Comments: 289 • Responses: 78 • Date: 2013-02-25 03:05:59 UTCsource
doomgiver9830 karma2013-02-25 03:59:46 UTC
Did you ever give big cats cat nip?
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CNDNFighter60 karma2013-02-25 04:02:22 UTC
YES!!! So happy somebody asked this. For whatever reason, when I have given it to our jaguars, they just turn into a 200lb house cat. They do the whole rolling over and going insane thing that house cats do. It is completely hilarious to see.
Pyrotix6909 karma2013-02-25 04:30:27 UTC
Like this? And I dont suppose you have your own video of this occuring?
CNDNFighter14 karma2013-02-25 04:31:13 UTC
There is one around somewhere. If you give me a bit I can see if I can dig it up.
SecretBurrito29 karma2013-02-25 03:08:39 UTC
Which big cats do you find to be the most playful?
CNDNFighter75 karma2013-02-25 03:11:09 UTC
Lions, no question. They are the only cat that lives in social groups so they actually seem to enjoy human interaction and play. Tigers, leopards, jaguars on the other hand frequently A) don't even pay attention to you B) want to kill you C) Pee on you.
RNCbyME20 karma2013-02-25 04:05:59 UTC
Is the pee to mark you as theirs? Like dogs and territory?
Any funny stories about someone being peed on? (Hoped to never actually type this out or have a question like that on my internet history)
CNDNFighter86 karma2013-02-25 04:09:56 UTC
For the first question, a little bit of yes and a little bit of no. I think that is partially the case while it is also just a bit of a 'go away' type of thing.
As for funny stories, I don't care to tell you how much cat pee I have drank on account them pissing in my face. Funnier though was what happened with member of our pubic.
Long story short, a group of people got a chance to see our tigers mating one fine day. They were intrigued (which was good to see, how often do you see tigers having sex?) by the action so stuck around to see the whole thing. HOWEVER, the male had different ideas and instead of finishing his business inside of his mate, he pulled out and.......projectile finished on the visitors. I was in side-splitting laughter to say the least.
FUCK_YEAH_BASKETBALL25 karma2013-02-25 06:00:48 UTC
Public. You meant public, right?
CNDNFighter41 karma2013-02-25 06:44:52 UTC
Lol...yes, but I refuse to fix that typo
grt316 karma2013-02-25 04:18:20 UTC
I bet that getting doused in tiger jizz is rejuvenating.
CNDNFighter14 karma2013-02-25 04:18:49 UTC
Lol, I'm happy I can't comment with first hand experience.
Talking_To_Yourself-14 karma2013-02-25 04:09:05 UTC
Wait.....is this suggesting that they should NOT get upset over potential animal abuse?
CNDNFighter2 karma2013-02-25 04:14:24 UTC
I'm not sure I understand the question? What animal abuse are you referring to?
Duramax15929 karma2013-02-25 03:07:32 UTC
Which rope material can withstand the most amount of lion/tiger abuse?
CNDNFighter48 karma2013-02-25 03:10:05 UTC
Happy this was asked. Believe it or not we actually used long lengths of 'firetruck grade' fire hose. One of the owners had a close friend who worked as a firefighter and would provide some materials when they were out of use. For whatever reason, the cats seemed to LOVE allspice (the cooking spice), so I would soak the 'rope' in an allspice/water mixture for a few hours before tossing and end of it into their enclosure. They would jump on it immediately and they seemed to have a blast with the activity
NOTHING_SEXUAL_HERE8 karma2013-02-25 03:47:08 UTC
Thanks for doing the AMA man!
CNDNFighter10 karma2013-02-25 03:49:50 UTC
qbxk25 karma2013-02-25 04:41:10 UTC
scratching a big cat behind the ears: occasional treat or forbidden dream?
CNDNFighter47 karma2013-02-25 04:41:43 UTC
Lol.....no comment. Ok I will comment. Not supposed to do it...I've still done it.
supermanface20 karma2013-02-25 03:15:45 UTC
what cat animal do you think would win in a fight to the death?
CNDNFighter30 karma2013-02-25 03:17:52 UTC
If I'm answer honestly.
-Among the cats, African lion no question.
-If we are including all land animals, African Elephant HANDS DOWN.
Then again, something like an inland Tai Pan, you get one bite and you're dead. Not sure if an elephant could tolerate a bite or not.
j-j-j14 karma2013-02-25 03:33:05 UTC
I'm obviously no expert, but it seems that the general consensus is that the tiger will win over a lion most of the time:
CNDNFighter29 karma2013-02-25 03:38:31 UTC
I've heard this as well and I sit very firmly on the other side of the fence having experienced the power of both animals.
