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Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Tiger, lion, cougar, leopard, anything cheetah size or larger

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Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby Taj's mom » Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:44 pm

Hi,

One of my YA novels involves a main character who lives on a big cat sanctuary that contains lions and a tiger. I've read the attached files on this forum for proper feeding and cage requirements, but I'm lacking in some behavioral and other anecdotal evidence in the book that I want to make sure is accurate.

I know everyone is extremely busy, but if I posted some questions here, would anyone be willing to offer me their expertise? Thanks in advance!
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby sarajeku » Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:49 pm

I can't claim to be an expert by any means, but the refuge I work with had 2 lions. There are still 2 cougars and 2 bobcats. But I'll tell you what I know about them. If I give any wrong info, someone will correct me, but I'll just state my observations. I'll send you some of my photos too if you'd like.
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby TamanduaGirl » Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:36 pm

Try asking on Rexano FB page
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby Taj's mom » Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:50 pm

Thanks for offering to help and letting me know about the Rexano FB page! I asked to join their group so I can post questions there too, but here are some of the ones I'm working on:

1) How do you give vitamins? Is it in pill form in their food or crushed/powder, etc?

2) Would it be probable that some cats be fed once a day while those who come in neglected be fed twice a day?

3) How accurate is the 10 lbs listed on the care sheets for a full grown lion?

4) How would a tiger react if an unknown person came into his/her enclosure? I have a scene where a girl breaks into a tiger pen and the tiger comes up and takes her head in his mouth, holding it for a moment, before letting her go. Is this in any way possible for any of the big cats? I can change species if necessary, but I really liked using a tiger.

5) The tiger in question came to the sanctuary as a result of being kept as a pet in a person's home. The owner lost his job and thus couldn't afford to feed said cat. Eventually, when faced with starving to death, the tiger ate the family's dog, the owner and then his wife tried to stop that and the cat defended his kill and ended up killing them both.

There's obviously more to it than that, but would that scenario fit with their behavior in a situation like this?

Would it also be possible for a sanctuary to step in in such a situation and save the big cat from euthanasia?

I have a few more, related to the above scenarios, but I want to make sure this is a possibility, too. Thanks again for any input or help anyone can give me, I really appreciate it!


Edited to add: I'd love to see pictures sarajeku!
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby sarajeku » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:07 am

The vitamins we give the cats at the refuge are already in powder form. We measure how much they need (someone else usually does that and has the meat thawing before I get there) and coat the meat in it. The amount we feed them depends on the season. The cats get more in the winter and a bit less in the summer. It goes uneaten if they get the same amount in the summer. I know some places feed every day and some places have fasting days and feed more every other day or every two days. We feed every other day, with a fasting day in between. Remember, I'm not in charge of this, so if you have a problem with that, don't take it out on me.
I'm also not 100% certain how many lbs of meat per feeding. It's usually measured out and thawing by the time I get there to feed them (I said that already.. lol)

We had a male and a female. The female was a picture cat used in roadside attractions where people get to have their picture made with a lion cub. When she got too old for strangers to handle, they left her in a cage and stopped feeding her. She has a permanent limp and underdeveloped bones. The male was neutered at an early age, so he never grew a mane. The owner was hoping it would keep him calm. They wanted him to be a friendly pet and were hoping to have a movie cat. They gave him up when their son passed away (not related to owning a big cat). They couldn't handle grieving and an exotic.

Serandi, the male with one of the other keepers
Singa, the female, with the other keeper
Serandi left, Singa right
Singa left, Serandi right

I'm always the one behind the camera when it comes to pictures, so pictures of me with the animals are very rare. I only have a few. haha
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby sarajeku » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:54 am

I just wanted to add, even though it's not really relevant to the topic: when all of these photos were taken, Singa was 13 and Serandi was 10. They were relocated to a sanctuary in indiana that specializes in big cats about 3 months ago, since wolf run specializes in canids and native wildlife. The USDA was becoming way too ridiculous with their demands about their enclosure (they told us we had to bury the fence because they thought the lions could dig out) and we just didn't have the funds to move the lions, give them an entirely new enclosure with buried fencing, then move them back. I wasn't involved in the decision to not fight back.
We do still have the bobcats and cougars though. icon-smile

Edit:

In response to number 4, why would she want to break into the cage in the first place?
We were told never to turn our backs on any of the cats if we happen to be in the enclosures with them, but we weren't supposed to be IN with them in the first place. We did form relationships with them through the fences (as you can see from my photos) but for safety reasons, we generally stay out. If one of the cats I've worked with were to get his or her mouth around my head, I'd be done for. Except maybe Squeekers the cougar. He'd cuddle me to death and squash me under his massively chubby belly. I would need more context about what the heck she's doing in the enclosure, how the animal got his mouth around her head (unless she's really short, they can't just walk up and bite your head without jumping on you). The lions I worked with did NOT like strangers around their enclosure. Like within 30 feet of it. Serandi would growl, then he would start baring his teeth, then if you continued coming closer he'd roar, then he would go into an all out rage attacking the fence/trying to tear the fence down to get at you.
Last edited by sarajeku on Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby Taj's mom » Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:01 am

Thanks Sarajeku! That definitely helps :) The lions at your sanctuary were gorgeous! I visited a sanctuary in Arkansas when I was visiting my mom and the big cats have always fascinated me.
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby Trefoil » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:30 pm

You do realize that it would not be possible to causally break into an enclosure as a spur of the moment thing, right?
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby Taj's mom » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:09 pm

Sarajeku, I'll provide more context later, as I'm on my iPhone right now and my fingers are too big for the keyboard.

