What comes to your mind when you think of the lion? Yeah, King of the Jungle strikes us as a majestic, powerful and awe inspiring behemoth. And what about the tiger? Swift, charismatic, lethal, solitary. Both of them evoke contrasting emotions in all of us: Fear and jealousy. We are terrified by the fact that they can crush our neck by just a friendly pat. Yet at the same time we admire their beauty and their superiority to stake their place at the top of the food chain.
That was why it was so difficult for me to even think that they could be abused. The Exotic Feline rescue center in Indiana is a place where big cats are given a second chance to live! Seriously! I couldn’t believe that they could have such a predicament until I saw it for myself. I saw lions and tigers that were abused, abandoned and had nowhere to live out their lives. They had been left to die in filthy cages, rusted and abandoned circus carts without any sanitation, hygiene, food or water. They were kept as pets and walked on leashes by soul less men with king size egos. They had been traded in parking garages for just $300. They had been starved, tortured, physically deformed and had endured great suffering throughout their lives.
Man is a funny animal. One hurts and the other heals. Those at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center take extreme pains in discovering such abused and abandoned cats, rescue them, treat them for their illnesses and provide them a permanent habitat for living a peaceful life. It is not the jungle but it is an asylum where they can rest and lick their wounds of the past and recuperate and discover life. A second chance it is!
When I look at these majestic cats, I can still catch a glimpse of pride in a corner of their eyes. Declawed or not, they can still send a shiver down your spine with one glance. But there is also a longing in their eyes. The longing to rule the jungle again, to run wild and free, to hunt and to live life the way it was meant to be. They know that they will never be able to experience freedom as a wild cat would have. Have you ever thought how a painter would feel if he lost his eyes one day? The agony that he would not be able to see and reproduce the beauties of this world cannot be explained or expressed. And so is that longing in the eyes of these cats! They would continue to haunt me for a long time.
The people at the Rescue Center feel proud that they are able to bring some light into the lives of these abused cats. They deserve a lot of credit for putting their lives on the line and in spite of suffering losses they are still dedicated to giving these cats a place and a life to live. But there are still those who relish caging these animals, overpowering them, incapacitating them and rendering them unfit for their natural habitat just to feed their egos. Is that a matter of pride or is it something to be ashamed of? Well, it is certainly something to think about!