I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Animal Ark in the Desert

First day in the Plaza Resort hotel, on the eighteenth floor, over looking the Truckee River.
That's our room on the top floor, on the left. I took this picture from the river walk.

This is the view from the 18th floor, looking south.
My son and I ate breakfast and headed north to the Animal Ark. This is a wildlife sancturary that shelters animals who do not have the skills to survive in the wild.
Animal Ark keeps several types of North American predators ,as well as a few exotic species. Most of the animals are considered "disadvantaged", meaning they may be orphaned, permanently disabled, or they may be confiscated or unwanted exotoc pets. In many cases, the animals would have been euthanized if a home at Animal Ark had not been found.
We drove north on highway 395 to Red Rock Rd and then east for about 11 miles into the desert to Deerlodge Rd.
We saw the sign.
I had been here once before. The Prospector and I came one day a few years ago, when we were mostly the only ones there. This time, there were lots of people and two bus loads of school children... and more animals.
The hills were covered with wildflowers.
And, in the distance I saw a "dome" house. Haven't seen one in a while.
This is the desert. It's quiet, beautiful in its own way and really what you would call "the wide open spaces".
I'm falling in love with this land. It's stark and wild. I would love to live through a winter here.
We paid our fee and started walking. It was rather warm.
 The first animal was a beautiful Asian tiger. His name is Shere Khan.
 He didn't like all the commotion...
So he walked away and sat down under a tree in the back of the compound.

Next were the Mountain Lions, who weren't any more excited about seeing us than the tiger.
This one gave us a couple of good shots and then...
"You can go now."
We looked for the other one and finally found it lying in the rocks under an old log.
He never opened his eyes. She lifted herself up with a huge paw, turned over on her back...
 And went back to sleep.
It was just too warm for entertaining the humans.
You can read about Milagro and Daniel here:
The display at this observation platform had the skeletons of four different cats including a sabre tooth cat and I finally used the reflection of the glass (which was annoying for this photographer) to an advantage and took a photo of MYSELF AS A SABRA TOOTH CAT.
That's my son, on the left, with a little bobcat in his heart. I love the little scull.  Sometimes you have to go with the reflection and have some fun with it. Getting good shots through a window is very difficult because of the reflection, especially on a sunny day. I finally had Matt stand behind me on some shots so he could block the sun and the glare. It worked for the most part.  I thought this photo was fun. This is not the inner cat inside of me. I was a dog in my former life.

We saw a crazy badger who never stopped pacing around her compound. Her name is Beatrix.
I mean this little girl just ran, in circles, the whole time we were there. This is her story. This photo was caught with a fast camera speed. She was jumping from her house to the ground and I finally caught her clearly as she zoomed by.
Then we saw a raccoon, called Ringo,
Who was more interested in what was outside his fence than what was inside. He kept reaching through the fence and scratching the dirt for something. No one was around to ask. Bugs maybe?

Kaleb, a Canadian Lynx, was very interesting. A beautiful, dignified animal that never opened his eyes for us. I loved his profile.
He was in the zone and enjoying the warm weather.
There was something very ZEN about this animal.

The bobcats were both under a tree.They are Whiston and Piper. The came from private ownership which is never a good thing with wild animals.
One of them only lifted its head once and then went back to sleep. The other one ( top right) never stopped looking in one direction. He must have seen something beyond the fence. He never moved a muscle.

Then we came to the Black Bear's compound. They told us she had just eating and she was getting a little exercise. Well, this was fun to watch. She was playing tether ball, all by herself.
This is Gracie (a.k.a.- Booboo) She was having a good time... hitting the ball, grabbing it and swinging it around.
She could really snag that ball with those claws. No problem at all. 
 At some point she got tired playing in the heat and off she went...
to lie in the shade and rest from her activities. She was cute. She had a sweet face. But still... those are BIG claws.
I wouldn't want to win a game of Tether Ball with her and have her take offence.
We left BooBoo and moved on to a Barn Owl, which was back in a dark corner and I couldn't get a good photo through the enclosure.
But, the Desert Tortoise was out and about. His name is Peabody.
He was moving slowly from one place to another, as tortoises do. 
They are so prehistoric and interesting.

We saw a Jaguar that was moving around quite a bit but he was behind two fences and I didn't get very good shots of him. This was the best one.

I lifted my camera over the top of the first fence and hoped for the best. This is a most beautiful animal.
El Santo was donated to Animal Ark by Project Survival’s Cat Haven to help raise awareness of the plight of the jaguar. Originally, Santo was intended for another facility but they could not take him, so another home was sought. Project Survival is a non-profit organization that exists to support wild cat awareness, research, and conservation. The jaguar is the largest cat of the Americas.

