Do you love animals? Do you care for their well-being? If you answered “yes”, then I have a place you must visit if you live in Florida or while vacationing in North Florida. I stumbled upon the Facebook page of this sanctuary a year or so after moving to Florida and have been following it for a few years now. I LOVE animals and I really enjoy photos and videos of animals. I think one of the best animal videos I have ever seen was a video that Carl (the owner) posted on YouTube and his FB page of his Syrian Brown Bear, Bruiser, jumping into the pool! This video went viral and Bruiser is pretty famous!
I only live an hour from Single Vision and I have been wanting to visit … just hadn’t worked out for me to go … that is, until this past Saturday, which happened to be my birthday! What a great way to spend my birthday! I am going to share some photos of my family’s amazing visit to Single Vision and along the way tell you a little bit about Single Vision, the owner Carl, and of course, the animals. I hope you enjoy and I hope you will take the time to go visit Single Vision’s website and Facebook page as well … animal lovers, you won’t be disappointed!
My family (my husband, our two teenage boys, and myself) were scheduled to tour at 11:00 am. We had planned to do just the hour-long educational tour, but that changed once we were there and heard a little more about the interactive tour. We live close, in St. Augustine, so it was just about an hour drive to the sanctuary, not bad at all. Below are a few photos of our arrival at the sanctuary. You have to go down a dirt road to reach the sanctuary (yes it’s in the country) and then when you arrive there is a gate, so you have to wait for Carl to open it for entry (safety first!) Once parked and out of the car, we were greeted by Carl’s Canine Greeting Committee, haha (oh, and one kitty too!)
We pet the dogs and kitty and looked around at some of the animals up front while we waited for another family to arrive. After hearing Carl tell them about the interactive tour (getting to go in with some of the small cats and feed some of the small animals), which they were doing, we changed our minds .. we wanted to do that too! Then we signed the waivers and tour began. So exciting!
TIGERS TIGERS TIGERS (and a lion)
One thing I absolutely loved (well, two actually) is that you could get so close to these animals and you are allowed to take as many photos as you like! The fences are very secure, so you are very safe. Also, Carl makes sure to remind everyone not to stand too close to the fence. In the case of the tigers, I was able to stick my camera lens in through the holes a few times to get a few close-ups, which was so extremely cool! I have been to another sanctuary where you can’t get close at all and you can’t take any photos. You will see in the photos above and below, that SV has a variety of Tiger species.
Some of the Tigers enjoyed the pool (which is absolutely beautiful!) Below you can see some photos of Carl bottle-feeding the tigers. One of my favorite tigers to see was Zeus, this guy weighs over 600 lbs.! It was amazing to see how Carl interacted with the tigers and the mutual respect. Carl answered all our questions and was very informative about all the animals.
Okay, time for a little tidbit of info about Carl and the name of the sanctuary. According to the website, when Carl was younger, he was in a horrible accident that took his sight. When he regained his sight, he was only able to see from one eye … so you “see”, the name Single Vision came to him from his own life experience.
Onward with the tour! Next, we met a female lion who was housed with Zeus as well as a couple of other tigers. So beautiful! Check out the love between her and Zeus!
PART 1 of the INTERACTIVE TOUR
It was absolutely so cool to get IN the cage with some of the smaller cats at the sanctuary and be able to pet them and view them up so close. We were able to interact with Servals, Bobcats, and Caracals. They were such sweet animals, reminded me of my kitty at home! I know they are “wild” animals though, so we were sure to follow Carl’s directions on how to approach, where to pet, which ones to pet, etc.
It’s a BEAR, oh my!
The next stop on our tour was to see an animal that hadn’t even been announced yet to the world (those following SV online), Carl planned to post the following day. Below, meet Eeko, baby bear to Bruiser (Brown bear) and Honey (Black bear) … he is the only hybrid in the world! This little guy (just 8 months old) melted my heart. You could just see the love he has for Carl and he made the sweetest little sounds. What an honor to meet Eeko!
Here are two video clips of Eeko from our tour. The first one is Eeko suckling on Carl’s arm. Listen closely and you can hear such a cute sound. The second clip shows just how much Eeko loves Carl!
