Monthly Archives: July 2016

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

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Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

One of the highlights of my trip to Phoenix was visiting Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo, and finally meeting Sherry and Chris Pietilainen! Melanie was there, too, because of BlogPaws, and our new friend Jessica joined us. I knew that Chris and Sherry had an interesting collection of animals, but seeing so many unusual rodents in one place was a real thrill!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Back to front: Chris, Sherry, Jessica, Melanie’s Hat

I hadn’t seen a Paca since my trip to Panama, where they were so elusive. They are very sweet animals and very friendly, as you can see!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Jelly Bean

They are perfectly pet sized and seem to be pretty well behaved. Like many wild animals, though, pacas have proved to be challenging in captivity.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Cuniculus paca, Lowland Paca

It’s tempting to say “Oh, I definitely want one!” but I am willing to let experienced professionals like Chris and Sherry work with them first.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Oscar, showing off his zygomatic arches.

The males have a wider face due to a bony jaw extension, supposedly used to amplify vocalizations, which we did not hear. Oscar has kind of a pouched-up hamster look, doesn’t he? And what do they sound like? I will let you know if I find out.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

This is Oscar’s second home, and he is settling in nicely.

There are more Oscar and Jelly Bean photos here.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Nibbles and Nugget, the agoutis

There are about a million agoutis in Panama, and there is a park in Rio de Janeiro with about a trillion of them! They are so adorable, and I was so excited when Chris got his! They get pouffy in a funny way when they’re excited: just the back half of them gets sticky-outy fur! It’s very silly looking, like fancy pants.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Common agouti

Agoutis are the perfect example why we let professionals check these guys out first. Chris had told me that they stink, so I quit thinking about pet agoutis long ago. Now he tells me why: when you give them a morsel of food, they scurry around, bury it, then urinate on it! What an adorable habit! It’s also disconcerting to see them easily bite into a Brazil nut. I usually have to open those with a jackhammer! So, agoutis are cute, but not for me.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Sheila and her little Joey. JoJo, the dad, is not shown.

The little marsupial Bettongs represent a special part of the “Down Under” portion of the petting zoo.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Baby Brush-tailed Bettong, so tiny!

The Pietilainens have three breeding pairs of Brush-Tailed Bettongs! (JoJo & Sheila, Sydney & Dundee, Wego & Izzy) They were resting quietly when we were there, and I didn’t dare disturb them, so these are Chris’s photos.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Not surprisingly, the tail has a brush at the end!

The Bettongs are critically endangered and the Pietilainens are part of a program that is trying to help the species survive even though they will never be able to recover their natural habitat. They have placed 9 pairs so far and know of at least 4 babies from those pairings.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Darby and Blue

Chris and Sherry started the rescue about a dozen years ago and the zoo evolved from the rescue. Today it’s more of a sanctuary than rescue. Like my sanctuary, many of the animals that come in now are not adoptable due to their age. They are nice relaxed animals for a petting zoo, though!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Cheerio!

There is a growing need for rabbit and guinea pig sanctuaries. Chris has already taken in more guinea pigs since my visit!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

What else has been in the living room?

Don’t we all have chicks in the living room? In most homes, these little guys would be getting all the attention, but we walked right past them, because Chris was already outside talking to this guy.  There’s one in every crowd, and Chris let Alfie know we wouldn’t be putting up with any of his shenanigans.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

“We have guests, so behave yourself!”

The Patagonian maras, on the other hand, were eager to meet us!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Jessica and the mara.

And then there was this guy, a ring-tailed lemur. His large cage was right outside the door.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

King Julien

He looked very dignified until Chris fed him. He sure gets into his food!

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We picked a glorious week to visit Phoenix. It hadn’t been under 110º for days and had measured 120º just a few days before our visit. Quite a few of the animals kept to the shade by the house, but there were plenty of adventurous guys out and about.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

The Patagonian maras are Amy, Rudi, Cody, Layla, Mia, Lanie & Lonie.

The maras were all over the place, and the chickens proved how spunky they are. This little white duck refused to live with the other call ducks, and was all over the place. I wanted to bring her home, but I was still trying to figure out how to sneak Cheerio into my pocket.

These guys had their own outdoor air conditioning- see that big red fan? There’s a reason why they’re all huddled around it! I wanted to join them!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

The Fan Club

Wait, who is that way over there? Well, it’s Addy! It’s a capybara, of course, and amidst all these fabulous animals, you know the capybaras are what I came to see.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Addy the capy, getting some “space”

Chris! What are you doing over there with Becky the Emu? We need to see the capybaras!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Rebecca the Emu (Becky) getting some TLC.

So here’s Collett, posing, and looking very colorful in a coating of DRIED MUD. Nice.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Pretty Collett

How about these guys, tussling through the fence over who is to be Lord Of The Rake! Dobby does the same thing- guys just like tools, and all of my tools must be properly marked.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

“It’s MINE, you fool!”

