I got an opportunity to play with a lion cub named Minza, in October of 2011, at McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary. The exotic animal sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates everything from birds of prey to reptiles and even big cats, such as lions and tigers.
We had a guide -- Aneth -- who led our small group through the sanctuary and explained why the animals were there and how they were cared for. The place is kept meticulously clean. There was no funky 'zoo smell' that so many of these types of places have. All of the animals looked well cared-for and they all seemed excited to see Aneth, who is one of the co-owners of the rescue.
Aneth's knowledge of, affection for, and admiration of the animals in the sanctuary was impressive. She was a fantastic guide.
Here are some photos of the time we got to spend playing with Minza. She was a well-muscled little ball of fun. I'm so glad to have gotten that experience. If you're ever in South Florida, you should make a reservation to visit the rescue. It's much more personal than a zoo and you can learn a lot.