ROAR … more LIONS
When we were about to go see the Mountain Lions (synonymous with cougars, pumas, panthers), Carl warned us to stay away from the cage, closer to the other side of the path to view. What beautiful cats .. but I’m sure they can be fierce! (I saw them eyeing the baby that was in the carrier of the mom from the other family).
When you see Leo … he’s quite big … definitely a little scary. However, when you see how this guy interacts with Carl, then you just wish you could cuddle Leo too! Of course, we had to keep our distance from the fence (safety first!) but it was so amazing to see this lion up close. Earlier in the tour, Carl did warn us that if any of the cats turned their rear towards the fence, to move quickly because cats will spray. Well, we got to see that happen with Leo. I was taking some photos then I noticed him turning, so I quickly moved. Next thing you know, his pee was shooting through the fence!
“Single Vision is a non-profit organization dedicated to endangered species education.” The owner, Carl Bovard, truly loves the animals and he believes in providing a good, safe environment for them. All donations and tours directly help these animals!
Part 2 of the INTERACTIVE TOUR
Above and below you see Rampage the Bobcat. This little guy was probably our favorite of the day! He was rubbing up against us, purring, and just overall loving and playful. The little one peeking out of the sleeping area we didn’t get to pet, what a cutie!
The reddish caracal (see photos below) was in the same cage as the Bobcats. It liked to walk around and around, you had to sneak a pet, but what a beautiful animal!
Part 3 of the INTERACTIVE TOUR
For this part of the tour, we got to feed grapes to a few different smaller animals, including lemurs, kinkajou, and a coatimundi.
Some OTHER ANIMALS we saw along the way
In the photos above, you see some of the other animals we saw along the way, including two Macaws, a porcupine (there were 2), a black leopard, a tortoise, and a red fox. Not pictured: we also saw a smaller tortoise, an iguana, an alligator, and a cute little Prevost squirrel. Carl fed the porcupine some corn on the cob and at one point, they got into a little scuffle over it, very entertaining.
The famous BRUISER BEAR
Bruiser and Honey were both born in 2014. Honey bear is a black bear (I did not get a good photo of her but you can see her on Single Vision’s website and Facebook page). During our tour, Carl fed sugar wafer cookies to the bears, even one from his mouth! The bears sure loved the cookies. It was amazing to see these bears up so close! I have been following the adventures of Bruiser on Facebook for a while, so it was neat to finally see him in person. Make sure to check out some of the videos of Bruiser and Honey on SV’s YouTube Channel.
Part 4 of the INTERACTIVE TOUR
For the next part of the tour, we were allowed to enter a caged area with 2 Fennec Foxes. The one that was out in the open was Pixie, she likes to be pet. When we went in, we took turns petting Pixie. She loved having her belly rubbed. My 15-year-old son loved the fox! This was his favorite part of the tour! The other fox was timid and hid in a tube.
Part 5 of the INTERACTIVE TOUR
For the last part of the tour, Carl took us to see Luna the wolf. I was actually surprised when he said we could go into the caged area with her. He did mention that she might jump up on you can and lick you in the face but that she likes to be pet. My boys and husband decided to go in while I stayed outside the fence to take photos. Also, in this area with the wolf were two New Guinea Singing Dogs. Below is a photo of the wolf and I am also including a link to a fun video so you can hear the singing dogs.
Well, that wraps up the tour! Hope you enjoyed the photos and videos that I have shared. More importantly, I hope you will check out Single Vision online, go there for a visit, and/or maybe even send them a donation! This is an amazing place and I am so thankful I was able to visit and experience all that I did and I hope to go again someday!
A few quick pointers for those that plan to visit… Watch where you walk! There are lots of large ant mounds. For the most part, I did good, but I did get distracted taking photos and let’s just say the ants won one or two rounds. Carl does warn everyone about the ants (it was my own fault). Make sure you wear closed toe shoes! One other bit of advice (and this is my opinion). This place is great for all! However, I would recommend only bringing small children if they can follow directions well. There are times when you have to walk away from fenced-in animals or even down the middle between two fenced in areas. You need to make sure your children know not to stick their fingers in the cages/fenced in areas. These animals are amazing but they are still wild animals.
If you like what you read/saw, give me a like and follow my blog to read about more fun places to visit in St. Augustine and Florida. Thanks! Kristina