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Halloween Safari


Email: You are invited to attended a party this holiday with the Tigers, Lions, and Panthers here at Shambala.

It has been 1.5 years since I visited the sanctuary. Walking through brush, on dirt paths that wind around like a maze surrounding nearly a 100 cages of large cats.

Located just one hour north of Los Angeles Shambala is like going to Africa for a day.  No, more than that, it is like getting lost in the primal side of life that we have long forgotten in our modern living. We are so removed from the natural world in our daily lives. Some of us are more conscious of this and make it a point to get back into nature but it is usually only the fluffy side, the side we will allow in cities and suburbia. The side that is safe and comforting. It’s fitting to be here on Halloween though, a time when we flirt with death and our power over it.

And here at Shambala.org you are immediately aware of the danger that surrounds you.

You can see how wonderful the cats are, how beautiful and majestic, even playful they can be. But underneath it all lurks primal instinct, power. It is scary and intoxicating to come so close to such predators – it is exhilarating.  This is probably the reason why so many people try to breed these creatures or buy them as pets. They want to feel the powerful of owning and controlling such animals until they realize what a grave mistake that is.

There is a deep respect in the air for this part of life, of nature. Yet there is no emotion about it. A tiger doesn’t get ‘mad’ at you and decide to kill you, no, he acts out of survival and instinct, nothing more, nothing less. If he’s well fed, hot, and tired you could probably walk near him, without a cage between you, and not worry too much.

Big Cats here remind you of your place in the food chain, of the closeness of death.

We all try to feel immortal, ignoring any conversation relating to the end of life that we all face, but here you can’t quite do that, it is ever present. Much like we celebrate Halloween flirting with death and ghosts to give us a sense of power over it, this place allows us to come into contact with that part of circle of life from a safe distance.

At the same time there is a deep message here at Shambala, and that is that our way of life is endangering these cats. They are here, needing our funding and resources in order to survive. And no matter how much we give, they will never be free to roam as they would like. All we can do is help them fit in with the world we have created.

Cue: the calypso band and huge buffet table. Time to sit and eat.

 

By Victoria Schmidt, a contributing blogger for JenningsWire


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