Friday, June 10, 2011

Fish, Glorious Fish

Hi! I’m Hansel!
Hi! I’m Gretel!
We’re the fabulous Otter babies!
In case you’ve been living under a rock or haven’t been payin attention to the fan page, we are the most important rehab Kindra will do this year! ‘Cuz it’s us! And we are fabulous! And we are hungry! We need fish! Lots and lots of fish! And other things that hang out in the water where we will eventually get to live. Once Kindra gets done doing her mama otter impression and teaching us all the stuff we have to know we will get to go back to nature and do our otter thang. We’re sure teaching you humans about how wonderful we are is a noble calling, but we don’t hear that phone ringing! As soon as we can catch our own dinner we are so outta here! In the meantime, apparently mama otter Kindra needs help getting us fish. Remember we are growing otter babies…which means we can eat a LOT. To inspire you, we’ve been working on a song. Our scribe would like us to apologize to the people of the musical Oliver! since we “borrowed” the song from their movie. So sing our song to the tune of “Food, Glorious, Food” and have fun…
We hope you enjoy it.

Fish, Glorious, Fish….by Hansel and Gretel Otter

Is it worth the waiting for?
If we live 'til eighty four
All we ever get is formula!
Ev'ry day we ask our mom --
Will she change the food we’re on?
Still we get the same old formula!
We have tried to explain without being too shrill,
Growing otters need ‘em for munchin!
But there's nothing to stop us from getting a thrill
When we all close our eyes and imag...ine

Fish, glorious fish!
So yummy and smelly!
While we're making a wish --
Any fish but a Jelly!
Pike, Minnows, and Big Mouth Bass!
How about some Crappy?
Catch‘em sitting on yerass --
and make us happy!

Fish, glorious fish!
We're anxious to try it.
Six banquets a day --
Our favorite diet!

Just picture a big Catfish --
Fresh caught in our dish.
Oh, fish,
Wonderful fish,
Marvelous fish,
Glorious fish.

Fish, glorious fish!
What is there that’s better?
Raw, whole is delish --
Just hold on the butter!
What is it we dream about?
What brings on a sigh?
Heaps of Carp, Minnows and Trout
Stacked six feet high!

Fish, glorious fish!
Eat right through the menu.
Our fave is Catfish
Do you have some on you?
Worked up a new appetite.
And so we must wish –
for fish,
Once again, fish
Fabulous fish,
Glorious fish.

Fish, glorious fish!
Don't care who catches it --
Red, yellow, or blueish!
Don't care who donates it.
Just thinking of growing fat --
Our senses go reeling
One moment of knowing that
Full-up feeling!

Fish, glorious fish!
What wouldn't we give for
That extra bit more --
That's all that we live for
Why should we be fated to
Do nothing but wish
for fish,
Magical fish,
Wonderful fish,
Marvelous fish,
Fabulous fish,

Beautiful fish,

Glorious fish

Thursday, June 2, 2011

DIRTY LAUNDRY!! (A glance into the daily life of CLAWS)

The title of this blog might sound rather boring but when you add two very cute baby otters running wildly through the CLAWS kitchen to jump into their green turtle shaped kiddy pool it gets more exciting! Splashing and tumbling in the water to get the best pool toys first, Hansel and Gretel are quite the tag team! Hansel manages to get that best pool toy (which happens to be a bottle cap!) before his sister has a chance! Gretel jumps on his back trying to wrestle ALL the toys from Hansel and water drenches the floor AND our feet. Hansel refuses to lose his cap so he grabs it in his mouth and jumps out of the pool to run for the safety of the corner of the kitchen where his human mom (Mrs. Claws) sits watching. The floor has been covered with at least a dozen or so towels for them to slither on to dry off however Mrs. Claws’ jeans are preferable at the moment! The two lose interest in the bottle cap only to tumble around on the towels, scoot and slither to dry off a bit more before chasing each other back into the pool to start all over again!! This is just a small window into life at CLAWS where laundry is not a weekly task but a daily one that the two baby otters have upped by 1.5 loads/day all by themselves!

