To prevent the introduction of disease to animals already established in the Sanctuary, new animal arrivals are quarantined on arrival in the Sanctuary’s Quarantine Facility. Occasionally new arrivals will be quarantined elsewhere on site. To control certain health problems or outbreaks of disease, quarantine restrictions are sometimes placed on a certain Sanctuary area. The quarantine period is thirty days unless specified by the vet. The quarantine period may be extended indefinitely if the new animal has a health problem to be corrected.
While under quarantine animals are observed and examined for signs of illness, parasites, etc. At this time animals are acclimated and diets are established. These are designed to best settle the animal and may need modification once the animal moves to exhibit areas.Keepers must follow quarantine procedures strictly; use gloves, masks, rubber boots and foot baths wherever these are called for.
Quarantine is for the good of both the animals and the keeping staff.
A sample Quarantine Area posting: “QUARANTINE AREA — AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY”
THE FOLLOWING REGULATIONS MUST BE STRICTLY ADHERED TO:
Coveralls must be worn and regarded as quarantine material. Rubber boots must be worn and regarded as quarantine material. Face masks must be worn. Rubber gloves must be worn when handling animals or materials within the unit. All material leaving the unit must be thoroughly disinfected or in sealed plastic bags destined for disposal. One set of tools should be maintained within the unit to prevent cross infection. A phenol based foot bath must be maintained.
Phenol based disinfectant to be used within the area.
This unit should not be used as a passage between areas and minimal contact between staff and animals should be maintained.
CLEANING AGENTS:A number of different cleaning agents are used at Big Cat Rescue by Keepers in their daily cleaning tasks – disinfectants, bleach, soaps and window cleaners. Do not leave unattended in animal areas or where public can reach them.Disinfectants – there are two kinds in general use.TRL 35 Liquid Germicidal Detergent. This is used as a general disinfectant in cleaning exhibits. It contains a quaternary ammonium compound, so should not be used with soap. It is effective as a detergent and a disinfectant. At 2.5 oz. TRL 35 per gallon of water, it is an efficient fungicide and bactericide. It cleans, deodorizes and destroys bacteria in one operation and does not leave a film.TRL 132 Phenol Disinfectant Cleaner. Do not use cleaners that contain Phenol. It is a coal tar derivative and dangerous when used near cats, primates or bearcats.
CAUTION: “Tamed” iodine is sometimes used directly on the animal to clean wounds, cuts and scratches. It can also be used in foot baths, but is quickly degraded by dirt and organic matter when it turns from brown to clear (at which point it has lost its effectiveness). It is effective against tuberculosis and may be used in TB quarantines where phenol would not be suitable. Remember that iodine stains. Chlorine is commonly used for water purification, general sanitation and as a deodorizer; it can be used to loosen tenacious fecal matter after initial cleaning. Chlorine is effective against many bacteria, fungi, viruses and algae; it is unaffected by the hardness of water and is inexpensive. Chlorine is very corrosive and must be thoroughly flushed from all surfaces. Dilute as per instructions. Should only be used in well-ventilated areas; do not breathe the fumes. Add bleach to water as it may splash up to the eyes when water is added. Chlorine reacts with ammonia. Do not mix with ammonia compounds; use discretion when using near bird faces, as ammonia fumes can build up in poorly ventilated areas. Soaps and window cleaners: Use these as directed and for the purpose for which they were designed. (Hand soaps for personal hygiene; washing up soap for cleaning dishes, etc.)
NOTE: As some cleaning agents are transferred to smaller containers for storage near animal areas, it is very important that these containers are labeled with name of cleaning agent dilution ratio.Remember that just as water can be used incorrectly so can formulated products be a hazard to both Keeper and animal health , and to property, if they aren’t used in the correct dilutions – twice the recommended amount won’t do twice as good a job; it is a waste of cleaner. Use these products safely – read the labels and follow instructions. Take care of your eyes – you only have one pair; wear protective masks, glasses and gloves when necessary.We do not use a general cleaner with a deodorizer in the Sanctuary as this can cause some stress to certain animals when their own smell is replaced by a chemical one. Many animals will mark their cage furniture after a cleaning to reestablish their territory or familiar smells.
