Bananas and Muscle

The animals at Carolina Tiger Rescue enjoy a variety of strange and crazy enrichment activities that often elicit strange and crazy responses. Only recently did I begin working with the binturongs to provide them enrichment. I always run into the same problem at work when it comes to enrichment: I want to deliver enrichment to everyone in a day, and I want to create or introduce items that the animals don't see every other week. Both can be challenging as well as time consuming. Rajah is pictured above because although the goal of the day was to deliver enrichment to binturongs, I spent some time making scent enrichment for my small cats. I don't have any tigers in my assigned areas, but I decided to visit Rajah and Kaela. As always I had perfume and cologne all over me, so Kaela and Rajah were very eager when I stopped by. Rajah took a whiff and immediately began rolling around in the grass like your average family dog. Kaela, normally sweet, became possessive over me and refused to let Rajah come back over as she rubbed on the fence and moaned. If only the perfume and cologne companies knew what the cats thought of their products! I think you could make an excellent commercial using this. Every man wants a cougar to want him, you know, and all women enjoy the hunt... though I digress with my amazing ad ideas.

Back to bints. As I've mentioned, binturongs are primarily fruit eaters, and they live for bananas. I recalled my mother's sneaky tactics in making fruit fun when I was a kid and decided to redesign her banana and honey on wheat sandwiches. I took about ten bananas and sliced them, added warm honey and mixed it together in a bowl. Then I used toilet paper rolls (the cardboard provides lots of fiber I'm sure... like those wheat sandwiches) and smeared jam on the inside. We use natural jams, jellies, and peanut butter to avoid addition of unnecessary and unnatural chemicals to the animals. I poured the banana mixture into the rolls and folded the ends.

Rotten was suspicious of me and showed his distaste by growling low in his throat (never take it personally... he's always like this). After some sweet talking and gesturing I think we communicated that I had a present for him... either that or I told him his hair looked good, I don't know...  but he calmed down and I put the roll into his food bowl.

"Bananas? Bananas!" was the thought process illustrated on his gnarly little face as he grabbed the roll with competence and began chewing on it. He reminded me of a raccoon in the way he held the roll in his hands. He only turned his lip up at me once.

Each binturong savored the treat and worked to tear into the roll once they smelled the banana. However, Ralph is very picky and apparently does not like honey. Shroom and Coda were kind of adorable, though Coda charged me when I approached his enclosure.

I have mentioned that the small cats, the ocelots in particular, enjoy chasing string like house cats. Like scary, hormone-injected house cats. Petee, Julio, and Magoo, the ocelot on the public tour route (and not in my assigned areas), love the string. I was lucky enough to have someone snap a few shots of my experience with Petee. He may weigh only thirty pounds, but this cat was stronger than me:

Petee sees the string and he wants it.

Petee sees the string and he needs it.

Petee sees the string and tries to kill it.

Petee sees me try another angle and is not fooled (this is just before he launched upward).

I see Petee is stronger than me.

You see we are both putting all of our weight into this vicious tug-of-war.

Some of the small cats wouldn't be able to play this game because a few of them get grabby with their food or with visitors and we do not want to promote bad behavior, especially since these animals can be dangerous. Petee used to be aggressive around his water dish, but he has not shown signs of this behavior in a while so I am allowed to engage in this kind of activity. I'm not sure who won... I had the string, but I wanted to fall down in the grass. Petee got some needed exercise. As I said, enrichment elicits some crazy responses.