A New Angle(r)

If you’ve visited the aquarium recently, you might’ve noticed the mother-son fishing cat duo has disbanded. But no need to worry, this is a good thing for both animals. Read on to learn why.

Earlier this month, keepers decided there was sufficient evidence that Tallulah was no longer getting along with her son, Angler. This was obvious in that her aggression was higher, along with other signs of stress being observed while they were on exhibit together. These signs led the animal care team to their decision to move Angler to what is called our “large quarantine” area. Contrary to how that sounds, the move does not mean Angler is under quarantine. Instead, the large quarantine space is currently being used for animal holding.

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Angler

As mentioned before, this separation is not a bad thing and is actually quite normal! In the wild, fishing cat mothers and their offspring separate after anywhere from 9 months to a year. Since February is the one-year mark for Angler and Tallulah, this change has arrived right on time. In addition, fishing cat males reach sexually maturity at 1.5 years of age, so it was extra important that Angler move out before reaching that stage of his life.

Keeper Rachael tells us Angler is doing great in his new space – eating normally, training daily, and conducting his regular antics of using his pool as a house cat would use a litter box. His current neighbors are giant anteater Eury and cassowary pair Dodo and Moa. Though they cannot see one another, they can smell one another, and all are doing well with the new situation.

Mako (our adult male) and Tallulah will continue being rotated on exhibit daily. At the time of this writing, there is not yet a schedule in place as to who will be on exhibit and when; the team is working to figure out what will be best for Tallulah, as Mako does not care where he is, provided that he has been fed. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right?

We have not yet heard from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) about future plans for Angler, nor whether or not Tallulah and Mako will be recommended to breed again. You can learn more about AZA’s Species Survival Plan Programs by clicking here.

Where’s Angler?

Angler, the baby fishing cat born at the Greensboro Science Center in February, will be off exhibit for six to eight weeks as he recovers from a broken arm. Last week, keepers noticed the kitten limping, prompting two immediate actions: 1 – our veterinary team performed a physical exam in an attempt to identify the injury and 2 – our animal care team reviewed camera footage to see how the injury occurred.

Upon palpating the animal’s forearm, GSC veterinarian, Dr. Sam Young, found the broken bone and promptly scheduled a visit with the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Cary, NC.

The forearm is made up of two bones – the radius and the ulna. Radiographs showed the kitten has a broken radius, but the ulna is still intact, which Dr. Sam tells us is good news as it acts like a splint for the fractured bone.

The orthopedic surgeon at VSH inserted a k-wire to align the bones, then plated the fracture, as you can see in the image below.

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Upon reviewing camera footage, our animal care team saw Angler stick his paw under the barrier between his holding space and his father, Mako’s holding space. Although the cats have been separated since birth by this barrier, on this occasion, Mako grabbed Angler’s paw. It appears the kitten broke his arm when he quickly pulled away. Our animal care team has now added an additional barrier – metal sheeting that fills the gap under the wall – to prevent future incidents.

Angler’s arm is being kept bandaged and in a splint to prevent him from licking or chewing on the injury, which could cause additional harm. Our animal care team is changing his bandage daily as well as providing him with pain medications and antibiotics. In order for our team to change his bandage, Angler must be sedated, brought from his behind-the-scenes exhibit space to the hospital, where his bandage is changed, then brought back to his exhibit – and his mom, Tallulah. He is currently being trained to go into a crate to make the transport process easier and less stressful for him.

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As he continues to heal, keepers are ensuring all toys and furniture in his space are kept small or low to ground, so as not to encourage climbing. Keeper Rachael tells us Anger is eating well and taking all of his medications, which will aid in a speedy recovery. We’ll be sure to share any changes in Angler’s condition on our Facebook page, so stay tuned for updates!

 

Fishing Kitten Born at the Greensboro Science Center

MEDIA RELEASE

GREENSBORO, NC – The Greensboro Science Center (GSC) is excited to announce that Tallulah, its female fishing cat, has given birth. On Thursday, February 15, Tallulah delivered two fishing kittens, one of which was stillborn. The second kitten, however, has been observed moving about and nursing. If all continues to go well, GSC guests and media can expect to see the kitten on exhibit in about three months.

