On our first volunteer trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in the fall of 2013, we had a discussion towards the end of the day about the challenges of being a zookeeper for the big cats. A lot of energy was put into providing enrichment activities, but they did offer a way we could help. One activity that the tigers loved, but which took too much time for the keepers, was making deer-shaped “piñatas” out of cardboard and paper mache. At Colorado College Tigers for Tigers, this sparked an idea.
Using cardboard boxes from the mail room, used paper towel and toilet paper roles from members houses, and a balloon, we constructed the skeleton of a deer. Because we couldn't use any processed parts, we used paper mache (newspaper dipped in a thick mixture of flour and water) to stick the parts together. We then removed the balloon, and took it to campus to show it off to the rest of the student body. To help raise awareness about our club on campus, and for the Big Cats and Public Safety Act, we set up a table outside our student center and allowed people to decorate the deer, and in exchange they would sign a letter there in support of the Act to be sent to one of our two Colorado Senators. Through this process, we sent 50 letters to Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennett, and raised awareness about tigers in America in the process.
In March, we were finally able to take our Deer Pinata to the Cheyenne Mountain zoo for one of their tigers to enjoy. For the final prep, we stuffed the inside with Giraffe hay, since the tigers greatly enjoy novel scents. We also smeared meat around the outside of the box and attached it to a zipline that would swing it out over the tiger exhibit. Watching Grom, the tiger, destroy the deer was amazing. We got to see his stalking and attack skills, and to see how happy he was to roll around in the hay after the deer had been torn to shreds was incredible. To know that we as Colorado College students are able to provide that much direct help for the tigers is a special feeling, and we all left the zoo that day feeling very satisfied with our work.
Check out our video of Grom destroying our deer by clicking here.
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National T4T Coalition Liaison
Colorado College Tigers for Tigers