We had a sweet Valentine's Day at Animal Wonders. It was our last trip to Choteau, MT for our 5 week Resident Wildlife Educator Program at the New Rockport School. We reviewed what we had learned in the last 2 months and finished off the program with talking about Survival and Environmental Change. It was a heavy topic for the Love Holiday, but we ended the day presenting Quigley the Brush-Tailed Bettong. This little guy looks like a miniature kangaroo (possibly a bit like a large rat as well) and has a sad story. Brush-Tailed Bettongs are critically endangered and are in dire need of help from humans to save them from going extinct. Since humans were the ones that messed up their ecosystem in the first place we kind of owe it to them to help out. How does Quigley relate to Valentine's Day? Well, Quigley has a love story of his own.
In the last few months we have been watching Quigley interacting with his girlfriend Babette in a dance of Bettong courtship. At least that's what we're calling it! Quigley followed Babette around relentlessly until she stops moving away (and you know what happens next....). This was in Dec. 2011 and 2 weeks ago we saw Babette smelling and licking her pouch area. She has been doing that every few days since. Today we saw her laying on her back and licking her pouch. Not every Bettong behaves the exact same way, so we are hoping that Babette is exhibiting her own signs of possibly preparing for her very own joey! So, even though the students at New Rockport don't know the details, Quigley has a lot to do with the Love Holiday!
We will definitely miss all the students. We got so used to seeing them every Tuesday that it will strange not making the 3 hour drive in the early morning watching the sun rise high in the sky, and then back again watching the sun set. We will savor this last trip through the whole rest of the week, and not just in memory, we will be munching our way through a basket full of V-Day sweets and a beautiful heart shaped chocolate cake!!