Becoming a Fan...of Straw

If you haven't noticed the new gadget on the right side of the page... check it out! Carolina Tiger Rescue is on Facebook! Become a fan! Unfortunately Facebook is kind of crazy, so when our name changed we were unable to change the name of our page on Facebook. So, you can go to our old page via the little gadget to the right and find our new one, or you can search Carolina Tiger Rescue on Facebook and become a fan! You'll get all kinds of great updates and see the great photos and videos posted often. I will get our internet genius, Amanda, to help me fix the gadget so it's less confusing. Here is the new page URL:

Speaking of becoming a fan, if you like my blog, please become a follower! I've been on hiatus recently only because the semester has been so intense (thanks, Physics), but now that that is over I can spend more time on updates. Also, follow me on Twitter! I do follow other conservationists focusing on big cats, so there is ample opportunity to learn what is going on in the cat world and how you can contribute to saving amazing species!

The past few weeks have been very busy at Carolina Tiger Rescue. Kiowa, the caracal whose enclosure partner Tailessa passed away, was moved to live with Damien, a male caracal. Unfortunately this has not worked out, as the only interaction between these two has been entirely negative, and Kiowa has been moved back to her previous enclosure. Damien was alone before Kiowa moved in, but these two could not adjust and the fighting and hissing showed no signs of ceasing. Of course both parties are in good health; the keepers monitored the two for a few weeks and made sure no one was seriously harmed (cats do not fight to the death as often as other species. This is mostly true for domestic cats, but our tigers as well as our small cats do not suffer life-threatening injuries when they fight. However, the case could easily be different in the wild were an encounter over territory or protecting cubs. These issues do not truly present themselves at Carolina Tiger Rescue, so there is no primary over over one animal killing another).

Kiniki, one of our many caracals. He is not happy about the cold weather and prefers to stay inside his den box with his heat pad.

I have started cleaning Level 2 enclosures with keepers. Level 2 enclosures contain our small cats who are more aggressive than the moderately lazy binturongs but not so much that a pair of humans cannot enter the enclosure to clean it. As I have mentioned before, one person always guards while another cleans when inside a cat enclosure. I have only cleaned the caracals so far, and the enclosures have contained either one, two, or three animals. Only one enclosure at Carolina Tiger has three animals. Bandit, Electra, and Kiara are very mischevious caracals who truly enjoy stalking humans when they are in their territory. This is not a game as it is when I run along the fence with Lucky, a tiger, and trying to keep my eyes on three caracals who blend in effortlessly is trying. These three have not attacked anyone, which is why they remain a Level 2, but protecting both myself as well as another while inside the enclosure requires constant focus.

Another thing requiring constant focus is keeping these guys away from buckets. Kiniki, the caracal above, gave keeper Lauren and I a run for our money last week when we brought fresh straw into his enclosure for den boxes. One den box for each caracal, Kiniki and girlfriend Mary Stewart, desperately needed to be emptied. Of the small cats, ocelots are the only ones who urinate inside their den boxes, and for them we use pine shavings to absorb moisture better. The other cats receive straw. However, we discovered that these caracals have forgotten where the lavatory is and spent an excessive amount of time cleaning. The tricky thing about cage cleaning is that you are not only guarding yourself, but another person, or you are cleaning and guarding yourself as well as a few buckets (one for waste, another with straw). Kiniki became obsessed with our giant bin of straw and took to getting at it any way he could; every time Lauren or I turned around (not literally because you can never turn your back on a cat) he was knocking over the bin and stuffing his furry little body into the straw. When we finally finished, we decided to give Kiniki his very own bin of straw so he could do with it whatever he wanted:

Mary Stewart is on the right, while Kiniki is in the process of dumping the bin of straw over. Fun stuff!

Enrichment is brought into an enclosure any time we enter it as well as old enrichment removed. In addition to Kiniki's straw, Lauren and I took raw chicken chunks and stuffed them into cake ice cream cones. Everyone loves chicken ice cream!

I also finished my intern project! Interns at Carolina Tiger Rescue must complete a certai number of hours in different areas in addition to writing papers and completing some sort of project. The project ideally has a lasting impact. I chose to build some contraptions for ocelot enclosures. Ocelots love to climb and jump and I would like to maximize enclosure area by installing hanging platforms or stands for the ocelots to jump on. Actually, I'm not done doing this... I just got Round 1 finished and installed yesterday. I created two hanging platofrms for Julio and PJ's respective enclosures by simply screwing pieces of wood together in a sturdy fashion. I purchased chains and links that are adjustable so these pieces can be moved around the enclosure as enrichement. I wrapped the chain in firehose so the cats won't bite down on the metal links. Each platform hangs around two feet from the ceiling and the ocelots can access them with ease:

I am rather proud of this... it is the first of it's kind at Carolina Tiger Rescue.

Julio investigates. Chicken was placed atop the platform to coerce him to climb up.

Once these guys adjust to the new piece and (hopefully) use it, I will then move it to different and higher-reaching areas within the enclosure. This will require adding some 'bridges' from tree to tree so the hangin platform is easily accessible.

I am very excited that I will be staying on through next semester as an intern! I will continue with everything I am currently doing, and I will begin new intern projects. After Christmas I will be installing a new ground stand into servals Marua and Gianna's enclosure. It is partially built already, but needs more tiers added to it. Curious? Come see it! Want to help? Please!

If you are interested in becoming an intern with Carolina Tiger Rescue, visit our website's page for information: