Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cheetah Keeper Update

As for an update on my internship I'm officially a Cheetah Keeper now. It
comes with a lot of responsibilities and a bit of stress but I'm 100%
capable of dealing with it. This sound weird saying this but I really do
feel like an adult now. I have very little time off now that I'm responsible
for half the Cheetahs here and another intern who has been here longer is in
charge of the other half. We both work together as a team to make sure
everything runs smoothly which is not always the case. We have Cheetah Runs
in the morning for guests, which is a lure system with a piece of rag tied
on it that the cheetahs run after. This involves making sure there is meat
cut up, setting up the run, making sure guest are safe while in the
enclosure, and giving talks to the public about Cheetahs. Next in my day is
feeding and cleaning. This is what takes up most of my day here. This
involves getting meat ( 2 kg of each donkey) for 25 cheetahs, driving around
to each enclosure and checking fences for holes, locking them up in one pen
so we are able to clean and feed in the other, collecting fecal samples from
each cat for testing from worms, parasites, and hormones, disposing of all
left over bones or donkey heads, and also checking (by observation only)
each cat to make sure its healthy and has nothing wrong with it. Then at the
end of my day I need to log feedings for each cheetah and log anything that
was out of the ordinary.
Other jobs that I do here is give tours to guests around the facility,
logging camera trap photos, cleaning the goat pen, waterhole cleaning,
work-ups on wild cheetahs that have been caught, freezing sperm from male
cheetahs and processing it in our Genome Recourse Bank, and game counts. I
love every minute here and I cant believe that I have less than 2 weeks
left. I'm a little bummed out that I finally get Cheetah keeper status here
and soon will have to leave but at least I can say I was a cheetah keeper
here because it is not a position they give to just anyone and it will look
great on my resume too.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Don't mess with Texas

This summer is flying by. I have had many crazy adventures that are so full of detail that I couldn't possibly write them all here. I may not like research but I do enjoy doing field work. Most of my time has been spent collecting data and samples on various rivers and streams throughout the state of Texas. Through my experiences I have learned not to mess with Texas. My most memorable trip so far was about 2 weeks ago. We left for Big Sandy Creek in the Big Thicket Preserve on a thursday and we were supposed to be back at SHSU by evening on friday for 4th of July celebrations. Unfortunately our creek turned into an endurance test that I think even a few Marines would have difficulty with. The two day trip ended up being 4 days and 3 nights with little food, chlorinated river water, and badly bashed bodies. We paddled our canoes full of gear about 20% of the time and had to lift, pull, or push the canoes the other 80%. Downed trees were everywhere and the water was too murky to see all of the limbs in the water. We ran into venomous snakes, giant spiders, fell on bald cypress knees, got eaten by bugs, cut open our hands, arms, and legs, sprained ankles, and had the time of our lives. The trip was a true self-esteem boost. I felt like on of Charlie's Angels when we made it to our take out 2 days late. It was awesome. Just remember that if you bite Texas, it'll bite back. Enjoy the rest of summer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Update from Jessica Curtis at the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, TX

This summer is flying by faster than I imagined..
I'm a "Zoo Teacher" at the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler Texas, and I work with kids ranging in age from 4 to 16 years old. In addition to that I get to do Discovery Carts through out the entire zoo. I get to teach people about all different kinds of animals such as cats, giraffe, rhinos, elephants, birds, reptiles, etc.. I love doing these because I get to show people a real elephant tooth, a rhino horn or a piece of ribbon that shows how long a giraffes tongue really is; Or even how far a puma/mountain lion can jump with a running start (40 feet!). And people of all ages absolutely seem to love it. I also get to go out and do outreaches to local parks, libraries, and elderly homes.

Today we started our Zoo-niversity camp. It's for highschool students (9th -12th grade) who want to see what its like to be a zoo keeper. They get to work side by side the keepers cleaning exhibits, spend some time with the vet, our registrar, the commisary, and all other aspects of the zoo. This is the first time the zoo has done it and it seems to be going very well so far.

I've also been able to shadow different departments in the zoo, like the birds and reptile department, mammals 2 and mammals 1. The mammals 1 department is by far my favorite department. Shadowing this department and having my experience in the education department has really showed me that I do not want a career in education. There's just way too much down time. I can't sit around and do nothing for days at a time. Yes we create lesson plans and cut out tons of paper and foam crafts ( I might have carpel tunnel by the time this internship is over, hahaha), but that doesn't take much time at all. I would love to work in a zoo setting with hoofstock (especially giraffe, kudu, and zebra) as well as rhino and elephants. Here at the Caldwell Zoo we have training shows and meet the keepers, and that is the perfect amount of education for me. I can't see myself as a Zoo Teacher.. the kids are absolutely amazing and very suprising, but not for me.

