I am progressing nicely on my learning objectives! I am three weeks into my internship and I have come to learn something about the day-to-day schedule of the wildlife center – you cannot possible be ready for everything! In this line of work, there are curveballs everyday, so flexibility is a key quality. However, it is possible to feel comfortable in the daily schedule aside from those daily unexpected events. I understand the flow of work, which animals need care at what time of the day, which animals need medicine or a watchful eye, etc.
I am monitoring my growth in several ways. First of all, I am taking on new tasks and working with new animals almost everyday. As I mentioned last blog, I have moved up to what is referred to as the green level, which is basic wildlife rehab. That title signifies which animals I can work with, and I am close to moving up yet another level, which will lengthen that list of animals! Secondly, I have fewer and fewer questions about how to complete certain tasks and I am becoming more efficient in the jobs that I do. I am more self-sufficient in the office and I am now able to walk in and begin my tasks right away without hesitation. Finally, I am doing the best that I can to keep up a journal of my experiences here, which helps me look back on the previous week and realize how much I have learned in just seven days!
At this point in my internship, I am most proud of the project that I have decided to take on as an intern. Here at the facility all interns are required to come up with a project that they can complete during the course of their internship. As I mentioned in my last blog, we have several sanctuary animals here, one of which is a coyote named Chewy (pictured below). Each of the sanctuary animals receives various types of enrichment to keep their minds stimulated and engaged, as life in captivity can be very repetitive. The staff has had a bit of trouble identifying what type of enrichment Chewy likes. He seems to reject a lot of typical coyote enrichment and the enrichment that he does accept he often tears up within seconds! For my project, I have decided to take Chewy on. I understand the circumstances that have led these animals to be sanctuary animals and so if I can impact Chewy’s quality of life even in the slightest, then I will feel accomplished. Chewy was found as pup and taken in by a family who mistook him for a dog. Once they realized that he was not a dog but actually a coyote it was too late, Chewy had already realized that humans have food and he therefore could not be released back into the wild. I have already begun contacting zoological facilities that house coyotes to try and get a list of potential enrichment items, and I have submitted my original ideas to my mentor. I plan on trying out my first enrichment item today!
With any job, communication and people skills will be necessary, and with any new environment, you are forced to use those skills. This internship has pushed me out of my comfort zone and has me working with new people almost every single day, as we have dozens of volunteers. It has also taught me quite a lot about the animals that we rehabilitate, especially raptors, coyotes and skunks. I have hand-fed a baby crow, handled a red shoulder hawk while another staff member administered medicine, and I have prepared food for all of the animals at our facility. I understand what certain species can and cannot eat and the portions of food that certain animals get in the morning versus in the afternoon. All of the skills that I learn here will be transferable to my future career, as I hope to work with wildlife in some capacity.
Thanks for reading!
– Alicia Russo