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In a Jeddah complex, a hidden sanctuary offers relief to reptiles, birds and fish
JEDDAH: In the middle of a living complex is a sanctuary for some of the most misunderstood animals, reptiles that Kane Tison cares for.
The sanctuary is built inside a public park by Tison with the support of his father, where he and his team care for the animals by recreating their natural habitat. The enclosures give the impression that a small piece of forest has arisen. The enclosures have their own plants and water system which imitate small streams of water, the enclosures house not only reptiles but also birds and fish, birds perch on branches and fly around at will.
Tison was born and raised in Jeddah and has been collecting animals since he was a child, he told Arab News: “We started a small animal farm in the early 2000s where we took care of animals like rabbits and ducks. Soon after we focused on reptiles and now we have a nice collection of reptiles that we rescue and care for, we also teach people how to take care of them.
Tison was destined to be a friend of scaly animals since he was a child, his first snake was given to him by his father when he was seven years old, he took care of the snake but eventually had to give it up over time. and as he got too big, “We ended up releasing him in the desert and only a few years later I realized that was the wrong decision and that we shouldn’t release invasive animals in nature,” he said.
In Jeddah, he had the opportunity to house the animals in a larger space and he took it. Tison not only rescues, but he and his team also provide medical care to those in need. He also buys reptiles when they see someone with the same species as them so that the animal in the shelter is not alone: ”So we have a beautiful couple who live together, it’s always nice for the animals to have a companion.
Enclosures divide turtles, iguanas, birds and tortoises into different areas. Animals coexist in perfect harmony. Baby turtles dot the entire shelter and when walking, care must be taken when walking, outside the shelter there is a larger pond that is home to larger turtles and fish.
Recreating the environment was also difficult for them, the goal for Tison and his team was to create a natural cycle, the water flow is for the animals and for watering the plants, the growing plants can be eaten by the animals, and in this way everything works fine.
Tison said that at first when he collected reptiles people thought it was weird, but as his community grew, the more people began to see the beauty because they witnessed these different types of animals. living in their own environment, and therefore being Their best.
According to Tison, reptiles are easier to care for than common mammals and pets, “And more fun in my opinion,” he joked.
He said living with a reptile is about trusting and respecting, the owner should earn their trust at their own pace and not impose it on the animals.
“I let animals be animals and limit my interference with their environment as little as possible. People think you can’t enjoy an animal without playing with it, for me it’s not about interacting with them, it’s more about respecting the animal in its natural environment. When you create a healthy environment for them, you’ll see them in their true nature. That’s what you have to learn to appreciate the animal without be part of his environment.’ He explained.
The animal enthusiast keeps his collection of almost 50 snakes at home, as he said they need to be kept in a temperature-controlled environment. Apart from the snakes, the reptiles are happy to be in a hot and humid climatic event which makes Jeddah the best place to keep them as pets.
Going forward, Tison aims to open the doors of the sanctuary to the public as a public reptile zoo and spread his knowledge and love for reptiles to everyone.