When doing my research on how much it costs to do laundry (detergent- TIDE with bleach, water, electricity for both washer and dryer) I found this really neat website for calculating costs If you ONLY count laundry for the two baby otters (averaging ~11 loads of laundry per week) CLAWS pays approximately $83 a month for ONLY the otter babies!!!! Again, that does NOT include the many other rehab babies being raised at CLAWS OR the permanent educational animals that live with CLAWS. Hence my blog!

When thinking of CLAWS expenses the ones that immediately come to mind are things like food- (formula & solids) as well as medical care. Surely these are the first and most expensive part of saving these wonderful animals in need, but there are day to day expenses that we the general public, volunteers and fans rarely think of….like the expense of feeding utensils (baby bottles and nipples- the otter babies do not suck, they chew!!), paper towels, dish detergent, electricity and LAUNDRY all add up quickly in the monthly budget!! So the next time you are grumbling about doing laundry (something I personally grumble about often!) think about CLAWS! AND if you are like me and you don’t want to DO their laundry, think about donating some TIDE with bleach and maybe sending them a little extra cash this month towards baby otter laundry!! Remember, all donations go straight towards the care of the animals. No one at CLAWS is paid. And to reward you for reading my “dirty laundry” blog, check out these adorable baby otter pool photos!! Thank you CLAWS for all you do for wildlife!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How did it all begin?

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, and I must apologize! Being in a car accident and then sick for weeks on end made me a bit slack in this area. So, I asked our fans what they would like me to blog about and was told they want to know the story of how CLAWS got started.

Wow, ok, good topic, but where do I start? Do I go back to when I was a kid, bringing home strange creatures in need? The first litter of skunks I raised when I was 5? My last pet skunk, before CLAWS started? Where oh where to start? While CLAWS was only incorporated in 2004, I feel I’ve been doing this my entire life, so where is the starting point?

Well, I think I found one, or I hope I did at least.

We moved to North Carolina in 1994 and quickly found out that I could not rehabilitate or even have as pets many of the animals I was used to living with, like raccoons and skunks and foxes. That left a huge hole in my life. While I’d always been a career woman, working in the computer industry as a database administrator/database designer for over 23 years, I still always maintained a level of animal contact that was now missing in my life.

So, the first thing we did was start volunteering at a place that allowed us to work with large cats and some other AMAZING animals! That filled my need pretty much, for almost 10 years. Then the philosophy of the facility took a complete 180 degree turn and we could no longer support it, so that left a new hole. We’d spent up to 40 hours a week helping these animals, plus 40 hours at our jobs and raising our kids (who also worked with the animals) and now, again, there was nothing in my life with wild animals!

So, I tried a couple of other places to volunteer at, most were just too far away. It did enable me to babysit a couple of raccoons though and really drove home my intense need to once again share my life with a raccoon. I had been calling the state and asking for eight years, how I could do this, and all I’d be told was “get one, just don’t get caught”. Well, that’s not “how I roll”, I really wanted to do this on the up and up and not endanger the animal’s life (if you are caught with an illegal animal, that animal is killed).

I did still spend hours and hours on my own, helping animals. I remember right before starting CLAWS, getting an email from somebody who knew I used to work with bear. There were three orphaned cubs in I think Minnesota that were in dire need. The state gave us 72 hours to find a place they would agree to or they were going to euthanize them. I stayed up for 72 hours. I’ll never forget my husband and daughter walking into my office at home; finding me crying and thinking the babies were dead. Quite the contrary! I’d convinced a wildlife officer to introduce them to a hibernating, wild mother bear!!! He was NOT convinced my methods would work, but still uses them to this day! My tears were tears or joy and amazing relief. I also knew this is what I was meant to do with my life! While I never saw those babies, they became a part of my life for those three days and still are to this day. THIS was the type of thing I could do to make a REAL difference in the world!

FINALLY one woman told me how she got her raccoon legally….YAY!

It was a 2 year process of both state and federal licensing, but it was well worth it. We assembled our board, decided that we’d have a three part mission; rehabilitation of native wildlife, rescue of exotic animals (which, in this state, includes raccoons, skunks and foxes, since nobody is allowed to rehabilitate them), and education of the public.