Googalyfrog8 karma2013-02-25 10:06:58 UTC
the lion's mane saved his head and neck from being injured
the lion's mane saved his head and neck from being injured
Mind blown as to one of the possible purpose of a lions mane, considering one of their biological roles is to fight other lions this makes so much sense.
CNDNFighter2 karma2013-02-25 17:40:11 UTC
Yea, I mean...not only have I had first hand experience of each animals power, I've also seen each of them in a fight and it just seems so much quicker, more violent and more powerful when you see lions going at it.
Every time you see them land a blow you can pretty well feel it in your gut. To comment specifically on what you've said, their manes are CRAZY thick. Thick to the point where it is difficult (in some cases impossible) to get your fingers down to their neck.
0hai_17 karma2013-02-25 03:36:05 UTC
What do big cats smell like? I'm sure they aren't Febreze fresh but I wondered if they smelled better (or worse) than other animals.
CNDNFighter41 karma2013-02-25 03:49:28 UTC
Terrible, absolutely god awful. Several of them have scent glands in a number of places as well and it is just death.
Today_is_Thursday4 karma2013-02-25 18:02:01 UTC
Do you bathe them?
CNDNFighter4 karma2013-02-25 18:03:16 UTC
Haha, no bathing, in general cats are pretty hygienic though. The tigers do love to be sprayed with a hose though on a hot summer day.
FOUNDmanymarbles17 karma2013-02-25 03:17:08 UTC
What is the most surprising thing that you know about the big cats?
CNDNFighter51 karma2013-02-25 03:20:54 UTC
Hmmmm good question.
I would probably have to think long and hard about this, but off the top of my head is that some cats have a vomeronassal organ (also called a Jacobson's organ). This is essentially a piece of their brain that hangs down at the back of their throat. They make a funny face which allows 'air particles' around them to come into contact with said organ and give them a better idea of their surroundings.
If you are wondering what other animals have this....it's what snakes are doing when they flick out their tongue.
rxzx10 karma2013-02-25 05:11:58 UTC
dogs have this too
CNDNFighter12 karma2013-02-25 06:45:20 UTC
Yea, this is true.
Hotwings265 karma2013-02-25 14:15:31 UTC
CNDNFighter3 karma2013-02-25 17:02:29 UTC
Yep, it is relatively common.
xshare16 karma2013-02-25 03:19:58 UTC
Did you ever let captive cats go after live prey? On the same note, did small animals (birds, raccoon, squirrels) ever get into the enclosure and become prey?
CNDNFighter45 karma2013-02-25 03:37:26 UTC
Live pray is something frowned upon by most governing bodies of zoos so we have not done this. On a couple of occasions though birds, frogs, squirrels have snuck in and met an unfortunate demise. The best one being one of our Lynx jumping about 10 feet vertically to snag a bird.
xshare12 karma2013-02-25 03:39:24 UTC
Out of curiosity, why is it so frowned upon? Is it worried that if the animals hunt live prey they will be more likely to attack handlers, etc..?
CNDNFighter30 karma2013-02-25 03:43:48 UTC
I think it is twofold. 1) the ethical and moral concerns about feeding one live animal to another 2) It can be a little more difficult to control the spread of disease/infection with live food.
I don't really have a strong opinion either way to be honest.
ScotteToHotte16 karma2013-02-25 07:50:31 UTC
I read the title as "IAmA former large cat". Part of me knew that was impossible, but the other part was still incredibly interested.
Oh well. Thanks for doing an AMA anyway.
EDIT: Decided to make this to make myself feel better.
CNDNFighter10 karma2013-02-25 08:05:01 UTC
I appreciate what you have done here
buckiaz16 karma2013-02-25 03:48:11 UTC
What protocol do you go through to insure you aren't eaten/injured by one of the cats?
CNDNFighter22 karma2013-02-25 03:53:08 UTC
Oh wow, good question. Unfortunately, if I were to answer this thoroughly, it would be at a length that you would lose interest rather quickly. Ultimately, there are several universal procedures in place to keep our keepers, animals and visitors safe as well as a number of procedures specific to our establishment.
Really it comes down to being particularly anal about following each procedure even when it seems arbitrary just to get your 'muscle memory' going for that time it actually becomes necessary.
Tons (possibly the majority) of zoos that have been open for any appreciable amount of time have had a death at some point or another. I can happily say that we have not been anywhere close to having such an incident and if our diligence continues, there should be no reason to have one.
colacanth15 karma2013-02-25 03:11:59 UTC
CNDNFighter17 karma2013-02-25 03:19:01 UTC
I went to school for environmental biology but surprisingly this didn't play a huge part in me getting my job, I kinda just got lucky.
colacanth6 karma2013-02-25 03:25:45 UTC
CNDNFighter13 karma2013-02-25 03:35:02 UTC
I do now yes. I started low though and worked my way up.
pmcninch13 karma2013-02-25 03:40:26 UTC
If I come into contact with one of these cats, what should I do to make sure I survive?