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Tallulah and her mate, Mako, have been recommended for breeding by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) since 2014, in cooperation with Mako’s owners, the Lionshare Educational Organization (LEO) Zoological Conservation Center in Connecticut. This is the first successful fishing cat birth at the GSC and one of only a few successful fishing cat births in the United States this year.

Senior Keeper Rachael Campbell says, “Mom and baby appear to be doing well. From the video monitors, we can see the baby nursing and getting lots of grooming from Tallulah. We’re always cautious with new babies and new moms, so we’re trying to be as hands-off as possible. As long as we continue to see positive signs, we will let them be.”

Campbell says she doesn’t see any signs of stress from Tallulah when she is cleaning the exhibit, but the pair has a good relationship and the cat is comfortable with her.

“Tallulah is not comfortable around people she doesn’t know,” Campbell says, “so my relief keepers have noticed her being a bit more vocal.”

Keepers will continue to keep their distance until the kitten is about 30 days old. At that point, Campbell says she may begin to handle the kitten if Tallulah is comfortable with the separation. Because Tallulah tends to become stressed around strangers, the GSC’s veterinarian will not check the kitten until it reaches six to eight weeks of age.

Once it is around three months old and can easily move around, get in and out of the water, jump, climb, etc., the kitten will move onto exhibit. If the kitten is a female, she will continue to live with Tallulah until placed in another facility. If the kitten is a male, he will be separated from his mother once he reaches sexual maturity, which typically happens at the year and a half mark.

The GSC will continue to update the public on the kitten’s progress on the organization’s social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Conservation Partner Spotlight:  Fishing Cat Conservancy

Last year, the Greensboro Science Center (GSC) donated $5,000 to the Fishing Cat Conservancy (FCC), an Arizona-based nonprofit organization whose mission is “to promote the long-term survival of fishing cats in the wild through public education, capacity-building, and community-based research and conservation.” Part of the GSC’s mission is to support global conservation efforts, and with two fishing cats in our care, supporting the FCC is of great significance to us.

We recently reached out to FCC’s president, Ashwin Naidu, for updates from the field. Here’s what he shared:

  1. We enabled a ‘community-managed’ monitoring program for fishing cats, wherein the training we provided to our field team and community members is translating into them sharing their knowledge with the local people and tribal communities that live next to fishing cats and their habitats. Now, these local people and tribals are taking an interest in protecting their backyard wetlands, mangroves, and locally endangered species like fishing cats and smooth-coated otters.
  2. We educated close to 1,000 school children in various government schools and local people in villages located next to mangroves (especially mangroves outside protected areas). We talked about the importance of protecting fishing cats and mangrove ecosystems for the benefit and long-term survival of local communities.Santosh_FCC_EduProg_SchoolKids_SAM_Apr2017 (1)
  3. We constructed a solar-powered Conservation Education Center, which is currently two cottages as it stands, to be openly used by the local community and visitors to educate about fishing cats, mangroves, and wetland biodiversity and support efforts to study and protect them. More information and photos about this are in a recent post on our Facebook page.FCC_CEC_SolarPanels_Aug2017
  4. We presented and shared all our data to date on fishing cats occurring outside protected areas (esp. in mangroves in revenue lands) with the Krishna District’s Vigilance Department. This Department is now looking into getting revenue lands with mangroves established as protected areas.
  5. From our partners, Gal Oya Lodge in Sri Lanka, we obtained a new record of fishing cat near the Gal Oya National Park – outside its known (mapped) range in Sri Lanka.

We are proud to support Ashwin and the FCC. With $0.25 from each general admission ticket sold earmarked for donation to our general conservation fund, our visitors make supporting these efforts possible…so thank YOU!ARao_FC_TrackCasts_Apr2017_FCC (1)