Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas for the Cats Bake Sale!

Fundraising is very important at a non-profit organization such as the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. This Saturday, December 17th, you can come join us at our 2nd Annual Bake Sale outside of Love’s Gas Station on Highway 114 between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.  Last year the bake sale raised $500 selling cookies and other baked goods for the sanctuary. 

Last year's bake sale with one of our interns (Amanda) and apprentice (Michelle).

Some of the many baked goods we sold at the bake sale.
This year we are planning to increase our variety of baked goods thanks to the friends and family of the sanctuary staff. We are also extremely appreciative of Subway in Boyd for donating additional baked goods, Target for donating a gift card for ingredients, and Love’s Truck Stop for allowing the bake sale to take place on their property. If you're buying any baked goods, be sure to stop down the road by IEAS where we will be having guided tours starting at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Servals: Not Your Average House Cat

Raja enjoying her nice, green grass.
Servals are wild felines from Africa that are often kept as house pets in the United States. Though these cats are the same size as a normal, domesticated house cat, they are not the same at all. Ranging anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, purebred servals can be very expensive depending on its genetics. The price isn’t the only con of keeping this wild animal as a house pet. Servals are more likely to run away if they are allowed to be indoor/outdoor pets. However, if the owner decides they only want their servals to be indoors they are going to have to provide a lot of climbing space.

Barbara lapping up some water.
Servals are also very instinctive night hunters and will not be nutritionally satisfied with just cat food or just ground meat.  The vitamins and minerals that servals need to be nutritionally sound are not just found in ground muscle, they need the bone and organs as well. Luna and Raja, two of our servals here at IEAS, have a hard time walking araound because they did not get the proper nutrition in their vital time of growing. Because of their hunting instincts, they don’t tend to do well with other animals. 



Servals do not instinctively go to the bathroom in a litter box; they tend to need very large litter boxes if they do decide to use them. Unfortunately servals are not a very good pet to keep and often end up being relinquished to other homes or facilities like ours. The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary is home to three servals: Luna, Raja, and Barbara; all of which were privately owned at one point or another. Come on out to see our servals! Our tours are everyday at 11AM and an additional tour on Saturday at 3PM. 

Servals do not make good pets, so please think otherwise if you are thinking about buying a serval as a pet!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

IEAS Participates in the Grapevine Parade of Lights!

IEAS will have its first-ever participation in the 37th Annual Grapevine Parade of Lights on December 1st! The Grapevine Parade of Lights is the largest lighted Christmas parade in North Texas since 1979. Interns and Keepers have worked on float preparations for nearly two weeks. Our float theme is Winnie the Pooh's Winter Wonderland and Friends to describe the diversity of our resident animals at our Sanctuary. Most of our float has been built with reusable materials that have been found around the sanctuary, for example our molds to create Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet are made from chicken wire and paper mache. Then these molds were painted to bring our animal friends to life! Participating in this parade will allow us to promote our Sanctuary name and the educational tours we have everyday at 11 AM and an additional tour on Saturday at 3 PM. So, please come and join us at our first enrollment of the 37th Annual Grapevine Parade of Lights!
Charlotte painting Tigger to life.
Tigger is ready for the parade.
Kate working on Piglet.

Kate paper mache Winnie the Pooh's ears.

37th Annual Grapevine Parade of Lights

Thursday, December 1, 2016
Beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Historic Downtown Grapevine
Parade Route: North on Main St. from Hanover Dr. to Northwest Hwy.
The parade is FREE to attend. No tickets required for viewing the parade!
2016 Theme: "Famous Christmas Characters"

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fun Facts About Our Bears!

Currently there are 8 remaining species of bears in the world. These include:
1) North American black bear             5) Andean bear
2) Brown/Grizzly bear                        6) Panda bear
3) Polar bear                                        7) Sloth bear
4) Asiatic black bear                           8) Sun bear

Here at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary we are the home of three of these species with a total of 30 bears. We have the North American Black bear, brown/grizzly bear, and Asiatic black bear.

North American black bears are what most people in the United States think of when they hear about bears in the wild. They are the most common bear in North America. A common misconception about them is that they are always black. This is false, black bear coats can change colors throughout their lives and be both black and brown. This is also true about brown/grizzly bears. Both of these species are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and vegetable matter. Their diet is majority vegetable matter and a small portion is meat. Twinkle (pictured above) loves to eat grapes! Black bears range from Florida up to Canada and Alaska. Brown/grizzly bears have a smaller range across Europe and also Alaska, western Canada, and parts of Washington, Montana, and Wyoming.