CNDNFighter37 karma2013-02-25 03:44:31 UTC
If a lion, lie still. In all honesty though, if it decides it wants you dead, there isn't a whole ton that you can do about it.
illtakeyourface15 karma2013-02-25 11:18:39 UTC
CNDNFighter17 karma2013-02-25 16:51:21 UTC
....I may know somebody who has done this.
pantsforsquirrels6 karma2013-02-25 17:54:42 UTC
Did it work? Is it something I should consider if attacked by a lion?
CNDNFighter14 karma2013-02-25 17:57:17 UTC
Haha, it wasn't during the process of an attack. The animal peed on him so he peed on it back.
bored2death9712 karma2013-02-25 05:14:12 UTC
I've noticed with a lot of your answers that you seem to prefer lions over the other large cats. Is this just cause they are more socialable, or do you have a particular reason???
Also, if the animals were in outdoor exhibits, how did they react to snow???
CNDNFighter16 karma2013-02-25 06:31:44 UTC
Heh, is it that obvious? yes, you are correct with respect to both of your assumptions. I do tend to favour them over others and it is largely because they are a more social animal and seem to genuinely enjoy the presence of humans. Most others can by irked, ambivalent or frequently just ignore them all together.
They are mostly in outdoor exhibits and it is amazing the way in which they adapt to a Canadian climate. The zoo is located in Toronto which means very hot summers, very cold winters. Surprisingly, some of the animals will actually grow in a winter coat despite being native to a warm climate. A lion with a shaggy coat looks pretty funny at times.
ursulabuffay4 karma2013-02-25 19:00:59 UTC
Did you ever get to hang with any of the other animals? What are your favourite animals aside from the large cats? The Toronto Zoo is awesome! I go there at least once a year, it's such a long day/hike around the entire park but so fun.
(word of advice to any looking to go to this zoo...try NOT to go on the hottest day of the year because the animals are so lazy and you will die walking around the park all day)
CNDNFighter4 karma2013-02-25 19:39:51 UTC
I have yea, tons. Every snake you can imagine, scorpions, tarantulas, wolves, small primates, otters...in all honesty, too many to remember.
I totally dig otters. They are just as playful as you would imagine them to be although they do tend to get pissed off at you if you hang out with them for any real amount of time. People don't know it, but an otter bite can absolutely mess you up lol.
sturgeonsoup11 karma2013-02-25 03:19:03 UTC
How many cat fights have you seen in your career and how are they broken up?
CNDNFighter26 karma2013-02-25 03:34:13 UTC
Lots and lots and lots. Unfortunately tigers are the worst as they are solitary animals in the wild which presents problems when trying to get a breeding pair together.
I've never seen something TOO TOO horrible, but the male in one of our breeding pairs did some nasty damage to the female on their first encounter.
Babisneaux10 karma2013-02-25 03:19:39 UTC
You said you add certain stressors, were these ever meant to rile them up/make them angry? If so, what would make the big cats the most aggravated or aggressive?
CNDNFighter28 karma2013-02-25 03:32:29 UTC
Not specifically to make them angry, more to make them think. On occasion, a side effect may be that they get annoyed but our true goal is to keep them stimulated while maintaing their safety.
My personal favourite are building animal decoys and letting them figure out what it is before they inevitably destroy them.
Valxyrie2326 karma2013-02-25 03:40:34 UTC
so... like video games, EXACTLY, like video games, oh god, i'm just providing myself with stressors to relieve the tedium of my caged existence...
CNDNFighter15 karma2013-02-25 03:42:26 UTC
Lol, EXACTLY! Try it on the next person who complains about your gamer tendency.
doomgiver9818 karma2013-02-25 04:10:04 UTC
Do they rage quit? Roar and smash something?
CNDNFighter34 karma2013-02-25 04:15:51 UTC
YES!!! They actually do I shit you not. I have seen more than once an animal just give what was essentially a big..'AAWWWW FUCK IT' and walk away.
flavorburst10 karma2013-02-25 03:13:40 UTC
What was the cats' favorite thing to eat? Did you ever let them hunt something live, or was everything long dead by the time they got to it?
CNDNFighter20 karma2013-02-25 03:29:07 UTC
As much as I'd like to see a live hunt, most governing bodies for zoos frown upon it so we have not done this. We feed them full chickens daily but every once in a while we will get in some deer which they seem to LOVE. We also feed them a lot of 'zoo formula' meat which just has everything they need for a healthy diet.
Babisneaux4 karma2013-02-25 03:59:35 UTC
What is included in zoo formula? Is it a mix of meats vegetables and fruits?
