Monday, July 27, 2015

My Unbelizable Adventure Part 2: The intern and the eagle

Name: Hannah Tucky
Class: 2017, Junior
Hometown: Delaware, Ohio
Internship: Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center
Location: Mile 29 Western Hwy, Belize

Jaguarundi cub (Manny)
      Hello everyone who took the time to read this post! I'm finally updating you guys about the second and third week of my internship at the Belize Zoo in the beautiful country of Belize. For those of you who have not yet read my first post, my first week's adventures included beginning working with mammals like tapirs, howler monkeys, as well as some pretty unique birds including scarlet macaws. During my first week, the zoo also gained a new addition in the form of a jaguarundi cub who was later named (with my help!) Manny. I soon became one of the main "foster mothers" for little Manny. This included taking weights, preparing and weighing food every two hours, and getting him accustomed to interacting with people. 

Harpy Eagle underside of foot
During my time at the zoo these weeks my skills that I learned from the Ohio Wildlife Center ended up helping me enormously and let me have some pretty awesome interactions! For example, at the Belize zoo, there are two harpy eagles. Harpy eagles are one of the largest eagles in the world and have been reported carrying off up to 30 lbs of prey such as small goats and monkeys. Their talons alone are between 3 and 4 inches long and the females can be about the same height as a small child. One of the harpy eagles at the zoo, DaQueen was believed to have developed feet issues, possibly bumble foot. Because I had mentioned my hands on work with raptors at the OWC, Gliselle, the animal management staff supervisor, only animal contact area female, and Purdue wildlife ecology graduate, had asked if I would help in the procedures. For these, DaQueen (the harpy eagle) was first caught. Next, we flushed out the cracks in her feet using saline solution in a 60 ml syringe and applied a medical gel to them, followed by wrapping them back up with gauze and tape. The whole procedure only took about 10 minutes and the eagle stayed incredibly calm throughout the whole time she was caught and cared for. 

 If that wasn't a great enough experience to help with every few days, I got an even cooler one to add! One of the days while Gliselle was off, the keepers noticed the bandages falling off and asked if I would supervise and do the bandages myself! Although I felt a little unsure that I have any real help to give, I knew I had watched it been done many times. Catching the eagle, cleaning out the cracks, and applying the bandages and gauze ended up going extremely well. By the end of the third week there, the eagle's feet issues were found by a visiting vet not to be bumble foot yet, but just from the current perching in the yard. The lesions were already beginning to heal and DaQueen required less intervention by zoo staff.
Wrapping foot with gauze and tape
Applying ointment on the eagle's foot

As a result, of more OWC experience (Our last project for the semester was building perches for the raptors), I helped supervise the addition to new perching in the eagle enclosure. Because perching in some of the other bird enclosures was also seen as a possibility for concern, I also helped in adding new perches to the scarlet macaws, ornate hawk eagles, and toucans. 

By the end of this third week in Belize I had been in the country for a full 5 weeks and only had one week to go. I am still incredibly glad that I had all the opportunities that I had so far. I am also very excited that I was able to directly apply what I have learned in class to situations 1600 miles away in a zoo and country so different than our own.  

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