Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Dino-Boy Abroad

 So, my eldest child, aka Dino-Boy, trotted off to Canada back in December to work with wildlife, and in exchange reports came back via Skype on Sundays – his day off. Daily life seemed to be along the lines of: prepared the feeds, cleaned out the cages, mended a fence, went to town to fetch the donated food, ate stir-fry.

The content started to vary dramatically as, having learnt how to handle wild animals, Oscar was given responsibility for his first creature – a snow hare with a limp, AND allowed to go out on 'rescues' – what a word!
             The most dramatic was catching two skunks, stuck at the bottom of an eight-metre well. There’s a video of him dangling on a rope, more Mr Bean than Ethan Hunt, and being bitten and sprayed before he can grab the skunk. The scent was so strong that people turned and stared for a few weeks afterwards. 

Oscar and Meisce
When a beaver was spotted swimming in salt water in Vancouver, Oscar was given the job of detoxifying the very sick animal. They don’t name the newcomers – too distressing if they have to be euthanised. Happily, Oscar called him Meisce after he responded to the treatment. He’s now back in the wild. 
Check out the feet!

More animals arrived at the centre and more bites. I only found out that an angry raccoon had taken a lump out of my boy when someone else tagged him – hand wrapped in ice, on Facebook. I demanded a close-up – it didn’t look too bad.

This raccoon is back in the wild
This adorable cub will be released next year

Oscar was due home last weekend, but at the end of March he texted saying he thought he might stay – he’d been offered the chance to look after the 2013 bear cubs, about to wake up after the winter but needing care until their release in summer 2014. No brainer, as Kevin Bacon would say. No surprise either, that April saw me boarding a plane with my daughter, Honor, to go and visit him.
He was big.
The same size, but bigger.
We had an amazing holiday, spending days off with Oscar and the rest of the time doing tourist stuff, but the best part was seeing him at the wildlife rehabilitation centre. It wasn’t the fabulous animals, or even the lovely people he works with, as much as the sense that he was in his element, absolutely.
White Rock B.C.

Wandering one evening along the beach at White Rock with Oscar and Honor, a bald eagle flew over. Further along a blue heron lazily flapped a few times to move out of our path. Ten years earlier, there’d been a similar scene. That time we were in Tofino, on Vancouver Island, as part of a six-week escape prompted by my husband losing his job. Bald eagles were as common as pigeons, black bears were everywhere – one crossed the road as we were walking to the beach, whales were blowing, seals collapsed on rocks.

I wonder whether that once-in-a-lifetime trip, Oscar aged nine, tipped the scales, turning the little boy fascinated by dinosaurs into the one living the life in Canada, where wildlife is truly wild (and let’s face it, bigger).

And the raccoon bite, well . . . the photo he sent was of an entirely different finger with an old wound. This one swelled up like a pumpkin, leaked pus, was as shiny as Downton silver, and had to be sliced open by one of the supervisors.
'Didn’t want to worry you, Mum.'
Me, worry?
My son currently goes into the bear den, picks up the poop, feeds them and jangles about to keep them wary of humans. The bears are around a hundred pounds each. There are four of them. Who’s worrying?

Halo - turning blacker as she sheds her winter coat
Tracy Alexander


Stroppy Author said...

What a wonderful opportunity! And super photos.

Sue Purkiss said...

Can't believe your boy is this big! What a lovely account, and what a brilliant time he's having!

Sue Bursztynski said...

You must be very proud of your son! What a wonderful experience!

Heather Dyer said...

Yes, you can see why they call it the Big Country. Everything is just on a different scale. Sounds like he was a match for it though! x

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nice update

Melanie said...

It sounds and looks amazing, life changing stuff - what a lucky lad.

Vera said...

Brought a tear to my eye.... must be in the family! This is such a lovely reflection on Oscar and his passion!

Anonymous said...

Eve said ....... Enjoyed reading this! So well written I thought I was there!!