Feeding a hungry tiger – with my bare hands…

Warning!  I’ve been advised that this is cruel.  However, I’ve decided not to delete this post because… if this is the extent of my ‘cruelty’ then I can live with it.

Yes, I fed raw meat to a hungry tiger, using only my bare hands… and a long stick!

The zoo-keeper (at Bali Zoo) skewered an uncooked chicken onto the end of the pole and handed it to me with strict instructions, ‘only feed the tiger from up there’.  She was pointing to the row of railings above my head but just within reach of my extended arm which held the long pole.

Feed the tiger from up there

Feed the tiger from up there

One of the 3 big cats in the enclosure padded towards me – he was on a mission.

Lunch is a serious business!

Looking half like a big, soft, cuddly toy and half like the magnificent, yet menacing, wild animal that he was, he stretched up and put his huge front paws on the metal bars – the only thing between us.

Paws for thought!

Paws for thought!

He lifted his head, opened his jaw and, effortlessly, tore the raw flesh off the stick (like sate – but not as we humans know it!).

Hmmm, a new waitress

Hmmm, a new waitress – maybe I can eat her for dessert!

Just look at him… such a beautiful big cat, with raw chicken in his mouth

Raw chicken... my favourite

Raw chicken… my favourite

The waitress loved her new temp job

That's one happy waitress

That’s one happy waitress

Doubtless pleased with his success at intimidating the new waitress, he strode to a corner to relish his lunch in peace.

Cleaning himself after lunch

Cleaning himself after lunch

More tales (including crocodile tails), from Bali Zoo will follow in future posts – so why not ‘Follow’ my blog to see me hold the crocodile in my bare hands (literally this time).  But not before you look at the other tiger pics below…

Here he is in 'thinking' mode

Here he is in ‘thinking’ mode

Time to roll over

Time to roll over

zzzzzz

…zzzzzz

Now where’s the wife?

At home with Mr and Mrs Tiger

At home with Mr and Mrs Tiger

So beautiful

So beautiful -purrrrrrr

A big ‘Thank You’ to Nancy for taking the photos of me feeding the tiger.  Look out for more from Nancy and I (as well as elephants, monkeys, crocs, birds etc.,) in my next blog post.

Snooze time at Bali Zoo

Snooze time at Bali Zoo

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2014 – animal memories

From bats, cats, snakes, iguanas and monkeys – and back to cats again…

First up is Jojo.  We’ve had him since he was a kitten and he’s now about 2.5 years old.

Everyone loves him – I’m sure you can see why!  Scroll down to the last picture to see Jojo and our other cat, Jj, curled up together.

Jojo

Jojo and me overlooking our garden

Meanwhile, here are some more unusual animals I met last year… this must be the granddaddy of all iguanas:

Iguana

Iguana

Most of these pictures were taken at a very interactive animal home up in Bedugul – I can’t call it a zoo, as it’s far too small, but it does have some cool, tame, animals – and a giant fruit bat:

'Holy bat cave, Robin'

‘Holy bat cave, Robin’

I’ve no idea what animal this is – anyone know?  (please, no comments about me using him as a toothpick!)

Here he is again:

And then there was this hungry gentleman on my shoulders:

A hungry Luwak - but no coffee today!

A hungry luwak – but no coffee today!

He’s a luwak and they’re famous for ‘Coffee Luwak’.

Yes, these are the animals that eat the choicest of coffee beans which go through their digestive system completely ‘intact’.  When they come out the other end, the, err… ‘waste’ is scrapped off and the beans are taken from the shell and made into the most expensive coffee in the world! = Coffee Luwak or, as it is called over here, ‘Kopi Luwak’ (they have this in Vietnam too and it’s called Weasel Coffee – the luwak comes from the weasel family, I believe).

Anyway, here he is again:

Luwak

No, there are no coffee beans in my hair, Mr Luwak

What about this sizeable snake – worn as a necklace!

Python

Python

I’m pretty sure it’s a python… keep it away from this little cutie:

Cutie

Cutie – but are they porcupine quills on your head?

