Saturday, March 21, 2009

DJ the White Rhino...

Today, Megan assigned to me the ‘Exotics’ department… exotic mammals that is. The day started off with sprucing up Teela’s enclosure. Teela is the zoo’s dromedary camel. After that task, it was on to cleaning Roxy and Kit’s den (the zoo’s two foxes). Barbara said, “It’s not unusual for volunteers to find the smell of the fox’s den a bit overwhelming. It’s stronger than the smell of a wet dog!” I said, “Then I’m the right person for the job; because I can’t smell a darn thing!”

When the den was cozy and refreshed, it was off to the pony rides… yes, that’s right, pony rides. (It’s a zoo… you’ve got to have something for the little kids.) My task was to fit the kids with the proper helmet for the pony ride (and entertain them while they were waiting for their turn to ride.) I’m surprised I enjoyed it so much… I was really getting into it with the kids.

2 pm was the Croc Show in the Crocoseum where 'vollies' help direct guests to their seats and make sure the stadium is safe for the show. Reptiles and exotic birds, as well as the crocs, are part of the show. Then it was back to the pony rides until the end of the day.

DJ and me.

When it came time to transport the ponies back to their paddock (a few kilometers away), Lucy, one of the zookeepers said, “Come with us, Jeff. We’ll introduce you to DJ, one of the zoo’s white rhinos!” (The rhinos are not on display yet; their enclosures are part of the African Savannah area and will be ready in about a year.) What a treat!!! I got to see and touch and feed a two-ton white rhino. They are so impressive and beautiful in size and stature. Zookeeper, Deb, went out of her way to coax DJ (with some alfalfa-like hay) over to me so I could view him up close and feed him. I was very grateful to the zoo staff as they took time at the end of a very busy Saturday to make this special encounter possible for me!

Tomorrow I’m on Koala duty...

Close up of DJ, a two-ton white rhino.

Zookeeper, Deb, bribing DJ with sweet grass, over for me to meet.


Greg said...

Hey Jeff,
You managed to find a situation where not having an olfactory sense is actually a plus for the job! DJ looks imposing and tame all at the same time. By the way, I see Megan the zookeeper is wearing anklets of some kind, like you were in your first day uniform. What is the reason? Ticks? Other? Let us know if you are able to see the hospital...that must be quite impressive as well.

JPT said...

Yes, that's true, Greg, there can be advantages to not being able to smell... but today I was working with the Koalas and everyone kept saying, "They smell so good! They smell like eucalypus!" And I had to say, "Mmmm. Yes they smell good don't they!" (Although, I do remember what eucalyptus smells like from my days at Woodside Priory in CA!)

The ankle 'skirts' are sock and boot protectors. They keep 'stuff' from getting into your boots (which are only 'slip-ons,' by the way,) or to keep your boot laces clean, etc. Many field workers in AU wear them... (mine are strictly for show!)