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!!
Went to the Tree Toss on Jan 9th. What an experience!!! This was my second visit to the Center - the staff are so knowledgeable and helpful! And the animals!!!! What can you say about being that close to such wonderful loving animals!!!! If you haven't been there you MUST go!!! It is an experience that you won't soon forget!!! Visit, donate, volunteer!!! This is an experience like no other!!!!
The tour was terrific. The animals so well taken care by the staff. The tour guides were extremely informative. We could have spent ALL DAY! Worth my trip from Ohio!
Our summer camp program at TRU Teakwondo Center in Winston Salem, NC visited the Conservators Center for a field trip in the summer 2015. The kids and adults loved it! The caretakers of these animals are amazing and the animals have a wonderful environment full of love. Many of the animals here come from situations where they had nowhere else to go and the center took them in and in most cases made special accommodations to make sure the animals had a great home. It is a small environment where the caretakers are very knowledge about the animals and know their habits and personalities at a very intimate level. It was wonderful seeing animals being loved and accessible to the public so there can be knowledge passed along to others so these creatures can continue to receive the utmost care.
The animals here are amazing - a twilight tour is up close and personal. You'll learn their rescue stories and about the species and habitats and conservation. The passion in the staff and volunteers is palpable.
I cannot say enough about these guys & what an amazing, educational & entertaining job they do on the tightest of shoestrings. Their organization & volunteer coordination is second to none.
The Conservators Center is an amazing place. It is clear that the staff all really care about the animals and want to educate visitors about their wonderful animals. The sound of the lions "offing" is primal and moving. I highly recommend a photo tour, but any tour is worthwhile.
Took our grandkids there and had a great time. Our guide was great, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to hear the lions communicating with each other at dusk.
Ev & Bill Wesson, Henrico, NC
Everytime I go, my pace slows down, my heart fills with joy, and my smile broadens. I never want to leave. My daughter and I went about 5 years ago, just to witness the Xmas tree toss, and went home having adopted Bella, a glorious tiger. She caught my eye, and my heart, when she fell asleep on a tree, legs splayed around it like it was a favorite pillow. Although I don't get there as often as I would like, I am ever grateful that we have Bella. It is a thrill each time we offer her some favorite treats, or listen to the lions oofing, or watch the binturongs play, or look into the eyes of a majestic wolf. The humans who serve these beloved animals are gracious, informed, generous and loving. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and it shows. The Conservator's Center is a magical oasis amidst our sometimes frenetic lives. These four-leggeds are a treasure to behold. Give yourself the gift of spending some time there. You will not regret it!