@ 2003 a Mary Messall Picture

 

 

Here's my journal of working at Northwest Trek cause I want to be able to remember what I've done 5 weeks from now, and I love telling these stories. 

 

Day 1 (Monday) (November 11th 2002)

Walked up to the main entrance gate at 7:20 in my black jeans and layers of green shirts (the uniform is black pants and the logo t-shirt and/or sweatshirt but I hadn’t been clothed properly at that point), wondering how I was going to get and hoping a person was going to be walking by the gate soon because I was feeling silly just standing there not being able to get in.  Once I got inside I found my way to the Wetlands area and up to a doorway where I saw light (this I found out was the kitchen where the animal diets are made and a lot of stuff is stored).  I was supposed to be meeting Dave but found a Jen instead, so I went ahead and introduced myself and started helping her though her morning feeding and cleaning of the critters in the wetlands area (this would be beavers, fishers, porcupines, raccoons, otters, wolverines and striped skunks). 

 

The wolverines were really suspicious of me and didn’t want to come inside to eat their food.  It helped when I hid behind the bathroom door and they thought I had disappeared – the new person might steal their food, even though the new person knows she would be suicidal to attempt such thing.  Too bad I couldn’t tell them I don’t eat meat ‘cause that might smooth over the whole food issue.  The otters were really cute and Jen was happy they didn’t have any issues eating with a new person in the room.  I guess their eating schedule is something that’s really being worked on. 

 

About halfway that routine, a call went out on the walkie-talkies wondering where I might be.  We were feeding otters at that point and after we finished, we walked back to the kitchen and I met Dave.  He was about to go down to feed and clean bears so I went with him to do that. 

 

A call goes out on the walkie-talkies that help is needed, the goats have escaped.  We hadn’t yet arrived at the bear enclosure.  This meant Dave and I ran from the Toro (little truck dealie we ride around in- like a golf cart but with a mini truck bead) which was in front of the bear enclosure to the Maintaince Barn where the baby goat and his mother were wondering around.  When we ran up there where four people, and that was enough to herd the goats back though the gate to the free range area where they really live.

 

Now I get to meet the bears.  Bears evoke a great sense of paranoia, which due reason; if they were to somehow get loose from all the bars and fences bad, bad thing could happen to people flesh.  They also poop a lot.  Of which I got to shovel up.  Trek has two ‘sets’ of bears – the black bears, a male and female, not related and the grizzles, a male and female, related – each ‘set’ has their own open area.  Both males had been given vasectomies way back when.  The bear routine is pretty basic, just long.  First you make sure the bears are secure in their dens, then you open the door to their yard, go out and clean up any piles of fecal material, hide their enrichment food (apple pieces, greens, orange pieces, corn ect, to help them pass the time by giving them something to forage for), check to make sure the electric fences are working and within a good voltage, then you go back out – locking everything behind you.  Let the bears out, make sure they can’t get back in, shovel up the piles of poop, hose down their dens, scrub them and rinse and finally dry the concrete.  Wet concrete surfaces apparently really ruin feet and that’s not good, so we squeegee the floor.  It’s fun.   Then we put down their dry food and at the end of the day we bring the bears back in.  There’s a little bell that we ring to let them know we want them to come back in. 

 

 

 

*

Each keeper has an area that they are accountable for, but everyone is a relief worker for each other in all the different areas (core animals and the free range area). 

 

Day 2 (Tuesday)

    - worked the free range area animals (bison, elk, moose, mountains goats and sand cranes, bighorn sheep were there but pretty much didn't care that we were) - gave out feed and counted all animals to be sure all were accounted for and healthy, Ed got attacked by female caribou while we were feeding them (they are kept separate from free range area because elk and caribou will fight....not good for the caribou) - she just walked up to him and reared up, fortunately he got out of hoof range and came away unscathed, but still trippy experience.

