Keeper Tessa’s Blog 3/5/19

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!

If you have read Dr. Hunter’s latest blog post, you know that Fenimore Tiger got his physical! This allowed us to get an ultrasound on his belly, to take some blood to get in-depth tests on, and to get a good look at him. My job during the knockdown is very different than Dr. Hunter’s. While Dr. Hunter is taking blood work and looking at his joints, teeth, and the rest of his body, my job is to make sure that I notice if Fenimore is showing any signs of waking up. When we sedate an animal, we put in a catheter, this is a line right into a vein to administer sedation medications and IV fluids quickly. It is just like when someone gets an IV put in their arm at the hospital. The sedation medication we use is fast acting but does not last a very long time, so my job is to keep a close eye on any signs that he may be starting to wake up.

In the picture to the right here, I am checking to ensure that his breathing tube is in correctly and that he is breathing. I also keep an eye on his breathing to make sure he is taking the appropriate number of breaths every minute.

When I am helping with a knockdown, my job is to stay right at the animal’s head. I do not leave this spot. I will often be the first one to know if the animal is starting to wake up and I need to let Dr. Lamar and Dr. Lassiter know so they can administer more sedation medication or let everyone know they need to clear the enclosure for safety reasons. To check for signs of an animal waking up, I tap around their closed eyes to see if there is any reaction. I also check to see if their jaw is still loose or is starting to have jaw tone. If I see there is any reaction or jaw tone, I let the vet crew know so they can give more medication. My entire focus has to be on the animal, I have to help ensure that he stays asleep so everyone can stay safe, including the animal!

It can be a stressful job, but it’s one that I enjoy; I like being part of the team during physicals. I learn a lot from Dr. Hunter and Dr. Lassiter. When it’s time to wake the animal up, we give him medicine to reverse the sedation medications, everyone leaves the enclosure, and we make lots of noise to start to stimulate him. We want to ensure they wake up without an issue before we allow them some time by themselves to recover. Fenimore did great during his physical and we will return him to his enclosure in a couple days!