Another day at the zoo brings more interesting stories about animals in captivity. Today I dealt with everything from a sick rhea (flightless bird that has claws sharp enough to "eviscerate" a person...that was the warning I got before being sent into the pen) to a shipment of 7,000 crickets and 2,000 mealworms. It's amazing how many animals in the zoo eat crickets (turtles, a tarantula, a Pacific salamander, lots of birds, a tamarin (adorable!). I am not a lover of insects, so having crickets jumping all over me, and mealworms crawling out of the bowl that I've been instructed to carry, kind of grossed me out (to say the least). But that was nothing compared to the chopping of "fuzzies", which are baby mice, just old enough to have grown a layer of white fuzz all over their bodies. Apparently some of the birds in the aviary don't have beaks that are big enough to accomodate an entire fuzzy, so we have to cut them in half. Yuck. I nearly gagged, but I tried to hide my disgust because all of the zookeepers think nothing of it!
I was also sent into the paddock with two vicious looking peccaries. Actually, they're kind of funny looking and I wouldn't have been at all concerned about being in close contact with them had the zookeeper not given me precise instructions to "avoid being cornered by a peccary at all costs." She handed me a bucket of food and sent me in to toss it around their habitat. Of course they're going to lunge toward me, when I have the food in my hand! One of them made a loud snorting sound and ran toward me and it was all I could do to not throw the bucket of food at it and run away.
I helped care for two blind wallabies, Patagonian guanacos, a barn owl, the old spider monkey (mentioned previously), a golden topped tamarin, and the cavies (like giant guinea pigs, according to the zookeeper).
Tomorrow we're heading out on an overnight backpacking trip on the coastal trail. It's supposed to be 60 degrees and sunny, so our biggest concern will be the level of the tide. So many things to learn about our new environment!