Sunday, December 13, 2015

50 Shades of Cappy

Meet Cappy our fantastic resident Capybara! Cappy is typically overlooked by our interesting big cat and bear residents BUT Cappy is just as cool! 

What is a Capybara you ask?! They are only the largest rodent in the world! Want to know more, keep reading! 

They live in southern Central America and northern South America. Capybaras are semi-aquatic so we tend to see Cappy swimming happily in his pool :) He swims quickly around his pool and underwater with the help of his webbed feet. He can also press his ears against his head to prevent water from getting inside his ears while submerged. 

Rodents have continuously growing teeth which is why you will find Cappy chewing on grass and pumpkins when given the opportunity. 

Curious about that weird bump on his nose???? Male capybaras, like our handsome Cappy, have that bump to rub their scent and mark their territory. As seen in the pictures below, Cappy will rub his scent gland on everything, including his pool. 

Although capybaras are not endangered, conservation for these cute fellows is important! Capybaras are often killed and hunted for food.

Friday, December 4, 2015

You Got a Friend in Me

You Got a Friend in Me

If a random stranger not only approached your house but sat outside of it every day how would you react?

Almost every other afternoon, I go out and sit with two animals for my emotional enrichment journals. The two animals that I sit with are a male cheetah, name Mau, and a male lion, name Odin. Each and every time that I sit with them after work, I aim for twenty minutes a day.

As stated on the IEAS website, “Emotional Enrichment is a technique from improving and enhancing and animal’s emotional life and minimizing stress, agitation, and irritation within the context of the animal’s personality and biological instincts.” This program was started by Louis Dorfman, IEAS Animal Behaviorist. Emotional Enrichment is said to improve their quality of life while ensuring them the comfort and respect of knowing “You Got a Friend in Me”.

On a regular day after work, I go out and sit with Mau a good distance along his fence line. The unique thing about Mau is that he is gong blind so by him not being able to see he can only go off of what he smells and hears. As I walk up and approach Mau’s habitat I say “Hey Mau” and proceed to sit down. Since the cats are very sensitive to sound you sit with them in silence for however long or before it gets dark. During this time of sitting, the animals might groom themselves, lay around, or even play with their behavior enrichment items. Behavior enrichment items that are in their habitat are pickles, boomer balls, and tires that occupies some of their time throughout the day.
Mau and sitting companion Zakiya
 Providing companionship for these two animals has taught me a lot about observation skills. I have sat with Mau enough to notice that when he hears a mule driving around he relates it to feeding time since that is how we deliver his food to him. He even walks in the same pathway along the fence line only because he can feel with his feet the dirt that is there. Mau is comfortable in his habitat and knows it well. 

Odin and sitting companion Zakiya
At times sitting with these animals gives us interns as well as keepers a moment to unwind and get a breath of fresh air to relieve stress due to the daily tasks of the sanctuary. These animals here have interesting background stories to where it lures individuals in to want to know more about them.  Considering that animals can’t express themselves with words, emotions such as anger, sadness, and happiness play an integral role in capturing the natural essence of who they are and who they have become.

By signing up and making an appointment to take a tour here at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary, you too can learn an awful lot about these animals along with their remarkable personalities!!

Pumpkin Playtime

Pumpkin Pie Playtime!

While the staff at IEAS join family and friends in celebration of Thanksgiving the residents at IEAS received pumpkins. The pumpkins given to the tigers, lions and cougars had a peek- a- boo hole where they could find some of their favorite treats inside including chicken necks inside. However, for the smaller animals at IEAS like our coatis, ring tailed lemur and capybara the pumpkins served as a desert platter where they could find marshmallows, peanut butter as well as their whole Thanksgiving feast. Our bears also got pumpkins with their diets, but our bears didn't need much encouragement to tear into their pumpkins.  They love to eat the insides and will shred and flatten their pumpkins to get the yummy insides. They also serve as behavioral enrichment for the animals as they get to play with them and destroy them to find their prize inside.

This is Duke, one of our handsome cougars, enjoying his first moments with his pumpkin. He seemed a little possessive of his new toy.

Upon receiving the pumpkins from Rainbow Plant Sales, Heritage Church of Christ and Dr. Randy Griffin we gave each resident a pumpkin and watched their interaction. We recorded various responses from excited and interested to indifferent or unconcerned reactions. For example, Cappy loved his pumpkin and upon receiving it began consuming it immediately and the bears tore theirs to shreds. But some of the older bengal tigers, including Caesar and Big John, seemed a little less interested and didn't care to interact. While others like Nala, afemale lioness, was more interested in saying hi to her visitors at the fence. You can watch the videos and get a glimpse at the experience up close through visiting and liking our Facebook  page or by following us on youtube.

Catch some of the action, live below!

This is Saphy, a 15 year old Cougar, interacting with her first pumpkin of the year. She still plays like a little cub. 

See the various reactions from all the different animals and how each one is different. 

This is Kodi, a white nosed coati, and her reaction to her pumpkin.

Watch Rasul make his own pumpkin pie. 

Odin on the other hand wasted no time tossing his pumpkin around to get his treats. To see the whole experience, visit our Facebook page where you will find a video of Odin and his pumpkin.

We are planning to do a second round of pumpkins with all of the residents soon, so be sure to stay updated on what is coming soon in order to plan a visit and potentially see the experience up close. We hold tours everyday of the week at eleven o'clock in the morning and offer a three o'clock evening tour on Saturdays.