Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’

Lions and Tigers and Bears…Oh My!

October 2, 2015

I’ve always had a thing for animals.  Not just the domestic types, but the big “I could eat you if I wanted” type.  So when I had the chance to do the private training course at Hollywood Animals, I couldn’t resist!


Hollywood Animals, located in Santa Clarita, California provides big cats to the movie, television and advertising business.




If you saw the movie, Evan Almighty with Steve Carell, the 2 lions, 2 tigers, 2 spotted leopards and the hyena from that movie were all cast from Hollywood Animals.

These animals travel all over the world to work with actors and models so they need to be socialized – continually exposed to a variety of people and comfortable performing in different environments.

The animal training course is not just about petting tigers or hugging bears (though you do get the chance to do that – eventually).

Bear Hug

Bear Hug

Five days a week you work a typical 8-10 hour day that starts with prepping food for each of the dozens of animals on property.  Imagine handling and weighing approximately 10 pounds of raw meat each day for each big cat.  This is not a job for the squeemish! In addition to the food, you also have to cube some of the meat into 2″-3″ chunks to use as treats when training.

Then there are enclosures to clean.  Cats are moved from one part of the spacious enclosures to another and locked off so you can rake, sweep, rinse and clean their living space.  Yes, it’s a lot of work and physically demanding, but the reward – if you find a whisker during your cleaning, you get to keep it!  I have one of Flynn’s affixed to the mat framing a photo of him that hangs on the wall in our home.

Flynn, my blue-eyed beau!

Flynn, my blue-eyed beau!

Safety is always stressed.  NEVER turn your back on a big cat.  NEVER, NEVER, NEVER.  Even though the animals at Hollywood Animals are specifically raised from cubs and are at least 5th generation born in captivity, they are still large, potentially dangerous animals.  Even if not intending harm, if a big cat were to pouce on you like your domestic cat is known to do when playing – it could hurt!  When a trainer is inside the enclosure with an animal, another person is at the entrance with a fire extinguisher to provide distraction if needed.  These simple, but carefully followed guides along with the wonderful care the animals all receive is likely why they have not had an incident requiring even a band-aid in all their decades in business.

Animals are trained using a positive reinforcement method.  Treats for good performance, not unlike what works best with humans.  That little bamboo stick in my hand is just to point and direct the animal – it wouldn’t serve as much of a defense weapon!

The bears in particular have a sweet tooth and will do just about anything for a marshmellow – even take it from my mouth!


Bear “Kiss”

They call it a “bear kiss” because bears pick up their food with their tongues and bring it into their mouths to chew. Warning!  Don’t try this at home or on your next camping trip, but hold a marshmellow in your teeth and stands still…then be ready to need to wash your face!  He’s not “foaming at the mouth”, that’s melted marshmellows…we’ve been “kissing” awhile!

My weeks at Hollywood Animals were some of the most fun and educational I’ve ever spent.  If I were to live in the LA area, I would sign on as a volunteer and spend at least a day or two a week working with my animal friends.

They also offer a weekend course at times so perhaps YOU might want to check it out for yourself!


Going Hollywood

May 20, 2011

Planning a trip to LA this summer?  It’s a great destination.  Easy to get to.  Lots of free and low cost activities.  Plenty of budget places to stay and eat plus it sounds more interesting to friends than going to Omaha.

Much of what tourists know and typically want to see centers around Hollywood.   No visit to LA would be complete without a stop at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.  Their website has a ton of great information to make the most of your visit but I would recommend actually seeing a movie there.  This is the link to the showtimes.  We’ve seen 2 movies there in the main “premiere” theatre – a great way to sit, cool off and pretend you are part of a red carpet event – after all, it is classic Hollywood.

Want to do more than put your hands and feet in the prints of the stars?  You can be in the studio audience when they tape some of your favorite shows.  Most days there are hawkers in front of Grauman’s giving out tickets to tapings.  While tickets are always free, it’s usually a good idea to start long before you get to LA to get into your favorite show.

First, does your show of choice use a studio audience?  Game shows, talk shows and some sitcoms do.  Dramas do not.  Start with the website of your favorite show and look for “Be in the Audience” information.  Here is the link to tickets for Dr. Phil’s show.

Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune audience tickets are here.  Keep in mind, this is to be in the audience – not on the show.  Only The Price is Right selects contestants from the audience.

Shows do not tape year round.   Games shows and talk shows tape more frequently but even they go on hiatus for a couple of weeks to a couple of months each year.  Many shows are on hiatus from June till the end of August.  If seeing a show live is an important part of your LA vacation, check the show’s website before you book your trip!

As soon as you know your travel dates, fill out the on-line request form and wait for an email.  Most shows accept requests up to 2 months in advance.  It’s okay to fill out requests for multiple shows and see which ones you get – you can always call to cancel if you have two for the same day but trying for more shows improves your odds of seeing something.  Just don’t put in multiple requests for the same show!

What about those hawkers in front of Grauman’s?  Are they legit?  In a word. Yes.  I once got tickets to The Price is Right for a party of 4 in just this way.  If you didn’t get tickets before you arrived, it’s certainly an option.  I’ve also used a host of websites to get tickets to everything from Jay Leno to Deal or No Deal.

Preference is always given to filling requests through the show’s website or studio’s guest relations desk  but if you don’t have enough lead time, the 3rd party sites are viable options.

Next week I’ll share some inside information to help you get the most out of your studio audience experience!

%d bloggers like this: