Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Big Steps for Scoundrel!

In the past few weeks, Scoundrel has made some HUGE strides in his feelings of security and comfort around his human caregivers. Shortly after his arrival, Scoundrel transitioned into a bear who was definitely not opposed to company from his human friends. However, he was always one to be sure that a certain distance was maintained, though he was very curious and interested in coming closer.

Now that he is in Bear Orphanage, it seems that Scoundrel has really come into his own and has a new found confidence. He now finds comfort in the trust that has grown between him and his caretakers, and he uses that trust to find security in their presence. This has become particularly evident in Scoundrel's efforts and willingness to spend time with and around his friends. Several times in the past few weeks, Scoundrel has heard or seen us and reacted by coming down from his tree or approaching the area.

In fact, just a few days ago, Scoundrel showed his trust and comfort by approaching, within five feet, IEAS Animal Behaviorist Louis Dorfman when he came to visit. This is the closest that Scoundrel has even been to Louis and directly shows the benefits of the hours that Louis has patiently spent with Scoundrel as part of the IEAS Emotional Enrichment Program. As Scoundrel approached, he sniffed and watched Louis curiously and very comfortably. This is such an amazing step for Scoundrel as it shows that, though he is now living with bears, he finds trust and security in his human friends!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring at Last!

Today marks the first day of SPRING! It was ushered in by some stormy weather, but by this afternoon, the sun is shining and the sky is blue! The animals, most of whom had been tucked away in their houses staying warm and dry this morning, are all out and about!

We had to share a few pictures of these happy looking animals with you! They are such a wonderful way to welcome spring!

Karen was particularly comfy on her favorite perch!

Papa Bear also seemed to enjoy lying on his belly in the sun!

Gedi, a female lioness, was enjoying the cool grass this afternoon!

Brothers Akbar and Kumar enjoyed lounging in the grass as much as Gedi did!

Arusha, who favors cooler weather, found some shade to relax in under a her favorite perch!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Story of Simba III

There are many consequences stemming from private individuals owning exotic animals as pets, but for now, let's look at the results of poor nutrition. Everyone who has ever owned a domestic pet knows that it is important for them to receive a well balanced diet. For many, it's as simple as pouring a cup of dry food into a bowl once a day. However, for exotic animals, like exotic cats, there is so much more that goes into it. A well balanced diet for an exotic feline requires more than just throwing some hamburger meat or chicken into a bowl for them or giving cubs whole milk to drink. Many of our residents know all too well the consequences of getting a poor diet. Receiving an improper diet from any point in their life can lead to osteoporosis, brittle bones causing hairline fractures, dental problems, or as in the case of Simba III, malnutrition and dangerously low body weight.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture seized Simba III from a roadside petting zoo, and he was brought to IEAS by the SPCA of Dallas. When Simba III first arrived at IEAS, he was extremely malnourished and underweight. It's a conservative estimate that Simba was 150 pounds underweight when he arrived. We had to ease him into his new diet which was full of the vitamins and minerals he had been missing all his life. With this nutrient rich diet, and the fact that he was so hungry, we had to alter the way Simba was fed. The Director of IEAS, Richard Gilbreth, became Simba's personal chef as this emaciated tiger began getting six specially prepared one pound meals a day in order to get his digestive tract on-track to accept a more beneficial diet. Once Simba reached his ideal weight, we began feeding him twice a day and eventually just once a day. It took time, but all we were worried about was keeping Simba happy and healthy. He had been physically and emotionally mistreated and had a deep-seeded distrust of humans that has taken years to overcome.

We are happy to say that Simba is now living a quality life at IEAS. He enjoys his spacious habitat with perches, trees, a running pool and numerous enrichment items to play with. Simba also now has trust and security with the entire Staff of IEAS, but nothing can compare to the relationship he has with Richard. He knows Richard was there to rescue him from his deplorable condition and it was he who helped bring him back to health. No other relationship can compare to that with the one who saved your life.

Simba is just one example of an animal who suffered the consequences of exotic pet ownership. Many people aren’t aware of how much it costs to properly care for a large exotic cat. At IEAS it costs roughly $500/MONTH to care for one tiger! That figure includes their nutritional needs, veterinary care, and basic upkeep of their habitat. Many of our residents came from private individuals. Not every privately owned exotic animal suffers as much as Simba did, but they aren’t all so fortunate.

Friday, March 9, 2012

All About Habitats!

Here at IEAS, we take great pride in the habitats that we provide for the felines and bears who live here. Every facet of what goes into a habitat, including safety, size, perches, grass, trees,enrichment, and more is carefully thought out and considered.

Habitat sizes are determined by a number of factors. These factors, of course, include the standard size regulations, but here at the Sanctuary, other factors often lead our habitat sizes to exceed the standard. When determining the square footage of a habitat, an animal's age, activity level, and size are all considered. Additionally, fence heights and the existence of a top on the habitat are determined by the animal's ability or likelihood to climb or jump. For example, the lion habitats at IEAS have fences that are eleven feet high with an additional four foot overhang angling into the habitat. These fourteen foot high habitats do not have tops, while the leopard habitats at IEAS all have a top. This is because leopards are exceptionally good climbers and jumpers. The top provides a necessary measure of safety for these habitats.

