Disappearing Stripes

Carnivores, Uncategorized

Illegal poaching is a direct cause of decreasing population size for multiple animal species. One of the main reasons for poaching is due to a variety of animals having what is called high “market value.” This is when a species has value as an item and there is, in turn, a high market demand for a supply of these “exotic” animal parts. The demand for animal parts can be anything from elephant ivory to a lion’s pelt.

Here at Wildlife Safari, we have two Sumatran Tigers named Riya and Kemala. These girls and their conspecifics (members of the same species) are listed as critically endangered under The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with fewer than 400 remaining individuals in the wild. All sub-species of tigers and other cats such as lions and leopards are sought after and exploited due to the increasing market for valuables such as their fur, teeth, bones, organs, as well as being continually hunted because they are considered “trophies.”

Riya enjoying her afternoon

Kemala enjoying the cooler weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Wildlife Fund conducted a study on population viability of Sumatran Tigers and found that close to 80% of wild tiger deaths within the past few decades have been due to an increase in poaching because of a high market demand for tiger parts with an increasing portion of deaths stemming from a recent trend of palm oil production (“Sumatran Tiger”, n.d.). Harvesting palm oil can be such a destructive process to natural ecosystems and is often an unsustainable practice; this can severely hinder wild tiger population growth and cause isolated patches of habitat and even complete habitat loss. Tigers need large patches of territory because they are solitary animals, but the palm oil industry has been wreaking havoc on the surrounding ecosystem leading to increased competition for dwindling resources among tigers. This trend of habitat loss decreases genetic diversity and causes a higher probability of inbreeding amongst genetically similar tigers which makes it difficult to increase healthy wild tiger populations.

Conservation is an effort made by multiple disciplines that work together to bring the best in research, education, and management. Here at Wildlife Safari, we adhere to this sentiment with great pride. Wildlife Safari is a non-profit organization as well as being an AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited institute. Through the AZA, we work with multiple other programs, such as the SSP (Species Survival Plan), to pair genetically diverse animals to create successful breeding initiatives for healthy captive populations. Wildlife Safari is currently working on a Sumatran Tiger breeding program to increase the captive population genetics of Sumatran Tigers. Lastly, one dollar from any encounter that you partake at Wildlife Safari goes to support one of three conservation campaigns we are partnered with this year: International Elephant Foundation, Cheetah Conservation Botswana, and finally, Tiger Conservation Campaign! We thank you for your donations and your continuous support. Riya, Kemala and all the animals here at Wildlife Safari also thank you for giving them a voice to be heard!

Kemala posing for a photo

“Sumatran Tiger.” World Wildlife Fund. n.d. Retrieved from

https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/sumatran-tiger

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Opening of Our Tiger Oasis

Behind the Scenes, Carnivores, Uncategorized

 

Wildlife Safari is proud to announce the unveiling of our new Tiger Oasis expansion!  This project allowed the remodeling of our tiger huts, current tiger enclosures, and the addition of a new enclosure.  The Tiger Oasis will allow Wildlife Safari to become a Sumatran tiger breeding facility through AZA and the SSP (Species Survival Plan).

tiger yard 1

Room 5 tigers

Why will this new breeding program be important?

Sumatran tigers are critically endangered with less than 400 in the wild.  Their main threats are deforestation, mainly from palm oil plantations, and poaching.  The oil palm industry grows at about 9% per year with 80% of all palm oil coming out of Indonesia and Malaysia (where the Island of Sumatra resides).  Sadly, only about 10-15% of this palm oil is sustainable; meaning that it does not affect the tiger’s survival.

Riya & Mala

Our new breeding program will allow the captive population of Sumatran tigers to become genetically diverse and prevent inbreeding from occurring.  This new expansion will also aid in us keepers providing better health check-ups and educate the public on the plights that these animals face every day.

Not Always Majestic….

Behind the Scenes, Uncategorized

While we often think of animals as majestic figures, poised and ready to survive in their unforgiving wild environment, this is not always the case…. Keepers at Wildlife Safari often see our animals in a more relaxed state, looking – well… less than majestic.

Here are some of the adorable and ridiculous faces we see!

