A great love for genets


Written by Dr Erika de Jager BVSc BSc Agric (Hons), veterinarian and owner of ZURI Orphanage

It was love at first sight when I met the baby genet in November 2017. It had been a great surprise when one of my clients called me to ask if I could take care of the genet, and the little one immediately started to drink from his bottle of kitty milk, which he loved.

A kitty surprise

At around the same time, one of our 14 cats disappeared for a month and we feared the worst. It was with relief and great surprise when she reappeared… pregnant (we hadn’t had a chance to spay her yet). Our tabby girl went on to have five kittens and, of course, we kept them all.

The best part was that the kittens turned out to be a life-saver, as they played with the little genet and even taught him to eat when he was old enough. They snuggled together and kept each other company. (Mother cat and her babies have all since been sterilised.)

Genet number 2

A few weeks later, I received a call from Onguma Lodge in the Etosha National Park: they had a tiny baby genet needing help. It was challenging as she was only a day old – no bigger than a matchbox; we had to feed her with an intravenous catheter for the first two days until she could drink on her own from a bottle. Her eyes only opened ten days later.

Luckily, we had a baby dove and they kept each other company for those first few days. We fed the tiny genet every couple of hours (and had little sleep those first few days). Once the genet was old enough, she joined the kittens for play time.

We had some visitors from Austria and Australia who had the privilege of seeing them up close, and we’ve also showed them to many children at Tsumeb to create awareness.

Genet number 3

In March 2018, Zebbie, another genet orphan, joined us, along with a tiny kitten found on a scrap heap, whom we named Leo (as well as some baby mongooses). See Leo featured in May 2018’s Look at me now (link to: http://www.happytailsmagazine.co.za/look-at-me-now/)

Zebbie and Leo are inseparable. The only problem is that Zebbie wants to sleep in the day and Leo wants to sleep at night... But they do enjoy playing together and are great company.

During the day, Zebbie and Leo share the older genets’ cage, and at night they sleep with Hannah, a volunteer from South Africa.

In June, Leo and Zebbie even joined us on a camping trip so we could keep an eye on them.

Freedom for the genets

The two older genets have since been released. Being nocturnal animals, in the day they go back to their cage to sleep. At sunset, they wake up, we open the door, and they’re free to go. However, they never wander far from home – it seems that they want to stay close to us and follow us wherever we go. 

Although we know that the genets are wild animals that are free, we’re still happy that they want to stay...

Follow ZURI Orphanage’s Facebook page for regular updates on what Leo, the genets and other animal residents are up to, including ET the Aardvark, and Gogga and Strepies the Mongooses. @zuriorphanage (link to: https://www.facebook.com/zuriorphanage/)

ZURI Orphanage is currently fundraising to build an even larger cage for their rescued genets. Any donations are very welcome. Please visit ZURI Orphanage’s website and click the donate button.

About ZURI Orphanage

ZURI Orphanage was founded by veterinarian Dr Erika de Jager in Tsumeb, Namibia, to help orphaned wild animals. Namibia has many different species of wild animals and Dr De Jager is often called upon for help in healing them, after which they’re released into the ZURI farm area, where it’s safe and they can live a normal life in the wild.

This phenomenal organisation relies on donations to keep going. Please visit www.zuriorphanage.com for more information on the animals that they help and to find out how you can help these animals.  

Read our article about ZURI Orphanage and ET the adorable aardvark: ZURI ORPHANAGE (link to: https://www.happytailsmagazine.co.za/news-articles/zuri-orphanage/ )

Important note

Genets are wild animals and should never be kept as pets. They may look like cats but they’re not even in the same family and are not domesticated. The goal of places like ZURI’s Orphanage is to rehabilitate and release these animals back into the wild. If you love wild animals, love them where they belong – in the wild.

Should you know of someone selling wild animals or see people hawking animals alongside the road, please do not buy them as this encourages the illegal and cruel wildlife trade. Instead, contact your local SPCA immediately.