We had quite the night here at Animal Wonders. A storm rolled in at 5pm and poured rain int onto the night. Around midnight we were woken up by our power outage alarm. It's a wonderful gift from my brother, Jake, that will beep for up to 4 minutes when it loses its power. We scrambled to find a flashlight and then starting making the plan; the animals needed heat asap. Surprisingly, this is the first time the power has gone out in the 2 years we've been in Montana, but we've been prepared. Right now we are still only 1/2 way done with the Animal Compound, the birds are in the Mammal Room with the mammal and the Reptiles have taken over a room in the house. So, we had 2 spaces that needed to be heated by the generator. We decided to quickly build a fire in the house's backup wood stove to temporarily heat the house and keep the reptile room warm. We put some gas in the emergency generator (a very kind donation from Rick and Sue Knudsen) and she roared to life. We strung an extension cord through the window of Tango the Patagonian Cavy's dirt floored enclosure and through his doggy door into the Animal Compound. We were very concerned about heat loss since it was raining and cold and we weren't sure how long the power would be out. Tango was transferred into his crate with a blanket for the night, so he wouldn't mess with the extension cord. All the animals were very interested in what we were doing in their room at midnight with a flashlight. Kemosabe the porcupine, who is nocturnal, thought we were there to give him extra treats and followed us as we walked back and forth. After the heater in the Mammal Room had power we started crating the sensitive reptiles to move them closer to the heat. Thankfully, the power came back on after about an hour. It could have been a very long night.
We are very thankful that we have not had more serious power outages, but are relieved that we were as well prepared for one as we are. Since most of our animal residents are non-native species, it is very important to make sure it is the right temperature for them. The birds can easily get sick if they spend a night under 60 degrees. The reptiles could become very sick or even die if they get too cold for several hours. So, we are extremely careful about their heating. One of our goals is to purchase a generator that is triggered to come on when the power goes out. That way, there would be no delay to the heat.In a few months the Animal Compound will be complete and all the animal will be in one building, which will make heating easier and safer. Until then, at least now we have a plan for next time.
Coconut, the Umbrella Cockatoo, came to Animal Wonders about a year ago when his owner could no longer care for him. He was in a pretty poor environment and his feathers were severely plucked. We helped Coco in his time of need by giving him a clean, sanitary environment with a proper diet through varied and highly nutritional foods. He was given the company of other birds and offered a great amount of behavioral enrichment. Coconut learned how to enjoy his toys and treats and did allow some of his feathers to grow back but he was never completely satisfied. He didn't enjoy the other bird's company as much as we had hoped and we could not provide him with enough one-on-one time to quench his needs. We began to search for a suitable situation where he would be provided with everything Animal Wonders could give plus more time devoted directly to him (in general, cockatoos require about 6 hours of interaction with their human companions every day). Our goal was to make sure Coconut could get exactly what he needed, and that was a home where he was the center of attention. We found a great home for him where he will get the best nutrition, environment, and interaction possible. We will miss Coco's bright personality and his welcoming "hello" but we are very happy to have him in a situation where all of his needs are met.
It's been about a week, and so far so good. I will try to give updates as time goes on.
Sugar, the sugar glider, passed away today. The tumor was causing her discomfort and difficulty breathing so she was humanely euthanized this afternoon. We gave Sugar all of her favorite treats these few days and she enjoyed her grapes the best, licking the insides and then discarding the skin. We enjoyed sharing these last 4 years of our lives with Sugar and remember many fond memories. We spent hours researching Sugar Glider nutrition, talking to all of our animal contacts from Zoo veterinarians to breeders in order to find out exactly what was best for them. Sugar's favorite foods were mealworms (by far), grapes, artichoke, nectar, and almonds. Though she wasn't picky about all the other heath foods we put in her dish. We used to joke that she ate better than we did, now that's true of all of our animals! We worked with Sugar on coming out to play, but since she was older when we got her she never craved the socialization that some sugar gliders enjoy. We used positive reinforcement, meaning she got a reward every time she came out or wanted to socialize. She liked to nip our fingers when she wanted another treat, and sometimes she meant right now! After we caught on that she would rather entertain herself she received many toys to play on and pouches to sleep in. Her favorite place to sleep was a wooden nest box made for birds. She never liked to climb through the hole in the front, instead she would open the lid and crawl in from the top. She liked to stuff the box full of shredded paper and create a nice comfy bed inside.
