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The Tiger is still here!

An Update - by Bettina Krone, May 11, 2013

Suzie called me a few weeks ago: “I just wanted you to know,” she said, “I think our guest tiger will be here for quite a while longer!” I could hear the excitement in her voice, “Mike is going to talk with the Janks’ again,” Suzie continued. And – just a few days later – Mike told me that indeed, the tiger would be at the museum perhaps until September; “they are going to build him a pool there at the Sanctuary,” Mike explained.

We had heard that the tiger had not been very interested in going into the water, but here at the museum, he eventually had taken to enjoy swimming in the small pool. So upon his return back home he would have his very own pool as well. Right the day after he had arrived Mr. Tiger celebrated his second birthday – and he has even grown some more since then! Mike thought he would weigh about 450 pounds now!

A very handsome tiger, I have to say! He loves all the attention, playing in the pool or in his exhibit and – so it seems – enjoying when the visitors talk to him and admire him!

So that is great news all around. If you haven’t seen Mr. Tiger yet, come on out!!!!



The New Guest

By Bettina Krone, November 28, 2012

“I know, I know,” I sighed, “he won't fit in my car. But I can't help it, I see him sitting in the backseat of my SUV, real cool looking, seatbelt fastened, legs crossed, leaning back comfortably, puffing a catnip cigar,” here I started giggling, “what a picture! Way cool!” Mike grinned too and agreed that it would indeed be cool.

We were picking up the new guest animal for the winter months. Mike had just told me that the museum would host a young Bengal Tiger, on loan from a sanctuary called 'Carson Springs', near Gainesville. Of course, I had offered the use of my car again. The tiger would fit in - no problem there - if he could sit in the backseat! The transport cage we had to use, however, was way too big and heavy for my car. After all, this was a 300 pound cat we were talking about!

Mike rented a van, and Suzie (the head keeper at the museum) and I and the transport cage hopped on board. Mike was driving. We could do the pick-up in one day this time, it would be a five hour round trip thereabouts.

Suzie sat in the back and listened to something on her i-pod. Mike and I had not seen each other in a while, so we had a lot to talk about what had happened in our lives. Time flew by and soon we arrived in Gainesville, stopping to get gas and eat lunch before we arrived at Carson Springs.

“Did you see the cats by the house?” Mike asked as we had passed through the gate. “Yeah,” I said, “they looked kind-a gray, didn't they?” “Oh, look, there are more,” Suzie called from the back. And then we saw them all over the place - lots of domestic felines snoozing on a chair, looking at our approaching van, investigating a flower bed - we saw at least six or seven of them. What a nice greeting that was, it made us feel good, we all like cats.

Mike drove alongside large pastures - “they breed racehorses” he had told us earlier - we passed by some buildings and more pastures - “they have lots of acres,” Mike had said - until we finally saw the large enclosures which housed the wild felines.

Christine and Barry Janks, the founders of the sanctuary, awaited us. They had already put the tiger in his small holding cage; he was ready to shift into our transport cage. Christine showed Suzie and me around real quick: we saw two beautiful lynxes, and a lion and a cheetah, all were living in very clean and nice habitats.

And then it went fast: the tiger stepped into the transport cage, Suzie backed up the van to the cage, and six helpers loaded the carrier into the back of the van and off we went!

We had not even left the sanctuary yet, when Mr. Tiger peed and pooped in his cage. Suzie made a dam for the urine flood with old towels so it would not run all over the place. It smelled quite strong, of course, which started a discussion about the different types of cat-pee-smells. Tiger pee actually does not have the worst smell…

The trip passed by quickly after that. The big cat had settled in and even snoozed a bit. We wondered how he would do in the exhibit at the museum - Christine had told us that he loves attention - he sure would get a lot of that at the museum!

Mike called ahead several times to round up enough helpers for unloading the tiger cage. We arrived at the museum right before dawn. Six people lifted the tiger plus carrier out of the truck and put it right next to the door to the holding cage. “Keep your fingers with you at all times, please,” Mike had cautioned everybody!


Photo by Bettina Krone - Transport-Carrier at the Door to the Holding Cage

And then: “Everyone out,” Mike shouted - doors were securely locked, gates were secured, everybody was in position - and Mr. Tiger stepped into his holding cage, and then, a moment later (after the carrier had been moved out of the way) the big cat was let out into the big enclosure, his home for the next half year. The tiger immediately started to check everything out; it is a good thing cats are so curious, that helps in new and strange environments!


Photo by Bettina Krone - The Tiger Steps into his Cage

After Mr. Tiger had settled, Mike called Christine and Barry to let them know that we all had arrived safely.

As of today, 14 days later, the big cat is doing great, he plays and eats and interacts and enjoys all the attention! Our local paper (The Tallahassee Democrat) ran a nice article (see below) which already brought a lot of visitors to the museum. The tiger will be here until Mid-March. We at Cat Life Foundation are very pleased that we are the presenting sponsor! So, come on out and visit Mr. Tiger!!!



TALLAHASSEE MUSEUM FLORIDA PANTHER UNDERGOES GROUNDBREAKING PROCEDURE

STEM CELL PROCEDURE COULD IMPACT PANTHERS INTERNATIONALLY

TALLAHASSEE - The Tallahassee Museum's male Florida panther recently underwent an innovative stem cell procedure that could potentially help heal a problem in his leg and also help big cats with injuries worldwide.

“This treatment is the first known attempt of its kind in a panther in the United States and the gradual results are closely being monitored by the panther's vet and Museum staff,” said Tallahassee Museum Animal Curator Mike Jones. “The Museum is appreciative of the opportunity to participate in this cutting edge process that will hopefully help our panther as well as help pave the way for this technique to help other large cats.”

During the treatment, Dr. Norm Griggs of Shepherds Spring Animal Hospital, the consulting veterinarian, removed about two ounces of belly fat from the cat. The fat was then air shipped to a firm in California where it was broken down and approximately 33 million stem cells were isolated and saved. The stem cells were then flown back to Tallahassee where Dr. Griggs carefully injected about eight million cells directly into the panther's front right elbow. The remaining cells are being stored in California for backup procedures, if needed. The entire process took 72 hours to complete.

The goal of the stem cell transplant is to grow cartilage in the panther's leg in order to provide relief. The two-year-old cat arrived at the Museum last April with preexisting arthritis in his right elbow and a stick fracture caused by an injury when he was a year old. When veterinarian Dr. Griggs recommended looking into a stem cell transplant to possibly provide relief to the cat, a stem cell therapy company called Vet-Stem was contacted. After reviewing the panther's information, Vet-Stem felt he was such a good fit for this procedure that they agreed to waive most of the costs and proceed. Cat Life Foundation is providing the remaining funds to cover the cost. This procedure has mostly been used on horses and dogs in the past.

About the Tallahassee Museum: Set amidst 52 acres of breathtaking Florida flora and fauna, the Tallahassee Museum has served as an iconic Tallahassee landmark for more than 50 years. Ranked as one of Florida's top museums, the Museum encourages guests to discover and learn about North Florida's natural environment, rich history and diverse communities. The Museum's living exhibits of native Florida wildlife in their natural environment, nature trails and native gardens are renowned by visitors of all ages. The Museum's Big Bend Farm immerses museum-goers in a 19th century farm experience, while exhibits in the Concord one-room schoolhouse; Seaboard Airline Caboose; Bethlehem Missionary Baptist church; and Bellevue, a mid-19th century cotton plantation, explore the history of Southern communities. Daily programs, annual events, free parking, a museum store and the Trail Break Café make the Museum a favored destination for over 100,000 annual visitors. The Tallahassee Museum is a not-for-profit, funded by private donations, grants, sponsorships, membership and fundraisers.

