THROUGH THE EYES OF THE KEEPERS (BLOG 11)

26 December 2019

Sandra Kuijmans

The big move

Occasionally we move some animals around within Stichting Leeuw, to another enclosure. When animals leave and new ones arrive, it is sometimes better to do this, for several reasons. It may be that some animals don’t like each other as neighbours, or that they do! Sometimes there are animals that need more space and others that can do with less. The bigger groups get the largest enclosures. Also, for some of our residents it can be interesting and fun to have a new environment. This is a form of enrichment.
We recently had a big internal move. We wanted to have Bohdana and Bombay next to each other, to see how they would get along. Iwan and Drago needed a bit more space, as they frequently got in each other’s’ way. It’s always nice to see the results, but how does this moving of big cats work behind the scenes? The whole event takes some logistical preparation. As Cita and Aischa take turns in being outside with Tyson, we always have one of them inside. So we needed to ‘park’ her somewhere. This time not only one of these ladies, but also Goha needed to be somewhere temporarily.
So, this is what we did:
In the morning we kept the animals that were to move, inside (Bohdana, Aslan and Ayla did spend some time outside). The rest of the animals were allowed to go outside. We parked Goha in Remy’s inside enclosure. Then we parked Cita (Aischa was outside) in Simba’s inside enclosure. This allowed us to move the first animals. Tyson and Aischa went outside into Goha’s old outside enclosure. Goha crossed the big hall and we parked her in Afrodite’s inside. Now Aslan and Ayla were called inside and directed straight into Tyson’s old outside enclosure. The group Brami, Laksmi and Sita crossed the hall and went straight outside into Aslan and Ayla’s old enclosure. Cita was now able to go back to her inside enclosure. Iwan and Drago moved to Brami’s old enclosure. And finally Goha could move to Bohdana’s old enclosure.
Have you lost track already?
Daphne and I went to walk the keepers’ path, to see how everybody was doing in their new homes. They were all doing well! Aslan was making a bit of a fuss, which made Cesar respond, but after a few days they got along much better.

Video Aslan and Ayla outside in their new enclosure. Aslan is a bit wary.

Special-needs animals

We have quite a number of older animals in our sanctuary, and age comes with discomfort. This means that we have some big cats who have some ailments. We take those into account when taking care of them. These are some examples.

Tyson, Cita, Aischa and Laksmi
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Tyson
Tyson is an ex-circus tiger of 15 years. Tyson has a funny walk; he waddles with his hindquarter and is a bit stiff. He is also a bit wobbly. This can be caused by many things, for example a neurological defect, in combination with arthrosis. We’re not entirely sure. We could have this examined, but that won’t help much as we cannot do much about it.
What we can do, is make things as comfortable as possible for him. Inside he has a firehose bed and straw bed. In the winter we keep him inside at night, to protect him from the cold, which is not good for his sore joints. Every day we add glucosamine to his food, to strengthen the ligaments. Lately we noticed he has been drinking more than usual. For all cats this (in combination with older age) could mean kidney problems, which cannot be cured. These ailments will eventually lead to euthanasia, but as long as the animal is still himself and feels good enough, there’s no reason to consider that yet. In time we will see if Tyson has indeed kidney problems.

Cita
Cita is an ex-circus tigress of 12 years. Arthrosis is bothering her, in her front legs as well as her hind legs. She often has problems walking and getting up; after lying down for a longer period, it is hard for her to stand up and she will walk stiffly for a while. After a few minutes this gets better, but the problem is always there. Cold weather is not good for her either, which is why we keep her inside at night, with a soft bed (straw or firehose). We give Cita, like Tyson, glucosamine every day. Cita’s mood is getting worse. Recently we started her on pain killers, which improved her mood a little, but not much. We are keeping a close eye on her.

Aischa
Aischa is an ex-circus tigress and she is 15 years old. She is Tyson’s sister and like him she walks funny. She has the same waddle in her hindquarter. This confirms our suspicion that it is a neurological problem. The fact that they both walk like this and that they are siblings, can also mean that it is hereditary, maybe caused by inbreeding. Aischa also has arthrosis, which is why she is on pain killers. This has a very positive effect on her; she sometimes jumps about like a little lamb. It also improved her mood greatly. Even so, she is elderly and the arthrosis will remain a problem. We can only soften the symptoms. We also giver her glucosamine daily and of course she has a soft bed.

Laksmi
Laksmi also is an ex-circus tigress, 16 years old. She is part of Brami’s group. She’s a feisty lady, who is healthy, except for the first signs of cataract. We can actually see it in her eyes, but it’s also apparent when she is hunting. If the prey moves quickly away from her range of vision, she seems to lose track of it, quicker than the other animals. Apart from the cataract her condition is excellent, although her slightly greying face shows her age.