More Than Meets The [Cat] Eye

118a Cougar Harley

“The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

– Jane Goodall

Pictured above: one of our male cougars, Harley

It dawned on me earlier this week that I have exactly one month left working at the WFAC. I had a ton of mixed emotions come to me. Obviously, I am sad and I don’t want this dream job to end. I’m feeling proud at all that I have learned in the past months, and I am also feeling pretty rewarded knowing that I have truly worked my butt off for these cats all summer to give them the best life they could possibly have.

In my last post about the sanctuary, I touched slightly on how its not all day spent playing with these cats. Getting to interact with the cats is a perk of being a part of the sanctuary, but the first order of business is to tend to them first. We volunteers are constantly cleaning enclosures, poop scooping, rearranging furniture in the enclosures, and constantly food prepping for the cats.

On a normal day, we feed out about 120 lbs of raw meat. Let’s do the math, 120×7= 840 lbs in a week. About 25,000 lbs in a month. About 300,000 in a year. We are very thankful to be a part of a food recycling program with local grocery stores in the area surrounding Harstine Island. Every Tuesday & Thursday, our director Mark drives to the stores to pick up shelf expired meat products that the store can no longer sell. The meat that has a expired shelf life is not technically expired, but the store can no longer legally sell it. Mark drives it back to the sanctuary where we separate the beef, poultry, and pork products then put them into our large walk-in freezer until they have been frozen for a couple weeks. Freezing them helps kill any bacteria living in the thawed meat. Our walk-in freezer is about 10×20 feet in size and is set at a shivering -10 degrees Fahrenheit. To prepare the food, bins will be removed from the freezer and prepared in similar bins. We usually prepare large bin, having equal amounts of chicken, beef, ground meat and pork, with about 10% fish in the bin. We will also prepare big cat food separately in buckets. For example, Suri, our Bengal tiger, eats about 9.5 lbs of meat a day. Tabbi, our Siberian/Bengal tiger, eats about 7.5 lbs a day. We feed out about 60 lbs in big cat food and the other 60 lbs is fed out to the small to medium sized cats.

Some cats have preferences on what they like to eat and what they don’t like. Our African Leopard, Turbo, refuses to eat anything with feathers or fur, and absolutely NO fish. So he sticks to chuck roasts and little game hens. Our tigers love to eat full racks of ribs or briskets. Our cougar cubs love fish, like most of our cougars, but they also get calcium powder sprinkled on their food since they didn’t grow up with their mothers milk. It helps keep a calcium deficiency out of the picture for the cubbies. Hannah, Harley, and Durango, our adult cougars, all enjoy large filets of salmon. Just about 3 weeks ago, our sanctuary got a donation of 500 lbs of Copper River Salmon. Hehe, our cougars love it! We get some outside donations, like the salmon, but not very often. Sometimes people will bring in extra meat they had left over after an elk kill or a deer kill. Our cats seem to love the venison, but that’s not a surprise because it’s probably close to what they’d eat in the wild.

All in all, us volunteers don’t spend our days rolling around with the cats. But we do put the cats first and always do our best to work for the cat and then get to admire them after we have tended to them. All the poop scooping, the raw meat handling, and cleaning is well worth it at the end of the day being able to be around these beautiful animals.

Thanks for reading this week’s update. I will try to update a couple more times before I end the summer at Wild Felid Advocacy Center. In the meantime, visit our Facebook page and website to set up a tour on any Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday! It is well worth the drive out to this gem!

Kitty Update

People are the prettiest when they talk about something they really love and you can see the passion in their eyes. 

123 AFRICAN LEOPARD TURBO 6 copy

Hi all!

I thought I  could give a quick update on the work I’ve been doing with the Wild Felid Advocacy Center. For those of you who don’t know yet, I am doing my internship/volunteer hours needed to graduate through a wild cat sanctuary up in Shelton, WA.

