Feb 27, 200604:22 PMThe Life
The Magic Jungle
Feb 27, 2006 - 04:22 PMYesterday I walked a leopard (of course, it was on a leash). I also kissed the leopard, as well as two tigers, whom I sprayed with a water hose (they love it!). This was all part of my visit to the Magic Jungle Foundation Preserve near Johnson Valley, where Kele Younger provides a loving home (and I do mean loving) to large cats who have been rescued from less than ideal situations. For example, the 15-month-old tigers, sisters Sasha and Mischa, had previously been in a West Virginia zoo that was hit by a hurricane. They are the newest members of Kele’s family, which also includes two golden Asian leopards (brother and sister) and a black leopard. Kele is building not only a home for herself on a vast expanse of high desert land, but also for these cats and others. The pens are large, and Kele spends a lot of time with the cats every day. They are allowed outside the pens, within a larger fenced area, on a daily basis. We went into a larger-still fenced area when we took the leopards on their walk/occasional run. I stayed through lunch (not ours, but theirs), during which I saw Kele dole out two buckets full of raw chicken. As you can imagine, feeding large cats can eat up a lot of money. On top of that are veterinary bills and creating habitats (shading for one pen alone costs about $2,000) and play room (Kele’s plans include two “swimming pools” for the tigers). You can help. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio hosts a fundraiser for the Magic Jungle Foundation on March 18. The event begins at 7 p.m. with a cocktail reception, followed by swing music from the nine-member (appropriately named) Phat Cat Swinger at 8 p.m. Kele will be there with one of the tigers. Tickets are $75 (tax deductible) and can be purchased by calling 342-5000.
--Janice Kleinschmidt, Deputy Editor