And what about this snake-like reptile, called an Alu:

Snake-like lizard

Snake-like lizard/reptile = Alu

And here’s that iguana again – my what a long tail you have!

Fully grown iguana

Fully grown granddaddy of an iguana

Here I’m feeding the fish – at our nearby restaurant!

Bale Udang has many bale’s (like gazebo’s) perched on top of a lake and that is where you dine – on fish.  If you have a little spare rice left over from your meal you can feed it to the carp swimming directly beneath you:  Eat fish, feed fish = balance.

Feeding the fish - at a restaurant

Feeding the fish – at a restaurant

And now I’m feeding a monkey in the Monkey Forest which is just 8 mins walk from my home – so close that, on rare occasions, the monkeys venture into my garden – they eat the leaves from my papaya tree but, luckily, they leave me with the fruit!

Feeding a monkey in the Monkey Forest

Feeding a monkey in the Monkey Forest

And here, as promised, is Jojo and JJ in perfect harmony:

Jojo and Jj - in perfect harmony

Jojo and Jj – in perfect harmony

A perfect way to end a post.

Are you hungry Mr Turtle?

We took a drive out to Serangan island and went to see the turtles at the sanctuary.

There were hundreds of them.  Mostly little baby ones that were climbing all over each other, but there were some giant ones in the big pool too.

Hello Mr Turtle

Hello Mr Turtle

I’ve swam with turtles, but I’d never fed them before.

This was a new experience.

Feeding time for turtles

Feeding time for turtles

I was giving them handfuls of seaweed to munch on as an afternoon snack and they loved it.

Giant turles coming together for feeding time

Giant turles coming together for feeding time

These big ones are 60+ years old and will probably live until they are 80 or even 100 years old.

The sanctuary does a good job looking after these wonderful sea creatures.  They run a ‘turtle release’ program, letting them go back into the wilds of the ocean where, once before, I swam with them – in their world.

The Enchanting Monkey Forest

How lucky am I to have the enchanting Monkey Forest a mere 10 mins walk from Rumah Jepun.

Monkey see, monkey do

Monkey see, monkey do

There are over 600 monkeys in the sacred forest and they all belong to one of four troops, that can often be seen chasing each other as they weave their way past camera laden tourists

Its’ feeding time for this baby long-tailed macaque

Want a snack little fella

Want a snack little fella

Let’s take a tour through the leafy forest

Walk through tree lined pathways

Walk through tree lined pathways – its rare not to see any monkeys here

According to Ubud’s Sacred Forest’s website there are 115 separate species of tree in the forest, some of them are holy trees and many of them have medicinal properties.

Walking through the many tree lined pathways you get to see the different parts of the forest

A large tree in the middle of the walkways

A large tree in the middle of the walkways

There are many impressive trees.

The one in the cemetery has a hole right the way through it

A tree you can see through!

A tree you can see through!

This stump has lots of interestingly shaped mushrooms growing on it

Mushrooms growing on the tree

Mushrooms growing on the tree

I like this tree

Old twisted tree

Old twisted tree

But by far my favourite tree is the one that you walk through…

Massive tree straddling the path

Massive tree straddling the path

The downward growing limbs of this Banyan are seriously huge

Downward growing limbs blocking the sky

Downward growing limbs blocking the sky

Here it is from another viewpoint.  The base of the steps are guarded by two naga (snakes)

Tree covered steps

Tree covered steps

You can almost swing, Tarzan like, from the strong hanging branches

A dripping tree

A dripping tree

Wander down some more steps to where the Komodo dragon statues lurk

Komodo dragon statues

Komodo dragon statues

Meander alongside a stream that trickles over ancient mossy boulders

Walk along the boulder filled stream

Walk along the boulder filled stream

Come back up to the cemetery where dappled sunlight dances over the gravestones

How many monkeys can you spot among the gravestones?

How many monkeys can you spot among the gravestones?

then go up a different set of steps towards the main temple

Beautiful shaded pathways

Beautiful shaded pathways

I challenge you to walk carrying offerings on your head.  Balinese women do this all the time, often not even using a single hand to steady the baskets

Marvel at how Balinese women balance the offerings on their heads

Marvel at how Balinese women balance the offerings on their heads

They have just come from the main temple within the forest

Stunningly beautiful temple entrance

Stunningly beautiful temple entrance inside the forest

Once again there are two naga (snakes) entwined at the base on the steps, they are woven around the giant turtle.

Elsewhere yet another monkey looks like he’s either yawning or shouting out to friends, “hey come and look at this tourist taking a picture of my tail”.

A monkey yawning or calling out to friends?

A monkey yawning or calling out to friends?

my, what a long tail you have!

Tropical Birds of Paradise (feeding a bird from your head!)

We went to the Bali Bird Park – a must see for anyone even slightly interested in beautiful tropical birds.

There are many human friendly birds in the park that you can stroke, hold or sometimes even talk to – ‘Hello Polly’.

Two hornbills on my shoulders

Two hornbills on my shoulders

This amazing bird below, that I think of as a pirate bird (well it has got that look, hasn’t it), can live for over 120 years!!!!….

Century bird!

Century bird!

And then there are the enclosed areas named ‘Borneo’, ‘Sumatra’, ‘Java’, ‘Papua’ etc where birds from those regions fly freely around in a jungle environment.

The Bali Starling is an endangered species, so to see a number of them up close is special experience.

Endangered Bali Starlings

Endangered Bali Starlings

They have displays of magnificent birds of prey – eagles, macau’s, kites etc.

One kite is even trained to take food off of a volunteers head!

This happened to me the previous time I went there.  I was asked to stand up and hold a tray on my head.  The bird handler put food on the tray and, at the signal, the kite swooped down and scooped up the food before I even knew what had happened – the audience applauded but, of course, I couldn’t see what it looked like as I was the volunteer.

Eagle with the trainer

Eagle with the trainer

This time I watched what happened and it is very impressive to see.

After using the tray a few times, the handler then takes the tray away and puts food on your head!  Yes folks, my head became a bird feeder!

Then there are many types of Bird of Paradise (Candra wasih bird).  These are very important in Balinese tradition/ceremonies and I hadn’t realised how many types of these birds there are.  This one was showing off…

Candra wasih bird (Bird of Paradise)

Candra wasih bird (Bird of Paradise)

And here is Yaniq with another Bird of Paradise.

Yaniq with another Candra wasih bird

Yaniq with another Candra wasih bird

So colourful

So colourful

A cat with two heads?

When Gede said to me ‘Look, two kittens in the basket’, I thought he was joking because I could plainly see Jojo and JJ lazing on top of cushions on the balcony.  I just laughed at his little joke.

Jojo and JJ sleeping on a cushion

Jojo and JJ sleeping on a cushion

But he insisted, ‘Look, two new kittens’.

I bent down to peer inside and he was right.  There were two tiny kittens huddled up close together at the very back.  They were so entwined they looked like one cat with two heads.

A cat with two heads

A cat with two heads

Where were they from?  How did they get there?

‘Milk – quick’, I said quickly, realising that questions could wait.

While milk was on the way I learned that a guest in a neighbouring hotel had complained of noises in the roof .  Investigating staff found the little ones running around motherless.  Pasek had brought them to me, but I wasn’t there when he came which is why they were in the basket.

‘I can’t have four kittens!’ I purred, especially as the two new additions were too young to even drink milk from a saucer.

It was 7.30 pm when I called the ’emergency cat services’ with my fingers crossed, hoping they could help… they could!

After taking photos of the cuties I was on the back of Gede’s motorbike holding a pink basket containing a cat with two heads.

The two cuties

The two cuties

We drove out of Ubud into the dark countryside and headed to the cat shelter, Villa Kitty, in the next village (how come cats get to stay in a villa and I just get to live in a house! – thanks for that one Elizabeth).

The vet and his assistant were waiting for us at the door.  They skillfully assessed the situation – weighed the furry parcels, took temperatures and documented everything.

The kittens were approx five or six weeks old and in good condition apart from one which had a slightly puffy eye, nothing serious though – phew!

They are in the right place to get looked after, but soon they will need foster parents   — can you help?  Go on… you know you’ve always wanted a couple of kittens and they really are very entertaining, just look at my two…

Yaniq teaching JJ how to stand up!

Yaniq teaching JJ how to stand up while Jojo looks on!

Villa Kitty can be found on facebook click here and if you can’t take any kittens to look after then maybe you can give them a little donation instead (or preferably a big donation – given how many mouths they have to feed etc), and go and visit Villa Kitty to give the kittens some love and attention as well – ahh nice!  Meow…

Two cute kittens

Jojo

Jojo

Say hello to Jojo and JJ – our lovely little kittens.

We picked them up only a few weeks ago from Villa Kitty just outside of Ubud.

It’s run by Elizabeth from Australia who saw the need to look after cats in the same way that there are a number of places that look after dogs here – and very well run it is too.

We bought a pink basket (no, I did not intentionally want pink – but there was little choice at the pet shop!) to carry them back in and for them to sleep in at nights.

JJ sleeping on printer tray

But of course they never go in the basket as they usually choose to sleep in the most unlikely places… such as half on, and half off, my printer tray!

Uncomfortable I would’ve thought – ahh, maybe they don’t like pink either!

Luckily they were already house trained by Villa Kitty, so we just had the job of keeping them inside for awhile before letting them venture onto the balcony.

Jojo and jj sleeping on the desk

At first JJ, the female kitten, was very shy and barely came out of a hiding place that she found at the back of my desk.

But she did come out of her shell, and the desk, after a couple of days and she’s been excited by everything ever since.

The pair of them have been out in the garden just once so far, and on that occasion Jojo, the male, must have sniffed every single blade of grass out there!

I always thought that you gave a cat milk all though its life – but apparently not.  So at the age of 3 months we only have to give them water….  and food as well of course!  As well as cuddles and lots of play time too.

My claws are long than yours!

Their antics are very entertaining and Elizabeth was right about the advantages of taking two kittens together, they keep each other amused as well as us.

They have mock fights.  Leaping on each other, biting limbs and necks.  At first I intervened thinking they might get hurt, but they then turned their attention on me… they pounced on my hands and bit me – but oh so gently, so I knew they were just playing.

For some reason JJ likes to lick my fingers and Jojo likes to jump over things – including my feet while I’m walking and over JJ’s back as she is running around.  Not bad considering that when they were originally brought into Villa Kitty they didn’t think either of them would make it – there was talk of putting them to sleep!

Two adorable kittens

Yaniq bought a special scratchy box for them to sharpen their claws on.  You rub some catnip (which all cats are supposed to like) onto the box and, hey presto, they should use it, instead of using your curtains, as a scratching post.

Of course it doesn’t work quite as neatly as that.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Jojo has no sense of smell which would explain why he doesn’t relate to the catnip!

Elizabeth is giving a presentation about Cats and Villa Kitty at Bar Luna, Ubud this Tuesday evening (4 Dec 12) – come along if you are around.  I will also be reading one of my poems called ‘Kitten’.

Meanwhile, as I’m writing this they have just finished a long battle of ‘who can jump the highest’.

I gave the award to JJ, but then she does have the advantage of a particularly long body.  So much so that we sometimes call her sphinx! (or spink in Bahasa Indonesia).

Yaniq and JJ

They are tired now… Jojo is curled up right next to me in sleep mode whereas JJ is cleaning herself, doubtless getting ready for bed on the printer tray.

Goodnight kittens.

Meow.

What is that black thing on the path?

I almost stepped on it.  Not intentionally, of course, but it was just laying there on the garden path – not moving.

I bent down to get a closer look.

Ahh, so it was moving, just a bit – more like shaking.

Yes, it’s small furry like body was shaking but I still couldn’t work out what it was.

