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 10/31/19

I handed out some more pumpkin enrichment this week and the cats loved it!

I gave pumpkins to Beau Cougar, Mila and Riley Tiger, and Shira Tiger. This is Beau’s first fall here at the sanctuary so it was his first time getting a pumpkin. I was so excited to see how he reacted to it. We shifted him, entered his enclosure, and put his pumpkin out with perfume and meat, all while he kept a very close eye on what we were doing. As we left his enclosure, he came closer to his shift gate to figure out what we’d changed and as soon as we opened the gate, he went for the pumpkin! He ate his treats and took in the smells. Beau was cautious and made sure to keep us in his sight, but did not react badly to us watching which we thought was great! His pumpkin said, “I am wild.” This is fitting for all of our animals but especially for Beau because he is one of only two animals at the sanctuary who were born in the wild instead of in captivity. Check out our blog posts about Beau Cougar’s rescue or Ranger Bobcat’s rescue to learn more.

Next, we made a trip over to the Pine Forest section of the sanctuary to visit a few tigers. We gave Mila and Riley two pumpkins. When we have any animals living together, we give them enough enrichment for each to have their own. Mila was the biggest fan of the pumpkins and took time to play with each one. Here, Riley is standing next to her pumpkin that says EN, which stands for endangered. Tigers in the wild are endangered. This means they have a very high risk of extinction in the wild. It is up to us to advocate for these cats and their native habitat.

After Mila and Riley, we went just up the path to Shira’s enclosure and placed her pumpkin on one of her platforms. When we let her back into that shift, she knocked the pumpkin on the ground, spilling the treats that were inside it! She then ate the treats and carried the pumpkin away. Here she is rolling the empty pumpkin on the ground.

It’s so exciting to watch how each animal reacts to enrichment. It’s especially fun to watch Beau find his personality and preferences!

From all of us here at the sanctuary, happy Halloween!