Any words to describe this job: hot, lots of sun, physical labor. Yesterday I shoveled rocks for hours, but I did get to drive a sketchy pick up truck so that was cool. It has a golf cart motor I wasn’t sure it would make it up a hill.
Today I actually got to see the ocelot on site. The keeper picked up the top of the den box and showed her to me, she doesn’t often come out. She is amazingly beautiful, I knew they were pretty animals but she is definitely something else. I also made chicken popsicles for some of the smaller animals, they actually weren’t too impressed but I tried.
The past couple days here have been pretty much what I’ve been doing all along, gutting chickens and giving them to lions. I’ve been learning a lot more about the animal care industry. It actually really upsets me to learn how screwy it truly is. So the Center I am at is very concerned with animal welfare. This is what I support. Now while I don’t agree that all wild sanctuaries should be destroyed and all animals kept in captivity, I will agree that some animals will thrive in captivity. However this doesn’t mean I am against animal rights. I’m not. I just think if someone were to come in and release all of these animals we wouldn’t end up with a rise in wild tiger or lion population, we’ll have a lot of dead lions and tigers.
I’m not very impressed by a lot of peoples attitudes about this, but this isn’t going to be an anti media or down with PETA or HSUS rant. I just think raising a little more awareness could be beneficial (education actually is the TOP ranked method of wildlife conservation).
On a different note, I have absolutely decided that the cutest thing in the world is tigers playing in their pools. I will never get over how completely precious it is. However since they are ridiculously bratty, today we had a nice surprise. Freya decided to take her deer meat into her pool with her last night. Meaning today I found a metal pool full of bloody water, heavy enough that the water must be bailed out of it before it can be lifted and emptied (thankfully I didn’t do that).
And as luck would have it, a lot of the animals have been going into heat this past week. But any male who lives with an intact female must be fixed, no cute baby tigers in the making. However the cats have been -as it was put to me- “educational” for the tour groups.
Today was also very interesting because I had my socialization class, so we talked about the importance of socializing animals, the best way to approach certain ones, and then even about specific animals and their behaviors and such. This is the part I found really interesting because a lot of this is done so keepers can share space with the animal. This is so incredibly important when it comes to things like veterinary procedures. The bigger animals are trained in a way that the keepers can work with them through the fence. These animals are actually quite smart and I have seen first hand the vital importance socializing and training. However just because the keepers CAN do these procedures, doesn’t mean the animals will like it. The cats (and dogs I guess) can hold a grudge like none other. And believe me, it is pretty scary to be standing next to the person that the lion on the other side of the chain link fence is mad at.
I also learned some about Geoffroy’s cats today, their physiology and how they differ from domestic cats. I can see for myself they are a bit smaller, their ears slightly different and their markings would not be common to a house cat. What I can’t see though is their higher rate of metabolism, South American Origin, and back paws more similar to a binturong than a house cat. I was pretty pumped about this because this is the centers goal- education. They wanted to inform the public of these species not so well known, their main focus was not the big cats or the dogs. So I’ve been learning a lot about some species I had no clue even existed.
I am still so incredibly happy about the amount of knowledge and insight to this industry I am gaining from being here, but there are definitely a lot of harsh truths. I guess that’s true in most work places though. I just truly do not enjoy when it involves creatures that cannot stand up for themselves. However if anything it’s nothing more than a big motivation to remain true to my ambitions and continue working for animal welfare. I’d rather see 1 tiger living spoiled rotten in captivity than 10 dead tigers in the wild.