this and that, zoo stuff

Rainy Zoosday

Today it is raining.

Not the usual light drizzle for thirty minutes and then gone sort of rain, but the it’s going to pour all day long whether you like it or not sort of rain. This kind of rain is the kind that’s usually associated with a certain Irishman, whom I have yet to meet in real life, but who seems to constantly be out to irritate me.

Why, Murphy? Why?

Anyway, I left for the zoo before 7am because I not only had to drop J off at work by then, but because I was hoping to beat rush hour for my shift that started at 8. I got there at about ten til 8, after battling rush hour for 45 minutes on what is usually a fifteen minute drive, and went to sign into the volunteer log. Then I walked back to the spot where the keeper I’m helping had told me to find her. I leaned on the wall there and waited, watching the animals.

There is a section that is going to be part of where I work called “Monkey Island.” This is a strange name to me because there are actually three parts to this area, and not a one of these has any monkeys at all. In fact, it only has gibbons, which are apes, and lemurs, which are prosimians. Not monkeys. Why is their exhibit called “Monkey Island” then? I have no idea. The actual monkeys are across from the lemurs and gibbons and are mostly spider monkeys. The spider monkeys are more beside “Monkey Island” than part of it, but I think the exhibit might be named for them.

Getting back on track… I waited about half an hour before a keeper came, and it wasn’t the one I was expecting, being neither close to my age nor female. He turned out to beΒ  one of the elephant keepers and a really nice guy; they’d shuffled who was doing what duties today, so he had the fun job of introducing me to the animals while trying to remember who gets what to eat. Of course, it helps that the tigers and primates do NOT eat the same things, at all. Heh.

I met all six tigers (two females, four males) and saw all of the small primates, and even learned how to tell the two elephants apart from one another (they’re waiting on the completion of a new exhibit to get a third elephant, as is required by the AZA). I also got to see their veterinary clinic (which is amazing) and their “animal commissary” which is also amazing. I’ll have to take pictures of them sometime.

It rained the entire time I was there, except for a brief time when I was getting a tour of the tiger night house and was under cover. As soon as we got ready to head back outside, the bottom let out and I nearly got drenched. At that point, one of the keepers loaned me a poncho which I will return next week and kept me from getting thoroughly drenched.

I came home for lunch and realized that the lawn chairs were getting wet, so I stepped outside during a break in the rain to get them inside.

You know all of those Java sparrows I wrote about a few weeks ago? There were about 40 of them outside today and they almost all flew away when I opened the door. One did not; he was hanging from the feeder and I thought he was either very brave or very dumb. As I moved the chairs, however, I realized that he was fluttering and trying to get away, but was stuck. The poor bird had gotten a toe snagged in the feeder and was hanging by it! I ran inside and got a cloth, which I used to scoop underneath him and cover his head (birds will calm down immediately if you cover their heads; weird, but true!) and lifted him, along with the feeder, to the little table outside. His toe was almost severed, hanging by a little piece of skin or something. As I started to lift him free, he pulled it loose and flew away, leaving a good bit of blood behind. Poor guy! He’ll most likely be fine, as birds don’t need all of their toes, but I felt bad for him. And I was worried about what I would do if it happened again. I bent the place where he’d been stuck so that it was bigger and hopefully bird-toe-proof, but what if…?

So I called a wildlife rehabilitator I knew in Virginia and asked her about it. Her solution?

If you don’t have styptic powder, you can use either cornstarch or flour to staunch bleeding. It’s natural and safe for animals, so you can use it with pets, too. This is a fantastic piece of knowledge so I’m sharing it with anyone who is around animals.

What can I say? I walk on the wild side. ^_^

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