CNDNFighter6 karma2013-02-25 04:03:02 UTC
Mostly a combination of meats with a few vitamins and minerals stuffed in for good measure.
kane5510 karma2013-02-25 09:28:22 UTC
Recently I watched a documentary about people who keep large, exotic cats as pets. Most of the movie was spent with a guy who dealt with these people and their animals. He said it almost always ends tragically. Either the cat kills/severely injures the person or the cat ends up dying. He also said there is a near epidemic of this happening today. I was wondering if you had any experience with these types of people/situations and maybe just your general thoughts on the whole exotic pet trade?
Thanks for the very cool AMA.
CNDNFighter3 karma2013-02-25 16:41:46 UTC
Hey no problem, thanks for reading.
I do have more experience with it than I wish I did, and I actually know somebody who was maimed by a pet cougar. The animal had to be put down.
You are correct, in almost all instances it ends in tragedy whether it be at the owners expense, the expense of the animal or both. There are 2 real problems here. 1) Cats in particular have a switch that can turn at any moment once they reach sexual maturity. It doesn't really matter how much they like you. 2) for each animal that is looked after in a satisfactory manner, there are 20 more that are not.
The exotic pet trade in general is a VERY shady business. Something I only recently found out is that the dealing of animal parts is the second largest black market business on earth behind only drugs. This stems largely from eastern medicine.
31lo9 karma2013-02-25 06:27:36 UTC
Are they soft?
CNDNFighter19 karma2013-02-25 06:43:25 UTC
Some yes some no. Lions have short fur and it's fairly stiff and wiry while an amur leopard feels like you are petting a cloud.
Mmmotterpops8 karma2013-02-25 09:58:09 UTC
I'm sorry if this has already been asked, but one of the major things I have always wondered since childhood is how zoos transport animals between cages. I imagined these intricate tunnel systems running under the concrete and between enclosures that have gates at both and that allow you to control when an animal can move into a habitat to socialize. Is ut something that badass or is it more of a "throw meat into a cage with wheels and wait patiently" sort of process?
CNDNFighter3 karma2013-02-25 16:44:09 UTC
Good question and it has not been asked. It is something we try and do as rarely as possible but in some instances it does need to happen.
They are transported in large crates but of course the issue is getting them into said crate. If possible, zoos will try to avoid tranquilizing their animals for short transport as in rare instances it can be hazardous to their long term health. Usually, it will be a bit of a cat and mouse game (no pun intended) in trying to lure them into crate through a system of gates like you might imagine.
Inflamed_toe8 karma2013-02-25 03:39:16 UTC
This is a really interesting AMA. How do you feel about Serval cats, and people keeping them as household pets? Do you have any experience working with them or other "small" big cats in a zoo setting? Thanks!
CNDNFighter19 karma2013-02-25 03:49:02 UTC
We've got a few servals and I have worked with them on a number of occsasions. I'm not particularly keen on keeping them as household pets despite knowing a couple of people who have them. I'm of the mind that wild cats in general have a switch that can be turned with little warning despite their upbringing. Now, the cat isn't going to kill you on account of its size but it can still do some damage which will often result in the animal being destroyed.
More importantly though, for every cat that is taken care of in a satisfactory fashion, there are 5 more in which the same cannot be claimed. In most instances, it is usually somebody taking on a responsibility they are not prepared nor researched for.
henry828 karma2013-02-25 03:17:05 UTC
Thanks for doing this ama!
my question is about the rope pulling and team work. Can they pull in teams? Is it double the power than just one pulling?
In other games, can they work in teams? do they have advanced communication skills? can they problem solve?
Personality - are there smart and dumb ones? If they see one getting shocked on the electric fence, can they learn from seeing it? or do they have to test it themselves?
CNDNFighter22 karma2013-02-25 03:23:22 UTC
Haha, I would love to see them pull in teams but to this point I'm yet to see it so I'm not sure I can comment. Teamwork in general is somethign I haven't seen to this point but if it were to occur, I imagine it would be lions that would accomplish on account of their social order.
Smart and dumb ones is actually very much on an individual by individual basis. There is an exception in white tigers. Typically, they are horribly inbred/crossbred to arrive with that phenotype and not something that occurs often if ever in nature. This inbreeding causes.......nasty cognitive deficiencies. I've seen white tigers spend 20 minutes just walking into a fence over and over.
siocledcath9 karma2013-02-25 08:11:00 UTC
I was going to ask you about white tigers - I've been reading up on the inbreeding and the 'trash' tigers that are born deformed, etc. and not put on display. It's absolutely horrifying.
CNDNFighter13 karma2013-02-25 08:13:07 UTC
God awful. I ran across 2 in my time both of which had severe cognitive defects. Both were cross-eyed and neither of them seemed to acknowledge anything going on around them. As I stated before, one of them would just spend about 20 minutes at a time ramming its head into a fence. Really, it's a relatively cruel practice to bring them into the world in my eyes at least.
xplodingpeep7 karma2013-02-25 08:34:57 UTC
If zoo regulators don't like feeding live animals to big cats then why not tie their food to a string and have them case it? I mean, cats do love to hunt and chase.
CNDNFighter11 karma2013-02-25 08:39:12 UTC
This would certainly be an interesting enrichment idea. Unfortunately, it probably wouldn't last long given their efficiency as predators unless you came up with something awful creative. Just to crunch some numbers, I present a cougar for you. An animal capable of a top speed of 45mph, leaping 20 feet horizontally from a standstill and about 13 or 14 feet vertically. This is just to highlight the idea that you probably wouldn't be able to keep it away from them for any appreciable amount of time.
This is why I opt for hiding their food, building a structure and having them to deconstruct it, feed it to them in ways they haven't experience.
Your idea is certainly interesting though. I'm sure given enough thought, something very valid and productive would be able to be done with that idea.
xplodingpeep6 karma2013-02-25 08:49:20 UTC
I have seen dog trainers use a system of ropes, pulleys and motors to teach dogs to hunt and chase, could you use something similar? Dogs don't run that fast, but they are fast. You might be able to modify something to what you need, if you have the space. The chase wouldn't last long, but it would get them moving and hunting, and be fun to watch
CNDNFighter3 karma2013-02-25 16:38:18 UTC
Definitely an interesting idea.
QueezyBreezy6 karma2013-02-25 05:08:04 UTC
I worked in a zoo and through my experiences, lions were by far the horniest animal in the zoo. Can you speak to this in your experiences?
CNDNFighter6 karma2013-02-25 06:36:45 UTC
Lol, well I find that our Siberian breeding pair tend to be the ones that get it on the most but then again, I feel like a couple of our lions just kind of have a low mojo. Speaking generally though, yes I do know that lions can get pretty horny.
doomgiver986 karma2013-02-25 04:12:54 UTC
Are you afraid of these cats?
CNDNFighter22 karma2013-02-25 04:14:57 UTC
Yes, yes, yes and more yes. As soon as you become comfortable you become complacent and that's when people get hurt.
TheLurkingMan6 karma2013-02-25 07:24:05 UTC
have you found out if tigers love pepper, but hate cinnamon?
CNDNFighter11 karma2013-02-25 07:59:51 UTC
Funny thing is, I would be willing to bet that they would love cinnamon on account of their affinity for allspice.
crackdiesel6 karma2013-02-25 06:35:29 UTC
CNDNFighter10 karma2013-02-25 06:42:54 UTC
Potentially. I've seen it go both ways.
dude66 karma2013-02-25 03:18:38 UTC
I do have tons of pictures and even some videos but I'm a little nervous about posting pictures on reddit so we will see what interest this garners and I will likely supplement it with some pictures
I do have tons of pictures and even some videos but I'm a little nervous about posting pictures on reddit so we will see what interest this garners and I will likely supplement it with some pictures
Pics & video will double as your verification. Place them here x________
CNDNFighter6 karma2013-02-25 03:36:13 UTC
Just posted a few
danielwb6 karma2013-02-25 03:20:16 UTC
CNDNFighter14 karma2013-02-25 04:01:20 UTC
Well, I really just got lucky in getting the job. It all started with my attendance at a camp when I was about 12 years old that took place at a zoo. After being there for a while, I got involved working at the camp, eventually became the director of it and ended up doing lots of work with the zoo as well.
As for terrifying? I got stuck in a cage briefly with a hungry jaguar which was fairly terrifying. I maintain that the only reason it didn't eat me is because it must have thought I was somehow ill for coming in there with it and therefore unfit to eat lol.
As for coolest? You would have to give me some time because I have a number of contenders to sort through.
monsterluv6 karma2013-02-25 05:55:36 UTC
You had mentioned that Tigers ,Leopards and Jaguars don't really like to play with humans. What do they do for fun? Do you provide some sort of entertainment for them or do they just find something to do on their own?
CNDNFighter7 karma2013-02-25 06:35:10 UTC
Typically they do not no. For fun, they will find ways to amuse themselves much the way a household cat will but they do tend to enjoy simply lying around. We do a lot of enrichment with them actually but it is sort of 50/50 on whether they take to it or not.
Nurdeek6 karma2013-02-25 04:09:08 UTC
Thanks for this AMA.
You have mentioned 'zoo behavior', here and on the other thread. Please explain what you mean. I think it might help those that don't know, become a bit more empathetic to a zoo animal's life/plight.
And; have you ever had a 'too close' encounter with one of your big cats?
CNDNFighter9 karma2013-02-25 04:27:50 UTC
Yea good question.
