Frequently asked questions about the animals at HESC

Gartjie,-Matimba-&-LammieGertjie, Matimba and Lammie

We are often asked about the animals in our custody. We find it so encouraging that many of you out there care about these animals as much as we do. We decided to simplify things by putting together some of the most commonly asked questions posed, and the relevant responses.

1. What will happen to Lammie when Gertjie and Matimba become adults?

Lammie will simply join the other sheep at The Centre. The current plan is that once Matimba has been weaned, he will be moved back to the farm from where he originally came. We are still uncertain of what the future holds for Gertjie. Rhino bulls tend to become solitary once sexually mature, and should preferably not be kept together for longer than absolutely necessary.

Gertji-&-LammieGertjie and Lammie

2. How is Meg doing?

Meg is doing extremely well. She is now eating 4KG of mince three times a week. She is fit, healthy and strong!

CheetahMeg

3. What will happen with Salome’s cubs?

While our main focus is to release the cheetahs to the wild, there are a number of factors to consider before that decision can be made. Some of the cheetahs will be kept at The Centre, as it will allow us to ensure a sufficient genetic diversity. We could also opt to do an exchange with other similar facilities, for the same reason. Any such decision is only made when the cubs reach at least 4 years of age.

Salome's-cubSalome’s cub

4. In the wild cheetah cubs stay with their mother until they are 18months old, why do you remove the cubs from their mother at 4 months?

In the wild, cheetah cubs do usually leave the care of their mother around 18 months of age. However, this does not work successfully when breeding these animals in captivity. In the wild the young cubs remain with their mother until they are old enough to hunt for and defend themselves against predators. In a facility such as ours, this is not necessary. However, it is imperative for us to closely monitor the health and wellbeing of any young cubs. It is important to ensure that they are getting the correct nutrients in their diet during their developmental phase.

In the wild, cubs will get the opportunity to feast on all the organs of their prey, which are filled with nutrients. At The Centre, we add a specially formulated supplement to their diet to substitute these nutrients. If we keep these cubs with the mother for longer, it makes it difficult for us to ensure that they get the right amount of supplement. With the mother around, protecting the youngsters, it makes it harder for the animal curators to do the necessary vaccinations, parasite control etc.

Salome1Salome and cub

5. Do the cubs not miss their mother after being separated?

After being moved, the mother and the cubs call for each other for a few hours, but soon forget as they explore their new surroundings and settle in quite quickly. By the end of the day, the cubs and the mother seem to be very content.

6. Will the cubs have any ID chip for tracking?

Similar to some domestic pets, cheetah cubs are all micro-chipped for ease of identification. Depending on what the future holds, we will decide if it’s necessary to fit a collar.

7. Will the cheetah cubs be released into the wild, and how will they be prepared for that having not seen their mother hunt?

We cannot at this stage say what the future holds for these cubs. While our main focus is to release the cheetahs to the wild, there are a number of factors to consider before that decision can be made. Some of the cheetahs will be kept at The Centre, as it will allow us to ensure a sufficient genetic diversity. We could also opt to do an exchange with other Cheetah facilities for the same reason.

Cheetahs are similar to house cats in that they have a natural instinct for hunting. We also have a Lure System, which we use to exercise the cheetahs. This helps to ensure that they are fit, as well as to trigger their natural hunting instinct when a moving object passes them. The cheetahs that do get to be released are closely monitored through a fitted collar in order for us to observe how they are doing in the wild.

8. Why is the rhino bull in your custody called ‘#72’, and will he get a more personal name?

We did not name this rhino as we do not own it. The HESC is simply acting as a sanctuary for him as he (hopefully) makes a full recovery. We therefore have no control over his name. We unfortunately are not able to provide a concrete answer regarding the origin of the name ‘#72’. RhODIS is a DNA profiling database, used as a tool in the conservation of rhinos. Data is collected by rhino owners, and compiled by Dr Cindy Harper. #72 may well be referenced from this list, but what we do know is that is it is by no means an indication of the number of rhinos poached at any given time or in a given reserve.

'#72'Rhino bull #72

9. How are Lion’s Den & Dingle Dell doing?

Lion’s Den & Dingle Dell are very well. They no longer have plates on their noses (as suggested in the picture below). They were moved to a denser enclosure to have more grazing ground. We recently had to move them into #72’s enclosure in order to keep him company and to try and teach him how to eat lucerne.

LD-&-DDLion’s Den and Dingle Dells

10. Do the HESC ostriches have names?

Yes they do, a blog will be posted shortly introducing them.

11. How are Caesar and Sarah doing?

Caesar and Sarah are both fine; although Caesar has arthritis and at times finds it difficult to move around. Dr. Rogers has come out to The Centre and given Caesar antibiotics and anti-inflammatories on numerous occasions. But this is to be expected with older animals.

CaesarCaesar

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