Baby bat on a banana leaf

Baby bat on a banana leaf

And then it opened it’s little wings and I knew I was looking at a baby bat.

“What are you doing on the path in broad daylight” I asked it – knowing full well that it couldn’t reply.

It appears that the banana leaves had been cut off to be used for Balinese ceremonial purposes and, apparently, baby bats often grow up inside the leaves.

This bat was now a homeless bat.

Baby bat

Baby bat

He flew about 30 centimetres off the ground but this was all he could manage with such small baby bat wings.

He landed on a large stone, covered in plants that is by the pond, and Pasek covered him with another banana leaf to make him feel at home… although where his mother was we didn’t know.

He is actually rather cute, don’t you think?

I hope he makes it back into his bat world okay.

For pictures of a full grown local bat click here.. Hmm I wonder if they are related.

Horses with White Wings

I really love the wonderful art of these driftwood horses in Bali.

Horses with wings

Horse with wings

The big one inspired me to write a poem called ‘Horses with White Wings’, here’s an snippet:

Horses with white wings
see them fly
across the sky
leaping through clouds
of puffed rings

Alone
and free
an aerial race
beauty and grace
connected to all
independently….

A bird in the hand is worth… a photo

7 o’clock in the morning is a time reserved for sleeping in my world.  So why am I awake?  And what is that noise?

Is it my imagination or did something just hit the window?

There it goes again….

It’s a bird!  And now this small, brown feathered being is sitting on a miniscule ledge, tight up against the window pane, looking directly at me and chirping loudly.

I’ve been here in Bali for a long time and no bird has ever had the audacity to wake me up quite like this before.  Roosters do, of course, but not by flying into the window!

So what’s her story, I wonder, and why am I referring to the bird as a she?

Hungry baby bird

Hungry baby bird

Oh no, the mere fact that I’m questioning means I’m not likely to sleep again… sleep again… sleep again…

Luckily I was mistaken, as I realised when I regained consciousness some 30 odd minutes later.

‘It’s still there’ I said to myself, which was a bit pointless as ‘myself’ already knew.

I lay there sandwiched between crisp white sheets pondering the purpose of this unexpected, early morning and lengthy house call.

Vivid memories flooded back reminding me of the last time a bird visited me here in, what I can only describe as, ‘a very deliberate way’ – but I’m going to save that story for another post.

This bird had done a good job of acting as an alarm clock, albeit an unwanted one, however by the time I returned from showering she had disappeared.  Or so I thought.

Sitting pretty

Sitting pretty!

Soon afterwards I popped out to take a peek at the building developments on my new house.

When I returned, there on the step was a small, brown feathered being chirping loudly.

I reached out, expecting it to fly away and, to my surprise, it didn’t.

I was able to pick it up and stroke it.  But it was obviously way too hungry for any massage – it wanted food and it needed food NOW!

Mashed papaya and a dribble of milk later it settled comfortably in my hand for the massage.

It was nice and warm snuggling neatly inside my cupped palm and even when my hand was open it still choose to stay there for minutes at a time.

Now and then it got some exercise by hopping up and down my arm, over to my shoulder, up to my head, and then down to the other side of it’s new home all the way to my leg – pooing liquidy papaya coloured dribbles as it went.

Time to change the diet, not to mention my clothes… ah yes, some mashed rice with a milk splash might do the trick.

Half the time I was actually feeding it from my fingers tips as it arched its neck backwards squawking for food that it was expecting from its absent mother – well, I suppose I was the one giving motherly love on this occasion.

A bird in the hand is worth... a photo

A bird in the hand is worth… a photo

After a full morning of feeding, watering and massaging, Bontu, as I had named her, had enough energy to explore other chairs on my balcony.

Of course it wasn’t long before she set her sights on the big wide world that is my garden.

Maybe she is still there, or perhaps she ventured further afield, I don’t know… I only know that it was wonderful to be there for her when she needed me and to let her fly away when she needed to.

Good luck Bontu!

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