A Bison Tale:
The camel is the ship of the desert but in an ocean of snow, here comes the buffalo.Wait! Is it actually a buffalo? Or a bison? Early American settlers called bison “bufello” due to the similar appearance between the two animals, and the name “buffalo” stuck for the American variety. But it’s wrong! The American Bison lives only in North America, while the two main buffalo species reside in Africa and Asia. A small population of bison relatives called the European bison (Bison bonasus) lives in isolated parts of Poland. Links for more info on the history of the American Bison http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/american-bison/ Training a buffalo is nothing like training a tiger of course but its behavior is certainly along the lines of predatory. A bison is often secure from predation due to their size and strength in the wild and will stand their ground against wolves, bears and humans to protect their young and other members of the herd. Bison kill more people in Yellowstone National Park than any other animal, including the grizzly even though the bears are scrutinized for it! It’s the most unlikely of friendships but Tonka has befriended a pack of wolves, the housedogs, his human trainers and A of M’s little black bear, Buckey. Without having to engage their instinct to fight or protect themselves in the controlled environment that we provide, these animals know nothing other than play time and companionship. The key is to acclimate not aggravate. One of the training methods we use is called shaping. It’s useful for teaching an animal how to do something in stages. For example, Tonka has been learning how to wear a saddle and enter a horse trailer on his own. Anyone who has worked with large animals, horses or livestock may know how stressful and scary it can be for them. Tonka began trailer loading by walking up to the trailer, looking inside the trailer, smelling it and calmly walking away. This can take days or maybe even months depending on your animal. Today Tonka loves his trailer and is happy to load on his own at the drop of a “bottle of milk”. His favorite. Thanks for reading!
Coffee with a Lion:
First and foremost, we wish to express our sincere appreciation and gratitude for all of your kind and thoughtful emails of condolence. Mufasa’s spirit will live on through those of you who had the opportunity to meet him and share the experience with family or friends, as well as the thousands of people who captured our hearts with beautiful images him.
We would like to share a photo and poem written by a good friend and client of Animals of Montana. This photo was taken in April of this year. The last paw prints he will have ever left in the red sands of Moab Utah.
“I remember lowering my camera after a couple minutes at “my turn” to go up close with Mufasa the first time in Moab, and then just staring at him from 2-3 feet away, thinking “how many times do you ever get to smell the breath of a lion and count his nose boogers?”. I could see the reflected clouds and the morning sunburst in his eyes. I glanced over at Troy, and smiled when I saw the corner of his mouth curl upwards as he gave a barely-noticeable nod….
The tear stains are now ours…
So sleep lion, truly loved, and we will see you in our dreams.
No matter where your path leads”…
Photos and poem by: K. Banks
We would also like to share a clip from his visit to Minnesota last Easter and the amazing turn of events that left an entire community wanting “more” Mufasa! Please click on the link to view the clip: “Lion on the Prairie”
It never seizes to amaze me the surprising effect animals end up having on people, especially the ones that seem the most skeptical and the least open to a connection or affection.
Take prison inmates for example and the number of new programs being established. It’s a powerful connection that an animal and human can develop where each has the ability to help create a renewed sense of purpose. I think we learn remarkable lessons from nature and inevitably, undeniable truths about ourselves. The simple lessons we can learn just from watching, listening and analyzing all of Earth’s little critters and their behaviors ultimately can be applied to our own beliefs and methods for living. Read more about animals and prisoners at: http://www.isfoundation.com/news/creatures/animals-and-prisoners-new-lease-life
Can animals’ survival instincts shed additional light on what we know about human emotion? NYU neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux poses this question in outlining a pioneering theory, drawn from two decades of research that could lead to a more comprehensive understanding of emotions in both humans and animals.
For the same reasons that we study the universe and subatomic particles there is intrinsic interest in the study of animals. In view of the amount of time that television devotes to animal films and the amount of money that people spend on nature books there is much more public interest in animal behavior than in neutrons and neurons. If human curiosity drives research, then animal behavior should be near the top of our priorities! ~Charles T. Snowdon
We wish everybody a happy and healthy holiday season! Thanks for reading; we hope to see you soon!