 ***********

 

            My second day on the job.  Had a bit of a hard time tracking down Ed, but found him in Quarantine after a while.  Sucks not having keys to the basic locks, have to wait for people to open them for you.  Was introduced to the coyotes and foxes who are kept back in Quarantine for the time being while their areas are being built out in the core area.  After that Ed and I filled up the feed buckets in the truck to take to the free range area and drove off.  The day consisted of driving around the free range area, counting the herds and what individuals had wondered off (elk, bison, big horned sheep, mountain goats and moose) and feeding those we came across.  Learned some of the personalities of the different animals out there, and some personalities of a few individuals as well.  There’s a young male moose that apparently has quite a temper, the bison are very big, the lead sheep is a very sweet female, and the elk seem to like posing.  Mostly I stayed in the truck, except when I helped put feed pellets down.  The bison had no fear of coming up and munching the pellets I had just put down, but they were the only ones.  It was kinda cool to be standing so close to them.  Most of them taller then me.

 

The Caribou were interesting that day as well – they are kept separate from the free range area during rut because   the elk find the presence of another antlered animal a threat (which they have during rut) and the caribou are no match for the elk in any which way.  Then they are kept back for birthing season I think because (if I remember correctly) it just gives the mothers and babies close bonding time otherwise (normally) the bonds are not very strong between the two.  However, as the story goes, I was sweeping out their feed troth and Ed was filling up the water bin, and the old female walks up to him from wherever she had been and just rears up on him like there was no tomorrow for him.  She’s walking forward trying to kick him in the head and he’s pressing up against her trying to keep out of hoof range until she finally just gives up or something.  It was maybe 30 seconds but so surreal.  None of the other caribou reacted at all, and after she gave up she just started at him for a little bit and then walked over to eat.  The rest of the day was very normal, riding around in the truck again over free range area keeping count of the animals and pouring out feed for them.

 

 

Day 3 (Wednesday)

Worked with Wendi today.  Today was a day of bears again, however, this time since bears are Wendi’s accountability area we did a little extra with them.  We weighted them.  This entailed running around finding the scale parts first.  The scale comprises a 200 pound steel bed which attached to the box that gives the reading.  Well the fun part about the bed is not the weight so much but the fact that the doors to the bear dens about 3 inches too close together to carry it flat on though.  It’s adorable.  And my hands hurt quite a bit about that afternoon. 

 

After letting the black bears out and cleaning out their dens we let them back in one at a time (they each have their own dens, griz and black – so four dens total).  Even at 200 pounds the black bears can’t be inside the den with the scale too long or it might be considered a toy after a while, with the gizzes it’s even more of an issue.  So what we had to do was bring the scale into say the male grizz’s den, bring in the female, open the door between their dens, get her to come over with treats, stand on the scale, take the reading really quickly and then get her back to her den and close the door.  We did this then with each bear, which meant maneuvering the scale four separate times. It was very interesting despite my hands.  I was bringing leather gloves by the next day.

 

Today there was a spay and neuter clinic of sorts for the little foxes.  Each were grabbed out of their holding units, brought inside, put under, shaved and....well, altered.  It was very interesting to see the neuters because the testical sacs are split and the sacs removed - kinda just like that.  I don't know the technical things done, I just observed from a little distance thinking there was very little blood involved.  Then it was my job to watch over them after they were done with the vet and put in their little recovery crates - got to help put them in, oooooh, so soft! It went well, no one looked to be in danger of not coming to.  There was one though who kept wanting to put his eye pushed up against the crate door, but because he was still very groggy, he wasn't aware that the eye was a little bugged out and not able to have the eyelid blink - so I had to poke at him on 3 or 4 occasions to rouse him enough to pull back a little. 

 

 

Day 5 (Friday)

Didn’t really do so much today.  Mostly it was pouring browse down for who ever to eat as we came across them.  Be driving along and see some bison, so we stop and pour some stuff for them to eat.  Although today the bison have worms and so we medicated their feed with something or other.  But the smell or taste was very unappealing I guess because they didn’t want it at all.  I suggested the makers should have used a disguising flavor to Bill and he said they already had – banana.  I don’t think bison are keen on banana.  But the birds didn't seem to mind.  So the birds are now worm free.  Which...is something.

 

Day 6

    Came in and learned how to do diets because there was no volunteer that day.    Was kind of a shock, walk in wondering what was up for the day and next thing I know I’m told I have to do diets for the day cause there’s no one else to do them.  Hah!  Ok.  So I’m clueless, but whatever.  It’s all explained very quickly to me and I have lots of questions, but I think I got the hang of it after a little bit.  It isn’t like it hard, just a lot to keep track of when you aren’t used to it at all.  It involves squishing and weighing out lots of ground horsemeat and chopping up carrots, corn, apples and oranges.  Oranges smell good.  And the nice part is that you get to stay inside, where it’s kinda warm and not as groody as the outside work can be.  Or when I do get all sticky, the sink is right there. 

 

This is the kind of kitchen where you open up the fridge and expect to find a frozen rabbit inside or thawing fish waiting to be cut up for bear treats.  Dead mice abound in various stages of frozen to room temp, and produce is ordered by the crate.

 

Day 7

    Cindy the elephant died, heard we might be burying her at Trek but not confirmed, we talked about what this might entail at break and lunch, joking and not believing this would really happen- a Cindy mound of sorts. 

 

Day 8

    big horned sheep with a really big mite problem was roped and brought up to quarantine to be treated and was stabled in the barn (I wasn't there for that though)- but helped grab him once he was in the barn so he could be given a dose of penicillin.

 

 

Day 9

    worked the first part of the day without the adults (they were in a meeting), but worked in wetlands feeding the animals and doing dishes mostly.  When I went up for break at 10am with one of the other interns and there was news of an elephant head delivered.  So about 10 of us went out to look and watch Cindy's head and front leg be buried in our campgrounds.  Very surreal experience. 

 

Helped give the male sheep another dose of penicillin. 

 

Day 10

    necropsy of male big horned sheep who died during the night - there was just such a mange problem that his entire immune system was fighting that and had nothing left to give for a common infection.  Thus he didn't pull thought, but at least he didn't have a long drawn out ordeal of suffering.  But so interesting.  I just like this kind of stuff - seeing how it all works and is put together, which is why I liked Human Anatomy so much (that and the class kicked ass all over the place) and all the other labs that had dissections in other classes.  I don't eat meat, but I don't mind cutting someone dead open (as long as it's still respectful).

 

Then I  was on public display today as well - the male grizz likes to dig, a lot.  So he had dug himself a nice big hole the night before, so four of us went out to shovel the dirt and rocks back in.  My ass got kicked by a wheelbarrow by the way.  It was funny at the time but also mighty humbling.  It's a fucking wheelbarrow!  But it was so unwieldy and the dirt and stones I was trying to wheel it over were being hugely uncooperative, it was kinda bad for me. 

 

Helped feed cats.  Helped clean out presentation and exhibit birds.

 

Day 11

One of the female lynx has a swollen hind foot, so the vet came over to look at her since she was there- I was working with Jenny so I was there when the vet looked at her.

 

Corralled sheep in today at about 9:30 and had a close encounter with a ram.  Then spent the rest of the day dragging them out of the shoot one by one to vaccinate them and trim their hooves (about 7 hours).  I spent it writing the records of what was done and finding out who each sheep was (they have a transponder id injected right under the skin).   

 

Day 12

Ran though yellow tape today with Wendi – roads were blocked off because several trees had to be felled before they fell themselves and caused great potential damage.  We had lots of fun with that. Several we ran though in the Toro and one we just ran though.  Chariots of Fire we were.

 

Shocked myself silly at the grizzly bear enclosure by grabbing the wrong part of the electric poles we position for extra safety and security. 5000V (low amps).  Wow baby - talk about warming up my insides all over. 

 

Coyotes were adorable today-  went over to talk to them while I was filling their dry up their dry food and they came in to watch and get attention.  Yappy yearling puppies =) 

 

Plus I got an additional key today!!!!!   (I'm such a geek about this)

 

Day 13

 Did wolves and bears with Wendi, plus coyotes and foxes. Lots of poop pickup today  

 

Day 14

Friday (because Thursday was Thanksgiving so no work for me!!!!) worked free range today with Bill.  Worked on the two sheep that we kept back in the pens – not as bad on the mite mange as we had first thought which was a great relief.  Both are still in the pens so they can be looked at again in 2 days time for progress and then will be released if mites have all cleared up. 