TheCheetahs were nowhere to be seen and then someone said "Look!". They were down underneath the glass right below us. There, not a foot or two from us on the other side of the window, two of them were resting together. This was as close as I could get the camera to the window.
Please read about the Cheetahs, Zula and Shaka, here:

There was a Great Horned Owl and some birds that didn't get their photos taken because one of the docents came by in her little wagon and said that the White Tiger was going to be fed and would we like a ride back to the tiger compound to see the event. We said "Yes!" and climbed aboard.

The keeper brought the food out into the main compound and set it up on a platform. A bird tried to snag a bite before the Tiger was released. He did get a piece of ground beef, but flew away quickly.

Kahn is a White Bengal Tiger. (Please read his story here:
http://www.animalark.org/animals_felines-white-tiger.html )
This is the most beautiful and powerful animal I have ever seen. I was overwhelmed.

Kahn loped out there on his massive paws and looked like a cat on a mission.

 He obviously knew the routine. He didn't stop to look in any direction other than that platform and the metal bowl on top of it.
He made one huge jump up and landed next to the bowl.

Got his balance.

And started eating.

The bird wasn't even waiting on the sidelines for leftovers. It was gone.

It was so interesting to watch this Tiger eat the chicken. Those powerful jaws were made for eating raw meat.

That chicken was devoured within a few minutes and then he went back to the bowl for dessert, finishing off the beef.

This animal was the most amazing of all. His majestic stature, his regal attitude and the chance to see such an awesome animal was truly the highlight of the day. I mean, how often do you see a White Bengal Tiger in the American West? Yes... I was walking on air.
The woman next to me said "Oh, I wish I could just go in there and touch that animal." We all laughed and so did she, but I kind of understood what she meant. 

We walked back to the gift shop where I bought a baseball hat with the Animal Art Logo on it and a couple of things for the Beans (my grandchildren).
We drove back out to the main road and I got a better photo of that "dome" home.
What a cool place to live.

We drove back to the highway and south to Reno. Clouds were moving in.
We had lunch and stopped at Sheel's, a sporting goods store, that has a Farris wheel INSIDE the store. It's an amazing place. You can spend hours there. I bought a pair of Keen open sandal type shoes that are good walking shoes with lots of support. Not only were they on sale but I got 20% off of the sale price. Now that's a deal.
Then we went back to the hotel, took a nap, cleaned up and walked to dinner.
A place called Campo's on the River Walk. Wonderful food. All local and organic.
The River was beautiful. There were lots of people walking around.
It was windy, but very mild. A very pleasant evening.
We decided to do some gambling. We didn't do very well. You have to cut your losses and leave when you're not winning. It was Tuesday night and my luck was not about winning jackpots... so I got kind of cranky. When I start talking to the machines, it's time to go home. I found my son and said I wanted to go back to the hotel. He wasn't doing that well either, but he asked me to play the pennies machines for a while. That didn't work either. So we finally left.
As we walked back, I took a picture of the famous Reno Arch.
 I loved seeing this gaudy, and sometimes seedy, town at night. It still has an element of excitement for me that it did when I was a child.
I needed to get some sleep because Wednesday we planned on driving over Mt. Rose to Lake Tahoe.


  1. smiles...how cool...i love the great cats.....we just went to the zoo on friday as a family...was a great getaway to get us through the last couple weeks of school....love the riverwalk as well....

  2. What a great post. The animals and the environment were just beautiful. I am so glad you shared this adventure with us. Have a blessed day. Madeline

    P.S. all your photos were great.

  3. Loved the tour of Animal Ark. What a great project -- to protect and give a home to these animals. It warms my heart. You captured some very nice photos of the animals.

    Hey, I know you'll love wearing the Keens...they are absolutely my favorite shoe. I have some for every season now. I bought Keen boots this winter and LOVE them.

    Fun post!! Thanks for the tour!

  4. Fabulous pictures of the animals, especially Khan. What a gorgeous creature! I love to gamble. I tell myself its one of my last real vices. My son lives in Las Vegas so we go there quite a bit. He's taught me to play the video poker games which seem more forgiving than other sorts of slots. Looks like a nice trip!

  5. I always enjoy a good breakfast before a road trip. Thank you for taking us on that adventure to Animal Ark it was so interesting , your photos and decriptions had me right there with you . The animals all looked so healthy an well cared for, which is nice under the circumstanes of their captivity.
    Campo's you had a me wanting to peek at the menu souns organically pleasing ! Reno sounded like a gamble as to how long I would enjoy it ;)

  6. Neat place! Great post and pics :-).


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