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quiet day at the wildlife center

October 1, 2009

We have been closing at 3 pm instead of 4 since September. Sometimes one of the supervisors stays later.. several hours later, sometimes not. I like having the place to myself. It’s quite peaceful.

I arrived just after 2 pm, and worked on data entry for several hours – not exciting, but not dangerous either. Most people on staff haven’t learned to do the data entry, even though it is easy, or else they don’t bother.

We still have our intake forms on paper- they are detailed. There is a part for the person bringing in the animal to fill out – name address phone nbr, where the animal was found, etc., also on the form are places for staff to fill out: type of animal, weight, band # if it is a bird, intake nbr. initials of staff doing intake, type of injury or other reason animal was brought in, treatment given, and what happened to the animal – death, the rare placement of a non-releasable animal at a zoo or other nature facility, or release back into the wild.

Many of the animals we cannot save – their injuries are too severe.. Many we are able to save and release.

What I was working on was entering the data from the paperwork into the computer. It is a bit of an emotional experience – seeing each type of animal, why it was brought in, and each animal’s fate. It can be a little depressing, seeing on the form the type of injuries some animals sustain before they are brought in, and reading at the bottom of some forms that some animals didn’t make it. I try not to let it get me down. Death happens. That is how it goes. Anyone working any kind of animal care job knows this, and needs to get used to it.

Overall, the day was not sad. I felt good getting some work done that most people don’t want to do. Our computer desk is set up in our lobby, and there are animals in this room. A crow in his cage, an albino scrub jay in another cage (albino animals are quite rare, and don’t tend to do well in the wild), and 2 tanks, each containing a tame snake – one California King Snake, and one Gopher Snake. The gopher snake is blind, but has no trouble killing his prey. I like that there are animals in the lobby to keep me company.

I got tired working on the computer, and the sun was shining through the window right into my eyes.  I brought a lawn chair into the raven’s room, and set it up on the gravel floor inside. He doesn’t get nearly as much company as he used to. For years, his cage was located at a busy area out back of the main building that people were constantly passing by. He loves people, and got much attention from everybody working there.

At some point within the last year or so, he was moved into a room of our new buidling – which has four rooms with large windows in each. Four of our residents live there, mostly in isolation. In one room is a tame, but as of yet not-descented skunk, which I am not allowed to visit or pet, because I have not gotten the preventive rabies vaccine, and skunks and bats are the highest risk for carrying rabies – by the way, I have been told by several senior staffers that rodents – squirrels, rabbits, even rats, do not carry rabies. Also, raccoons and opossums are not rodents, and do have the possibility of carrying rabies. So do coyotes, wolves, foxes, etc.

In another of the four rooms is our tame and friendly red fox. I am not allowed to go in her room for the same reason I cannot play with the skunk. In the other two rooms are birds. One remaining room holds a tiny owl called a burrowing owl, and in the last room is the raven, who likes people, and hardly sees anybody, except at times of short duration per day.

Several of us on staff make sure to visit the animals in the new building, but most of the time, these animals who like people don’t get attention. The building is aways from the road going past the center, and is in a gated off pasture. The gate from the main section of our property to where the new building is is unlocked, but very few people who come by to drop off animals or look around go up to the new building, because it is gated off.

A LOT of grant money went for constructed the new building – which houses lonely animals who don’t often get visited. I try not to let this make me sad, and visit the birds, and talk to the two mammals, even though I cannot go into their rooms.

If I were in charge, I would have not done what was done and used the money for other purposes. I would certainly have put the rooms for these resident animals much nearer to where we are working most of the time. But, I am not in charge.

I sat for awhile in the raven’s room, talked to him, and read part of “Zen and the Art of Making a Living” aloud. I think he likes the sound of the human voice. I also try to imitate the sounds he makes – sort of talk to him in raven-speak, even though I don’t know what we are saying to each other. I watched the bird, and fed him two dead mice, which are a special treat for him.  My goal is to get the raven more used to me, so I will try to sit in there most shifts. I like his company, even if he is unsure of mine. I think he appreciates me there.

After that, I locked up, and went home.

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