Take a walk on the wild side at the Big Cat Habitat.
By Kay Kipling
I usually use this space to write about the plays I’m seeing, but in Sarasota, the circus capital, every one in a while I take a walk on the wild side—wild being the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary the Rosaire family (long, longtime circus performers) runs out east of I-75.
The Habitat is home to a number of animals, from tigers and lions to bears and chimps, that the Rosaires adopted when their original owners could no longer care for them. All of the animals have grown up in captivity; none were taken from the wild, and at the Rosaire compound they’re given lots of love, meat and the occasional chance to perform.
I got a sneak peek at what some of the animals can do on a recent visit to the Habitat/Sanctuary. You can get the full show with the Animal Extravaganza, an educational show and fund raiser under the Big Top on the property. Performance dates are Feb. 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28 and March 6 and 7, with shows on the Saturdays at 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 1:30 p.m. only. Camel rides, pony rides, elephant rides and a petting zoo are included, too.
You can buy tickets in advance online at www.BigCatHabitat.org. The Rosaire property is located at 7101 Palmer Blvd, one mile east of the interstate; you can take either Bee Ridge or Fruitville to get to Palmer, and the Habitat is just past all the current work being done on the Celery Fields project. Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite.
All photos by Ian Dean.
New baby chimp Chance with mom Pamela Rosaire-Zoppe.
Chester the pig pushes a baby carriage.
Big cats at work.
And taking it easy.
A bit of a stretch.