After 2 years we took in 2 more sugar gliders, Gizmo & Nemo. Sugar enjoyed their company, though they were never allowed direct contact. They did interact at night since their enclosures were right next to each other. We will always remember Sugar as she was the first mammal that Animal Wonders took in. Sugar, you will be missed.
Sugar went to the vet today with a swollen eye and runny nose. They took an X-ray and found a tumor between her eye and nasal passage. The tumor is terminal and cannot be removed. She will be kept as comfortable as possible and given her favorite foods and treats in her last days. Sugar came to Animal Wonders from a private owner. Her age is unknown since she had several homes before her previous owner, but we are guessing she's around 13 years old. She's had a long full life and we are very sad to hear this diagnosis. Sugar is one of our oldest Animal Residents and has been with us since before Animal Wonders came to Montana.
We had a great turnout at the Montana Natural History Center yesterday! It may have been a record, thank you to everyone who supported the MNHC and came to watch and learn about the animals. The theme was "Rad Reptiles" and we learned about scales, "cold-blooded" vs. "warm blooded", the difference between lizards and snakes, forked tongues, invertebrates vs. vertebrates, bird eggs vs. reptile eggs, and so much more! If you missed the show, don't worry, we'll have more public presentations in the future. Keep checking back and we'll post the upcoming shows that are open to the public on the Home Page.
Kemosabe made his debut appearance as the surprise bonus animal. He is not a reptile but he did steal the show. He did wonderfully and wasn't fazed by the large audience. He munched his yams and played it cool as a cucumber. We couldn't be more proud of him, and all of our Animal Ambassadors!
We want to send out a big thank you to the Missoula Children's Museum! We had a great time with the kids (and adults) and would love to visit again. We talked about habitats and adaptations and discovered how the animals survive in their wild environments.
We have recently acquired a fairly devote fan. She has been at 3 of our presentations and we hope to see her at more. Nadia, this one's for you. Your enthusiasm and love for animals makes our day. Jessi and Goose say "hello"!
Update on Kemosabe the Prehensile-Tailed Procupine:
We are working with Kemo to get him ready for shows. He is learning how to go into a crate for transportation and we are learning what his absolute favorite treats are. It's yam, hands down! Most Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines that are presented in shows are handled by their tail, since they can hang from them with ease. Kemo, is sensitive about his tail so we are finding ways to handle him without touching his tail. Here at Animal Wonders we always use positive reinforcement and never make an animal do something they don't want to do. Many of our animals have been through traumatizing experiences so we handle them with care and teach them at whatever pace they choose. We also like to use the word "teach" instead of "train" because that is really what we're doing. We're teaching the animal how to do a behavior; be it going into a crate, waving a foot, or being calm in front of an audience. Kemo is learning fast, he picked up really quickly that if he goes into the crate he gets his favorite treat.
Humans learn that one really fast too; go into the cookie jar and you'll find a great treat.
We welcomed Kemosabe, or just Kemo, into Animal Wonders yesterday. He is a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine who was set up in a breeding situation until it was discovered that they were both males. Kemo, has been around people his whole life, of 3 years, and he's very gentle. He is a little shy at first, but when he sees that you come bearing yam or carrot he's ready to join the team. Kemo will be ready to give presentations very soon due to his easy going attitude and familiarity to people. To get a chance to see some of the Animal Ambassadors, and maybe Kemo himself, join us for our public presentations. You can find out the dates and locations on our Home Page.
We are preparing for a new arrival that comes in tomorrow. I can't tell you what it is because it's a surprise. But don't worry, I'll be posting again as soon as he settles in and I have some time to tell you all about the new Animal Ambassador. He comes from a zoo in Moapa, NV called Roos N More. Valerie and Jay Holt and LynnLee Schmidt, have been a wonderful support and generous donors to Animal Wonders. If you're ever in the area (just outside of Las Vegas) you should absolutely stop in and visit all of their amazing animals.
Stay tuned for pictures and the unveiling of our new resident.