Willy and Papa

Here at IEAS we have 7 brown/grizzly bears and 22 black bears. An easy way to tell black bears and brown/grizzly bears apart is to look between their shoulder blades. Grizzly bears have a large hump of muscle between their shoulders and black bears do not. Grizzly bears use that extra muscle for digging and our family of grizzlies use theirs to get into mischief in their enclosure. Brown/grizzly bears are typically larger than black bears but there are always special circumstances for individuals who might be a little smaller or larger than average.

Asia and Ashley

Asia (pictured above) is our only Asiatic bear. They are also commonly known as moon bears or white-chested bears. Asia is a very special girl who loves her sweets and is quite sassy. Asiatic black bears have long black fur with a white crescent shaped patch on their chests. They also have a longer patch of fur around their necks, which makes Asia extra cute. Asiatic bears are found in deciduous tropical forests throughout Asia. Like the other bear species, Asiatic bears are also omnivorous. However, they are more carnivorous than the other species. The majority of their diet is made of meat and only a small portion of vegetable matter. Asia's favorite food is the avocado!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

More Than a Holiday!

This past week at the sanctuary there was much excitement over the upcoming Holiday. However, Halloween was not the only thing that was going to be celebrated. This Halloween included a birthday celebration for our youngest resident, baby Nahla. Many of Nahla’s human care takers and all the interns helped Nahla celebrate her very first birthday. Being her first, Nahla was showered with presents. She got multiple pumpkins, one with a special Happy Birthday message and another carved out and stuffed with meat for her to snack on, as well as a large ball to play with.

Nahla investigating her first ever pumpkin.
Nahla is one of our many resident Tigers here at IEAS. She arrived here a few months ago after being found roaming around the streets of Conroe, Texas. Animal Control picked her up and found her owner but discovered they did not have all the proper permits. Therefore, Nahla was confiscated and was soon after given to us.

Nahla is a wonderful addition to our family here at IEAS. While we would prefer she be free in the wild, we are happy that we can give her a nice loving home at the sanctuary. For more information on Nahla or any of our other residents please visit our website and her page Nahla, along with many of the residents, are available for adoption. To learn more about this process and other ways to help please do not hesitate to contact us at (940) 433-5091 or visit

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Winter Preperations

We have survived the intense summer heat and the swarms of mosquitos and fire ants. Now it is clear that the seasons are changing as we move through the cool but brief Texas fall into the more biting cold of winter. Even in this month of October, some nights have temperatures below comfortable T-shirt weather, and on the following mornings it is even possible to see one’s breath. While this is still Texas, so incredibly hot days follow these spurts of chill, the cold will only become more common as the months continue. As the days tend to get colder, the staff and the animals at the Sanctuary take several measures to prepare for the oncoming winter season.

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One of the first measures taken is adding hay to the animals’ houses. The smaller non-feline animals have already gotten hay into their houses, starting last week. These include our three coatimundis, our ring-tailed lemur Popeye, and Cappy the Capybara. The coatis were even given blankets to snuggle with in their homes. Once the weather becomes consistently around 40 degrees, the larger animals will receive hay as well. This hay will get changed once a week when the houses are cleaned, as well as being spot-cleaned as needed.

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Once the night-time temperature drops to 55 degrees or below, heat lamps are hooked up to the houses of the smaller animals, which again include the coatis, lemur, and capybara. A few weeks later when the cold becomes more consistent, the smaller cats, such as our ocelots, and our older cats, such as Makeen the Bengal tiger, start using heat lamps as well. The lamps are turned on around six o’clock at night and unplugged in the morning once the sun begins to warm the Sanctuary.

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The diets of the animals change when the weather gets colder. More energy is needed to keep warm and stay active in the winter, so the cats start getting fed more meat as the keepers see that the animals don’t leave a single crumb from their morning meal. The food charts in the morning are constantly being adjusted at this time and more meat is pulled daily for diet preparation. The bears as well begin eating more to prepare for winter. Because this is Texas, our bears will not go into a full hibernation. Rather, they go into “torpor,” which is a state of decreased activity, resulting in a lower body temperature and lower metabolic rate. When this happens, the bears will require less food and won’t get fed every single day.

