In the last update we reported that the three new cubs had finally started settling in at the sanctuary. Well, we are thrilled to say that things have only gotten better since then, thanks to the constant dedication and care from our sanctuary staff. Even though the progress is in the form of small victories, these baby steps are crucial for helping these cubs on their rewilding journey. In the words of Dottie Walters, “Success is a staircase, not a doorway”.
Since the last breakthrough of all eight cubs mingling and beginning to groom each other, the Newbies continued to keep to one side, even as their relations with the Miracles improved. They were reserved and refused to engage with their environment, remaining wary of their surroundings. It was heartbreaking to watch them in this state, as they didn’t have the carefree, playful attitude that young cubs should have.
Then, a few weeks later, something changed.
The Miracle 5 were being their usual boisterous selves, chasing each other around their pens and playing themselves silly. Foundation Director Caroline, watched as the Newbies stayed in the corner of the enclosure, so different from the older 5 cubs. She suddenly had an idea – what if they had small toys to play with? Off she went to find some, and came back with three gem squashes, which she subsequently rolled into the enclosure.
Without a doubt, they were a huge success! The Miracles went straight for them, using them as a combination between a chew toy and a football – or in this case, a paw-ball!
At first, the Newbies were caught off guard with the commotion, unsure of what to make with these strange round objects. However, when Caroline rolled one over to them, instinct finally took over and they began to timidly bat the gem squash around. Success!
With a burst of newfound energy and excitement, one of the Newbies even decided to climb a tree! In Caroline’s words, “I was thrilled, this was the first time they have shown any interest in their new world.”
Things didn’t end there, though! The next day, Caroline brought in a new log for the enclosure, placing it at the other end of the enclosure. After bringing the Miracles back from playtime in the big enclosure, all 8 cubs found themselves sitting together near the new toy, looking very relaxed – with the key word being ‘relaxed’! Another small victory.
She then brought in more gem squashes, as they seemed to be doing the trick with getting the Newbies to unwind. When they were rolled into the enclosure, the result was even better than last time, and all but 1 of the cubs played with their new toys!
Dinokeng Game Reserve