Cat Tales Wildlife Center turns 30

Michael Brock

Shareyah Crandell observed Tigger the Bengal tiger a couple months ago when Cat Tales Wildlife Center in Mead reopened for general admission visitations.

As the first guests strolled in after a year of only offering private tours, Crandell — keeper in charge — said Tigger glanced at her for approval, then went up to the fence and started chuffing at the visitors.

“Chuffing is a tiger’s happy sound because they can’t purr,” Crandell said. “A lot of people like Tigger because he’s so friendly and he’s the first face you see.”

In the first few months of 2020, Cat Tales closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions. Face coverings for zookeepers were soon mandated by the USDA after several lions and tigers tested positive for the virus at the Bronx Zoo.

“We started wearing our masks and we were very cautious around the animals at the beginning because they had never seen us like that,” said Crandell. “As the time progressed, they obviously got very used to it.”

During the shutdown, private tours were offered to small groups of people who had quarantined together. The crew also worked on several projects, including rebuilding and expanding areas of the center.

Cat Tales currently houses around 40 animals, including a white tiger, two bears, four Siberian tigers, an African lioness, two Bengal tigers, four pumas, a serval, seven bobcats and two lynx, along with a number of wolves, foxes and coyotes.

Masks are still required for guests and zookeepers, and visitors must wear gloves when feeding an animal during a paid adventure. Timed ticket spots can be purchased online or by calling ahead to attend Cat Tales during business hours, Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Read the full story in the May 12, 2021 edition of the Deer Park Tribune.

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