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|November 29, 2012 - Laurie Macha|
Today a great friend and colleague joined me in our conservation efforts at SANCCOB. Tracy Camp arrived late last night and woke up bright and early after her two day journey to South Africa to assist in the chick bolstering efforts. At the 8 a.m. morning meeting I was assigned pen two with 24 chicks to care for by myself. These chicks are a little larger than the chicks in ICU. Two days ago several new chicks were admitted to the center and were placed in pen two. Since working in this pen last week, I've noticed a few changes. Most of the chicks that were only on fish tails last week are now on two or three whole fish limits at each of the feedings. And those chicks that are on three fish limits only need fluids a few times a day and formula once a day. This means that they are starting to gain weight and can handle more whole food, a great sign.
The work load for cleaning in this pen is still pretty intense, but I've really gotten the schedule down pretty well. I started the day by tube feeding darrows at 8 a.m. and moved all of the chicks out of the pen into crates, put the chicks that needed treatment into the nebulizer and broke the pen down. I cleaned the pen thoroughly then reset the pen up with clean mats, three layers of towels and sheets. Once the bedding was down I got four dividers, connected them together in a square under the heat lamps and the pen was now ready to receive little chicks!
It was now about 9:45 a.m. and it was time to feed fish and systematically move the chicks from the crates back into the pen, making sure each chick received its correct amount of food. After finishing the fish feeding in my pen I went and helped Melanie, a volunteer from Germany catch the flying birds, put them in for a swim and then make a food platter for them. At noon I again started tube feeding water to all the chicks in pen two, followed by formula at 1p.m. A quick little lunch break then on to feeding another fish meal to all the chicks. Once this was done I took a few minutes to record on each chicks cards and prepare the work sheet for the next day.
Everything was going beautifully and on schedule until more chicks were admitted to the center. I got three chicks from Noelle in the CRU and six new admits which brought the numbers up to 34 and now I had 34 chicks to give darrows at 4 p.m. and formula at 5 p.m. It took me almost an hour an fifteen minutes to do the 34 chicks by myself. So when it came time to the formula I was already behind the curve. Jacqui, an Australian volunteer who works on St. Phillip Island with Fairy penguins (Little Blues), came to my pen when she was done with her pen three and lent a needed hand to tube formulas to the chicks in my pen. A very big thanks to Jacqui! Once we were done with formulas, we needed to expand pen two into two separate pens to spread the number of chicks between the two areas. This is so that any of the smallest chicks don't get smothered by the chicks all huddling together and piling on top of one another. We got them sorted and then it was time to fix all the cards and sheets for the transfers and admits. It was a very long day and we finished up just before 7 p.m.
I really only saw Tracy a few times that day as she was working in ICU with Marguerite and Sharon. All I saw was a really big smile on her face. They had 48 chicks in their care that day. Once we were all finished we headed back to the guest house so that we could all gather for a celebratory dinner. It was a welcome dinner for Tracy and a farewell dinner for me. The staff at SANCCOB and many of the volunteers joined us at a restaurant called Moyo. It is a more traditional restaurant with dishes from many areas around South Africa. It was amazing! They washed our hands and welcomed us to their restaurant to share a meal then they painted our faces. Of course I had to go with a more game dinner and had Springbok. It was delicious! A very bittersweet evening for me. Seeing and being with great friends, but the realization that it would be time for me to part ways from SANCCOB and the chicks.
Skittish African Penguins cross a road on Robben Island in South Africa.
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