! I just wanted to take Rocky home with me, he was so gorgeous. 

After our tour was over, I went to seek out the White Tiger and found him in all his glory, rolling around in the grass having a great time. He was HUGE, and being able to walk around the edge of the enclosure right next to him, separated by just a fence was such an amazing experience. We also found out that he'd come to you if you rattled your keys - I think he thought we had food to give him!

I apologise for the picture heavy post, but these big cats were toooooo gorgeous not to show you! I had such an amazing time and learned so much form Ian and his wealth of knowledge about my favourite wild animals. Best. Birthday. Present. Ever. Are you a fan of big cats?



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