BY JEANETTE HURT | PHOTOS BY DAVID SZYMANSKI
If you love your dog, chances are you love other animals too. Here are three places to get a different kind of furry fix:
At the Valley of the Kings big cat sanctuary and retreat (W7593 Town Hall Road, Sharon, (262) 736-9386, votk.org), you can feed lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Yes, you really can — safely and by using a big stick guided by a volunteer — offer raw chicken drummies to these beautiful beasts who have been abandoned, abused, injured or retired. But, because this is a private rescue that goes through more than 1,500 pounds of food every day, you have to become a member to be able to visit, and a six-month membership starts at $75. Members receive private tours and introductions to the animals.
While the big cats, including a white tiger and tiger-lion crossbreeds, are allowed to munch on the raw chicken, you can serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the bears, but you have to take the crusts off. Otherwise they won’t eat them. Farm animals at the sanctuary love apples and carrots, and you can pet them for as long as you’d like. When you’re visiting and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle rumbles nearby, the wolves will howl a chorus, followed by big cat roars.
Shalom Wildlife (1901 Shalom Drive, West Bend, (262) 338-1310, shalomwildlife.com) calls itself “Wisconsin’s Wildest Zoo,” and that’s an apt description, as there are 100 acres of zoo to walk or ride a golf cart through. Wild, tranquil and one of the most gorgeous zoos around, this is a place for hiking and enjoying wildlife. More than 400 animals — bears, cougars, elk and more — make their home in quite natural environments, and animal feed is available for purchase. Signs let you know which animals you can feed and which ones have special diets.
Feed a giraffe, train a sea lion or ride a camel. Up close and personal animal encounters abound at the Milwaukee County Zoo (10001 W. Bluemound Road, (414) 771-3040, milwaukeezoo.org). Not to mention all of the adorable baby animals to coo over and admire. As education is a big part of the Milwaukee County Zoo’s mission, plenty of classes and programs can help you learn more about the animals you love. M