By Melissa Wynn

[media-credit name=”photo courtesy of Sierra Safari Zoo” align=”alignright” width=”300″]kalika[/media-credit]


Several years ago I watched a program on TV about a big cat called a liger. I was intrigued that science could create a new  species from a father lion and tiger mother. When I learned that The Sierra Safari Zoo at 10200 North Virginia St., just North of Reno, NV had one of these amazing hybrids I just had to go see for myself. Her name is Kalika and she is a beautiful example of her kind. A deep golden coat tells of her lion heritage while the faint stripes on her back and the darker stripes on the legs and tail resemble that of her tiger relatives. Although she is still just a cub she is nearly the size of the lioness that also calls the Sierra Safari Zoo home. Kalika will continue to grow until she is about 6 years old as all ligers do making them the largest of all big cat species. Just as people are a bit like both of our parents, so it is with the liger. These ferocious felines enjoy the water like the tiger but also enjoy the company of others  akin to the prides of lions. Kalika is a true curiosity you have to see up close to appreciate. Sierra Safari Zoo is a small zoo but that is all the better for a more intimate visit with the wide variety of animals found here. There is a large open area where Fallow and Sika Deer wander free and sunny employee Jessica Lloyd gives out ice cream cones full of feed so visitors can pet and feed these small deer while wandering among them. Several species of birds and reptiles add color and creepy to the mix on your tour of Sierra Safari Zoo at your own pace. The huge silver male Hamadryas Baboon is definitely king of his cage and is in quite a fence-shaking mood since his two newest children were born. I must say that there are few faces more adorable than that of the baby baboon. Perhaps the Vervet monkey that is due soon will give them a run for the money. I had a great time meandering among the peacocks and sitting next to the turtle pond. Camels and zebras, lemurs and coatimundi are just a few more of the captivating critters to be enjoyed the  at the charming Sierra Safari Zoo. Visitors and groups are welcome 10 am to 5 pm daily April 1st thru October 31st. Birthday parties are welcome by reservation. For more information visit their website at or call 775-677-1104.