From A(va) to Z(eus): Rebuilding Habitats Allow More Cats to Feel “Free”
Staff Zoologist/Gift Shop Manager – Laurie Vanderwal
On Memorial Day Weekend, with excited supporters and guests gathered to watch them step onto the grass for the first time, a restructured habitat area was opened for crowd favorites Ava and Zeus.
We are always striving to give the cats the best care possible, which includes enclosure design and construction. All of our enclosures meet, and often exceed, both the federal and state regulations; but after being given some insight into possible upcoming changes to USDA regulations, we have become proactive and decided to rebuild some of our older, existing enclosures. With a donation from the Tigers in America organization we were able to move immediately from finishing the 20 habitats at Rescue Ridge to re-building a “new” habitat on our ‘habitat loop.’
Despite having to get re-accustomed to building on the steep hillside, this enclosure was completed relatively quickly due to the fact that the area already has a complete perimeter fence, water system, and access road. This habitat is shared by Zeus, our popular white tiger, and his smaller, feisty neighbor, Ava. Zeus has been at the refuge since 2010. He was rescued, along with 7 other cats and a bear, from a facility in Missouri. The facility was required to relinquish their large carnivores to stay USDA compliant in order to re-open to the public. Ava was rescued in 2001 from an elderly gentleman who was in failing health and being forced to move from his home. Zeus and Ava lived in adjacent enclosures in our self-guided area for several years and they continue to be neighbors, now alternating days in their large habitat area.
We are continuing to renovate and rebuild our older enclosures, so any donations to our habitat fund will allow more of our to cats feel the same freedom that Zeus and Ava now enjoy. Help us help them today!