Last week we took in two sugar gliders. One was in poor health, he was sneezing and was severely dehydrated. His owner knew he was sick but was unable to take him to the vet. The other boy seemed to be doing okay.
We took the sick one to the vet and Dr. Card gave him and antibiotic to help him fight off his respiratory infection. She also gave him a good amount of IV fluids to try to get his system back on track. We gave him lots of good juicy fruits and veggies and watered down his delicious health food to keep him hydrated. Over the next 3-4 days he was so lethargic that I had to syringe feed him. Eventually he stopped taking in the food period and that night be passed. We are very upset that we lost him, he was very sweet and it would've been nice to get to know him better.
The older male is doing great! We've named him Kramer because he randomly spazzes out. I think it's because of his excitement over what he's doing. Most of the time it happens when he's eating his favorite foods, kingworms and banana! He is sneezing slightly but we're confident he'll clear up in no time. He's bright eyed and active and very spunky!
Kramer has just found his forever home though we will keep him until arrangements can be made in his new home. He would not work with the programs at Animal Wonders because he does not enjoy being handled and he will sometimes bite. Since we present our two sugar gliders, Gizmo and Nemo, with them free climbing on our bodies and sometimes ask a volunteer from the audience to join us, a sugar glider like Kramer would not be able to be presented. It's best to find him an appropriate home situation where he will be loved and spoiled. These are the stories that I like to share, not the ones like above, but the happy ones like Kramer!
Our biggest news lately is the addition of our very first intern! Mariah has been a big help around the animal compound and as she learns more the more she'll be of help! In return she received an amazing hands-on experience with exotic animals of all kinds. She hopes to be a vet one day, and she just might be helping pet birds, reptiles, and sugar gliders in the future. So by helping us with the animals, she learns how to help them. It's a win win situation.
It's one thing to teach a classroom full of students, or even a quick tour of the compound for a friend. It's a different kind of teaching with an intern. So far it's been great. As she learns how to take care of the animals we have her choose one animal a day and I teach her every single thing I know about that species in general and then individual characteristics. First we start with the scientific name and what they are related to, then we talk about native habitat and distribution. After the general species stuff we talk about what makes them unique and what adaptations are special to them and why. Then we delve into if they are considered acceptable pets and if they are, what is the appropriate housing and diet for them in captivity. After we discuss what makes a healthy animal, we also discuss what can make the animal sick. Following this, we run through the most common illnesses that happen in captivity and how to treat them and educate the owner about prevention. I also mention uncommon illnesses that could result from improper care or that possibly run in the genetic makeup of the species. And then we finally come to the individual animal's personality and behaviors, how to handle the animal, how to clean them, feed them, interact with them, give them behavioral enrichment, and how we present them to the public in our educational presentations.
I tell you what, it sure reminds me just how much information I have stuffed in this head of mine. No wonder I can't remember where I set my phone down or if I ate lunch yet. We hope to have many more interns in the future and are crossing our fingers that Mariah is forgiving of us as we use her as our "guinea pig".
The snow started coming down the evening of the 18th, but we didn't realize how heavy the snow would hit us on the 19th and 20th. It came down without stopping until we were 24" under! It was a beautiful sight to see as everything was a blank canvas shimmering with diamond dust. We rescheduled our show in Bigfork and called the snow plow guy hoping we might make it to our show on the 20th.
Augusto officially had his first ever "snow day"! It's rare when Montana schools actually declare a snow day, it takes quite an unusual occurrence. 24" in 40 hours is an unusual occurrence! We spent the day shoveling trails through the snow for the dogs to do there business, and for us to get to the horse and chickens to feed and make sure they were still alright. Sometimes it's not so bad to work really hard when it's a new and exciting experience. Though today I may beg to differ. My entire body aches with overuse. But to that I say, "if you work through the muscle pain, it usually goes away after a few minutes." So today I shoveled the stairs and started clearing an area near the house that may be the site for another animal enclosure. It seems silly to plan and build a structure in the winter -- especially after a dump of two feet and now rain on top -- but sometimes you just have to be silly.
