A MAKEOVER FOR BIGCAT.ORG
Have you seen the website lately?! BigCat.org has had a complete makeover, and we love the new look! It is still a work in progress, but the new site design is here and ready for exploration. The site now features some amazing photos, easy navigation, and lots more. We will keep making updates and changes to it, so keep checking back to see what’s new! Check out the new and improved website! www.bigcat.org
Well, it’s been a busy year of arrivals! We have been so fortunate this year as to have had the opportunity to provide a new, quality home to nine more exotic animals in need. As you all know, we fully embrace the chance to give animals in need a new and better life, keeping them both safe and happy.
The first arrivals at the Sanctuary this year were a group of four felines - two Bengal tigers and two mountain lions. These four cats were raised at a breeding facility which also housed over 300 dogs, among other animals, all in terrible conditions. The Houston SPCA was tipped off as to the conditions of these animals, and they immediately took action. In the middle of an out of season freeze in Texas, the Animal Cops from the SPCA took two days to rescue each and every animal, including the four big cats. The four cats were driven the several hours to IEAS, where they were welcomed home. Now, Prince and Princess, the two Bengal tigers, spend their time lounging in their houses, cooling off in their pool, or relaxing in the breeze on their favorite perches. They have been an amazing addition to the Sanctuary family as have their cougar friends, Duke and Duchess. They have become very friendly and affectionate, though both are certainly still very instinctual animals! Be sure to keep an eye out for the Animal Cops: Houston episode called “Frozen” on Animal Planet, as it features the rescue of Prince, Princess, Duke, and Duchess, and their arrival at IEAS!
Our next arrival had quite a different background. One afternoon, we got a call from a traveling circus that was set up about thirty minutes from the Sanctuary. They had a 700 pound white Bengal tiger who refused to perform for their shows. We had to act fast since the circus would be moving along in a few short hours. Richard, Director, and Roy, Maintenance Supervisor, got to work and set out to pick up this amazing tiger. It didn’t take long for Titan to win our hearts. He became both the largest resident of IEAS and one of the sweetest. We are happy to say that Titan will never again have to perform for anyone. He will instead, live his life in peace and happiness, and of course, chuffing at his neighbors, Kim and Karen!
A few months after Titan arrived, an animal facility in San Antonio was forced to shut down, leaving over 300 exotic cats without a home. While we didn’t have room for all of them, the Sanctuary knew that we wanted to do our part in rescuing as many of the animals as possible. A few weeks later, two Bengal tigers arrived at IEAS. They tied Titan, who was very used to travel cages, for the calmest arrivals of the year. They were nothing but curious and settled into their new home faster than most. Danvir and Sajani fit right in. Sajani will run all the way across her habitat when she sees a friendly face just to give them as many chuffs as her breath will allow. Her companion Danvir is just as friendly, always laying by the fence, watching for a friend to walk out of the Nutrition Center!
And then came the little guys! In the middle of October, a seven month old American black bear cub and a three month old mountain lion cub endured a sixteen hour drive from Wyoming to Boyd, TX. They had both been orphaned in the Wyoming wilderness and rescued by Wyoming Game and Fish Department. They were quite nervous upon their arrival, but have really warmed up to their caretakers. Now, Thor, the mountain lion, and Scoundrel, the black bear, have settled into their new habitats and realized the safety and comfort of their brand new forever home at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary!
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
In the past year, we have been lucky enough to secure the ongoing support and donations of two extremely generous corporations, and they may be pretty familiar to all of you! In the past twelve months, both Wal-mart and Brookshire’s have been so charitable as to begin donating their unsellable goods to the Sanctuary! Once a week, our staff sets out to Fort Worth to pick up what has been up to eighty boxes of produce, meat, and baked goods from Wal-mart. Brookshire’s has been generous enough to allow us to pick up produce from them daily, sometimes giving us up to four 60 gallon bins full of delicious fruits and vegetables! Local food markets such as Dunns Produce and IGA have also been generous in donating their produce on a daily basis. All of the food is brought back to IEAS, sorted, then devoured by some very hungry animals!
These donations has been so remarkably helpful and have continuously ensured that the black bears and grizzly bears living at IEAS will always have a great meal waiting for them at the start of each day! We couldn’t be more grateful to these stores and applaud their unbelievable show of support for the animals of the Sanctuary!