The Tallahassee Museum is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. It is located at 3945 Museum Drive, just 15 minutes from downtown Tallahassee. www.tallahasseemuseum.org.

***Photos available upon request.

PRESS CONTACT: Marguerite Martin (850) 575-8684 ext. 144 mmartin@tallahasseemuseum.org


"The New Panther" or "The Buddha-Pick-Up"
Photographs by Bettina Krone

"He doesn't look like he's into classical music," I said to Mike, "I mean, I've only seen a photo, but still…." My voice trailed away. Mike nodded, "Oh, yes, I gree. He appears to be more like a teenager, into rap or heavy metal, perhaps." He grinned. Mike likes to tease me, neither one of us is into those music styles, really! "Uh, well," I said, "the panther is out of luck then!" I smiled back at Mike. "Now, let me read you the cd-selection I have packed," I declared, "we have here Andreas Vollenweider, which is a tad psychedelic, it's harp music. Then The Alan Parson's Project "Pyramid", Gershwin, 'The Doors' and Eric Satie's Gymnipedes. What do you think?" "Yep, "Mike said, "sounds great." He had brought two cd's himself, with Rock'n'Roll and blues music.

We had covered all the bases.

And thus the two of us were off to another cat-transport-adventure! This time it was a joyous occasion: we were on the road to Jupiter, Florida, to pick up a new cougar for the Tallahassee museum!

Mike did not know much more about the cat, either. We had both just seen that same photo and we knew the panther is a young male living at Bush Wildlife Sanctuary. The big cat had been born at the Sanctuary, through an amorous liaison between two of the panthers there. As a kitten the panther had been trained as an education animal, which includes walking on a leash and being comfortable with humans. Now the panther had simply gotten too big for that and therefore needed a forever home!

The cat was still not fully grown and would fit into a large carrier, which in turn fits nicely into the back of my SUV.

So, this morning, Wednesday, April 6th, 2011, we were on the road at nine o'clock already. That is early for Mike and me, I might add!

Our first stop would be at Central Park Zoo in Sanford to drop off two Koatis; cute chirpy mammals from the raccoon family who the Tallahassee Museum had hosted over the winter.

After we had brought the two furry girls safely back to their home, it was well into the afternoon. Mike and I were both hungry. The panther we would pick up in the morning.

I noticed I started getting cranky! Some time ago I observed that this starts happening when I really need to eat something. I mentioned it to Mike, who laughed and said, he was aware of that himself, getting cranky when hungry, it had happened with him and his wife Paula as well! Of course, being friends and being aware of our "conditions" we started making fun of it and "mock-shouted" at each other while laughing a lot. Mike suggested looking for Ikea, the Swedish furniture store I had told him about. It was not far away, so we drove over there. Mike usually is the driver on our adventures. He does a super job with that. I operate the phones, program the GPS-thing, observe our passenger-animals, read to Mike out of the New York Times, select cds, hand out snacks, watch for street signs in short: I am the trip-, animal- and directory-assistance-, and whatever-else-is-needed - manager.

Of course, at Ikea one absolutely has to go through the entire store, which we did! Halfway through the store I made a beeline for the restaurant, though. By now I had moved beyond cranky and felt just weak.

Mike had never been in any of those Ikea furniture heavens. He enjoyed it. We agreed to come back with Paula; of course driving my big car – this time then without any animals, so we could fill up the car with Ikea-stuff….

The lunch was good as well; they serve buffet style food for a good price. We shared a lime-green marzipan cake for dessert.

Then I programmed the GPS-thing to find our hotel in Jupiter. The director of the Sanctuary, David Hitzig, had arranged for us to get the special hotel rate which was real nice!

The next morning, Thursday, we got up real early! When we had started to plan the trip I realized Jupiter is the next town up north from Palm Beach, where two of my panther photographs (the late Chobe) are displayed in an exhibition about Florida Wetlands at the Four Arts Center! Well, we absolutely had to see that, and Tom Sterling, the photographer who had selected my photographs, was so kind to meet us at the Art Center at the real early time of eight thirty. It is a nice show and I am very pleased to have my photographs participate.