 

Heard the female lynx is much better today (as a side note only). 

 

Day 15

Did diets again today; ounces on ounces of ground horsemeat.

 

Helped string camouflage netting across the male cougars caged area so hopefully he feels more protected back there – we have some construction going on (building the fox and coyote enclosures) and he was freaking out.  We weren’t sure if he would freak out after we were done and he came in to see the new redecorations, but when he did come in he didn’t go nuts at all.  In fact I think he approved – he still growled as he ate.  But it was so cute, he catches the food though the links and then holds the food on his leg as he eats it.  Jenny hand fed him with tongs so she could do a visual check on him and he went along with it.  Very cute cougar, and then for once he decided to be in a good mood!  He went over and curled up to his favorite log and did cute faces at Jenny and me.   

 

I love watching these guys – they’re just so amazing to watch, especially when they’re in a good mood.  The female cougar is so sweet.  She’s more like a regular cat then any of the others; she likes to be talked to and noticed, and she loves to play.  Oh, and she purrs like no other cat I know.  She’s also special in that once you get to know her a little- she wants you to pet her, or at least some people.  Of course one has to be careful, that’s a given.  But she’s one you can scratch through the chain link as long as you watch where her head is. 

 

Day 17

Bears again – a drain maintenance crew came to suck up the crud from the bear drains.   The grizzlies thought that was utterly fascinating and watched the guy the entire time he was in their dens.  Of course it could have been more like, what's this guy doing messing around in our place like that.  But of course they came in like a dream because of it.

 

Ed and Dave called me over down at Quarantine, and when I came over they said they needed help with testing the beaver box that the two little beavers down there were going to travel in; will it fit the two beavers - “so we need you to climb in”.  I thought they were kidding and I starting laughing because the idea of  me climbing in this little metal box was just ludicrous right?  “Why are you laughing, we’re serious.” Uh huh.  They had completely straight faces this whole time.  I think they’re half kidding, half joking and they don’t really mean for me to climb in, but Dave starts to unscrew the door  and Ed offers me a bribe of apples and I decide to play along.  So I said ok (while still laughing).  Didn’t know if they would stop me or not.  So Dave opens the door and I crawl through – dimensions: 26 (height), (width) (breath), role over and tuck my feet in.  Dave closes the door.  They call Wendi over to help them lift it – make sure the 2x4 modifications will hold when lifted.  They of course threaten to go on break – I called them all liars.  After actually testing the wooden modifications – which worked perfectly – they let me out saying I had gone so way beyond the call of duty.  Very funny stuff.

 

Day 18

Bears.  Male grizz was very slow to come in.  Presentation birds all by myself.  Felt like I was getting to know what the hell I was doing around there by way of real semi-competence.

 

Shot off a shotgun today!!!  Shooter team practice - all keepers and some of the other staff are responsible for knowing how to load and shot a gun in the extreme case some animal (bears) get loose and need to be taken down.  I was there so I was given the chance to shot off a round of bird shot.

 

Day 19

Free range area with Bill – got to sit in on a meeting which was interesting but kinda slow at the same time.  I like working free range, it gives me a feeling of being more a part of what I'm doing.  It has to do with the no bars and somewhat wide open space.  Which is the entire point of the exhibit, I know - it works though.  You have to go find the animals and get out, feed them, worry more about what mood they're in today or whatnot.  But it's hard to teach that, so I stay in the truck a lot, especially if it has to be a quick stop to juggle who is going where to what food pile.  Politeness over food piles doesn't happen - which means sometime the same individual gets served food 2 or 3 times before they actually get it.  The bison are usually to be blamed for this.

 

Day 20

Went off with Ed to deliver beavers to the airport then went on in to the Seattle Aquarium to pick up about 40 frozen salmon.  Enter Quarantine at 7am, get to airport by 9:30am (we actually arrived much earlier).

