Friday, October 19, 2012

Our Weekly Wrap Up!

As another week comes to a close, we are reminded at just how blessed we are to have a group of wonderful staff and volunteers caring for our beautiful animals!  Like we do every Friday, we re-cap the weekly news events and add a little something extra for our fans to enjoy!

On Monday, we introduced you to Quisto, a 5-year old Brazilian Ocelot, who is part of the Species Survival Program.  To learn more about this amazing animal, please click HERE.

Tuesday, we reported on the relocation of Jasper, Chance, Lydia, and Isaac.  Where did they go, you ask?  Well, you'll just have to click HERE to find out! 

We had a special guest blog writer, Janis Danner, who wrote her first Cat-O-Tonic History Tales blog posting!  She did a terrific job researching the third largest big cat species and then writing a blog posting for us to enjoy--so click HERE and be prepared to learning something new today!

Yesterday, was the 1st Anniversary of the Zanesville animal massacre.  This day will forever be remembered as a day when the world was shocked into grief over the loss of so many beautiful animals.

We want people to know that the 49 massacred animals, and all captive animals inhumanely killed over the years, will not be forgotten. Their silent cries, carried by the winds of time, will be heard and remembered—starting tonight at our 1st Annual Exotic Animal Awareness Candle Light Vigil. 
We would love to have you join us tonight as we come together to say goodbye to the animals whose lives were unexpectedly snuffed out because of horrible acts committed by uncaring persons and to pledge not to turn away from the cries of animals clearly needing our help.  Here are the details of tonight's vigil:

Event: 1st Annual Exotic Animal Awareness Candle Light Vigil
Date: Friday, October 19, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:00pm
Location: In-Sync Exotics
We close today's blog with some new videos of Quisto as he explores his new home!  Quisto is now living in the empty enclosure next to two bobcats, Moses and Otis.  Quisto's former animal caretaker visited Quisto this week to see how our boy was settling in his new environment.  We learned that Quisto loves cardboard boxes, so we made a little box bed for Quisto to enjoy and placed it in his new house. 

Little Quisto is still shy but he is slowly checking out his new home! 

Will Quisto venture outside?  

And we have an update on how Mr. Kibo and Shira, two servals that arrived last week, are doing!  Did Neffie accept the brother-sister pair?  Let's see?
Hello Mr. Kibo!

Our new servals resting together!

Beautiful Shira!

Success!  Neffie joined Mr. Kibo and Shira in the serval house!
We close today's blog with videos of Gideon and Chance playing together! 


We hope you enjoyed this week's blog postings and that will join us again next week for more informative, funny, and interesting blog postings on our exotic animals!
Please NOTE that we are now on our Fall Tour Schedule! That means we are only open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am - 6:00pm. For tour information, please click HERE! We have some great fall activities coming up that you don't want to miss, so stay tuned for more details!

Quick Commercial Notes: 

We are still fundraising for our five big cats that need dental work!  If you can contribute $10 or more towards this worthy cause, we would be very grateful!  Click HERE for the link to the Big Cats Need Dental Work Too site.  Thank you!

If you love our work then tell the world! You have an opportunity to help us make even more of a difference in our community and the lives of our animals. All reviews are visible to our potential donors and volunteers. It’s easy and only takes a couple of minutes! Please click HERE to get started!

Please have a safe and wonderful weekend and we hope to see you soon--especially since the weather is much cooler and the cats are active!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hope Is Alive After the Zanesville Tragedy

One year ago, on the Terry Thompson’s farm located outside Zanesville, Ohio, 56 exotic animals were released from their cages by their owner, who later committed suicide that evening in his own home.

The following day, the world learned that the authorities, wanting to protect their local community, killed 49 animals -- 18 tigers, 17 lions, 6 black bears, 2 grizzly bears, 3 mountain lions, 2 wolves and a baboon. On that day, the animal world was shocked into grief and outrage.

Today, many animal welfare and rescue organizations will memorialize the tragedy that took place in Ohio just one year ago on their Facebook pages and blogs. Some will capitalize on this event as a political action day against private ownership of exotics animals, while others may simply mourn the loss of 49 beautiful animals that needless died because of the selfishness of one man who would rather see his animals dead than to relocate them to really great homes.

