Critter Profile: Otis!

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Critter Profile: Otis!



Name: Otis (like his favorite food!)

Species: Ovis aries (Domesticated Merino Sheep)

Primary Caretaker: Terrestrial Team, Kane Wanamaker

Diet: Oats (as a treat)

Housed: Wilson's Wildlife Center, Enclosure 5

Creature Features!

'Otis' is our name for our shy Merino sheep we found down by Salem underneath a shut down spa-type place, looked like it hadn't been open in ages. Now I don't really know why they were all sleepin', but it musta been some new-fangled sleep therapy or something. He doesn't really take too kindly to most people, unless you have shears or a handful of oats!

Otis ain't no ordinary buck if you couldn't already tell that by his giant coat. If Otis is scared by something (which happens a lot), everything around him will fall asleep, quick as a match. Our resident biologist figured that it must be a defense mechanism of some kind, on account of the difficulty a sleeping wolf has eating you! And like the old saying, when you fall asleep, you'll be counting Otis in your dreams!

This magnificent ram also has one other special feature: his fleece always grows! No matter how fast we shear 'im, he grows it back in a week or two, fluffier 'n a cloud! It doesn't seem to bother him much, the heat and weather and everything, but when it rains we practically have to carry him into shelter, his coat weighs so much! And this fur is fantastic for an insomniac, that's for sure. If you stuff this in your pillow, you almost fall asleep instantly! It's great for my neck, I know that for certain. When we shear him, he can't make people fall asleep when he's scared, so we figured it's a win-win for both of us! He gets to enjoy playing with the other plant-eaters in our enclosures, and we don't have to worry about narcoleptic animals.

If you wanna pet Otis, just make sure you don't spook him, because you'll be in a coma out for around a half hour, with your face in a dung pie!



Otis in the rain waiting to be sheared.

We already mentioned it, we found Otis due to an anonymous tip nearly collapsed from exhaustion, and only an IV drip and some moldy straw to make him comfortable. His fleece was matted and dirty, and we couldn't get within ten feet of him without falling over. Poor thing looked like he was starving underneath the coat, though he seemed to have fun and get peppier the more he made us count sheep. We tried waking up the people in the spa and ask them why they had Otis, but they were too deep in their siesta to answer, and their growing smell put us off a bit.

Before we could move Otis, we had to shear him because he was too rotund to even fit through the door! When he saw us coming at him with giant metal scissors, well suffice to say he got a lil' bit scared. We started tossing oats into his enclosure, and he seemed so surprised by non-moldy food that he didn't mind we started cutting away the carpet that is his coat! In fact, once we started shearing him, he calmed right down and started enjoying himself! It took almost an hour to shear Otis, and we were left with ninety pounds of fluff! Now we were considering making a mattress out of these, but then one of our volunteers decided to rest in the fleece and instantly fell asleep. We originally thought Otis was spooked again, but he looked like he was energized, prancing 'n frolickin' around, as happy as he could be, so we figured his fleece has something to do with it!

After we woke up the volunteer (Yes Kane, I know it was you) we took as much fleece as we can, loaded Otis up in the kennel, and moseyed back over to our building, and set Otis loose in Enclosure 5, which was recently vacated (We still miss you, Ringo). Otis seems to enjoy having space to move around it, but gets frightened by the littlest of things, which is really taxing on the neighboring occupants!

Special Needs and Accommodations!

Otis is a bit skittish, especially with strangers, so if you're new and want to bond with our resident living cloud, just toss some oats around you, and Otis will come charging out of the brush to say hi. Just make sure not to make any sudden moves!

Otis needs to be shaved once every two weeks, just so his fleece doesn't get in the way of his playtime too much. That goofy ram loves shearing time so much, that he runs right over to whoever's entering his enclosure with scissors! Once he's sheared, we usually lead him to a large pen where we let our other plant-eatin' beauties roam and socialize for around an hour. Of course, once he's sheared he can't make anyone comatose for around a week, so we bring him around once a day until his coat reaches critical mass, and just wash, rinse, repeat!

If Otis is ever frightened, and can't be calmed down (which happens often), you can just give him some oats, and he will be as calm as a creek and wander over to check out the goods! Just make sure not to spook him again, or you'll be out like a light!

Otis is on dietary restrictions, which seems strange since we've never seen him eat anything other than the occasional treat. He seems to be getting plumper by the day, which has left us scratching our heads. I swear Kane is feeding him something when they nap together.

Notes about Otis!

So after a couple months of our routine, we had hundreds of pounds of magical fleece on our hands, and nothing to do with it. Now Kane had been hanging out with Otis for a while, and would take naps by laying his head on Otis' body while Otis just relaxes. So Kane says, "why not make pillows out of these and sell them?" Now this seemed like a great idea, but first we had to run it past the Supervisors. According to them, the proposal is "pending," and Otis has to be studied as potential "oneirovore," but we're allowed to give the pillows to full-time staff, so a positive for us! But some of the staff that use the pillows for a while complain about "gnashing teeth and the smell of moldy hay," so long-term usage of the pillows is not recommended.

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