Environmental Enrichment is something that is particularly important in terms of what goes INTO a habitat. Essentially, environmental enrichment includes anything that mimics something in an animal's natural habitat and "enriches" the space in which they live. This can include anything from grass, trees, and boulders, to perches and hammocks.

For example, a bobcat in the wild would enjoy lounging in the trees as being up high helps them feel safe and protected. At IEAS, we provide bobcats with tall trees, fire hose hammocks, and multi-level perches that allow them to do just that - feel safe and protected up high as they would in their natural environment. The same goes for all of the other residents of IEAS. We have multi-perches and ramps for the climbing residents, pools and waterfalls for the tigers, caves to keep cool for the cougars, bobcats, and lions. Habitats have trees, perches, large rocks, grass, and more. All of these things provide them a place to feel comfortable and safe, while also allowing them to make the habitat their own by scent marking, clawing, and rubbing. Additionally, plenty of vegetation provides a truly naturalistic habitat with shady spot to hide, shelter from wind and weather, and a "wild" feel.

Behavioral enrichment items also go into a habitat. These toys are items that allow the animal to perform its natural behaviors, such as pouncing, stalking, and playing. At IEAS, we use all kinds of durable items as enrichment, including Boomer balls, giant wooden spools, heavy duty tires, and even huge plastic pickles (which, surprisingly) are one of the felines' favorite toys! It is always entertaining to watch the residents of IEAS play with their favorite behavioral enrichment items. It is amazing to see how happy their favorite toys can make them!

It is wonderful to see how the proper habitat can make these animals feel content, secure, and safe. Come out and visit the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary to see for yourself!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

One Year Anniversary Of...

We just can't believe that it has been exactly ONE YEAR since Prince, Princess, Duke, and Duchess arrived at IEAS!

These four incredible cats spent their lives (prior t0 coming to the Sanctuary) at a Coryell Country property in Texas. All of the animals on the property were found living in terrible conditions. Both inside the home and outside on the property, conditions were deemed unsafe for both humans and animals. As such, over 300 animals, including these four exotic cats were legally put into the custody of the Houston SPCA. With their help, along with the help of the Houston Zoo, Duke, Duchess, Prince, and Princess, came to live at IEAS, where they have spacious habitats, lots of toys and enrichment items, perches, pools, long grass, and warm houses to relax in.

These four have settled in amazingly well in the past year. It didn't take long for them to become part of our family and we are so happy that we were able to make such a difference in their lives. We can't wait to continue to watch them grow and hope you will come out to see them too!

Another HUGE thanks to the HOUSTON SPCA
and HOUSTON ZOO for all of their help!

Below is the video of their arrival at IEAS. Check it out!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring is here!

The Grizzlies are up, the grass is growing, the temperatures rising, and everyone is enjoying the weather! Spring means a whole lot here at IEAS. The warmer temperatures mean more projects, including habitat maintenance, painting, and cementing/mortaring. One of the first things we did was some roadwork! Roy, the IEAS Maintenance Supervisor, used some heavy equipment to repair some of the bumps and holes in the Sanctuary roads that had formed in the past few chilly months. Now, we have gravel roads ready for walking and it's a good thing because spring tends to be the season of tours! Even Thor has been poking his head out on tours these past few warm weeks!

In addition to all of those we hope will come out to the Sanctuary, we plan on some community outreach! We will be doing several presentations about the Sanctuary in the DFW area, hoping to gain support for the incredible animals you all know and love. Word of mouth is the best way of increasing our support system. We love that all of our amazing fans and supporters are so helpful in spreading the word to their family and friends about the needs of the furry IEAS residents and we are so grateful when we see the positive effect it has on the Sanctuary.

This spring, take a break from your "spring cleaning" and head out to IEAS to see what we've been up to! More importantly, you'll be able to see the happy faces of animals basking in the sun and coming up to greet their friendly visitors (you)!

We hope to see you soon!

Friday, March 2, 2012

WELCOME New Interns!

Meet Anni, Katie, and Rebecca!

Today, these three ladies joined Whitney, Betsy, and Amber as Animal Care Interns at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. They had their first day of work and got to meet the residents of the Sanctuary for the first time. It is always an amazing, slightly overwhelming, but extremely rewarding experience to see these furry faces for the first time. There is no better morning greeting than a chuff or moan from a friendly feline.

Before these, and all IEAS interns, start their work, they are welcomed to the Sanctuary with lots of information! In fact, they get a whole binder full of vital info for a successful and fulfilling internship. This binder contains a ton information about the IEAS residents, the species' natural histories, policies and procedures at the Sanctuary, safety rules and protocols, nutritional information, and SO MUCH MORE! This information is not solely applicable to the interns' time at IEAS, but much of it can be carried on to future jobs and experiences. With this knowledge and the hands-on experience they gain during their three to six months at IEAS, interns have a world of opportunities ahead of them!

Good luck to the three newest interns of IEAS!
We're happy to have you!