I would rate the Center even higher if I could. Positively MAGICAL! I go every year at least once a year (for my birthday) and shoot for more visits throughout the year. Go for the Twilight Tour-the nocturnal tours provide the opportunity to view most, if not all, of the animals alert and reactive. No tour is the same, the guides are SO knowledgeable (LOVE Kevin and Frank) and just take my word for it...when there's a dusting of stars in the sky, the lions are chuffing, and the wolves begin to howl...there's no place quite like it anywhere on Earth.
A 20-year old tiger looks at you from five feet away and 'chuffles' to let you know that he approves of you. A lion 'oofs,' after being prompted by a human who loves him, and 15 other lions answer to convey that all is well in their world. An adorable binturong climbs across the top of her cage upside down to remind you that you should bring her a banana. A chubby but adorable leopard stalks you from one end of her large compound to the other end hoping for a treat. A caracal trills and shows you her 'best side' profile as you pass by her with your camera. A serval bonds with his happy human by marking her forever with his scent and a wolf shows one of his human pack members by laying his head in her lap.
Each of these beautiful animals, and the people who care for and support them, are the reason I volunteer my time and talents to the Conservators Center in Burlington, NC.
The center is not a zoo and is not supported by any government funds. It is a privately owned and funded by donations and, quite simply, love. A few dedicated staff members work tirelessly to coordinate animal care, promotion and publicity of the animals and the center, and the day-to-day business of running a center that cares for over 80 animals who have been rescued or retired to their care. Even more volunteers, like myself, give countless hours to prepare food and feed the animals, clean the animal living areas and provide enrichment for the animals to keep them engaged and happy, guide tours of the center's animals for the public and tell their stories, socialize the animals and show them love, and so much more.
I first met the animals and people of the Conservators Center when I took a tour with 100 schoolchildren. I was in awe of the volunteer tour guides who answered every child's question and introduced us to animals I recognized, like tigers and lions, and animals I had never heard of like binturongs, caracals and genets. They told us the backstory of every single animal. We learned that one of their bobcats came to them after being mistaken for an injured domestic cat and that their employees rescued a 'mutt' after driving hundreds of miles to pick up a rare New Guinea Singing Dog and discovering he was only a mutt. We met lions and tigers living in a 'mixed pride' because the founders of the center rescued the animals when another facility was shut down and, while they were unprepared to take on so many animals, they creatively found ways to make it work so that the animals could live happily and with an extraordinary quality of life.
I knew from the first day that I wanted to spend time at the Conservators Center and work with them on their mission to reconnect people with wildlife. In the past year, I've volunteered many hours on nights and weekends to help out in any way that I could. My favorite event was when students from the school for the blind visited the center. Volunteers and staff members made sure that each student learned as much as they could about the animals through their senses other than vision. We shared casts of pawprints to show the students how large the animals were. We took them on a tour and prompted the lions and wolves to rumble the earth with their roars and howls. We shared stories of the animals that brought them to life for these sweet students who could not see them.
The Conservators Center is my 'happy place.' Every chance I get to volunteer my time there is time well spent. Each tour that I drive a golf cart for a disabled person to see the animals and hear their stories brings joy to my heart. I hope to share the amazing animals and their two-legged friends who love them at the Conservators Center with as many people as I can. I hope that you'll visit them in person to learn how amazing they are but the next best thing is their website at www.conservatorscenter.org where you can learn the story of how they came into being and virtually meet some of the most amazing animals on the planet!
Review from #MyGivingStory
My first tour to the center was in 2014 with a group of summer camp kids. From the moment I set foot on the property, I knew I had found my "happy place." The experience of meeting the animals up close while hearing personal stories of each animal from tour guides is so refreshing and so different from a zoo. Seeing lions, tigers and leopards from 10 feet away was amazing and I enjoyed meeting and falling in love with binturongs, genets, singing dogs, Geoffrey's cats, jungle cats and others I was seeing for the first time. The staff and volunteers are all so committed to the animals and it shows every moment of every day. I especially love that the health, safety and emotional well-being of the animals always comes first at the Conservators Center. The staff and volunteers are so in-tune with the animals - they know what makes them happy and when something is "off" that they need to watch. I never know WHO is more excited by new items gifted by wish list donors - the animals or the humans who get to see the animals enjoy them.
