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Spock - African Caracal
By: Jason Abels – Assistant Director www.tigerhomes.org Animal Sanctuary

Spock was raised together with both of the Sanctuary’s White Tigers, Tundra and Loki. He is one of three African Caracals in our care (Zaire and Kenya). Caracals are native to Africa, Asia, and even certain areas of the Middle East like Israel. Although they are extremely adaptive felines, they typically inhabit savannah grasslands and low scrub bush covered terrains. In the wild, they are notorious bird hunters. They are capable of tremendous acrobatic aerial jumps. They are so good at hunting birds that some African airports have been know to keep a few Caracals on the grounds as living scarecrows. The mere sight of a Caracal is enough to keep birds away. In case some of you have no clue on why birds are dangerous to airports; it is because bird impacts can cause engine failures. We go into great detail on this and other rarely known wildlife subjects on each of our 3 Educational DVD’s.

African Caracal Pictures
African Caracal

African Caracal with Cody

As stated above, Spock our youngest Caracal was raised with both of our Baby White Tigers, Tundra and Loki. Needless to say, we had our hands full raising all three of these babies at overlapping times. Thank G-d for my Golden Retriever Cody who helped act as a surrogate for these orphans. In fact, we have some great home video footage of Spock wrestling with the White Tiger Cubs and Cody. I do not have the words to describe observing a baby White Tiger, Golden Retriever and a baby Caracal all playing together. All I can say is that if we could bottle the cuteness, we would make both Hallmark and Walt Disney extremely jealous. We included a great video segment of this adorable behavior on “Power Cats – Locked and Loaded”.

Caracals, are in the Lynx family. Other, more popular members of the lynx family include the North American BOB CAT, the Canadian Lynx and the larger Siberian Lynx. Like the other lynx species, the Caracal possesses the notorious long “Ear Tuffs” on top of each ear. These fur tuffs can be as long as 3 inches and actually have a purpose which helps insure the Caracals survival. In most cases, everything in nature has a purpose. In this case, not only do the ear tuffs help direct sound waves into the animals ears; but they also help reduce noise created when the animals head disturbs low lying branches. This allows the Caracal to approach even closer to its prey when stalking. It is similar in design and function to an Owls Feather. Owls are almost silent in flight. The reason for this naturalistic marvel was discovered after close examination of the owl’s feathers under a microscope. Under magnification, one can easily observe that the very edges of the owl’s feathers are split into tuffs. These, “Split Ends”, help to silence the flight of the Owl, thus maximizing its probability of catching prey.

Spock, Zaire and Kenya are beautiful cats! One day we will of course have to add a few Web Cams to their habitats. Until then, David and I are both confident that the remaining 30 + Web Cams located in the Sanctuary’s, Black Main Lion, White Tiger, Golden Bengal Tiger, Red Ruffed Lemur, Black and White Ruffed Lemur, and Ringtail Lemur habitats will not only entertain you, but educated you as well. As I end this little intro to the Sanctuary’s resident Caracals, I want to leave you with one more small bit of “Caracal Trivia”, to keep your minds pondering. (Caracals, have the claim to fame of being the “Fastest of all the small cats").

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