animals

wolffyluna:

eubalaena:

yungmeduseld:

realsocialskills:

hey I’m not sure if this is a good blog for this (if not, just delete this) but after several bad experiences today I thought I’d share something that apparently a lot of people don’t know: if you’re going to a public park where horses are allowed on trails:
1) if you’re riding a bike and about to come upon some horses, please say something! Just “hello” or anything human-sounding you can manage — long story short, bikes freak horses out, but most of them find human voices reassuring and so it makes things safer for everyone if you can just signal that you’re human and not a scary bike monster.
2) if you’ve got a dog, have the dog on a leash /please/. A lot of parks have a rule about this but I’ve seen so many people casually breaking this rule it’s not even funny. I don’t care how good your dog is. Just today, I had several leashless dogs growl at my horse, aggressively run up to my horse, and even scurry up to her back legs and touch her.
Thankfully my horse is pretty desensitized to dogs, but not all are, and not having a leash on a dog creates a dangerous situation. If a horse feels threatened, a kick to the head would kill a dog real fast. I’d be so frustrated if my animal or their animals got hurt because of these owners’ negligence. Please, if you care about your dog, have a way to restrain it from unsafely approaching an unfamiliar horse. I try to keep my distance from dogs, but there’s not much I can do when they run right up to us.
realsocialskills said:
Thank you, anon. I don’t know very much about horses or how to act around horses, so it’s good to hear advice.
Do any of y’all know other things about how to act around horses in public places?

As someone with a skittish horse:

Don’t run up behind them

Don’t ride your bike behind them

Basically approach very slowly from behind if you must pass them on a trail (or give them a wide birth from behind if you have the room)

Do get off your bike and walk it when passing horses, better yet:

Do get off your bike and allow horses to pass you, and give them a good distance before getting back on your bike and heading the opposite way.

Don’t give the horses treats unless their rider says it’s okay

If the horse seems at all hesitant to pass you, please stand still and allow their rider to handle the horse, pleeeeease stay still until the horse has passed and gotten a good distance away.

eubalaena said:

In fact just don’t touch the horse unless the rider says it is ok! Even if you’re an equestrian yourself! (if you are you should already know that but some people seem to ‘forget’) I know that some people think of horses as big, rideable pets and in some ways they are but seriously these are animals the size and weight of a small car that can cheerfully and without any malice accidentally bite your finger off or break the bones in your foot because they didn’t even know it was there, much less horses that actually ARE malicious and the damage they can do. Please be safe around the animals of others and remember, no matter what it is, always ask before approaching or touching an animal

wolffyluna said:

Horses are also a bit like working dogs when it comes to a lot of ettiquette. Don’t go up to them without the riders permission, and if they and the rider are doing something, don’t interrupt them. You’ll probably break their concentration, and if they’re doing something that makes the horse nervous, you could make them bolt by surprising them.

Also, if you are around horse, don’t be super quiet or super loud, and don’t stare at them. They associate these things with predators. Use an outside voice, and keep them in you peripheral vision. Definitely make some noise if you have to pass directly behind them, so they know where you are.

eubalaena:

yungmeduseld:

realsocialskills:

hey I’m not sure if this is a good blog for this (if not, just delete this) but after several bad experiences today I thought I’d share something that apparently a lot of people don’t know: if you’re going to a public park where horses are allowed on trails:
1) if you’re riding a bike and about to come upon some horses, please say something! Just “hello” or anything human-sounding you can manage — long story short, bikes freak horses out, but most of them find human voices reassuring and so it makes things safer for everyone if you can just signal that you’re human and not a scary bike monster.
2) if you’ve got a dog, have the dog on a leash /please/. A lot of parks have a rule about this but I’ve seen so many people casually breaking this rule it’s not even funny. I don’t care how good your dog is. Just today, I had several leashless dogs growl at my horse, aggressively run up to my horse, and even scurry up to her back legs and touch her.
Thankfully my horse is pretty desensitized to dogs, but not all are, and not having a leash on a dog creates a dangerous situation. If a horse feels threatened, a kick to the head would kill a dog real fast. I’d be so frustrated if my animal or their animals got hurt because of these owners’ negligence. Please, if you care about your dog, have a way to restrain it from unsafely approaching an unfamiliar horse. I try to keep my distance from dogs, but there’s not much I can do when they run right up to us.
realsocialskills said:
Thank you, anon. I don’t know very much about horses or how to act around horses, so it’s good to hear advice.
Do any of y’all know other things about how to act around horses in public places?