My love for the center and the animals led me to begin my volunteer journey with this group in August 2014 and I am so thankful that I became involved. Every time I am at the center I learn something new and amazing from the veteran staff. Each staff member makes sure the volunteers feel appreciated and there is always something worthwhile to learn and do.
To be onsite and hear the wolves and coyote howl, the lions "oof" and the singing dogs sing is not something that can fully be explained in words - it's a feeling like no other that simply has to be experienced. The center's mission is to reconnect people with wildlife - they've done that and so much more for me. I highly recommend a visit to the center!!
I have learned so much by volunteering at this wonderful place. The entire staff is welcoming, friendly and extremely knowledgeable, with an unparalleled love for the animals in their care. The facilities are well-kept and the animals are obviously happy in their environments. I particularly love the experience of seeing first-time visitors' faces when they hear lions "oof," and their joy and wonder watching binturongs, an animal they most likely have never seen before. This place has changed my life for the better and I'd like to believe it does for almost everyone who visits or volunteers.
I've spent thousands of hours over the last 7 years volunteering in all areas at this amazing Center, working behind the scenes in animal care, building secure habitats, raising young animals, and leading public tours. My husband and I began volunteering because we love animals, but we stayed because we saw how incredibly HAPPY the animals are in their lives here, how KNOWLEDGEABLE the founders and staff are about all aspects of captive management and larger conservation issues, and how ETHICAL the business and care practices are at all levels. This is a truly special place. So many reviews mention the passion, the respect and care, and the beautiful relationships that they see when on tour. Speaking from the inside, all of this is very real -- a reflection of the heart of the Center. I'm so happy it's visible to visitors; I'm even more honored to have been a part of it for such a long time.
Been volunteering for 6 years and I am a lifetime adopter of TIGERS! It's the most awesome place for visitors to be up close and personal to the animals there.
I've been volunteering for about 4 years now -- simply sit on the sidelines and do the work that nobody sees -- but have an incredible opportunity to visit with the amazing creatures who make it their home. Of course, with some you establish an incredible bond -- that will last the rest of my life. All of them you love. Some you lose, like my special girl Tigra Tiger. But there is always the opportunity to make another very special. My new special girl is Shelby Tiger. We are working on it :)
My wife and I got addicted to this facility back in February. Since then, we are now Lifetime Adopters of 2 beautiful kids (a tiger and a binturong), volunteer for animal care/construction or tours every saturday and I have started a website called savethebints.com. This facility/family is the most incredible experience of my life so far. They have become our home away from home and our only wish is that we could volunteer more and live closer.
After participating in one of their tours we were hooked!! The staff is exceptional and they have a large variety of small and large animals. We signed up to volunteer and have enjoyed working on various projects. It has been a very rewarding experience.
I have been to the conservators Center 2 times and plan to go back again and again. The animals are wonderful to see. The lions are my favorite, especially Arthur. The tour guides have been great at explaining everything, answering questions and getting the animals to interact with the people.
I was an intern this past summer with the Conservator's Center, and it was an amazing experience. The attention and care that the keepers show to the animals is amazing and inspiring to see. It's difficult to not fall in love with the Center, and it is the type of experience that stays with you long after you leave.
I'm not a member, nor really, a volunteer, but there's no field for someone such as I, one who deeply loves seeing an animal in such great surroundings. Also, I'm too poor even to be a donor. Were I not working on a free computer, I couldn't even tell you this!
I CAN tell you I enjoy the photos posted on FaceBook, & sometimes make comments. This makes me happy, because when I was physically able, one of my greatest joys was to visit =good= zoos, & see animals in realistic environments--not just bored silly in bare cages. Conservators Center obviously treats animals with love, as well as going well beyond their bare physical needs. These beautiful creatures obviously feel loved, & have more freedom than ALL zoos I've ever seen! It heals my heart to see this, & the value the animals receive seems priceless. Conservators Center DESERVES recognition for what they do!
I volunteer and i am a lifetime adopter of one of the lions at the center.
All the animals are well taken care of and look so happy to be in a better environment. Most of the animals at the center came from not so good conditions and the center took them, and gave them a better place to live.
The conservators center is an amazing place to visit and i recommend everybody to visit. It is definitely an experience of a lifetime.