At In-Sync Exotics, we want people to know that the 49 massacred animals, and all captive animals inhumanely killed over the years, will not be forgotten. Their silent cries, carried by the winds of time, will be heard and remembered—starting tomorrow night at our 1st Annual Exotic Animal Awareness Candle Light Vigil.

Friday evening we are hosting a special candle light vigil to honor those animals that died before their time. We are holding this event after October 18th because we want people to know that there is hope following a horrific tragedy—hope that something like this never happens again; hope, that people will be more willing to place their animals into new homes if and when they’re no longer able to provide a safe and loving environment; and hope that the next generation will love and respect all animal life—understanding that captive animals are not disposal life forms that can be thrown away when they are no longer serve a purpose.

We ask you to bring a candle to honor an exotic or domestic animal that is or was very special to you. The vigil is a healing ritual with no adherence to any religion or creed, just a simple lighting of the candles to bring us together as we remember the animals that are no more. 

Like most tragedies, there are usually warning signs of impending disaster. Tomorrow night, we will ask our friends to be more vigilant and report any type of animal abuse they may see or hear about to the appropriate authorities, so that something like what happened in Ohio never happens again. Many animal abuse/deaths can be avoided if people are more willing to take a stand against animal cruelty and speak up for the abused. Often times we have a tendency to expect others to report crimes against animals because we are afraid of getting involved. Then when something terrible takes place, we are left with a profound feeling of regret and shame because we chose not to speak out for the lives that were lost.

No animal cry for help should be left unanswered. Let us come together and make that commitment that no more animals, within our hearing or visual range, will be left to fend for themselves against those who wish to do them great harm. Let us speak out for those who cannot speak against the injustices that may be going on right in our own neighborhoods. Let us be the light that makes a difference in the life of an animal who is in pain, looking at us for help and salvation. We may not be able to save all the animals around the globe, but we certainly can save those animals living in pain and suffering within our own communities. After all, isn’t that what In-Sync Exotics is all about? And aren’t we all part of In-Sync Exotics’ family that provides a loving and safe haven to God’s most beautiful creatures by putting their needs first—above all else? Yes, we can make a difference—one animal at a time!

We hope that you will be able to attend tomorrow’s candle light vigil. Please bring your friends and family so we can all come together as one animal-loving community to remember those lives tragically lost over the years; to celebrate success stories of animals that were thankfully saved from terrible situations; and to make a commitment to be a light in the world for others to follow.

Here are the details of our vigil:

Event:  1st Annual Exotic Animal Awareness Candle Light Vigil
Date: Friday, October 19, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:00pm
Location: In-Sync Exotics

What to bring: Candles, family & friends. Tomorrow’s vigil may be emotional for many, so having tissues close at hand is advisable.
If you cannot attend our event but would like to support our cause, please visit our Facebook page and post your thoughts on our wall or to own your wall. We also welcome comments made to this blog posting, so you can share your thoughts, prayers, and/or wishes on how we can make a difference in this world and perhaps avoid another Zanesville tragedy in the future. Thank you!

Vicky Keahey
President & CEO
In-Sync Exotics

Here's an article you might find interesting to read as it was written from a different prospective, as described by a former animal caretaker for the Thompson's farm:  Year later, effects of exotic-animal tragedy still felt.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cat-O-Tonic History Tales!

We would like to thank today's guest blog writer, Janis Danner, for writing today's blog posting!  By incorporating blog posting from various writers, we can give you a blog with diverse ideas, opinions and comments, giving you a full picture of who we are at In-Sync Exotics.  So sit back, and enjoy today's blog posting, written by one of our own volunteers!

The Jaguar in Mesoamerican Culture & History

Can you guess which exotic wild cat is described as quick, agile, cunning, powerful, aggressive, elusive, mythical, solitary, opportunistic, predatory, fearsome, and of course beautiful? If you guessed “Jaguar,” then you know your big cats!

The jaguar, a feline in the Panthera genus, is the only Panthera species found in the Americas. The jaguar is the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion, and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. So, where can you find a jaguar (hint -- not at In-Sync Exotics)? Well, the jaguar's present range extends from the Southern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina.

Pop quiz - who am I?
Now as you know, In-Sync Exotics has no resident jaguars, but we do have two cats that may be mistaken as a small jaguar-like cat, Jett, Java, and our newest resident, Quisto, our Brazilian Ocelot! Sometimes visitors mistake them for jaguars because their fur resembles that of a jaguar. To help clear up the confusion, you might want to click HERE, for our past story on leopards vs jaguars, and then take a look at Quisto’s coat by clicking HERE. Now do you see the resemblance? It's all in the spots, and of course, size!

