The Central Florida Animal Reserve, and its lineup of unique large cats that includes tigers, lions, leopards, and cougars, is located east of St. Cloud and south of Holopaw. The 11-acre facility, just south of Forever Florida on U.S. 441 and surrounded by protected natural preserve, is a good drive from more populated areas of the county, but for the rest of May the reserve has partnered with Positively Osceola to bring the cats to you.
In an effort to educate the public on conservation of these incredible big cats, CFAR created the free “CFAR and Beyond” educational web series that will air on Positively Osceola’s Facebook page. Episode 1 aired Monday and can be viewed on Positively Osceola’s Facebook page and on the CFAR website. Episodes will air on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:30 a.m., and special extended video interviews about CFAR on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., so catch the first evening interview episode tonight (Tuesday).
Over the course of each episode, viewers will learn about CFAR’s residents and the support that goes into taking care of them. The idea is to “wet the appetite,” said Dr. K. Simba Wiltz, an integral part of CFAS for over 20 years, and inspire interest in the cats that will grow into taking a tour for a first-hand look at the cats and preserve.
“Our aim is to show something people want to see in person,” Wiltz said. “We are part of a conservation strategy for the benefit of these big cats.”
In 2017 Wiltz moved with the animals from Brevard County, where regulations changed, to the current Osceola facility, which opened its gates to the public for guided tours in late 2017. Wiltz holds high standards of the health of these cats. The mission to take care of big cats who come for a range of circumstances — from the entertainment world, or became overwhelming pets — for the rest of their lives in an appropriate home.
In-person tours are restarting, and in order to still offer them and mitigate the coronavirus pandemic, tours will be highly guided and subject to a strict schedule. On the flip side, they offer the opportunity for a unique outdoor adventure after weeks folks forced to find indoor ones. For information setting one up, go online to Cflar.org.