At nine thirty we arrived at the Sanctuary, where David was already waiting for us. We went right into the area with the holding cages to meet 'Buddha', the new cougar for the Tallahassee Museum. He was very excited about all the people who were obviously there just for him. He purred and talked and chirped and purred, so eventually Mike and I had to leave the area for Buddha to calm down. David and the veterinary technician Amy Kight immobilized the big cat quickly. It took a moment for the animal to get drowsy. Then the three of them, including Mike, examined Buddha. They looked at his teeth, felt his body, checked his paws; he received his vaccinations and Amy drew blood.

David and Mike loaded the unconscious cat in the carrier we had brought and gave him the reverse drug to wake him up. They radioed to the employees to come say good-bye to their "baby"! Buddha had been born there in August of 2009, so everybody knew him and had worked with him a lot.

We gave Buddha some time to wake up, so that we could transport him safely and know he was okay. David and Amy showed us around the Sanctuary. They take in lots of injured wildlife and confiscated animals. Oftentimes the native animals just get treated and can be released back into the wild. The animals with permanent injuries or diseases get a safe place to live there at the sanctuary.

At around noontime our cat passenger was ready to go. The carrier had been loaded into my car, with the door facing towards the front, so we could check on him easily. Buddha was awake now, still a bit drowsy, tongue hanging out.

Off we went! We stopped twice, to get lunch and then to get gas. It took longer than usual since one of us always stayed in the car with our furry passenger, who, by now, was fully awake and wanted to know what was going on! I told him in German (and in English so Mike knew I was not talking about him!) that we were driving to a real nice place, where he would have lots of space with lots of greenery. He could have a new panther-friend, Nacoche.

Buddha could tell Mike and I were nice people, but, understandable, he was a bit uncertain about what was happening. He circled around in his carrier, he still felt slightly uncomfortable from the drugs wearing off. He drooled some more, Mike said, cats do that when they are excited and nervous. We talked some more with the cat, and finally he settled down to snooze a little.

We never put in any cds. Having been in close contact with humans all his life, it seemed the cat drew comfort from hearing us talk and laugh and telling him stories about his new home. Of course, every time the car slowed down or stopped, Buddha was up, wondering what was going on!

Finally, at six thirty, we did arrive at the museum, where Suzie and Shelby and other employees were waiting to welcome the cat into his new home!

Suzie had everything set up, so in a matter of minutes, "Buddha in the carrier" became "Buddha in his holding cage"! Nacoche was all excited, she followed our every move!

Buddha was busy exploring, sniffing every inch of his new enclosure, purring, hissing (just out of excitement, insecurity and nervousness), peeing (it was time, he had held it during the six hours in the car, which we appreciated!), jumping on his house, rubbing against the fence, talking, purring some more, listening to the other animals (the wolves were howling), all in all: he was moving in!

The next morning Suzie called me to tell he had eaten and was doing real well!

Sunday, 04/17/2011
Oh my, he has been here a week already! I visited the museum when Mike called to tell me they would let Buddha out into his large enclosure. The cat was doing just fine, exploring everything, playing, sniffing, and basically being a big, goofy play-cat! Unfortunately, Buddha injured his right foot, it all went so fast, nobody saw what had happened, until we noticed Buddha favored his paw. Now he is getting Arnica to help with the healing. And today (4/20) I heard he is putting more weight on his foot again. So all is well in Buddha-land!



