Top Photo: Gray squirrel enjoys food from a relatively safe location, trash bin.
The red wolf in the above photo has something hidden behind the pine tree to its left.
The animal keepers entered the red wolf enclosure today (1/30/15), as they do every day, to feed the wolves. The keepers typically toss about meat balls throughout the enclosure, on rocks, in clumps of grass, halfway up the hillside in the enclosure, for the wolves to sniff out and eat. Today, they also tossed a large lab rat into some tall grass partway up the steep escarpment that is the back of the enclosure.
Lately, the female wolf hurriedly races around the enclosure as soon as safety permits (the keepers are about to exit) to find as many of the meatballs as she can before the male finds and eats them. She did this today. The male found less than half as many treats as the female, but it was he who located the large white rat, that’s what he has tucked away behind the pine tree in the photo.
Besides tossing food in to the red wolves, the keepers also throw goodies into the Black Bear Enclosure for the bears to enjoy. One of the bears’ favorites is sweet potatoes.
Whatever it is that the keepers toss in to the bears, whether nuts, raisins, corn on the cob, or sweet potatoes, the local gray squirrels sometimes beat the bears to the punch. The squirrels dart in, grab some grub and hightail it up a tree, or completely out of the enclosure, to enjoy their snacks. They’re too quick for the bears.
This strategy wouldn’t work out so well for them in the red wolf enclosure. There’s a heavy price to pay when not being cautious while in the company of the wolves, as you can see in the photo at right.
The squirrel in the two photos (above and below) has secured itself a nice slice of sweet potato from the bears and means to enjoy it on the railing of the boardwalk.
Knowing where and when to secure food pays off for the squirrels. Does this not look like a happy and well fed squirrel?