INTERN EXPERIENCE – CASEY ALLEN
MAY 12, 2017
One of the first things I learned as an intern was how to prepare diets in the feed room. This is some of the more physically challenging work to be done, consisting of moving heavy boxes of frozen meat and lifting full food trays. Of course, there are times when it feels great to be in the cold feed room, especially on hot days and in the middle of winter when the weather outside makes the refrigerated room wonderful by comparison. At first, it can be tricky keeping up with all the duties in the feed room, but it is not a difficult task once the routine becomes familiar.
After becoming comfortable with the feed room, it was on to tasks closer to the animals.
For absolutely every aspect of animal care, there are incredibly useful tricks and techniques to learn that the staff is more than happy to teach.
The internship also involves guiding tours through the sanctuary, teaching visitors about big and small cats, and telling the specific stories of each of our animals. It is a chance for us interns to immensely expand our knowledge and to inspire guests that share our passion for these creatures. Nothing brightened my day quite like seeing the spark of interest in our visitors while I guided them, and nothing is comparable to feeling like I may have impacted a young future biologist.
Of course, one of the most thrilling and rewarding parts of the intern experience was training. As part of the internship, I was paired with one of the cats at Tiger Creek to train it for medical purposes.
I was fortunate enough to work with Gunther, a relaxed and somewhat lazy tiger that was actually born and raised at the refuge. I was working with him on learning the command “Paw” in which he would put his paw up against the fence so that it could be checked for injuries. It is with immense pride that I can announce Gunther was a true star in his training sessions. By the end of the term, he would complete the command anywhere and anytime he was asked (as long as he knew a tasty reward would follow, of course)! Gunther seemed to enjoy the training sessions just as much as I did and would even wait and watch for me to come up and work with him in the afternoons. Forming that connection with such an amazing creature and accomplishing a goal together was an irreplaceable and rare experience, and I am so grateful to my internship for providing me with it.
The TCWR internship entails a ton of hard work in all sorts of adverse conditions and is intensely challenging. But, if you are truly committed and willing to put in the effort, you will get more out of the experience than you could have imagined.
MAMMOTH JACKS AT TIGER CREEK FARM AND RANCH
MAY 12, 2017
We chose the American Mammoth Jackstock as our first species for domestic preservation.
With the acquisition of seven jennets and one jack, we have established our founder stock. Mammoth Jacks are the world’s largest breed of donkey and were developed in the United States through the crossbreeding of imported large European breeds. The males range in size from 56 to 58 inches tall, about the same height as a horse.
What really sets these Mammoth Jacks apart from normal donkeys is that they are slowly going extinct. At one time, the jackstock’s number flourished to over 5 million in the country. But now, the numbers are down to less than 2,000. The jackstock is now considered to be threatened and close to being in the endangered list for domestics. In addition to managing them, we are also creating an association called the American Mammoth Jackstock Association that is chartered on George Washington’s birthday and will be doing an acquisition of the registry. The American Mammoth Jackstocks were the backbone of our country for years. Our forefathers didn’t have tractors or bulldozers back then, so they used these animals to create a large mule that they could use to work the fields to haul timber out. They were basically the bulldozers of the day. They were so vital and important in the American economy that through an Act of Congress, a studbook was created to manage the animals.
But in 1918, after the introduction of motorized vehicles, the demand for jackstocks plummeted drastically. The American Jackstock Registry noted that after the utilization of automobiles, thousands of jackstocks were slaughtered because of their decreased value.
With help from Tiger Creek, the Mammoth Jacks could be making them way back from the brink of extinction. We have a recovery plan in place and are going to try and get them all registered through a recovery program and create more of an interest. There is also a generational gap. A hundred years ago, 90% of us were farmers. We had specialized breeds for all types of work or purposes.
That has been lost now. Because of this, these animals are now in danger.
As founder and executive director (and as a Navy veteran), I believe our heritage breeds deserve to be restored and protected. I started Tiger Missing Link Foundation in 1995 and acquired my first gelded Mammoth Jack in 1993. I had this gelding for a time, and he roamed Tiger Creek before the tigers were here. I really liked the Mammoth Jack, and I planned to help his breed one day. By 1997, we formed Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge as a division of Tiger Missing Link Foundation. Today’s herd is being built up under Tiger Creek Farm and Ranch, which is also a division of the Tiger Missing Link Foundation. My love for big cats and draft animals has led me down a path of rescue and preservation of some of the world’s most endangered species.
Together, my staff, my family, and I are giving back to the animals that historically carried the progression of America and the American Dream on its back. We will do so one jack and jennet at a time.
A NOTE FROM OUR PROGRAMS DIRECTOR
APRIL 14, 2017
Without our supporters, Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge would not be possible.
We recently hosted our second annual Autism Awareness Day. It was a very humbling experience, and I’m excited to have a sensory tour up and running that is tailored to the needs of people requiring a different type of conservation-themed tour. During the event, we offered free admission to all the families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders.
There is a special connection between people with special needs and animals, and we are honored to have so many people come out and celebrate that connection through conservation. Tiger Creek checked in right at 1,000 people last Saturday! That is almost twice as much as we’ve ever had in the past on our record day. Don’t forget to check our website or Facebook for upcoming events and specials!
We also recently had our USDA inspection, and I am happy to report that we did not have ANY violations, and we were praised on direction in regards to teaching the public about what we do here and why conservation is important.
Recently in the news, it was announced that tigers have been deemed extinct in Cambodia. It is such tragic news, and hopefully, enough people will be moved to make a change to keep the tiger from going extinct in the world! If drastic changes are not made to conserve natural habitats, stop poaching, and cease the trade of goods made from endangered species, we will see the tiger extinct in the wild during our lifetime.