The Day in the Life of Kazuma
My name is Kazuma, I did not always have the life you see me enjoying now. I was one of the first big cats in the country of Guatemala to be confiscated from a roadside circus and relocated to a preserve called Tigers For Tomorrow at Untamed Mountain, in the United States.
For many years I spent the majority of my life in small cage that was welded into the back of a pickup truck bed. The circus that I worked for would set up to tents that housed some llamas and ostrich, then next to it I sat in my cage all day, watching people run up and try to poke me, laugh at me, and often times I didn’t have water available or the proper food.
I knew there were people that were trying to help me to get out of the situation, but I never believed they be able to do anything. Then one day my friends from the Aurora’s Zoo showed up and fought for my freedom. I’m not quite sure what happened but when I woke up all my surroundings were different, my life had changed. I was getting to eat every day at the Aurora Zoo, had a nice area to explore and water available all the time. I had a great Keeper named Kazuma, who took good care of me. I knew this was not my forever home and was worried about my future, until a group of rescuers showed up with the big shiny box. I wasn’t sure what they were going to do with it, until the big guy started being silly and wanting me to play. I fell for his kind ways and began interacting with him and before I knew it he coaxed me into what they call a transport crate and closed the door. I sat through that night in the big box, it was ok, I was used to small areas and my keeper sat with me all night. The next morning early I was transported to the airport and after a long flight on an airplane, and a short trip driving I arrived at my new forever home, Tigers for tomorrow at Untamed Mountain.
Life here is pretty cool for a lion, where they built my enclosure I get to watch the sunrise every morning. I like to roar out to the other lions and tell them that our day has begun. A little while later one of our keepers comes by to do security check on the entire preserve. They say good morning to me every day. This time a year is very warm out so first thing in the morning my fan gets turned on. I am very special and one of the only animals against my own fan in the summer and a heating blanket in my den box in the winter.
Next I Wait and listen to the diesel of the Kubota to start, this means my keepers are on the way with a truck -full of meat. There are many of us that live here I hear that we go through about 900 pounds of meat a day. I like that I get to eat first. Not only do I get to eat first but when my keeper Sandy greets me in the morning we have a game that we play every day. I race her to my holding area, an area in which I’ve been conditioned to go into so that my enclosure can be cleaned and by water to be cleaned filled, and a bucket of meat to be put on my feed rock. I like the words that she says every day, it’s kind of like a song- one for the money two for the show three to get ready, and sometimes I just go, instead of waiting for the end the song. I can’t help it I get so excited that I’m going to eat.
Once housekeeping has finished moving my toys around to make them look enticing, moving any of my waste, and making sure that my den box and jungle gym or clean, my chef enters my enclosure dumps my food and my big feed rock. My feed rock is about 2 ½ feet long about 10 inches high, it makes it easier for me to eat when I don’t have to bend down all the time. When I first got here to Tigers for tomorrow at untamed mountain by what legs were very unsteady, I was not very strong since the muscles of my legs had atrophied from being in a small space for so long. Wilbur and Sue immediately started me on good vitamins and supplements to make me strong. Wilbur hand fed me every day for the first three months, he would put the sweet jelly stuff inside my meat, he said it would make me strong, so I agreed eat it. My jungle gym is built on two different levels but each level is low to the ground, in order to get back in shape make my legs start working as they should Wilbur Sue would walk me around my enclosure that make me get up and down on my jungle gym every day. Now I’m so strong that I could run across the enclosure and jump on the jungle gym if I wanted. My mane was also a big mess, so every day for a short time my people would work on cutting the matts off my mane through the gate, little by little I started looking GREAT!
There are other lions that live here in the preserve, each of us have our own area to look over. I live in a very special area, I live close to the commissary and across I from the black leopard Benny. He was the first animal at Tigers for tomorrow rescued and he gets a lot of respect and love. I like to roar out multiple times to the day and tell all of the other lions what is going on. I have multiple toys in my home that I played with, what is a big plastic red egg, and I have a blue barrel I like to bite on. When I first got here is new toys were frightening I do know what to do with them. Then I figured out quickly if I started batting the toys around, and throwing toys in the air, people at all come to watch me play. I’ve been here for years now, and it still works! I play with a toy or toss a plastic egg around and all the keepers, come over to watch and clap and cheer me on. On fast days, I like that we get some beef bones to chew on. I like to show off in front of people, especially when Sue was around. She is the person that did all the paper work to help me get to the preserve. I have a new game that I like to play with her now that I feel better and I’m healthy. I like to hunt and stalk her. Make myself look very big, and then I run at her and jump at the fence. I like to pretend that I am going to get her. It’s like hunting a small rabbit, I run up to where ever she is and jump up and down and hit my tail on the ground. It’s pretty funny I don’t know why she takes it so personnel? I am just acting like a lion…….that’s what I like around here, I am allowed to be who I am.
A few days a week quiet, and all the other animals like it that way gives us some time to rest. Sometimes a school group will come through with a lot of little ones. Our preserve teacher will always stop at my enclosure, and talk about my past and how important it is to get animals their dignity and respect. They always talk about how brave I was, and how I made a long plane trip to get to my new home. Where the most important things they talk about the animals always forget the wrongdoings that human beings inflict on them. They say that my happiness and playfulness is proof of my big heart and love that I still have life.
I always know when it’s the weekend, everyone scurries around and gets ready to open to the public. The next few hours people come pass my home and stop looking at me, they read my sign about my story and of course admire how handsome I am. I like to lay upside down on my jungle gym, visitors think that’s funny they say I’ve got the life. If they only knew what I went through to get here. My job here is to be an ambassador of my species, as there is not very many of us left in the wild anymore. When Wilbur gives his tours he talks about how there could be less than 20,000 lions left in the wild. It’s important for people to understand wild animals, and who we are not what we are so I don’t mind being an ambassador of my species, lions need a lot of help these days getting the word out that our future in the wild is in jeopardy.
At the end of everyday night checks are completed, the keepers say goodnight to us and the preserve belongs to the animals. Dusk is a great time for us lions to communicate about the doings of the day, and then we all settle in for a night of relaxation.. Life is good