The snow plower didn't arrive on the 19th, so we waited anxiously for him to arrive early on the 20th so we could make it to our show at 3pm. 1pm came and went and no sign of the plow. We had to make the call that would disappoint the many senior citizens who were so looking forward to the animals. But so goes it in our wonderful state of Montana, where Mother Nature loves to flex her muscles.
Now the 21st we are doubting the arrival of our trusty snow plower and have begun making calls to others that may be up to the job. Our driveway is not a mere 20 feet to the sidewalk and paved road. We have a mighty hill of a near 1/4 mile; excellent for sledding, but quite difficult for the inexperienced plower. With the 35 degree temperature and the slight drizzle on top, the snow is heavier than ever and still a good 16 inches of thick pack. We're hoping for a life line to be thrown. Augusto has now had his share of snow days and we're ready to get on with it. Considering it's only the driveway that is trapping us in, past that a nice plowed road with a mere 4 inches, it's enough to make you get a nice dose of cabin fever.
Luckily the animals (besides the dogs and horse) have no idea of the struggles outside and are quite enjoying there regular routine.
Oh, and there's supposed to be a snow storm blowing in today....
Our local news station KPAX surprised us at our latest presentation at the Montana Natural History Center. We were setting up and the MNHC Program Coordinator said "Hi guys...meet the news." As the room filled up it was easy to ignore the camerawoman with her big gold camera. We had nearly 80 people packet into the large room at the History Center, which left only standing room for the latecomers.
Our theme was "Survival!", and it was well received, if not a bit over the heads of the youngest in the crowd. Survival and Environmental Change is one of our school programs and we were testing it out on the ever so enthusiastic MNHC members. Excellent program...for 2nd-8th graders. My favorite part was the activity at the end where we compare photos of different animals and ask the audience to choose which one is more likely to survive. Lots of fun!
We'll have another public presentation at the MNHC in the spring. Don't miss it!
The animals and us just had an amazing time with photographer Kurt Wilson. His work can frequently be seen in the Missoulian newspaper and Missoula.com Magazine. In conjunction with an interview for a feature in a magazine he wanted to photograph the animals and try to capture their unique personalities. This is easier said than done!
It takes patience and skill to get just the right shot of an animal that has a mind of it's own. Many times it seems like they can sense just what you want and play "hard to get" until just a split second of perfection. Kurt was patient and understanding and we can't wait to see what he's going to come out with. A few of the sneak peeks we got seem to point in the direction of pure brilliance.
For a few of the animals we were prepared for a handful. It seemed like each one we thought would be active or shy, decided instead to be quite willing to pose. Gonzo, the toucanette, was being worked in front of a stranger for the first time. We were expecting some nerves and suspicion coming from him. Instead, we watched him size up the situation and own it. He wasn't afraid or nervous, he was self confident, curious, and asserted his personality.
We were expecting unrestrained curiosity, enthusiasm, and energy from Seraphina the red fox. Though after the first few minutes, she completely mellowed and calmly observed the situation, the man with the camera, the light, and listened to most of her training cue.
We are eagerly awaiting the results and will share them with you as soon as we get them!
We had a fun-filled adventure last month when we were invited to give presentations at West Yellowstone School. We generally like to stick closer to home, a 2 hour drive is our normal max, but we decided to make an exception this time. The school is quite rural and doesn't see many presenters come their way. We scheduled presentations throughout the day to accommodate k-12th grades. We'd never done that great of a span in ages all in one day before, but we were up for the challenge.
We started off with the little tikes, k & 1st graders, and had a great response from not only the students, but the faculty and school staff as well. Now came the true test, 7-12 graders were filing into the bleachers and we were working hard to transition from 6 year olds to teenagers. The response was encouraging and Augusto and I were having fun branching out into areas rarely discussed in elementary school programs. We're looking forward to visiting more high schools and hope that we can create some buzz about live animal presentations are not just for elementary students, these lessons reach and relate to all age groups.
We spent our mini lunch break having an interview with Kip Sikora of West Yellowstone Newspaper, here's the link to the article, and then delved into 2nd & 3rd, and followed up with 4th, 5th, & 6th. We packed up and started the journey back to Potomac on ice and snow covered roads. Though the trip was rather quiet as our voices recovered from the day's presentations, we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery. The animals were happy to