Zoo behaviour is essentially what occurs to an animal through daily monotony which basically results in the light being on but nobody being home. This can lead to pacing, rubbing their face on the cage, an animal intentionally injuring itself, poor hygiene, refusal to eat, vomiting etc... etc..
As for close calls, I've had a couple worst of which was getting stuck in a cage with a hungry jaguar. I detailed it a little further in another question in here somewhere.
Nurdeek8 karma2013-02-25 04:53:21 UTC
Thank you for your answer.
As a child, when visiting our zoo, I would become very agitated seeing how the animals were treated. And how they acted nothing like the ones I saw on Animal Kingdom, or Disney's short films on wild animals.
Makes me less upset to see that most of the zoos are working for the animals more than profits today. Hopeful that zoos will actually accomplish something marvelous for our wild 'brethren'.
They need the support of the public to be able to do this. IMO.
Rex8ever5 karma2013-02-25 05:30:21 UTC
I have some moral and ethical concerns about zoos as well. I think that in most cases, zoos educate the masses on a lot of things. I still very much dislike circuses and Sea World type displays. But zoos serve a purpose, and I think most of the animals are well treated.
CNDNFighter9 karma2013-02-25 06:33:35 UTC
You are correct in those assumption. Sea world is something I don't even care to comment on at this moment because they are effectively the scum of the animal keeping universe.
CNDNFighter3 karma2013-02-25 04:54:25 UTC
Couldn't agree more, very well said.
ParallelUniversity5 karma2013-02-25 05:15:15 UTC
Of the big cats that have been fed a biologically appropriate diet (i.e., virtually nothing but meat), how many have you seen that were ever eventually diagnosed with cancer of any sort?
CNDNFighter8 karma2013-02-25 06:40:40 UTC
That's a really good question. Cats especially are equal parts magnificently resilient and resistent to medical concern and at other times astonishingly delicate. To elaborate, all of our cats get fed a biologically appropriate diet and only in very rare instances are they diagnosed with cancers or other terminal diseases before reaching old age. They typically all lead long lives and are able to overcome just about any physical injury as well. However, we have also had to call in a vet to perform emergency, life saving surgery on a cougar because a paper bag blew into his enclosure and he ate it.
Miriamele855 karma2013-02-25 14:03:31 UTC
At what age/weight do they start to become dangerous and are moved to enclosures without much, if any, physical contact?
CNDNFighter7 karma2013-02-25 16:58:45 UTC
Good question. They are typically dangerous around 5-6 months of age (not to say I haven't handled older) and generally it is based on the individual as to when you stop working with them. This usually comes around sexual maturity.
Phlyist5 karma2013-02-25 04:13:05 UTC
Why are you a "former"? Did something happen or did you retire?
CNDNFighter7 karma2013-02-25 04:15:11 UTC
Haha, no nothing happened, I just moved on.
hhhnnnnnggggggg3 karma2013-02-25 10:43:41 UTC
What's better than that?
CNDNFighter4 karma2013-02-25 16:49:47 UTC
Lol, I'm in real estate now and make a lot more money. It was just time to move on to something I could make a more lucrative career out of.
paperbanjo3 karma2013-02-25 11:43:52 UTC
I was going to say maybe what they went to school for (environmental biology), but they said they're in real estate.. so apparently, that? I imagine it pays better if they went into real estate over what they did before.
CNDNFighter3 karma2013-02-25 17:35:28 UTC
I know..environmental bio guy goes into real estate hehe. But yea, you hit the nail on the head, just a lot more lucrative.
melechdude5 karma2013-02-25 04:36:09 UTC
I've seen a couple youtube videos/stories about people who take care of lions for a time then coming back to see them after some time and the lions remember them and (on one occasion) stand up and hug the person.
Have you ever seen/experienced this? I saw one post saying lions are more playful than others but what exactly is the typical lion demeanor?
CNDNFighter7 karma2013-02-25 04:43:20 UTC
I have not experienced this and do have my doubts about the authenticity of the video. That said, I could see it as lions are social animals and do form tight bonds with one another. The typical lion demeanor is indeed a little more playful/accepting of people than other cats seem to be....not to sat they wouldn't put a hurting on you given the chance.
Bushay5 karma2013-02-25 04:48:54 UTC
Whats the farthest distance you ever seen one of these cats jump? And what kind was it?
CNDNFighter7 karma2013-02-25 04:51:11 UTC
I got to see one of our cougars give a standing leap no less of about 25 feet lengthwise which was just astounding. Cougars in my estimation are pound-for-pound the most athletic cats you will find in the animal kingdom. One of the platforms in their enclosure also happen to be 13 feet off the ground which they leap onto with what seems to be very little effort.
ultimansion5 karma2013-02-25 04:25:54 UTC
How much money do you make and what's your work schedule like?
