the end

things got a bit hectic towards the end of my internsihp with having to head back to new jersey for grandmas's funeral, will coming for christmas, people being injured and the cold weather coming in. there are a few more things i added on to the end.

Weeks 8-the end

  • The weekend I was gone turned out to be the weekend from hell for WRR. First, three interns, including myself, were gone. Second, Destiny threw out her back the first day I was gone at WalMart picking up the produce we get donated everyday. Third, John, the guy who primarily works below the gate, was attacked by a lemur who put a huge gash in his leg. So not only were we down three interns to start with, Destiny couldn’t move and John couldn’t walk.

  • Also over the weekend Destiny had Pm phones (every night from 11pm to 6am one of the staff members or interns gets the phones forwarded to them so we have someone answering phones 24 hours a day) and at 4 am she got a call from someone who had hit a very large animal. No one knew what it was so she got everything from a water buffalo to an ox. Finally we were able to coordinate getting Suki and Jarrod out to the animal with the trailer to find that it was a kudu, an African plains animal about the size of a large cow. Unfortunately, soon after getting our trailer out there and picking the kudu up, he died. For weeks afterward he sat in the walk in freezer (he took up most of the space) until we finally got our meat guy to carve him up. Theresa and I helped to pull out all the organs for the carnivores and they were massive! The stomach itself probably would have filled two five gallon buckets and the heart was the size of a football.

  • One Wednesday the Executive Director/Founder decided to take all of the interns on a tour of the facilities, mostly below the gate where the larger permanent residents were, to tell us some of the stories on how those animals came to be at WRR. She definitely has a soft spot for the primates, as we spent most of our time talking about the macaques. She informed us that while several were ex-pets and from closing zoos, most were from research facilities, including Harvard. Two of our bears were from a local university whose mascot is a bear. They thought it would be a good idea to have a live bear at the university and then realized a bear was more work than they wanted. Twice. The third bear was one who was raised from a cub by someone who also decided having a bear wasn’t the best idea and turned the bear over to a rehab facility in the Northeast. Twice they tried to release the bear into the wild and twice she made her way back to the facility. The third time she was released she seemed to have finally gotten the idea to be a bear and stay in the wild. Or so they thought. It turns out that a family from Manhattan had gone camping and somehow managed to close the curious bear up in their camper and make it all the way back into the city. Upon opening the camper in the middle of the city and finding a bear in it, the rehab center decided she needed a permanent home.

  • As the season died down, we had fewer animals in the clinic, so we began to cut back on the shifts to only 2-3 people working all day, which meant one person would open in the morning and one would close in the evening, with the occasional shift in the middle if there were enough people that week. Since it was also getting quite cold in the evening, the closing person also had to go do heat checks around the property to make sure all of the heaters were working and all of the animals were using their heated facilities. The first night I was learning which heaters to check, I tagged along with one of the older interns. The primary concern were the primates so we went into the macaque house, which of course woke many of them up. One macaque was particularly upset about our presence and starting peeing all over my shoulder.

  • My first shift closing by myself went fairly smoothly until I got a call about a half hour before closing time from a woman who had found a yearling whitetail deer hit by a car. She was good enough to volunteer to bring it in with one of her friends, who in turn donated his flashlight to us because he witnessed the one functional flashlight we had on the entire property, which was hardly brighter than a candle.

  • In order to get the interns more involved with more of the animals on the property, like those below the gate which we rarely worked with if at all, we were trained to the ‘feed-out’ shift in the evening right before dark. This involved feeding many of the nocturnal animals as well as double-checking some of the more sensitive animals and handing out snacks. First stop was topping off the outdoor cats’ bowls, followed by feeding the fennec foxes. Next: treats for the macaques and capuchins, which included high protein things like nuts, monkey chow, dried fruit, cereal and even dog treats. After the primates we threw the juvenile bobcats’ food over the fence and if you were lucky you would catch a glimpse of them. They were experts at hiding in the tall grass tufts. Plates of cut-up mice and chicks were next for the owls, followed by all of the animals that happened to be in native mammal. Native mammal held the guys that were pretty much entirely acclimated to the outdoors and were soon to be released. These enclosures could include raccoons, squirrels, skunks, opossums, bobcats, vultures, or pretty much anyone else who needed some temporary space. Next stop: Asian lions. These girls were pretty old and skinny so we needed to feed them some extra treats, like chicken, to try to keep their weight on. After that, it was on to the guys above the gate. The sugarglider was first, then the deer were checked on. Since most of them were in somewhat critical condition, we tried to keep an eye on them often during the day. Next were the coatis, my favorite! They are crazy beggars and they were climbing all over the gate into the enclosure when we drove up. In order to keep them from climbing all over you, the best method was to throw one bowl in to distract them while you put down the rest of the bowls elsewhere. Their meals were gone pretty much instantaneously. Last up were the raccoons and the geriatric bobcats. The raccoons were pretty much always asleep, but the bobcats were pretty much always at the door and hungry. One girl was more shy and would walk away when you opened the gate to the enclosure, but the other guy would stand right next to you until you put the dish down[see picture].

