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FELINE CENTER A BREED APART; SITE SAVES CATS FROM EXTINCTION.



Byline: Romy Jacobson Daily News Staff Writer

Katia snuggles close to her mother, Aijka, like any youngster.

Katia is an 8-1/2-month-old Amur leopard The Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis or Panthera pardus amurensis) is the rarest subspecies of leopard, and the rarest cat on Earth. . A species of leopard that lives in the northernmost climate, they are facing extinction, as there are less than forty , of which less than 100 remain in the wild.

She is one of 13 cubs from five feline species and subspecies subspecies, also called race, a genetically distinct geographical subunit of a species. See also classification.  born last year at the Feline Conservation Center's Exotic Feline Breeding Compound, founded more than 20 years ago as a private wild feline breeding and reproductive research facility dedicated to preserving endangered species endangered species, any plant or animal species whose ability to survive and reproduce has been jeopardized by human activities. In 1999 the U.S. government, in accordance with the U.S. .

``These cats are here for breeding to keep their species from becoming extinct,'' said Sandy Masek, general manager. ``We work with zoos all over the world.''

Offering up-close views of magnificent rare cats, the nonprofit center houses 65 wild cats representing 16 species: from the small Gordon's wildcat, the ancestor to the domestic cats of today, the fishing cat, a south Asian species with partially webbed front paws, to leopards, jaguars and tigers.

Located on more than 24 acres near the defunct Tropico Gold Mine west of Rosamond, the center takes in felines from zoos as far away as Germany and Russia for breeding, mostly matched through a computer database.

When they arrive at the center, the prospective mates are introduced gradually: for the first few weeks they spend time in adjacent cages, then they're put in a cage together.

The resulting births are monitored through cameras in the cages, and usually occur 68 to 120 days later, depending on the breed. Some of the cubs in the litter remain at the center, others go back to the zoos where their parents live, or to other animal facilities.

If the mother rejects her litter or is not lactating lac·tate 1  
intr.v. lac·tat·ed, lac·tat·ing, lac·tates
To secrete or produce milk.



[Latin lact
 enough, the staff will take over: bottle-feeding the infants baby formula. If they are too small to feed, they are tube-fed until they are able to be fed through the bottle.

Masek has the job of feeding the rejected infants, and they remember her. Taking visitors on a tour last week through the compound, talking about each of the felines as she passes their cages, Masek drew the attention of Masha, a 10-month-old Amur leopard.

Bigger than a German shepherd German shepherd, breed of large, muscular working dog perfected in Germany at the turn of the 20th cent. It stands about 25 in. (64 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 60 to 85 lb (27.2–38.5 kg). , the leopard walked to the fence separating her from Masek. Masek put her fingers through the fence, and the leopard licked them, purring purring

a physiologically very complicated, semi-automatic, cyclic, controlled respiration involving alternating activity of the diaphragm and intrinsic laryngeal muscles in cats. The frequency of the alternation is about 25 times per second.
.

The center opened to visits from the public in 1983. People can take escorted tours Escorted tours are a form of tourism in which travelers are escorted in a group to various destinations, verses a self-guided tour where the tourist is on their own. Escorted tours are normally conducted by a tour director who takes care of all services from the beginning to end  from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except Wednesdays. There is no admission fee.

The public can get a special look during the center's upcoming Spring Twilight Tour, which will let visitors see the cats at their favorite time of day - dusk.

The Twilight Tour will start at 5:30 p.m. April 25. Tickets are $15 per person and visitors for the event must be over 18 years of age.

The nonprofit center depends on donations and fund-raising events like its tour. The benefit will include a bake sale “Bake Sale” redirects here. For the episode from the TV show 8 Simple Rules, see List of 8 Simple Rules episodes.

A bake sale is a fundraising activity where baked goods such as doughnuts, cupcakes and cookies, sometimes along with ethnic foods, are sold.
 by the center's chapter of the American Association American Association refers to one of the following professional baseball leagues:
  • American Association (19th century), active from 1882 to 1891.
  • American Association (20th century), active from 1902 to 1962 and 1969 to 1997.
 of Zookeepers, a raffle, and photo opportunities with Peaches, a 19-year-old ocelot ocelot (äs`əlŏt', ō`sə–), medium-sized cat, Felis pardalis, of Central and South America. It is occasionally found as far N as Texas. The ocelot has a yellow-brown coat with black spots, rings, and stripes. .

Currently, the center is trying to raise funds for a new tiger exhibit called, ``Project Tiger: Evolution to Extinction.''

The exhibit will consist of two 50-foot by 50-foot cages with swimming pools, trees and landscaping for the compound's four tigers, Siberians named Natasha, Max and Tedi Bear, and a Bengal named Jasmine.

Signs along a trail leading to the exhibit will show which subspecies are extinct and the status of the remaining subspecies.

For more information, call the center at (805) 256-3793, or visit their Web site at http://www.cathouse-fcc.org/.

CAPTION(S):

4 Photos

PHOTO (1--Color) no caption (A tiger)

(2--Color) Sandy Masek, general manager of the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound in Rosamond introduces visitors to Masha, an Amur leopard.

(3-4--Color) Hobbes, a clouded leopard clouded leopard

see clouded leopard.
, and Meesha, right, a black Asian leopard; are two of the center's rare cats.

Jeff Goldwater/Daily News
COPYRIGHT 1998 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 7, 1998
Words:651
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