Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More About Rio!

Most you have probably already heard that IEAS recently became the home to a beautiful ocelot named Rio. Well, we just wanted to let you all know that she's settling in well! 

Being that she only arrived less than one week ago, she still has some settling in to do. She's shy for now, but her appetite is great! So far, she has been coming out to eat at night, once everything has quieted down, and we imagine that she's also taking that time to explore her habitat. Soon enough, we're sure to see her poking out during the day as her confidence and comfort increase!

Rio's habitat has plenty to keep her occupied and enough environmental enrichment to make her feel right at home. Rio has plenty of high perches, ramps, and even a platform that encircles her entire habitat. There is a heated house for this warm weather loving girl, a fire hose hammock to lounge in, a large log to lay on and hide behind, plenty of grass to roll and relax in, and plenty of nooks and crannies for privacy! Rio also has several behavioral enrichment items such as toys and a hanging buoy to bat around.

As she settles in, we are taking the time to provide Rio with Emotional Enrichment to give her the confidence, security, and comfort she needs to thrive in her new home. We are eager for the steps she will take towards opening up to her new home. As always, it takes time for a new animal to adjust to the change, and we will allow her as much as she needs! For now, Rio won't be seen on IEAS tours as we don't want her to feel overwhelmed, but once she's up for it, visitors will walk right past her habitat and see this amazing endangered Texas native happy, content, and enjoying her life at IEAS!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Bear That Started It All

Up until 2007, the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary was known as the International Exotic FELINE Sanctuary. The Sanctuary rescued only exotic cats. This was until we heard about Bill, an American Black bear.

Bill, a 600 pound bear, spent the first thirteen years of his precious life in a 4x9 foot cage on a concrete floor inside a barn. He was denied his instincts and the life he deserved. He never saw the sun or sky, never felt grass beneath his paws, and never knew compassion. Bill was, in all actuality, a prisoner. After over a decade in this setting, Bill and a number of other animals were confiscated by authorities and taken out of those deplorable conditions. Bill was then sent to the North Texas Humane Society until a home could be found for him. When IEAS heard about this special bear, we knew we needed to help.

Bill's First Tree Climb
When Bill was finally brought to IEAS, he wasn’t sure how to be a real bear. In his new home, Bill found 3,500 square feet of grass, trees, open sky, and fresh air. With a pool to cool off in, trees to climb, and quiet, private cave to sleep in, Bill found love, kindness, safety, and comfort, along with proper care. 

Since his arrival, Bill has truly flourished. After about a month, he made his first big "bear" step; he climbed a tree. His natural instincts have been nurtured and encouraged, resulting in a bear living as just that – a bear. There is nothing more gratifying to us than seeing Bill in his pool, walking in the grass, or lying on his perches in the sun, feeling the warmth that he had been denied for so many years.

Since Bill's rescue, IEFS became IEAS and has rescued 15 more bears, providing them with as wonderful and as natural a life as possible. With our ten acre Dorfman Bear Orphanage habitat and the Emotional Enrichment Program, the IEAS bears are some of the happiest, most secure bears you can find. We are so proud of how far Bill has come in the past six years, and we can't wait to continue to help this wonderful bear! 


Friday, February 15, 2013

The Cruelties of Declawing

There are many of those prospective exotic cat "owners" who think that declawing their cat is an fast, easy, and harmless way to alleviate the fear of being injured by the animal. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

The procedure of declawing a big cat is anything but harmless - particularly to the cat. In declawing a cat, it is not a "nail" that is being removed. Instead, an entire bone is being broken away from the foot's structure, completely destroying the framework of the paw. Essentially, it is the equivalent of removing the end of a finger, from just below the first knuckle. It is a painful surgery, with a very painful recovery period, as the animals have no choice but to use their damaged paws following the process. Once the wounds have healed from the surgery, the terrible physical effects continue. Most often, big cats who have been declawed suffer from a gradual weakening of the muscles of the legs, shoulders, and back, impaired balance, altered posture, and abnormal walking ability (the declaw causes the cat to walk with its weight center over the read of its pads, whereas it would normally be centered closer to the front of the foot - effectively walking on its "heels" constantly).

All of these negative consequences of a declaw imply that the declaw surgery went WELL. Often times, the surgery is not perfect, and fragments of the bone that has been removed are left behind, moving around in the foot over time, which can be excruciatingly painful for the animal.

Another thought to consider is that while the sharp claws of a tiger (or other exotic cat) may be dangerous, they are not the most deadly body part. More often than not, it will be the piercing canines of one of these wild predators that will do the most damage and potential kill the "owner."

Here at IEAS, we see the consequences of exotic animal owners who selfishly declawed the big cats who were at one point in their care. We hope that by spreading the world about the harmful effects of declawing more people will understand why the procedure should be avoided at all costs (though, of course, there should be no need as these big cats should never be kept as pets). In the meantime, we will continue to provide soft ground/grass which is easier on feet and joints and supplement the diets of those animals who were declawed with chondroflex, which helps ease the joint pain that may result from the altered foot structure. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Species Spotlight: JAGUAR!

IEAS is home to just one jaguar  - DOMINO! A fan favorite, Domino does his species proud. He is a truly handsome cat, with a noble and proud personality to match.

Jaguars are powerful, deep chested, stocky cats, with a large, rounded head and short, sturdy limbs. Its size and spotted coat make it look much like a heavyset leopard, but there are minor differences in their spot patterns. A leopard has open rosettes with no spot in the middle, while a jaguar's rosettes will have a black spot (or two) within them.

A jaguar will feed on almost anything that is available, including lizards, snakes, other small animals, deer, fish, turtles, and even cattle. Having the strongest bite force of any feline in relation to body size, the jaguar is able to bite straight through a turtle's shell and kill livestock weighing three or four times its own weight. They are different than most other cats in their hunting techniques in that they will kill in one bite to the back of the skull, rather than the more common neck or throat bite.

Jaguars are often found in well-watered areas, such as the swampy grasslands of the Brazilian Pantanal. In other areas, jaguars will be found in riverine forests alongside streams, rivers, and lakers. They can and do live in more arid areas, but only where water flows through.

Jaguar populations are declining and the jaguar's range has been substantially reduced in the past 100 years due to habitat loss and conflicts with humans. Its present range includes Mexico, through Central American, and into South America as far south as Northern Argentina. Current conservation efforts for the jaguar have focused on educating ranch owners on coexisting with the animal and promoting ecotourism.

Recently, a jaguar was spotted in Arizona - the first jaguar siting in the U.S. in some time. After being spotted by University of Arizona researchers, federal and state wildlife officials released photos of the male jaguar. The photos were taken by automatic cameras set up to track jaguars and ocelots across the state. This is exciting news as this is the only known wild jaguar in the United States! Click here to read the article and see the pictures of this awesome jaguar!

Domino is a wonderful ambassador for his wild cousins, helping IEAS staff and interns teach visitors all about his species and its conservation needs. His handsome face and alluring pride make him a crowd favorite, and we love that Domino has such a wonderful group of supporters! Be sure to head out to IEAS to see this amazing jaguar in person!