Opening tomorrow, Saturday, July 12 at 10 am slt, is a new sim designed by Mz Marville, Matoluta Sanctuary, a place where you're probably more likely to encounter equine rather than human avatars. The entrance to the build, seen above, greets visitors with a striking, water-filled canyon, but lush fields of grasses and wildflowers await on the opposite end, with waterfalls feeding the stream in the distance. The region's pre-set windlight settings, shown in the third image, somehow evoke an unblemished, long-vanished American landscape of hundreds of years ago. It's a delightful environment for exploration and photography — and, no doubt, for being a horse.
"The goal of Matoluta Sanctuary," explains the Sanctuary team, "is to raise awareness for the Spanish colonial horse. Originally bred by the Spanish approximately 400 years ago, these horses are now facing extinction. They no longer live in Spain, as they were bred by the conquistadors. Later, they became the original horses of the Native Americans. In the 1700s they were the most popular horse on the continent. The sanctuary hopes to educate visitors about the importance of conserving the homeland of these beautiful horses in present day Oklahoma." If you're curious about roleplaying as a Spanish colonial horse, I'd suggest tracking down Manatou, a friendly stallion who is one of the sim owners and also the Herd Leader — and this is a herd of about 300. (And I had no idea how complex animal roleplay could be until talking for a while with Manatou, who patiently attempted to explain protocol.)
Initially, access to Matoluta Sanctuary will be free, but, within a week or so of its opening, it will become group access only, with a L$250 fee to join (or L$500 if you would like to have rez rights). (The Sanctuary will make exemptions on a case-by-case basis for those new to Second Life with equestrian knowledge, and for established photographers and bloggers.) But Saturdays, at least for the start, will be open access for everyone. The sim will operate from 10 am to 8 pm daily. To stay abreast of upcoming events, visit the sim's website, where you can also learn about a kick-off photography contest to celebrate the opening. If you enjoy your visit, do consider making a contribution to help support Matoluta Sanctuary.