As someone with a skittish horse:

Don’t run up behind them

Don’t ride your bike behind them

Basically approach very slowly from behind if you must pass them on a trail (or give them a wide birth from behind if you have the room)

Do get off your bike and walk it when passing horses, better yet:

Do get off your bike and allow horses to pass you, and give them a good distance before getting back on your bike and heading the opposite way.

Don’t give the horses treats unless their rider says it’s okay

If the horse seems at all hesitant to pass you, please stand still and allow their rider to handle the horse, pleeeeease stay still until the horse has passed and gotten a good distance away.

eubalaena said:

In fact just don’t touch the horse unless the rider says it is ok! Even if you’re an equestrian yourself! (if you are you should already know that but some people seem to ‘forget’) I know that some people think of horses as big, rideable pets and in some ways they are but seriously these are animals the size and weight of a small car that can cheerfully and without any malice accidentally bite your finger off or break the bones in your foot because they didn’t even know it was there, much less horses that actually ARE malicious and the damage they can do. Please be safe around the animals of others and remember, no matter what it is, always ask before approaching or touching an animal

westformiles:

realsocialskills:

hey I’m not sure if this is a good blog for this (if not, just delete this) but after several bad experiences today I thought I’d share something that apparently a lot of people don’t know: if you’re going to a public park where horses are allowed on trails:
1) if you’re riding a bike and about to come upon some horses, please say something! Just “hello” or anything human-sounding you can manage — long story short, bikes freak horses out, but most of them find human voices reassuring and so it makes things safer for everyone if you can just signal that you’re human and not a scary bike monster.
2) if you’ve got a dog, have the dog on a leash /please/. A lot of parks have a rule about this but I’ve seen so many people casually breaking this rule it’s not even funny. I don’t care how good your dog is. Just today, I had several leashless dogs growl at my horse, aggressively run up to my horse, and even scurry up to her back legs and touch her.
Thankfully my horse is pretty desensitized to dogs, but not all are, and not having a leash on a dog creates a dangerous situation. If a horse feels threatened, a kick to the head would kill a dog real fast. I’d be so frustrated if my animal or their animals got hurt because of these owners’ negligence. Please, if you care about your dog, have a way to restrain it from unsafely approaching an unfamiliar horse. I try to keep my distance from dogs, but there’s not much I can do when they run right up to us.
realsocialskills said:
Thank you, anon. I don’t know very much about horses or how to act around horses, so it’s good to hear advice.
Do any of y’all know other things about how to act around horses in public places?

westformiles said:

A lot of ‘horse etiquette’ comes down to remembering that horses are prey animals whose instinctive response to a perceived threat is either fight or flight. Approaching a horse from behind- the only place they can’t see you coming- without signalling your presence is predator behaviour, especially in cyclists. (Bikes are very fast and quiet, so a horse assumes that the innocent cyclist who’s overtaking them is actually moving in for the kill.) 

A few miscellaneous pointers:

1) Dear motorists: you have no way of knowing how comfortable any given horse will be with your vehicle. When encountering riders, slow down and give them room. Do not honk at them. 

2) Many riders will put a warning ribbon in their horse’s tail when riding out in company. It’s mostly meant for other riders, but anyone who’s going to be encountering horses in public should know that a red ribbon signals a known kicker and green means that the horse is young and/or inexperienced and likely to be unpredictable as a result.  

