Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tyson's new home

A couple of days ago, we moved Tyson to a bigger enclosure just next door to his garden  area. It's a large area with a full-sized waterhole, a house, and a big platform to climb on. Many big cats have stayed there--Elsa, the Brothers, Zion and Trust, the Babies (all lions), Dolce and Gabana (leopards)--and they generally love it because cats like to be high up, and the platform allows them to be.

Tyson on his platform
The move itself was traumatic. You've heard the phrase about herding cats. Well, it was worse. He just had to move through two gates, so first I tried to lure him with some red meat. He took the first piece but then freaked out. So the bushmen and I had to get behind him and sort of force him through the gates. He was not happy and hissed and growled the whole time. Marieta directed us--in Afrikaans, so I had to guess about what she wanted me to do. Finally he got in the enclosure but then just ran from corner to corner trying to find a way out. Then he discovered the platform, ran up, and stayed.

Marieta told everyone to get out besides me, so I could calm him down. It took a long time to approach him again, but after about an hour he let  me pet him again. It was clear he felt safe on the platform so I gradually climbed up with him and lay next to him, petting him, until he stopped panting and hissing. He stayed up on the platform all night I think. I left him water up there and some food.

The next day everyone was prohibited from going in to see him, again except for me. I spent most of the day on the platform with him, calming him down. Eventually I got him to come down and drink from the water hole, but then he was up there again. But we definitely took some steps backwards in our training.

Volunteer Lara with Tyson

Three days later now, and the volunteers are back with him. They've followed my lead and spend a good time up on the platform, sleeping next to him and hand-feeding him when his food arrives. Yesterday I gave them the task to make him come down and play,and by the end of the day, they had accomplished that. So we are doing fine. I'm so sad to leave him the day after tomorrow. I will miss him so much.

Just a Harnas sidenote: while I've been writing this blog, I've been bombarded by Ollie, the baby baboon. I type a few sentences and then she climbs up my leg to play. We play and then she jumps down and runs away. I type a few more sentences--repeat. Very amusing, but how can I pass up the opportunity to play? Harnas!

1 comment:

  1. Love the sidenote, but Tyson is just gorgeous. And how awesome is it that YOU are the one chosen to get him through the transition? So cool.