JSU Field School Campers Visit Exotic Animal Park and Rescue Preserve
Reprinted here in its entirety.
The Cat's Meow
By Lisa Rogers
The Gadsden Times
McCauley playfully interacts with a tiger Thursday, one of 18 at Tigers for
Tomorrow. Photo: GADSDEN TIMES | ERIC T. WRIGHT|
Tigers for Tomorrow Raising Funds, Roofs to House Exotic
COLLINSVILLE - Lion and tiger cubs look cuddly when they are little, but they
grow up. "They look cute at first, but then they grow and they can overrun your
family home," said 12-year-old Nick Meadows, who visited this week Tigers for
Tomorrow at Untamed Mountain as a camper with the Jacksonville State University
Field School.Untamed Mountain is at 708 DeKalb County Road 345, just off Duck
That's some of the information Meadows and others learned
at Tigers for Tomorrow, a non-profit exotic animal park and rescue preserve home
to more than 100 animals.
The cost of cubs and other wild animals has
become less expensive and the animals have become more easily accessible through
the Internet, said Susan Steffens McCauley of Tigers for Tomorrow. McCauley and
her husband, Wilbur, relocated Tigers for Tomorrow from Florida to the former
Bluegrass Farm Sanctuary. The 140-acre park is in DeKalb County near the border
with Etowah County.
"Big cats are being overbred, which enabled the price
to drop and enabled them to fall into the hands of the public," Susan McCauley
Many people who have gotten them do not understand the
responsibility of big cats, she said.
"We wanted to provide the last stop
for animals," she said.
Many of the tigers and lions at Tigers for
Tomorrow have been obtained from smaller, for-profit roadside zoos and from
individuals who could not properly take care of them.
The preserve is
open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission
is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for children 3 to 12.
such as the JSU Field School campers were able to get a tour and see the animals
as Susan and Wilbur interacted with Furry, the 2-year-old African lion, and
Kal-el, the 11-week-old African lion cub.
The group of 10- to
12-year-olds from the JSU camp also visited Little River Canyon and Global
Village at Lineville.
Renee Morrison, the assistant director of the JSU
Field School camp, said it's important for the campers to understand the mission
of Tigers for Tomorrow.
"It's one thing to visit a zoo or watch the
Discovery Channel, but here the kids can hear the personal stories of how these
animals were rescued," Morrison said.
Morrison said Tigers for Tomorrow
is working with JSU to establish an internship in which a student can get class
credit and have some practical experience.
It is practical experience
that has brought the McCauleys to where they are now.
Wilbur has worked
at Wildlife Way Station and Out of Africa Wildlife Park, facilities similar to
Tigers for Tomorrow. Susan worked in Florida and originally developed Tigers for
"We've been lucky enough to gain experience where we both
either volunteered or worked," she said.
The couple live at the preserve
but don't view the work as a job.
"It's not a job or a career, but a
lifestyle," she said.
Tigers for Tomorrow relocated to Northeast Alabama
last year after the facility in Florida was extensively damaged from a tornado
and three hurricanes in just more than a year.
It's obvious that Wilbur
and Susan are comfortable with the animals, yet they don't let down their
For the JSU group, they were in the fenced area with Furry, an
African lion. "Furry is my friend," Wilbur told them after he gingerly walked
into a double-gated fenced area. "Do you know how I know? I'm still here talking
But Furry is not a pet, Wilbur told them. He's a wild
As Wilbur prepared to ease out of the fence, he asked the campers
if anyone had questions.
"Does Furry know any tricks?" one camper
"We do not train animals here," Wilbur explained.
animals at Tigers for Tomorrow are wild.
"You can't tame it," Wilbur said
of Furry. "They are wild by nature, and their wild instincts are still
The preserve now has the lion cub Kal-el because too many cubs
were born at the same time at a wildlife entertainment facility in
Susan brought Kal-el out on a leash for the campers to get a
closer look. She fed him a bottle of zoological formula made for big cats. Even
though he is small and cute now, he will grow to between 500 and 600
For a limited time, groups of one to five people can make an
appointment for an interaction with Kal-el. The cost is $250, and the money
raised will help with operating expenses at the park.
Kal-el will be at
Tigers for Tomorrow for the rest of his life, along with all the other animals
that have been rescued.
Rescued animals include those once used for
education or side shows or those who had private owners and were
Wilbur said he goes anywhere he is called to rescue an
animal as long as the preserve can raise the money to house the
"We won't do a rescue unless we know we can house them," he
All the fencing at the facility meets the United State Department
of Agriculture regulations, he said.
The preserve has two paid employees
and uses several volunteers, Wilbur said.
Volunteers do things such as
work in housing areas.
"It's hard work," Wilbur said. "It's not playing
with the animals."
A grant paid for a commissary where the food for the
animals is mixed and stored, but donations are necessary for the funding of the
remainder of the preserve, such as housing for additional animals.
the next projects is a pavilion to be used for groups such as the JSU Field
School campers for crafts and educational classes. Now the groups meet on a
picnic table underneath a tree. A building day for the pavilion is set for
Anyone who would like to help build the pavilion or provide
funding can contact the McCauleys at email@example.com or call
See story at the Gadsden Times Web site.
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