Then came THAT call, the one I didn’t want but was waiting for. A baby raccoon, in November, who was dying and the people were tired of hearing his cries. His entire litter had been “raised” by some people who didn’t know what they were doing, didn’t spend the time needed and all but this last tiny, filthy little guy were dead. The people had kept them in a wooden box, in a goat pen and fed them once a day, cow’s milk (not good for anything) for MONTHS. How this little darling survived is something I’ll never understand.

He got here at midnight, he was so filthy I could not tell if he was a boy or a girl (you tell with raccoons the same way you do dogs, so it should be easy), but I could get him to eat. At a time of year that this little angel should have weighed between 10 and 15 pounds, he weighed 15 ounces. I stayed up all night, talking to him, feeding him, subQing him and falling madly in love with him! He was the most beautiful baby I’d seen EVER! Even if he smelled and was scared and dying!

The next morning, off we went to Dr. Dan! Got him clean and yes, he was a boy! We figured out that it wasn’t that he didn’t have teeth yet, it was that he’d chewed them down to his gum line trying to get out of the wooden box so he wouldn’t starve to death! Nobody was truly convinced we could save this precious angel, who now became known as Pooka!

Three months later, he weighed 5 pounds, ruled our home thoroughly and our lives and the vet really didn’t think he would grow any more so he would not make it in the wild. Well, this boy was NOT leaving! I remember calling my best friend and telling her “I don’t’ care how, but this boy is staying with me, and he’s going to show people why his species is important and why you need to know what you are doing before you try to raise an animal”. I had no idea how the state would react to what I was doing, but it didn’t matter, I was determined to get it done!

And yes, I did get it done. We had permits out our ears within weeks! And Pooka became the first CLAWS educational animal! He ruled my life and my heart for 8 very short years. He met and educated thousands of children and adults alike and he LOVED his job! He KNEW when he went out that he was “representing” for his entire species!

Now, he did fool us a bit in the beginning. AFTER he was fully licensed, he did decide it was ok to grow and made it to almost 30 pounds. Even at 30 pounds, he was still my baby, still trusted me enough to fall into my arms from hanging upside down 8 feet in the air! He also welcomed our other educational animals literally with open arms. He and the kinkajous became hard and fast friends!

Pooka never lived outside; the first 6 months of his life gave him a serious fear of outside, unless Mommy (me) was holding his hand. So he lived in the house, as a family member!

Sadly, at the age of 8, cancer took our precious Pooka from our lives. He will remain forever in our hearts and our mission will continue BECAUSE of this beautiful, pitiful, 15 ounce crying baby!

So, I guess, in the end, Pooka started it all! And now, we will continue his message in his honor!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Protect your plants AND the animals!

Many people now use plant netting as a way to keep animals from eating or otherwise destroying their bushes and plants. Many of these are sold under such names as “Bird Be Gone”. This seems like a very humane way to keep animals away from your plants.
It is certainly better for the environment than many chemicals that get sprayed on plants.
But, what those companies do not tell you is that those nets can be and are often deadly to those animals and others that you may not have even thought of.
We get dozens of calls every year about snakes caught in these nets, cut to shreds by the netting with no hope of saving them. They are also a danger in taking off the entire legs of the birds they are protecting your plants from.
I realize that to many people, their gardens are extremely important, sometimes their way of just getting away from the world and communing with nature. But I find it hard to believe that most would put these nets on their plants if they knew what they were going to wake up and find in the morning.
As we’ve seen with plastic being dumped in the ocean and caught on dolphins’ noses, plastic is almost impossible for animals to get free of, and if they do manage to get free, it is often times with the loss of a limb.
If you really need/want to protect your plants, please find another solution. Finer mesh netting is better than what is sold for this purpose. Remember when looking at netting, the width of a snake or a hawk’s leg. Can they get caught in the net you are looking at? If so, please move on and try to find something more humane.
The snake depicted here was not caught in this netting, but does show how small a net it would take for a snake not to be caught by this type of netting.