Here at IEAS we recently suffered a loss of one of our most beloved and well known residents. Sapphire was a 16-year-old cougar that came from another facility in Ohio that lost funding. When I got here 4 months ago, I was lucky enough to participate in the Emotional Enrichment Program with her. Emotional Enrichment is a technique for improving and enhancing an animal's emotional life and minimizing stress, agitation, and irritation within the context of the animal's personality and biological instincts. It is a process wherein keepers, employees, and/or behaviorists create an emotional bond with the animal.
|One of Sapphire's favorite toys, a hanging buoy|
I got to personally know this amazing cougar during these sits. When I first started sitting with her, she would give me an initial hiss every time. Eventually, with time and sitting with her multiple times a week, the initial hiss changed to an initial purr. If she was in her house, she would come out and lay by the fence and would give me some of the loudest purrs I’ve ever heard. She was very affectionate and quickly became one of my favorites here.
Even though she was super affectionate, she could be just as sassy… especially in the mornings. Most people can relate to getting a tad bit grumpy when they’re hungry in the morning and Sapphire was no exception to this. When we would go to feed her, she would give us some of her famous cougar yells and hisses as we locked her out of her house. As soon as she ate, she was a whole new cat. We all loved her sassy attitude, and she was certainly the firecracker of the Sanctuary.
It was a pleasure getting to know this amazing cougar these past 4 months. After we were done with work, my highlight of the day would be to go sit with Sapphire and spend some time with her. She certainly captured my heart every time she would look at me, roll over, and purr.
Sapphire captured the hearts of everyone who has worked here and have gotten to know her; she will be surly missed. She was her sassy self up until the very end, when her little body just could not keep up anymore. She we always be remembered for her attitude at feeding and her purrs during afternoon
sits. She will hold a special part in the IEAS family.