When the sun shines on the inky black coat of 8-Ball, an Asian leopard, you can see the intricate pattern of spots on his fur. What you may not notice are the scars on his neck, remnants of having been chained up in a pool hall by a former owner. When the owner could no longer keep him, 8-Ball was sent to a drive-thru safari park that was later shut down by the USDA. But all of that must seem like a faraway nightmare to 8-Ball, as he now enjoys the security, ample food, and medical care at Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge. He is among the more than 40 big cats that have been rescued and rehabilitated, trading lives of abuse, neglect, and misplacement for environs that executive director Brian Werner calls a "living resort."
The facility is owned and operated by Tiger Missing Link, a nonprofit organization that Werner chartered in 1995. After diligent research, Werner and friend Terri Block began creating a big-cat sanctuary on a 25-acre property that Werner owned. They lived in a small cabin with no running water, heat, or air conditioning, clearing the land themselves and going door to door to garner support for the project. It certainly wasn't easy, but through the hard work of volunteers and some big-time press—including features on Animal Planet's 2007 Tiger Week and Good Morning America—the shelter's reputation and facilities continue to grow.
The refuge aims to raise visitors' awareness of the plight of large cats in the wild, and it plans to expand to add more natural habitats and observatories. Landscapers have even built a waterfall habitat where the tigers can exercise while trying not to puncture their plastic inner tubes. This feature may have been the favorite amenity for two of Michael Jackson's tigers that, according to a KLTV 7 story, have called the space home.
Oil Bowl Lanes opens its 32 lanes of rolling glory to pin pushers every day of the week. A one-hour lane rental pits quartets of players against one another to see who can garner the highest score based on pins felled and the secret 11th frame, which is judged on the overall style of post-strike moonwalks. Eight rental shoes lend their aid to earthbound extremities, and a full pitcher of soda bubbles with between-frame refreshment or postgame head-dunk opportunities. Spheres rumble down Oil Bowl’s alleys between retro-futuristic murals and cheery checkered floors.
During your month-long trial membership at Anytime Fitness ($100), you can re-bloom your wilted health with the state-of-the-art facility's diverse range of cardio and strength equipment. Exploit muscles for non-financial gain with free weights, tone legs on the treadmills, undergo a demanding tour de fitness-center via exercise bikes, or just catch up on reruns of Homeboys from Outer Space on the flat-screen TVs located near the treadmills, ellipticals, and Lifecycle machines. If the flawed workout plan you concocted yourself results only in frighteningly muscular ring fingers, one of Anytime's motivating trainers can prescribe a regimen designed to help you meet your fitness goals during your three personal-training sessions included in your trial membership ($150). Complete the sculpting of your flesh-statue with an Apollo finish with one month of unlimited tanning ($40), and then purify yourself of sweat and fried-cheese memories in Anytime's private showers.
Since 1984, Shreveport has paid tribute to a cherished Louisiana tradition—the crawfish boil—with its annual Mudbug Madness Festival. As many as 56,000 people flock each day to what has blossomed into one of the state’s most popular Cajun festivals, where they nosh on succulent seafood and compete in crawfish-eating contests that encourage participants to test their stomach size and sabotage their opponents by sneaking lobsters into their bowls. “One year, we had a man eat 42 pounds of crawfish in 30 minutes,” marvels festival coordinator Melanie. “We’ve cut it down to 15 minutes since then.” In addition to eating crustaceans, attendees can also lure them across the stage during crawdad-calling contests. “It gets really lively,” Melanie says, describing how the sirens-in-training are allowed to do nearly anything they can think of to entice the crawfish into their reach.
Cajun, zydeco, and jazz tunes waft through the air during the festivities, emanating from three stages helmed by headliners such as Wayne Toups, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr., Super Water Sympathy, and Windstorm. The rhythms reach the ears of shoppers browsing original artwork and handmade jewelry in the arts area, expanded after previous years' success. On Thursday, local athletes can work up an appetite in the 5K race. Children of all ages burn off energy in the kids' area, where they can somersault in the bounce house, tackle art projects, or plop down in front of a stage where magicians and storytellers keep their young minds off the uncertain fate of lollipop futures.
Centenary Fitness Center, like the university it calls home, is a self-improvement and educational facility. Just as libraries give students resources to increase their brainpower, the full-size gym boasts an indoor swimming pool, racquetball courts, and aerobic machines to help members bolster their muscular strength and endurance. Staff members, the professors of exercise, showcase the slimming powers of Zumba and spin during group exercise classes and can educate members on how to use fitness machines properly, thereby reducing injuries caused by trying to outrun a treadmill.
Now in its 63rd season, Shreveport Opera delights theatergoers with classic operas rendered in sumptuous visual and euphonic hues. As one of theater history’s most highly praised and produced pieces, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly continually entrances worldwide audiences with its tragic tale of the dark side of devotion. Set in Nagasaki in the dawn of the 1900s, Madama Butterfly’s journey begins when pious U.S. Naval officer Pinkerton seduces an innocent Japanese girl named Butterfly, marries her out of convenience, and then abandons her to fetch an American wife. When her estranged beau finally returns to Nagasaki with his new wife, an ending both brutal and heartbreaking unfolds. Although the opera is sung in Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage, Puccini’s powerhouse score of sweeping arias, romantic duets, and devastating choruses packs an emotional wallop that defies translation.