  • Because I was interested in working with some of the administrative aspect of WRR, I requested working on a new intern manual with Suki. One day she scheduled me to work with her and Petra so we could work on rewriting the employee and intern manuals. I spent this day working on the new manual since we were having a new intern coming in the next week. I enjoyed the work a lot, as I was able to do some research, as well as learn some additional information by working one-on-one with Suki. That evening I went with Destiny into San Antonio to drop off a sick vulture who had been in the clinic for a few days with an unknown illness to the vet to get some testing done. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, he had died. We did do the evening pickup from the animal hospital, which included a rooster who had been mauled by a dog and three red-eared slider turtles. The turtles were perfectly fine so we just slipped them into the Blanco River on our way back. The rooster was pretty badly beaten up, with puncture wounds in his rear end and missing most of the feathers on his back end.

  • Another night closing on my own proved to be busy due to incoming animals. In fact, I got 8 different animals in that evening, including a rattlesnake and a bobcat. The rattlesnake was in an aquarium and had been someone’s pet for the past five years, but that someone had to move and couldn’t keep the snake any longer. The bobcat was a juvenile who had been raised since a kitten by a guy who also felt he could no longer take care of him. The worst part about it was that the bobcat’s diet for who knows how long had been wet dog food… Luckily, he quickly caught on to eating red meat and didn’t act friendly with us one bit.

  • The bobcat was kept under observation for a few days since he had the potential for a lot of problems, including nutritional deficiencies, but he was acting well enough to move out with the other juvies. The three juvies are due to be released in a few months, once the weather starts getting warmer again. The rattlesnake actually moved into our trailer with Merande because she was the most experienced with snakes other than John. She was in charge of beginning to acclimate it to the outdoors so he too could be released once spring came. When he actually came out from under his rock, he was a very impressive diamond back who enjoyed the live mice we caught in the clinic for him. The rooster who lost most of his rear end feathers to a dog actually healed very well and got a bit of an attitude in the clinic. We eventually moved him outside with some others chickens so he could strut around without us interrupting him.

  • Way back in the end of summer, we starting getting calls from a woman in San Antonio who lived near a community who had let the artificial pond in the development dry up, despite the fact that a population of at least 30 muscovey ducks were living there. Despite us assuring her that the ducks would move on and take care of themselves, she took it upon herself to try to feed and water them all and call us every week to try to get us to do something. Some flew away and some died, but by November, there were still about 20 ducks who had moved under a truck at a cleaners across the street. Finally, they asked me if I would go out there and try to catch the ducks to bring back to WRR. I went and spent several hours with the woman and her daughter chasing after the ducks. In the end, we were only able to get about 7 of the slow ones, since the rest figured out we couldn’t fly and got away pretty easily. The worst part was that the woman had tried to contact the homeowners association for the community so that they could deal with their dried up pond, but nobody cared about it, and she was even threatened by people in the community to stay away. Right at the front of the development, however, was still a giant sign boasting ‘Eden’s Water Sanctuary’, the community’s little piece of land ‘built for the wildlife’.

  • The weather around Thanksgiving was still pretty warm, in fact, it was warm enough to have bees and they were everywhere in the nutrition center, including crawling up my pants leg and stinging me once on the shin and then once on the fingertip. I took some homeopathies for the swelling, but my leg still ended up blowing up so big it hurt to wear pants over it.

a few more memories i added in:
  • There was a freak hail storm coming in on what otherwise seemed like a bright and sunshiny day. This sent us all frantically rushing around the property to open up the shelters we usually put the animals into at night so that they had somewhere to take cover from the falling balls of ice. I had to rush out and get all of the parrots inside, which I wasn't looking forward to, since some of the parrots had major attitude. Just as I was inside one of the enclosures - which means I had two locked doors between me and freedom - the hail started. I could see the parrots looking out at me, wondering what the hell I was doing outside in their enclosure when they were snug and safe inside. Finally I made it into the aviary, after a good battering with the hail. Unfortunately, the aviary has a metal roof, which meant it was so loud inside I couldn't hear my radio going "Where is Erica? Are the birds inside??". Luckily the storm only lasted a few minutes and everything could stop panicking about losing animals (or interns) to a freak hail accident.
  • There was a particularly cold day that Destiny was on Above the gate shift and it took her long into the night to finish up. She came home for dinner before needing to go back out again to fill the shelters up with hay for the sheep and horses and goats and emus. Except by then, it was also sleeting and completely miserable, so I decided to help so she could get home at a reasonable hour and so the animals could be nice and warm, too. So we get severeal bundles of hay and head to the pastures, only to find the first shelter completely empty. We fill it up anyway and move to the next one, where only a few animals are hiding. The last pasture and the same story! Completely wet and chilled, we finish emptying the hay, grumbling because apparently the animals knew a way better place to be hiding in the cold and our hay mission was completely pointless.
  • Last, but not least, and probably one of the most memorable, was a day I worked in the clinic with Adele. I remember this clearly because she laughed at me more than she helped me. I had R4, which just so happened to have a cranky little skunk in it that needed meds. I had successfully handled the skunk before, which isn't easy to do because you have to wear big leather gloves and manage to wrap their back end up in a towel while also giving the multiple medications. Only this day, the skunk managed to jump out of the towels. He didn't escape, but jumped straight back into his cage, firmly planted his feet in the ground and sprayed. Directly into my eye. Now, I couldn't tell what was worse, the smell or the stinging. When I rushed out into the clinic, blindly fumbling for saline solution, Adele nearly fell over laughing. While I had my face under the faucet, she managed to open up a bottle of saline. After another good wash and giggle and change of clothes, it was back to work. From then on, we were all required to wear goggles when working with the skunks.


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