$100 Annual Adoption*
ALEXANDER (Black Leopard, Panthera pardus)
Alexander, a male black leopard, was born in April of 1998. He was another sad victim of the exotic pet trade. Purchased as a cub for $2,500 by a family in Texas, he was left chained in the family's backyard. At one point, Houston Animal Control seized him, but later returned Alexander to his owners after they agreed to take him outside city limits. Shortly after the family's move, Alexander scratched a toddler. He was once again confiscated by animal control officers. Because this was his second seizure, Houston city ordinances mandated that he be euthanized.
The Houston SPCA appealed the City's decision and Alexander was released into their care. Houston SPCA contacted us and PAWS became Alexander's permanent home. He arrived March 11, 1999, after spending seven months at the Houston SPCA.
Alexander lived at our original Galt sanctuary until a generous donor stepped forward in 2012 to fund construction of a new habitat for him at ARK 2000. On May 30, 2013, Alexander moved to his new home.
View video of Alexander's move to ARK 2000, here.
Read about Alexander in our June 2013 newsletter, here.
JACKIE (Coyote, Canis latrans)
Saying Goodbye and Thank You
by Jackie Gai, DVM
PAWS Director of Veterinary Services
Animals are wonderful teachers if you're willing to listen, and Jackie coyote, who died on June 2, was one of the best. During the years I spent caring for her she taught me valuable lessons about wildness, captivity, acceptance, resilience and inner strength. She had an impish sense of humor and a lighthearted joy for living. Here is her story, my tribute to this special friend.
Jackie was born in the wild in 2002, and "rescued" soon afterwards by a well-intentioned individual who found the tiny pup and thought she was orphaned. This good Samaritan took Jackie into her home and tried to hand raise her, an action that caused the little coyote to become deeply and irreversibly attached to humans, dependent on them for food, companionship and safety. In other words, it sentenced her to a life in captivity.
Coyote mothers rarely stray long distances from their pups, and often leave them in a hiding place while they forage for food. People who accidently stumble upon these young, vulnerable animals will mistakenly think they are abandoned and pick them up. The best option is to leave them where they are. The wild mother is probably nearby and will return to care for them. If it's determined that the animals are truly orphans, their best chance for remaining in the wild, where they belong, would be to turn them over to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately after being found.
Jackie was two months old when she was finally surrendered to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Because young pups like Jackie are not suitable for release into the wild they are often euthanized by wildlife authorities. This time authorities chose to send her to PAWS' sanctuary in Galt, California, where she would receive expert care and a lifetime home.
PAWS' co-founder, the late Pat Derby, sent me to retrieve the little pup. I will never forget the first time I saw her. She had big, sky-blue eyes, huge ears and both a wildness and a vulnerability about her. It was immediately evident that she looked to humans for care and comfort, as she crawled into my lap and pressed her body against mine the minute the door to her crate was opened. My heart ached. This was not the life nature had intended for her.
Pat's partner, and PAWS' co-founder, Ed Stewart, built an enclosure for Jackie that was filled with tall grass, shade trees and a comfortable wooden shelter. This tiny coyote did not like being left alone. As she settled into her new home, she solicited us frequently for attention. I spent many hours sitting quietly on the ground beside her. She would sometimes flop on her back next to me with her little paws in the air. When I got up to walk around the enclosure, she would follow along. As she grew more confident, she would run around me in a circle, occasionally stopping to bow her head down on her front legs, the universal canine invitation to play. Despite my many suggestions that we give her a Native American name, Pat called the young pup Jackie, after me. I was humbled and deeply honored by Pat's choice. I still am.
When Pat and Ed were at the Galt sanctuary, they stayed in a cottage that was located next to Jackie's enclosure. Jackie fell in love with Pat, and the two would often joyously howl and yip together when Pat was outside. Jackie was selective with the people she included in her circle of "friends", but when Pat, Ed, or I would approach, she would jump out from the grass, tail excitedly wagging, and come to greet us at the fence.