But that's the point of an internship, it helps you realize what you truly want to do..

*~Jess Curtis~*

Wildlife Care&Education Club-Vice President
Sugar Makers-Treasurer

"I've always felt that animals are the purest spirits in the world. They don't fake or hide their feelings, and they are the most loyal creatures on Earth. And somehow we humans think we're smarter—what a joke."- Pink

Monday, July 14, 2008

Getting better every day

So the summer is almost over and a part of me doesn't want it to be. I am loving the work I do at my internship. I am getting way more hands on here that at TRT. In the past couple of weeks i've administered drugs to sick crows, held Ospreys as their wounds get treated, wrapped wings on several song birds, and fed nestling and fledgeling American Kestrals. Things are going great and I am loving it!

We had some exciting goings on this week. Louis Bevier who is doing research on the current existance of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker came down. From the evidence, the infamous Luaneu video sugguests that the Ivory Billed Woodpecker is not extinct and that atleast one survivor is still out there. What Louis believes is that the video shows a Pileated Woodpecker and not an Ivory Billed. So we had three Pileateds that were going to be release, he came down for the day and filmed them being released so he could use it as research for the debate. It was cool! Personally I think its a Pileated but what do I know?

Well I dont have much to say at the moment but I'm sure i'm forgetting somthing.
Hope everyones summer is going well!


Today was pretty awesome. I didn’t have to clean the mammals or the bird cages in the morning since we had a lot of people helping and it made things run very smoothly. So, while they were cleaning pens, I was dong the dishes and was able to get the water all ready to go back to the animals. But before we give them back their water we have to spray down the floors and squeegee all the water into the drains put at strategic locations around the building. Again, this job was completed with ease and didn’t take long at all.
Then Victoria and I worked on diets and were given the job of putting a mixture of mulch, sand, and dirt into a new tub for the Gopher Tortoise. Apparently, the old tub had a huge rust hole on the bottom… I’m not really sure how the dirt stayed in it. It was pretty fun and we actually got into the tub and mixed everything together with our feet… like grapes and wine in a tiny village in Rome.
Lunch was good… I got an ‘Icee’… we do not have such entities in Maine… It was almost as if it were flavored ice like a Slush Puppy, but then it was almost carbonated feeling. Strange… good.
My favorite part of the job is training and handling the animals. I really like that they are trusting me to be able to handle some of the animals without supervision. There is always someone around if I need help, but they aren’t overseeing it like they were in the beginning, which makes me feel like they trust me which is important for a work environment. It makes me feel like I’ve earned a place there… and I believe I have. I like being able to see the different ways to train the animals and I’ve gotten to the point where I can answer questions about the animals to people walking by.
The afternoon went well, we did our shows, got all our training exercises in, did some monthly cursory exams, our end of the day stuff, and we were able to get out of there by a little after 5. So, I’d say it was a really good day and we had a lot of fun.

Pictures From Julie Kozak in Isreal

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Update from Julie Kozak in Isreal...Vultures, National Geographic and More

Hey Everyone,
It's been about a month since I last e-mailed anyone and I thought I should update you on some of the happenings here at Gamla Nature Reserve. Well last week was a very exciting week, on monday we had a bunch of rangers here for tagging to two Griffon Vulture chicks. I was originally supposed to observe from across the the gorge where the nest is but I got invited to come up on the cliff with everyone else at the nest named Susana. It was very exciting watching one of the rangers repell down to the nest and watching the weighing, leg banding, and wing tagging process and how it is exactly like the stories I have heard in my classes, but in Israel. While this was happening Yoram Shpirer was photographing it all, he's one of the top photographers here in Israel and he's very nice. He came and sat next to me when I went back to my observation spot, talked with me for awhile and took pictures together. It my first chance to get close to a Griffon Vulture, and it was nice since I've spent a month watching them from 100-400 meters away. Then on thursday we received 6 fledgling vultures to add to our 7 that we are raising until adulthood (because their parents were poisoned last year), so now we have 15 vultures in our enclosure. Igal the man who was raising them asked me if I wanted to come to the cage and help release them into the cage, and of course I said yes! There was this woman who I had never seen before with us and she even went to the cage with us (which only workers get to do), later I found out that she was a photographer from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC!!!! The magazine has been following Igal and the chicks through the whole process of their developement, it was so cool! I can't believe National Geographic was doing a story at my internship location, when I was first told they were here I thought it was a joke. But no, its for real. Anyways I think thats enough excitement for now!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Email Update from Bryan Lane who is Interning in Big Sur State Park, CA

