What is Animal Husbandry?
Animal husbandry means providing care for any animal in a captive environment, meaning anywhere but their natural habitat, such as zoos, labs, sanctuaries etc. This means providing adequate diet, habitat, providing shelter, stimulation and enrichment. The care of captive animals is a huge issue in today’s society all over the world and all countries now have laws in place protect animals in captivity.
A Day in the Life at South Africa’s Predator Sanctuary Project
6:00am: Keepers awaken.
6:15am: We gather in the kitchen and prepare 700ml of milk, warming for 1 minute 40 seconds. We divide this into two bottles with teats and into two bowls.
6:30am: The two white Bengal are walked from their indoor enclosure to their larger outdoor enclosure for the day, where they are given their bowls of milk each.
6:40am: The two Siberian tigers are also walked from their overnight enclosures to their outdoor enclosures and each given their bottle of milk.
If the cheetahs have been brought in they are also walked to their outdoor enclosures.
6:50am: The large number of cats are fed and given water each morning.
The honey badger enclosure is cleaned and if necessary the water damn is cleaned and refilled. The honey badger is then walked from his night enclosure to his outdoor enclosure.
7:00am: The cercal, the owls and the skunk’s enclosures next are cleaned.
7:15am: All keepers gather and follow the green path shown on the map around the predator park checking each enclosure has clean water.
Removing bones from the previous evenings feed and removing any feces.
The electricity of each enclosure is also checked and recorded on a check list. The electricity should range from 7000v and 8000v.
8.30am: Keepers eat.
8:45: Karen and Jurg the two owners of The Predator Sanctuary Project clean the more dangerous enclosures such as the lions and the Bengal tigers.
They also interact with the animals, often playing with the lion’s ball and any one on one interaction, as seen below, is used to check for ticks as well as interaction.
Jukka, the male Bengal tiger, is also given his bottle of milk while Karen cleans the enclosure.
9:30am: If needed in the larger enclosures with the large water damns will be drained and cleaned with chlorine before being refilled. This is always done early time so the park isn’t too busy with visitors when the tigers are moved.
12pm: There are four tours throughout the day at 10pm, 12pm, 2pm and the feeding tour at 4pm. Visitors are taken around the predator park while the keepers give short talks on each animal. Animals at the front of enclosures also are given a treat through as part of their daily interaction.
2. 30pm: The food preparation begins, with each animal being catered for individually. Each piece of meat is cut to the right size and everything is recorded so the food amount can be monitored.
4pm: This is the most popular tour and is when all the animals are fed, entering at the lions enclosure and following the route through to the Bengals, the white lions and cheetahs, feeding the Siberian and white Bengal cubs last. It also the tour Jurg and Karen give talks on the animals.
The food is thrown over the fence to most of the animals. The food for the Several is placed on a large rock, to encourage him to come closer to the front of the enclosure as he is very shy. The cheetahs are fed from plates because they are very hygienic animals in the wild (highly unusual among big cats). They don’t eat the skin of their prey using it as a protection from dirt and bacteria. They don’t return to kills and will also leave the bones or entrails of prey. (Eaton, 1974)
5.30pm: The milk is prepared for the Bengal and Siberian tigers.
5.45pm: The Siberians are walked to their night enclosure.
6:00pm: The white Bengal tigers are walked to night enclosure.
6.15pm: If the weather is very cold or very wet the two cheetahs are also walked to their indoor enclosure.
6.30pm: If the tigers den needs cleaning it is drained and scrubbed with chlorine and refilled. The Siberians and white Bengal enclosures are also cleaned each night.
7:00pm: End of the day for keepers.
During the day also extra jobs that vary such as taking the honey badger or the skunk out for a walk for some interaction and a chance to explore. We also build anything needed for old or new enclosures. Including fencing, enrichment, shelters, signs etc
Case study: Angelo and Mish, the two white Bengal tigers at South Africa’s Predator Sanctuary Project
Angelo and Mish are not fully grown and were due to be moved into larger enclosures once they had outgrown their cubbie camps. However due Angelo’s condition it now means they will remain in the cubbie camp as it somewhere Angelo knows and is comfortable in despite his condition worsening. He has Progressive Retinal Degeneration which means he will eventually become blind. Unfortunately there is no cure for this but to try and slow the progression of the degeneration Angelo gets the eye tablets “Eyes RX” (McCalla, 2010). He gets two tablets daily, wrapped up in a cut of meat. They are brought in at night because since they were very young they brought in because the enclosures were so far away from the main house and now they have outgrown the camps there is an added danger they could escape and would be unheard from the house.
Conclusion Animal Husbandry
The health and happiness of the animals at The Predator Sanctuary Project is at the top of everybody’s concern that works here, especially the owners who work daily with the animals, interacting with them and overseeing their daily husbandry and routine. Every aspect of the animal’s life is looked at to ensure they are as happy as possible from the hygiene of their enclosures, to their diet, to their enrichment, mentally and psychically.Adventuring in Southern Africa: The Great Safaris and Wildlife Parks of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, and Swaziland
Editors Note: I love reading “Day in the Life of” Posts; it’s fascinating to learn what exactly people do day-to-day with their volunteer projects.Samantha Hollick from Chester University, England. She volunteers with the EDGE of AFRICA Predator Sanctuary Project. For details on working with Predators in South Africa visit http://www.EDGEofAFRICA.com/