There’s nothing quite like a proper mudhole when the thermometer keeps going up!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Scrappy, Collett, and Chris

Chris has been breeding capybaras for a while. He’s working on a couple special breeds. Here’s one he calls “Hood Ornament” with a classy duck front and center.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Standard Duck Hood Ornament

Here’s another that is sure to become popular, the “Two-Toned” model. Available soon, at a pet shop near you!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Two-Toned Scrappy

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Daily Drama 54

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Daily Drama 54

I just returned from the 2016 Blogpaws conference . . . wait, almost a couple weeks ago! So where are the blogs? I’m writing about two fantastic capybara folks, really I am, with lots of photos! 

The blogs will be posted before my next trip, but the dramas have slowed me down.

This will be a little dramatic update, then, and maybe the roller coaster that is this week will take a break.

Today, my precious little budgie, Tank, gave up on me. He’s one of the two I adopted from Petco’s back room, and we never expected him to survive more than a couple days. That’s why he came to my sanctuary instead of going to a home. Two months later, his little bitey Spitfire is alone, and she pines. She knew Tank was unwell, we all did, but he was well loved.

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Spitfire and Tank, their first day at home.

This morning I faced the fact that my pet sitter still had not responded to my request for service. I frantically started the search for a new petsitter, filling out their woefully inadequate forms, leaving so many boxes unchecked, no dogs, yes but my cats are not the issue, the “other” category only goes up to “4” but who expects fifty pets? That’s crazy, right? Fortunately, my sitter contacted me a couple hours into the task. Prompted by my voicemail message, he had checked his email spam folder and found my requests. EVERYBODY, CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDERS! You might have a Nigerian uncle who bequeathed you a million dollars!

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Frederick of Hollywood, 2014

I have been recording Guinea pig weights, just as if they are little capybaras. Frederick of Hollywood has been in a slow steady decline for the past year but I was surprised when his breathing became labored. Off to the vet he went, and now he is being treated for a touch of pneumonia.

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Frederick of Hollywood, 2015

Once we get him stabilized, we’ll see if he responds to treatment for his advanced arthritis, and what the heck is going on with his spleen? The overall conclusion is that he is much older than 5-1/2 year old Stevie Ray who he came in with. Fred loves his banana flavored medicine and his Apple Banana Critical Care. I’m also giving him some baby squash in hopes of putting some weight back on him. After loading those hand feeding syringes with critical care, I’m really excited about baby food! It’s a piece of cake!

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Fat Fred, 2013

It looks like the ratties will be here a while, so it’s time to build a larger habitat for them. I have never been quite so excited about a rat cage! Its a flight cage I picked up on Freecycle over a year ago and it has weathered to a lovely patina out in the barn storage area. It is large enough to hold some birdhouse climbing platforms, a pair of Levi’s, an IKEA bedroom suite, and two cute little white rats! There is a drawer underneath to collect debris, and I have a fistful of coupons from BlogPaws for fancy Ökocat kitty litter that should be perfect. Now we have a race to see what is complete first: the cage or this blog post. If you see before and after photos, the cage won.

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Prince Dobalob: the curmudgeon persona

Dobby has had a lot of visitors lately. It’s kind of seasonal, the interest in pet capybaras. He sets aside his curmudgeonly Dobbs persona and becomes Prince Dobalob, the charming and entertaining donkey/pig. It’s fun to see the reaction to their Facebook posts as his visitors spread the word that while there are ROUS’s, there is no fire swamp. I guess I need to talk to The Bartender about that.

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Dobby has friends in high places.

Also in the Fame and Fortune category, Dobby’s mugshot was selected by Don Moyer for his next puzzle! Selectees receive a copy of the proposed puzzle, a current puzzle, and a Surprise! Dobby just received his surprise, and it is a framed thank you card, signed by Don! Most amazingly, the card features Dobby, right smack dab in the middle of the card! It is truly magnificent!

http://www.nwf.org/Garden-For-Wildlife/Certify.aspx

No, in fact, I am NOT going to mow.

Did you know that Stacy’s Funny Farm is a Certified Wildlife Habitat? The neighbors think the sign just excuses me from traditional gardening tasks, but in fact my garden meets all four of the required criteria. The sapsucker nest is next door, but the top of their rotten tree fell into my yard. Does that count? I have a pair of hummingbirds buzzing me as I write this, and fledgling bushtits were fed by their parents on the tree branch above my head.

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Better the cat food than the cats. The raccoons around here are fierce.

I’m on day four of trying to outsmart a raccoon who discovered where I (used to) store the bag of dry cat food. The nightly possum hasn’t checked out the recyclables lately, but it’s possible he checks up on the raccoon handywork for leftovers. I doubt he’s dextrous enough to get past bungee cords on his own.

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Mr. Oliver Possum (This is right outside the kitchen door.)

Dobby’s mallard ducks are currently absent, no doubt in their eclipse molt. They’ll return in a couple of weeks. Dobby’s B&B is currently hosting a Bewick’s Wren with nestlings! I can’t really see them in the nest, but she is a very busy birdmom and they cry for her when she flies off to gather food. The crow and squirrel population have increased already and summer has just begun!

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She built the nest way up, so you can’t see in. They were only eggs when I took this photo. (Yes, that’s Dobby’s bed back there.)

Did I say summer? As in the Olympics?

THIS is summer! (Not for Dobby!)

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