Today I plan to get some photos and video of the progress. It's been substantial. We made the area about 1/3 bigger than we had planned and had to trim 20+ trees up to the 12 foot high level so that we will be able to roof around them.
There had been a massive fire at the property, back in the 1990's, where we had to dig huge chunks of earth out to save the cats, and those big ruts all had to be filled and leveled out. The dirt that was purchased had a lot of junk in it, which meant volunteers had to sift through all of it to be sure that nothing would be left behind to hurt the cats.
We have ordered 2 more trailer loads of wire because after seeing how aggressive the native vultures are to our big cats, we can't leave the small cat area without a roof, or the cats are likely to be carried off. It's a weird phenomenon of massive numbers of vultures showing up un expectedly. We guard the cats' food while they eat, so we don't know what the attraction is, but we have to protect the cats, and thus have gone through a number of cage redesigns to make sure this will be a fun spot for the cats...and safe.
We had to tear down the old parts of the enclosure, and one other cage, to ensure that everything will line up correctly and put the old wire into use as barricades. Those barricades had to go up right away, because if we just left the wire on the ground until we finished the Small Cat Fun area, it would rust and we would have squandered a lot of money.
We had to finish Leopard Island so we could move the leopards out of this area to work on their cages. Those existing cages will be connected to the small cat fun area, but have to be scraped, painted and in some cases reshaped, to fit properly to the tunnels that will go to the vacation area. Leopard Island has been completed and the cages next to the vacation area emptied so that we can start their renovation.
There is much landscaping work to be done in order to work the tunnels through the thick undergrowth behind the existing, empty cages. In order to make the most of work groups who come out for a day, we have marked out the path and have the groups who come in for a day of labor take on that project. They usually only come on week ends, but we try to save those kinds of projects for outsiders as they are least likely to come too close to a big cat. We reserve our own, well trained volunteers and interns for the more dangerous areas of work.
We now have the bottom row of wire up on the East and most of the North sides of the cage, but there will be two more rows of wire atop this one, as this is only 5 feet high. It is the basis of setting the shape of the cage to be sure we have enough curves to keep it strong in a hurricane. It rains every day, but we do strive to make progress on the Small Cat Fun cage every day. Most of the work up until now has been the sort of thing that hasn't been very interesting, for the purpose of follow up stories, but now you can actually see the progress.