Some folks are cat people

Now in its third year, Great Cats World Park in Cave Junction offers a unique attraction for animal lovers of all ages.

The park boasts 32 cats of 17 species, many of which are nearly extinct. According to Craig Wagner, owner and trainer, there are 37 cat species worldwide, and 23 of those are on the endangered list.

“Cats are some of the rarest mammals on Earth,” Wagner said.

At Great Cats World Park, visitors can expect to see cougars, leopards, jaguars, lions, Siberian tiger cubs, a fish cat, and an ocelot, among others.

“This is one of the largest collections in the country,” Wagner said.

All animals at the park were born in captivity. Many were obtained from zoos throughout the United States.

“I’ve raised most of them,” Wagner said.

Visitors have come from as far away as Japan, India, Russia and Australia to see the park attractions.

Guided tours are given, and demonstrations usually are included as part of the package. Anyone with an interest in learning can benefit greatly from the tours, as education is an important component of the Great Cats experience.

Growing up, Wagner said, he always had a keen interest in animals. He has spent the past 25 years presenting cat demonstrations nationwide, and has been featured on the Today Show, The Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Wagner said that soon, he would like to add cheetahs to the park family. And besides the existing gift shop, he would like to install a kitchen and food service area, more landscaping and a stage for musical events. His ultimate goal is to have 60 cats from 25 species.

Great Cats World Park is open seven days a week from late March through October; weekends during November; and by appointments only during December and January.

The park is located at 27919 Redwood Hwy., a short distance south of the city of Cave Junction.
For more information, phone (541) 592-2957 or visit greatcatsworldpark.com

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