Hey Nicole,
I hope everything is going good for you. I'm having a great time out here in Big Sur CA. I got my internship started back on May 18th and finally finished it the end of last week. I have to say I am so lucky I got the opportunity to come out to CA and work for the state parks. I started my internship off with a lot of trainings and a lot of hours being worked. After the first couple weeks or so I'm getting the hang of everything and started to explore the area more, some of the pictures explain this. I have to say my supervisor out here Ranger Rich Levin is so nice. If there was or still is anything I needed; Rich would help me get it. Along with all the trainings I have met so many wonderful people. Everyone out here has open arms to me and it has really made me feel at home. Now with my internship completed I am working for the parks and actually getting paid, which is going to be a change. But now no sooner that I get paid; everyone and I was evacuated from Limekiln SP because of forest fires in the area. I have had some great adventurers out here in CA, but something tells me I still can't wait to get back to Unity and see some familiar faces. So with all of this I'm safe and sound waiting out the fires and will be returning to the east coast in early August. Also I hope these pictures and possible my summer internship will help inspire more students to go out and try new things. I will be in touch again.

Bryan Lane, Internship with California State Parks

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Star Crack.

My internship has been going great so far but there have been a few things that I have experienced that I didn't at TRT. Its a fact that in wildlife rehabilitation you have to deal with death. It comes in many situations in rehab. It can be an animal that has just come into your facility with fatal wounds that it dies within minutes, an animal that has been doing well then one morning you go to check on it and it has passed in the night, or an animal that you know has been struggling and you want to do everything you can for it but the best thing for this creature is to be "put down" or "put to sleep". Any way you look at it death is a part of life and a part of wildlife rehabilitation.

I for one wasn't completely sure how I would handle it. At The Raptor Trust I knew when some animals were put down because either they were no longer around or I would ask about the animal to see how it was doing and one of the staff members would tell me he was "no good." This is a term that is used from what I undertsand in most rehab facilities. Both rehab centers I have worked in, when an animal isnt going to make it or has a fracture or injury that renders it unreleaseable, they say "they are no good." I don't know I feel about it but I guess it makes it a little easier for you to realize what is going to happen.

Back to my point, at TRT I never saw an animal actually being put down, but I saw it for the first time here at Avian Haven. It was an adult Bald Eagle that had a high humerous fracture that was close to the joint. In most cases any fracture in a raptor that is very close to the joint, they are not going to have a good range of motion and therefore not be have the ability to fly and hunt. There was talk about placement for the bird but there are regulations about placement animals and the wing would have to be amputated and there are other laws about Bald Eagles that I wasnt sure about, I believe it stated that eagles can't have any extremities removed. This bird was stuck between a rock and a hard place. If placement were an option most facilities would'nt want him because he was an adult and bald eagles are no longer endangered so there isnt a "demand" for them in facilities.

This birds situation was a heartbreak one. We only had for a week and then one day while I was doing my rounds, Marc got the eagle and brought him over to the area where they anesthetize the birds for routine medical procedures or x rays but also for euthansia. I thought nothing of it until a volunteer said "I can't stand to see them put down birds." I walked back into the area and couldnt realize what I was watching, Marc was putting this bird down. I watched until Marc placed a stethoscope against the birds chest then wrapped the bird in a towel to have some final peace. I didnt understand how I was supposed to feel, I had just watched an animal die. One moment he was alive and the next gone. It hit me pretty hard and the rest of the day was rough. Trying to wrestle was all the emotions that come with it was difficult for me. I called a friend that night and told her had happened and finally cried for myself and for the eagle.

I think to myself will I ever get used to it? Should I ever get used to it? Is there a half way point where you understand what you're doing is the right thing and there is no reason for tears? I know i've just started my career in wildlife rehabilitation and there will many more birds that die but I have to realize that its worth everything when you release birds that seemed as though they had no chance or when you have been incubating eggs for weeks and finally you see that star crack. Then you know that life has begun and everything makes perfect sense.