The Feline Conservation Center helps big cats survive and thrive.
Since life began, countless species have come and gone due to changing physical and biological conditions. Although extinction occurs naturally, the decline of many animals has accelerated due to loss of habitat, environmental pollution and human intervention. In the early 1970s, before Congress passed the Endangered Species Act and when selling exotic animals was still legal, Joe Maynard spied an advertisement touting a leopard cub for sale. He purchased the cub and began researching proper care for the animal. Learning that many zoos were importing wild-born cats that were not adjusting well to life in, Maynard was compelled to make a difference. His goal: to breed and raise captive-born animals in a stress-free environment. Thus, the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound's Feline Conservation Center (EFBC/FCC) was born.
Affectionately known as The Cat House, the Center was not originally open to the public. Word of mouth, however, created a demand, so regular operating hours were established to accommodate visitors, and the Center incorporated as a nonprofit organization to accept donations for funding. Located in the high desert 80 miles north of Los Angeles in Rosamond, Calif., the Center is a home away from the wild for more than 70 wild cats.
Perpetuating the Species
Although stopping the removal of animals from the wild into zoos was once its agenda, the Center's focus has shifted to genetic preservation through captive means.
"It's still a trial-and-error effort," says volunteer Eric Barkalow.
**Get the February 2011 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article or click here to purchase a PDF version.**
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