Big Cat Updates
5:00 PM Tuesday, August 2, 2017
July 28th – Hawk Rescue: Third time in the same week
Big Cat Rescue has long fought against the use of wild cats in entertainment. These animals are commonly trained by using fear and intimidation to make them perform unnatural behaviors in stressful environments. With the evolving animation software available to Hollywood, it only makes sense that showrunners and filmmakers would move away from using unpredictable apex predators and instead utilize vivid graphics that bring these animals to life without exploitation.
When the hit TV series The Walking Dead announced that they would use state of the art CGI and a live human actor to create King Ezekiel’s pet tigress Shiva, fans and big cat advocates were happily relieved. But there’s no getting around the fact that even though this fictional show is set in a post-apocalyptic zombie world, Shiva is made out to be pet. So when Big Cat rescuers heard that Khary Payton would be in town for the Tampa Bay Comic Con, we pounced on the opportunity to introduce our tigers to the Walking Dead’s King Ezekiel. Who better to learn of the abuses surrounding the use of big cats as pets? Better yet, it was National Tiger Day.
Khary and his team made for outstanding guests. They were quickly in-step with BCR’s mission of ending big cat abuse and wanted to play their part. The cats also seemed to know that King Ezekiel was in town. Priya, Kali, Andy, Arthur, and Gabrielle all gave Shiva’s onscreen partner vocal greetings and were more than happy to stalk him along the tour path. Jade and Armani were in full leopard play mode, Gilligan and his rescued mates made their appearances, and even Mickey took a sneak peek at the actor. Nikita allowed the group to join her for breakfast as she crunched down on bones and Joseph was sure to let them know who the real king was with his renowned roar. We shared the stories of our cats, talked about cub petting and the worst abuses, and had a genuine discussion on what impact, if any, his character had on private ownership.
Once back at his Comic Con booth, Khary showed off his new BCR t-shirt while taking pictures with fans. And on the table next to his autograph photos the actor displayed our “Real Beast” sign and had Big Cat Rescue brochures and Call of the Wild cards for the taking – encouraging his fans to help end big cat abuse by supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act.
A great big Big Cat thank you to Khary Payton, Carlos Navarro and friends for taking the time to visit with the cats and learn why it’s so important that we “do not touch the tiger”.
Director of Outreach
What is ZooCollege.com? It is a website owned by Big Cat Rescue that makes our keeper and intern training available to the public. Zoo College is modeled after the Keeper Training offered at Big Cat Rescue. It is the only online, virtual training center, where you can test your skills against real life animal care challenges. The lessons you will learn have been tested and improved over more than 20 years in dealing with some of the most dangerous and majestic carnivores on the planet.
Who cat do ZooCollege.com? Everyone can do ZooCollege.com. All ages and all educational levels can do it. (Kids need to have parental permission)
How much does it cost? There are three free lessons available that everyone can take to see if they like it or not. If you like the three free lessons, you can then choose to signup for only $9.00 per month, you can cancel ANY TIME with no further obligation.
How long does it take to complete the course? Some people have finished all the lessons in a month, while others took their time over a few months. With Zoo College you can pace yourself and test your knowledge, using all of the same teaching guides, videos and methods, before making such a huge commitment of time or finances for a biology degree that won’t give you any real sense of what it means to care for wild animals in a zoo or sanctuary setting.
More Frequently Asked Questions about ZooCollege.com can be found at: http://www.zoocollege.com/faq/
Animal Observation: ASSESSING ANIMAL HEALTH THROUGH OBSERVATION
Detecting illness or injury in animals, especially wild and non-companion animals, can be difficult if you don’t know what you are looking for. The observer must combine clues from the animal’s overall appearance, behavior, and environment to determine the status of its health. The volunteers here at Big Cat Rescue see each of the animals every day, spend a lot of time around them, and are usually first to alert coordinators to problems. Because of this, it is crucial that everyone be aware of some of the signs that may be an indication of a problem or illness.
Please read this class periodically to make certain you are not missing important information that may help get an animal treated before a problem gets serious.
All observations regarding the animal including behavior, physical appearance, feces, vomit, and leftover food should be recorded on the Animal’s Observation Log in the left-hand side bar of the BigCat.me site. All observations regarding the enclosure including integrity, fallen branches, low areas needing dirt etc should be reported on the Maintenance Observation Log.
Leftover Food: Look for and log leftover food. An animal may not eat or may have leftover food for a variety of reasons including; outside temperature, if the animal is in “heat”, if the animal is sick or injured, or if the animal is simply not hungry. It is important to log detailed yet brief notes including number of pieces, size of pieces, and types of food. Sizes descriptions used to refer to amounts of mush are golf ball, racquet ball, baseball, softball, ½ tube/bag, or full tube/bag etc. The most common foods that may be found are boneless chicken, chicken quarters, necks, beef, mush, and whole prey including chicks, white rats, and rabbits.
