So I was just thinking the other day (now that I am unemployed I have a lot of time to think!) about what I learnt while working with animals. I mean, I worked with them for a good 5 years. Cleaning their up their shit, feeding them, cleaning Up their shit, carrying them, cleaning up their shit, medicating them and of course, cleaning up their shit.
Surely I must have taken something away from that, apart from of course, how to clean up their shit. At first I thought that I hadn’t. I mean I did learn stuff, but nothing really important…. But then I thought some more and while not everything I learnt can be used I every day life, I did indeed learn some things.
Who would have thought that this girl:
Let’s jump right in!
1) YOU WILL GET BITTEN, OR SCRATCHED, OR BOTH. YOU WILL, ITS UNAVOIDABLE!
You are working with animals, if you don’t want to scar or mark your pretty face, arms, or any other part of your body, you need to find another job.
Sometimes the injuries that the animals give you are intentional. Like humans, they too have their off days and if you happen to choose that day to go too close or to pet them, well you can’t blame the animal.
Most of the time though, I found that maybe 98% of the injuries I incurred were all unintentional. All of the injuries in the pictures you see above were all unintentional. Either they were just moving around on you while you were carrying them and their claws happened to scratch you, or as with the first picture, the binturong (If you don’t know what a binturng is, I’ll upload a pic later on in this post) was on my shoulders and some raindrops fell on him and he freaked out and moved too fast and his claw made contact with my chin. Not his fault, not mine either, it’s just part and parcel of the job.
This however, was intentional:
Can you see what looks like a black line on my nose? Nope it’s actually not black, it’s red because it is blood. This is Narnia, AND SHE IS A BINTURONG. The females are the more dominant sex and she had started showing aggression.
I had carried her 100s of times prior to this and well, she just didn’t seem to like me on that particular day, she bit it and after this, once on stage, she would bite it again …. Twice…But as with the old saying “the show must go on, and that’s exactly what we did. albeit with a few guests in the audience looking rather horrified at the sight of blood. Do I blame her? No! Was I a little angry at her? Well yeah, but did I show her that I was angry at her? No I didn’t, I just gave her a stern talking to… Not that she cared much lol.
2) They give you a lot of satisfaction at work. You can be having a horrible day and a little “kiss” or a funny expression from them would cheer me up.
One thing in the 5 years that I was there that gave me a lot of satisfaction was this little fella:
Meet Foxtrot! He is a Fennec Fox. Unfortunately his inexperienced mother was not caring for him the way that she should have and so he had to be hand raised. His brother was far too weak and unfortunately passed away but lil Foxxy there proved to be a fighter!
He was maybe 2 months old here, still being bottle fed, so adorable, very cheeky but. so loving! He loved to play, still does actually. He would toss around the toys that we bought for him, loved to drink his milk and be cuddled by all of us.
That gave me so much satisfaction that maybe under different circumstances he would not have survived but he did, and that was because of the role that we, the staff played. It was hard work preparing his milk,looking out for him , feeding him every few hours but you know what, it was so worth it because he grew up to be big and strong and so FREAKING ADORABLE! JUST LOOK AT THIS FACE! :
Hand raising animals doesn’t just concern animals that you work with, look at me hand feeding some squirrels that were found on the floor. We fed them until they were storing enough to be released into the wild:
Oh boy, the first time my favorite animal passed away, I cried and cried. Little “Mei Mei” the the otter was the cutest, friendliest little animal ever. More animals have died since then but I learnt to accept it. It still hurt when it’s an animal you have a strong bond with, and the tears still would flow but it feels good to think that they were no longer suffering, or in pain, or just old and not their usual self. I think animals know when their time is near.
Above: “Shah” AKA “Tonga”” the small toothed Civet. My baby. Quite a number of us shed more than a few tears for this little one.
“Cookie” on the day of her euthanisation, we went to say our goodbyes.
“Smokey” the Serval. A wonderful old girl
“Cookie” another one of her cute face.
And the queen herself, Summit. I took this pic moments before she was sedated for her euthanisation. She was old an She was the most beautiful old girl ever. Gentle and sweet even in the moments leading up to her sedation. Love this girl..
4) You will form unbelievable bonds with the animals.
You will be able to identify them even when they are beside a few other animals of the same species, you learn the minute differences between each. You will learn to differentiate between species by the smell of their shit. How I would explain the differences between animals to new staff
“Shami (the serval) looks like she is wearing eyeliner while her sister doesn’t.”
“Shahweh (another serval) looks old, Cash looks younger”
“Narnia has crazy eyes, her brother looks more sweeter”
“Maple (the raccoon) can open doors, her brother can’t”
You learn their traits, their personalities, you can anticipate their next move, you have to prep your self when carrying different animals as even though they are the same species, they. like to be carried in different ways.
Me with my boy “Teddy Bear” his real name is “Tad” but that’s my special name for him. I absolutely adore Tad. He is the one that is responsible for most of the scratches on my body that you saw in the earlier pics. All unintentional .. He’s an absolute sweet heart..
Binturongs are actually quite the savage beast in the wild and can kill even King Cobras. His tail is strong enough to strangle a human being , but Tad doesn’t care about all that, he just wants his bananas.
5) Small thing to take note of, you can actually score brownie points when you’re overseas and do some pretty cool things when people find out what you do!
When I was in England in February, I visited London zoo and I spoke to their very own show presenter. When I told him that I work in a zoo too, he allowed me to come to the back of house and even go to carry this adorable madam Daphne!
Had to post the pic beacuse who doesn’t love a penguin?!
6) You appreciate animals more than you thought possible, for every little amazing thing that they do and are. And you will fill you phone storage up with their pictures!
And you have fun educating people about them!
Above: My mother is laughing because she’s so happy to be beside an owl! Far right is her sister, my aunt.