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bye bye owls and coot

November 6, 2009

Sometimes, the animals do not live, despite our best efforts. Sunday, I saw that a great horned owl and a coot had been brought in. I really like both kinds of birds. We also had one other great horned owl that had been brought in the previous week.

At the beginning of each shift, I walk around the place checking on the animals, seeing if more had been brought in since I was gone, and if there were any location changes, such as a bird being moved from an indoor cage to an outdoor enclosure. I saw that the red shoulder hawk that had been in a small cage indoors was well enough to be put in a flight cage. He has the owl cage to himself, since there are no owls in there. (We don’t ever put owls and hawks together, and there are certain kinds of hawks that cannot be put together either.)

I didn’t see the coot or the 2 great horned owls. Turns out they had to be euthanized. The health of each animal is monitored closely, and if the people in charge determine that an animal is not healing as it should, then the humane thing to do is put it down. So, bye bye owls and coot.

The shift wasn’t all bad, though. The ferrets were taken by the ferret rescue people, and the domestic rabbit was brought to the rabbit rescue people. Both the ferrets and the rabbit are nice little critters, and should easily find good homes.

I didn’t do much animal care this shift – just made sure the rats and mice had food and water, and took care of some squirrels.

The squirrels are too young to be released, and one of my supervisors said the black tree squirrel isn’t quite right in the head.. I’m not sure how that can be determined.. hmm.. That critter is surprisingly acrobatic, even for a squirrel. A couple shifts ago I was fortunate enough to witness that squirrel somehow jump, turn upside-down in the air, and hang from the top of the cage.

I got to bottle feed the squirrels. One of them, a grey one, tried to attack me as I reached in the cage. Squirrels are fast! Working at a wildlife center has made me faster though, and I was not bit. I fed all three, but one wasn’t that hungry. I am not sure why they still need to be bottle-fed, as they are not infants anymore, but I didn’t ask.

Other than that, I just gave mice to the crow and the raven, listened to NPR, and did data entry.

A note about skunks – they are very good at digging tunnels. The previous resident skunk we had tunneled out of her cage, but didn’t quite dig to the surface before her tunnel was discovered. Our current skunk, Skunkie, is also a skilled tunneler. I checked in on him Sunday, and there was a tunnel heading out of his room. The floor of his room is partially dirt, and thus he had something to dig through.

On Wednesday, I noticed Skunkie was in an indoor cage in the main building. I am glad somebody got my message that he’d been digging out of his room. There was a risk of bricks falling on him if the tunnel had collapsed, because part of the floor in his room was made of bricks. I am surprised no one thought to make all of the flooring secure. Work is being done this week to make the room escape proof. Can’t blame a skunk for tryin’.

Skunkie had his operation on the 5th – he is a non-releasable animal and we are allowed to keep him as an educational animal at the wildlife center. He is tame, but has not been allowed to be taken to schools and other places yet, because he had not been de-scented. We had to wait until his nuts dropped. He is now de-scented, and I hope the surgery went well. He will eventually be taken with some of our other animals to schools, camp fire talks, and other meetings.

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