Dear Hawk Creek Family,
As stewards of the animals entrusted to our care, we carry an enormous responsibility to ensure they live healthy and fulfilling lives. We have a responsibility to meet the physical and psychological needs of these animals. In pursuit of this, we must provide opportunities for them to engage in natural behavior. Those with permanent disabilities require ongoing evaluation to ensure their comfort and care. For all the cats and mammals that reside here, this can only be achieved by periodically refreshing and updating their exhibit design to keep up with their needs, replace worn furniture and add new features for them to exercise and explore.
Winters in Western New York are tremendously hard on any permanent outdoor fixtures. The Christmas storm this past winter devastated much of the infrastructure at Hawk Creek, especially features located in the outdoor cat exhibits. The logs, dens, and climbing structures keep the animals active while encouraging natural behaviors that are crucial for a healthy life. There is a reason enrichment is federally required for animals in human care, it is essential to their well-being. As with all standards for animal care, we strive to far exceed the minimum and set the standard of excellence.
Some of our residents are rescues with permanent injuries that require extra consideration when setting up their exhibits. In the case of animals with visual or physical impairments, these modifications must provide safe, individually tailored access to exhibit features, shelter and feeding areas. They must alsogive the animals the ability to engage in modified exercise for physical therapy. For animals with mobility concerns this is crucial for them to maintain and improverange of motion in their limbs and balance.
Hawk Creek is a second chance for rescue animals with nowhere else to go. Can you help us provide essential equipment and features for their homes?
As a rescue, Rufus the Bobcat faces unique challenges with his limited mobility and stiff joints. He was confiscated from a neglectful situation where he was not given proper diet, housing or exercise. As a result, when he arrived, he was morbidly obese and suffered from severe, painful joint issues. The permanent damage from his previous situation resulted in Rufus needing a carefully designed space that is safe, easy to navigate, and still provides that vital enrichment. He needs custom steps to lay on elevated surfaces and take catnaps in the sun—his favorite pastime!
Scout the Gray Fox never had the chance to experience life in the wild. His mother was hit by a car while pregnant, leading to Scout’s spontaneous birth on the side of the road. He was taken into rehabilitative care at another facility as a newborn and became imprinted due to long-term hands-on care for medical concerns. That’s when we stepped in and offered him a permanent home, which means creating a perfect space for him to live! Gray foxes are very cat-like and love climbing, so they need a lot of climbing structures. Since they are typically very shy and hard to spot, Scout’s presence here at Hawk Creek is a fantastic opportunity for people to learn more about this amazing local species.
Exhibit design is unique to every species as well as the animal’s individual preferences.For example, Geoffroy’s Cats Mesa and Picchu use their cat wheel more than any other cat at Hawk Creek, often taking turns going for a run!They love to balance high in their exhibit on fire hoses but prefer to take their naps indoors. On the other hand, Caracal Khan’s favorite place to nap is outside in the shade.Interestingly despite being a desert species not known at all for climbing, Sand Cats Dune and Ra love to climb high in their outdoor exhibit and sit together. Through constant observation and assessment, we are able to discover the preferences and habits of our residents and utilize this knowledge in re-designing their exhibit.
This project is already underway with the updates we made to River the Fishing Cat’s home. Her water feature has a new rock den and plenty of ledges so she can relax, climb, and fish toys out of her pool! As an ambassador for her vulnerable species, River is already helping the Fishing Cat Conservancy with their conservation work for wild fishing cats!
Renovating our cat and mammal exhibits is a huge undertaking, but it must be done to achieve our responsibility to provide the highest level of care for the animals that depend on us. The animals are doing vital work in conservation education as ambassadors for their diminishing species, and we need to fulfill our commitment to their care. Will you support this crucial work giving these animals the home they deserve?
Soar with the Eagles,
Loretta C. Jones