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Game farm starts kennel upgrade
The new kennels will have larger dimensions and will be tall enough to include activity platforms for the big cats.
"An engineering firm is drawing up kennel designs, which the county requires because we're building them bigger," Beebe said. Some of the older cages have been demolished already but Beebe doesn't expect any new construction to begin until spring.
Extra care goes into the planning because of the kind of animals they house: lions, tigers, cougars, bobcats, wolves and coyotes. All of these game farm residents will have new quarters when the project is complete.
The old kennels were built as long ago as the 1960s, when the game farm specialized in animals used for Disney wildlife movies and before it was open to the public. Most of the current animals are off-spring of the wildlife movie "stars" or animals rescued from private owners who were unable to care for them, according to Jamie Pate, tour director at the farm.
As to the timeline, Beebe said, "It all depends on money." If he could afford it, he said, the project could be done in one season. "I know the size improvement is going to be good for (all the animals)."
Fundraising for the expansion kicked off last summer with an appearance by Dan Haggerty, the original "Grizzly Adams," Pate said. With discounted admission prices, they had 657 cars through the driving tour in one day.
Although it was an extremely busy day, Pate said, it wasn't a record. "Back in the day," Pate said, in the 1980s, the line of cars often extended down Ward Road waiting to get in.
Reach Sandra Frykholm at firstname.lastname@example.org.