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.
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!!