To simply put it, I have the BEST set up in the world right now. I am doing what I have dreamed of since I was little, working along side tigers, cougars, bobcats, leopards and many more wild cats. I constantly tell people what I am doing with these cats because it’s too dang cool to not tell people about, and it’s safe to say I haven’t been this happy all the time in a long time. Let me give you a run down of what I’ve been doing for the past month.

It has to be the most fun, rewarding job I have ever done. No, I do not just walk in each day getting to play with these wild cats (I wish, but the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, now is it?) My usual day consists of food prep for all 59 cats (13 different species), cleaning of enclosures, gardening, and enrichment for the cats. Enrichment may include giving a cat a box filled with straw and catnip or other spices to roll around and play in. Perks of the job are definitely being able to see such beautiful cats, like Turbo (pictured above), up close and getting to observe them closely.

On any given day, I may also give tours to visitors that come through. Tours are one of my favorite things to do up at the sanctuary. I love to see how much these people marvel our cats and how much visitors can learn and take away from the tour and them.  I also love informing people about different species of cats that are endangered. I try to explain that not all species that are endangered in the world are the ones you see constantly, like tigers and cheetahs and leopards. Yes, those cats need saving but there are more out there Cats such as the Gordon’s Cat need to be known because they are critically endangered and just as wild as tigers are. By seeing some of these lesser known species in real life, it puts a face to the cause we are working towards: conservation. 

Last Thursday, I had a pretty large tour. It totaled with 6 adults and 9 kids. The kiddos ranged from ages 5 years to 13 years old. Kids can sometimes be a handful because sometimes parents pay more attention to the cats than the kids, and they end up wandering off a bit.  Not a great idea in a wild cat sanctuary! This tour, however, left me with the biggest smile on my face. When a tour of mine has kids on it, I usually try to cater to the kids and make them interact as much as possible. These kids were so involved, constantly asking questions about each cat we saw. We aren’t talking about simple questions like “What’s the tiger’s name?”. No, they were asking really good questions, like “How big do tigers get in the wild?”, “How often do cougars hunt?”, “What do you feed these cats?”. I was so pleased/impressed because I actually felt like I was actually teaching these kids. I think I surprised myself because I honestly didn’t think I had that in me HAHA. About half way through the tour, I decided to test my theory and asked if anyone could tell me a fact about any of the cats we have already seen. EVERY SINGLE ONE of the kids said a fact, including the 5 year old little boy who added, “Cougars can purr like my kitty at home!!!” I can’t tell you how good it felt to get such a response from those kids like that. At the end of the tour, a couple parents came up to me and commented on how good I was with the kids. But they also pointed out something I hadn’t thought of really; these kids were going to take these facts with them for years to come. They will look back in 20 years and see a cougar somewhere and look at their kids and tell them that cougars can kill something up to 10x their size. It’s weird but so satisfying to think I had made such an impact on not one, but 9 kids by just spending an hour and a half in the sanctuary.

Knowledge is going to be the ignition of conservation in the future. It was an indescribable feeling to leave the sanctuary on Thursday and feel like I had made such difference on people’s lives. However, it’s not only making a difference on visitor’s lives. I leave every single day feeling like I have made a positive impact on the cat’s lives. Whether it’s feeding them, or planting new grass, poop scooping (less glamorous, I know), or giving the cats toys to play with, I leave with a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart. 🙂 Working for these cats includes all of the things I just listed, including the tours. If people are not educated about the cats and their situations, who will fight for their survival since they do not have a voice of their own?

All in all, life is great right now at the sanctuary. I love what I am doing more than I thought I would. I encourage everyone in the Seattle-Tacoma greater area to come check WFAC out, it is well worth your time!

 

Finals Week as told by Water Polo Players

As finals week comes to a close for many universities, it’s close to a miracle that us students survive this wretched week. The highs, the lows, the ugly cries, the accepting our grade, everyone knows the pain of finals week in college.

Here is the stages of finals week, as told by FPU women’s water polo

 

Stage 1.

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When you realize finals week is NEXT week.

Stage 2.

