Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Octagon - Exotic Animal Sanctuary (not the Mixed Martial Arts kind) - 10/6/12 - Post 1

I seem to have fallen off the face of the internet for the past few months.  There's nothing like an insanely busy Etsy season on top of a 10-hour-a-day day job.

But I'm on break now, so I can go back to editing the seemingly billions of shots I've had waiting around since at least last October.  So with no further ado...

The Octagon!  

The Octagon in Punta Gorda, Florida has nothing to do with MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).  They're an amazing Exotic Animal rescue.  They take in animals that your typical shelter can't handle... you know... lions, tigers, bears, monkeys,  lemurs and the like.  Most of these animals come from private zoos or individual owners who either discover that these large and typically wild animals can't be controlled as pets any more or who lose them when the state wildlife or law enforcement agencies discover that people who shouldn't have these animals do.

They take in animals who have been abused, starved and otherwise mistreated.  They are a no-kill, long-term operation where animals are cared for and given medical treatment and kept in a humane environment where their well-being is the primary concern.

To that end, they are less concerned with how well a certain enclosure allows for photographs.  They have visitors come to see the animals as a way to generate revenue, but they really aren't a *zoo*, so to speak.

I know exactly what they mean, but I get this mental image of some kids trying to break out the Scrabble board and get the lemurs to take a turn.  I think they'd spell "We Are Not Monkeys".

 So they warn you in many places that these are not domesticated animals.  They are not pets.  Do not try to touch or feed them.  And in case you missed it... YOU COULD LOSE A FINGER!

Speaking of lemurs...  

Like I said, this place isn't set up to be a Brookfield or Lowry Zoo.  The enclosures are for the safety and comfort of the animals.  Not photographers.  So I don't have a lot of pictures of the actual animals worth sharing.  It was incredibly hot the day I was there, so most of them were hiding in shade boxes or just sleeping somewhere in their space.  This lemur was interested in what was going on around him, but he was pretty much the only critter who was.

There's something just amazing about a tiger's eyes, isn't there?  This is Rajee.  She was abused by her former owner - hit with a garden hose.  Needless to say, she's not too keen on people now.  After hearing about someone doing something like that to an animal that depends on them, I'm not too keen on some people either. 

So this guy had no interest in people, but I had to get a picture of his coat.  I've never seen a tiger with anything other than black stripes.  I've seen white with black Siberian and orange with black Amur tigers, but this was very new to me.  How beautiful!

One of the things I found kind of funny about this trip was the amount of uncontained wildlife I was able to shoot there.  So in my next post I'll have dragonflies, a snake, some anoles and a few others that weren't *kept* there, but seemed to really like hanging out with the permanent residents!

And if you have a few extra bucks laying around (and if you're in the US and still looking to make a charitable donation for your 2012 taxes), the Octagon has a donation link on their website.  Please think of helping them out with this incredible mission they've undertaken.

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