 

Two beavers of ours (littermates) were placed with a zoo in Omaha, and everything finally worked out - thus today was the day they were packed up and shipped out.  Ed and I drove them to Sea-Tac and over to Air Cargo drop-off where Ed filled out lots of paperwork and we said goodbye.  Then off to Seattle Aquarium where we picked up our frozen (or mostly frozen) salmon.  They have a fish ladder set up with a salmon run coming in every year now, and after the fish spawn and die, they need to give away some of those fish - we need them, so we come and get them. 

 

After putting the fish in the truck, we were shown around to watch the river otters and sea otters and look at some of the Seattle Aquarium's setup inside.  It's was really cool.  Their river otter enclosure is really amazing - has a waterfall down into a pool with a rocky bottom and the viewer can see into the environment on 3 sides, but the otters have lots of places to go or curl up in.

Watched part of a photo shot with the foxes and one of the coyotes (Right Hip) for PR and whatever graphics are to be displayed at their exhibit.  That was neat. 

 

Got to leave early since I had to arrive at 7am for beaver readiness/loading.

 

Day 21

Free Range today and then helped chase coyotes back in.  That proved to be a challenge.  Left Shoulder didn’t want to come in, he wanted to play.  And he wanted to play with me – especially my long braid.  Oh he’s a hair coyote….bad puppy! 

 

Day 22

Worked with Dave in Wetlands – first time I’ve actually been shown around Wetlands by Dave.  But that was good for me, because the Wetlands area is his area and this allowed me to see more then I had previously when no one was sure how much I had seen or was allowed to see/do.  So I got to see how to clean out the badgers area and how to clean out the beavers pool once the pool has been drained.  Yuck.  The beaver pool gets drained once a week, because it would be ridiculous to clean it every day – too much water, too much time.  But see, beavers only eliminate when swimming, and by the end of the week, these three beavers they eliminate about 2-3 buckets full.  And this has to be sweep up and scooped up.  Ok so there’s nothing new about that – every animal has to be scooped up after and I’ve scooped up after them all except the bees, snakes and toad.  It’s a lot of poop. 

 

I wonder how much I’ve scooped since I’ve been here and how many tons of poop get scooped here at Trek each year.  Well, I suppose you would just have to look up how many pounds of food get eaten and there you go.  Although with birds, the hose does a good job of spraying it into bits and washing it away, other then that, it’s all hunted down and scooped.  It’s a skill too – finding poop.  Never thought it was one till I starting here.  But it took me the longest time to become proficient at finding it, now I don’t have any problems, but part of it is learning where the animals go and how they leave it – like the cats bury theirs or the bears usually go in certain areas, whatever.  If nothing else, I’ve gotten over my gag reflex for poop.

 

 Day 23

Cats and bears – got to help feed cats this time instead of just watching, so I’m very happy.  I was also happy to go home today because it was very cold and rainy and I was cold and wet by noon.  That's how it goes some days, that's what happens  when you work outside all day.  If you go by the motto, if you aren't wet and dirty by the end of the day you aren't working hard enough, I worked very hard today. 

 

Tested the perimeter fence for bears - it was windy last night, so we needed to check no branches or debris has fallen on the wires.  If there was any way for a bear to get out without getting zapped, the bear would be out.

 

Day 24 - 39

 

Trek has lots of stuff that's happened: like helping weighing bears (again) and cats, cutting antlers off the young male moose, taking down lots and lots of branches off fences (there were many wind storms after I got back from Kansas - took a week to go home to see family for Winter Solstice) and so many mornings were spent repairing damage and taking debris off fences so they would work, am driving a little stick shift cart-truck around alright now - relearning clutch isn't too hard, but there's some cornering on hills that's a little tricky for me yet.

 

Days are starting to blur together, what I do isn't as new anymore.  Still amazing to me yes, but not as novel.  Routine has started to really kick in - but in a good way, I know what I'm supposed to be doing and I know how to do it.  If I don't write what I did for a day then I'd have to go back of the daily logs to check.  But at the same time, if asked about what was done at some enclosure or with some animal I can probably tell you - at least for a given week. 

