It has been a while since many of you have last heard about the San Diego Zoo’s young fossa, named Isa (see previous post, Fossa Fun). During the last few months, Isa has passed many milestones in his development. As you may remember, he was raised in the Children’s Zoo (CZ) nursery with his brother who, unfortunately, died a short time later of a heart condition. Concerned for Isa’s well-being, we doted over him and tried to fill his every need. Of course, we were concerned that Isa would also be afflicted with some sort of health problem that would cut his life short. Time proved that he would grow into a handsome young fossa and dazzle all who know him. Currently he is strong, healthy, and happy, and living in the CZ, excelling at his job of being an animal ambassador.
We tried different training techniques with Isa and figured out which one would work best for his species and personality. When he was still in the nursery, we introduced him to a collar and a leash. We would let him wear it for a short period of time and gradually lengthen that time. Before long he acted as though it wasn’t even there. Then we took him on short walks and gradually lengthened the time of those as well. He was so curious on his own with just his natural surroundings that we stopped using toys to keep him entertained. He would climb trees, rocks, run along wall tops, etc. We had to be track runners just to keep up with him!
As he grew and got more coordinated, he started jumping from tree to tree, and then the challenge became not to get the leash wrapped around something and interrupt his momentum. You had to be ready for fun and running when you took the fossa out for a “walk.” People would try to take pictures, but he moved so fast that usually it was just a blur on their camera.
Today, Isa is a regular participant in the CZ’s animal ambassador program and periodically appears on the news and other television shows, VIP presentations, private and corporate events held at the Zoo, and last, but not least, daily walks around the grounds of the CZ.
His future looks bright and busy. He has impressed his trainers by his honest and affectionate personality, and we will continue to uncover and share his amazing abilities and uniqueness with all of you. Isa has many more milestones to pass, and personally I believe that the more I know about Isa and fossas in general, the more I will continue to be in awe of this little known, misunderstood animal.
Heidi Trowbridge is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo.