elvis the pelvis

elvis the pelvis was the first cat to come stay in our trailer - and the most energetic! you would never have known there was anything wrong with him. he is now a healthy kitty living with noelle. if i wasn't moving to new zealand after working in texas, i would have taken my favorite cat, squints, with me - i wonder where squinterson is now??

Weeks 5, 6, 7

I lost my notebook that had all of these days in it so I am just going to have to go off memory and relate the things I do remember.

  • The Open House on October 8th meant a long, hard week right beforehand, with pretty much everyone working 6 days and many hours trying to get all of the animals taken care of, as well as any extra cleaning projects to make the place look spotless. One of the least desirable projects was cleaning out the Nutrition Center where all of the permanent residents’ food is prepared. The worst part: the walk-in cooler. About 200 pounds of meat (mostly chicken and deer carcasses) go through that cooler everyday, as well as about a dozen boxes of produce. You can imagine the bloody, sticky mess that leaves. Several hours later, and many pots of boiling water, we the interns had the Nutrition Center looking about as spotless as it could get.

  • We all got trained on the food prep shift right before the open house, which was a welcome change from being in the clinic everyday doing much of the same thing. There are three main groups we have to prep: carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores (mostly primates). The carnivores include a jaguar, lions, mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, hawks, owls, caracals, and vultures. And lets just say, preparing their diets involves a machete. The omnivores include the bears, raccoons, foxes and opossums. They are the most fun to prep for because it’s a nice mix of meat and veggies and no chopping of carcasses involved. The primates take the longest to prepare because we have so many. We end up preparing about 10 5-gallon buckets full of fruits and vegetables. The remaining herbivores (sugar-gliders, squirrels, and reptiles) are pretty easy.

  • We got in a kitten from the humane society that they were planning on putting down because of a broken pelvis. He was prescribed cage rest, which basically meant he meowed all day long, so we brought him to our trailer for some company. A few weeks later he is climbing up legs and furniture even though he is still super tiny. And we named him Elvis the Pelvis, Elvis for short.

  • There is something eating some of the fowl in our domestic fowl yard (called Garyland after a former resident turkey named Gary). One of the newest residents, a one-legged mallard (who had his leg amputated) was found with his head bitten off. Not two days later another duck was found the same way. We think it is a raccoon, nick-named Slasher, who did the same thing a few years ago. We installed electric fencing around three or four enclosures with slow-moving resident birds and mammals as a precaution and so far no more decapitations.

  • I finally got my last rabies shot, so I can officially work with all of the vector species. Raccoons are general antisocial and even aggressive when they are adults, but babies are needy and want to be held all the time. We have a baby in the clinic right now who makes little coon noises and cries until we socialize with her. We let her walk around the clinic yard with us a little bit so she can get some exercise and relieve some of her boredom.

  • We also had to bring several of our opossums out into the clinic yard for some exercise three to four times a day as part of their physical therapy regimen as three of our juvenile opossums weren’t fully using their back legs. They didn’t like it but we had to chase them around for a while as well as do stretches and other exercises to encourage them to use their legs to walk and run. I even ended up bathing one of them with a severe flea problem who wouldn’t use his legs to walk but just to scratch.

  • My favorite squirrel died. He was a bit of a runt when he came in, and always a character. We called him the bald squirrel because he had thin hair all over, but especially on top of his head. He walked around like a puppy, all wobbly but with his tail up and looking for somebody to pay attention to him and when he was in his cage he had his nose pressed up against the bars so he could nibble on our fingers and play. He was finally starting to grow in a nice coat and get fat from all the solids he was eating, but one day he just went down hill and the next day he was gone. It’s possible it was one of the respiratory infections that was going around, or maybe he was just a sick squirrel to begin with and his death was due to something developmental. Maybe his mother kicked him out of the nest (as it is common for squirrels to do) because she had some sixth sense knowing he wasn’t going to survive. It is just very disappointing to nurse and care for an animal for over a month, only to have him die in two days without warning. Luckily we all loved him and he will be missed by everyone who worked with him.

  • Three little coons moved from the clinic to one of the outdoor day cages, but not a few weeks later did they start to show signs of having parvovirus. We had a big outbreak of parvo at the end of the summer, and now it is back and hit our last few little coons. One was euthanized because he was in such bad condition, being severely dehydrated and having constant diarrhea. The other two are currently in the clinic getting medicine and fluids. One is worse off than the other, so she was separated from her sibling and he has been crying pitifully ever since. Hopefully we caught these two early enough to save them.

  • The lemurs in the cat yard have been giving us trouble because they are so friendly. Several are ex-pets and they just want to crawl on you every time you enter the enclosure, unfortunately, they have big claws and can hang on and scratch pretty easily, even if not intentionally. The funniest thing when you enter that enclosure, all of the cats start meowing and the lemurs join in making a sound almost identical to the meowing. So cute!

  • Nearly all of our squirrels have moved to Native Mammal, our outdoor enclosure, where they stay for a few weeks before being released on their own. We only have a few tiny squirrels left, but even those are well on their way to growing up, as it is a bit late in the season to be so small.

  • Baby, the vulture, has taken to strolling into our house when we leave the door open. He generally doesn’t go much farther than the kitchen but sometimes he will come pick at the carpet to see if it is edible. He also likes pecking at toes. We generally kick him out before he poops on the floor. Fact: vultures’ legs are really black but they always look white because they poop all over them.

  • Only about three of my acquaintances outside of Texas know what it means to ‘dress a deer’. For the rest of you, it basically means cutting up a deer carcass into carnivore-edible-sized pieces. That is legs, ribs, neck and head. And organs, of course. We learned on a deer that was killed by a car.

  • Opossums generally are not confrontational animals, they just like to open up their mouths and look scary. Occasionally there is a grumpy opossum that lunges or growls but they usually give plenty of warning before they bite. Tonight a new opossum came in from one of our drop-off points and when I was in the process of moving him from one tiny to cage to a larger carrier, he turned around and bit my wrist. Hard. Adult opossums have the strongest jaw muscles of pretty much everything we work with. They can easily bite through turtle shells and he easily put a large puncture in my wrist. Luckily for me, opossums don’t have very sharp teeth. Although they do eat meat, they don’t have the sharp teeth of a carnivore because they are scavengers so most of what they eat is not difficult to tear apart.


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