 

Out in Free Range Area driving the feeding truck around and Bill was off clearing debris off the fences.  Started the rounds, feeding sheep and bison, no sign of elk, goats or moose.  Rounded the first pasture (though the woods) and found the goats.  Stopped the truck to pour feed for the goats - was about 100 feet from the truck when the goats startled, so I looked around, and thundering over the hill in the road are all three female moose hell bend on doing me harm.  I book it back to the truck, throwing myself (and the bucket of feed) into the drivers seat.  Within seconds I have the truck started, in gear and about 500 yards down the road.  The moose don't follow me.  Relieved at being intact and leaving before the truck sustained any moose damages, I clean the front seat of feed pellets.  At lunch I relate the story - everyone laughs, having been there, just like I had been.  I've have now been initiated in the Free Range Area by the moose.

 

Day 40

First day of Volunteer Training. General History of Park, got to meet Doc Hellyer and hear stories of how Trek came to be and before the idea of Trek came to be, just life out by this lake and the delight of their first flushing toilet. 

 

So there will be these 'class' sessions every Saturday for 6 weeks to train the volunteers how to present bio-facts to park visitors or how to answer questions (with answers from the Block Manual which presents scientific facts about each species at the park).  The 3 interns are there as well even though we are Interns and not Volunteers; it's part of our Intern Experience if we so choose and I think it'll be worth it.  It's basic stuff, but there's still little stuff I didn't know - like the history of the park and what a phenomenal effort it took to bring this idea into what it is today.  I'm impressed - and honored to be able to be apart of it.  Plus being able to meet Doc and shake his hand and tell him what an amazing place this is and how happy I am to be working here as an intern was priceless.

 

Day 50

 

Trek is awesome as usual; a baby beaver was born on Monday (27th of Jan).  So cute.  It's a little plushy ball of fluff right now with a tiny tail about the size of my ring finger.  We all hover around the windows waiting for it to toddle around and then get ever so happy when it does.  Babies are just cute that way.

 

Day 53

 

Thursday (today) was the annual bison roundup: the coolest part was before the first bison ever went down the chute system:  10am: dim lighting, slightly misty air with a promise of rain to come, no cars going by on the road, everyone was hushed as we waited for the bison to start heading down the chute, 4 wolves start howling and the sound floats over the park down to Quarantine where we are, a crow caws three times as it alights on a bare branch, highlighting the quiet and the howling, and then the thunder of three bison slowly running down 100 yards of chute, slowly running past me.  It was a perfect moment.

I start to close my gate behind them and hear people running up behind the bison, in the chute, yelling to keep them moving, Ed (short, portly) comes trucking past me down the chute like the winds of Hades are blowing at his heals, waving arms randomly, hair sticking out wildly, completely outrunning the other two keeper who come up winded and stop; we all are laughing at the sight and memory of Ed running after the bison like that. 

My station is at the second gate the bison pass, so I stay there for most of the day - 16 bison are handled that day; the cows and the young ones.  No bulls, they would be too dangerous and destructive; as it is carpentry work is required after each group (3-5 animals) are bought through the chute system.  They are given inoculations and a general checkup.  One young cow panics and brakes off half of one of her horns, but the bleeding is stopped (reports are that she is doing well the next day and is recovered), one cow decides to turn her group back down the chute and for 5 minutes we battle the bison into going the correct way down the chute, they finally turn and move forward, all but one younger cow who turns in circles in a frenzy, almost passing out from fear.  She is finally calmed enough and moved forward. 

The rain starts around midday and those of us who didn't bring our raingear with us stand and endure the wet.  It's not too hard or cold so it is ignored.  There is a great sense of relief when the last bison runs back down the chute to Free Roaming area.  We gather up our supplies and go eat a very late lunch.

 

 

Day 56 (February 3rd 2003)

 

So today was an amazing day for me.  Started off with a reduced Animal Care Core area staff - and while that might have spelled a stress day, it didn't.  At all.  2 interns, 1 volunteer, 1 seasonalist, 1 Keeper - all female.  We were so good together; it was like choreography that we'd done many times before; knowing without the planning.  Efficient and lots of laughs - we got done right on time too, we were so good.  Plus the best part is...I got to howl with the wolves.

