A Taste of the Jungle in Central PA

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The address
at this facility might be Central Pennsylvania, but its residents are
international. T&D's Cats of the World, in Penns Creek, Pa. A family run,
non-profit wildlife refuge.

“If
they're walking along the fence like he is, you can be within five feet of
them,” said Jennifer Mattive Beaver, pointing to the Bengal tiger Ozzie.
“So, you can really get a sense of how large they really can be.”

Ozzie is
just one of more than 300 unwanted or abused animals and birds enjoying a
permanent home at this Snyder county wildlife rescue, located on 35 acres of
natural enclosures, secured by fencing, surrounded by love.

“Taking
care of animals every day, it's just what we do,” said Beaver. “It's
something that we've always done. And, it's not, I don't think it's hard. It's
just there is not enough time.”

For the
Mattive family, the animals are family. It involves a never-ending commitment
to animals abandoned by private owners, transferred from closing zoos or taken
from illegal habitats.

Owner Terry
Mattive notes that there is no down time with such a large collection of
wildlife. “This is 24-7 because we are here 7 days a week. 24 hours a day,
” said Mattive. “If I'm not running errands, I'm working on a pen. My
son is always here. My daughter is here.”

The refuge
receives no government funding, relying on private donations, sponsorships and
admission fees to help defray operating expenses.

Daughter
Jennifer said keeping all the different kinds of animals and birds fed is an
on-going effort. “The biggest challenge is probably food for the cats
because they eat about 12-thousand pounds of meat a month,” she said.

Although the
refuge is a family operation, it was dad Terry's dream as a kid. It was
something the retired Pennsylvania State Trooper says started out small, but
continued to grow.

“Never
in my wildest dream would I think that 28 years later I'd have 300 something
exotic animals,” said Mattive.

During a
typical tour of the refuge, visitors are pretty much guaranteed a few “i
didn't know that” moments.

“If a
cat can purr, it can't roar. And, if it roars, it cannot purr,” Jennifer
Beaver noted as we stopped in the facility's Cat Country.

And, Penn
State fans might be surprised to know that real Nittany lions, such as the one
living at T&D's, are not blue and white!

T&D's
Cats of the World is open to the public from May through September. Admission
$10 adults. $5 children (3-12)

All fees go
right back into food for the animals. More info at: www.tdscats.com 570-837-3377

 

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