The Pickup - A Daybook

Prologue

A few days ago, the phone rang. Mike Jones, the animal curator from the Tallahassee Museum (www.tallahasseemuseum.org), was on the line: “Have you ever heard of the Carnivore Preservation Trust?” he asked. “Nooo,” I said, drawing out the 'o', as I could tell something was up. ”What is the Trust about?” I asked. “Weeeell,” now it was Mike's turn to draw out a word, “It is an animal sanctuary for carnivores up in North Carolina. They do have cats, mostly. And, “ he made a dramatic pause, “I just talked to them, and we can have an ocelot as our summer guest animal!” “Oh, wow!” I exclaimed, “That sounds great!” Mike continued: “I know already that it's a male cat, I think his name is Trapper,” he said. “We could drive up there together,” I interrupted him, “ocelots are not that large. Even with a carrier, he'll easily fit into my car.” (I drive a large SUV.) I was all excited now: “Oh ja, what do you think?” Mike hesitated a moment: “That is so nice of you, Bettina, to offer that. Are you sure you want to use your car? It's a long drive, lots of mileage. We could rent a car, you know!” “Oh, that is fine, using my car, absolutely,” I was certain now. “It's been a while since you and I traveled together - I look forward to it.” The last time Mike and I had traveled together to pick up cats was nine years ago. We had picked up the two panthers – the “Mozart Kittens” (see the report from 2000 on this website). After discussing some organizational details we agreed to be on the road on Sunday morning by eight-thirty. We would be back late Monday evening with Mr. Trapper on board.

Cat Life Foundation is also one of the two sponsors of the ocelot exhibit! We will take care of feeding and providing environmental enrichment for the cat.

Day One

We are on the road, already on I-95 before Savannah. There is a lot of traffic on the interstate and plenty of construction work is going on. Mike and I had not seen each other for a while, so we have lots to talk about. We are also frequently on the phone with Mike's wife, Paula. She stayed at home, taking care of one of their (domestic) cats who was not feeling well. I had brought a pile of paper consisting of several issues of the New York Times to read and share with Mike. Some good snacks are there for us to enjoy: home baked cherry pie, health food store energy bars, fresh fruit and the like. We had already stopped to buy coffee. We will be fine, slow traffic or not.

Besides putting all the people-enrichment together, I had to decide on something much more important: what music would a male ocelot enjoy? Cats usually prefer classical music over more modern tunes. W.A. Mozart for the kittens, that was easy! However, I felt that Trapper, the ocelot, would prefer something more substantial, something more “grown-up”, perhaps. I finally selected Georg Phillip Telemann “Concertos & Sonatas”, a New Year's Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra which consists of various classical tunes, and Georg Friedrich Haendel's “Water Music”. I read our choices to Mike. As I started reading he said Haendel's Water Music had come into his head immediately! So, there - we're all set now.

We have been on the road now for about four hours. It is a 1200 mile round trip. I drove for the first hour or so, then Mike took over. I prefer to have somebody else drive on long trips, so that I can take the time to write. Luckily, today Mike prefers driving over writing. And I am ready for little adventures to happen. They usually do on a trip. The first one is coming right up.

The sky is getting darker and darker now. All of a sudden buckets of water get poured on the interstate. Even though we are in South Carolina now, we experience a typical Florida downpour. European visitors are always very impressed by the amount of water that falls out of the sky at any second during a rain like this. For us Floridians it is no big deal. We sail through the rain in a snap. Mike is a good driver.

Some time later the low-gas warning light comes on. We pass by an exit with no facilities. The next exit comes in 14 miles. I ask how much farther the car can drive once the light has come on. Mike says: “Oh, it'll be about 20 miles. We'll be fine, you'll see.” I guess my voice did sound a little tense. We get to the exit, roll into the gas station - just as we hear the “ding, ding, ding” - the final urgent warning of an empty gas tank! Mike was right, everything is fine.

We are getting closer to our destination, having driven halfway through North Carolina by now. On both sides of the interstate large patches of lilies and other wildflowers come into view. Seas of yellow and orange, with some purple strewn in, are popping up unexpectedly among all the green of the trees and the grass. That is a comfort for the eyes.