Our female lion, clearly more concerned about where the snacks are than about posing – Photo courtesy of Bryanna Bright

Bandit the American Badger caught doing his morning yoga – Photo courtesy of Bryanna Bright

One of our Sumatran tiger sisters cuddling the wall

Rhinos can be silly too – Photo courtesy of Katie Graves

Lion cub, Dunia, investigating her toy – Photo courtesy of Ashley Lane

Curious Sika deer – Photo courtesy of Katie Graves

Giraffe extreme close up – Photo courtesy of Katie Graves

One of our Sika males with his homemade hat – Photo courtesy of Katie Graves

 

Extreme Makeover – Carnivore Edition

Behind the Scenes, Carnivores, Cheetahs, Uncategorized

Here at the Wildlife Safari, we are constantly working to enrich the lives of the animals under our care. Enrichment comes in many different forms, from spraying perfume on enclosure trees for scent enrichment to behavioral training, puzzle toys and climbing structures. Here is a look at some of the exciting new enclosure enrichment brought to you by the Carnivore Department of the Wildlife Safari.

 

Just Lion’ Around

lions-2

If you drive through the lion loop nowadays, you may see a lion or two lounging on their new favorite enclosure structure. This two tiered hammock, perfect for midday naps and relaxing, was built and designed by carnivore keepers Taylor and Jordan. While the first hammock tier is already complete and ready for lion enjoyment, the second tier is still in construction and will be added soon. Lions love their rest and sleep about 20 hours a day in the wild. Stop by the lion loop, near the beginning of our drive-through safari, and observe these sweet snoozers.

The hammock in the lion enclosure - newly renovated

The hammock in the lion enclosure – newly renovated

 

Bearobics

bear-7

American black bears survive in the wild by utilizing their hooked, non-retractable claws for tree climbing, reaching impressive heights with remarkable speed. Here in the carnivore department of the Wildlife Safari, we are very excited to have a new climbing structure for our oldest black bear, Donna. The structure, built by the dedicated maintenance staff of the Safari, took two weeks to complete, stands 14 feet high, and consists of over a dozen logs. Not only is the structure designed to help Donna practice those natural climbing abilities, it also provides another area for keepers to spread food enrichment that will be tricky and exciting for Donna to find. Keep climbing Donna!

 

New black bear climbing structure

New black bear climbing structure

 

Run Cheetah, Run!

hermano

Cheetahs are the fastest land animal and can run rates of 70 miles per hour in pursuit of prey. Although their bodies are perfectly adapted for sprinting, it still takes time and practice to build up the muscle mass and technique for reaching these top speeds.

wls-lure-098

Here at the Wildlife Safari, we are hoping to increase our cheetahs’ speeds through the introduction of a lure pulley system. The system works by attaching a large portion of meat onto a wire-pulley system that rapidly pulls the tempting treat across the ground over a 300 foot distance.

Cheetah chasing the bait on a lure

Cheetah chasing the bait on a lure

 

Cheetahs will chase the bait from one side of the pulley to the other, gradually developing their running skill to more closely mirror that of their wild cousins. Construction of the lure system is already underway, and the flat land that will serve as the running track can be seen to the right of the road near the exit of the Cheetah drive-through loop.

Treasured Tigers 

riy

Sumatran Tigers are the rarest subspecies of tiger, with only approximately 400 left in the world. With populations of these beautiful creatures shrinking, breeding the remaining Sumatran Tigers is essential to subspecies survival. Here at the Wildlife Safari, we are lucky to have two Sumatran sisters, Riya and Kemala. The Wildlife Safari, in collaboration with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP), is hoping to begin a Sumatran Tiger breeding program soon when a male Sumatran Tiger is available. More tigers means more space.

tigers-in-pond

Fundraising from the Ladies Auxiliary of Wildlife Safari’s (LAWS) 20th annual auction night this year will go toward a major enclosure upgrade for our girls and any future Safari tigers. In years passed, LAWS events have raised money to create major Safari projects such as the new veterinary clinic and elephant watering hole. This year, the auction was named, “Hold that Tiger” with an old Hollywood theme. Money raised over the course of the evening will go towards our Sumatran Tiger improvement project.

Stay tuned for more exciting innovations in our carnivore department!

Eager Little Faces

Behind the Scenes

Many of the animals at Wildlife Safari get trained every single day, and are usually waiting excitedly for whatever treats their training session will bring. Those that don’t often still get a midday snack – and they sure know when it’s snack time!

So when keepers come past, we often see some eager little faces peering at us hoping for some treats. Here are some of the faces we see everyday!

 

One of our 6 lion cubs waiting not so patiently for training to begin

One of our 6 lion cubs waiting not so patiently for training to begin

Tiger eyes

One of the Sumatran tiger girls checking if her keeper has treats.

Goat nose

Ginger the goat sniffs around hoping for some yummy petting zoo pellets!

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Bandit the American Badger is hard to say no to with that face!

