We took in a new bird today. An itty bitty little Pacific Parrotlet. He is going by the name Sunny because of his bright and cheery personality. He's been talking and chirping to us since we all got home.
Sunny came from a private owner who got him for their son. They said they were his third home and that they knew he wasn't in the best health but wanted to do everything they could to make him better. They tried for an year to get him on a healthy diet and soon discovered that he had deeper issues than malnutrition. His beak had to be trimmed every few months due to overgrowth. They finally decided that Sunny needed more help than they could give him. They contacted Animal Wonders and asked if we could help their little friend.
Sunny has been groomed, trimmed, filed, and set up. He will receive a shower tomorrow followed by more grooming and hopefully the transition to a completely pelleted diet will begin. He will take a trip to the vet and we will discuss the reason for the dark coloration in the quick of his beak. There's a possibility of bacterial or fungal infection, if that's the case we would need to deal with that asap. The other possibility is poor breeding, maybe inbreeding. His beak is not shaped properly, but that could be nutritional. Whatever is wrong with him, we will do our best to get him back on the right path!
I wanted to do a bit on Sherman the African pygmy hedgehog. A few days ago we got an email from Sherman's original owner who gave him to Animal Wonders because she realized that with her changing life she just couldn't give him the home he needed anymore. It's been almost three years! Sherman has been an amazing Animal Ambassador and has touched hundreds of lives with his antics on stage. He's such a happy-go-lucky hedgehog and doesn't mind loud audiences or being handled. He was obviously loved when he was young and we've had the privilege of being able to work with him these last few years.
Sherman is getting on in years. He's almost 6 years old! That is really old for a hedgehog, many only live 4-5 years while others can live around 7. Hedgehogs are insectivores and they have a very high metabolism, meaning they need to eat a lot because they digest their food very fast. Sherman is showing signs of his old; he developed a cataract on his left eye a few months ago and is almost completely blind on that side. A few weeks ago his right eye started to develop a cataract as well. Hedgehogs do not have very good eyesight normally, so Sherman is comfortable using his excellent sense of smell to get around and find his food. Recently Sherman's old man legs have become a bit wobbly. He now eats out of a short food dish and all of his food is wetted down for easier munching. We're happy to accommodate Sherman's needs and we still love to watch him grab up a large kingworm and crunch it down, with surprising agility!
We will continue to provide Sherman with all the comforts he so deeply deserves until he crosses over the rainbow bridge. Until then, we will enjoy his endearing personality and share him with the audiences of Montana.
Sherman in 2010. Politely enduring a holiday photo shoot.
The wildfire just east of Missoula has been burning for two days and the smoke is blowing down the eastern airstream toward Potomac. Luckily Animal Wonders is not in the direct path of the airstream so we have avoided most of the smoke. The birds are doing just fine and we can even let them enjoy the breeze and go outside for bits. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we can avoid any smoke or fire related emergencies this dry summer/fall.
We had a great time at Pet Fest!! We were non-stop busy the whole day as animal and pet lovers joined in to celebrate the animals we love to love. Pepper, the Patagonian cavy, was a star as everyone wanted to get a closer look at what the strange looking animal was! Next time we bring Pepper to a large event, I will have to get myself a sign to wear stating "Patagonian Cavy >>" so I won't have to repeat myself till my throat goes horse! It's great to expose Montanans to new species of animals and teach them what makes a good pet... and what does not. In my opinion, a Patagonian cavy would not make a very good pet for the average person. On the other hand, Freia the dumbo rat would make an amazing pet and I think most animal loving children should start out with a rat for their first pet. Freia charmed her way into the good graces of many visitors at Pet Fest, so did Sandy the sand boa. Even those that said they were not fans of snakes eventually overcame their fears and gave into their curiosity and extended a finger to touch Sandy's smooth cool scales.
I would like to extend a hearty Thank You to Marketplace Media for donating our booth this year! We loved Pet Fest and hope to be able to enrich the Missoula community in the future as well. Thank you Megan and Linda Baumann!!!
I find myself talking about and giving updates on the newest Animal Ambassadors quite often. I've realized that I need to highlight some of the old true blue Ambassadors much more than I have. So today I'm going to talk about Zoe, the red lored Amazon parrot.
