No Need to go to the Zoo

No Need to go to the Zoo
October 1, 2019 AuroraProbus_Admin

At our September PROBUS meeting we were treated to a most unique and educational visit from two young ladies from the HANDS ON ANIMAL SHELTER. Toronto located, dealing exclusively with exotic animals. Natalie and Acacia explained that most animals under their care were previously owned or SPCA or Government seizures. Their services include school visits private events, fairs, children events and much more.

Both with university degrees in the Biological Sciences from McMaster University, Natalie and Acacia appeared to have excellent backgrounds for their work with exotic animals. For a very ‘short’ hour we had a close and sometimes ‘hands on’ experience with no less than eight critters including a large parrot , a very tiny African hedgehog, an Asian Leopard cat, a large Angora rabbit, a Sugar Glider. { Australian Flying Possum}, a tortoise from South America and the Barbados, a desert dwelling lizard, a South American Chameleon and a large South American snake which looked very similar to our milk snake of southern Ontario.

Here is a brief summary of each animals characteristics and advice to those who consider them as pets.

‘Elmo’ the large Macaw is very sociable but needs 5 to 8 hours of attention a day. A ‘loner’ a Macaw is very jealous of his space . Will speak one word – hello but would not cooperate with us!

‘Edmund’ is a very tiny, palm sized African Pygmy hedgehog which may take some time, (sometimes up to two years) to ‘socialize’; he rolls into a tight ball when frightened. But this species looks like a ’winner’ as a pet. An insectivore, crickets and mealworms are a preferred diet.Covered by short sharp quills we quickly found they were to be petted front to back!

‘Fuzzy’ the very large Angora rabbit looks like a lovable and cuddly fellow. Angora wool is a wool some seven times warmer than sheep’s wool, but grows up to 7 inches long and must be brushed frequently. Angoras have a life span of up to 15 years.

Milo is an Australian Sugar Glider or Flying possum. He looks remarkably like our Canadian flying squirrels but is a marsupial and like kangaroos has a belly pouch to nurture and carry its young. With skin ‘flaps’ on each side of its body it glides rather than flies. With smooth dense grey fur and very large black eyes ( it is mainly nocturnal) it is a most beautiful and beguiling creature.

Yuro is a South America Chameleon about a foot in length whose most dominate feature is its ability to take on the colour of its surroundings. When it feels in imminent danger it turns jet black; tries to look like a rather unappetizing meal!

The ‘star’ of the show was, I think, the Asian Leopard cat, a cross between a wild and domestic feline. Domestic cat in size, It has taken on the large brown ‘halo’ spots common to most wildcats. Truly a beautiful creature , it was very. friendly to us, and obviously liked to to be petted. Extremely independent this cat needs much exercise and is really not easy to care for, and like our tabbies can be long lived, up to 20 years. There were three other animals shown, a desert lizard, a South American Tortoise and a large tropical snake which looked very much like our S. Ontario milk snake. But enough ! If you are determined to house a wild Canadian animal be aware that this is illegal in Ontario. Exotic pets are your only choice.

The show, an hour long , is available for about 250.00 plus a little additional for travel, which I think is very reasonable. Contacts are 416 354 3003 or www.handson I’m convinced! – And I have them booked for my family Christmas party this December.