CNDNFighter5 karma2013-02-25 04:29:20 UTC
Well, I make a lot more money now in real estate but I didn't make a particularly large amount when I was doing it. I was at about $20/hour at a small, privately owned zoo. Doing the same job at a metro zoo/larger zoo you would probably be on salary for anywhere between $50k-$70k
arghyematey5 karma2013-02-25 10:38:52 UTC
HA! Nope, you must have just worked at a generous zoo. I am a zookeeper at a very large zoo and I make nothing near that.
CNDNFighter3 karma2013-02-25 16:48:15 UTC
Well as I said, it does depend on what you do and how long you have done it for. For instance, I have friends at the Toronto zoo in similar fields of work, one makes $25k a year and has been there for 2 years, the other makes $100k a year and has been there for 20.
semi_modular_mind5 karma2013-02-25 04:06:43 UTC
1. Have you ever given them catnip and did/do you think they would love it as much as domestic cats?
Are there much behavioral similarities too domestic cat's or are they really different, ie do the purr much, be affectionate or playful with you?
Have you ever felt threatened or been attacked?
Thanks for the AMA!
CNDNFighter7 karma2013-02-25 04:25:32 UTC
There are behavioral similarities actually, tons to be honest. To specifically answer your purring question, this is actually the distinguishing feature for small/big cats...not size believe it or not. Because of this, cougars are considered a small cat so you will see a 175lb cat purring very frequently, it is just much louder than a house cat's.
I've never been a victim of a serious attack but I have had a few close calls. I did once get myself locked in a cage with a hungry jaguar which was frightening. To this day I maintain that the only reason it did not eat me is that it thought I was must have been ill for being in there with it and therefore unfit to eat lol.
theycallmeVamp4 karma2013-02-25 05:25:56 UTC
You mentioned reptiles...any close calls with them striking? and what is the coolest snake your zoo had?
CNDNFighter9 karma2013-02-25 06:42:15 UTC
Yeeeaaa, I've been bitten/stung more times than I care to admit. I took a 20 foot green anaconda bite to the hand and it bled like the 4th of July on account of the anticoagulant they carry in their saliva. I've been stung by scorpions (Emperor scorpions so nothing too bad), I've been bitten by tarantulas and everything in between.
Eventually I just admitted that snakes and invertebrates must not be my strong suit or I wouldn't get attacked so god damn much lol.
Fillup2314 karma2013-02-25 03:37:56 UTC
In the other thread people were upset that so many tigers shared an enclosure. How do you feel about this?
CNDNFighter18 karma2013-02-25 03:40:35 UTC
Yea I understand the sentiment as tigers are solitary animals in nature and can get quite violent when paired up. Unfortunately, for breeding purposes tigers must be matched together from time to time. On most occasions it is successful but there is usually a fight or two to be had before that success comes. One of my scariest moments came when I saw our new mating pair (now one of the most successful in Canada) get in a particularly violent clash that left the female pretty badly beat up for a few days. We did need to take a few simple measures to ensure her safety and now they work beautifully with one another.
So yes, I would suggest keeping them solitary is wise unless it is an attempt to find a mating pair.
neature24 karma2013-02-25 06:08:04 UTC
So happy to see this AMA. Right now I am getting a degree in Wildlife Ecology: Information and Education with a minor in Captive Wildlife. You had my dream job. I have had an internship as a zookeeper before but was not allowed to work with the big cats as policy had just changed to not allow interns to work with them :/
Can you suggest a good way to market myself to a future employer once I start applying for permanent jobs in that field? Also what was the job market like when you were working the zoo circuit? I have to admit that I am terrified of what the job market will be.
CNDNFighter7 karma2013-02-25 06:44:06 UTC
Send me a PM with all your specific questions, I would be glad to answer you in great detail there.
TheSemiTallest3 karma2013-02-25 13:29:21 UTC
I know some people who used to work with the big cat act in a circus. They said that they would give the cats bowling balls to play with as toys, and that the cats would break them. Did you give the cats in the zoo any unusual toys with unexpected results?
CNDNFighter6 karma2013-02-25 17:01:48 UTC
Frequently yea. I may question the validity of your friend's statement but if it's true, who am I to comment. For reference, a lion is usually in and around 800psi on their bite. One of my favourites was giving a cougar an industrial barrel filled with catnip. He lay down on top of it and refused to move. He slept with it, ate while it was next to him, and brought it everywhere he was going. Because of this, we just left it in there with him lol.
stumblesmcgee3 karma2013-02-25 16:09:10 UTC
What would you reccommend for someone who wants to get into this field? I am about to graduate from a community college with an associates degree in science, and I really think that I want to work in a zoo with the animals... I'm just not sure where I should go from here. I talked to the tiger keepers at Busch Gardens and they said they had varying educational degress (on had a masters in psychology..)
