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Audio Kiosk #2
Lockouts: Their Use
In front of you are three smaller enclosures almost identical in appearance with each having a concrete shelter as well as a concrete pipe that leads to an underground den. Such lockouts are essential for every animal the Sanctuary rescues. An animal that has been in a small cage its entire life cannot immediately be released into a larger area, as they would feel overwhelmed, insecure and terrified. The lockouts also aid in the introduction of a new animal to established animal populations, similar to someone perhaps having a new cat being introduced to other cats in the household. New cats may spend time in a bathroom or laundry room with the door closed to allow a more gradual introduction. The same is true for animals rescued here at the Sanctuary. Since there are no new Leopards at this time, each of the lockouts is currently open to the larger area, and the Leopards are free to move in and out at their leisure.
Another feature in every habitat that is essential for the safety, well-being, and protection of the animals are the underground or above-ground dens. As you can see, there is a concrete pipe that leads down into the ground. It actually goes back about 20 feet to an underground buried concrete bunker that is about 6-feet tall, 6-feet wide and 12-feet long. Because it is buried underground it stays at a very stable temperature of approximately 60-degrees Fahrenheit or 15-degrees Celsius year-round. Most of the animals at the Sanctuary use their dens more in the summer to get out of the heat than they do the winter to get out of the cold. Of course, the Bears use their dens for hibernation each winter. Even though they may not be visible to guests, there are underground dens in every habitat, so that throughout the Sanctuary there are literally hundreds of dens for the animals. Dens provide a much more stable protective environment than trees do and are a great asset to our animals.
Winter Weather. No Problem
One of the most common questions we get from guests is how do the animals do in the winter time? This is a natural question since most people associate Lions with the warm savannas of Africa or Tigers with the hot jungles of India. However, keep in mind that none of these animals have ever lived in their natural wild habitat. The short answer is the animals do great in cool and cold weather, and in most cases, they prefer it to the heat of the summer. Animals are typically much more visible in the cool and winter months than they are during the heat of summer. Fortunately, Mother Nature is very adaptable and if the animals are here as the seasons change, their coats naturally grow thicker as the temperatures drop-- just like it does with livestock or indigenous animals that live in variable climates.
Solitary vs. Social Animals
One of the things that makes The Wild Animal Sanctuary unique is that the vast majority of animals live in social groups consisting of multiple animals. Naturally, the thought of having a pride of Lions or pack of Wolves makes perfect sense, since they live in larger social groups in the wild. But what about the Sanctuary’s habitats that are full of Bears or Tigers or Leopards? Aren’t these animals normally more solitary in nature? Well, yes, they are, but that is typically out of necessity based on the prey animals they hunt, and how they go about their hunting. For example, Lions have evolved to prey on larger, abundant herd animals and their manner of hunting is much more successful when it is accomplished as a group or pride. The same is true of Wolves who also hunt larger herd animals. But when prey animals are less numerous or spread out over a wider area, many species of predators rely on stealth and ambush to catch their prey, and thus do better hunting and living in a more solitary manner. Here at the Sanctuary the animals are provided with ample amounts of food that requires no hunting, which then negates the need for such specialized hunting and survival tactics. On top of that, once the competition over mating rights and territory are also removed, even normally-solitary animals gravitate towards living a more social life with others of their own kind. None of the animals at the Sanctuary are allowed to reproduce since that would only be adding to the problem of captive born wildlife and use up valuable resources. Preventing reproduction is accomplished by neutering all of the male animals except for African Lions. Male Lions are not neutered since it would cause the loss of their manes which play an important role in pride dynamics and the psychology of the Lion himself. Instead, the Lionesses receive a contraceptive implant which suppresses their estrus cycle, thus reducing the competition for mating rights almost to zero.