When you tell someone you work with exotic animals you get a range of reactions. From, could care less to "you're absolutely crazy". The one I've heard the most is, "You're living my dream". This one always makes me smile because I sure know what they mean. I'm living my own dream.... every single day. I mean that each day is another gift given to me to share and improve the lives of these amazing animals. But it always means that I get to care and clean for them.... every single day. You never get a day off. No weekends, no "thank goodness it's Friday", no stress free vacations. I think the closest someone could come to understanding the commitment it takes to "live the dream" is to be a parent, of 70 children.
We cook, clean, bathe, change bedding, clip nails, feed, soothe, medicate, teach, play, set rules, socialize, and love each and every one of these animals like a parent. But you can't take these children to the store with you, or to the park, or even to your friend's house. So when someone tells me, I'm living their dream, I smile and think to myself, "the reality of what I do would probably be closer to a nightmare to you". To me though, it really is my dream and I honestly cannot imagine what I would do with myself if I didn't have the opportunity to give these animals all that I have. And I'm so gosh darn lucky to be able to do it with my amazing husband, Augusto.
p.s. The photo is courtesy of Dan Newton who was crazy enough to be interested in entering our bizarre and slightly overwhelming home to do a photo documentary on our daily lives. Thank you Dan!
I realized that it has been over a month since I put an update on goings on around here. Things are quite busy to say the least. We have been out and about a lot these last two months with many community events. It's the perfect time of year in Missoula to hold outdoor community events like PetFest, River City Roots Festival, and RiverFest. We also just teamed up with the newest addition to Missoula, the Family Life Expo. Along with the community events we have been keeping very busy with summer camps and birthday parties. We are always sad when summer comes to an end because it means we must say farewell to our camp kiddos. Now that school has started again we hope to see those familiar faces in the classrooms around town. We already have schools calling to book presentations! Which makes us extremely happy that the animals are winning the hearts of our fellow Montanans. More and more we are meeting people who have seen at least one of our presentations or have visited our booth at open events. We've even had people recognize Augusto and I while we're out to dinner. Which is surprising! And a bit awkward.
Alright back to animal talk. We have taken in several new animals over the last few months. The first two came on the same day. Sprinkles the Pacific Parrotlet. He was dropped off at our local pet store (Pet Nebula) who takes in rescue animals. She called us up and told us that she just didn't have the time to take in another bird, especially one that plucked its feathers. So we stopped in and I poked my finger into his cage and he jumped right on! I said, "we'll take him!" As soon as we got him switched onto a healthy diet (which only too 3 days) he started molting and growing in new feathers. He shows no sign of ever plucking now and we've only had him since July. I will need to get a picture of what he looks like now, he's very handsome.
Rox the Meyer's Parrot. Rox was put on Craigslist and I responded letting the owner know we were here if they needed help finding a home for their bird. A few days later she called and asked a bit about Animal Wonders and then said she wanted her bird to go to us. We picked him up the same day we got Sprinkles. Rox was a bit unsure in the beginning, but after a few days she started to settle in. She is constantly begging for pets on her head and will even show you how it's done by using her leg and rubbing head feathers to make her point very clear. She is a darling and she has already become an Ambassador because of her wonderful personality. She does have a limp to her right leg and she is very much a people bird and does not like the company of other birds in her enclosure. I hope one day to find a bird companion for her, until then she will be solitary in her enclosure but that doesn't mean she isn't part of the flock that sings, screams, and whistles with her every day.
Twirly, the veiled Chameleon. Twirly is just a temporary name until we can come up with a better one that suits him or her. He is just a wee baby right now but he's very spunky and is eating well. He came from Pet Nebula as well and he just wasn't quite right and she was afraid to put him into a home that wouldn't give him extra tlc. She called us and told us that he would sometimes go down to the ground and roll in circles and couldn't seem to get his balance. Hence the name "Twirly".
Maui, Cinnamon Green Cheek Conure. Another Pet Nebula call came into us (boy are they really filling our space up!) and said they had a wonderful little girl dropped off by an owner who just couldn't give her the time and attention that she DEMANDED! And I do mean demanded. She just wants so much love that I can see how it might be overwhelming for a common pet owner. We immediately found her a bird friend, one of our young halfmoon conures, and they became buddies immediately. They are now inseparable. Maui is such a sweetheart that we can't wait to get her into the public eye and into the hands of our youngest audiences. She is going to be perfect for our preschool programs because of her incredibly gentle demeanor.
That's all for now! I need to update on a few of our ill animals and what we have been doing for them medically, but there are quite a few hungry mouths to feed and I don't want to keep them waiting.