On Sunday, I volunteered at a Sanctuary nearby. I had been invited by my friend Kristine to join her staff. ( She and I had worked together for the animal shelter in Illinois in the operating room. ) They were headed there to volunteer for the day.
It was brutally hot and humid. We worked hard, cleaning the cow barn, the alpaca and sheep pens and dozens of cat boxes (in the upstairs of the big barn) . I quickly lost any desire I’ve had to raise cows. This was dirty dirty work. “Try to scrape up the cow pies and leave the mud if you can distinguish it” we were instructed.
Let me say that the people who devote their time and money volunteering here are obviously animal lovers. But I left feeling very sad.
My little cell phone took some photos of the big cats. They are in very small enclosures. That was the hard part. Several lions, tigers and a bear live there. There are also some wolf hybrids and wolves. They live in areas not much bigger than a dog kennel or two. We were told there were 4 wolves in an enclosure at one point. Mama, Papa and two daughters. The daughters picked off the parents one by one.
Over 200 feral cats roamed the property and barn. They are fed, watered, and they have many many litter boxes. They are all altered. Their lives, void of human touch, seemed fair enough. They were free to roam or form colonies and they had.
When I arrived at the gate, a dead calf was lying on the deck. Farmers are permitted to leave dead livestock there for the animals to consume. Roadkill is also taken in. We were told we could bring chicken drumsticks, raw, to offer the Big cats. Venison is welcome, frozen, even freezer burned.
They have a huge pig that has had its eyes removed for pain and medical reasons. . It will gladly eat any dessert you bring. I had a pineapple pie in the freezer so I brought it along. The enormous pig guzzled the pie up, and seemed to have no trouble finding it .
The Sanctuary is on 9 acres of land. As I mentioned, enclosures are very small. There is a black bear that someone tried to raise and failed. Apparently, it is legal to buy a bear cub in some states. Most of these animals were exotics that failed at human hands.
Although we had a great volunteer who could tell us all about these animals and their individual stories, my mind started tuning out her voice as I seemed to fall into the deep dull faces of these creatures. One of them vocalized aggressively as we walked by. Most just ignored us.
I won’t be volunteering there again. I have some tools and things on their wish list that I Can drop at the gate. I just couldn’t handle it there. Everyone else that I went with seemed to be eager to return and help more.
I have my first non-fiction read for the summer. Zoo STORY, Life in the Garden of Captives. Zach read the book awhile back. He says it was a good read. He said the issues are complicated for zoos. I, for one, have always loved going to the zoo and seeing creatures I would never ever encounter in Chicago Illinois. Now, I’m not as sure. I’ll let you know what I think of the book.
This was a tough post to write, but I always tell you what I’ve been up to. Just look into that tiger’s eyes.