Is there a specific degree I should go for, or is it just good to have higher education and the specific degree isn't important?
CNDNFighter2 karma2013-02-25 17:15:51 UTC
A couple of things. Obviously, the higher your degree the better your chances in any job opportunity but it isn't a prerequisite to have one at all. For reference, I've got one in environmental biology.
Anyways, I will tell you what I've told a couple others. Either way you will start low on the totem pole but if you'd like to progress a little quicker, try to contact a small, privately owned zoo near you. This will of course come at lower pay but you will get more experience, more quickly.
If you'd like to make a well paying career out of it, contact a large metro zoo near you with vast resources. You will start low and it may take about 10 years before you get to where you'd really like to be but you will get paid more.
If you've got any specific questions don't hesitate to pm me!
DJ_Thundercock3 karma2013-02-25 13:23:14 UTC
What's your opinion on that guy who is best friends with the lion pack?
CNDNFighter6 karma2013-02-25 16:57:01 UTC
Yea, I've seen that guy. Honestly, he's probably going to die like that some day which is an issue for the cats. As soon as a cat harms a human, usually they are destroyed shortly thereafter. As I've said before in this thread, cats have an ability to flip a switch in their brain as soon as they hit sexual maturity. It doesn't really matter how much they like you to be honest.
darktigress3 karma2013-02-25 19:25:58 UTC
I have a panther and a lion myself ;) In all seriousness, thank you for this AMA. It's definitely one of my favorites ever.
CNDNFighter4 karma2013-02-25 19:27:01 UTC
Lol. Your predators are truly menacing! It's been my pleasure
SloanTheSloth3 karma2013-02-25 04:34:34 UTC
Wow. You're really with the cats in these pictures. This is actually my dream job. Is there any kind of tips or advice you can give someone hoping to do this? Have you ever gotten to care for cubs?
CNDNFighter6 karma2013-02-25 04:41:04 UTC
I've never raised one but I have gotten to work with them yea.
As far as advice goes, if you would like to move into a more hands-on roll quickly albeit at lower pay, try to get into contact with a small, privately owned zoo. If you want to make a well paying career out of it, contact a large, well funded zoo somewhere but it may take about 10 years or so to get the type of hands on experience you are looking for unfortunately. PM and I'd be happy to answer any of your questions.
teenytinytigers3 karma2013-02-25 04:09:02 UTC
I have a few questions about tigers in particular.
I have always been curious... why do tigers like water so much? I just assumed that the impression is all cats hate water, but it seems like Tigers love it.
How do Siberian Tigers survive in such harsh climates?
And final question, why do big cats like Watermelons and Pumpkins so much.
Thanks for doing this AMA!
CNDNFighter18 karma2013-02-25 04:13:44 UTC
You know, I've always wondered about the water thing as well and I'm a little embarrassed to say that I can't give you a concrete answer on it. One of the tiger's FAVOURITE things in the world is to be showered with a hose on a really hot summer day. They are like a dog playing in the sprinkler when you do it.
As for how they survive, they have a fairly high fat content and VERY thick fur. If you actually watch one walk, you can usually see a layer of fat swinging underneath them as they do so. They do adapt remarkably well to all temperatures though as they even grow in both a winter and summer coat in a Canadian climate.
As for the watermelons and pumpkins, they enjoy playing with them but typically it is what inside them that they like better. In the vast majority of instances that you see a cat play with a cat or watermelon, it is because there is meat or some sort of spice inside of it.
One of my favourite activities I did, I deemed the 'blood pinata'. I basically filled a watermelon with leftover blood from the day's meat supply and suspended it from the tiger cage.....the visitors were a little mortified to see a blood soaked tiger but the animal loved it!
HelloKidney2 karma2013-02-25 03:40:36 UTC
What kind of chairs and whips do you use? (Please say rolling office chair)
CNDNFighter3 karma2013-02-25 03:41:52 UTC
Heh. None and none
Bare_or_Hair-3 karma2013-02-25 04:20:17 UTC
Those are some gorgeous pussies. Thank you for sharing them in an AMA.
Speaking of pussy, do you prefer shaved or hairy pussies on human females?
Thank you for the insight into your exotic profession.
CNDNFighter4 karma2013-02-25 04:21:11 UTC
Lol, a very valid question indeed, your account is glorious.
Offensive_Statement-4 karma2013-02-25 03:52:53 UTC
Whenever I see someone working at the zoo in an animals enclosure, I imagine the animal viciously mauling them do death. Secretly, I hope it happens. What's it feel like knowing there're people looking at you while you do your work and hoping that you fail as gruesomely as possible?
CNDNFighter6 karma2013-02-25 03:53:44 UTC
Meh, I understand the sentiment.
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