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, grains, and grass

Housed: Wilson's Wildlife Center, Enclosure 5

Creature Features!

'Otis' is our name for our shy Merino sheep with amazingly soft fur we found down by Salem underneath a spa-type place that was filled with dozens of sleepin' people! Now I don't really know why they were all sleepin', but it musta been related to what ol' Otis can do. Due to what they were doin' to him down there, he doesn't really take too kindly to most people. But he sure does love his oats and gettin' sheared!

Otis ain't no ordinary buck, if you couldn't already tell that by his coat! If Otis is scared by something (which happens a lot), everything 30 feet around him will fall asleep, quick as a match. The experts here figured that it must be a defense mechanism of some kind, because a wolf can't eat you if it's having a little shuteye! And like the old bedtime stories, when you fall asleep, you'll be counting Otis in your dreams! For some reason, all of your dreams will have sheep in them, in some way or another, which is very strange when you have a dream about swimming with whales.

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, but to elaborate, we found Otis due to an anonymous tip underneath a spa in Salem, nearly collapsed from exhaustion, and only an IV drip and some moldy straw to keep him alive. His fleece was matted and dirty, and was so scared it took 4 hours just to calm him enough so he didn't make our volunteers all count sheep, if you know what I'm sayin'. We tried asking the people in the spa why they had Otis, but they were too deep in their siesta to answer.

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 around 90 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 was just 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!

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 relaxed. The regulars around Otis' enclosure are the only people who can do this, because Otis gets skittish if strangers touch him for too long. 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," but we're allowed to give the pillows to full-time staff, so a positive for us, (and our necks)! Of course, one side effect of using these pillows is that you always dream of sheep! Now that isn't very good when you have nightmares, because now some of our staff have a chronic fear of sheep1.

Now, Ayden Ehrlich came up to me and asked for some fleece for a project he was working on, and it turns out that Midas was having a hard time sleepin', poor lil' guy, and maybe a fleece bed could calm him down. So we made a custom dog bed for the little anklebiter, and wouldn'tchu know it, Midas started sleepin' better and was WAY less bitey! So we are thinkin' about expanding our little fleece empire to our other animal guests, but that idea's also pending, at least for now.

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