HYGIENE – OVER CLEANING
Sanctuary hygiene is rather unnatural when considered in the environment outside the Sanctuary. Wind, rain, sunlight, snow, dilution etc. all act as hygienic agents in the natural world, as do the air, bacteria and other plants and animals. However animals contained in confined conditions, in close contact with their wastes, and without the benefits of natural cleaning forces require some form of hygiene to survive.
Cleaning can be carried too far. Some animals which aren’t maintained in meticulously clean cages may do better than those in unnaturally clean, sterile environments. This depends on the animal species, and whether marking and urinating places are important to the animal. The Keeper should remember that much exists outside the rather limited range of human sensory experience that may be necessary for the health and or psychological well being of the animal he/she cares for.
Hygiene is relative and the Keeper must learn when to clean and when it is too clean. Primate care requires the highest standards of hygiene. The season affects the technique, as does the type of animal, and visitor enjoyment (smell, appearance).
At the same time the Keeper must always clean certain areas, notably water and food dishes (these must be scrupulously clean), and the areas around them. Try to minimize the chances of spreading disease or infection from one area to another; clean off your boots before you leave your area, use a foot bath if necessary. Keep a set of tools in each area and try to avoid using them in other parts of the Sanctuary. Always wash tools after use and disinfect if necessary.
SPECIFIC APPLICATIONS OF HYGIENE
Special consideration must be given to zoological specimens in order to maintain them in good health in a captive environment.
This order of animals is highly susceptible to parasite infection and therefore requires a high standard of hygiene; exhibits should be frequently washed and disinfected. Walls will require additional attention as cats will often spray urine well above their body height. Provide good ventilation for quick drying. Animals should have dry sleeping platforms, preferably of wood. Logs should be provided for cats and bearcats for the care of their claws and for other carnivores as rubbing and marking posts. Natural logs are difficult to disinfect and should be replaced periodically.
HOSPITALIZED ANIMAL CARE
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Alison Eastwood, daughter of Clint Eastwood, and sidekick, Donald, head to Branson, MO to meet with Kirby Van Burch, a magician who uses exotic animals in an act he performs over 350 times a year. Kirby has been criticized for his small enclosures, and rigorous production schedule for the animals.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Nick Buckler recovered pelts from 60 poached bobcats and gray foxes. (California Department of Fish and Wildlife) Tracy Lee Shultz of Courtland, south of Sacramento, was fined $5,000 and ordered to forfeit the pelts worth nearly $15,000 according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
If you will be attending the 2014 Taking Action for Animals, you could win! As the Diamond Sponsor, Big Cat Rescue would like to reward you for taking action to protect exotic cats by offering the chance to win a new IPAD MINI OR ANDROID TABLET.
Here is how to play:
CALL your federal Representative or Senator, ask them to “Co Sponsor the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act HR 1998 and S1381” and then write down who you called, the number you called, if you spoke with a real person or left voicemail (both count) and what, if anything they said. Usually they just say, “Thank you, I’ll let my boss know.”
Then come by Big Cat Rescue’s booth and give us your written notes, along with a way to contact you if you win.
On Tuesday, after we get back to Tampa we will draw a winner for the new IPAD MINI OR ANDROID TABLETfrom the notes for the grand prize and some other prizes too and notify those who won. We will post the winners on Facebook too, so you can check there on Tuesday.
Not many people are bold enough to pick up the phone and ask their representative in Washington to take action, even though it’s their job to represent you, so your odds of winning are pretty good, if you make the call and report on it to us.
All of the info you need to make the call; even your lawmaker’s phone numbers, are in your bright green bag that you get when you sign in at the registration desk.
If you don’t get a bag, here is online access to the stuff you will need:
Here are some tips to make it easy for you to find your lawmaker’s phone number and what to say.
The first group will be your Federal Officials. You will have 2 Senators and 1 Representative. You need to call at least one, but you can enter 3 times if you call all 3. You can call the home office or the capitol office, but the capitol office is better.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists provided an update at the agency’s June Commission meeting in Fort Myers regarding Florida panther research and conservation programs.