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When you regret sleeping through the review sessions the past couple of weeks.

Stage 3.

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Panic. When you realize you have 4 exams, 5 papers, 1 research poster all due within the next 5 days and you decide to sit and panic instead of starting any of them.

Stage 4.

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You start questioning everything. What do you mean there’s not going to be a curve on the final exam??? Why did I do this to myself? Do I even really need this degree?

*googles fastest way to become a millionaire by the age of 24*

Stage 5.

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Mental Breakdown #1 out of probably 1,000,000 for that week. Again, regretting the lack of studying done up to this point.

Stage 6.

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Going absolutely insane.  The late night occurrence of you losing your mind, you wonder if you will ever be sane ever again.

Stage 7.

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Wondering if it’s even worth it to study or hoping that your basic knowledge of the subject will get you through the week.

Stage 8.

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Walking into your first final telling yourself that you have everything under control and all will be okay.

Stage 9.

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The “I have everything under control” reality.

Stage 9.5

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… Still not having everything under control.

Stage 10.

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You sit down at your next final and YOU KNOW THE FIRST QUESTION WITHOUT HAVING TO GUESS!!!!!!!

Stage 11.

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Flipping the page of the exam and realizing the professor put all the easiest questions on the first page, and still trying to tell yourself everything will be okay.

Stage 12.

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Getting back to your room just in time for mental breakdown #49 of the week, wondering which will come first; the end of the week or your death.

Stage 13.

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Realizing everything IS NOT OKAY, I REPEAT NOT OKAY!!!!!!!!!!

Stage 13.5

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Accepting that your death will most certainly come before the end of the week at this point.

Stage 14.

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Having the grand idea put all finals out of sight, and maybe you’ll just forget about them.

Stage 15.

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Finding the last amount of determination and focus you need to crush your last finals.

Stage 16.

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When your professor tells you he won’t round your grade up from a C+ to an A-

Stage 17.

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Walking out of your last final, not sure if you should worry that you just failed it or just ignore it and be happy that you survived finals week.

 

Valentine’s Day

Just about a month late, but that’s alright. The past month has been full of travels every weekend to different parts of California for water polo tournaments. More than half way done with my third season, I can finally sit down and reflect a little bit on the past month.  IMG_6664.JPG

This nifty little journal was gifted to me on Valentine’s day this year. If you know me, you know I was probably pretty dang pumped about this. Erik gave it to me during our laid back  date night. But what he said while he handed it to me was what made my heart skip a beat like a twitterpated bafoon. He said,

“I got you this journal, not just because you’ll probably like that its super weathered so you can take it in your pack on your hikes… But because I want to encourage you to write more. It’s one of my favorite things about you and I hope that one day we can look back and read the adventures we have gone on. I hope that you use this to write down the story of us.” 

I love creative writing and just jotting down thoughts of mine. But as you can see, its a hobby of mine that I don’t always get around to. Its that hobby that you love but sometimes you go months or years without really exercising that hobby. I think what meant the most of this gift was that Erik openly encouraged me to do what I love, and that he loved seeing me happy when I did it. That to me, was more heartfelt than so many other gifts I have ever received. So I decided to really take full advantage of this journal and his request, and I am going to use it as a book to tell the story of our adventures. Whether it be read by us in the future, or written once and never read again, or maybe even to jot my memory if I ever forget him and he has to read me our story when I’m old (*Note the Notebook reference), I will write my little heart out in this thing until I can’t anymore. I decided to share the first page with my blog because I couldn’t decided how I should start writing in the journal and then it dawned on me. This verse has always played a special role in our relationship, and what an excellent reminder for the first page of our story.

Isaiah 54:10 reads, “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, my steadfast love shall not depart from you.”

 

Mema & Papa

This is from a video I found on Facebook, I will attach the link to this post. Go watch it!

