We get an array of animal surrender forms here at Zoology Foundation. Animals such as pigs, geese, turtles, cats, rabbits and more! Some who need a new home because their owners are moving and unable to take them and some who would come to us from a third party who is removing the animal from a dangerous or insufficient home. So how do we choose what animals come to live at ZOFO? These are some of the hardest decisions we must make. Of course, in a perfect world, we would be able to help every animal who needs a new home. But our first priority are the roughly 125 animals that already live here. So as a team, we discuss many factors.
Space is a big one. Do we have the appropriate amount of space to add this extra animal? The amount of space will depend on the species. If we’re adding a goat or sheep, we may have room in one of our large pastures. This will depend on if we feel more animals can comfortably fit in our barn. Even if there may be room outside in the pasture for more animals, there may not be extra room in our barn which is very important so the animals can escape the heat or inclement weather throughout the year. A small animal, on the other hand, that needs its own habitat (like a hamster or snake) may take even more effort since we would need new supplies for the habitat and there is a smaller amount of space inside our building.
As an organization it is important to us that all the animals are cared for to the best of our ability. That means that not only are their basic needs taken care of, but we take the time to enrich them as well. Enrichment is very important for captive animals. It is a way for the animals to stay active, use their minds, release frustration, and exhibit natural behaviors. So, when considering if we can take in another animal, will we have time to enrich them along with our current residents?
We always ask that owners let us know of any preexisting medical history, conditions, or medications on the animal surrender form. We have a very experienced vet tech on staff and all our animal care staff members are proficient at giving medications to a variety of species. What we need to think about is how the veterinary care needed might affect the space and time required for the animal. For example, we have a goat, Klinger, who has skin cancer on his nose as well as a tumor near his anus. We need to treat and monitor these conditions weekly. Because of his conditions, he was also bullied by some of our other animals in the pasture. Picking on the weak, although sad, is a common behavior in the animal kingdom. We had to move Klinger to his own, smaller pasture with his buddy to accommodate him.
This is a big one. As mentioned before, we already have a lot of animals and many of these animals are housed together. Is the new animal used to being around other animals? Have they shown any aggressive tendencies towards other animals or people? If they have, does the staff have the knowledge and experience to handle these behaviors? This is a very important factor to consider for the safety of the animals, staff, and guests at ZOFO.
All of these are important points to think about. And things everyone should consider when thinking about bringing a new animal into their home. This doesn’t mean we will say, “No”, every time. It just means we must think realistically and thoughtfully about the individual animals as well as our population as a whole. If you do need to rehome an animal, feel free to fill out an animal surrender form at the bottom of this link: https://zoologyfoundation.org/support/ . We are always willing to discuss animal surrenders and help if we can!