3) If you have to walk from one side of a horse to the other through their blind spot, either stay well out of kicking range or so close that you’re in physical contact with them.    

ischemgeek:

yungmeduseld:

realsocialskills:

hey I’m not sure if this is a good blog for this (if not, just delete this) but after several bad experiences today I thought I’d share something that apparently a lot of people don’t know: if you’re…

ischemgeek said:

Don’t make prolonged eye contact with or stare at the horse. Skittish horses view this as predator behavior and think, “AAAA! They’re going to eat me!”

Also keep in mind that horses’ instinctive reaction to being startled/surprised/discomforted/unsure is “AAAA! It’s going to eat me!” So avoid sudden movements, loud noises, shouting, cursing, letting your dog bark, shrieking, “LOOK, IT’S A HORSE!” etc.

Basically anything that a sensory sensitive person wouldn’t like, a horse probably also wouldn’t like. Except a horse weighs a ton (literally), can run as fast as a car if it decides to run away (which the rider won’t be too happy about, especially if they come off), and can kick through 2x4s when it’s scared or pissed off.

yungmeduseld:

realsocialskills:

hey I’m not sure if this is a good blog for this (if not, just delete this) but after several bad experiences today I thought I’d share something that apparently a lot of people don’t know: if you’re going to a public park where horses are allowed on trails:
1) if you’re riding a bike and about to come upon some horses, please say something! Just “hello” or anything human-sounding you can manage — long story short, bikes freak horses out, but most of them find human voices reassuring and so it makes things safer for everyone if you can just signal that you’re human and not a scary bike monster.
2) if you’ve got a dog, have the dog on a leash /please/. A lot of parks have a rule about this but I’ve seen so many people casually breaking this rule it’s not even funny. I don’t care how good your dog is. Just today, I had several leashless dogs growl at my horse, aggressively run up to my horse, and even scurry up to her back legs and touch her.
Thankfully my horse is pretty desensitized to dogs, but not all are, and not having a leash on a dog creates a dangerous situation. If a horse feels threatened, a kick to the head would kill a dog real fast. I’d be so frustrated if my animal or their animals got hurt because of these owners’ negligence. Please, if you care about your dog, have a way to restrain it from unsafely approaching an unfamiliar horse. I try to keep my distance from dogs, but there’s not much I can do when they run right up to us.
realsocialskills said:
Thank you, anon. I don’t know very much about horses or how to act around horses, so it’s good to hear advice.
Do any of y’all know other things about how to act around horses in public places?

yungmeduseld said:

As someone with a skittish horse:

Don’t run up behind them

Don’t ride your bike behind them

Basically approach very slowly from behind if you must pass them on a trail (or give them a wide birth from behind if you have the room)

Do get off your bike and walk it when passing horses, better yet:

Do get off your bike and allow horses to pass you, and give them a good distance before getting back on your bike and heading the opposite way.

Don’t give the horses treats unless their rider says it’s okay

If the horse seems at all hesitant to pass you, please stand still and allow their rider to handle the horse, pleeeeease stay still until the horse has passed and gotten a good distance away.

Social skills for autonomous people: Etiquette and Safety for Zoos, Pet Stores, and Other Places Animals are Found

matchbook-stories:

embermaye:

realsocialskills:

A lot of people either don’t know, or don’t seem to care about proper conduct in a place where animals (that do not belong to you) are kept, but proper conduct is often very important. Here are some of the most important things.

Noticing, Reading, and…

matchbook-stories said:

ALSO! You don’t know if an animal is well or not. Education animals are almost definitely well, but lots of animals hide illness as a survival tactic, and some of these illnesses can be transmitted to people. It is not safe to touch animals without permission, in lots of different ways.

Etiquette and Safety for Zoos, Pet Stores, and Other Places Animals are Found

embermaye:

realsocialskills:

A lot of people either don’t know, or don’t seem to care about proper conduct in a place where animals (that do not belong to you) are kept, but proper conduct is often very important. Here are some of the most important things.

Noticing, Reading, and Obeying Signage: 
Since zoo and aquarium staff cannot always be monitoring the public-facing parts of their exhibits, they often rely on signage to tell guests what they need to know. Some examples include: “Do Not Climb on Rocks,” a hand with a “no” symbol across it (“do not touch”), “Animals May Bite,” and “Please wait for one door to close before opening the next.” These signs are not there for convenience, but for the safety of guests and/or animals.