I miss my Mema and Papa too much to ever put into words. I question every day what they’d say about where I’m at right now in life. I wish they could’ve seen me graduate, I wish I had them in the stands from time to time in my water polo games, I wish that I could still go over to their houses every weekend like I did before they both passed away within months of each other. I learned so much from them as a kid and I couldn’t even imagine how much I would’ve learned at my age now. It’s one of those things where I’d do anything to just have one more conversation with both of them. Even after losing them, I feel them around me often. Mom told me whenever I find a random feather, it’s Papa. And when I see a butterfly, it’s Mema (although I’m terrified of butterflies). More often than not, I find random feathers stuck to my jacket or a butterfly will land on me or on the table I’m at (I try not to panic anymore). I miss them, but I’m glad they come say hi every now and then. I love and miss them more than anything and it’s been more than a decade and it still hurts like it happened weeks ago. I think that just shows the love we had for each other was that strong. This video hit me hard, and it is one of the truest things I’ve seen on Facebook. It’s worth the watch. Go tell someone how much you love them.

Worth Fighting For?

 

https://www.outsideonline.com/2075761/trumps-wall-threatens-111-endangered-speciesimages

I have attached an article above that I read last week that was not only eye opening, but it was also heart breaking to read. As you can read in the article attached, President Trumps wall will threaten 111 endangered species on the border along with their habitat. As humans, we need to do a lot more building of the ENVIRONMENT instead of destroying the environment to build walls. The wall effects more than just people. Humans are not the only things that matter on the planet.

A Dog’s Purpose 

Alright, I’m going to give my two cents on this dilemma. First off, YES, I am going to see a Dog’s Purpose tonight. As most people know, I love dogs more than I love 99% of the human population. Someone asked me, “How can you live with yourself seeing that movie after that video was released?!”

It’s easy, really. When that video came out, I refused to watch it because

1. I didn’t want to be sick to my stomach from whatever I saw in the video

2. I wanted to look deeper into detail about this video before believing everything I see on the internet!!!!!

I jumped into some research. I typed into the google search bar A Dog’s Purpose Video. The first thing that popped up was this video that went viral two weeks before the premiere of the movie. The second thing I saw was PETA (for those of you who aren’t familiar, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Personally, I kind of laughed when I saw that they were the ones to post this video because PETA is known for being radical people when it comes to animals. This is not always a bad thing, and that is coming from the heart of my animal loving self. Might I add, I love animals. But I’m no vegan. I hunt and fish, I still love animals the same. PETA has done some good things for the animal world. However, as I said before they can be slightly insane when it comes to their ethical approach. They are known for extremely skewing situations dealing with animals to make it look like it’s abuse or neglect. Just to give you an even broader picture of this group, here’s a couple things you should know about PETA before making your final decision whether to see this new movie:

(Not all of these should be horrible things, except the radicalness of PETA makes them cross the line)

1. They endorse a vegan lifestyle, which is great. You do you, vegans! Except, they are hard core anti-dairy. To the point where they think cows should not be used for their milk at all. At one point, the group tried to draw publicity to their lifestyle by urging Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to replace cow milk with human milk in their products since that wouldn’t be discriminating… #UhWhat….

2. PETA shelters endorse euthanizing their homeless animals that come to the shelter because they feel that it is a “kindness” to put these suffering pets out of misery. This has never been a kept secret by the group, and they openly say that this is hoe they help the suffering of the animals. Some PETA shelters have been known to euthanize over 90% of the animals that come to their shelter; which is way more than the ASPCA shelters.

3. You’d think as a publicized group, PETA would seem somewhat mature. This next thing might surprise you. Gordon Ramsey, a celebrity super chef, cooked horse meat on one of his shows (I don’t condone eating other animal meat besides the regular stuff like pork, beef, venison, etc., HOWEVER, I know it happens so again, you do you Gordon). PETA was obviously outraged by this and decided that the best possible solution to the situation was to dump a ton of manure on the steps of Claridge’s, Gordon’s London restaurant. This was hilarious to me, however this is what some nine year old punk kid would do that to his teacher that gave him an F on his spelling test.

4. PETA believes that one day the world can reach a place where people would not be able to own pets, stating on their website, “the selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from them causes immeasurable suffering of the animals”. They believe with people having pets, that dogs and cats would be neutered into extinction. PETA also claims that dogs and cats should be switched to a vegetarian diet. What?!?! That is SCIENTIFIC FACT that dogs and cats are carnivorous. Their health would eventually decline with lack of protein in their diet, which could be seen as neglect. hm…

Those are just some quick facts on PETA, to give you some insight on the people who posted the video. Another thought is that this video was shot in 2015 while the movie was still being filmed, why did they wait until over a year later and a week before the premiere to release this footage? As a group that claims to be putting animal’s rights first, one would’ve thought they would’ve released the video the moment it was shot on set.

Adding to these thoughts, the director and some of the actors reacted to this video. Dennis Quaid assured people that no animals were harmed in this movie, saying that the theme of this movie was to show the love animals have for us and the love we have for them. It was also said that this video was taken out of context. That the green screen guy was having to shift around the dog before cameras were rolling and it spooked the dog, as probably any dog would be spooked from that.

I have my opinion on this video that went viral, I am trying to voice my opinion to others because I believe this video is highly skewed and taken out of context by PETA. Take this information I have given as you will, but I really do hope I educated some of you that were unsure. Also, remember, don’t believe everything you see on the internet. Make sure you research when you see a questionable video because so many people now a days have too much free time and create issues. For this post, I have gotten my sources from USA Today, CNN, & Buzzfeed.

I’m sure I will bawl my eyes out tonight at the theater, but this might just be my new favorite movie. I LOVE DOGS.

I am Thankful For…

 Erik Michael Brown 

I am thankful for you, Brownie. I am thankful that you are the best friend. You are handsome, you are sweet, you are tough but you have such a gentle loving heart. You have the best heart I know, and I am so lucky to be loved by you. You are the type of person that lights up a room when you walk in. I’m thankful that when I’m having the hardest day, you remind me that everything will be okay. You will sit with me until I believe that everything will be okay. I will never forget you coming into my dorm to me crying, and you taking two whole hours out of your day to sincerely ask how I was doing. I sometimes question at what exact moment I felt loved by you, but there never was that moment simply because you have a heart that loves everyone. You encourage my relationship with Christ, however you recognize my slow path with it. You encourage me to see the positives in life. Erik, you make me a better person.

I am thankful for you, Erik Michael. I love you more than you’ll ever know.

I am Thankful For…

My mom and dad (and Emmett of course)

I am thankful that I have gotten to come home for a long weekend to come home to my wonderful parents. I am thankful I have grown up with them setting an example of what real love looks like. Love never gives up, love understands, and love always perseveres. They have taught me that with every storm will be followed by sunnier skies. 

And I’m obviously thankful for Emmett because he’s my favorite living organism on this planet. What did we ever do to deserve a dog’s love?!?! 

I am so thankful for you, mom and dad. You guys are my everything. 

I am Thankful For…

Lauren Jean Christianson

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I have basically idolized you since the first day of swim team in 2010, but you already knew that. I am thankful that over the past six years we have remained so close. You are like the big sister I never had, and the big sister that my parents love more than me sometimes. You never cease to amaze me with your dedication to all that you do. You inspire me every day to be a better person and to work towards what I want. You are family to the Holly’s. You are one of my best friends and you have always looked out for me. Whether its in the pool, school or love life stuff, you’re always right there to pick me up. You are the only person in the world I know who would drive 2.5 hours to play five water polo games in a day and drive back that same night. Thank you for teaching me the love of the game and continuing to love the game with me. I appreciate our hikes we do together, even though some are absolute hell when we don’t think it’ll be that bad. Thanks for always reminding me how stupid I am for doing headstands next to edges of cliffs, one day I will listen I promise 🙂

 

I am thankful for YOU. I love you, Lo! I always will, you’re stuck with me and all of my craziness now!