Tessa Stripes is our newest animal keeper here at Carolina Tiger Rescue. She studied wildlife biology at Virginia Tech. Before coming to Carolina Tiger Rescue, she interned at Wildlife Safari. Her favorite animals to work with are tigers! She enjoys giving the animals at Carolina Tiger Rescue a safe and appropriate home for them. It’s a hard and dirty job, but she loves it! Her favorite time of year at the rescue is the fall, when all the animals get pumpkins for enrichment!

Keeper Tessa’s Blog 10/16/19

In the spirit of fall and Halloween, sanctuary residents receive special enrichment – pumpkins!

Enrichment encourages positive, natural behaviors and keeps our cats mentally and physically active. We try to get them to use their senses, solve problems, and avoid boredom. Simply put, enrichment is meant to change up an animal’s day. Sometimes this means spraying a cologne or animal scent on a boomer ball, hiding meat in boxes, encouraging them to stalk, or even giving them popsicles made of tuna and broth. There are countless great enrichment ideas, but one of my favorites is pumpkins!

Each year, when fall rolls into the sanctuary, so do many pumpkins. We use pumpkins as enrichment in a few different ways. We can carve them and put meat inside. Our animals will sometimes crush the pumpkin to get the treat. Or, as you can see in this photo, Reina Lion has even figured out how to take the top off of one to get the food! We can also leave them uncarved and spray scents on them. Sometimes, they might rub against it, roll it around, and lay on it. Rajah Tiger loves to make my job as keeper a bit harder by putting his pumpkins in his water dish!

One animal who has enjoyed the pumpkin enrichment this fall is Mila Tiger. You can watch a video of her with one on our videos page. Now, I’m going to change up my own day a little and carve a pumpkin! Happy fall!