Friday, January 28, 2011

Big Cat Scratching Posts!


Everyone who has a cat at home knows they love a good scratching post. Here at IEAS, the big cats feel the same way. As we walk through their habitats, we see lots of scratch marks on trees and in the dirt. The lions and tigers will stand as tall as they can with their paws on a tree, clawing some big marks in the bark. This is not necessarily to keep their claws sharp! These markings are a lot like those you would see in the wild. The big cats have scent glands on their paws and use the marks as a territorial sign, claiming the area they are in as their own. This tree is in the habitat of Allie and Rasul, two white Bengal tigers. Allie (below) loves to scratch this particular tree!


Big cats also have scent glands on their cheeks, chins, between their toes, and at the base of their tails. They will frequently rub their cheeks and faces on the fences to mark the boundaries of their territory. Between this and scratching their trees, we see lots of markings happening in the habitats of these big felines!


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Come visit the Sanctuary to learn more about these big cats! We offer conservation education tours every day at 11:00 and Saturdays at 11:00 & 3:00!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our Last Set of Trees!


Well, most of the Christmas tree have been squashed, chewed, thrown around, and destroyed to the point of no return but we had just a few left to pass out to the animals! Just like the ones before them, these trees proved to be a GREAT piece of enrichment for the cats.

This time around, we gave the littlest trees to the littlest cats! Our bobcats, servals, and caracal had a blast! Unlike their their larger neighbors, they didn't dive to tear apart the trees. Instead, they realized that these trees and their little bristly needles made a perfect place for rubbing! Tassers, one of our oldest bobcats, in addition to lots of rubbing, did LOTS of drooling all over the tree! Baby and Cookie, Tassers' neighbors, pushed their faces through the branches! It was just like they had little combs scratching through their fur! Billy, the caracal, and Barbara, a serval had been watching closely as Tassers got his tree and then had a chance for their own. They laid down right next to it and stayed put, rubbing until we left.

Shauna, a lioness, was one of the big cats who got a tree in our last round. She is known for being a bit of a goofball and her personality certainly showed when we gave her this tree! Shauna laid upside down on the tree, scratching her head all over it. She tried continuously to pull the branches up over her face to rub on them. Check out the video below to see how funny she was!


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We hope you have enjoyed watching the cats and bears playing with the trees as much as we have! We couldn't have imagined the trees being a bigger hit! The residents of IEAS loved them! One final THANKS to Rainbow Plant Sales and all of our supporters!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Bears' Turn for Christmas Trees!


After the cats received their Christmas trees, we knew it was the bears’ turn! Now, they are much more used to trees; we all know they love to climb! So, instead of giving them full trees to climb on, we decided to cut off the branches for them to use as denning materials. This way, they could be warm AND have some Christmas decorations in their dens! When we piled the branches in the holding areas on both sides of Bear Orphanage, they each reacted a little differently. On one side, Scooter, Scamp, and Greta’s normal playfulness was amplified by the fun new branches! Scamp plopped himself down in the middle of the pile to play. He would pull the branches up onto himself and rub his face and belly all over them. At the same time, Greta was right next to him, rolling back and forth and pouncing from branch to branch, making sure to also pounce on Scamp and Scooter a time or two! Scooter spent most of his time walking around in the branches and playing with Greta. He really will take any opportunity for playtime! Check out the video below to see how much fun they had tumbling and pouncing in the branches!

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On the other side of Bear Orphanage, Rascal was the first of the bears to see the branches. We piled them right next to the cave he was sleeping in. Once he smelled them, he wandered out and sniffed around. Probably because he had just woken up, Rascal realized these branches would be great for sleeping with. He picked a few up, one at a time, and dragged them backwards into his cave. Over the next few days, we saw that on both sides of the Orphanage, the bears had begun dragging the piles into their dens and caves! Turns out these thick, soft branches really do make great denning materials for them!

We are so happy that these donated trees have had such an impact on the cats and bears of IEAS! It’s an absolute joy to watch them have so much fun with them! Thanks again to Rainbow Plant Sales in Saginaw, TX and to ALL of our supporters! Come out and visit soon!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Say "cheese!"

Here at the Sanctuary, we know that many of our supporters don't have the chance to visit the animals often. We also know that many of you want the opportunity to stay updated on how the cats and bears are doing and what they are up to. Well, we are constantly taking pictures and videos of all of the animals so YOU can see just how wonderful they are! While we have lots of these photos and videos on our website (www.bigcat.org), we are taking additional steps to make it easy and fun for you to see what all the cats and bears are up to. We have created a flickr page, full of pictures (and videos soon!) that will constantly be added to. The pictures are separated into different sets so you can look at pictures of all of our lions, all of our bobcats, or all of our enrichment - all at once! So, go take a look and see what the cats and bears have been up to! Some of them seem to smile for the camera, like Papa here!

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!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thanks to all who voted for us on CITGO's Fueling Good!


Thanks to each and every one of you who voted for us for CITGO’s Fueling Good Sweepstakes. Because you thought about our animals for a few moments each day, we have come in third place and won $1,000 worth of CITGO gas and a case of CITGO oil! The staff and residents of IEAS could not be more grateful for the care and support you have for us! Now, instead of spending that $1,000 on gas, we can put it towards furthering our efforts to make the lives of our animals safe, healthy, and happy. We never could have reached this goal on our own. We know that it has only happened because of YOU. Thank you so much for your support! You are each an important part of the lives of our felines and bears!

Monday, January 10, 2011

First Snow of the Year



Yesterday we had our first snow fall for 2011! The animals were not too thrilled first thing in the morning when it was raining, but once the snow started falling at lunch time, they were out having fun. Akbar, Arusha and Kumar were out playing in the snow, and Kimberly and Karen were actually playing in their pool! Now one would expect a snow leopard to thrive in this type of weather, but Katrina was not about to be out in the snow. She kept nice and dry in her cave under her water fall. It was only after the snow fall she ventured out to check on things. The bears were smarter and all stayed in their dens and caves during the storm. It wasn't until today that they came out to play. Nearly all the bears were out on the tour enjoying the cooler weather. There were a few that chose to stay warm and snug in their den. So, don't let the cooler weather keep you from enjoying these animals. Come out to see them on a tour!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Domino Enjoys his Ball


Domino has a little system in place on the days we clean his habitat. He watches as we clean his habitat and spray his enrichment items with a 50/50 bleach solution. Then, you can see his eyes light up when we go to raise his gate. At that point, he only has one thing on his mind...get to his red boomer ball. While raising his gate or rolling up his hose, one will hear a squeaking sound. Well that noise is Domino licking and rubbing his nose across his boomer ball. It's clockwork. He does this every time we clean, and it makes for good entertainment for those watching. You can come see Domino on a tour. Just call the office to set it up for 11am Monday-Friday, or come by Saturday at 11am or 3pm or Sundays at 11am. How often do you get to see a Jaguar rub his nose across a boomer ball?!