Fallen Trees & Safety
Two trees fell in Tigger and Floyd’s habitat Friday after a sudden storm blew through. Amid stinging rain and gusting winds, a radio call went out regarding the incident. Thankfully, there was no harm done to our animal residents nor was there a risk of an escape.
Animal Care Team Member and Commissary Manager, Meg, was the first on the scene of the incident. She found Floyd, a normally nervous tiger, blissfully unaware of the event as he relaxed in his night house area. Tigger, a Golden Tabby Tiger who is always ready to play, was excited about the two trees he was “gifted,” assuming they were giant enrichment items given to him for being such a good boy. Per protocol, Meg immediately radioed other team members regarding the situation, including a quick assessment of the well-being of the tigers and the damage.
Tigger and Floyd were easily shifted into their night house area so team members could address the damage. Our secondary perimeter fence took the brunt of the trees’ weight. Some fencing was bent, but our team worked over the weekend to repair it, putting up new wire and attending to the damaged perimeter.
Because of our many accreditations, we are held to the highest of standards regarding not just animal care, but also safety and fencing. This situation could have had a very different outcome were we not. In addition to our normal guidelines, we have a specific protocol in place when there is a risk of storms. We continuously keep a close eye on the weather radar and have extra material on hand in case of damages requiring immediate attention. We always feed our animal residents in their night house area; this encourages them to shift inside when needed. Their night houses are made of strong concrete, which keeps them safe from damaging winds and lightning. It’s also where we lock them when there is damage to their habitats that need immediate attention. Because Tigger and Floyd associate their night house with food and treats, it was easy to quickly get them inside so we could fix their habitat.
We have participated in many rescues in the almost-29-years Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has been in existence. The “enclosures” we have found in people’s backyards, road-side zoos, and pseudo-sanctuaries were concerning enough that we often feared for our safety. There are big cats in the U.S. right now, living in dilapidated, unsturdy structures, which is both a cruelness to the animal, but also a safety threat to the public. This is why we’re asking you to support H.R. 263: The Big Cat Public Safety Act. The current bill is the first step in demanding a higher-quality-of-life for big cats in captivity, as well as safer standards to protect first responders, law enforcement officials, and the general public. By visiting our website, you can not only learn important information about the legislation in order to have productive conversations about big cat and public safety, but you can also send an email directly to your representatives asking for their support.