Apart from a known and possibly breeding population in Arizona (southeast of Tucson), the cat has sadly been eliminated from the United States since the early 20th century. Apparently, it was once fairly common over southern Texas and nearly the whole of the eastern part of the state to Louisiana and north to the Red River. Can you imagine seeing a wild jaguar in the Texas hill country?  Unfortunately, the last verified records of a jaguar siting was in Texas near the turn of the century. Sadly, the jaguar is listed as "endangered" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The largest contiguous area of habitat now remaining for jaguars centers in the Amazon Basin, but they can live in several types of forest, grassland and dry habitat. They prey on a variety of animals, including fish, birds and reptiles. Like the tiger, wild jaguars actually enjoy swimming!

Jag jaws!
Did you know that jaguars are the only cats in North America that roar? Yep, they can roar! And look out for those jaws! The jaguar has an exceptionally powerful bite, even relative to the other big cats. This allows it to pierce the shells of armored reptiles and to employ an unusual killing method. In one killing strategy, it bites directly through the skull of prey between the ears to deliver a fatal bite to the brain.

As the apex predator (meaning top“dog, err, cat” in the food chain) in most of the Americas, it is no surprise that jaguars became closely entwined in the cultures, religions, and myths of the indigenous people who lived beside them. The stories told at the campfires of the ancients are myths and legends that give the jaguar supernatural powers.

The Olmecs of South Central Mexico, besides leaving behind large stone heads, also left numerous stone sculptures of “were-jaguar” (an Olmec motif and a supernatural entity, perhaps a deity) babies held by humans.

According to archaeologist Peter Furst, these “were-jaguar”figurines were likely used as household gods for many people and as spirit helpers or familiars for priests or shamans, aiding in transformative acts and other rituals. In 2006, archaeologists in the Vera Cruz region of Mexico found the 3500 year old skeleton of a male who had his teeth filed down to stubs, apparently in order to wear a set of faux jaguar fangs! Yikes! That’s one toothy grin!

There are numerous fables told about the connection between man and jaguar. Rising each day in the East, Jaguar Sun prowled the skies getting older during the course of the day until finally falling into the darkness of the west. During the night, Jaguar Sun fought the Lords of Xibalba (the Underworld). Then, with strength and cunning, Jaguar Sun wins the right to rise the following day in the East. Some Maya say that when you spread the skin of a jaguar you spread the heavens of a starry night.

Another story predicts that the end of the earth will come when jaguars ascend from the underworld to eat the sun and moon, maybe the entire universe, and an eclipse will foreshadow this final event. Could that be what will happen this December, 2012?

Nahua jaguar mask

The Maya, Olmecs, and Aztecs (Nahuatls) in particular had very special relationships with the jaguar. In a culture where the natural world is many times explained by the supernatural, the strength and power of the jaguar was transferred to the ruling and warrior classes.

It was believed that actual physical strength could be drawn from these totems. Jaguar thrones became the actual seats for the rulers. Many carved stone jaguar thrones have been found throughout the region, the prime example being this red throne complete with real jaguar teeth and decorated with turquoise spots. It was found in an interior chamber of the Castillo Pyramid in the Pre Columbian city of Chichen Itza in the Mayan lowlands of Mexico.

Modern Maya still use the ancient term Balam, literally “tiger”,to refer to the big spotted cat. The Ancient Maya venerated the jaguar in various guises as their most important deities. There was the Jaguar God of Terrestrial Fire and War, whose spouse may have been IxChel, the Jaguar Goddess of Midwifery and War. Then there was the Jaguar Patron of the War Month of Pax, God L has jaguar ears and a jaguar mantle and lives in a jaguar palace. The Aged Jaguar Paddler is associated with Night. Not to mention The Jaguar Twin Hero and numerous Jaguar Protectors. Quite the collection of power!

The teeth, claws and skins of the jaguar were also believed to impart power and these became highly valued possessions. The ultimate luxury item, the jaguar pelt was worn exclusively by the ruling and warrior classes, or used in rituals and dances. Images of clothed warriors and kings are found on innumerable items of pottery and on many scenes of the few surviving murals and codices from the Pre Columbian era.