Sumatran Sisters

Carnivores, Creature Feature, Uncategorized

Riya and Kemala are 3 year old Sumatran tigers. Sumatrans are the smallest tiger subspecies, much smaller than the large Siberian tigers. As jungle dwellers, Sumatran tigers don’t need the larger body mass needed to retain heat, their humid environment keeps them warm enough.

Like most cats, our girls sleep for a lot of the day, though they do enjoy their pool in the summer time. Tigers are one of the few cats that enjoy water, and they will swim and play (and even hide their toys) in their pond.

Sumatran tiger at her Wildlife Safari home

Sumatran tiger at her Wildlife Safari home

Tigers have ‘true stripes’, which means that their skin is also striped, and each tiger has a unique stripe patter, much like human finger prints.

There are less than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.

To have so few individuals of a species left is a devastating thought for conservationists. Not only because they are beautiful and interesting creatures, but also because they are apex predators that are vital to the fine balance of populations. If tigers disappear, then their prey animal populations will increase, taking up more resources which will have flow on effects for other species. “Without top predators, the entire ecosystem collapses,” says Wildlife Safari Keeper, Adriana Kopp, who works and trains with the tiger girls daily. “You would get an overrun of grazers and animals like that, then those populations over eat,” says Kopp.

Riya, one of Wildlife Safari's two sumatran tigers

Riya, one of Wildlife Safari’s two sumatran tigers

Although ‘The Jungle Book’ may have you believing that tigers are villains, they are actually quite playful. Our girls LOVE playing with big plastic barrels, and new toys are always a big hit with them. The two girls at Wildlife Safari are sisters and they are very closely bonded, so they often play together, chuffing to show how happy they are. Tigers don’t purr, unlike smaller cats. Instead they make a noise called ‘chuffing’, which (if you’d like to give it a go) kind of sounds like exhaling while shivering.

Riya is the dominant of the two sisters, while Kemala is the calmer and slightly smaller sister. While Kemala’s calm nature tends to charm most people, Riya’s spark of personality wins hearts as well. “She just has such personality and spunk,” says Kopp. At 200 lbs Riya is also slightly larger than her sister, who is 180 lbs, which is a good reflection of her dominance – she tends to claim more snacks than her sister!

Whether they are napping or playing, the tigers are a majestic sight. While you may think stripes make them conspicuous, they are actually masters of camouflage.So if you visit and can’t see them, look a little closer….

 

Holiday Enrichment

Behind the Scenes, Carnivores

On Halloween weekend keepers got into the holiday spirit by giving out pumpkins! Our tigers, bears and lions all got huge pumpkins to play with, each filled with fun things like popsicles, maple syrup and other yummy snacks. Many of our animals love playing with pumpkins – they can roll them, bite them, crack them open to get treats. The more exciting the enrichment the better, we love to see our animals playing and having fun.
‘Enrichment’ is what we call it when we give something exciting to our animals. Toys, fun foods, scents, boxes – anything that makes life interesting. Keepers tailor enrichment to each animal, considering how they would play with it or why they would find it interesting. Animals can play for hours with some enrichment, or curl up and sleep in it (mostly ferrets for that last one).

Lion cubs with their Halloween enrichment Photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

Lion cubs with their Halloween enrichment
Photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

Giving animals enrichment is an important part of keeping them healthy. It keeps them active physically with play, but also gives them mental stimulation. Animals get bored just like we do, and giving them something new or different everyday is a fun way to shake things up.

Safety is number one for keepers, for people and for animals, so we make sure the toys we give them are safe. No choking hazards, things that will make them sick, or things they could get stuck in.

Each animal has their favorite enrichment too. For example, our skunk loves things that smell, our tigers are big fans of elephant poop, and our cheetahs love exploring- so we move them regularly to other enclosures.

Brave adventurer: the first lion cub to investigate the pumpkins Photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

Brave adventurer: the first lion cub to investigate the pumpkins
Photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

It helps when keepers get to know our animals’ personalities. That way we can avoid giving them things they’re not interested in, or might be nervous around. Our Red Lored Amazon, for example, is scared of polka dots and the color pink… Now, we’re not sure that makes sense, but we respect his fears and his toys are always polka-dot-free!

Our pride of lions took some time to warm up to their pumpkins, but once one cub went to investigate, the others jumped in!

Safety in Numbers: the lions checking out their pumpkin enrichment Photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

Safety in Numbers: the lions checking out their pumpkin enrichment
Photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

Our Sumatran tigers particularly enjoyed their pumpkins, going straight to stalk-and-pounce mode.

Our Sumatran tiger, Riya, with her pumpkin. Photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

Our Sumatran tiger, Riya, with her pumpkin.
Photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow