Sammy Serval made his third annual appearance at Darwin Day, held at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, on Saturday, February 15. I was part of his human entourage, which included Conservators’ Center staff and volunteers. Darwin Day 2014 had 4,316 visitors, which is a new record.
Because Sammy loves to go out and meet people at events like this, he was happy to get into his traveling crate for the Center’s Animal Care Supervisor, Carolyn Hinshaw, and me. Carolyn has socialized and trained Sammy since he was an infant for just such occasions.
We all had a wonderful time talking to people at the museum and learned that Sammy has a growing fan club. We spoke to many who saw him at the museum last year who were excited that Sammy was back, and some I had given a tour to a few weeks ago who came out to support us and see Sammy again. We also met lots of people new to the Conservators’ Center who are eager to see Sammy in his home habitat.
Megan McGrath, the Center’s Programs Supervisor, gave an entertaining and educational presentation on the adaptations of binturongs and servals. Sammy had even more visitors after they heard Megan’s talk. People were interested to learn about this wild cat that many had never heard of before, and we were thrilled to fill them in!
We had a schedule of activities for Sammy that allowed people to see him get food, enrichment, or training. It was fun to watch youngsters, and even some adults, react when Sammy “caught” a mouse (it was not a live one) Carolyn dangled for him.
Towards the end of the day Sammy decided to curl up in the enrichment box we gave him earlier; he bit the corner of the box’s edges down to make himself a nice head rest. Even as he napped, people stopped by and were delighted to see him.
As in year’s past, the museum took great care of us and made sure we had everything we needed. Sammy was very popular with not only the public, but the museum staff and volunteers as well. I’m proud that Sammy is such popular fellow and a marvelous ambassador not just for the Conservators’ Center, but for his species.
By Kim Barker (aka “The Serval Whisperer”), Conservators’ Center Volunteer Staff & Tour Guide