Ring Around the Cat

Day three at CPT was awesome! I'm working on getting to know the layout of the compound (55 acres) and the animals within each area. As interns, we are assigned areas we are especially responsible for. Before I leave work, I have to complete my animal rounds; this involves walking through each area and visiting with the animal. Getting to know each carnivore enables us to more quickly identify anything out of the ordinary and to create the best life possible for each individual. In addition, I've got to provide enrichment once a week to my areas. This could be providing a new toy, moving around the structures in enclosures, or introducing aromatic or sound stimuli. My areas on the compound are: Swamp, Blossom, and Kinkajou Row (I'm not sure how the names came about, as ocelots don't really live in swamps and there are no kinkajous in Kink Row). I've got ocelots, caracals, and binturongs:

Ralph (above) is a senior citizen bint. Binturongs (Arctictis binturong) are related to the mongoose as well as skunks and weasels. They are arboreal, meaning they live mostly in trees (except for Ralph and another bint called Shroom- they like to be on the ground. They're weird). They are one of two mammals with prehensile tails and they originate from Southeast Asia. Now, this is not a joke, but their natural scent is very much like corn chips. Come out for a tour and you will believe me! We feed them tons of fruit, a dog food/banana "mush," and sometimes meat as treats. Ralph is pretty lethargic, but these kids can move in a tree!

The Caracal (Caracal caracal) is the largest of the small African cats (35-40lbs) and are quite the jumpers. The above photo, while not a great shot, is of Nenya, one of the Wobbly Sisters. If you look at her left ear you can see the characteristic black tuft they are known for. I have a few of these guys in my areas.

Renee and Morgan are two of the ocelots on my rounds. Renee is missing her front right leg, though you can't see it in the picture. Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) are small cats with natural habitat ranging in Central and South America. These little sweeties used to range through the Southwestern US, but extensive poaching has almost eliminated them in this country. In the early 1900's, ocelot coats were very popular and it took almost 40 pelts to make one coat. Over 200,000 were sold on a popular year. I hope that makes you angry. They can only make two vocalizations: a hiss and a growl. So, whether they want to get in your lap or rip your face off, they sound the same. They make terrible pets as a result.
So back to day 3. Since I've mastered the fine art of chicken throwing, today I got to water the entire compound. Each enclosure has one or two containers for water, and the containers are scrubbed or bleached a few days a week. Today we scrubbed. In case you forgot, there are 55 acres at CPT. That is a lot of watering! I really enjoyed learning names and visiting with the cats. Some were friendly, others unresponsive, and of course one must always watch out for an attack cat. Vincent, one of our tigers who is not on tour, is probably the biggest and meanest at CPT. I'm guessing he weighs over 800 lbs. His previous life before CPT has made him very distrustful of humans, so we leave him alone as much as possible. This morning I was able to clean one water container because he was shifted into another part of his enclosure and could not reach me. Jessica, the keeper I was helping, went to empty the water bin on the side where Vincent was. At first he was fine, chuffling and rubbing the fence at us, but all of a sudden he launched himself eight feet into the air and threw his body into the fence with a rather impressive, rip-your-face-off roar. Needless to say we decided to come back later when Vincent would allow us. I was actually intimidated by this guy. Although he was happy to see me moments before this happened, I actually did not want to look this guy in the eye. And who can blame me.... his feet are as big as a dinner plate! He is a pretty boy, however. Once I get a pic of him I'll post it. Oh, and while I'm on the subject: I'm only able to use these photos because I have signed a waiver with CPT. They cannot be sold, recreated, or credited as my own. I take the pictures, but with permission. They are not art.

Ok. Well, watering was pretty uneventful, save for Fenimore Tiger performing his usual hiding in the grass to wait for us to visit. Fenimore isn't truly stalking us, but he seems to think that if he hides his face behind the six inches of grass at the fence that we cannot see him. So, we pretend that we can't find him and jump in surprise when we "discover" him, even though there are about 600 lbs of stripes sticking out for all to see. He actually seems to be delighted in this game, and once he is found he lifts his head and offers a chuffle. I'm almost convinced he wouldn't eat me... almost.
I'm planning to bring some fish out to CPT this week and put together some small swimming pools for the small cats. I'm also hoping that I'll get permission to create a new enclosure for the Wobbly Sisters, as the girls could use a new place that has more grass growth. I'm going to try to make it wobble-friendly. The keepers are being really supportive of all my ideas and I can't wait to execute some stuff. More to come on my projects!

I haven't worked much with the servals, but there is one in particular I'm expecting to grow fond of. Elvis was dropped off at the gates of CPT with a note and was luckily able to stay with us. He is going on the tour route soon and once I get some photogs of him I will tell you more about him.

I am so tired from carting five-gallon buckets of water around! It has been a loooong time since I've had to do that. I also smelled like wild cat when I got home... and what a wild smell it is. It's not a bad smell like a male goat or a skunk by any means, but my cats were quite interested in me when I got home. I wonder if I smell like danger?!