Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY! My mom, sister, her three little girls and I went on an adventure to the Cat Tales Wildlife Center in Spokane. They serve as a center for retired and rescued exotics and wildlife unable to be returned to the wild. Cat Tales Wildlife Center is the only zoo in the Spokane area, has been in business for 30 years, and is a non-profit. They also have a training program for people wanting to be zookeepers.
Explore Cat Tales
The excitement mounted as I traveled down the driveway not knowing what I was going to see on the other side of the tarped backs of the fences. As we waited at the pay station, loud chattering made us think we were going to see a bunch of little monkeys, but no, small foxes in a variety of different colors were what was making all the noise. I’ve never seen so many tigers in one place, each with its own enclosure. All but one of the tigers is the classic black and orange but they also have a rare white tiger. Laughing, I watched as the white tiger rolled around enjoying a good back scratch on the ground. Bobcat, lynx and cougars were a little further on. A black bear and wolves were at the other end. A single lioness looked at me regally from her enclosure. All were close enough to see clearly. A gift shop was located at the far end.
Know Before You Go
Take exit 281 from I-90 north on Division for 5.9 miles, then turn right at the “Y” onto the Newport Highway for 6.2 miles. It is right off of the highway.
Fee: $12 for seniors, $10 for kids, $15 for adults
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed on Monday)
Places To Eat Local
For a treat before or a meal after going to Cat Tales, travel about 0.9 miles further down the Newport Highway from Cat Tales to Colbert Road, turn right and find the Colbert Trading Company.
The building was built in 1885 to house the general store and post office for Colbert. It served as that until purchased by Ron and Mary Jensen two years ago. They have lovingly converted the building into a dine-in restaurant while maintaining some of the flavor of the old use. Pizza, sandwiches, calzones, ice cream and espresso are offered. They have local wines available, including their own label, as well as beer on tap. In the summer they have concerts on the outdoor patio and there are toys for the kids outdoors. Some of the original flavor that they kept is a small convenience store type area selling pop and candy. Funny, I grew up in Colbert and used to ride my horse to the store to buy penny candy. Ah, simpler times but so nice to see that future generations will make new memories at the old Colbert Store.
Located on the east side of the Newport Highway about 1.6 miles before you reach Cat Tales, this is a classic roadside diner and bar combination. It has booths in the restaurant and stools at the bar. A full menu offers everything from steak, burgers, fried chicken, salad, sandwiches, and appetizers. Wine and cocktails as well as beer on tap are offered. They even had an old school Ms. Pac-Man video game at the front.
If you just can’t spend a day without shopping, this year-old antique, gift, and vendor mall will scratch the itch. Located on the west side of the Newport Highway about 1.2 miles before you reach Cat Tales. It is a very large building full of wonderful things to explore.