Pumpkin Enrichment

Fall is finally here and we’re celebrating by having some enrichment fun with the animals. Keepers stuff pumpkins with raw meat and spray them with perfume. We leave them in an animal’s enclosure and watch the fun as tigers and lions come bounding in to inspect something new in their territory. Their eyes light up and they are immediately intrigued, sniffing and pawing at the pumpkin. Some of our cats go right for the meat inside the pumpkins, others rub happily on the pumpkins. They paw, claw and roll the pumpkins around, and meat spills out the top, like a treat dispenser.

Carolina Tiger Rescue’s enrichment program provides physically and mentally stimulating activities and toys for all the sanctuary’s residents.We do a wide variety of activities with the animals, like painting Pawcassos, pools for swimming, rolls to roll, textures to rub on, new scents and objects outside of the enclosure, like remote-control cars, windsocks or decoy ducks. Enrichment allows animals to demonstrate their species-typical behavior, stimulates the senses and enhances their well-being. It’s just as essential to animal welfare as proper nutrition and veterinary care. 

 

So what makes perfume a big deal?

 

Smell is very important to the animals because it gives them clues about their surroundings. When they encounter a new smell, they will often rub their face and body on it, to mark their territory. If they find the smell really interesting, they may display the Flehmen response (it looks like a cross between a smile and a grimace) which enables the animals to better interpret the scent.

Perfume is a favorite with many animals, with Obsession by Calvin Klein as a preference because of it’s scent profile and musk. Other strong “old lady perfumes” work well, and we like to switch it up and expose the animals to new scents. Some cats like rosemary or catnip. Anthony Leopard likes lemon oil, and Tio Tiger loves cloves. Ocelots seem to really like Axe body spray, the bigger the cloud, the better.

What can you do to help? 

Send us your pumpkins! Our animals would love the gift of an uncarved, unpainted pumpkin to explore. We will be collecting pumpkins at the sanctuary (Pittsboro, NC) through November, so keep us in mind when you clean off your Halloween porch decorations. We can also use your old body sprays, perfumes and colognes. When you’re done with your Christmas trees, we will take them, as well. (Also undecorated. Decorations can be toxic to animals.)