Folk traditions honoring jaguars still mingle with Catholicism in the Tarascan and Huasteca tribal dances, believed to have their origins in Aztec roots. These dances tell tales about living alongside the jaguar and are still performed to this day. The costumes and masks along with the movements of the dance mimic the jaguar. It is said that “Jaguars possess the power of God.”

As for music, not much remains of the notes and rhythms that were used. However, Archaeologists have found a jar in Guatemala, attributed to the Maya of the Late Classic Era (600-900 AD), which depicts a musical instrument that has been reproduced and played. This instrument is astonishing in at least two respects. First, it is the only stringed instrument known in the Americas prior to the introduction of European musical instruments. Second, when played, it produces a sound virtually identical to a jaguar's growl.

Want to hear out a jaguar sounds like? Well, believe it or not, there is a musical instrument that when played, mimics the sound of a jaguar growl!. The vibrations travel the length of the string into the drum which produces a most interesting sound.

The video (below) is a comparison of the actual jaguar growl, and then the recreated instrument being played by a Princeton University Professor. With some practice, it is conceivable that this instrument’s sounds would be almost indistinguishable from the throaty rasping snarl of an adult jaguar. It would surely conjure up fear and terror if performed during ceremonial rites. Listen for yourself and see what you would think hearing this instrument!

Music, dance, friezes, stone carvings, murals, pottery, myths and legends all attest to the fact that the Mesoamerican indigenous peoples assigned the jaguar great significance in their sacred and profane world view.

As one of their most sacred icons, it is no wonder that the jaguar also was part of the Mayan and Aztec calendars. Enjoy the artwork because any attempt at explanation would take us into a highly charged world of conjecture! 

Mayan calendar glyph
Aztec calendar glyph

We hope you enjoyed today's blog posting! Be sure to check back tomorrow for more fun and informative information about our exotic cats and their friends of In-Sync Exotics! Don't forget to let us know your reaction to this posting by clicking on one of the reaction buttons below--and share this blog posting with others please ~ Thank you!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Movers and Shakers at In-Sync Exotics!

Whew! We've been very busy at In-Sync Exotics this month!  So far, we have greeted two new servals, Mr. Kibo and Shira (more on the pair later this week); we moved the cheetahs, Sam and Kodi, into their new "Fast Track Habitat" (more on this pair later in the week); and we welcomed Quisto, a very shy ocelot to the In-Sync Exotics.

To shake things up some more, we decided it was time for the bobcats to move into the now vacant (former temporary cheetah home) York Palace.   Chance, Lydia and Isaac moved from their quarters (next to bobcats Otis and Moses) to York Place last Wednesday.  Jasper, not wanting to miss out in all the fun, moved from the lynx area to join the three bobcats.

Since Chance, Lydia and Isaac have lived together for awhile, we weren't sure what kind of greeting Jasper would receive from the cats--would he be greeted with purrs or hisses? 

What about sweet Gideon?  Is now a good time to introduce him to Jasper, Lydia, Chance and Issac?  Will he be accepted by all or chased out of York Palace?

Let's see how he does with Lydia--does she accept or reject the boy?

The meeting went very well--no hissing or screaming at all!  Now it's time for Gideon to meet Chance--should we be worried?   

Looks like Gideon fits right in with the other bobcats!  It may be awhile before we can allow the young bobcat to stay over night at York's Palace--for now he will have to make due with scheduled play dates with Chance and Lydia!
We are very happy at how fast the cats adjusted to their new quarters.  They still have a climate controlled house where they can escape their adoring public's eyes or to stay nice and toasty warm during the cooler fall nights. 
Once getting over the idea of moving, Lydia decided to explored the entire area--checking out every sight and smell of her new home.
Jasper and Isaac have claimed the highest platform inside the house.
 Isaac also has a favorite place picked out outside....

One touching scene caught our eye...

Chance had a great opportunity to explore the upper level of York Palace, but instead he chose not to leave his little buddy, Gideon, behind...

Here are a few more pictures of the bobcats settling into their new home--enjoy!

Chance and Isaac enjoying a "bird's eye view" of their new home!

Isaac is moving up in the world!

Lydia and Gideon relaxing together

Gideon strutting around like he owns the palace!

"You smell good, Gideon!"

"Is that Vicky's scent I smell on you?"

"You are a lucky, bobcat, Gideon!"