Feces: Look for and log unusual feces. Note the consistency, color, and odor. Include details like soft, runny, watery, bloody, or mucousy. Sometimes the feces may have visible parasites in it. If this is found notify your coordinator so they can inspect the feces. If you cannot find feces, notify the volunteer double-checking the area. If after double-checking feces is still not found report this on the Animal’s Observation Log.
Vomit: Look for and log vomit. Note the consistency and color including details like foamy, watery, yellow, grassy or food. Specific details describing the vomit are helpful to the veterinarians to determine cause of illness.
Predation: Remains of a kill should be logged. Periodically, an unlucky guest may wander into a cage and sometimes eating such animals can make the cats sick. Look for: birds, wild rats, opossums, raccoons, frogs, lizards, snakes etc. If remains of a kill are found you should notify the coordinator to inspect the remains. The remains should then be disposed of in a new garbage bag.
Enclosure: Walk the perimeter of the enclosure and observe the animal’s direct environment. The entire perimeter of the enclosure must be walked both when cleaning and when double-checking the enclosure. Check that the walls, roof, entry doors, sliding doors, and water bowls are sound and in working order. Ensure that the entry doors are locked. If a door is found unlocked, lock the door and report the unlocked door to the coordinator. Log any repairs needed on the Maintenance Log.
Vegetation: Vegetation that needs to be removed from an enclosure should be logged on the Maintenance Log. This includes over growth of the general grass and plants as well as any toxic or nuisance plants such as cater plants, nightshade, or bur plants. Check for evidence of plants eaten recently, particularly large amounts of vegetation that has disappeared and report this on the Animal’s Observation Log.
Smell: Strong smell in the cage can be from rotting food, diarrhea, vomit, or remains of a kill. If you cannot locate the source of the smell notify your coordinator. Please note that there are fly traps affixed to many enclosures and these do create an unpleasant odor.
ANIMAL BEHAVIOR & PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
Animal Behavior: Observe the animal’s behavior and log health issues, injuries, or abnormal behavior. An animal that will not come out of it’s den or is hiding (especially those that typically come out) is considered behaving abnormally. If the animal is atypically aggressive this too would be abnormal. Both may be indicators of illness or injury. Animals in the wild will try to hide a “weakness” (i.e. illness or injury) in order to protect themselves from predators. Observe the animal and note if it is bright and alert or dull and lethargic. Behavior observations that should be reported include; hiding, aggressiveness, neck arching, head bobbing, odd body position, hunching, limping, etc.
Time of Year or Day: During the hottest months, the cats are more likely to be less active and even appear to be lethargic. The cats are more active in the cooler morning hours and at feeding time.
Coat: Look at the animal’s coat to ensure that it is shiny, clean, and appears to be well kept. Note if it has recently changed and is thinning and dull or matted. Look for anything in the fur—mud, debris, sand burrs, blood, or urine. Hot spots are red patches created from constant licking this could indicate an allergy or fleas. Please note that some animals have chronic hot spots. In some cases these do not need to be reported. Check the top of the Animals Observation Log for any chronic health issues that do not need to be reported unless worsening.
Eyes: The animal’s eyes should be clear and alert. Look for any discharge and note which eye and what color the discharge is. If the animal is rubbing or scratching at its eye(s) note which one. If the animal has an injury or is ill the animal’s third eye lid may be exposed. This is the white colored lid that is located in the inner corner of the eye. Note any swelling of the eye, surrounding area, or lid.
Nose: The animal’s nose should be clear and slightly moist. Look for any discharge and note which nostril and what color the discharge is. Listen for any sneezing and take note of the frequency. Note any swelling of the nose.
Mouth: Look for and note excessive drooling or foaming of the mouth. Sometimes drooling or foaming could be an indicator the animal has just vomited or is about to. Is the animal is licking and making a “smiling face” or “fleming face” or is pawing at it’s face this could indicate that the animal has a stick or bone stuck on the roof of it’s mouth or in it’s teeth. Note any swelling around the mouth or cheeks. This could indicate an abscessed tooth.
Breathing: The animal should be breathing in a calm and rhythmic pattern. Abnormal breathing would be considered fast, shallow, quick, labored, or irregular pattern. Listen for coughing or wheezing and try to determine if the sound seems to be coming from the throat or chest. Note if you hear wheezing upon inhaling, exhaling, or both and if it sounds dry or loose and gurgly.
Gait: Observe the animal walking and take note of any limping or favoring. Be sure to indicate which leg front or back and which side left or right. Look for swelling or wounds on the legs and paws.
Chronic Health Issues: Some animals have chronic conditions that do not need to be reported on the Animal’s Observation Log. For instance; Cybil the serval has a permanent leg injury, Jumanji and Jade have chronic allergies, and several cats have chronic limping and arthritis. If an animal has a known health issue it will be noted at the top of the Animal’s Observation Log. There is no need to report it unless the health issue has worsened.