She has been with Animal Wonders since it's inception. Augusto and I decided to start Animal Wonders when we still lived in California. It was 2007 when the decision was made, we were moving back to my hometown of Potomac and we were going to pursue our dream of bringing animal education to western Montana. It was a long shot, but we both felt that it was just going to work out, some way some how. We already had a house full of rescued animals, about 10-20, I can't recall exactly. We were both working at animal facilities full time and educating crowds of Californians about the wonders of wildlife and nature. What was missing was being able to rescue more displaced exotic animals. This was a big driving factor in our decision to start our own organization. So many educational outreaches use exotic animals, purchase those animals from breeders. We wanted to take in and house the displaced animals that had fallen victim to impulse buys and other sad stories. So that's when we really started to open our home to the displaced souls of the amazing Ambassadors to be!
Zoe came to us a few months before we made the move to MT. She was purchased by a woman who already owned a large macaw, whom she loved. When she saw baby Zoe, she couldn't resist. She brought her home and intended to love her, unfortunately the macaw became aggressive with jealousy. Instead of making the arrangements to satisfy the birds, she decided she just couldn't keep Zoe. She was trying to sell Zoe on Craigslist for a drastically reduced price and Animal Wonders was worried that Zoe would end up in a home that didn't truly love her, they just thought she was a good deal. After hearing what Zoe would become if she came to live at Animal Wonders, the woman was happy to send her on her way. Zoe was distraught that her "mother" was no longer around, she pined for her and resisted bonding with Augusto and I. But after several weeks she learned how to cope with her new surroundings and started to settle in. She learned to eat a balanced diet and even enjoyed trying new foods! She also was quick to pick up on the training game. She learned her first few behaviors in just a few days. This is when she learned to shake her head "no" and how to fall backward when "shot" with a fake gun. She also started learning other subtle things, like: stepping up, playing with toys, climbing a rope, what no means, listening, crating, touching and clipping wings and toes, and all around communication with a human. She was perfect.
A few months later, Zoe was joined in the bird area by Chongo, a lilac crowned Amazon parrot. He was completely different than Zoe, but he took to her like gum to the bottom of a table. Zoe was content to have human interaction and was indifferent to Chongo, but she tolerated him sleeping on the perch closest to her enclosure at night. Since then they have formed a friendship and enjoy each others company, from a safe distance.
Zoe absolutely loves going out to presentations! We were worried that she might be overwhelmed at first, but she was a shining start. She reveled in the spotlight and hammed it up whenever the audience laughed, cooed, and clapped at her fun and interesting behaviors. She has been a constant entertainer and educator since Animal Wonders very first show. Thank you Zoe for being as wonderful as you are. I'm looking forward to spending the next 50+ years in your company.
We had a great weekend visiting the Riverfest in Hamilton and Community at the Confluence in Milltown. Both events are built around showing appreciation for our Rivers and the environments surrounding them. The Bitterroot, Clark Fork, and Blackfoot Rivers have always been a large part of Western Montanans culture. Who hasn't floated the river in a tube on a lazy Sunday, or felt the adrenaline of white-water rafting, or gone fishing to enjoy the wonder of the river and her fish. I grew up with the Rivers. I learned respect for their awesome power, the beauty of their curving bends, the appreciation of the environment and the animals in between and around their banks.
The Animal Ambassadors did their part to help inspire appreciation and understanding for the native animals that live near the Rivers. Seraphina, the red fox, did a perfect demonstration of what makes foxes so unique and important for our native Montana environment. She is growing fast, and at almost 5 months old she is looking the part of a beautiful vixen. She no longer has her fluffy brown baby fur and big adoring eyes. She has sleek red fur, a large bushy tail, a long pointed nose, and keen hazel eyes that pick up every movement around her. She digs and pounces showing off her natural abilities to hunt while displaying her extra large ears that nothing can evade. Seraphina has become an Ambassador for her wild cousins and
Cas took another trip to the vet today. Don't worry, he's in perfect health. He went to get his booster shots and also to get neutered. It's important to neuter a fox unless you plan on breeding them. Since we have a red fox and an Arctic fox living together it would be dangerous to have them mature with their hormones intact. Seraphina, red fox, would be territorial and aggressive when she would come into heat and she could hurt Cas. Castiel had started showing signs of his testosterone coming in so it was time to get him neutered.
Spaying and neutering a fox does not prevent them from spraying to mark their territory, and their urine smells very musky like a skunk. But it does reduce their territorial tendencies so that they will live together in harmony past maturity. Cas and Seraphina are best buddies and play, lounge, run, dig, and cache together and from each other all day long.