Sunday, March 19, 2017

What is a Coati?

The Coati or Coatimundi is a member of the raccoon family that is native to South America and south-western North America. There are four species of coati. The Ring-tailed Coati and the Mountain Coati are found in South America. The Cozumel Island Coati is only found on Cozumel Island off the coast of Mexico and the White-nosed Coati is found in Mexico and some parts of the U.S. At IEAS we have three White-nosed Coati.

The White-nosed Coati is the largest species of Coati and inhabits Mexico, Central America, New Mexico and Arizona. Coati are omnivores preferring small vertebrates, fruits, carrion, insects, snakes, and eggs.  They behave very much like raccoons and will raid trash and campsites. Unlike the raccoon, Coati are not nocturnal, and are active mostly during the day and sleep at night. Coatis have a few predators such as jaguars, cougars, birds of prey, snakes, and crocodiles. In the wild, females will form social groups called bands with 10-30 members. Adult males live by themselves and only come together with females to mate. Mating season is January through March. The pregnant females will leave the group and their pregnancy lasts about 11 weeks. They can give birth to a litter of two to seven kits, and will return to the group once they are six weeks old. In the wild Coatis have a lifespan of seven to eight years and in captivity up to 15-16 years of age. Their status is least concern although the coati numbers are decreasing.

Our resident coatis are Mork, Mindy, and Kodi.  All three were previously house pets. Kodi came to IEAS when her owners had to give her up due to improper permits. She is about seven years old. She has a funny personality. Kodi loves to dig in her habitat for bugs and loves to cuddle in her blankets with a toy. Mork and Mindy came from a couple that could no longer care for them and decided they needed a better life. They are about ten years old. Mork is a little shy and likes to spend his time watching from up high on the perches. Mindy is a little more social and loves to investigate new things. She likes to dig around her habitat for bugs. You can generally find them together cuddling in their hammock or with a blanket. You can come visit our Coatis during our guided tours which are everyday at 11am and an additional tour on Saturday's at 3pm! You can visit our site for more info:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Did you know the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary (IEAS) was the first Sanctuary of its kind to be certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)? So, what is the AZA, anyway? It is a fellow 501(c)3 non-profit organization representing institutions meeting the highest standards in animal care. They are leaders in animal welfare, conservation, and education.

The AZA maintains two membership categories: Institutional members and Related Facility members. Most major zoos and aquariums that you are familiar with are AZA accredited. Related Facility members, such as IEAS, are very similar but there are subtle differences. Related Facilities do not need to cater aesthetically to the public, and are not required to be open to the public on a regularly scheduled, predictable basis. Other examples of Related Facilities include rehabilitation centers, wildlife ranches, and research facilities. These subtle differences are important in determining whether facilities are accredited or certified.

Institutional members are accredited, whereas Related Facilities are certified. The main difference between accreditation and certification, as I touched on before, is public access. Related Facilities may not be evaluated on enclosure aesthetics or design (something very important to the public eye), but they are expected to achieve, maintain, and/or surpass the same high standards of animal management and husbandry as zoological parks and aquariums. They must also follow the AZA’s Code of Ethics, policies, and standards. Related Facilities with education programs should strive to have their program meet accreditation standards, as well. Both accreditation and certification inspections are required every five years.

Less than 10% of wildlife exhibitors licensed by the USDA meet these high standards of animal welfare. Here at IEAS, we pride ourselves on being one of the very few Sanctuaries to be certified by the AZA, and are pleased to share we earned our certification once again in March 2016!

Want to learn more about the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the certification process? Please visit

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Proper Introduction: Winter Interns 2016

Robin Gilbertson

My name is Robin Gilbertson from Cedarburg, WI. I graduated in May 2016 from the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay with a major in Animal Biology and a minor in Human Biology. I have had a wildlife rehabilitation internship at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary mainly working with songbirds, waterfowl, and birds of prey. I also had an internship at Animal Gardens as an animal care intern working with hoof stock and exotic animals. I helped raise a few of their baby animals as well. I have worked at a vet clinic in the past and volunteered at the Green Bay Humane Society. One day I hope to be at a sanctuary helping wildlife and educating people on the native animals (basically wildlife rehab).
Favorite Animal:
            I love arctic fox and sea turtles.
Favorite Song/Artist:
I love Avicii. Any of his songs are amazing.
Favorite Movie:
My favorite movie would have to be either Grown Ups, Gnomeo and Juliet, or any Lord of the Rings franchise (which includes The Hobbit).
Role Model:
My parents of course.
I collect movie ticket stubs from every movie I go to. I like to see which movies I’ve seen and how many times.
Weird Talent:
            I can touch my tongue to my nose without using my hands.
When I am not working, I would rather be rock climbing or singing to music I know without a crowd or just hanging with friends.

