We’re All in This Together Including Animals
By Mckenzie Wing, Volunteer Coordinator & Biologist
Judging by social media, most of the rest of the world spent the last month creating music videos in their living rooms, holding Zoom meetings while pantless, and making sourdough bread. Like, a lot of sourdough bread. Meanwhile, here at KSTR, our experience could not have been more different. We had to clean cages with skeleton crew staff, feed over 50 animals on a fraction of our usual budget, and keep our entire team safe and healthy. And we generally had to keep our pants on.
My point is, life here continued more or less as normal. Just…smaller. Quieter. It’s been eerie to see only 2 or 3 people working in the Sanctuary, eat meals with only a handful of other staff, and fall asleep to a nearly silent dormitory. Actually, that last one is kind of nice, I have to admit selfishly.
But it hasn’t been easy. With no regular funds coming in, we’re living off donations and everyone here has been furloughed. We’ve kept everyone fed, but some major projects have gone on hold. And meanwhile, in the clinic, our poor vet staff has had to deal with an assistant (yours truly) who is so out of his depth it’s almost not even funny.
Seriously—these last few months have been a crash course in animal care. It would make for a good training montage if it wasn’t at times practically slapstick. One morning, while I was cleaning the porcupine’s cage, he decided he wanted to give my leg a hug. Know how you get an affectionate porcupine off your leg? You don’t, that’s how. The kinkajou tries to bite whenever I try to change his water, as if he takes it personally. And there was that one time we had to feed everyone in rehab, give a physical exam to 2 sloths, then neuter a coati. On the same day. Shoot, the same morning. We had him snipped and clipped and then went to lunch. It was exhausting.
And also rewarding. Impressive, to be sure. It’s a testament to the work and passion of everyone here at KSTR that even in a global crisis we still function. A handful of baby owls came in and a few have already been released. An anteater just got moved to our prerelease area and is foraging on her own. There’s a young toucan who’s coming along nicely, even though his beak’s still just a little stub.
I may be tired, bitten, scratched, and terribly unqualified for even assisting a veterinarian, but this kind of work is keeping me sane. It’s keeping all of us together. I hope you all have your causes to keep you equally productive, occupied, and fulfilled during this time. Me, I have sloths. Although I might give sourdough a try.
The Kids Saving the Rainforest staff