Thursday, April 07, 2011

Real Zoo #2: Volunteer's First Day

My old zoo group has responded so enthusiastically that I have enough material to fill the blog with nothing else for a while. I will restrain myself, but at least start with some of this irresistible material from Other Steve, who last gave us The Law, and a bit from me about what animal I worked with actually turned out to be dangerous. OS:

First Day / Last Day

“Excuse me, you’re the new volunteer, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m Monica.”

“I’m Steve. Has Richard mentioned that you shouldn’t stick your hand in the gibbon cage?”

“Yes, but I felt so bad for them having to be in this small cage in the rotunda all winter, I thought I’d give Shyly a little scratch on his back.”

“I know, it’s really tempting, but it can be very dangerous. Maybe, you’d better…”

“But he really seems to like it.”

“I’m sure he does, but Lady is his mate and, believe me, she’ll get very jealous. Gibbons have very long canines and…”

“I know, but I really feel that I’ve developed a special bond with them. Maybe it’s just that nobody else understands……”


“I’ll take you to the hospital, Monica.”

(Notes back from me to the group on that memorable gibbon:

"Shyly, jeez. He fell in the lagoon once and Eric D and I jumped in. We were not fools (and pretty strong). We each grabbed a hand and stretched him between us to throw him back on the island.

"And he began without much effort to sort of close his hands and draw us together like somebody working out on a bowflex machine.

"Teeth bared. Grinning.

"We got him on the island, barely. And decided maybe next time we should let him drown or at least go under twice first. I mean, I'm not that big-- but ERIC? [who weighed about 300 pounds]

"I had to clean his island at the end of my night shift (in waders with a fire hose) and he was always waiting. Really the only evil thing there but for [night guard] Julian’s “they put my daughter in the hospital!” dogs. The leopards were more like mindless little velociraptors, and Emily [kinkajou/ lycanthrope] mentally ill-- Shyly was smart enough to know he was in prison and hate his jailers. Working with him was like being a guard in Walpole [State Prison].")


Chas S. Clifton said...

"Shyly was smart enough to know he was in prison and hate his jailers. "

Someone has to say it: This is why I don't go to zoos anymore. Can't stand to look at big cats and primates in cages.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Chas S. Clifton, in the best-of-all-possible worlds, there would be no need for zoos(this from a zookeeper). Better zoos don't have CAGES anymore, of course, but more natural(if limited) habitat-type enclosures. Many animals in zoos are also RESCUES, who would have no life at all, if zoos were not around to take them in. Born in captivity and knowing nothing else, their every need taken care of by dedicated staff, zoo life is not so bad for many critters. When you think about it, most modern humans live like zoo animals--they rarely venture beyond their little home plots except in vehicles which take them to other buildings and strictly limited spaces--not much free-roaming going on there, either(take it from an old-fashioned, dedicated tresspasser--roaming free is becoming increasingly illegal and difficult for ramblers like myself!). Also, the apalling IGNORANCE of the general public regarding wildlife and environmental issues grows more shocking with each passing decade--zoos are often the general publics' ONLY connection with these issues; issues that good zoos try very hard to relay. FREEDOM is BIG, no question, but most people sold out their freedom for regular meals, modern medical benefits, secure homes, and slothfullness long ago. Though zoo animals can't really choose(can most modern humans, either?), many would be as apalled and terrified if you turned them loose in the wilderness as would most modern humans!

Anonymous said...

....oops--forgot to initial the last response(L.B.)--but some examples; Chimps retired from laboratories where horrendous experiments are done to them, and they are kept in tiny cages, would gladly tell you that they are MUCH happier and better treated if they get into a good zoo or sanctuary--here at the N. C. zoo, we were able to give the famous(but abused) chimp astronaut Ham a final, happy retirement, where he at last had green grass to lay in, and trees to climb, and other chimps as pals who taught him how fun it was to fling poo at the humans! We also have rescued Polar Bears from a circus in Puerto Rico, of all places, where they had to perform in the tropical heat, after which they were confined in a tiny pen with a tarp for shade and no water....ask them now how they LOVE their ice cold swimming pool and air-conditioned quarters, and real meat diet!....Our Grizzlies were slated for euthanasia as problem bears in the Yellowstone area--now humans feed and cater to their every need--they are quite playful, cooperative, and seem very happy!....Our cougars are both rescues from the exotic pet trade--one was found locked in a dog kennel starving and abandoned, in a warehouse in Detroit--he would have been euthanized had we not taken him. Now he has a natural enclosure, with trees and logs and a rock wall to climb, as well as inside digs, toys to play with(he's quite the ball player!), occaisional foolish local wild critters to hunt like squirrels, possums and small birds that get in the enclosure to their sorrow--and FOOD, every day, twice a day--after almost starving to death, this is a BIG deal to him! He'd tell you he enjoys his life purty darn well, now, too. THOUSANDS of such stories regarding zoos--if you know the behind-the-scenes truth, good zoos aren't nearly so bad a life. There ARE BAD zoos, of course....L.B.