Sunday, March 19, 2017

What is a Coati?

The Coati or Coatimundi is a member of the raccoon family that is native to South America and south-western North America. There are four species of coati. The Ring-tailed Coati and the Mountain Coati are found in South America. The Cozumel Island Coati is only found on Cozumel Island off the coast of Mexico and the White-nosed Coati is found in Mexico and some parts of the U.S. At IEAS we have three White-nosed Coati.

The White-nosed Coati is the largest species of Coati and inhabits Mexico, Central America, New Mexico and Arizona. Coati are omnivores preferring small vertebrates, fruits, carrion, insects, snakes, and eggs.  They behave very much like raccoons and will raid trash and campsites. Unlike the raccoon, Coati are not nocturnal, and are active mostly during the day and sleep at night. Coatis have a few predators such as jaguars, cougars, birds of prey, snakes, and crocodiles. In the wild, females will form social groups called bands with 10-30 members. Adult males live by themselves and only come together with females to mate. Mating season is January through March. The pregnant females will leave the group and their pregnancy lasts about 11 weeks. They can give birth to a litter of two to seven kits, and will return to the group once they are six weeks old. In the wild Coatis have a lifespan of seven to eight years and in captivity up to 15-16 years of age. Their status is least concern although the coati numbers are decreasing.

Our resident coatis are Mork, Mindy, and Kodi.  All three were previously house pets. Kodi came to IEAS when her owners had to give her up due to improper permits. She is about seven years old. She has a funny personality. Kodi loves to dig in her habitat for bugs and loves to cuddle in her blankets with a toy. Mork and Mindy came from a couple that could no longer care for them and decided they needed a better life. They are about ten years old. Mork is a little shy and likes to spend his time watching from up high on the perches. Mindy is a little more social and loves to investigate new things. She likes to dig around her habitat for bugs. You can generally find them together cuddling in their hammock or with a blanket. You can come visit our Coatis during our guided tours which are everyday at 11am and an additional tour on Saturday's at 3pm! You can visit our site for more info:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Did you know the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary (IEAS) was the first Sanctuary of its kind to be certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)? So, what is the AZA, anyway? It is a fellow 501(c)3 non-profit organization representing institutions meeting the highest standards in animal care. They are leaders in animal welfare, conservation, and education.

The AZA maintains two membership categories: Institutional members and Related Facility members. Most major zoos and aquariums that you are familiar with are AZA accredited. Related Facility members, such as IEAS, are very similar but there are subtle differences. Related Facilities do not need to cater aesthetically to the public, and are not required to be open to the public on a regularly scheduled, predictable basis. Other examples of Related Facilities include rehabilitation centers, wildlife ranches, and research facilities. These subtle differences are important in determining whether facilities are accredited or certified.

Institutional members are accredited, whereas Related Facilities are certified. The main difference between accreditation and certification, as I touched on before, is public access. Related Facilities may not be evaluated on enclosure aesthetics or design (something very important to the public eye), but they are expected to achieve, maintain, and/or surpass the same high standards of animal management and husbandry as zoological parks and aquariums. They must also follow the AZA’s Code of Ethics, policies, and standards. Related Facilities with education programs should strive to have their program meet accreditation standards, as well. Both accreditation and certification inspections are required every five years.

Less than 10% of wildlife exhibitors licensed by the USDA meet these high standards of animal welfare. Here at IEAS, we pride ourselves on being one of the very few Sanctuaries to be certified by the AZA, and are pleased to share we earned our certification once again in March 2016!

Want to learn more about the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the certification process? Please visit