Here comes our exit now! We drive around a bit, trying to find the hotel where Mike has made reservations for us. It is right at the intersection where we will have to enter the highway in the morning. The receptionist recommends a restaurant that is close by the hotel; we need something warm to eat. It has a nice deck where we sit outside. The menu does not have a vegetarian option; I choose some side items instead. It is fine with me, that is all I need. The service is quick, we are only there for half an hour. Back at the hotel, I watch some non-upsetting show on TV and eventually go to sleep....or try to sleep, as it turns out.

Day Two

The window A/C units sound like a helicopter about to land. I always turn off the A/C in my room – I am greatly disturbed by the noise. How much energy could be saved if the windows were to open in such hotels! It would be so much healthier as well. In the morning I dress in a hurry to get outside, I felt claustrophobic in my room. After a quick breakfast we are on the road. I am exited now. It is, after all, a big responsibility and honor to travel with such an exclusive passenger on board.

The Carnivore Preservation Trust is not far from the hotel. We arrive there in about half an hour. We leave the sanctuary at eleven with a very handsome cat on board: He resides in a spacious carrier in the back of my SUV, surrounded by lots of tarp. It looks like one of those nacho shells, which they sometimes serve salads in at Mexican restaurants. As I had the opportunity to notice myself, the smell of ocelot pee is quite potent. The “most stinky urine in the cat world”, as Mike observed. Kathryn, from CPT, explained that ocelots live in the dense rain forest jungle. So in order to be noticed and find mates, they use that scent to strongly advertise their presence.

B.Krone
Photo copyright B.Krone

Trapper, the ocelot we picked up, is about nine years old. He was born at the Carnivore Preservation Trust. They started out as a breeding facility for small wild cats and are now a non-profit sanctuary. Please refer to their website for more information about them (www.cptigers.org).

Ocelots weigh between 20 and 30 lbs. Their fur is thick and beige brown with black rosettes and spots. They have one of the most beautiful coats in the cat world, which almost cost them their existence. In 1975 Great Britain alone imported more than seventy thousand pelts! This is unbelievable. I will never understand why people kill animals for their coats. For human clothing there are plenty of materials available. There is absolutely no need for anyone to wear somebody else's hide, and especially to kill a wild animal for it.

It is 2:19 pm. We are in South Carolina. The cat has settled down. Mike is driving. I climb into the backseat every thirty to forty-five minutes to check in with our precious passenger. Haendel's water music is playing. Mr Trapper is getting droopy: his head is still up but his eyes start blinking. Perhaps he will doze off for a while. It looks like I have made the right choice with the music.

5:15 pm, we are 70 miles north of Jacksonville, FL. Trapper is lying on his left side now, eyes sleepy. The sun is shining into his carrier – just into the front, not in the back where he is. Earlier, I poured some water in the bowl, which is fastened to the door of his carrier. I don't think he drank any, though. It is there when he needs it.

We stop to get gas (this time before the low-gas warning light came on!). We open the back door; Mike wants to check on the cat. We are not going to the doctor, Trapper has figured that out. It is way too long of a drive for that, cats know distance. It seems to me, Trapper is thinking, “I will just flop down here. Okay now, people, what is this about? Let's get this over with!”

Back in the car we are listening to the cd with the New Year's Concert. I don't think the cat likes this one that much. It is a live recording; people are clapping after each piece. At the gas station earlier, a loud engine was starting up – Trapper did not like that sound. He got up and looked around, he was irritated. Mike said the cat is as sensitive to noise as I am, which I can relate to. Cats can hear frequencies up to 100 Khz. Our hearing limit is at about 20 Khz.

By the way, not a sound comes from our passenger, which is very pleasant, considering the howling shows some of our domestic cat friends put on.

Georg Phillip Telemann is playing now. Our ocelot passenger looks like he is meditating. Trapper can look out through the side window of the car. He can see the trees and the top of cars passing by and such. A bit of sun is visible as well.

