Student group CU Wild brings big cats into the classroom
Student organization CU Wild hosted a presentation by Big Cats of Serenity Springs Friday night on campus. Students and members of the community crammed into Chemistry 140 for a chance to view and photograph a 500-pound tiger, two leopard cubs and one black leopard.
The short presentation gave a brief history about the non-profit organization and its collection of cats. After the discussion, people were able to stand within inches of the cages. At one point, the anxious tiger reached between the bars of his cage and ripped the caretaker’s pants.
“I was convinced after tonight’s presentation to volunteer at the sanctuary,” said Rachel Shelley, a junior psychology major. “The animals were so stunning. It was almost hard to believe that I was standing next to a wild creature in the same room I took my sociology class in.”
Big Cats of Serenity Springs is based east of Colorado Springs and is home to more than 120 large cats. The group has an extensive variety of cats including, lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, ligers, servals, bobcats and lynxes.
Big Cats saves animals from euthanization after their display in zoos and rescues cats that have not been properly maintained by private owners. The sanctuary opened in 1993 and is the only facility in the state to be granted a Colorado zoological license.
The refuge is able to support its animals through various fundraising programs. It receives corporate donations, gives guided tours, conducts on- and off-site events and does commercial work for the movie industry.
CU Wild is a small group of students with a goal to educate the public about Colorado’s wildlife. They formed at the end of last semester and together they work on various service projects.
” We have a good group of workers, not a lot, just quality members,” said Niki Lecander, a sophomore business major and director of the program.
CU Wild often volunteers with Mission Wolf, a wolf sanctuary in south-central Colorado. They have done presentations with wolves in the past similar to Friday night’s performance.
The group looks forward to expanding its purpose and adding more events throughout the year.
“Tonight was awesome,” Lecander said. “We were all very surprised by the turnout, and we were blown away by how interested the audience was in it. These cats have been abused, and our purpose is to save wildlife. Hopefully our point was made.”