Lions and tigers… oh my!
We road-tripped up to Tyler, Texas to visit the wild cats at Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge. Deep in the piney woods of east Texas lies a refuge full of lions, tigers, servals, pumas, and more. It’s like a safari trip, but without the potential guilt of thinking that the animals were not being properly cared for.
Address: 17552 FM 14, Tyler, TX 75706
Cost: $18 for guided tour for adult
We started our guided tour in the “small” cat exhibit. I personally found it pretty funny that they considered cougars to be small cats considering an adult cougar weighs 120 pounds.
Just a reminder that house cats and cougars share a lot of DNA 🙂
There were two Servals in this habitat. They acted just like house cats and were just chilling out as we ooh’d and aah’d.
Servals grow to be about the size of a small dog and some are even kept as pets. Tiger Creek apparently receives a lot of their animals from people who give up on taking care of wild cats, which is pretty heart-breaking.
One of our favorite memories from this trip is watching “El Jefe,” a small cat no bigger than a domestic cat, climb up the chain link fence and hang from the ceiling rafters. I think he was plotting an escape.
Katie came out to walk alongside the cage after Erika and I came back to see her alone. Some cats are a little more shy around groups of course!
I wasn’t able to snap any good shots of Tiger Creek’s bobcats. They were both napping in the private area of their cages.
Also, their biggest tiger was sleeping in a far corner and couldn’t capture his awesomeness.
The Big Cats
After passing through a gateway to the rest of the property you are greeted by the big cats.
The big cats had much larger enclosures and were paired up, unlike the small cats who were kept individually.
A twig snapped and the tiger on the top platform curiously looked around, checking to see if it was worth it to investigate.
As our tour group approached Raja’s enclosure, I saw him creep and hide behind a water bowl. He was in hunt mode.
His objective? To snack on a five year kid in our tour group.
Raja was my favorite cat from the day because of his personality. Hiding behind the water bowl, walking along the fence to greet us, posing nicely for pictures…. he is amazing!
This lazy guy was just hanging out on top of his block. As Erika and I snapped pictures and tried to strike up a conversation, we were swarmed by bees.
Review and Recommendations
Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge is a great family-oriented experience. It’s really fantastic to view these wild animals that have gotten a second chance after leaving abusive or neglectful owners.
If you live within two hours of Tyler, TX: visit this weekend.
If you live within four hours of Tyler, TX: plan an overnight trip in the near future.
It’s definitely worth the $18. I wish we would have the opportunity to take a more in-depth tour and interact with the animals but that isn’t available right now.
Thanks for reading my review, and tell me how your visit went in the comments!