For us, the first day of school isn't about new backpacks, cool new clothes or shoes, folders, pencils, well, ya know. Our first day of school is about, what wild animal teachers will travel with us? What will they need? And how will they travel, will they like to go to school? How will they want us to make it fun for them? Our first day back was fun, seeing old buddies and new ones too! One of the things that I am responsible to do is bring the animals into and out of the school and keep the animals happy and comfortable. Liz (our baby baboon) and I were coming into Aboite Elementary our first day and there were some ladies in the hallway. Liz seemed ok about it, they all thought that she was cute, she is and she knows it. One of the ladies asked "Do you train them?" I guess she meant the animals or Liz or I dont know, all I could say is that they train us, and they do. Larry the animal guy has done this job 30 years and he is a crazy guy. Me I have only helped him for 13 years, this year will be 14 and I am a rookie compared to him. When I started helping Larry our wild animal teachers were seasoned pros..Chuck our 4 year old mountain lion, Leon the amazing 6 year old "tame" badger and of course Dolly the hamydras baboon, and she was an adult. She had already met Oprah and Matt Lauer. Now remember I was a barber and to become a barber you attend college-classes, tests, instruction and hands on training. The only training I received was the first day-first school was the Animal Guy says "When I finish talking about the lizards tail, you come out and grab that badger, he will hiss and growl at you but just grab him anyway". And out of the truck Larry went and there I sat , not a clue! So I turn around to these amazing teaching pros and ask, "OK guys show me what to do" and they did. I have been receiving lessons from them every day and I am still learning. So wish me well I have two new animal teachers this year. The first animal teachers that I worked with have passed now but I will always be grateful for the training that I received from them, without it I would still have no clue or maybe the human animals that I met at the barber shop helped to get me used to the real wild ones.....animals that is.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
More than a few times the animal guy and I have people say "I want to do what you do". We smile and encourage their love for the animals and nature, but usually they have just watched our program. Now we get the opposite too "No way I would do what you do- have you ever gotten hurt? That we hear a lot more if it is the rattlesnake program they have just breathlessly enjoyed! Our job our career is not just the shows, we dedicate our lives to these animals. Do you enjoy vacations, shopping sprees, fancy clothes...forget about it! On Saturday Larry had a Bigfoot program in Martinsville, Indiana and after our evening chores of feeding, washing baby bottles and baby bedding, cleaning cages finally about 8:30 - 9:00 PM it's finally our turn to eat and end our Saturday. Lar had stepped out to get Bailey our african serval cat and bring her inside for her dinner. The a cry of a freaked dog came from the front - it is Chloe our wolf and she had gotten her head stuck in the front gate. She is freaking so out I go without a thought but to help her.It was impossible the gate was so tight I couldn't get the lock out and the more I tried the more she seemed to freak out! I'm trying to free her when I feel Blake the male wolf fill his mouth with my bum. I realize that Blake is attacking me.Next flash he is on my shoulder, arm and all. I in surprise yell to Larry , who cannot come thru the back fence fast enough"Blake is attacking me and I cannot help Chloe!". I turn tail and run to the house- about that time the animal guy was in the fence and the wolf and he had their discussion man to man or wolf to wolf man, not what was planned on a Saturday nite or any nite! My rear hurt my arm was bleeding and I was glad that I had baggy pants on.By the way Chloe got her head out and ran right into the house and under our bed. She wanted no part of the animal guy's discipline. He had gotten grazed in the face and he was not a happy camper, do you still want to do what we do? Things happen around wild animals so if it is not to bad we have learned how to doctor bites and scratches but when I took my shirt off and some of me came off onto the sink I thought "That this is goin to leave a mark", and my bum hurt too!!Blood on the back, shoulder and bum...two bites. Blake thought I was why Chloe was crying, she was freaking and I am there and fierce loyalty to his wolf friend made him take me off of her, once I let go or was away from her he did not try to strike again. Kinda like , hey get away from her and to bite is the way he knew to get that done. How loyal the wolf is and I have to respect him for that. That is a powerful lesson to me. Some people would say "Get rid of him!'' "Put him to sleep!" "Kill him!", he put you in the hospital, "he has gotta go!" That is not our way, he was being a wolf, and that is loyal. So 8 stitches, 3 inside and 5 outside, canine holes in my rear and some good pressure bruises on both bites and boy does it hurt, not the stitches but the bruised and bitten rear end....ouchie-ouchie. The nurses and doc at the Putnum County emergency room were great. They knew the animal guy and one of the nurses had seen him when she was in grade school (man he is old....just kiddin'). Several nurses came in to check out the wolf bite, I guess they do not see that every day. By the way the tetanus shot hurt too so both arms are sore from needle shots, stitches, bruises and wolf bites , glamorous job huh? So you still want to do what we do?.........
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wonderlab Science Museum in Bloomington, Indiana was a real cool place to do our show. They called it "Leapin Lemurs" a live primate presentation and of course Betty our ringtail lemur was with us and as a special treat Elizabeth the baboon, as we find now stole the show and the hearts of all the folks and kids that attended that day. I believe she enjoys being a science teacher!!!! Between the program the Animal Guy and I looked around and it was very educational. We saw a caterpillar becoming a cocoon and the cocoon then re-emerging to become a amazing Monarch Butterfly. I have never seen the stages of metamorphosis in progress and it was very cool. It is fun to learn new things or see new things and the Bloomington Wonderlab is just that kind of learning place.