By all means, southern hospitality is a real thing. Not that northerns can’t be kind, but people here just seem to go above and beyond. For example, the house I am living in while down here does not have wifi. So whenever I am in a wifi needing mood, I travel down the road to the local McDonalds. Here I must look super stingy because I only ever order a plain iced coffee (the cheapest thing I’ve discovered on the menu I’m willing to ingest) and sit down with my laptop. An older gentleman saw me doing this today and inquired about it. I explained about the wifi and how actually it’s one of the only ways I can use my phone right now because I’ve run out of data from mappsing my way everywhere and such. As he was leaving he offered me a business card and said if I was ever dirt broke and needed wifi I could come to the Ford dealership down the road and use his. Maybe I just look more lost and alone than originally thought, but it was still one of the nicest gestures I’ve received in a while.
Theses past few days have been pretty neat. It rained for a bit but now it’s getting incredibly hot again. I haven’t been doing too much as my supervisor has asked me to scan all the old keeper logs to the Google drive. So that’s what my past few afternoons have been, me fighting with the scanner which enjoys nothing more than to jam when I am almost done, forcing me to start over. I have had the opportunity to look at a few cool papers about socializing wolf pups and serval kittens. So the experience has still been valuable in a way.
I also had the chance to talk with one of the keepers today who was using the computer while I was scanning. I had a question posed to me the other day and it was bothering me so I had to get an answer. Some of my family members inquired to me why we have to skin some of the food for the animals. For some of the older lions, they need the skinned chicken as it’s easier for them to eat. For the smaller cats, some always get either skinned rats mice of bunnies, but some of them only get skinned animals every other day. So I inquired about it, and what I was told was, you have to consider where the animal is coming from. The servals originate from Africa, so their gut and whole digestive system has not evolved to digest fur. They are better suited to eating lean prey with feathers of scales. Trying to digest really fatty or furry prey can cause them to get blocked. A lot of the animals are species from not around here, so are not used to eating the animals available for us to provide to them.
I’m having a lot of fun here with the animals but I’m also learning more about non-profit organizations. A lot about what goes in to running them. There are so many expenses and it requires a lot of management. Its crazy, I have so much respect for people who are able to do it. We’ve been doing a lot of maintenance and construction ourselves but today some professionals came in to do some welding.
I’ve also been really enjoying getting to go into the compounds and interact with the animals. They’re so great. I’ve been in larges the past few days so I’ve been feeding and cleaning the tiger, lion and leopard enclosures. So pretty much my day begins with the leopards. They’re a little overweight and usually each get a half of a rabbit. The girl Savannah, has been refusing to eat her half the past few days, so she’s been getting some store meat instead. Their food is put into two separate little spots with a gate we can close in order to enter their large enclosure and clean. Ramsey (the boy) is very food motivated so he always comes running first and knows exactly where to go. But today he decided he wanted Savannah’s food as well so he stood by her gate and just waited for that door to be opened. Eventually he realized that he was only getting the bunny so if he wanted to eat that was it.
It was also interesting today in the lion enclosure today because one of the females is in heat. She lives with her sister, her brother, and their tiger friend. So it’s been very difficult to get the male lion to focus with her in there. He attempted to put on a show for a tour group yesterday but she was just not having it. It’s interesting to see the dynamics of the group who live together. Who’s dominant over who, which groups are more relaxed and such.
There is also currently on site, a rescued coyote pup named Sullivan. He is still pretty young and is adjusting to humans. The other day one of the staff members took me down to say hi to him. So I was letting him sniff me through the fence and he is very much like a dog. He went nuts and then collapsed down and rolled over on his back to try and entice me to rub his tummy. This internship is definitely skewing my view of wild animals.
So lions in the wild will do this thing called “oofing” (here’s a link to a video of it actually at the Center https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO5TxX2rjV0 ), it’s a form of communication for them in the wild. It’s really awesome and amazing overtime I here it. The staff is able to entice them to do it, because if just one lion does it, the rest will join in as it is their instinct. So the keepers started one today and down from his little enclosure off to the side, little Sully decided to join in. It was pretty adorable.