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The bears start spending a lot of time in their dens once winter comes. Their den floors get littered with hay for added warmth and comfort. The dens are scattered throughout the 5 acres of the bear territory, from the feeding areas to deep in the woods. Each bear has established its own den in its own self-proclaimed territory. Because of torpor, the bears will spend a lot of winter sleeping in their dens to save energy. 

With all of this preparation going on, we need a little extra help! You can visit to see how you can donate and help all the residents get through an unpredictable Texas winter! Every little bit helps.

Stay warm!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Why Do Big Cats Roar?

Here at IEAS, we have many different species of cats with different vocalizations. It turns out that not all of our cats roar! There are only four species of feline that have the ability to roar: lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards. Currently, we are home to three out of the four species that roar! The lion is the only feline that roars habitually- Every morning and evening Odin (our male lion) can be heard roaring.

Odin, our male lion, giving a nice big roar
According to the National Wildlife Federation, these large cats have tough cartilage running the length of their hyoid bone up to their skull that prevents purring. They also have an incompletely ossified hyoid bone, allowing them to roar. This is one of the distinctions between the genera Felis and Panthera.


Hyoid bone
There are five species of Panthera; their common names are: Lion, Tiger, Jaguar, Leopard, and Snow Leopard. All five species of Panthera are on the IUCN Red List (, an organization which tracks the threat level of known species. The Felis genera are not only are able to purr, but also have pupils that narrow into slits when contracted. The snow leopard is an
exception to the Panthera rule: they have incompletely ossified hyoid bones, but aren’t quite able to roar, nor are they able to purr.

Wiki, our resident Jaguar (left) and Karen, one of our resident White Bengal Tigers (right).
Interestingly, cheetahs have the ability to purr, but are classified in their own genera (Acinonyx) because their claws cannot retract. Cheetahs are also unique because they make a “chirp” that sounds similar to a bird or my fellow intern, Lexi’s hiccups. Our resident cheetah, Mau, can be seen chirping in the morning around breakfast time. Be sure to check out his adorable videos on our website, or you can visit him on one of our tours everyday at 11:00 AM and an additional tour at 3:00 PM on Saturday. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to hear him in person!

Mau, starting his morning "chirps"

Author: Kate LeBlanc

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Introducing the Fall 2016 Interns!

We have seven new interns this fall. They have been here for about five weeks. This group of interns is from all over the US. They all have recently graduated and are pursuing a career in the animal world. Let’s meet the new interns!


Ashley is pictured here making our bear diets. She is from Westfield, Massachusetts. Ashley graduated from Delaware Valley University in May 2015 with a bachelor of science in conservation and wildlife management. Her future ambitions include working in a big cat rescue.
Favorite animal: Tiger
Favorite color: purple
Favorite food: pasta
Special talent: none
Hobbies: coloring, hiking
Countries traveled to: Aruba
Favorite movie: Nightmare Before Christmas
If she could be any mythical creature, she would be a mermaid.
If she could have a super power, it would be the power to control water.


Brenda is pictured placing the meat for the carnivores in bins to defrost overnight. Brenda is from Artesia, California. She graduated in May 2016 from Humboldt State University with a BS in Zoology. Her future ambitions include working in conservation and extinction prevention. Favorite animal: African Lion
Favorite color: green
Favorite food: frog legs
Special talent: fluent in Spanish
Hobbies: reading DC comics, hiking, duct tape crafts, collecting knives
Countries traveled to: Mexico, Canada
If she could be any mythical creature, she would be a dragon.
If she could have a super power, it would be the power of mimicry or absorption (can copy or take another’s powers).


Charlotte is pictured refueling the gator. She is from Suwanee, Georgia. Charlotte graduated in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Animal Science with a minor in Chemistry from Berry College in Rome, Georgia. Her future ambitions include working in conservation of endangered species.
Favorite animal: Tiger
Favorite color: red
Favorite food: mashed potatoes
Special talent: innate sense of direction
Hobbies: reading, coloring, rock collecting, baking
Countries traveled to: Honduras, Canada
Favorite movie: The Lion King
If she could be any mythical creature, she would be a mermaid.
If she could have a super power, it would be the power of shape shifting.


