Celebrating Mother’s Day on the wild side

By Alyssa Donovan

May 12, 2013 Updated May 12, 2013 at 10:25 PM CDT

SMITHFIELD, Ill.-- Several families celebrated Mother's Day on Sunday with a trip to the zoo which is often a hands-off experience, but at Browns' Oakridge zoo... petting and playing is allowed.

Mom's had the chance to swap out their little ones for a chance to hold a 6 week old baby leopard.

Zoo owner Nancy Brown said, "A lot of families have brought their families out here for a special treat for their mother to be able to hold the little baby black leopard Onyx."

Brittany Westlake of Browning came to the zoo with her family. She said, "We just wanted to find a fun way to spend mother's day we knew it was going to be gorgeous outside so we decided to come to the zoo."

Brittany Westlake and her family are regulars at the zoo. Her kids love having the chance to hold the exotic animals.

Her son Owen Westlake said, “We've been here before and we got to hold a baby tiger and a baby lion so it's really awesome it's like a once in a lifetime thing."

All that attention is a big change from Onyx's real mama, Spot.

Brown said, “She'll only take care of her for 3 days that's the way she's always been."

Right now Onyx is only about 3 pounds but when she is fully grown she'll be about 180, and will grow up to be one of the most dangerous cats in the world.

But for now she's harmless.

Westlake says being able to share this experience with her family is a unique opportunity and made this mother's day very special.

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