Lions and tigers and, leopards? Oh my.

A group of ten Keene State College students left New Hampshire for Spring Break on March 11 but weren’t headed for the beach. They were headed for Pittsboro, North Carolina to spend their spring break volunteering.

Photo Contributed by Justin Mahan

Photo Contributed by Justin Mahan

The group is part of the Alternative Break Program through the Community Service Office and spent the week volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue, helping do the maintenance work for the facility so the staff could focus their attention on the animals in need.

Carolina Tiger Rescue gets their animals from all over the country from situations like abuse through entertainment, abandonment and even neglect. When the facility receives these animals, they give them a happy permanent home for the rest of their lives.

The contingent from Keene worked alongside members from the University of Vermont to do things such as trail maintenance, cleaned out empty enclosures for the arrival of a new animal, and sorted fence pieces for either reuse or recycle.

The trail work allowed for the staff to safely inspect surrounding enclosures quickly in the event of an emergency to ensure that the animals were where they were supposed to be.

The enclosure cleansing was conducted in order for a new animal to be introduced to the enclosure. The participants clipped the vines that were growing on the enclosure fencing, as well as pick up cut logs that the staff had cut prior to the groups arrival.

Photo Contributed by Justin Mahan

Photo Contributed by Justin Mahan

The group also helped with the recycling of fence pieces. They sorted through the scrap pile of fencing and threw away any bent, rusted or broken pieces and moved those salvageable to a new pile for the staff to use at a later date.

While the students were doing hard work throughout the week, they were surrounded by the animals and learning about their stories and about the issues that animals face while living in the United States.

Carolina Tiger Rescue operates to raise awareness of the abuse and conditions these animals are living in and hope for the day that these animals will only be found in their natural habitats and not in the backyards of the United States.

The group spent their off days recovering from the work day and exploring the small town feel of Pittsboro, shopping downtown and getting to know some of the locals, all while spreading awareness of animal rights.