THE IMPORTANCE OF FACEBOOK
Just about everyone in the world now has their own Facebook page set up. It is by far the most popular social media website used by individuals and companies alike. For non-profits like IEAS, it is the best way to inform people of daily news about the Sanctuary and the animal residents. Facebook has been the key factor in raising money for non-profit organizations as well. This year alone, IEAS has participated in a number of voting contests. All of which we have used Facebook to rally our loyal supporters and get votes to win. We are so thankful for our supporters in the last year. We are looking forward to having each one of you support us in the coming years.
So we are asking all of our supporters to help us raise the number of people who Like our Facebook page. If we can increase this number…the number of our supporters, then we will have a better shot at winning more online voting contests. Just think, this is such an easy way for people to help an amazing charity at no cost! All you have to do is follow us, and vote when needed. It can’t be any easier than that. We know that the economy is bad right now, so we are looking to find ways for those who want to assist us but can’t afford it, to help. So please, spread the word about IEAS! Rally your friends to help support your cause…IEAS. Follow us on Facebook!
ROOM TO GROW
The Sanctuary has acquired nine more acres of land! The land will be used to possibly build additional bear habitats similar to that of Bear Orphanage. Bear Orphanage has been a success from the beginning. It offers an enriching habitat that provides for the mental and physical well-being of the bear residents. Not only do the bears love it but Bear Orphanage provides an exciting, educational experience for all those who visit. As you know, IEAS is strongly devoted to educating the public about the importance of preserving these amazing beings. Allowing the public to see these animals in their natural setting provides us with an excellent opportunity to do just that.
With the reemergence of the American black bear into Texas, this is a prime opportunity to educate the public about the importance of preserving these animals. During the tours, we educate the public how to coexist with the black bear thus helping the bears in the wild increase their chances of successful reintroduction. For once, we have the opportunity to help bring back a native animal into the state of Texas. By educating the public, the reemergence of black bears into a viable population is not only a dream but a reality.
FULFILLING OUR MISSION
As you know, part of the mission here at IEAS is to Educate. To educate the public through school programs, tour lectures, support for conservation programs, and public appearances about the value and worth of these sensitive, intelligent and perceptive animals, so that their future, as an important part of our world, is insured. We also educate individuals who wish to pursue a career in the animal field through our Intern Program. IEAS has become one of the country’s leading facilities for internships working with exotic animals. The Program is designed to instill respect for nature and to raise awareness of the value and need to preserve these magnificent beings for generations to come. This program provides a unique opportunity for individuals who wish to learn about the care and management of exotic animals.
However, learning how to PROPERLY care for an animal includes more than just the basic nutritional and veterinary care. It’s just as important to care for their emotional needs as well. Here at IEAS, we have a unique program called the Emotional Enrichment Program. Emotional Enrichment is a technique for improving and enhancing an animal's emotional life and minimizing stress, agitation, and irritation within the context of the animal's personality and biological instincts. It is a process wherein keepers, employees, interns and/or behaviorists create an emotional bond with the animal through either protected or unprotected contact, depending upon such factors as the personality of the animal and the expertise of the keeper/behaviorist.
Every session, interns participate in the Emotional Enrichment Program. They do so through protected contact where they will sit with the animal outside the habitat. Essentially, what the interns are doing is providing the animals with a source of security and comfort.
Over 90% of our interns are now working at other reputable facilities providing quality care for animals. We have former interns pursuing their animal careers at a number of major zoos across the United States such as Bronx Zoo, Frank Buck Zoo, San Antonio Zoo, Nashville Zoo, Dallas Zoo, Denver Zoo, Cameron Park Zoo and Columbus Zoo (just to name a few). What better insurance do captive animals have for the future other than educating committed individuals that are dedicated to providing a quality life for captive wildlife by continuing education and emotional enrichment!
IN HONOR OF
This year, IEAS lost a loyal supporter and friend. In honor of his memory, the Nutritional Center, which is known as the “heart” of the Sanctuary, has been renamed to The Ed Brown Nutritional Center. Mr. Ed Brown was a long-time supporter and friend of the animals at IEAS. Ed started out by adopting Simba III and helped build Simba’s habitat. Since then, he adopted Caesar, Kumar and Lucy. He often came out to visit his beloved friends who always greeted him with a friendly chuff and moan. Even though he is gone, Ed is still contributing to the animals that call IEAS home, and we are keeping his memory alive as well. He will always be remembered by those how knew him and those he helped.