"Let's check out our new digs together!"

Next Spring we plan on putting down some more grass for our bobcats to enjoy.  Unfortunately, the grass we put down earlier this year for the cheetah has already expired due to the heavy rains [sigh].
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Until tomorrow's blog posting, we wish you a purr-fect day!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Our October Surprise - the Sequel!

We have a very special announcement!  On October 10, 2012, we welcomed a new resident to In-Sync Exotics’ family—little Quisto

Quisto is a 5-year old Brazilian Ocelot, who is part of the Species Survival Program (SSP).  We were asked to house Quisto by an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facility, until such time his “breeding stud service” is required.  Until that day comes, we will provide this little guy with a wonderful home at In-Sync Exotics.

When Quisto arrived on Wednesday, we barely caught a glimpse of him as he ran from the transporter into his temporary den.  For several days, Quisto refused to come out of the den, looking absolutely terrified.  Right now he is living in Kenya's house.  We are hoping that once we relocate some of our exotic cats (now that the cheetahs moved into their new home thereby freeing up enclosure space), we will be able to move Quisto next door to Otis and Moses. This area is perfect for one small cat and it has an indoor/outdoor climate controlled house so he can stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. 

You may have noticed Quisto is missing a front limb.  We were told that he lost his leg in an accident several years ago.  Despite the missing leg, Quisto is able to move around his new home without any problems.  It’s amazing to watch him walk around his temporary quarters, checking out all the new sights and smells. Quisto has never been outdoors before, so needless to say, all of this is very new and strange to him.

Quisto’s main diet is the same type of food we provide our small exotic cats. We added bones to his diet on Wednesdays and Sundays, so he can keep his teeth clean and sharp and work his jaw bones and muscles. Quisto brought along his own special "comfort" food that we can use for treats to help make him feel more at home.  So far, Quisto has been very shy of our presence, coming out when offered small bites of chicken. At one point, he did take a piece of chicken from Vicky’s hand, looking a little lost.  He seemed to want to accept her friendly overtures, but his shyness held him back. We are hoping that in time, this little guy will feel very comfortable in his new home!

The AZA facility was most kind in donating funds so we could build a new small cat enclosure!

So why are Brazilian Ocelots so special and why are they on the endangered species list?

On the average, ocelots are about 3.5 feet long, weighing 15-35 pounds.  Females tend to be slightly smaller than the males.  Did you know that an ocelot’s night vision is six times better than a human’s?  They can certainly see you coming long before you can spot this wild cat—that is if you can even see the cat in his natural habitat that includes mangrove forests, coastal marshes, savannah grasslands, pastures, thorn scrub and tropical forests of all types!

Generally, Brazilian ocelots are found in southern Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina.  Males occupy territories of 31.4 to 18 square miles, while females occupy smaller, non-overlapping territories of 0.31 to 5.8 square miles.  Territories are marked by urine spraying and by leaving feces in prominent locations.

The ocelot is mostly nocturnal and very territorial. He will fight fiercely, sometimes to the death, in territorial disputes. Like most felines, ocelots are solitary animals, usually meeting only to mate.

During the day, Ocelots like to rest in trees or other dense foliage and will come out at night to hunt rodents, reptiles and birds.  Did you know that ocelots are expert feather pluckers and can remove most feathers before eating their prey?

In the wild, ocelots live about 7 – 10 years. Captured cats, like Quisto, can live up to 20 years.

In partnership with the Ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP), the Brazilian Ocelot Consortium (BOC) was established in 2002. These two conservation programs collaborate to protect and conserve these beautiful cats in the wild (in-situ) and through breeding programs with participating AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) conservation centers.  Sad to say, in the wild, Brazilian ocelots, which are noted for their beautiful spotted coats, are threatened by deforestation, habitat destruction and the fur trade, which is why there are on the endangered species list.  We'll be doing a more in-depth look at the Brazilian Ocelots in a future blog posting, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, please welcome our newest resident, Quisto, to the In-Sync Exotics' family!

Quisto feeling a little more confident...

It's a brave new world, Quisto!

We hope you enjoyed today's blog posting! Be sure to check back tomorrow for more fun and informative information about our exotic cats and their friends of In-Sync Exotics! Don't forget to let us know your reaction to this posting by clicking on one of the reaction buttons below--and share this blog posting with others please ~ Thank you!