Zacharie and Baby JaguarZacharie has loved cats his whole life. Not the little ones, the big ones.

It started with Baby Jaguar on Diego. When we visited Mexico in the winter of 2011, Z was drawn to the big jaguar statue on our resort (above).

His animal passion was nurtured soon after when he discovered The Wild Kratts. The brothers go on many adventures to rescue and learn about animals, and his interest moved to cheetahs, and the Florida panther.

So when it came to plan our annual winter escape, Zacharie asked if we could go to Florida to see “a real live panther!” I told him if he saved enough money to buy his own plane ticket, we would go.

And wouldn’t you know it, the kid did it. With some help from deposit bonuses at Tangerine, he quickly saved enough money to buy his own plane ticket to Florida. At 8.

Zacharie at the bank

So this February, our family winter trip will be to Florida to see panthers.

You’d think a family trip to Florida would be all about theme parks, but not this one. We will spend a day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and there are roller coasters there, but that visit is because of the animals.

After  a couple of nights in Orlando, we’re heading south for the week near Fort Lauderdale, on the edge of the everglades and the natural home of Florida panthers. I’ve staked out Sawgrass Recreation Park as a great place to see the big cats which happens to just be around the corner from the arena where the other Florida Panthers play. At $13 a ticket, how can we not go!?

This week a package arrived from National Geographic Kids celebrating Big Cat Week on NatGeo Wild.

TOMS Shoes for Zacharie

I’m saving the TOMS shoes and the other goodies for Zacharie’s Christmas present (along with a Florida Panthers tshirt). These are going to be so perfect for my animal loving son’s visit to Florida. That banner is my son to a T!

If you’ve got a kid who loves animals, hop them up on your lap and visit Cause An Uproar to find out how you can help.

One of the easiest ways is to have a 50/50 Birthday Party where guests bring a few dollars that is pooled together and half is used to buy one gift for the birthday child, while the other half is used for charity. Last year, Zacharie used his money to support The Alberta Birds of Prey Centre, and when we visit Florida this year, he’ll find a way to support the big cats down there.

TOMS has partnered with National Geographic for The Big Cats Collection. The collection features a special edition line of footwear, sunglasses, and a backpack inspired by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative.

Each item in the collection features design elements representative of a big cat as well as iconic photography from National Geographic’s image library.

TOMS Big Cat Collection

Big cats in the wild are disappearing at an alarming rate, and this special collection draws attention to the critical need to protect these majestic creatures for generations to come.

The collection is available now.

Disclosure: I’m a National Geographic Kids Insider.

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