Thursday, 20 June 2013

The animal's stories

As my duties moved more to outside work I got to experience a wider range of animals and meet a whole set of new characters.  One of my favourite duties is feeding the fox cubs, the obvious reason being that they are extremely cute.  However, it's not quite as fun as it sounds as these cubs cannot be tamed if they are to be released into the wild so we need to keep them afraid of humans by not interacting with them too much and even making loud noises etc to scare them if they get too curious.  Making an adorable fox cub scared is defiantly a very difficult task but luckily not really necessary as most of them our cautious already and some even show some aggression such as growling (see photo below).

However, there is a certain fox cub that does not abide by these rules and will approach you no matter how much noise you make.  In fact, your the one ending up looking foolish as the fox cub just sits there watching you whilst you stupidly bang a bucket, as it to ask 'are you finished yet'?  I'm only human and couldn't help getting attached to this fox cub and have even named him Rooney, a name that seems to have spread throughout the whole centre!  I have given up trying to scare Rooney as he is fearless although I do still refrain from encouraging him with any contact, as much as I'd love to stroke a fox cub!

One animal that I am allowed to stroke and be as affectionate as I wish with is with Terrance the pig.  I was slightly confused when I came across Terrance outside, as this is a wildlife rescue centre after all.  His story is that his mother died when he was only a day old and the centre was contacted to see if they could take him as the farm could not provide the care he needed.  Now, who could turn down a cute piglet?  Terrance had to be bottle fed for the first few weeks and through this he has created a bond with humans and is always happy to see you, especially if you've brought food.  One of my favourite ways to end the day is to sit with him whilst he eats his dinner and take out all my stroking and cuddling frustrations out on him!

Some of these animals I do get too much contact with, not always intentionally.  The corvids (i.e. jackdaws, crows and magpies) are an example of this.  When they are moved out of the hospital they are put into a larger outdoor aviary although some of them still need hand feeding.  This means we still need to go in every couple of hours to feed them and this can be a challenging as there are now so many in there, all wanting to be fed first.  I took my life into my hands the other day by going in by myself, an act I will not be repeating as as soon as I stepped through the door I was covered in them.  Without anyone else to help me remove them I had to stay covered in them until I fed them enough so they flew off, a difficult task when your arms are covered in crows.  I learnt very early on not to bend down in the aviary as there is no way that you will be able to stand up again as apparently corvids view your back as a very desirable perch.

A very hungry bird
Although I am often covered in poo, hair, feathers and scratches from these animals, I do appreciate how lucky I am to get such close contact with them and this is definitely and experience I will never forget.

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