Due to the success of panther-conservation efforts over the past 40 years, the panther population has grown significantly since the 1970s, when the panther was federally listed as Endangered.
Biologists have updated their “population range estimate” to reflect an increase to 100-180 adult panthers in Florida. Based on this estimate and habitat availability, panthers likely have reached their carrying capacity south of the Caloosahatchee River.
Historically, panthers ranged throughout Florida and into seven other southeastern states. Today, most panthers are found south of the Caloosahatchee River in Florida. The FWC and partners such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are preparing for the natural expansion of the increasing population.
Because large tracts of land are needed to sustain a healthy panther population, private landowners will be crucial to range expansion.
“Due to the expansive habitat needs of the Florida panther, the continued growth of their population presents a unique challenge to the FWC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said FWC Commissioner Liesa Priddy. “As panther range expands, impacts on private landowners will continue to increase.”
With the increasing number of panthers, there also are increasing interactions and conflicts with people. The FWC and partner agencies currently are working with landowners to address the challenges they may face in having panthers on their lands.
“We know panthers can prey upon pets and livestock, and we strive to find solutions that work for people who experience these very real losses,” said Thomas Eason, director of the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation.
People can help with panther research by reporting sightings at FloridaPantherNet.org. Reporting observations can help FWC biologists address panther conservation needs by identifying the areas used by these large cats.
Florida residents can support panther conservation efforts by purchasing a Protect the Panther license plate, available at BuyAPlate.com. Fees from license plate sales are the primary funding source for the FWC’s research and management of Florida panthers.
To report dead or injured panthers, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.
At Big Cat Rescue we have a general decision tree that we and our vets use to determine when it is time to euthanize a big cat, but every situation is different. The vast majority of the time we just aren’t sure that it is the right decision until we do the necropsy, which is the animal version of an autopsy. The reason it is so hard to know, if we are doing the right thing, is because cats are hard wired to live the mantra of the wild; “Survival of the fittest.”
They just will not reveal their illness or their suffering until they cannot hide it any longer. We just had two situations, back to back, where we had to make the gut wrenching decision to euthanize an exotic cat.
One was an ocelot (known in Central and South America as the Tree Tiger) and the other was an actual tiger. Both were 20-22 years old, but their histories were so different, that the decision in each case came after painful deliberation of our veterinary care team.
Amazing Grace the ocelot was 22 years old and had been with us since 1996. She had always been robust in health and purr-sonality and had been a favorite of Keepers and Guests alike. We knew Gracie’s moods, what she liked and didn’t like to eat, how to get her to relax when her hyperactivity was getting the best of her and what her favorite enrichment treats were.
When Amazing Grace came up on the Observation Chart for NOT being excited about dinner, and yet looking bloated, we knew something was wrong and scheduled a visit with our vet, Dr. Wynn. Sedating a 22 year old cat is not something we would do without considerable cause, but Amazing Grace was in excellent condition and there wasn’t anything we could determine about her failing to eat from just looking at her.
When she was sedated it was discovered, via blood work and being able to get our hands on her, that her kidneys were done and she had several tumors. The bloating was from fluid filling her abdomen, which is usually a sign of a failing heart. At 22 we did not believe that she had any chance for improvement and had to say, “Good-bye” to our precious, long time friend.
Her necropsy gave us the peace of mind that we had done the right thing for her. It revealed that she did, in fact, have liver cancer, advanced heart disease, many other masses throughout her organs and a tiny, blister – like surface over her entire omentum (the tissue that envelopes your organs).
The second situation was even harder to make because Kimba the tiger had just been rescued 17 days before we had to make a life or death decision. We knew almost nothing about Kimba, except that she was literally starving to death in NY and that we weren’t even sure she would make it through the day that we loaded her into a transport and gave her food and water for the first time in who knows how long.
She and her two family members were all starving and dehydrated and drank 8 gallons of water between them in the first 24 hours. As soon as they arrived at Big Cat Rescue we began offering food and Zeus ate like there was no tomorrow, but Keisha and Kimba were shy about it, so we couldn’t be sure if they were coming into the feeding area at night.