Dannielle Edick

I am Dannielle Edick from Mohawk, New York. I graduated from SUNY Delhi with an Associates in Veterinary Science Technology and from SUNY Oswego with a Bachelors of Science in Zoology. I have prior experience working with exotic animals from an internship at the Utica Zoo in their Commissary and Veterinary/Quarantine area as well as another in the North Trek/African Alley section. I also performed an internship at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in the Small Mammals department and then an apprenticeship back at the Utica Zoo in the Commissary/Quarantine area.

Favorite Animal: Gray Wolves, Cheetahs, and Servals. Ooo and Snow Leopards, Amur Leopards too… Red Foxes and Harbor Seals as well. Too many choices, can’t pick just one! Guess I’m in the right profession! Arctic Foxes, Osprey, Black and White Ruffed Lemurs, and Blakiston’s Fish Owl also!
Favorite Song: Coming for You by Twelve Foot Ninja, also And We Danced by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Almost everything by Green Day, Rise Against, and Ghost. (I am REALLY bad at making decisions for this kind of stuff…)
Favorite Movie: Star Wars, Lion King, all the Harry Potter films, Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, Sherlock Holmes (with Robert Downey Jr., also like Sherlock the TV show), Aristocats, Braveheart, Robin Hood (with Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman), How to Train Your Dragon (Still going with my outrageous lists theme here…)
Role Model: Ummm… My parents? (Always the safe answer. And it’s true!)
Hobby: Reading, watching TV and movies, listening to music, watching hockey, and hanging out with animals. (I also love Renaissance Faires…)
Weird Talent: Getting distracted? (Outside of work of course!) YouTube is the bane of my existence (so many random things I didn’t know I wanted to know more about!). I’m so good at getting distracted that it sometimes circles back around to being productive! (Get to doing something that wasn’t what I needed to do, but also needed to get done)
When I am not working, I would rather be doing: see above (that’s pretty much it…).

Sarah David

My name is Sarah David, and I graduated from the George Washington University in 2014 with a degree in Biology. Since then I have had the opportunity to intern at the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans and the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA, after which I worked as an outdoor educator at Camp Allen, outside of Houston, TX. My ultimate goal is to do community-based conservation in developing countries, working to alleviate conflict between humans and the wildlife they interact with on a daily basis. I hope to use the skills I acquire in animal keeping and in animal behavior at IEAS to bridge gaps between people and animals wherever I go.

Favorite Animal: Lion
Favorite song: Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) by Looking Glass/Girl I Wanna Lay You Down by Jack Johnson
Favorite Movie: Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Role Model: Hillary Clinton
Hobbies: Singing, playing guitar, painting, reading
Weird Talent: I am an amazing dream interpreter.
When I am not working, I would rather be: With my family.

Leigh Walker

My name is Leigh Walker and I am from Winfield, Missouri, a small town located on the Mississippi River. I graduated from the University of Missouri in May 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife and a minor in Captive Wild Animal Management. Previously, I studied wildlife conservation abroad in South Africa, as well as interned at the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, MO. My dream is to work in the field on a conservation project abroad. When I’m not working, you can find me doing yoga, playing rugby, hiking, or exploring the city!

Favorite Animal: Clouded Leopard

Favorite Genre: Indietronica

Favorite Movie: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Weird Talent: Using my feet as hands

Hobby: Adventuring

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Wonderful World of Wolves

Romulus (left) and Remus (right) enjoying each other's company.
Here at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary we have two grey wolves who call this place home. Remus and Romulus are brother and sister who are a little over a year old. They are still getting used to their surroundings here at the sanctuary, but they are getting braver and coming out of their shells more and more every day.


Wolves are the ancestors of today's domestic dogs. Historically wolves lived throughout the lower 48 states, but they were hunted for years and almost disappeared completely. Recently though, they have made a comeback and have been seen in the Great Lakes, northern Rockies, and the southwestern US. Wolves are very important to keeping ecosystems running smoothly. They keep populations of deer, elk, and other game down so that they don’t over eat the vegetation and make areas barren. Their leftover meals are also helpful to scavenger species who need a meal. When wolves are taken out of an area the ecosystem can collapse.


