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Smoky Mountain Opry in an Uproar Over Addition of White Lion

Posted by webmaster | Posted in Smoky Mountain Opry | Posted on 10-07-2013

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Rare White Lion at Smoky Mountain Opry PIGEON FORGE, Tenn., July 10, 2013 — The Smoky Mountain Opry is pleased to announce the addition of a rare animal in its show. A male white lion, one of only 300 in existence in the world, is now calling the The Smoky Mountain Opry home and he performs in The Best of Broadway during “The Circle of Life’ section of the Smoky Mountain Opry show.

The lion, named Tsimba-Vaati, is 7-years-old and weighs approximately 500 pounds. He was born in captivity and was obtained from a private zoo in the Northern United States. “Our new white lion is among the rarest and most treasured animals in the world, said David Fee, co-owner and president of the Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group. “He is a creature of the most extra-ordinary kind and we are thrilled to have him join our show.”

Corky Miller, exotic animal specialist for the Smoky Mountain Opry said, “Tsimba-Vaati has been rehearsing for the past six weeks to become a part of the show. He is happy, content and feeling at home here. He eats approximately 100 pounds of raw meat a week. When he is not on stage he is living here in a holding facility and we are also renting space locally at a private zoo.”

Others live special guest performing animals in the Smoky Mountain Opry Show include a white Arabian horse, a Bengel tiger, a white tiger and two serval cats. Hollywood, is the 600-pound, 8-year-old white tiger and Rajah, is the 350 -pound, 14-year-old gold Bengal tiger. They can be seen on stage during the show’s “Circle of Life” scene, in the magic section of the show and the public can see the tigers for themselves at a meet and greet session at the end of the first half of every Opry Show. While they won’t be signing autographs, they will gladly let you take their pictures.

Rare White Lion Appearing On Stage“We give the animals the best possible home we can,” Miller said. “Zoos are overrun with large cats. Rescue centers are full. We have an opportunity to give these few animals the best we can give them. We are building a temporary play area with a swimming pool,” Miller said. Miller said lions are only native to Africa while tigers are found in all continents, but are primarily found in India. She said the lion and tigers are kept separated and do not play together, but they “talk” to each other backstage. The Smoky Mountain Opry animal holding facility and its animals have passed both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) and Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Inspections.

Miller said that the White Lion is not an albino, but is a genetic rarity found only in the Timvabati region of Africa. She said, “The earliest recorded sightings were in the 1930’s however the last time a white lion was seen in the wild was in 1994, after which time they were technically extinct in the wild. Their white color stands out in the African bush, making them targets for hunters and rival predators.”

Miller trains all of the animals in the show by starting with a whisper. “I rarely rise above a whisper and train all my animals with positive reinforcement,” she said. “I use my voice, a treat, a whisper. I have to train them that way. If they were not happy they would not do 350 to 400 shows a year. They look forward to performing. If an animal did not fit into the show, I would not use it.”

The Smoky Mountain Opry is currently premiering an all-new ultimate musical variety show for summer 2013 that has professional headliners from all over the world. The new variety show includes specialty acts and musical numbers featuring a former member of the Russian National Theater Dance Group, a former Rockette, and a Las Vegas silk aerialist, juggler and magician, as well as country and pop recording artists, and live exotic animals.

The show’s musical segments include: Today’s Hot Country Chart-toppers, Broadway, Classic Country, Circus and Magic, Inspirational Gospel, Patriotic and more. Specialty acts include silk aerialists, adage dancers, a juggler, comedians, and a magician who works with rare and unusual animals.

Highlights of the show include country, pop vocal, instrumental, patriotic and gospel music with a live band. The show also presents a tribute to country music?s greatest stars such as Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Johnny and June Carter Cash, Tammy Wynette, Adele, Carrie Underwood and Jerry Lee Lewis. Guests can also ?step in time? to some of Broadway?s legendary hit shows.

“We hope you will bring the whole family to see our new rare white lion and join us for our outstanding new show with a whole range of different performers and incredible talent,” Fee said. “This show is a special show-of-a-lifetime. It has it all — from comedy to heart stopping aerialists, to graceful and skillful dancers and fabulous singers. Calling this show amazing is quite the understatement. Your whole family will be spellbound with the incredible and prestigious artists who perform in our show. We have fantastic juggling, circus animals and magic, as well as great music. There is nowhere in Pigeon Forge that can you find a better entertainment value.”

The Smoky Mountain Opry first opened in November of 2011 and is a Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Production. It is located at 2046 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. For more information, visit http://www.smokymtnopry.com/ or call 1-800-768-1170 or (865) 428-SHOW (7469).

The Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group, one of the largest show production companies in the southeast, also owns and produces three other major shows in the Smoky Mountain area including The Comedy Barn, the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show, The Bob Nelson Show and The Blackwoods Morning Variety Show featuring the Blackwoods. The Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group is currently running a special combination show deal that offers customers a chance to buy a ticket to the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show for $49.95 plus tax and then for just $15.00 plus tax they can purchase a ticket to The Comedy Barn or the Smoky Mountain Opry or the Blackwoods Morning Variety Show. The company also owns Tony Roma’s and Happy Days restaurants and a website, http://www.seepigeonforge.com/, that helps guests plan their entire Smoky Mountain experience online. (Group rates are available for groups of 20 or more and with the purchase of a combination show ticket children 11 and under are free for the second show. The child?s rate for the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show is $19.95 plus tax.)+++