Well, I am officially in SOUTH AFRICA!!
I arrived stress free (GO DAD). We were met at the airport by one of the founders of the project and he gave us a briefing of Care for Wild.
Weird things in SA:
1. They drive opposite of the US so twice I freaked out. Once when I thought our driver was asleep (He was the passenger) and I saw a little girl driving….but she was the passenger too. Whoops.
2. There are guys at the grocery store who you are supposed to tip to help you back your car up….uhm WHUT.
3. They sell dry milk…that can stay good for like months. SKETCHY.
4. Sleeping in is called a “Lye in” and tape is called press stick
5. A hot shower here is about as likely as finding a tiger in Africa.
So continuing, I arrived at a time of intermittent chaos — we are currently in the process of moving all the animals to a new location with more space and cabins for the volunteers instead of the castle we live in right now (which was built by some weird guy who thought there would be a nuclear war and made the castle as a bunker) There will be pictures of the castle below! So I unpacked my stuff and had to repack it Thursday to move on Monday AND they took our bed frames so we have slept on mattresses on the ground every night. So yes, chaos is the word. [Steph you would be FREAKING OUT!!]
So I am on the cat team! We take care of
- Phoebe the baby bottle-fed serval
- Ozi and Oi the baby mongooses (OZI IS SO MEAN)
- Two adult lions (Bear is white so he will never be able to survive in the wild due to his color standing out) and Fegga
- Tuscan the baby lion cub
- Four adult caracals
- Four adult servals
- 7 Adult Mongooses
- Two Meerkats
- A genet
- 13 Owls
On Friday we darted and moved all of the large cats! It was a lot of work but so exciting. We got to watch the darting (gun and pole darting) and then helped move and monitor some of the sedated cats! So thankful I brought my stethoscope because we got to listen to some pretty remarkable heartbeats! After we had all the cats sedated and in their crates we moved them and released them to their enclosures at our new location. (I will post pictures of the new place next update). Friday was BY FAR my favorite day here. I actually got to put my technical skills to use! And then Saturday Jenna (the Ginger Canadian) and I had to wrangle and catch the 7 mongooses and the 2 meerkats LIKE A BOSS and put them into transport cages. It was literally insane and mongooses are crazy; earlier in the week one of the baby Mongoose escaped and ended up in the kitchen during lunch. They kept escaping after we trapped them and we had to keep chasing them down, but we ended up winning in the end. TAKE THAT MONGOOSE.
AND CASPER!!! Casper is an albino vervet monkey who was abandoned and tortured by his previous group because of his albino fur. (They usually kill them at birth but he is a rare case of survival) They literally beat the crap out of the poor guy and took off a bunch of his fingers in the process so he has little knubs and cuts all over. He always looks so sad and nobody had time to take him out because he’s so timid, so I decided that I would. I bribed him into liking me (WITH MUSHED BANANNAS OF COURSE) and then put him in a towel and took him into the living room area and let him run around and play since he’s in a little cage. He let me hold him, catch him and groom out all the stickers in his fur and clean off his poopy tail. He is just so terrified. The second time I took him out he did MUCH better. He is already warming up a little bit!
Yes, it is A LOT of work because they get fed at totally different times of the day and different amounts. AND one day there were only TWO of us doing all this. Basically I wake up at 6 and go to sleep at 8 except for the nights I have to do Phoebe’s 10:00pm feeding. The other volunteers here are pretty awesome, they all have accents that I am totally jealous of, and of course they make fun of me for saying y’all. All in all these past couple days have already been chaos, and I feel like I’ve been here so long already because the days are so long and I haven’t been sleeping super well either. I get to go to Kruger on Thursday though so I am really looking forward to a break from working and getting to see WILD KRUGER ANIMALS and buying gifts for people!!
I might actually get to update a couple times in the next three weeks because we have a set time to go to town and I can get internet then!
Miss you all! Love you all!!