Monday, October 26, 2009

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers 10/26/2009

Happy Halloween!

Not all things that happen at Liberty Wildlife are about the sadness of injured, orphaned, or ill animals. There is always the joy of a release or the spark in a youngster’s eyes. And added to that, eventually we just get used to seeing humor in unusual ways. After you have seen enough animals shot, hit by cars, poisoned, or blown out of nests, you begin to groom and nourish an inner awareness of the lighter things around you.

For example, Jan Miller related a story to me the other day that is proof positive she has learned the finer art of seeing the lighter side of things. She was hand feeding one of the eagles … a training technique that is done daily to ensure that the raptor is habituated to the techniques involved in presenting the bird in an educational setting. Without getting too graphic, the handler/feeder sits in a chair in the enclosure with some delectable food item as closely related to the prey that the raptor would eat in the wild … in this case it was a piece of chicken. Part of the “fun” is watching the animal up close doing something that is so natural. What they do before diving into the flesh is pluck most of the feathers off and fling them with wild abandon. So now you have the setting.

Also in that feeding enclosure we have a “home” for our charismatic old desert tortoise, Grandpa, and he is allowed to lumber around inside to his heart’s content …. it’s a pretty slow pace, but it lets him check out his territory, find an occasional treat and get some exercise. He is interesting to watch as there is something almost prehistoric looking about his mannerisms.

What was funny is where the two collided. Here’s Apache plucking with wild abandon while Jan watches on. Lumbering along … head and neck all stretched out making a beeline for a treat in his path, comes Grandpa, and the perfect storm occurs. Apache flings a bunch of chicken feathers that land kerplop on Grandpa’s head and stick to it. Jan looks down in time to see him continue his lumbering like he is wearing a really bad comb over or someone else’s toupee.

It wasn’t until Jan starting laughing loudly that embarrassment took over and escape into the shell converted the feathered noggin into a vanished head.

Maybe eagle and tortoise were just teaming up to create a Halloween disguise, and the attempt at a scary look just didn’t work for them; comic costume isn’t very Halloween-ish … and, Pterodactyl Tortuga probably won’t catch on. We will just have to imagine the humor and be grateful for the moment of levity … for all too soon something not so funny will come along to take its place.

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