Within a few days, Keisha overcame her shyness and would eat while Keepers were present, but Kimba was still not packing away the chow like the other two. We weren’t sure if she was just more shy, or if she had been starved for so long that she just couldn’t eat as much at any given time, so we started feeding her several times a day. She would eat a couple bites, off a long stick, but then no more. She was seen drinking regularly, so we just did all we could to increase her food intake, in the hopes that we could build up her strength enough to sedate her and look for anything else that may be going on.
Maybe she had bad teeth and eating was painful? Maybe she had tumors or an obstruction that was keeping her from eating? Maybe she had some disease? Some things you just can’t tell by looking at a tiger, no matter how well trained your eyes.
We had noticed that she was missing much of the fur from around her rump, and thought it was from sitting in her own feces in her den in New York, which was the only place she could site that wasn’t on rocks.
We wondered if the heat was too much for her, even though she had a pool and the day we rescued her it was the same temp as what we have down here. We have overhead sprinklers and turned those on for her.
Kimba seemed happy. She would walk around, climb up and lounge on her platforms over looking the lake and would sleep the day away, like most tigers her age do, but she just wasn’t eating enough to improve her condition any, so we had to make the scary decision to sedate a very ill, 20 year old tiger.
Her exam showed that her teeth were fine and there weren’t any palpable tumors or obstructions but her blood work showed that she had a urinary tract infection and that her kidneys were in failure. Sometimes a UTI can make kidney values worse than they really are, so we began treatment for the UTI with antibiotics and fluids. At her advanced age, if there was any chance of turning this around, she had to get injections twice a day and 5 liters of fluids.
To do that we had to keep her in a transport wagon in the Cat Hospital and that worked for a couple of days because Kimba didn’t feel good enough to try and get away from us as we tended to her feeding, watering, brushing out the dense and dead Siberian coat (with a long handled back scratcher), and washing her down with the hose to keep her cool and clean.
She would let us get about 3 liters of fluids in her before objecting and moving away and that isn’t something you can force a tiger to endure. Repeated sedation would kill her for sure and add to the toxicity that her kidneys were trying to purify as well.
It looked like, no matter what we did, she was going to die. The question was, would she do so in a tiny cage, after days or weeks of being poked with needles, or would she do so in comfort?
Since close confinement wasn’t working so well, and she seemed to be in better spirits, we decided to let her back into her yard in the hopes that she would drink enough on her own and yet still come to the side of the cage to get her meds, either in her food, or via injection.
But she wouldn’t take the meds in food and wouldn’t come to the side of the cage to be injected. We still had to get them in her though and had to dart her with the antibiotics to ensure she was getting them.
She hated that and began hiding in her den and just growling when anyone approached. We set up trail cams to see if she was getting up to eat or drink and she wasn’t doing enough of either to survive. Her condition was worsening and she now had gone more than a day without eating at all.
So our choices were to sedate her yet again, put her back in the transport wagon in the Cat Hospital, keep injecting her twice a day with antibiotics and keep trying to give her fluids, when she was pulling away from us after only getting a tenth of what she needed and hope for a miracle, OR let her go to sleep peacefully in the one place where she had found happiness, however brief, where she could be surrounded by her tiger family and let her last moments be that of drifting off to sleep, in the shade of her beloved platforms, while gazing out over the lake?
Along with our vets we weighed the pros and cons and decided that Kimba had overcome death for the past couple of weeks through little more than her strong will and now that she was giving up it should be on her terms in a setting that she chose.
It took us several hours and many tears to make that decision, but her necropsy showed that it was the right one for Kimba; no matter how hard it had been for us.
Four days after making the decision to euthanize Kimba we got the lab reports back and they showed that Kimba’s UTI was complicated by E. coli, from the filthy conditions she was forced to live in, and that the drug we were using was the best drug for her infection. That both broke our hearts, because Kimba wouldn’t have been so ill if her former owner had just cared enough to keep her cage clean, and gave us some peace in knowing that we were doing all that was medically possible for Kimba, and that if she had not responded to the drugs by now, she wasn’t going to.