Tempe, AZ – In late April, Tamra Rothenburger held the First Annual Arizona Sugar Glider Gathering at a park in Tempe, AZ, where a large group of people from all over Arizona were brought together by their shared passion: to educate people about sugar gliders and how to care for these unique, exotic animals. Tamra runs a sugar glider rescue, where she often sees gliders that have been treated badly, simply because their owners didn’t know how to care for them.
Sugar gliders are marsupials, native to Australia. They have a gliding membrane between their arms and legs, similar to those of flying squirrels, which lets them glide from tree to tree. They are intelligent, highly developed animals with problem-solving abilities much like monkeys.
According to Tamra, getting sugar gliders is a commitment: “When you’re thinking of bringing a glider into your life, you’re bringing in a child. Their intelligence level is equivalent to that of a two-year-old. They need constant stimulation”.
“People get them at carnivals and fairs and malls. That’s not the place to get these animals. They are sold by breeders who are mass-producing them and not giving them the devotion and attention they need.” The gliders are often taken away from their mothers too soon and the prospective buyers don’t receive enough education on how to handle these exotic animals.
When people realize how much time and effort it takes to own a sugar glider, they often decide not to keep them any longer. Tamra and her husband Dan founded the AZ Sugar Glider Rescue for the purpose of making the lives of sugar gliders happy and healthy. They do not only care for gliders, but also offer training and information on the care and handling of gliders to both, current glider owner and potential owners. The rescue takes in injured or malnourished sugar gliders and cares for them until they are ready to be matched with a new loving family.
Currently, the AZ Sugar Glider Rescue has seven rescued gliders and four sanctuaries. Sanctuaries are animals that have serious issues and cannot be adopted. One of Tamra’s sanctuaries is Foamy. His owner kept him alone and did not give him enough attention. When he arrived at the rescue, he had ripped most of his fur out, to a point where he was almost bald. Now, a year later, he is doing much better and most of his fur has grown back. Tamra matched him with a female cage mate, Isabella.