June Birthdays at ZOFO!
June is a fun month at the sanctuary because 8 of our current residents have June birthdays! To celebrate them we are going to review their stories and how they’ve changed during their time at ZOFO.
The three ZOFO “kittens” turn 8 this month! They are Harry Potter, Neville, and Hermione. The three of them came to Zoology at only four weeks old after being found left in a tree. We don’t know exactly why they were left there. Likely, their mom was a stray who put them in the tree to keep them safe and unfortunately, she was not able to come back.
Since they’ve lived at the sanctuary their entire lives, they are very used to people. Harry Potter (HP) is commonly referred to as “my favorite” by guests. He is the first one to come up and ask for pets and continue seeking attention until the moment you leave! Although his size has changed, his energy has not. When he is not asking for validation, his other favorite hobby is parkour. If you see a black and white flash pass by you or jump off a wall, you know who it is!
Neville is a bit calmer than HP and loves interacting with guests and staff just as much! He might not always be right in your face, but he is always close by assessing who is the lucky person he will approach next. Neville is also very smart making him one of the easiest cats at ZOFO to train. Training can be a useful tool for increasing trust, building confidence, and allowing the animals to participate in their own care. Of all the cats Neville knows the most skills including target, sit, stand, high five, spin, and walk and sit on the scale.
Hermione does not believe she needs to get up for anyone unless they have something for her. Living up to the calico stigma, she is one sassy cat! From the beginning she has never been afraid to voice (or scream) her opinion. If you are petting her, in her way, not feeding her at the right time, or doing anything else she deems unnecessary she will let out a loud meow. Even though she can be feisty, she also has a soft side and is often found cuddling with her brothers.
Taco and Taquito are also cats with a birthday this month and happen to be siblings-brothers! They were found living in a horse trailer before coming to ZOFO. Taquito is very soft spoken. He likes attention his way in the forms of toys, treats, or pets on his back only. When he wants any of these things he will walk around the floor of the main building, softly meowing, until someone notices and gives him some love.
Taco has an even quieter meow. He is known for not vocalizing at all when he wants something and instead, jumps onto your lap or in the way of whatever you’re doing! Besides his people friends, he is a bit of a loner and prefers not to hang out with the other cats. Except for the occasions when he chooses to share space with his brother. In the past year Taco has developed some allergies, but overall, he and his brother are healthy and happy! They will be 11 years old.
Ham is next and turning 13. Ham is a fainting goat that was being kept in a dark environment with inadequate care. When first arriving at ZOFO he was extremely shy and hesitant to make any connections with people. The ZOFO staff spent time each day just standing in the yard with his herd, petting and feeding the other herd members to show him they were not a threat. In fainting goats fear causes a reaction in his muscles making them stiffen up, not be able to move well, and sometimes fall over. To decrease his fear the staff also came up with new ways to get him into a small area for times he needed to be caught for vet appointments, medications, etc. He will now happily go into the small yard for peanuts and even approaches the fence when guests are here for tours! This is a huge change in trust and the transformation has been wonderful to watch.
Cosmos is our large and in charge, and soon to be 14, llama! He came with some other animals from an owner who needed to rehome their entire herd and wanted them all to go to the same home. After the camels, he is the largest animal we have and has grown into a mighty protector for his herd. If he spots anything unusual or untrustworthy, he will send out a call alerting the other animals of a potential threat. When he first came to us Cosmos was always looking to staff members and guests for treats. As he has gotten older, he tends to spend most of his time grazing in the pasture and only searches out staff for his favorite llama/alpaca grain. He also has a strong fondness for his vet. Look out though, because even on a good day for Cosmos he is not afraid to spit!
The last and biggest birthday for this month is Toogie our Sulcata Tortoise! Toogie was brought to the vet by his previous owners who said they could no longer care for him because he had gotten too big. The founder, Jami, happened to be there and offered to take him home. Toogie is a normal size for his age and species at 125 pounds. Sulcatas can live 100-150 years, so him turning only 24 means he is still in his earlier years! Toogie has always loved spring and summer when the grass starts to grow, and the weather warms up. During this time, he is able to go into his outside yard and mow as much grass as he wants. Tour guests often comment that he is much faster than they assumed he would be! His favorite treats are red and include tomatoes, watermelon, and strawberries. So if you’re on a tour and wearing red shoes, you should expect to move fast when in his yard!
Happy birthday to all these wonderful animals! The staff at ZOFO are excited to celebrate with each and every one of you!
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