Note: some zoo administrations do not allow overly “negative” language on their signs, which means they are not always literally accurate. “Animals May Bite” does NOT mean ‘you can touch the animals as long as you understand the risk.’ It means ‘animals WILL bite, do not touch them.’

Pet stores often have important signs as well; those that do cat adoptions often have signs asking that customers please not touch the cats through the bars. This is important for prevention of disease. If you would like to pet or hold a cat, please ask an adoption rep or store employee.

Visual and Physical Boundaries:
Even if a boundary is not physically built so that it can completely block hands or bodies, it is important to respect it. Tortoises, for example, are not much of an escape risk, and so may be kept behind low walls to allow for better viewing (and easier access for keepers). This does not mean that it is okay to reach into the enclosure. If there is a wall, a rope, or a chain, it is almost always an indicator that you are meant to stay on your side of it. 

Additionally, and this is VERY IMPORTANT: do NOT climb on the walls or fences surrounding enclosures. Do NOT rest your child on the walls or fences surrounding enclosures to give them a better view. This has caused some very tragic accidents, and I still see people do it almost every single day.

Another type of boundary is doors. Many zoos may have free flight aviaries, butterfly houses, and other types of free-roaming exhibits. Most of these exhibits have two sets of doors with a vestibule in between. It is important that only one set of doors be open at a time. Do not hold one set of doors open while someone else is coming through the other set. Do not rush through the vestibule and open the next door before the first one has fallen closed. Escape and recapture can be extremely stressful and dangerous for some animals, and some types of animal escape (particularly butterflies) can violate agricultural or wildlife laws. 

Other Boundaries:
Some of these may be double-covered by signage, but I’ll go over them anyway.

Do not touch animals unless you have explicit permission to do so. It does not matter if the animal is big and slow and does not seem dangerous. It does not matter if you have the same kind of animal as a pet at home. It does not matter if you feel you have a connection with animals. Do not touch them. They are not yours, and you do not know them. You don’t know what kind of stress you may cause them, or what behavioral issues you may be aggravating (I knew a bird who was very aggressive because guests constantly tried to pet her; funny thing, it was usually staff members who got chased and bitten). Additionally, there is a saying: “anything with a mouth can bite.” It’s true. And animals that you think of as slow and docile are frequently able to move much faster and bite much harder than you expect them to.

Many zoos have a “petting zoo” area, and this is a great place to go if you want to touch animals.

Do not feed animals unless you have explicit permission to do so. There may be areas when you can feed animals, such as turtle food dispensers, or chow dispensers for domesticated animals like goats. This does not mean all animals are okay to feed. You should not give tortoises the turtle chow. You should not offer the zebras the goat chow. You DEFINITELY should not pick plants you find around the zoo and offer them to ANY animals. Most zoo animals are on carefully formulated diets, and may have specific dietary concerns that you don’t know about; some birds can become very sick from even a small amount of iron, for example, and animals can develop allergies just like humans. One example that I see frequently is guests feeding fallen black walnuts to tortoises; the animals accept these with evident enthusiasm, but they cause stomach upset and foaming at the mouth.

If you want to feed animals, check out the petting zoo areas! Also, pay attention to the schedule of keeper feedings and talks; a few may allow guests to participate.

And finally, while I can certainly understand the frustration of going to the zoo only to see an animal sleeping with its back to you so you can’t see it, please be considerate about trying to attract their attention. Things like calling out to them, finger-snapping, and making kissy noises, while possibly irritating to keepers, probably does not do animals any harm. However, bear in mind that they hear those noises all the time, and are probably very used to them and unlikely to respond. That said, tapping on aquarium glass is considered rude. The sound carries very well through water, and can be terrifyingly loud to aquatic animals. 

Lastly (and a little less seriously), Questions that Bug Zookeepers:
These aren’t that big of a deal, since they don’t tend to have a direct effect on animal welfare or guest safety. 

