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 6/19/19

Have you ever been thirsty and not had access to water? Maybe you went on a hike and forgot your water bottle or forgot to pack a drink for lunch, whatever the situation, I’m sure it was no fun! We never want to be without water when we need it, and neither do other animals. Here at the sanctuary, we make sure our residents have access to clean water all day, every day!

Water is very, very important for an animal to live a healthy life. Unfortunately, not all facilities treat it as a vital part of an animal’s life and do not give their residents access to it all the time or the water they have may be dirty. Here at Carolina Tiger Rescue, each enclosure has multiple water dishes and they are refilled each day. We do not let our residents run out of water. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of time to do this, so let’s get started!

First, we must fill a bucket to take with us. We have water spouts, like the one in the photo above, throughout the sanctuary so we can use whichever is closest to the water dish, then carry the full bucket a shorter distance. When I get to the cat’s enclosure, I need to remember a very important fact. This cat, big or small, is a dangerous predator. I can not get too comfortable around them or get distracted. So, while I change the water, I need to always make sure the cat is away from the water dish. At any time, if they get too close, I will back off and wait for them to move away. For example, in the picture below, our volunteer had to stay back, because Kit Caracal was too close to the dish. That gray rectangle near Kit is the water door and the container attached to it holds the water dish, which you can see in the volunteer’s hand. If the cat is focused on what I’m doing and stays too close, I can attempt to distract them from the water dish or I can come back to the dish later. Each of our animals has multiple waters so I have plenty of dishes to change!

While the animal is away from the water, I must unlatch the door and pull the dish out. I dump most the old water on the ground, leaving just a little bit for cleaning. Now, I take a sponge and scrub the dish. I would never want to drink dirty water, so I am definitely not going to make our animals drink dirty water! Once the dish is clean, I can slide it back into place, shut the water door, and latch it. Now those muscles come in handy! I must lift the bucket up and pour the water through the fence into the dish. We always fill to the same level so that we can keep track of how much the animals are drinking. If we notice they are drinking more or less than usual, then something might be going on medically and we can address it.

Well, that’s one water done and many more to go! I’m sure Kit and his enclosure-mate Zari appreciate the fresh cold water and many other animals are probably looking forward to it, so on to the next!