In the wild, wolves live in pack of about 8 animals. They are very intelligent animals who have a hierarchy that they live by. The alpha male and alpha female of the pack are the leaders and make all the decisions. They track the prey, decide where the pack will live, and are usually the only ones who are allowed to breed. It has been seen that if a subordinate male and female mate then they are either exiled from the pack or severely punished. The hierarchy keeps everyone in line and helps everyone survive.

Living in a pack helps wolves with more than just having a family to hang out with. Their numbers help them to be able to hunt large prey to feed everyone. Packs work together when they hunt and are able to take down prey that is much larger than them, for example bison or moose. Everyone knows that wolves eat meat, but what a lot of people don’t know is that they also need fruits and vegetables to stay healthy. They need the nutrients from fruits and veggies that meat can't give them. Remus and Romulus love eating and playing with pumpkins here at IEAS. They make a huge mess but it is worth the clean up to see them having so much fun with their food.

Come visit Remus and Romulus here at IEAS on one of our tours and learn more about these amazing animals! You can visit for more information.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas for the Cats Bake Sale!

Fundraising is very important at a non-profit organization such as the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. This Saturday, December 17th, you can come join us at our 2nd Annual Bake Sale outside of Love’s Gas Station on Highway 114 between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.  Last year the bake sale raised $500 selling cookies and other baked goods for the sanctuary. 

Last year's bake sale with one of our interns (Amanda) and apprentice (Michelle).

Some of the many baked goods we sold at the bake sale.
This year we are planning to increase our variety of baked goods thanks to the friends and family of the sanctuary staff. We are also extremely appreciative of Subway in Boyd for donating additional baked goods, Target for donating a gift card for ingredients, and Love’s Truck Stop for allowing the bake sale to take place on their property. If you're buying any baked goods, be sure to stop down the road by IEAS where we will be having guided tours starting at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Servals: Not Your Average House Cat

Raja enjoying her nice, green grass.
Servals are wild felines from Africa that are often kept as house pets in the United States. Though these cats are the same size as a normal, domesticated house cat, they are not the same at all. Ranging anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, purebred servals can be very expensive depending on its genetics. The price isn’t the only con of keeping this wild animal as a house pet. Servals are more likely to run away if they are allowed to be indoor/outdoor pets. However, if the owner decides they only want their servals to be indoors they are going to have to provide a lot of climbing space.

Barbara lapping up some water.
Servals are also very instinctive night hunters and will not be nutritionally satisfied with just cat food or just ground meat.  The vitamins and minerals that servals need to be nutritionally sound are not just found in ground muscle, they need the bone and organs as well. Luna and Raja, two of our servals here at IEAS, have a hard time walking araound because they did not get the proper nutrition in their vital time of growing. Because of their hunting instincts, they don’t tend to do well with other animals. 



Servals do not instinctively go to the bathroom in a litter box; they tend to need very large litter boxes if they do decide to use them. Unfortunately servals are not a very good pet to keep and often end up being relinquished to other homes or facilities like ours. The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary is home to three servals: Luna, Raja, and Barbara; all of which were privately owned at one point or another. Come on out to see our servals! Our tours are everyday at 11AM and an additional tour on Saturday at 3PM. 

Servals do not make good pets, so please think otherwise if you are thinking about buying a serval as a pet!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

IEAS Participates in the Grapevine Parade of Lights!

IEAS will have its first-ever participation in the 37th Annual Grapevine Parade of Lights on December 1st! The Grapevine Parade of Lights is the largest lighted Christmas parade in North Texas since 1979. Interns and Keepers have worked on float preparations for nearly two weeks. Our float theme is Winnie the Pooh's Winter Wonderland and Friends to describe the diversity of our resident animals at our Sanctuary. Most of our float has been built with reusable materials that have been found around the sanctuary, for example our molds to create Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet are made from chicken wire and paper mache. Then these molds were painted to bring our animal friends to life! Participating in this parade will allow us to promote our Sanctuary name and the educational tours we have everyday at 11 AM and an additional tour on Saturday at 3 PM. So, please come and join us at our first enrollment of the 37th Annual Grapevine Parade of Lights!
Charlotte painting Tigger to life.
Tigger is ready for the parade.
Kate working on Piglet.

Kate paper mache Winnie the Pooh's ears.

37th Annual Grapevine Parade of Lights

Thursday, December 1, 2016
Beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Historic Downtown Grapevine
Parade Route: North on Main St. from Hanover Dr. to Northwest Hwy.
The parade is FREE to attend. No tickets required for viewing the parade!
2016 Theme: "Famous Christmas Characters"