“Can you make it move?” Well, how would you like it if you were having a nap and someone came along and poked you with a stick? I might technically be capable of inducing the animal to move, but I probably won’t. Animals deserve respect too.

“Is that fake/real/actually alive?” While it’s possible that some zoos may have inanimate dioramas or statues, if it’s actually inside an exhibit, surrounded by other live animal exhibits, it’s probably alive. You may be looking at a “sit and wait” predator that spends most of its day perfectly still waiting for prey, or a nocturnal animal that spends most of its day napping. Displaying a fake, animatronic, or dead animal amongst a bunch of real ones is highly unlikely.

“Why does it smell so bad?” Two words: everybody poops.

Beyond that, don’t be afraid to ask staff members questions—even if they seem silly. You don’t have to be as much of an expert as the keepers themselves, and you deserve a respectful answer. If you get rudeness or mockery for your question, the keeper is in the wrong, not you. And if you’re concerned about an animal’s health, don’t be afraid to approach a staff member. 90% of the time it will be a known issue or a normal behavior that looks strange to those who haven’t seen it before (birds basking in the sun can sometimes appear to have sprawled out and died). But the other 10% of the time can be vital.

embermaye said:

All of this, times a thousand! With my couple of additional notes:

Seriously, DON’T let your kids hang over those railings. Even if you think you have a good grip and that they won’t fall in, it happens all the time. And even if you the child is fine, this is often how shoes are lost into exhibits - and a dirty shoe floating in the water of an exhibit is not a good thing for the animals - I’ve seen kids’ shoes pulled out of koi ponds, especially, where the falling shoe risks injuring an animal!

Staying behind barriers can also be incredibly important for the stress and well-being of animals, because for some territorial species like anything from wolves to cranes, that first fence around their exhibit is their territory line, and even if they’re on the other side of the exhibit, if you cross it it can seriously stress them out. I’ve seen cranes that have broken their beak because they tried to get to people who leaned over or crossed the first small fence around the enclosure. This is not ok, even if you know you’re completely safe.

Even if you’ve seen other people petting an animal, or you know it’s an education animal, WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE EXPLICIT PERMISSION like this said. Seriously. I’ve gotten scratched and nearly bitten because people walk up to me with education animals and grab for them. I’m happy to let you pet these animals, but I need to make sure you know where to safely pet them and that the animal is calm and will react favorable for the safety of both you and the animal. 

Guest post: Etiquette and Safety for Zoos, Pet Stores, and Other Places Animals are Found

An anonymous submission:

