Sunday, January 31, 2016

Unlikely Friendships are the Best Ones

Here at IEAS, we have a lot of feline friends, but none quite as special as these two.  Billy, our resident caracal, and Barbara, one of our resident servals, reside in our only multi-species habitat.  Billy was abandoned, with his companion Barbara, on the doorstep of a wildlife rehabilitation center in New Mexico.  Staff at the rehabilitation center contacted IEAS and we were able to take in the pair.  Both Billy and Barbara are eleven years old and have been living at the Sanctuary for about seven years.  Although these two are completely different species, they have formed a very unique bond.  They are often seen grooming one another or snuggling up in their igloo together.  

Barbara is one of three servals that call IEAS home.  Servals are native to African savannas where there is plenty of access to water.  Their name is Portuguese for "wolf deer" but they are also nicknamed "giraffe cat" or "savanna stalker."  Throughout history, servals were worshiped by the ancient Egyptians.  Servals are the fastest running cat other than the cheetah and can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.  They are also very effective hunters in the wild, with 50% of their hunts being successful.  Servals are not considered an endangered species, but they still face the threat of habitat loss and the black market fur trade.

Billy is the our only resident caracal at the Sanctuary.  Caracals can range throughout Africa, the Arabian peninsula, and small parts of Southwest Asia.  Their name originated from a Turkish word meaning "black ear" and they are also known as an "African lynx" or a "desert lynx."  Caracals are known for their great sense of hearing and the black tufts of hair at the tip of the ears are iconic for the species.  Their ears are actually controlled by about 20 muscles each.  Due to their good sense of hearing, caracals were once trained for bird hunting in Iran and India.  Caracals are not endangered but can still be threatened by habitat loss.

Please come out and see this precious pair enjoy each other's company on one of our tours!  

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