Life changed overnight
The family who lives at Wildlife Park in Mtahleb have had their lives turned upside down in a devastating way. This post is dedicated to the tragedy that happened early morning on Tuesday 3rd October 2017.
As some of you may know, this place was very special to me as well as to many people. Since the first time I went there, it created a special place in my heart and I was eager to share this with the world.
I went on the site the day after the terrible fire, in hopes that the damage was not as bad as the news had shown it. What was shown on the news looked less destructive than what I saw with my own eyes. It was devastating seeing this place in the state it was in. It was hard for me to think and breathe. I couldn’t even imagine what the family was and is going through.
The magisterial inquiry in regards to the fire is still underway.
For those who have the belief of “animals shouldn’t be in cages OR animals belong in the wild (we appreciate the obvious opinion on the matter) OR there is no such a thing as people and wild animals to live in harmony because people take advantage of the animals”, please stop reading this post and save yourself some time.
This article is for those who understand that animals should live in the wild but who are also aware that species are becoming extinct because people destroy their natural habitats, kill these glorious beings for fun and as trophies. People who understand that places as such are necessary to preserve species and provide them with a home.
A necessary evil
Some may call this a necessary evil, but the truth of the matter is that these beings do not have a chance of living out their lives in the wild. They may end up in a zoo where they are just a number, as interior decor at someone’s house until they get sick of them or dead by either being put down, killed for fun, or as in a recent incident, getting killed in a zoo and being fed to another animal.
We do not live in a world where these animals have the chance to live in their natural habitat. Being given a home, being loved and taken care of is by far the best option.
For those who may be interested, to some extent, zoos have actually helped to fight the extinction of certain species. Please read the links below:
Wildlife Park in Mtahleb is the only licensed zoo in Malta. This means that after many years, this place has ticked off all the necessary requirements to receive the certification. Although being classified as a zoo, it had no resemblance or feel of a zoo.
Firstly, there were no cages. There was large wiring on the outer side of each allocated space for each species. From the inner space of the park, the only thing that separated you and these gorgeous creatures was glass.
The family who owns this place lived there, it was literally their home.
The most important part…
Christopher, Oksana, and their two kids did not see this place as a place of business and the animals being the bread bringers. Those animals were and are their family. None of the animals were taken from the wild. Some came from places that were even worse than zoos. The family dedicated their lives to these glorious beings and created a safe environment for them. They weren’t animals or pets to them, they were their adoptive children. They literally knew everything there was about each one. And I am not referring to the knowledge of the species, I am referring to even the little habits that each of them has.
The bond and trust that is built…
Chris is the only one who enters the spaces of the wild cats. They know him, they accept him, they respect him as well as he respects and loves them. And if some of you are thinking the animals are drugged, no they are not. They are neither drugged nor are they chained up. I have held 1 of the cubs in my arms and I have touched one of the first cubs (who was pretty big but was still considered small for a Bengal tigress). And the only weapon that was used, were treats which Chris handed to me.
A few months back, one of the Bengal Tigresses had 4 male cubs. Even though I have seen Chris enter the space of the tigers several times before, I was quite nervous this time. It’s a mother tigress and Chris has 2 of her cubs. She might react not as she normally would because she is a mum and her cubs are there, she may feel threatened and attack Chris. Many say that such animals may be nice and playful and at one point, just snap. I thought to myself, what if this happens? Then, I once again witnessed something incredible. Chris handing her cub over to her and she calmly took the cub back to his brothers, with not even the slightest hint of aggression.
I am not an expert in wild cats, but from the little, I do know about animals and animal instincts, is that an animal won’t pretend they like something when they don’t. Animals don’t lie. They do not have that ability. If a lion and a tigress, who has given birth recently, will allow that 1 person to enter, approach, and even touch them, and not even show any type of discomfort or aggression, then that person must have deserved that respect from them.
Just witnessing the connection between these majestic beings and a human, and seeing how the lion, as well as the tigress, react to Chris, was enough for me to know that this is a family and that this is the home of each and every member.
Some people set up accounts for donations to help the family rebuild their home and for the entire family to be able to move back in. I am not writing this post for you to read and donate. That is your choice.
This article is to let you know that there are people out there, who in their own ways create little incredible acts like building a bond with a wild cat. To me, these are little miraculous acts of true love, respect, and understanding. Every day we are exposed to so much negativity, pain, hate, and destruction. When I get the rare opportunity to witness something unique, like a bond between a human and a wild animal, it sparks a little light within and gives me hope for the future.
- Cheques can be sent directly to the address below:
Wildlife Park Malta,
Wied Il Buzbies,
Bahrija, RBT 6528
- Online payments can be made to the account below:
Account Name: WILDLIFE PARK MALTA EMERGENCY
Account No.: 40024946692
BIC / SWIFT CODE: VALLMTMT
The account is managed by a public notary, an accountant and our veterinarian to ensure complete transparency.