Alma, our lovely blind resident tapir, recently received a habitat expansion. We do wildlife rehab & release when there is a local need.
In 2018 Alma arrived, and, while she arrived intending to be released, we immediately discovered she was mostly blind and later discovered she suffered from seizures. Those two health issues mean she can never safely or successfully live in the wild.
Her new area connects to the yard she has called home since her arrival. Due to her vision issues, Alma can run into fences and gates when having an episode, so we reinforced all fences and gates. She’s 200 pounds, so, even accidentally running into a fence can damage it, and we can’t risk her getting out. Although if she ‘escaped’ from that yard, she would end up in our fenced in backyard. We had to dig out some large rocks and cover others in dirt, again, to keep her safe – we don’t want her to injure herself if she has a seizure near any or walks into them.
Even though we try our best to keep the chickens from reproducing, sometimes they sneak off and have secret roosts that we can’t find, and they’ll show up a few weeks later with cute babies in tow. One of those Mama chickens decided that the area we were working on for Alma’s habitat expansion was the perfect place for her and her tiny babies to live. Once the habitat was ready, we opened up it up for Alma with the assumption the Mama chicken would find a new place to raise her baby chicks.
She did not. Even if we moved her to another location, the chickens run free here, so she and her babies would just come back. Since Alma can’t see, we’ve been concerned about the baby chickens in Alma’s space.
Alma is pretty docile and friendly, although she did not arrive that way. She even has a rooster friend named Ian who hangs out with her, but Ian knows to move out of Alma’s way, and we didn’t know if the baby chickens would. We really can’t argue with a chicken – especially not these chickens that do what they want and go where they want. So, we just nervously hoped for the best.
Kat went out the other night to check on Alma, who was sleeping right next to the baby chickens. They were sleeping two inches apart. Apparently, Alma, Mama, and baby chicks have worked out some sort of understanding. They’ve been sharing a habitat for over a week now, and everyone seems to be fine with the arrangement.
(and yes, that night, Ian was sleeping in the yard too, he was just on top of the corral).
Video of Alma enjoying some browse (a branch with leaves).