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".