 

Jen and I went in to the wolf enclosure, I feed them their chunk meat, Jen filled up their dry kibble food feeder, we refilled their water and then after we locked up we went to the viewing deck to watch them - they love their chunk meat days, and they get a little riled up.  We Jen and I were watching and Beta (female) starts woofing - it's a whole body kind of woof they do, not like a dogs, it's deeper, more focused.  I'd never seen them woof before and thought that was amazingly cool; so we waited; Jen thought they might start woofing more and she did.  The woofs started becoming more strung together and after a minute of this, one of the woofs ended in a short howl.  Oh wow, we were so psyched; we were trying to make as little noise as possible and hoping, hoping that this would turn into a real pack howl.  So she starts woofing and doing little howls and then this long, prolonged howl - so amazing,.  Jen and I start howling too, hoping to get her going and the rest as well.  Alfa female, Alfa male and Omega give us this look of 'what are you doing'.  (there's 4 wolves btw, 1 male and 3 female, all littermates)  Then Alfa female starts to howl as well.  Alfa male is staring at us, then as if finally realizing she's howling, looks over at Alfa female like 'oh, right, I should start howling too'; so he does.  Then Omega joins in.  She has a very high pitched howl; sounds like the whine on a radio that's been turned on with no station coming in.  Jen and I hear the engine of what might be a hydroponic plane and realize that's what set them off.   All 6 of us are howling for 5 minutes, and Jenny comes over on the radio and asks if we are still by wolves: yes.  A pause: you two are the other two voices right?.  'yes'.  'just checking'.  We crack up.  Go back to howling.  After another 3-4 minutes the howling tapers off to woofs again and they gradually start to mill around.  We hang around to make sure the session is over; we don't want them to think we're snubbing them - another reason we were howling with them besides the fact that it was the coolest thing ever.  It's over.  We say goodbye and head over to join Jenny at bobcats.  We hear them howl 3 more times in the next hour.

 

Day 58

Male lynx had a knockdown followed by a vasectomy - I got to watch. And feel his paw - I was working to be sure, in charge of writing stuff down like Heart Rate and drugs used ect.  Oh, but his paw!!!!!  wow, and I thought the red foxes were soft and plush.  Compared, the foxes were like rough, course moose hide.

 

 

Day 65 (February the 15th 2003)

Well, today was my last day as an Intern at Trek.  It was spent in the last day of Volunteer Training - with a potluck for lunch.  So much yummy food.  Good day for last days really.  I have an interview on Thursday for a Naturalist position there and then I'm gonna turn in an application for a Seasonalist position there as well.   Hugged people goodbye, and there was lots of 'it's really your last day?  But your gonna be coming back around right?'.  Kinda sad, but I think it was the right decision to make.  I need to either start a paying position there or someplace else.  It's one of the best experiences of my life and 15 weeks I'll treasure forever.

 

So  my last week at Trek was fairly normal - spent a day cleaning crates and the rooms down at Quarantine where the otters lived in for a week while their new exhibit windows were being installed and the sealant cured. 

 

Spent the day helping Jenny with Cats - the second time I brought the two Cougars in and/or switched them for their midday meal.  Technically the male's second portion and the female's one meal of the day.  He gets 2 meals of 24 ounces of meat, warmed with some Probios in there because he has some digestion problems and this prevents (hopefully) his getting sick with that.  The female gets 45 oz of meat.  The switch is they go into their den, the gate is closed, I slide their pan with food into their enclosure and then open the gate back up.  Both are really comfortable with me doing this and they know the routine and do it when I ask them too.  Very cool of them.

 

Wolves were very cool the past 2 weeks.  Coming very close when I feed, within 3 feet, and I'm not feeding them meat either, it's just their dry kibble - still keeping their distance, but very  comfortable with my presence.  At least this is what I assume.  They study me closely; watching me but not running around.  I'm not sure how to describe it well enough - it's like they want to ask me questions now instead of freaking out.  There is no freak out now on their part. 

 

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