Kate is pictured painting Rob’s (one of our ocelots) new house equipped with a heat lamp. She is from Jeffersonville, Vermont. She graduated from the University of Vermont with a BS in Animal Science. Her future ambitions include going to vet school and become a veterinarian.
Favorite animal: all animals except turkeys
Favorite color: purple
Favorite food: almonds
Special talent: dancing
Hobbies: dancing, hiking, rugby
Countries traveled to: Ecuador, Greece, Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Canada, and Switzerland
Favorite movie: Aristocats
If she could be any mythical creature, she would be a chimera.
If she could have a super power, it would be the power of flight.


Kayla is pictured here prepping special diets for some of the large cats with donated steak from Walmart. She is from Central Illinois. She graduated from the University of Illinois in May of 2016 with a degree of Animal Science. Her future ambitions include being a curator of her own sanctuary.
Favorite animal: goat
Favorite color: purple
Favorite food: coffee
Special talent: being funny
Hobbies: cooking, dancing, reading
Countries traveled to: none
Favorite movie: Fried Green Tomatoes
If she could be any mythical creature, she would be a hippogriff.
If she could have a super power, it would be the power of elasticity.


Lexi is sorting through loose sweets donated by Walmart for our grizzlies. She is from St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated in May from the Missouri University of Science and Technology with a BS in Biological Sciences and a minor in Chemistry. Her future ambitions include animal conservation on another continent. 
Favorite animal: cheetah
Favorite color: yellow
Favorite food: chocolate covered raisins
Special talent: hiccup like Mau
Hobbies: soccer, reading
Countries traveled to: Spain, Ireland, South Africa, and England
Favorite movie: Harry Potter
If she could be any mythical creature, she would be a phoenix.
If she could have a super power, it would be the power of invisibility.


Renee is pictured here prepping our “grizzly bucket” with meat for the next day. She is from Belvidere, New Jersey. She graduated May 2016 from Frostburg State University with a Bachelor of Science in Interpretive Biology and Natural History and minors in Spanish and Animal Behavior. Her future ambitions include working in animal conservation at Disney World.
Favorite animal: Panda
Favorite color: purple
Favorite food: Chinese pork steam buns
Special talent: can eat her weight in food
Hobbies: running, scary things, Asian culture
Countries traveled to: Australia, Guatemala
Favorite movie: Wreck-it-Ralph
If she could be any mythical creature, she would be a fairy.
If she could have a super power, it would be the power of flight.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Illegal Pet Trade

The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary is a permanent home, a place of refuge, for our exotic animals. A majority of these animals have been abused, abandoned, neglected, confiscated, or previously owned by individuals unwilling or unable to provide for these animals. Fortunately, these animals are lucky to have a happy ending at IEAS where they are well fed and properly cared for. However, that is not the case for many exotic animals.

Shauna, our 23-year-old lioness, was once an illegal pet living in a backyard of a suburban home.

In the United States, regulation of private ownership of exotic animals, including felines, wolves, bears, reptiles, and non-human primates, is determined by each state. This allows for loopholes and oversight when owning exotics. In Texas, owners must obtain a license to possess an exotic animal. While breeding, selling and transporting exotic animals is technically legal on a federal level, many of the animals are brought to the U.S. illegally. Every year, thousands of animals are entering the exotic pet trade. These animals are often captured from their native habitat and smuggled in or legally imported.

Sunshine was bought from a safari park in Springfield, MO. His owner was in violation of the law and Sunshine was confiscated.   
Wildlife trafficking is estimated to be a $19 billion per year global business, which is just behind illegal trafficking of drugs, humans, and firearms. This is a huge problem with little consequences. If a person is caught illegally transporting animals into the United States on a first offense, it is possible that their consequence won’t result in jail time. On the contrary, if that same person was caught illegally transporting drugs into the country, on their first offense they may get a maximum of 40 years.

Prince and Princess were found in a puppy mill. We believe they were trying to illegally breed them for the illegal wildlife trade.
The illegal wildlife trade is quickly escalating into a crisis that is directly threatening the survival of many species in the wild, including but not limited to, tigers, leopards, and elephants. At this point, you may be wondering what you can do to help! Get involved! You could start locally at the IEAS by volunteering or donating to help provide a better life for our animals. There are also many other organizations whose focus is to help save endangered animals and put a stop to this illegal trafficking, including Stop Wildlife Crime and World Wildlife Fund.

Nahla was once a pet and escaped after a flood. Her owner was in violation of city ordinance for having a "dangerous animals" within city limits.