Wild Arena – Big Cats 2 Workshop and Experience - Review

I meant to blog about this in the week, but last Sunday I visited the Wildlife Heritage Foundation as part of the Wild Arena Big Cats 2 Workshop and Experience which I blogged about a while back. I thought I'd share my experience and show off some of my photos from the day.

Their site in Kent is excellent. It's only open to the general public through specialist days (photographer, wildlife experiences, etc.), through which they are funded and so it's a lot more intimate than a zoo. The enclosures are arranged around a central grass car park, ideal as you can keep heavy kit in your car which is never too far away for a quick lens change. Having said that, I managed to spent the entire day shooting with my 70-300 IS USM, despite bringing my entire kit bag and tripod!

As the site takes part in numerous breeding projects for the cats, it's no surprise that animal welfare is their number one priority and this is reflected in the quality of the enclosures and environments they provide. The obvious advantage for photography is that you can get right up to the enclosures and take pictures through the bars which eliminates the usual problems you get trying to photograph big cats (or any of the more dangerous animals) in zoos, where you are kept back from the enclosure by another fenced off area meaning you can't keep the bars out of shot.

The day consisted of a group tour around the various enclosures given by one of the WHF team (and his bucket of meat =) ), being introduced to each cat in turn with lots of photograph opportunities. Wild Arena's Janet also came along to provide valuable photography tips. Once the tour completed we were then free to roam around by ourselves and take any more shots we liked.

Overall, the whole day was excellent, both Wild Arena and WHF guides were extremely knowledgeable and friendly and made the whole day go very smoothly. I'm still trying to sort through the 600+ shots I took on the day, but as I do I'll be posting the best to my Flickr account.

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