At PrideRock Wildlife Refuge, providing a permanent sanctuary and shelter for mistreated and unwanted lions, tigers and cougars is our guiding mission.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Beautiful Photos

A shot like this is not easy to get!

PrideRock Wildlife Refuge uses many photos for different situations such as advertising, website, social media, press releases, informational fliers and more. Taking great photos is not easy even with stationary objects, but there are many challenges with a wildlife sanctuary including the following:

Weather-animals tend to go to their dens to stay warm in cold weather and stay cool in hot weather. Not only that, but the photographers don't want to stay out too long in either situation. Rain makes pastures, platforms and toys slippery, muddy and not very visually appealing. If the animals have been having a good time in that cool mud, no, too dirty..can't post a photo of a white tiger that looks brown now can we?
Purr-fect timing on this photo of Kumal.
Time of day: Yes, cats are crepuscular (more active at dawn and dusk) so the best time to take good photos of the cats is early in the morning and late afternoon around 5-9 p.m. And that depends on the time of year. If the sun sets around 4:30 p.m., not a lot of photos happen. The animals are active early in the morning and after their daily meal around 9 a.m., they sleep (cats normally sleep 20 hours a day). And really, how many photos of sleeping animals can one person take? Don't forget shadows. I've thought I had the best photo only to find out a shadow was hiding a face or the shadow appeared as a line going straight across the cat or bear's face.
No professionals-PrideRock depends on its volunteers to take photos as we don't have a full-time photographer nor the money to pay one. Most of our volunteers carry cameras around with them or go out after cleaning specifically to take photos. Without volunteers, our social media followers would not see any photos at all. Some volunteers come out to the property specifically to take photos and videos.
Camera- even think you have the purr-fect photo or video but when you go to open it up, its not there (you accidentally erased it) or it is so fuzzy you can't make anything out. Or you are in the middle of snapping the best shot of your live but get a notice saying your battery died. Or your lens get stuck and your camera won't respond to anything.
Environment: We always want to have clean surroundings in our photos. And believe it or not, I'm not just talking about poop. Most of time when people look at our photos they don't realize all the effort going in to that photo. When the winds are high and it is fall, leaves are everywhere. When it is cold out, the animal get straw in their dens to lay on but that has to be changed on a regular basis. Maybe the animals dug holes, tore food up and left on the ground, or the animal has a particular part of the enclosure where they put their waste...and it's right in the middle of their enclosure, making photos all the more difficult.
Moving Animals-all of the above are normal challenges for most situations but try adding moving animals to the mix. And not animals like dogs, who will obey a command. Lions, tigers and bears do not obey, no matter what. They do what they want. To have all the elements above be purr-fect plus have the cat or other animal get into a cute pose, do something funny,or look sweet and cute, or silly for that matter, is no easy task. I set my camera on continuous shooting and maybe I get a decent photo out of 50 other photos.
Noise: When taking videos, all of the above has to be just right and then there is the subject of noise. You get the perfect video until a siren goes by. Then, the wolves howl, the hyena talks, cats get the idea. Or, how about a noise flock of bird fly by or the large fans turn on or the animal you are filming toots...yes, animals do that too.  And sometimes a person walks up and starting talking to you because they don't realize you a filming and needed silence.

Yes, PRWR staff, volunteers and interns go to all this trouble to find just the right photo to post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. So next time, you are scrolling through one of our social media pages, remember, that beautiful photo was not easy to catch. It was the right time, the right weather, the right person, the right time of day and a camera that didn't act up.


Monday, January 16, 2017

When One Door Closes

Rajah, arrived January 14, 2017

Java arrived November, 2016
It is said that when one door closes, another one opens. Or you may have heard, when something bad happens, something good happens too. That is the case with PrideRock. In December, 2016, PrideRock lost two cats within three days. Mia, our 29 year old lioness and Jamu, a 16 year old tiger. Mia, died of old age and Jamu had a softball-sized tumor around his heart, which, of course, we had no way of knowing until after he died. We also lost a third cat, Golden, in January. Golden was one of three tigers given to us by ExxonMobile after they quit using live tigers in their advertisements. She died of pancreatitis, which we were treating.

With all the loss, PrideRock could use some good news. In comes Rajah, a two-year-old ex-circus tiger. PrideRock already rescued one of his mates in November, Java. In the summer, Java's brother, Bo, will also be arriving.

Death is inevitable. No matter how much we love our cats, their time comes too. Our newcomers, I'm sure, will give us just as much joy as the old-timers so we welcome them with open arms while living with our memories of those who have passed.

RIP...Mia, Golden and Jamu. Hello to new faces.


Jamu, with her brother Kashmir