The 600-acre park plays host to visitors who drive through the more than four miles of winding grounds to catch up-close glimpses of its inhabitants—over 550 wild animals from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Bison, zebras, and giraffes roam the wide-open surroundings, living in harmony with tigers, lions, and bears. Founded by Frank Hart in 1972, the park has helped to protect endangered species while educating the public about them and their important roles in the fragile ecosystem. Visitors can make arrangements for private and personalized animal encounters as well as visit the safari village zoo, botanical gardens, and gift shop.
Just off Redwood Highway, some of the world's most impressive predators?none of whom are native to the Northwest?prowl 10 acres of grassland. The Siskiyou Mountains may surround us, but clearly we're not in Oregon anymore.
Okay, technically Great Cats World Park is still part of Cave Junction, but its residents (affectionately called feline ambassadors) come from all over Planet Earth?the African savanna, the mountains of North America, and the deepest parts of the South American jungles. More than a dozen species of rare and endangered felines live on the park grounds, and these cats carry a responsibility as big as their paws: to educate the public on the importance of wildlife conservation. The spectacle of a 500-pound predator certainly makes a compelling case, even when it's not wearing its glasses.
Tarri, a white tiger, currently weighs in as the park's biggest resident, though African lions Shakka and Zulu aren't too far behind. Tours take park visitors right up to the enclosures of these and other big cats, where keepers try to bring out the cats' natural and instinctive behaviors. Other species, such as the Ocelot and the clouded leopard, are smaller in size but no less majestic in stature?especially to any mice asking for permission to squeak freely.
Whether they climb through trees or prowl the savannah, the cats here have all grown accustomed to life in the public eye. Professional photographers often document the animals at the park, and many of the cats have been featured on TV programs such as The Late Show with David Letterman.