Wild coyotes have an interesting social structure, living in a sort of fission-fusion, loose-knit community. Individual coyotes spend much of their time alone and independent, gathering occasionally in pairs or small groups to hunt, mate, or socialize. As Jackie grew into adolescence and felt secure in her new home, we gradually spent less and less time with her. I visited a few times a week from the outside of her enclosure, just long enough to say hello and make sure she was doing well. Our visits were brief but joyful, and once I walked away, she resumed exploring her habitat for bugs or bits of food she buried. It was a relief to know that she no longer needed us with her all the time.
At PAWS, we believe that wild animals belong in the wild. For those animals who are in our care, we strive to provide a natural setting, room to roam, excellent care, and the freedom for animals to choose how to spend their days. We don't, for very good reasons, physically interact with, or enter the enclosures of the animals. Because of Jackie coyote's unique situation, she was a notable exception to our general practices. As it turns out, our close relationship with her allowed us to work together to overcome significant physical disabilities after she suffered a stroke in November of 2015. (Click here to read about this resilient coyote's devastating stroke, and her moving story of rehabilitation and recovery while learning to walk again.)
Though her stroke left her back legs a bit wobbly at times, Jackie learned to stand squarely and could run short distances with sure footing, and seemed to have found a new lease on life. We did notice small changes in her personality, as she would now allow herself to be seen more often and would hide less from her caregivers. Her voice deepened, and her yip-howls took on a softer, deeper tone. She enjoyed the extra attention from all of us, as we kept a closer eye on her daily activities. We made sure that she took her medications and special nutritional supplements that were carefully hidden in favorite foods. She continued to be active, and even playful during our frequent visits.
In recent months we noticed Jackie's mobility begin to decline. Adjustments were made to her medications and new creature comforts were added to her enclosure by her attentive caregivers. In late May her mental attitude and appetite were both still good, but it was becoming more difficult for her to stand and walk. On June 2nd, she was suddenly unable and unwilling to stand up. When her caregivers called me to tell me of her condition, I raced to be with her. As I knelt at her side, she told me as clearly as any animal ever has, that she was ready to pass from this world. Jackie calmly and peacefully slipped away, surrounded by love.
I will treasure memories of this special coyote for the rest of my life. Run free, little one.
$100 Annual Adoption*
MOJO (Muntjac, Muntiacus spp.)
One of the shyest residents at our Galt sanctuary is Mojo, an Indian (or Common) muntjac. Mojo arrived in the summer of 2007, an illegal pet confiscated by a nearby county animal control agency. Mojo was estimated to be about 5 years old when he arrived.
Wild muntjac live in forests and dense vegetation in many parts of Asia where they are hunted for their flesh and skin, and killed as “nuisances” due to their appetite for eating tree bark. Muntjac are sold in the U.S. in the exotic pet trade for $750 - $1500. In the early 18th century, exotic Reeve’s muntjac were released into England for hunting. This invasive population is expanding, and sadly, many are killed every year by hunters, hit by cars, and again as nuisances for their love of eating rosebuds and other flowers.
These dainty deer are only 18-20 inches tall and weigh 15-25 pounds. Muntjac have a delicate digestive system, eating grasses, leaves, and tender shoots in the wild. Our dedicated keepers feed Mojo a balanced mixture of hay, pellets, vegetables, and hand-selected tender, leafy branches. Also known as the “barking deer”, muntjac are constantly alert for predators and emit a loud, piercing bark when they feel threatened. Their constant state of vigilance and special dietary requirements make them difficult to care for properly, and they are illegal to own in most states without a permit.
Mojo spends his days grazing in his grassy enclosure, nibbling on tender willow branches, and lying in the sunny grass or under the shade of his trees. At night, he sleeps in his own cozy, straw-bedded shelter. Skittish and suspicious when he first came to PAWS, now he is friendly and inquisitive and looks forward to visits from the keepers to see what delicious leaves and branches they bring.