Miscellaneous: When the animal is out in view take a moment to look over the entire body and inspect for any lumps, bumps, cuts, blood, missing fur, etc. An animal that is missing fur or is observed scratching may have fleas or an allergy.
Something Is “Just Not Right”: Often we can’t identify a specific problem but we know something is wrong. If you are not sure about what “normal” is for a particular animal, try to find another member of its species with which to compare it or ask your coordinator.
Abnormal Symptoms: If you observe what appears to be an abnormal symptom in an animal look around to see if any other animals in the near vicinity have any of the same symptoms. If cleaning, do not touch another animal or enclosure until you have cleaned all tools, emptied your bucket, and changed gloves. If the cat is ill, we need to avoid the possibility of spreading the disease. Always report any abnormal symptoms to your coordinator and log on the Animal’s Observation Log.
Questions: Please remember, the volunteers at Big Cat Rescue play a crucial role in keeping our animals happy and healthy. If you ever have questions or are not sure about what you see, just ask your coordinator. It is better to be overly cautious and so that you can you learn as much as possible.
Notify the coordinator or a staff member immediately using your radio or by calling Gale, Jamie, or Carole in these situations;
If you cannot find the animal in its enclosure.
If the animal is in distress or danger.
If animals are fighting (in extreme situations turn the hose on the animals to break up the fight).
If an animal is discovered with a severe wound.
If the structural integrity of the enclosure has been compromised or is at risk.
Do not record any of these situations on the observation logs without first immediately contacting the above.
Log all feeding, cleaning, and maintenance observations before leaving the property at one of the volunteer computers. Click on the Google ball icon on the desktop and log in to your account for the BCR site. You will be granted access to the observation charts after taking the Animal Observation Class. Observations are recorded on the logs located under the heading Observations in the left-hand side bar of the BCR site. Choose the appropriate observation log either By Cat Name for any observations regarding the animal or Maintenance for any observations regarding the enclosures or grounds. Animal observations include; veterinary issues, feces notes, food left. etc.
To add observations choose the appropriate observation log and navigate to the correct page. Click the button that says ADD ITEM located at the top of the page. Use the drop down menus on the form to best describe your observation. The notes field is where you can add more detail to explain your entry, such as the plant was night shade, the area of the enclosure that needs attention, the odd behavior of an animal or other important details. Fill in all parts of the form including your name and then click SAVE.
Make your notes as objective and concise as possible. Example of appropriate entry: Favoring right front leg. Example of inappropriate entry: It looks like his foot hurts.
Each logged observation has a place for a check mark next to it from either the Vet or Staff. These checks will be added once the observation has been addressed.
Question To Viewers: Do YOU want more stuff like this posted?
Keeper MaryLou: Feistier Lakota, “You better not be looking at me!” LOL, Lakota likes to spy on the keepers but he does like it when the keepers spy on him!
Keeper Meredith Pennino shared this ‘adorable’ photo of Amanda Tiger: 🙂 Amanda
Keeper Afton: Apache has a hard time grooming with his old age, so Kathryn and I have been working on helping him out. He LOVES it!! Just look at his back leg when you hit the right spot! Lol
Tinder, the popular dating and hook-up app, just took a stand to help some of the faces that occasionally grace its platform. Big Cat Rescue’s own Susan Bass was interviewed by The Dodo about this important subject. This action is a win for big cats and their babies. THANK YOU EVERYONE who has been stepping up to the plate to educate their friends and family about the dark side of the cub photo schemes.
Why are we so excited about this? Please read CubTruth.com to find out.
Here is a list of YouTube channels that feature videos of the cats here:
- Jamie Veronica: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsY6X3rUv8UlIUbrxNeu-Aw
- Susann https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUFOZiTvzKRvj-oVbzdByvg
- Ruxandra https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvCsjKptd1gM9BhfDkGQGNg
- Donna P: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcFbhMc8Sqr-8MreWuYr4Bg
- Shawna https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfl9S-vDPJIgjl8QpM6Aypw
- Cathy S https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6ynHBFLKj0BVnK5jo2gTnw
- Janie M https://www.youtube.com/user/donutgirl100
- Jaime T: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsY_oF0NhXc5OS8CcTaUi2A/videos
As per viewer suggestions, Quick Links now has it’s very own page https://bigcatrescue.org/quick-links/
Bookmarking it will help you find things quickly. That will come in handy for:
- Helping us answer questions on social media
- Finding answers to some of Carole’s Facebook Live questions
WANTED – Graphic Artists
Carole is looking for a graphic artist who really gets what we are all about and would would like to help us with some graphics for shirts. If that is you or if you know someone like that, please have them email Carole at firstname.lastname@example.org
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