A lot of people either don’t know, or don’t seem to care about proper conduct in a place where animals (that do not belong to you) are kept, but proper conduct is often very important. Here are some of the most important things.
Noticing, Reading, and Obeying Signage: 
Since zoo and aquarium staff cannot always be monitoring the public-facing parts of their exhibits, they often rely on signage to tell guests what they need to know. Some examples include: “Do Not Climb on Rocks,” a hand with a “no” symbol across it (“do not touch”), “Animals May Bite,” and “Please wait for one door to close before opening the next.” These signs are not there for convenience, but for the safety of guests and/or animals.
Note: some zoo administrations do not allow overly “negative” language on their signs, which means they are not always literally accurate. “Animals May Bite” does NOT mean ‘you can touch the animals as long as you understand the risk.’ It means 'animals WILL bite, do not touch them.’
Pet stores often have important signs as well; those that do cat adoptions often have signs asking that customers please not touch the cats through the bars. This is important for prevention of disease. If you would like to pet or hold a cat, please ask an adoption rep or store employee.
Visual and Physical Boundaries:
Even if a boundary is not physically built so that it can completely block hands or bodies, it is important to respect it. Tortoises, for example, are not much of an escape risk, and so may be kept behind low walls to allow for better viewing (and easier access for keepers). This does not mean that it is okay to reach into the enclosure. If there is a wall, a rope, or a chain, it is almost always an indicator that you are meant to stay on your side of it. 
Additionally, and this is VERY IMPORTANT: do NOT climb on the walls or fences surrounding enclosures. Do NOT rest your child on the walls or fences surrounding enclosures to give them a better view. This has caused some very tragic accidents, and I still see people do it almost every single day.
Another type of boundary is doors. Many zoos may have free flight aviaries, butterfly houses, and other types of free-roaming exhibits. Most of these exhibits have two sets of doors with a vestibule in between. It is important that only one set of doors be open at a time. Do not hold one set of doors open while someone else is coming through the other set. Do not rush through the vestibule and open the next door before the first one has fallen closed. Escape and recapture can be extremely stressful and dangerous for some animals, and some types of animal escape (particularly butterflies) can violate agricultural or wildlife laws. 
Other Boundaries:
Some of these may be double-covered by signage, but I’ll go over them anyway.
Do not touch animals unless you have explicit permission to do so. It does not matter if the animal is big and slow and does not seem dangerous. It does not matter if you have the same kind of animal as a pet at home. It does not matter if you feel you have a connection with animals. Do not touch them. They are not yours, and you do not know them. You don’t know what kind of stress you may cause them, or what behavioral issues you may be aggravating (I knew a bird who was very aggressive because guests constantly tried to pet her; funny thing, it was usually staff members who got chased and bitten). Additionally, there is a saying: “anything with a mouth can bite.” It’s true. And animals that you think of as slow and docile are frequently able to move much faster and bite much harder than you expect them to.
Many zoos have a “petting zoo” area, and this is a great place to go if you want to touch animals.
Do not feed animals unless you have explicit permission to do so. There may be areas when you can feed animals, such as turtle food dispensers, or chow dispensers for domesticated animals like goats. This does not mean all animals are okay to feed. You should not give tortoises the turtle chow. You should not offer the zebras the goat chow. You DEFINITELY should not pick plants you find around the zoo and offer them to ANY animals. Most zoo animals are on carefully formulated diets, and may have specific dietary concerns that you don’t know about; some birds can become very sick from even a small amount of iron, for example, and animals can develop allergies just like humans. One example that I see frequently is guests feeding fallen black walnuts to tortoises; the animals accept these with evident enthusiasm, but they cause stomach upset and foaming at the mouth.
If you want to feed animals, check out the petting zoo areas! Also, pay attention to the schedule of keeper feedings and talks; a few may allow guests to participate.
And finally, while I can certainly understand the frustration of going to the zoo only to see an animal sleeping with its back to you so you can’t see it, please be considerate about trying to attract their attention. Things like calling out to them, finger-snapping, and making kissy noises, while possibly irritating to keepers, probably does not do animals any harm. However, bear in mind that they hear those noises all the time, and are probably very used to them and unlikely to respond. That said, tapping on aquarium glass is considered rude. The sound carries very well through water, and can be terrifyingly loud to aquatic animals. 
Lastly (and a little less seriously), Questions that Bug Zookeepers:
These aren’t that big of a deal, since they don’t tend to have a direct effect on animal welfare or guest safety. 
“Can you make it move?” Well, how would you like it if you were having a nap and someone came along and poked you with a stick? I might technically be capable of inducing the animal to move, but I probably won’t. Animals deserve respect too.
“Is that fake/real/actually alive?” While it’s possible that some zoos may have inanimate dioramas or statues, if it’s actually inside an exhibit, surrounded by other live animal exhibits, it’s probably alive. You may be looking at a “sit and wait” predator that spends most of its day perfectly still waiting for prey, or a nocturnal animal that spends most of its day napping. Displaying a fake, animatronic, or dead animal amongst a bunch of real ones is highly unlikely.
“Why does it smell so bad?” Two words: everybody poops.
Beyond that, don’t be afraid to ask staff members questions–even if they seem silly. You don’t have to be as much of an expert as the keepers themselves, and you deserve a respectful answer. If you get rudeness or mockery for your question, the keeper is in the wrong, not you. And if you’re concerned about an animal’s health, don’t be afraid to approach a staff member. 90% of the time it will be a known issue or a normal behavior that looks strange to those who haven’t seen it before (birds basking in the sun can sometimes appear to have sprawled out and died). But the other 10% of the time can be vital.