Trefoil, the character in question has a job at the sanctuary at the time and knows where the keys to the cages are, if that helps. Thanks!
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby Taj's mom » Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:38 pm

Okay, I'm back home so I can give you some more details. The MC is an almost eighteen year old girl in foster care because her parents were killed in a car accident while she was driving them home from a party where they were drinking (her parents, not her). She feels a kinship to Solomon, the tiger, because he killed his handlers, even though he was raised with them and circumstances were beyond his control.

At a point of desperation, when she feels all she had was lost (i.e. a lot of terrible stuff happened and I don't want to bore anyone), she gets the key and goes into his cage, feeling that at this point she yearns for redemption from what she believes was an unforgivable act and feels Solomon deserves to be redeemed too, because he didn't mean to kill his owners. She feels that if she goes into his cage and he doesn't hurt her, she will have proven that he's as safe as a tiger can get, that he shouldn't be blamed for what he did when it wasn't his fault and that she deserves forgiveness for accidentally killing her parents.

Granted, there's a lot more too it, but I wanted to hopefully give more insight into this character's mind. She does suffer from depression and doesn't think logically all the time because of both her experiences and her age, (not that all teenagers think illogically, but if you knew more about her circumstances, her sense of desperation would start to make sense).

Thanks again for all the help so far, I really appreciate it!
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby Taj's mom » Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:38 am

Couple more questions if you don't mind :)

1) When you feed a lion, does he/she pounce on the food as soon as its put in the enclosure or does he/she usually wait until you leave to eat it?

2) Can two intact or recently neutered male lions ever be caged together either alone or with two female lionesses if they're spayed? Or do they do better in pairs that are male/female or same gender or alone? Or does it mostly depend on the cat's personality?

Thanks again!
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby TamanduaGirl » Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:57 pm

You do know if you neuter a lion it looses it's mane, right? A neutered lion will look like a really big girl due to no mane.
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby sarajeku » Tue Jul 03, 2012 5:24 pm

I second TG. Serandi, wolf run's male was neutered. There are pictures of him in one of my posts.
Also, lions are social animals, so I don't see why the females would need to be spayed in order for them to live together peacefully. Or maybe I'm reading that wrong?

I wouldn't know about the males. I do know that if you wanted a male and females together, you'd need for the male to either be neutered (he'd lose his mane) or have a vasectomy (so he could keep it but "shoot blanks" or however that works). I'm pretty sure in the wild there's only one or two males, and if there are two, they're likely related, with several females. I say the males would need to be fixed because most 501c3 sanctuaries don't breed big cats. And it's just easier and less invasive to give a lion a vasectomy than it is to spay a lioness. I don't know of many vets that have the facilities to house a lion should they have to stay overnight. haha

So my guess would be if you were keeping males together, they'd have to be exceptional or raised together? Someone else can correct me if I'm wrong about that. Wolf run had a male and a female and the rest, I'm going by what I've read about wild lions. I don't know as much about tigers, but I've seen them kept in at least pairs in captivity as well.
Wolf run has two male bobcats together that get along just fine, so I dunno. Maybe with no competition for females? But they're no lions. lol Cat people? What do you think?

When feeding, it depends on the day, but in general, the cats never pounced on their food. The one time I saw Singa pounce was when we gave them a whole deer donated by hunters, and even then, she didn't even really pounce. She just kind of pulled some hair off. They're too lazy and they know it's coming. They just casually get up and walk over to it. Sometimes they wouldn't even get up and we'd have to throw it to them. Tall fence + bad aim = lions getting smacked in the face with raw chickens. They would just look at us like we were stupid and then eat it.
The picture of Serandi with one of his keepers I posted is of her handing him part of his meal.
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby BB » Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:28 pm

Don't most sanctuaries or zoos have those cable runners where the food gets tied up and the cats have to run after it to get their food?
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Re: Factual help needed re: lions and tigers (no bears :) )

Postby sarajeku » Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:51 pm

I've seen that for cheetahs for enrichment. I don't know of anywhere using it for bigger cats though. Maybe some places do though.
We don't at wolf run. We just don't have the space to do it for the cougars, bobcats and lions. The cats we have (and had previously) there are too lazy to chase it even if we did. Maybe super early in the morning or really late in the evening (cooler parts of the day) but the times I'm there, they'd just stare at it as it zipped by. haha
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