Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A January Christmas for the Cats!

Even though Christmas has passed for most of us, the residents of IEAS are just now enjoying the leftover Christmas trees. Now, all of our animals have trees in their habitats, but something about a new and different little evergreen tree certainly seems to set them off! Most of the trees we provided for the felines stood about two to three feet tall. This allowed the cats to pick them up, toss them in the air, and bat them around with their paws.

Some were surprisingly playful, like Noel, one of our Siberian tigers who tends to put on his tough face most of the time. Instead of watching us as we watched him, like he usually does, Noel dove right into his tree, shaking it around and chewing it up. In no time at all, he picked the tree up and playfully ran full speed into his house with the tree to play in private!

A few yards away, the triplets, Akbar, Kumar, and Arusha, couldn’t get enough of their trees. They sniffed, batted, and shook their trees all around, taking a moment every few minutes to pounce on each other. They were certainly excited at the new toy, as they usually do.

Zippy, unlike the others, got a Christmas tree that stood about seven feet tall. We knew Zippy would enjoy it; she never disappoints when we give her new enrichment items! This time was no different. Zippy pounced right on it. She would grab a branch and roll the whole tree towards her. When it rolled on her foot, she would take off running, as if the tree were attacking her. After a loop around her habitat, she always came back for more.

Kim and Karen, who always love a new toy, had a blast as they would walk away from the tree, then run right back and pounce on it. They chewed them up, shook them, put them in their water troughs, then placed them in their houses for safe keeping. Even days later they have been seen playing with the trees!

Their neighbor, Lexus, is a VERY majestic and proud lion. He didn’t let this stop him from having a blast with his tree. He shook it up and chewed it to bits! We found remnants of it scattered all over. See below for a before and after shot of Lexus’ tree – you’ll be able to tell just how much fun he had!

Some of our small felines also had some fun. Chrissy and Tricia, two of our bobcats, waited until late in the evening to explore their tree but once they smelled it, they had a great time rubbing, laying, and rolling all over it! One of our interns, Amanda, saw sap on their whiskers and got some great pictures of them loving their trees (below)! They seemed so happy to have the pine needles scratching and rubbing their backs and faces for them!

A HUGE thanks to Rainbow Plant Sales in Saginaw, TX, for donating all of their leftover trees! And thanks to ALL for your support!


  1. Great photos . . . nice to know that leftover trees are being re-purposed as enrichment toys!!

  2. Thanks Sue Ann! It was a great treat for the animals! Many of them surprised even us with how playful they became and how much they loved those trees!