We are seventy miles away from Tallahassee, our destination (reminds me of those travel logs they have on airplanes: speed 79 mph, distance from CPT, distance to final destination.). Of course, the cat could not care less, one way or the other. Trapper has not figured out what is going on. So he just sits there and waits. Cats are known for their patience. I told him it's all going to be fine and he blinked at me. Of course, he understands German.

We have arrived at the Museum! Nine pm on the dot. Mike did a very good job driving. I did well climbing in the back seat to check up on our ocelot passenger. We are parked at the gate of the Museum – Mike cannot find his keys. (What did I say about the “little adventures one encounters on trips...?) Of course, the place is closed down for the night, nobody is there. Trapper knows we have arrived, he is on his feet, looking around in his carrier, out through the wire, his eyes are huge: he hears lots of unfamiliar noises, the crickets and the other museum animals. It is night, it is warm, it is humid, how exciting! I do wonder if wild cats do not have a bit of a sense of where their real home is - which, for the ocelot, would be the rain forest! It might be in their genes, somehow, somewhere. Florida is geographically closer to the rain forest than North Carolina is. It is also more similar in climate as well. In a way, it is very sad to think that “our” ocelot will never be in his natural habitat. However, he would not be able to live there, since no wild mother educated and trained him how to survive there.

While all this runs through my head, Mike and I are taking the car apart, looking here and searching there. He digs around under the tarp. I take out all the papers. The keys are in the car, we are certain of that. After what seems like a very long time (which were just a few minutes), Mike does find them! All is fine.

I drive Trapper to his home for the summer. Mike walks in front of the car, opening all the gates. He brings the carrier into the enclosure, the cat comes right out. I take one photo, but it is too dark for any good shots – and Trapper walks around, investigating his new surroundings. Mike puts the food in the enclosure, and we leave. I think, Trapper has gotten used to us, to our voices drifting over to him from the front seats. He stands at the corner of his exhibit and watches us leave.


B.Krone

Photo copyright B.Krone

 

Day Three

I hear that he ate all his food. That is always a good sign.

I am stopping by the Museum to say hello to my new cat friend. Trapper still is not quite sure yet what this is all about and how the routine goes and all. He does know people, so there is no fussing or hissing going on.

I am taking some photos – the sun is out.


B.Krone

Day Four

Trapper is fine, he is settling in. I hope somebody told him what this is all about, that he will be here for the summer, and then go home again. I might do that next time I see him, just so he knows.

I brought some catnip and cat grass today. Suzie, the museum's head keeper, said she gave him some. He came right over to check it out.

Today is press day. I meet the photographers from our local newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat – they are getting some good shots. Our ocelot is very photogenic. One of the photographers asks for the cat's name. Mike tells them that the Museum does not wish the names of any of the animals there being used. There are no names on any of the other exhibits either. One of the reasons Mike gives for that is that people might think the cat is like a pet. Ocelots do not make good pets! Their small size might make people think the cats could be handled easily, and of course, as kittens they are adorable. But they are wild. And they will remain wild over the course of their lives. Our domestic cat friends have been with humans for several thousand years, so they have mellowed out over time. But even they – as every veterinarian will know – can turn into wild tigers at a moments notice.

The animals at the Museum (or at any other zoo or sanctuary) are our responsibility. After all, it is because of humans that animals need to be kept there in the first place. Humans have extirpated entire species, destroyed habitats and compromised the environment in many other ways. The least we can do for the animals is to treat them with respect, tolerance, understanding and love. For me personally, that does include giving them a name, to be able to address them individually and with respect.

Epilogue

Trapper continues to be doing great. I am emailing photos to all my friends, telling them about the “new man in my life”! Of course, they all think he is very handsome, and they all want to visit the ocelot at the Museum. Trapper will be there through September.


B.Krone

Photo copyright B.Krone

Bettina Krone, President of Cat Life Foundation

All photos copyright by B.Krone 2009

June 2009