Day 524: Feline Conservation Center

This morning we woke up to discover that we were parked across the street from the Tropico Mine, which produced 7 million dollars of gold since the 1890s.  The mine has been for the most part inactive since World War II:

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Not a bad spot.  Thanks BLM!

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Buildings below the mine were purchased from other locations and brought here to create a ghost town as a tourist attraction.  The attraction never got off the ground, but the buildings are still here:

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Just a few blocks away is the Feline Conservation Center.  The facility exists to promote population recovery and genetic diversity for endangered cat species through captive breeding programs in cooperation with zoos and other facilities worldwide.  In response to public demand, the center eventually became open to the public:

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The center has a flock of peacocks that roam the facility: 

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They also double as bathroom guards:

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Thumper, a Canadian Lynx.  The Lynx has large feet to provide snowshoe-like floatation on snow:

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Obi, a Serval:

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Pandora, a Jungle Cat:

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Willow, a Bobcat:

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Xeno, a Geoffroy’s Cat:

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Towards the rear of the facility we met the larger cats.  This is Cisco, a Jaguar.  Jaguars can weigh up to 300 pounds:

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Doc, also a Jaguar.  I thought he looked pretty dangerous:

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Zeya and Gregori are Amur Leopards.  Only 50 exist in the wild today:

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The Pallas’s Cat is thickly furred and looks like a really fat house cat:

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Rico, an Ocelot:

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Serrano, a Cougar:

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Tiga, a Malayan Tiger.  We were much closer to the enclosure here than we could be in a zoo:

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Maya, a Jaguarundi:

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Living here is hard work:

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Black Leopard:

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Snow Leopard:

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Clouded Leopard:

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We spent about 2 hours at the center.  We then drove North and East to Boron, where Rio Tinto operates a Borax mine that produces 40% of the world’s refined borates.  The mine has a visitor center that overlooks the 1 mile by 1.5 mile pit where the borax is mined:

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Out front is a model of the twenty mule team that was used to ship mined borates from Death Valley:

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The mule team wagons, which could move 20 tons of ore, have been replaced with 250 ton-capacity dump trucks.  Their tires cost $15,000 each and are quite large:

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The entryway displays a massive block of Kernite, a sodium borate.  At the processing facility the Kernite (Na2B4O7·4H2O) is hydrated to become Borax (Na2B4O7·10H2O) so it can be processed in the same way as the borax mined directly:

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The museum was very well done, and explained the extraction and processing of Borax, as well as the geology of the pit mine, how Borax came to be here, and what Borax is used for:

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The docents were very friendly and explained the various parts of the mine that we could see from the observation area in the visitor center.  They gave the kids coloring books and sample cards with the four types of borates mined here (Borax, Kernite, Ulexite, and Colemanite).  Borax and Kernite, the sodium borates, are much easier to process than Ulexite and Colemanite, so the latter two are piled up for processing when the sodium borates are mined out at this location, which should be in 40 years or so.

More fun with the big tire:

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From Boron, we drove east and south to Palm Springs.  Trader Joe’s has three stores in the area, which allowed us to restock our kosher meat.  Trish told me to buy 5 trays of chicken and 5 pounds of beef, which she estimated was all I could fit in the upper shelf area of the freezer.  With careful arranging and throwing out the ground beef packaging, I managed to get 10 trays of chicken and 8 pounds of beef to fit:

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Tonight we’re overnighting at the Walmart of Palm Desert.  See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.

Day 523: US Naval Museum of Armament and Technology
Day 525: Back to Anza Borrego SP

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