A VERSATILE NEW TOY
A few months ago, we were so fortunate as to receive the amazing donation of absolutely HUGE wooden spools, normally used for wrapping up large cables. You may ask, what could we possibly do with these? Well, they have proven themselves to be one of the most versatile toys the Sanctuary has had, providing both behavioral and environmental enrichment!
The first recipients of these fancy new items were the Grizzly bears. They are always eager to play with something new, and we were just as eager to see their reactions to these extra-large and very unique objects! Once they were readied and painted, they were rolled right into the Grizzly habitat. It is an understatement to say we were not disappointed with the reaction of these very animated bears! Nervous at first, Wendy, Willie, George, and Papa Bear approached the toys and the nerves soon turned to excitement. In a matter of minutes they were climbing on them, rolling them all over, and trying to peek into every hole and crevice.
In terms of behavioral enrichment, the bears showed us lots of climbing, clawing, and good old fashioned intuition to figure out what these new toys were! The environmental aspects came in after the initial excitement had died down, as the spools became a nice comfortable perch to relax on, just like a rock or fallen log would be in their natural environment!
Next to receive a wooden spool was Titan! This big guy was eager to get to the new toy after it was put in his habitat, but approached slowly – it was probably the biggest thing in his habitat (besides HIM of course)! Almost immediately, Titan decided to climb up. He was very excited to play with it but wasn’t sure how, so instead, he did some bouncing and spinning all over the top of the spool! Eventually, he laid down on the new “perch” and we’ve seen him there every day since, as if he’s lounging on a throne!
In addition to all the giant wooden spools we received, there were smaller ones, almost immediately deemed perfect for bobcats, servals, and caracals! Baby and Cookie were proof that these small felines would love to relax on the spools. When the keepers placed it in their habitat, Cookie took one sniff and knew she wanted to make it her own. A little scent marking, and it was done! Like Titan, the two little girls have been laying on their new perch every day since its arrival!
SPEND THE HOLIDAYS WITH THE ANIMALS OF IEAS
Now is the best time of year to visit the animals of IEAS. The animals are more energetic and love playing outside. For many of our younger cats, even the snow won't keep them away! So spend your winter break visiting the wonderful animals at IEAS. We have tours Sunday thru Friday at 11am and Saturday at 11am and 3pm. Just call the office at (940) 433-5091 to set it up or you can sign up at our website. REMEMBER: Children must be 7 or older to tour IEAS.
Another great idea for the Holiday is to Adopt an Animal. What better gift is there than adopting an animal and having the opportunity to visit them throughout the year! You will be able to see them and how they enjoy every season of the year!
EASY WAYS TO HELP THE ANIMALS
IEAS understands the pressure put upon donors and caring supporters during this crucial time frame. There are several easy ways you can help the animals of IEAS. Many at no cost to you! We would like to provide you with several options to assist in itemizing tax write-off’s to not only benefit you but also help support the quality of living for our resident animals. Click HERE to see how you can help the animals during the Season of giving.
A SPECIAL THANK YOU THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
In 2011, IEAS has rescued nine amazing animals. We would not be able to do this without the help of caring individuals like you. These new residents, along with the rest of the animals who call IEAS home, are so fortunate to be able to have a second chance at a quality life. This is all thanks to your support! I would like to take the opportunity to personally thank everyone for your generosity this year. The economic conditions have not changed, and charities continue to suffer during these times of economic downturn. If you are looking for cost efficient ways to help but are not sure how, call me at (940) 433-5091 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. IEAS can also be added to wills and donations of stock are welcomed. With your assistance, the cats and bears at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary are living a quality life which they deserve. We hope all of you have had the opportunity to visit the sanctuary this year and seen the progress that has been made. For example, Bear Orphanage has become a big hit for all our guests! Who wouldn’t enjoy seeing a bear in its natural habitat?
Once again, we are coming to the end of the year, and tax time is just around the corner. We hope that each one of you has included the animals of IEAS on your Christmas List as the season of giving is upon us. Now is the time to donate! If you need a donation letter for funds or in-kind goods you have donated during 2011, just let us know and we will gladly get one to you. REMEMBER to follow us on Facebook! You can also check us out on Twitter, YouTube and our Blog. You can also find pictures and videos of the animals on Flickr!
We look forward to seeing you in 2012! Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!
Richard Gilbreth, IEAS Director
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL
FROM THE STAFF, VOLUNTEERS & BOARD MEMBERS OF